Travelers, Are they the real Peacekeepers?

My latest decision in life, to sell everything and go traveling, leaves me with many different thoughts in my head.  Am I running away from my problems?  Am I avoiding dealing with some deep rooted issues that I may have?  Do I REALLY need to go to this extreme?  Why am I doing this?

For many people, who have never really traveled very far, I can imagine that it is seen as an escape, akin to running away to join the circus.  I can hear the criticism’s “What good is that going to do for humanity?”  “What a waste of a life.”

But I come at this from a very different view point.

I feel that travelers have a GIFT to offer the world.  In the days of fear and intolerance that many are facing with recent political events, it is absolutely NECESSARY to have a polarized view point, that promotes love, understanding and acceptance.  I believe that this is the role of the traveler.  To offer their fellow man, a different perspective.  To be able to spread a message to those who are afraid, that the world is not a scary place.

For sure, there ARE places that are overrun with militant groups, and are literally “terrorized”, and I don’t recommend going to those places, but 99.9999999999999999% of humanity is kind, compassionate, and really just wants to live the best life that they can live.  This includes people from ALL walks of life, all colours, all political beliefs, and all religions.

As a somewhat ‘privileged’ (I believe that most of us from the western world are privileged, so let’s just leave it at that) white woman, I have had one time in my life that I experienced Racism that really sticks out in my mind.  Sure I have been to places where they are fed up with tourists and I wasn’t treated with the utmost respect, but this story comes from the United States.  A land that I considered the same as Canada.  A land where many of our customs and beliefs are similar.

My boyfriend and I arrived in South Carolina only one month after 911.  We went there to help a friend fix up their boat in Beaufort, a small town that is near the Georgia border, down in what I think is bordering on an area known as the “Deep South”.  He had bought the boat and planned to sail it down to the Bahamas and charter it from there to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale in Florida. Our plan was to stay on and crew for him, which we did.  We spent a good 2-3 months in this area, so we got to know the lay of the land a little bit more than if it had been a quick trip.

Now, I have to admit, I can’t quite recall if this incident happened in South Carolina, Georgia or Florida, as we visited all three states during the course of this trip.  Where ever it was, we were wandering around some place at some point, and we came across a coffee shop.  Like millions of people do every day around the world, I walked into the coffee shop to order a coffee.

There was no line up so I walked straight up to the counter, to place my order. I could see that the servers were busy, so I simply stood and waited to be asked what I wanted.  Being the polite and patient Canadian that I am, I wasn’t about to yell ‘excuse me’, or make a fuss.  There were 4 men behind the counter, and at least two of them saw me, so I figured they would be right along shortly to take my order.  I waited and waited and waited as they were all keeping themselves busy with their backs to me doing mundane tasks like cleaning, refilling pots, mostly just puttering around.  I probably waited 5 minutes before I finally figured out what was going on.  All of the men behind the counter were black.  It suddenly hit me that I was not welcome in there, and I could literally have stood there all day, and I would not have been served.

The feeling in that moment that washed over me is impossible to explain.  I was hurt and rejected sure, but mostly I was sad.  It was in that moment that I caught the tiniest glimpse of what life must be like for those that are “different” from us white people.  Of what they must go through on a day to day basis.  Of how they must feel, and the rejection that they endure.

It was in that moment that I FINALLY understood racism.

Now, I can appreciate that Racism is not specifically a White and Black issue.  Many groups of the same colour, are racist amongst themselves.  But coming from a predominantly small white town in Canada, I had never seen any sort of bigotry or hatred of people from different ethnicities.  Sure we heard about it, but did we really understand it?

I also travelled from a very young age, so I was exposed to many different cultures and people very early on.  I don’t see colour or race, we are all just people on this planet.  Sure I take note when people dress differently, or display different ethnicities or religious beliefs, but I do not judge them for their appearance or beliefs, and I certainly don’t lump everyone I see wearing a certain type of clothing into one large pool of people who are a certain way.

If this world is to become a better place, we must promote tolerance, and through that we will beat the hate.  I encourage ANYONE to travel, to just step foot in another country, to see how others live, to talk to the locals, to really EXPERIENCE a place.  Because only then will we truly find that we are literally all just in this together.

And so, I will travel.   I will inspire.  I will continue to be a peacekeeper, educating the world that we are all just one.  I feel that this is my mission.  I feel that this is my passion.

We all want the best life has to offer and none of us has any right to take that away from anybody else.

“Life is Short, let’s get busy!”

Xo Peace

acceptance

 

I dream a dream…..

I dream a dream where every day is new and exciting.  Where the ordinary things in life, cease to exist.  Where time stretches on into infinity.  Where the sun kisses my skin, and the warm wind blows through my hair.

I dream a dream of visiting far off destinations, of meeting new people, of discovering the world. I feel like I was born a traveler, and there is so much to see out there in the world.  It boggles my mind…….  I want to see it all……..  I want to do it all.

This is my dream…….

It all seems so far off, but this dreams’ realities CAN come true.

And I have figured out how!

For about 6 months to a year now, I have really started to ask myself “Is there more to life than this?”  I would even go so far as to ask my partner what his thoughts were on the matter.  After a long and exhausting day at work I would look him squarely in the eyes and say “Do you ever think that there is more out there in life than running on the hamster wheel, working 9-5 and feeling like we are never getting ahead?”  He would shrug his shoulders and say things like “Well that is what we are working towards aren’t we?”

Yes, we worked!  And worked, and worked and worked……and then worked some more! 

