Stuck, But in Motion – Two Passions and Two Directions

So many people live their lives through without ever really discovering a true passion. People spend day in and day out working a 9-5 desk job that they might hate or might actually quite enjoy, but it doesn’t fulfill a passion deep inside them, their lives aren’t richer as a result of working such a job.

I am a deeply lucky person. I have found a passion – something that makes my life better, which makes me happier, gives me drive and motivation, something that truly makes my life worth living. Problem is, I have found two of them.

I began my training to become a midwife at the tender age of 17. Until 6 months before commencing this training I had had no previous desire to enter the field of midwifery, but one day I woke up and like something out of a film, I had a sense that midwifery was something I had to do.

So I commenced my training and fell more and more in love with midwifery as each day passed. I loved working with women from all walks of life. I loved cuddling and caring for babies. I loved the thrill of bringing a new life into the world and the little rush of adrenaline it would give me each and every birth without fail. I loved having a woman walk in the door as a wife, or girlfriend, or daughter and watching her walk out as a new mother. I loved advocating for women – especially in environments heavily dominated by primarily male obstetricians.

This is me holding my honourary niece Lexi - she was the first baby I ever 'caught' <3
This is me holding my honourary niece Lexi – she was the first baby I ever ‘caught’ <3

I felt as though I had found my passion. I counted myself lucky, thinking I had found something that I could envision myself loving for the rest of my working life.

A year or so after commencing my training, my two best friends Tess and Ethan ventured off together on an 8 week backpacking trip through South-East Asia. Tess had asked me to come with them, but for a number of reasons, I said no. To be honest, I still don’t know why I so persistently turned her down.

I remember saying that I didn’t have the money, but I had just gotten a hefty tax return so that was not exactly true. I remember worrying that I wouldn’t fit in on a Contiki tour – which they were doing for a portion of their trip. Also, I was still recovering from a messy break up which had resulted in a real blow to my self-esteem. Travelling through South-East Asia means wearing a lot of bathers in public, and after having my self confidence shattered by said break up, the mere thought of that had me wanting to go and hide in a corner. It may have been one of these reasons, or a culmination of them, or something completely different; but either way, the travel bug had not bitten me yet and at that point travelling was not on my radar as a goal or even as a possibility.

When Tess left for the adventure (her and Ethan were on separate planes) I went to the airport to see her off. Eight weeks is a long time for a teenager to be without her best friend! As I watched her go through customs and as her flight took off, I got this strange and profound sense of sadness and longing. I wanted to go off and see something new! I wanted to feel excitement so strong that it would completely overtake me!

Two or three days later I had booked flights to the United Kingdom and about four weeks after that I was waiting at the airport to board my flight! With a pristine new passport in one hand and an economy boarding pass in the other, I passed through customs as nervous as a deer but excited all the same.

Baby Ellen before her first solo adventure
Baby Ellen before her first solo adventure

That first three week trip was full of highs and lows. I hated London but fell in love with Edinburgh. Paris was eventful and Glasgow was kinda dull. Belfast was vibrant and Dublin was horrific. The trip ended on a low note thanks to a sadistic asshole in Dublin and I really could have thrown away my passport then and there.

After coming home and slowly recovering, I had a bit of a revelation. If I never travelled again, I would never experience the excitement and happiness I felt in Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands. If I never travelled again I would be depriving myself of countless amazing opportunities and allowing one Irish dickhead the power to negatively influence my life for a lot longer than one bad night. There was no way I could let someone ruin my life like that.


So I planned another trip. Booked more flights. Packed my bags once again. I embarked on another journey, hesitant and scared but fully determined. That trip was absolutely unbelievable. I loved every single second and had so many joyous days that I would not have had otherwise. By the time that trip was over, I had not just been bitten by a travel bug, I had been completely swarmed and eaten alive by them. Just like that, a new passion was realised.


The path of my life which had once seemed so clear was now going fuzzy. I loved midwifery, but I also felt a calling to pursue the dream of solo world travel. Which passion was I meant to indulge?

This is a question that several years on, I still don’t have a clear answer on. I feel a constant tug and pull to attempting continuous and uninterrupted world travel – backpacking from place to place and surviving off of very small amounts of money. But, as much as I fantasize about such a life, I don’t think I could do it.

As much as I love travelling, midwifery has its hooks in me too. I go too long without catching a baby and I get restless. If I go more than a month without cuddling a newborn I found myself not knowing what to do with myself. If I go too long without being completely run off my feet from an understaffed double shift, I start getting kinda bored.

