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Traditional Living in Costa Rica – Part 1

Published October 20, 2017 by jillamatt

Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….

We are on day 4 of our trip, and I can honestly say already that if we had to return home for some unknown reason, that I would be content with our experience. Today was everything that I had hoped to achieve on our travels, and more!

We are currently in Monteverde, a mountaintop community, located in Costa Rica’s northern highlands. “Green Mountain”, the translation of Monteverde, couldn’t be more accurate. Every direction you look, there are plants of seemingly endless descriptions and green mountains stretch as far as the eye can see. We know this for sure, as the Air BnB that we booked is perfectly perched on the side of one such mountain, and the vista below is absolutely breathtaking. We can see all the way west to the Nicoya Peninsula, and in the right light the “Golfo de Nicoya” (Gulf of Nicoya) in front of the peninsula, dances and sparkles in the sunlight.

Read on to hear about our experiences so far…….

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After spending 2 nights in Alajuela, the neighbouring city to Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, and feeling that we had recovered sufficiently from our dreaded red eye flight from Calgary, through Toronto, we decided to head into the interior of Costa Rica, instead of hitting the beach. We will be house sitting right on the beach for 2 months at the end of October, so we will have lots of beach time to come. The mountains were calling us.

In 2004, my last visit to Costa Rica, I had visited a small mountain town called Monteverde. I had very fond memories of this place, but such as it was back then, our main motivation was to get to the beach, so we only spent a night or two. I longed to come back to explore more of this area, and to try and get a better feel for life in the highlands.

I did a search for Monteverde on my Air BnB app, to see what would come up. There were many options in many price ranges, but as I scrolled the list, one caught my eye. “Paradise House Monteverde #2 – Farmstay”.  The description definitely called to my yearning to learn more about the Costa Rican life.  Check it out below:

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Turns out that as it is the low season, and the internet had been washed out with the latest Hurricane, we got a discount and only paid $68 for 3 nights!

I quickly read it out to Chris and he said “Yes! Book it!”

Our plan was set! Here was our chance to learn about a traditional Costa Rican way of life. My goal with travelling is always to connect with locals, to see how others are living, to learn their way of life, and to share it with others. This sounded like a perfect fit! I booked 3 nights, knowing that would give us 2 full days to enjoy ourselves in a lovely, peaceful location.

3 nights = $68 CAD

With the help of our host in Alajuela, we booked a bus trip up into the mountains. Costing just $15 US (including a $5 booking fee for booking online), the bus would leave Alajuela at 3:00 and arrive at 7:00pm. In the tropics, every day of the year, it is dark by 6:00, so I knew that it would be dark when we arrived at our location. I messaged this to Orlando, our farm host, and he assured me that since they were located well out of Monteverde proper, he would arrange a transport to pick us up at the Bus stop.

The bus ride was a typical one, driving quickly down paved highways, weaving along the coastline of the Gulf of Nicoya, until all of a sudden we took a sharp, right hairpin turn onto a gravel road. After 2 hours on the road, we were finally headed into the mountains. Immediately there was a sign that said Monteverde 35km. I commented to Chris that surely it can’t take 2 more hours to go 35 kilometres. However, I was sorely wrong!

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Note:  It took us almost 4 hours to reach Monteverde.  Mind you, we were on a large bus, a private vehicle is likely quicker.

Within minutes, make that seconds, I could see that YES, this definitely could take 2 hours! The road was windy, narrow, steep and seeming impossibly small to accommodate the bus that we were riding on. As we were seated in the front two seats to the right of the driver, my favourite spot to “see it all” we got a full spectacle of what was to transpire. Corner after corner, sharp curve after sharp curve, we wound our way up the tight mountain road. With the recent rains of Hurricane Nate , having wreaked havoc with many mountain roads, we witnessed a few places where part of the road was washed away down the mountain. In these instances, the bus would slowly but surely, squeeze itself down the inside lane, hugging as close as it would dare to the inside ditch, without falling into it. We also watched the Humidity indicator that was located at the front of the bus go from 50% to 90% as we approached the clouds and entered an area aptly known as the Cloud Forest. We watched numerous small frogs leap across the road, scurrying out of the way of the large bus wheels, some we knew made it, others we weren’t so sure. Never the less, we cheered them on as we saw them.