We still work and work and work.  We are both self employed.  He is a Landscaper and I am a House Painter.  Together we make a good team.  We both have experience doing each others’ jobs, so helping each other when needed works well for us, and we rarely need to hire subcontractors.  We are also both artists.  Chris is a tattoo artist, and I muck about with many different art forms (visit www.jillianamatt.com if you want to see a bit.) Neither of us have ever made a living at our art, but it has been something that we have both wanted to do at some point.

Sometime last fall I realized that despite the fact that we were working and working and working as hard as we could, we were falling behind financially.  We were eating out frequently because we were too tired to cook, we were going away on weekends because we just needed a change of scenery.  We were exhausted from a busy summer of gardening and transforming our yard from a rectangular patch of grass to a stunning park like setting.  We also grew food!  Lots of it!  We didn’t buy produce or fruit for months last year, but we were still sinking into a pile of debt.

I also started to get completely overwhelmed with our stuff!  In fact, we had a shed built (that we couldn’t afford) with the intention of moving “stuff” from the basement to the shed, so that we could gain some breathing room down there.  Our ultimate plan was to open the basement up so that we could create the perfect artist studio, so that we could finally start working seriously on our passions.  (My passion, in fact, is not art after all……but there will be lots more about that to come.)

Now, I should also note here that with Chris being such a great tattoo artist, he decided to take over a tattoo shop in September that was about to close down.  He hadn’t worked in a shop in a while, and he felt it time to get back at it, and to build his portfolio once again.  (www.facebook.com/inkcaptattoos) While he was getting some business, it surely wasn’t paying for itself (we all know these things take time), so we were forced to try and pay for that, as well as all of our other bills that we already had.  We have payments on 2 vehicles, 2 car insurance policies, house insurance, mortgage, workers compensation, cell phones, utilities, business insurance, etc. etc. etc……. you name it, we have it.

But tattooing is Chris’ passion, so although we knew that it wasn’t currently sustaining itself, we held faith that the clients would come.  Unfortunately with the winter being a quiet season in the tattoo business (coupled with living in a smallish, and remote town), things were grim.  He was only in there 2 days of the week, while landscaping the rest, but being away from landscaping for those 2 days, while taking on more debt, was not a happy scenario.

At some point, I realized that I had been down this path before.  My now ended (for 5 years now) marriage was a string of bad financial choices and too much stuff.  We were also constantly drowning in stuff and to top it off,  we moved 5 times in 6 years!  Not a happy scenario!  (Oh did I say that already?!)  I knew that I was headed in the same direction (although this time I wasn’t moving anywhere), and I knew that things needed to change.

After Christmas, when I got back home, I decided for once and for all that it was time to seriously sit down and take a look at what bills were coming out of our account, and how much it all was.  I’ve never been a budget-er, but I have excellent credit.  I always find a way to make just minimum payments, but even that was starting to become really hard.  2 credit cards had approached their limits, and there was no sign that this was going to be corrected anytime soon.  After doing my calculations, I knew that something major had to change.  We were in way over our heads, and there was no end in sight.

Coincidentally (or more appropriately “synchronistic-ly”), an interesting documentary had just come out called Minimalism. I’m sure you have heard of it, it is getting rave reviews right now.  I watched Minimalism on January 11th.  That evening as I sat and watched it, while working on my artwork, it was like a lightening bolt erupted out of the sky and blasted me right in the back of the head.

I thought “This is it!  Can it really be this easy?”

I left my art bench and went into the living room to talk to Chris.  I said “Can I talk to you for a minute?”  He said “Sure.”  I could tell that he was nervous about this conversation.  After all, we have been dealing with a huge amount of stress around money, and conversations weren’t always the best as we really started to realize the situation we were in.

I said “How do you feel about selling everything and going traveling?”  He took a deep breath and said “Well, I wouldn’t mind, but what about my tattoo shop?”  And in one sentence I said “Sweetie, the whole world is your tattoo shop.”img_0637

Within 10 minutes, he was completely on board and even super excited!  On January 11th, our lives changed, our perspectives changed, our focus changed!  On January 11th, the world became our Oyster again!

Since the decision we have been excited to face each day.  We are driven and focused, and we know that there is finally an ultimate payoff for all the hard work we have been doing.  Everything we are now working for, is worth it and has meaning.  Clarity is falling down all around us like bright comets descending from the heavens, helping to guide our way.

We don’t know ALL the details yet, but we have a general idea of how this will play out.  First off, we are headed to Central America/Southern Mexico.  Chris really wants to learn Spanish, and I could certainly use more practice.  We don’t want to flit about from place to place, but would rather rent an apartment or small house ($275 a month furnished in some places!), for 3-6 months and REALLY experience a place.  Experience the people, the food, the culture.

Chris will bring his tattoo gear with us, and be a roaming tattoo artist, while I attempt to create a living at writing.  Which, by the way, I have wanted to do for quite some time, but never felt like I had the time (surprise, surprise!).

The plan is ambitious. We have A LOT of stuff!

It will take us a few months, maybe a year, to get everything sold, and get our ducks in a row.  But we are focused!  Focused on creating a life that we LOVE!  Focused on finding HAPPINESS and CONTENTMENT!  Focused on cultivating our passions (mine is traveling in case you didn’t figure that out yet). Focused on living a meaningful, exciting and, even, EXHILARATING life!

I knew when I turned 40 in October that life was “just beginning”, but I could never have predicted how true that was!  Look out world!  Here we come!

** Follow our letting go process (already there has been tears!) through this blog by signing up with your email address.  I will update frequently and let you all know how it is going!**

img_1743-1

 

%d bloggers like this: