As my day begins in the hush of predawn darkness, as usual, I make my way outside with the dogs. Looking up at the stars, I listen to the muffled sounds of paws padding through dew-covered grass. And I think about how my life has changed over the years.

For someone looking from the outside in, the changes would appear fairly dramatic. So much so, that if assigned with the task of matching up my “then” with “now”, most people would match incorrectly.

My life before Cait was a life of travel. Near and far. For work and for fun.  I was the proverbial rolling stone and the world was my home. I was as comfortable in London and Paris as I was in New York City, my place of work and residence for more than a decade.

And speaking of work, a clientele of the influential and well-connected routinely sought me out. Which, of course, required that I look the part. For which I needed—and had— a closet full of designer clothes and shoes.

Sounds “rutha lah-dee-dah,” doesn’t it?

Those who know me from now would laugh incredulously at such a revelation. Because not a shred of that lifestyle is in evidence anymore. Perhaps with the exception that I still have a thing for good restaurants and my French remains passable in a pinch.

I’ve traded in my allotted fifteen minutes of fame, along with what might have appeared a glamorous life to some, for a life that probably sounds boring to most—a life of animals and outdoors and family. The “countries” I like to travel to now are the back country woods and the unexplored territories of my imagination. These hold all the excitement I’m looking for.

Last night, as I was putting up some vegetables from the garden, Andrew sat in the kitchen to keep me company. Watching me hand-chop my garlic (call me crazy, but I think there’s a big difference in taste between hand-chopped and food-processor chopped), he asked if I ever missed my “former life.” As though perhaps that was the real me, and this garlic chopping interloper was, as Cait used to say, a fiction of my imagination.

I laughed, because I consider my “former life” to be the life before the “former life” Andrew was referring to. Truth be told, my essential self is the girl who grew up in the country with animals. That high falutin, high fashion, high flying other person was the interloper. A fun and interesting one, but an interloper, nonetheless.

That time did feed my need for freedom and adventure, and I got to do it long enough to satiate that craving in that way. But my need for freedom and adventure never goes away. Because those needs are also deeply ingrained in my essential self. I just express them differently now. In a more contemplative lifestyle that’s more in sync with nature.

The dogs move to the gate past where our wood is stacked for the winter, I grab an armful. We all head back in to settle at my desk to start the work day and I think about how much I truly love the simplicity of my life now.

Don’t get me wrong. If someone handed me a ticket to Paris, I’d be on that plane in a heartbeat. Its just that now I’d be double-checking to make sure I also had the return ticket home.