Photo courtesy of Katie Lowe

So for now, I’ll try to pursue two passions. I will throw myself wholeheartedly into caring for women and babies for half my life and for fearlessly exploring the world with the other. I hope one day, a time comes when these passions of mine collide and meld and mesh and become one with each other, but until then, I will continue leading two completely different lives. At least I can say that there is never, EVER, a dull moment.

Photo courtesy of Kate Oats
Photo courtesy of Kate Oats

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

116 thoughts on “Stuck, But in Motion – Two Passions and Two Directions

    1. It is wonderful to read how you are soooo happy in your life. I wish you many more fun adventures.
      β€œMay the calm be widespread, may the sea be as the smooth surface of the greenstone, and may the rays of sunshine forever dance along your path” Maori Prayer.

  1. I LOVED reading this post! πŸ™‚ How fortunate you are to have heeded the call to 2 such rewarding passions! I thank you so much for sharing them both with us! Blessed, happy deliveries, and blessed, happy travels πŸ™‚

  2. Truly inspirational! Not only have you found two things that you’re truly passionate about but you continue to pursue them both wholeheartedly. Best of luck and man are you cool!

  3. You are a true inspiration to solo travellers! Thank you for your honesty about the highs and lows of world travel, and for your strength and determination for not letting jerks stop you from enjoying your passion.
    Oh, and I hated London too:)

  4. I stumbled on your blog via the wordpress reader and im glad to read your inspirational post about pursuing passion! Saw your other post too and im definitely hooked 😊 more power to your blog! πŸ’•

  5. Such a wonderful post, Ellen! I so envy your travels and love seeing you in my inbox. I hope one day your two passions will come together somehow. You are so blessed! β€οΈπŸ˜€

  6. Loved this, I have a similar situation. My two passions are travelling in wild environments and ecology research! Luckily there can be some overlap there, and writing is a thread through everything. Just chuck yourself at every opportunity you like and who knows what will happen.

  7. As someone new to your blog, I really enjoyed reading this ‘origins’ post on how you became a midwife + avid traveller! Your life seems so amazing and fulfilling, and you inspire me to follow my own passions. I’m sure you’ll find a way to make your two passions align one day!

  8. Hi I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I’m a nurse and I also like travelling. I managed to do nursing abroad in a few countries and did a bit of travelling at the sane time I have just started my blog and have written a few small blogs about it. On my travels I met a few pepole who did MSF a few years ago and they really loved it.

  9. Good to know the back story. I think you’ve probably figured it out…6 mos of babies, 6 mos of travel. Would work for me. Minus the babies.. πŸ™‚

  10. It seems like, so far, you are doing an amazing job of living both of your passions. Here’s hoping you’ll discover even more throughout your life!!

  11. Loved this post! You are a lucky lady!
    I am quite interested how you juggle between the two? Hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you stay home for a few moths and then travel a few months? Or do I have to dive deeper into your past posts to find out?
    Keeping up the great posts :))

    1. A bit like that, I can take several months off at a time by taking my paid leave from work at half pay (getting twice the time off) up to 3.5 months per year, and I am also able to take an additional week or so off per month by working lots of days in a row in each month and putting all my days off together in blocks. It is a juggling act but a great one!

      1. I teach at a five year high school that includes an English prep year at the beginning and I teach Prep, 9th, and 10th grade. πŸ™‚

  12. Congratulations on being a survivor. Sounds like you’ve found a good balance between two complementing focus’s. Actually three if you count writing. Do you write professionally because this would make a few great books and you write more than week enough to be a professional travel writer. Here’s to having someone else pay for your travel.

  13. A beautiful read Ellen. I love that you’ve realised how lucky you are and how passionate you are about both your passions. Love stopping by your blog. Your photos and your words are truly brilliant.

  14. This has to be one of my favorite posts thus far! I love reading about your passions and getting to know you a bit more. You are so fearless &I who knows you might continue traveling for the purpose of midwifery. That would be a great lifelong adventure !

  15. I think that midwifery must be so rewarding. It’s great to have a passion to contribute to the world in that way, I think a lot of people travel endlessly, but I struggle with the idea of doing that and not also contributing something more tangible to the world. I want to travel more, but love my job teaching, so I know what you mean when you struggle with multiple passions. Love your blog, and have enjoyed following along with your adventures.

  16. Your story strikes so many chords with me, thank you for sharing.

    Firstly, I live near Glasgow. I agree it’s kinda dull and wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest if I never saw it again or experienced it’s filthy diesel fume city centre streets. London is a hell hole – too busy for this ‘country boy.’

    Edinburgh and the Highlands are so much better, beautiful places, and I’m glad you enjoyed that part of our country.

    You said “I feel a constant tug and pull to attempting continuous and uninterrupted world travel…But, as much as I fantasize about such a life, I don’t think I could do it.”

    I will sound like a hypocrite here because my fiancΓ©e and I would love to do exactly that too, yet we don’t. We’re both professional people and feel we “can’t” wall away from our income as it gives us the money to travel once or twice a year.

    What I would say is if that’s what you really want to do ask yourself what’s stopping you, what’s really stopping you. If it’s a chain of your own making – unshackle it and go.

    Finally, whatever the “dickhead Irishman” did well done for not letting it stop you following your dreams.

    Thanks again for an interesting read.

    1. It’s not so much that I feel like I ‘cant’ do it, it’s more that I would miss midwifery too much to commit to a life of only travelling. I would miss catching babies!

      But thank you so much for reading and commenting, it’s so nice when I can feel engaged with my readers πŸ™‚

  17. Loved reading about how you started your travelling. I can see why you didn’t like London and preferred Scotland, there’s something special about open spaces, mountains and water. I love both The highlands of Scotland and the English Lake District for those reasons. What shines through is that you have a real passion for ‘Life’ . You feel alive when you travel and you bring life into the world through midwifery! Keep following your heart ❀️

  18. Two great passions Ellen and I know you will find a way to combine both so they become one. There are many opportunities for your passions with volunteer placements and I have learnt that the best way to truly know a city/country and the people is to live and work there for a length of time.

  19. Beautifully written. This resonates with me so much. I too feel as if I have multiple equal passions. I am a doctor and that is something I live and would never give up but I also have wanderlust . Thanks for this post.

  20. This was indeed a beautiful post making me jealous and yet pushing me to pursue my dreams and passions. It is actually difficult to balance personal and professional life and on top of it keeping your passion alive is even harder. But I hope you keep doing it. As of me I have never visited these places but one day I intend to. I hope the passion is still alive then.

  21. Everything well said. Is there a group of more passionate and positive people than those with wanderlust? I don’t think so. Glad to discover your blog and looking forward to reading more.

  22. A person needs roots, as well as freedom. I, too, love the open road-or water, as the case may be. I also miss working with children, after a time- so my current position, working full time, with a group of troubled children, fits well. I have plenty of time, with breaks during the academic year and the two -month summer hiatus, to head for parts exhilarating. I thoroughly enjoy your journeys, both Down Under and farther afield.

  23. Totally loved reading this post! Really nice to know how one gets to where they are, made me think of my own life journey so far and how the “Travel Bug” bit me too. Wishing you all the luck and success for pursuing both your passions. πŸ™‚

  24. I definitely understand the conundrum. I moved from Canada to London so that I could better balance my engineering career and travelling simultaneously but every day I still feel a tug in one direction or the other. I guess that’s the good part about being young, we still get to figure it all out.

  25. Your blog is really inspiring ! As a student in international business, I really want to discover the world, but don’t have a lot of money.. So I hope I’ll find some ways, and maybe will tell u my own stories ?? Xxx

  26. After reading, I know that your two passions can be done. I have many friends in the healthcare field that do travel jobs (3 weeks on 3 weeks off). Would that be something that you would be interested in? Or, you could get very creative with your schedule. I have had others healthcare friends that have one location job, but arrange the schedule to have monthly two weeks off, but working straight the other time. It is a sacrifice, but you get the off time to travel. Here’s to looking up!

    1. Jobs like that sound amazing, but are much harder to come by for midwives than they are for nurses. Maybe one day I will find one that suits me πŸ™‚

  27. Great! I totally agree with you! And it is really awesome to find something that ispires you so much! I feel pretty much similar way as you, I feel physically sick if I don’t go for a road journey and don’t explore new places. But as most of others, I have to do my 9-5 job in order to be able to do it. Luckily, I love my dayjob as much as youlove yours!
    Keep doing what makes you happy and thanks forsharing it in your awesome blog!

  28. It’s great you have two passions! Don’t worry about it, sounds like you’re finding a way to balance them at the moment. Plus, midwifery is surely one of the most transportable skills there is? Backpacking isn’t the only way to try a long trip, in some ways working overseas will have you seeing more of a country.

    1. You would think so, but a lot of countries make it incredibly difficult to work as a midwife, with many more limitations than nurses experience – which is a big shame!

      1. I didn’t know that, apologies for ill informed advice! Yeah, what a shame, there are so many places where more midwives would have a huge impact, you’d think they’d make it easy.

  29. This was a great post and oddly timed as I’ve been experiencing the exact same thing. Just without the babies. Good luck and I can’t wait to read more travel stories.

  30. What a cool story! I’m glad you got back out there and discovered a wonderful new passion. I can’t wait for us to get out there in the world, ourselves. And I can’t imagine doing it alone. I like having at least one person who can suffer with me πŸ˜€

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