Many times we would come across another vehicle going down the road, each time both of us would squeeze as tight as we could to the opposite shoulders of the road, literally inching past each other. However, in one instance, we came head to head with a driver of a commercial utility truck. It was now dark and drizzling rain and there was clearly no way for both vehicles to pass each other on the current stretch of road.

After both vehicles flashed their lights at each other a couple times, the driver of the truck finally realized that if anyone was to back up, it was him. He jumped out of his truck to survey the situation around him, and to come up with a solution, a way to pull over so that we could pass each other. After realizing that the other driver needed assistance in backing up (so that he didn’t drive off the road and over the cliff side) our driver jumped out to direct him. The amusement in the bus was hilarious as the locals chitter chatted back and forth laughing and carrying on about the situation. I couldn’t help but think about if the same situation would have happened in Canada; Number one, there would not be a public bus driving on a road such as this in Canada (unless of course it was guaranteed to be the only vehicle driving back and forth), and Number 2, if a bus load of people were held up in this way, there would be more than one very unhappy person. However, the mood was jovial, and everyone was just happy to have the entertainment.

Finally, as our driver helped the other driver back up down the windy road, and into a slightly wider section, another man, that we had picked up at a rest stop, and who had been chatting with the driver at the front of the bus ever since, jumped into the drivers seat and started driving the bus down to meet him. Chris and I burst out laughing, as we had no idea who this guy was, but trusted that he knew what he was doing either way. What little choice did we have after all? Thankfully, he safely drove us the couple hundred meters forward to pick up our other driver, but not before passing the transfer truck and another vehicle behind it on the cliff side of the road, with mere inches to spare between us (and I’m sure mere inches to spare with the side of the road, and in turn, the cliff as well.)

I mentioned to Chris more than once that I was thankful that it was dark because although we knew that we were driving up the side of the mountain, we were unable to see just how perilous and treacherous that it was if we were to simply slide down into the abyss below.

As we started to approach a more populated area, made obvious by the lights that now lit the road ahead of us, many locals would signal to the driver to be let off in various areas. Again, NOT something you would necessarily see in Canada.

Despite all of this, we arrived in Monteverde at about 6:50pm. We departed the bus and stacked our luggage against the wall. Other travellers scampered around grabbing taxis or staring into their iPhones to figure out their next move. Nobody approached us about a ride, so I poked my head around the corner and locked eyes with a man standing next to a van. He gave me a look of approval so I walked over to him to show him the address of where we were going. Before I had a chance to do that, and much to my surprise, he showed me a picture on his phone of Chris and I! I realized that it was our Air BnB profile photo, and that our host must have sent it to him so that he knew who to pick up. “Perfecto!” I announced and patted him on the shoulder. I ran off to grab Chris and our luggage, and we were whisked away into the darkness, along another bumpy and washed out gravel road.

Unfortunately, I never did get our drivers name, but he quickly realized that I spoke a bit of Spanish, and we were able to carry out a simple conversation. He explained to me that the reason the roads were so bad was because of the extensive rains that the hurricane had deposited on the area. There were many more washed out areas along the next section of road that we travelled, and even a couple of crews working late into the night to repair them.

After about 15 minutes, we pulled into a tiny gap in a fence, and his headlights illuminated our home for the next few days. It was absolutely pitch black, but we could tell by the lights in the distance and below us, that we were perched on a hillside of sorts. He helped us with our luggage, found the key and opened the door, and then wished us well. I asked about when we would meet our host, Orlando, and he said something about “Manana”. Good enough, we would see him tomorrow.

We quickly unpacked our food and got busy with making some dinner. The house was simple, with 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and a small kitchen where we could make our meals over the course of our stay. We took turns running in and out of the front doors, both ecstatic with our location, and wanting desperately for it to be the next day, so that we could see the fantastic view that we knew was spread out before us.

But alas, we knew that we would have to wait. In the meantime, we ate our dinner, sat on our front porch, and stared off into the vast unknown. Tomorrow would bring the light and a whole new adventure!

** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our page.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

To email me directly, please do so at jillamatt@me.com.

 

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Family First

Published October 10, 2017 by jillamatt

Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff.  In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years.  We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished.  We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel.  This is our story…….

Whew!  It’s been 20 days since we left our home in Powell River, and we are still in Canada!  We have driven roughly 3900km, visited multiple friends and family members, eaten 6 turkeys (not the whole turkeys obviously!!) and have made some great memories!

We left Powell River on September 20th and headed over to Vancouver Island to visit friends in Comox and Victoria.  We rode our last BC Ferry (hallelujah!!!!) from Victoria to Tsawassen, south of Vancouver and headed to the British Columbia interior to see family in Vernon.  After dropping some items off in my home town of Canmore, Alberta, we made our way up to Edmonton, Daysland and Vermillion, in Central Alberta, to see more family.

Next was alllllll they way to the Southern end of Saskatchewan, the town of Lafleche and the farm that my partner grew up on.  His brother and sister live there, and it was especially nice for me to put a place to somewhere that he has told me so much about.

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Rundle Mountain, just outside my birthplace of Banff, Alberta.

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Cascade Mountain, also just outside of Banff.

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The gravel road and approach to the farm where Chris’ mom lives in Central Alberta.

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Some hoodoos in Grasslands National Park on the border of Montana and Saskatchewan, near Chris’ home town of Lafleche.

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A typical Saskatchewan scene. This time, driving through the prairies, I really appreciated the vast, wide open spaces.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was next on the list, where Chris re-connected with numerous friends and family members, some of which he hadn’t seen in 16-20 years!  After Saskatoon we made our way down to Lethbridge in Southern Alberta to celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving with 39 family members at my Aunt and Uncles house.

One more leg brought us back to Canmore, where we will be until we fly out on the 13th.

Although we spent a ridiculous amount of money on gas, we are both so happy and grateful to have re-kindled connections, given a bazillion hugs, had many laughs, and to have gotten one more glance at a portion of Canada’s vast landscape.

Throughout the journey we also found ourselves, day by day, breathing deeper, sleeping harder, thinking clearer, FEELING BETTER!  These last 9 months, have been an absolute whirl wind, but in every way, it all fell into place just as it should have.  Soon we will be basking in the hot tropical sun in Costa Rica, and all of this will feel like some crazy dream (and parts of it a nightmare!)

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The story of selling our house………

When the sale of our house went through in August, I wanted to sit down and write about it, but we were just so busy with clearing everything out and wrapping up our businesses, that I just didn’t have the time.  But I can tell you, it was the most synchronistic miracle that I can ever imagine!

For those of you who don’t know, we have been hired to house sit in Costa Rica for the months of November and December.

*To learn more about house sitting opportunities, please click here.*

This happened in April, and before that, we didn’t really have a schedule or a timeline, so we were just working away at selling stuff, with the intention of finishing off our house renovations when we got around to it.  Over the course of 3 years, we had pulled down walls in our kitchen, but had never put any of it back together.  There were also numerous places throughout the house where the plaster had started to crack and crumble off the walls.  We really didn’t think much of it…….it’s amazing what you can get used to.  Bare studs greeted us, and gaping holes in the walls, all of it just lingering on our subconscious’ in the background.  All of it likely debilitating, and not promoting good mental health, but we were so busy with running our business and just life in general, that it always just seemed like it would get completed “some day.”

Upon learning that we had gotten the house sitting ‘gig’, we realized that if we wanted to get out of Powell River and sell our house in time, we had better get busy.  Thus began 3 of the hardest working months that I hope to ever experience in my life.  From May until the beginning of August, we renovated late into most every night, worked long hard days on the weekends and put every drop of extra time and energy that we had left into completing the house. All this while working full time and running our individual businesses, and continuously purging our “stuff”, selling things via facebook, and in 5 different yard sales.

Although the inside of the house was a very important piece of the puzzle, as far as selling goes, we had also put in TONS of work into our yard over the 4 summers that we lived there, and our garden held the ultimate pride of place for both of us.  We had hand built our soils using many permaculture techniques that we had learned over the years in various different gardening workshops that we had taken.  They were rich in micro-nutrients, giving us great growing conditions and beautiful produce.  We also built numerous ornamental beds, mostly using plants that my partner acquired from his landscaping clients that didn’t want them anymore.  It was an ever changing project, that we lovingly picked away at, over time creating a beautiful back yard oasis, a far cry from the patch of grass that it was when I bought the house.

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This was the start of the yard transformation.

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A Garden Oasis.

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Numerous times throughout the summer, I would say “I really want someone to buy this house that is going to love and nurture our garden, and who will appreciate all the work that we put into it.”

I had many discussions about selling the house, with many different people, and every time I would tell them that the right person will buy our house.  A person that will want to grow their own food and get back to living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, the same one that we had cultivated for ourselves.  I also stated out loud many times that I really wanted good, valuable community members to buy our house.  Powell River is a special town, and the community is the most special part of all.  Chris and I both contributed immensely to the community, and we hoped that whoever bought our house, would do the same.

As we inched closer and closer to our deadline, the time got shorter and shorter, and the pressure got greater and greater to bring the renovations to completion.  Family and friends expressed worry and dismay, at how long things were taking, and that we were leaving things too late.  I always insisted that I WOULD NOT list the house until the renovations were completed, and that when we were ready, there would be a buyer waiting for this particular house to come on the market.  I would tell people over and over again about the kind of person that I wanted to buy the house, expressing once again that they will love and cherish the garden above all else.

On August 9th, we were FINALLY ready.  (Read that post here if you like.)

The house was spotless, the reno’s 100% complete and the garden was weeded and pruned, ready to put on it’s best show.

And then we sold it………sight unseen!

The sign went up on the 9th, but it didn’t go live online until about 3:00pm on the 10th.  Our listing hadn’t even hit the public MLS system yet, it was only being displayed on the Realtor Pages, giving access to only those that had signed up to receive notification of new listings, it was set to hit the public MLS the next morning on the 11th.

My realtor called me at about 7pm and told me that he was writing up an offer.

He arrived at our house at 9:00pm and handed me a letter.  He said “Read this first.”  I read the first 3 sentences and started to laugh.  I said to Chris “WOW, I think I need to read this out loud.”  This is how it went:

Dear Jillian,

We’ve taken the long way round to come to Powell River (or in my case come back to, as I lived there for a year in 2006), and in the meantime you’ve put so much love and labour into your house and land.  It shows!  We are incredibly hopeful that  you’ll choose us to pass on the stewardship of the land to our family, and let us continue to deepen our literal and symbolic coastal roots, teach our kids about berry picking on summer mornings, and get settled in so we can bring our dreamed-of home to fruition.

 A little about us: I’m a counsellor, previously an outdoor and experiential educator, having spent years taking kids up mountains and onto the water.  I’ve kept a garden wherever I’ve lived, in all kinds of conditions – Lethbridge, Florida, Thailand, Maui (where I was a permaculture intern on a large farm), Toronto (community gardens and guerilla gardens!), and my hometown of East Vancouver.  I’ve always had activist elements in whatever work I do and space I inhabit, and intersectional food security feels increasingly crucial in theses smoky times.  I worked for 2 seasons in the Cottonwood Gardens in Strathcona, developing a native seedling nursery and building a passive solar greenhouse.  I’ll be working part time as a family counsellor when we get to Powell River in a couple of weeks.  I’ve spent lots of time reading and dreaming up the garden that I would grow when we finally get our plot – and it would be a mind blowing synchronistic gorgeous miracle if we could love this land as our own.  

My husband is a community development guy.  The biggest reason we are able to relocate to Powell River is that he has taken on a new role leading a large community agency in Powell River.  He’s also a former wilderness guide, well travelled, and home projects and woodworking fan, and loves the prospect of growing healthy, self sufficient communities in our home and garden life as well as in his work in the world. 

Our two little girls are so, so excited to move to Powell River.  They’re going to attend the outdoor school in Wildwood, which is about the complete opposite of their school experience so far!  We’ve spent the past year in Bangkok, in the most dense, urban, concrete jungle imaginable.  It’s challenged us in so many ways, and helped us to grow crystal clear about our values in how we want to raise our family, the ways we want to contribute to community, and our heartfelt desire to eat the food we grow and share that abundance.  Although we are world travelling people, the life season of settling down is upon us and we are very ready for it.

What you’ve done with your time in this space is inspiring, to say the least.  As I’m sure you can tell from this emotional and excited email, we would love to carry on your good work.  I don’t know how else to say it.

With gratitude and hope-

Erica 

They offfered us $5000 over our asking price, which was already pushing the envelope of what houses were worth in our area.  Our realtor, in fact, had expressed great concern over whether or not we were being realistic with what we had listed at.  We kept insisting that it was the landscaping and the work that went into the yard, that gave it the value that we had determined it was worth.  It was obvious from this letter that not only would these people love and cherish our garden, they were clearly community oriented, and I’m sure, will contribute greatly to Powell River’s community of wonderful people.

Of course, there was the typical subjects, finanacing, insurance and inspection.  So it was really hard to get 100% excited, since the prospect of it falling through, was definitely a possibility.  However, we felt pretty darn confident that we had indeed found the PERFECT buyer (or they found us), and that all plans would move ahead accordingly.  Of course, it all went through with no problems, and the papers were signed for the sale to complete on September 29th.

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With the renovations behind us, and the sale papers signed, we plodded full steam ahead putting all of our remaining energy (there was beginning to be very little left) into getting rid of the rest of our possessions by holding 2 more yard sales and selling as much as possible.

We made a plan to leave Powell River on September 20th.  Our itinerary had been sent to family members that we planned to visit, before leaving the country, so we were committed. We worked night and day, to bring that plan to fruition, wrapping up all of the work for our clients, selling our belongings, taking items to the dump, and donating items to the thrift store.

We put every ounce of energy that we had into making our dream of living a life of travel into reality!

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Over the last couple years, I have been learning a lot about the power of manifestation, about the fact that if we ask the universe for what we want in life, and if we be specific about what it is we are asking for, that everything we hope for, and more, will come to fruition.  I’ve watched documentaries ranging from The Secret, to many others, have read a bunch of books, and many online articles,  all the time wondering if it really does happen.  If we really are capable of directing our futures?  And I held the belief that it will all work out, that if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, all the while working towards our goal, that it will eventually all fall into place.

Selling our house, to the people that we did, in the timeline that we did, was nothing short of a miracle.  I am 100% convinced that we literally manifested those buyers.  Our insistence on who was going to buy the house and realizing the value of what we had put into the property, was absolutely KEY to how it all turned out.

I’m here to tell you that manifesting DOES work!  And that we are ALL capable of creating a life that we love!

We are so excited to be sitting right where we are sitting in life right now!  We came up with a crazy scheme back on January 11th, and we have worked tirelessly from that day forward, to make it all happen.  In 4 days time, we will be flying south to Costa Rica, putting many months of waiting for it to happen, behind us.

In 4 days time, we will be off on our adventure, living a meaningful life, and looking forward to a lifetime of excitement, happiness and joy.

Both of us would like to express our deep gratitude to our friends and families that have supported and encouraged us along the way.  We have been met with very little resistance to this crazy scheme, as everyone just seems to send us supporting and encouraging words.  So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of you out there who have our backs!  We feel the support and we are incredibly grateful to have it!

** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our page.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

 

 

September 22, 2017- We Are Unplugged!!!

Published September 22, 2017 by jillamatt

Well, we did it!  I feel like we have carried out a seemingly impossible, monumental task!  

In the last nine months, we have sold all of our possessions, wrapped up 4 years of started renovation projects, sold our house, sold our cars, closed two businesses and refocused our lives into a new direction. 

It has been one hell of a lot of work, but I can tell already that it was worth it!

In fact, I said to Chris yesterday that “even if our plans to go travelling didn’t work out, and we had to come back and start over, it would be worth it.”

I feel like I have cleansed my soul. Like all the burdens that I had been carrying around with me, have flaked off. 

This includes mental burdens, emotions that hadn’t been dealt with properly.  Memories that I was holding onto, that didn’t serve me anymore. Things that we both kept, triggering memories from past lives, that were keeping us both from growing and expanding. 

This includes physical responsibilities that were sometimes crippling.  I would have stints where I felt so overwhelmed with life, that I would have to just lay on the couch for an entire day. Staring off into space or numbing my mind with scrolling through Facebook all day. If I had the energy, we would try and go outside for a hike or other recreational activity, trying to escape the insanity. 

Having been self employed for most of my adult life, including opening and closing multiple home based business’, my life revolved around paper work. Deadlines to file and pay things like goods and services taxes, workers compensation reports and bills (oh the relentless pile of bills!) Business licences and insurance policies (we had 5 on the go) needed to filed and renewed …. the list literally goes on and on. Not too mention that I did all of my own bookeeping. Add this to working full time, volunteering for various community organizations, and attempting to nurture and develop my creative side by constantly having numerous creations on the go at once. 

My life was a constant push and pull of things that “needed” to get done. 
I say was, because as of a day ago, all of that is gone now. 
We are on day two of leaving Powell River, my home of 11 years, and Chris’ for 4, and of course we still talk about “our house” in the present tense, as if we are only on a vacation visiting friends. 

This morning I took a few moments to remember my thoughts when we drove away from the house. I looked in every room before we left, we hugged the neighbours, and then we were gone. Poof!  Just like that!

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We had spent our last day running around town dropping final loads at the dump, the thrift store, and returning items we had borrowed from friends in our final days. We also spent the day in a bit of a limbo as our “get away” vehicle had been in the shop for two days, and for most of the day, we didn’t know if we were leaving that day or not. 

Loading up recycling and office supplies to donate to a local community run organization.

Final Dump Run.

Off went our bed! Guess we have no choice but to leave now!

My parents had kindly driven their camper van out to us from Alberta in August, then flew back home. The plan was that we would have a vehicle to leave Powell River with, allowing us to freely sell both of our vehicles, and still have a way to get our remaining belongings (only a couple boxes and an art piece or two) back to store at our parents before we flew off. 

Until the last week, the camper van just waited in our driveway. But as soon as the vehicles were starting to get sold, we used it to shuffle back and forth, moving them from here to there. (On a side note, our vehicles never did sell, at least not for what they should have, but that’s a story for another day.)

On Sept 18, the getaway van died. The fuel had run a bit lower than I would have liked, and it started chugging down the road. I thought it just needed more gas, so Chris bought a jerry can (we had owned about 10 of them!!) and went and got more gas to put in it. It didn’t help, and the van stayed parked on the side of the road that night. 

Our plan was to leave on the 20th. And although we had decided that there would be no stress, and that we could leave anytime, our families had different thoughts. They wanted to know when we were coming through to visit, so that they could prepare. Not too mention that once deciding on the 20th as our leaving date, we both REALLY wanted it to happen. 

At about 1:00 on the 19th, a tow truck driver picked up the van. Now, this is a story for small town living! We were out for lunch with friends when the tow truck driver finally called and said he was ready to meet us at the van. However we had just gotten our food, so Chris asked him if he could wait half an hour. Instead, he asked where we were eating, stopped by to get the keys, and went and dealt with it by himself, towing it to the shop!  In the meantime, we had one of our vehicles still with us, so we’re still able to get from A to B. 

Final delivery to the thrift store.

2 lonely folding chairs in the living room.

This is all that remains from a house full of stuff, and an utterly chaotic life. Add to this 2 duffels of clothes, and this is all we own!

Late that day, we stopped in at the shop to see if they had looked at it yet. They hadn’t, they were hoping to get to it in the morning. 

We had friends over that night, sitting on our patio furniture (that the new owners are buying,) in our living room. We both drank too much wine, which is probably a good thing as it allowed us to sleep that night. We were a buzz with anticipation. Most of what we felt was excitement, although some was surely anxiety about the state of the van. 

We woke up the morning of the 20th, waiting and waiting for a call. We immediately decided that the only thing to do, was to finish cleaning out the house, getting rid of the last of our items, and just acting like everything was going to be fine. And so we did. 

We live in a ferry dependant community, meaning that we can only leave at certain times of the day. Originally we had hoped to leave on the 5:15 ferry, getting us to our friends across the water at a reasonable time. The clock was ticking, we still had lots to do. 

Finally at 11 Chris called the shop to see what was up. They were just running diagnostics, and they had narrowed it down to a couple possibilities. 

We continued cleaning. Out went our recycling, our items for the thrift store, items that needed to be dropped off around town. We shuffled things back and forth, cleaning the house in stages between trips, until finally our last load had to go. Our mattress and two items of furniture that were junk, got loaded up, and we were off to the dump. 

Happy purgers running errands!

Slowly over the course of the week, my key ring also was purging itself. This is my last key, the key to my house. It was left as well, and now I own nothing that requires keys.

THIS WAS IT!  Our mattress was going!  There was no turning back!  If we had to stay another night, it would be at a friends house. We just kept moving forward, one step in front of the other. I never faltered in my faith that everything would be okay. That we had a plan, and it just had to work out. 

At 3:45 we got the call from the shop. The van was running fine. Apparently it had been running crappy in the morning when they moved it into the bay, but after running a ridiculous amount of diagnostics on it, they couldn’t find anything wrong with it, so they just started it up again. They drove it around, and it ran like a dream. 

No questions asked!  

We bolted down to the shop to pick it up. The towing of the vehicle was covered by my Dad’s extended auto plan insurance, but when we asked the mechanic what we owed for repairs, he said nothing. He told us that he didn’t fix anything, so he didn’t see any point in charging us anything. Most of a day of running diagnostics, and he didn’t see the need to charge us. We were ecstatic!  What a town we lived in!  What a wonderful send off gift!  

At this point we realized that our hopes of getting the 5:15 ferry were dashed, but we still could get the 8:45 boat, our last chance to leave that day. 
We picked the van up, drove straight to the car dealership that was going to sell my vehicle, dropped it off and went home to pack up our remaining stuff and finish cleaning the house.

At about 6:30, we headed down to the ferry terminal, got in line, went for dinner, and that was it!  We were gone!

The white van is our getaway vehicle. Everything we own, fits in there, with room to spare. Check out our going away sunset!!

Last meal in Powell River at the Thaidal Zone!


————-

It’s surreal to me that we have made this crazy transition, that there is no going back, that we have nothing to return to. That life is still going on, everybody is going about their daily business, but we aren’t.  

We have all of a sudden jumped into a life of meaning and decisions about what we WANT to do. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are details to solidify, and at some point, money will have to be made again, but for now, RIGHT NOW, we will enjoy this blissful existence. For we have literally spent the last 9 months giving our absolute all, just to get to this point. 

YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!


—————–—

I wrote the above segment to this post, this morning when I woke up. Shortly after, we went for a walk to a nearby coffee shop to grab a bite to eat and a coffee. Not long after sitting down to enjoy our goodies, some inexplicable tears started rolling down my face. Chris was looking at me inquisitively and I kept apologizing, not really knowing why it was happening. Always the analyzer, I immediately jumped into my head to try and figure out what was happening. The conversation in my head went something like this:

“Why am I crying?”

“Well you have sort of been through a lot, it’s okay to cry.”

“I’m not sad though, I don’t understand?!”

“It’s okay, you have been through a lot. It’s okay to cry.  This is all part of the process, just let it out.” 

I wasn’t a sobbing mess, they were just streams of water leaking out on their own accord.  Crying is one of those things that is most commonly associated with sadness, but after a few moments, I realized that it was joy. It was nothing more than utter relief and joy. 

So I sat with it.  Tears of happiness and the realization of what we have accomplished, and what we have to look forward to, just poured from my eyes. 

It reminded me of a time in Amsterdam, where we had a 23 hour layover on our way to our 6 week trip through Greece, Italy and Bulgaria, almost 2 years ago. I hadn’t travelled internationally in 8 years, and I had the exact same feeling of happiness and relief in a little Vietnamese restaurant as I watched the throngs of people walk by the windows. There too, tears of joy leapt from my eyes. 

This is it!  I have once again found joy!  THIS is what I have been searching for!  

I vow to myself to never let it go again. Sure, there will still be hard times, but my life will be lived with passion and determination. No more strings pulling me in a thousand directions. No more wrestling in my mind about what it is I SHOULD do.

From now on, we are making the rules for our life. 

From now on, we will NOT simply exist. 

———–

Thanks for reading!  Please subscribe on the right hand column if you would like my blog posts to go directly to your email inbox.

———–

Current Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 
Current travel plans: The next couple  weeks will see us driving  through BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan to visit friends and family before flying to Costa Rica mid October. 

If you are a traveller, and you would like to connect and talk travel, or if you just want to chat with us about our experiences, leave a comment below and we can connect!

September 7, 2017 – Freedom…..40???

Published September 8, 2017 by jillamatt

I

***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

This is part of a series of posts (ordered by Dated Titles) where I am recording my thoughts and emotions as we tackle getting rid of all of our possessions. From the day that I came up with this idea, to sell everything and travel the world, I have recorded my thoughts on certain days where I feel like writing. These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections.) 

 

Well, today is the day that I have jumped off of the hamster wheel.

I have been a self-employed house painter (that’s HOUSE painter, not ARTIST painter) for the last 9-10 (11…..12????) years.
I’m one of those weirdos that seriously loves painting.
Now, before you ask yourself these questions (because MANY people do), here are the answers:
YES! I enjoy the monotony!

NO! I don’t mind heights!

NO! I don’t get bored!

YES! I enjoy the repetition! (Is that the same as monotony??) 🙂

YES! It IS hard work!

But, what I enjoy the most with painting, is the transformation of whatever space it is that I am working in.

I enjoy watching my clients witness the change in perspective of how their space has changed.

I enjoy the creative process.

Because of my love of creativity, in the middle of this 10-ish year stint, I mixed in owning a local art gallery for 4 of those years. Meaning I painted very infrequently, but still kept my skills up.

But in 2015 we closed the gallery, and I was back at it painting full time.

It has been good. Through past painting clients, and word of mouth from gallery customers, I have established a good reputation in my town. In all honesty, things were just starting to get comfortable.

However, today I walked away from all of that.

I walked away in order to continue to grow.

I walked away because it was all too much. Too much paperwork, too many insurance policies, too many bills. Just too much “red tape.”

I walked away because I am tired of living a life where I can’t travel.

I walked away because deep, deep, DEEP down, I wasn’t happy.

I have FINALLY realized, at the age of 40, that life is too short to be unhappy, and that what makes me the most happy, is traveling.

Now, I don’t propose that I’m going to retire. I AM NOT the sort of person that just sits on the sidelines and watches the world go by. There will be more work in my future, I have absolutely no doubt. But the work in my future will have meaning. It will have purpose. I will no longer just be a cog in the wheel.

My schedule will be more free, and not one that is stuck in the ways of societal norms.


EVEN THOUGH I have been self employed for all of those years, I have maintained a pretty strict Mon-Fri 9-5 routine. If I took a Monday off, I usually would work a Saturday to balance this out.

My decision to follow this schedule is partly due to societal structures. Clients usually expected this sort of a schedule from me, and I just complied. But another part of  my decision was definitely due to trying to make as much money as I could, so that I could pay my bills. (I’m loving that this is in the past tense right now!!!)

However, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, even though I was actually enjoying what I was doing, I was not going to get ahead. Which inevitably meant that there would be no traveling.

BUT today I left that all behind! Today I feel like I have FINALLY taken control of my life.

I will no longer be restricted to what society has decided that I “should” do. From now on I will make solid and sound decisions that are guided by my heart, and my instinct.

This feeling is unbelievable!

And I am ecstatic!


All of a sudden I feel like every corner I turn, is the right corner. Every move I am making is sound. The universe seems to be guiding us along, and the more that I just let go and trust what’s going on, the more the miracles fall into place.

One of my latest posts on here was about listing our house for sale. Well…….the house is now sold! It was a magically synchronistic event, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

But, in the meantime, ask yourself; Are you happy? Is what you are doing really full filling you?

It is TIME to be asking these questions. It is TIME to make a change if you need to!

We MUST remember that we are NEVER too old to start living the life we WANT to live.

Life is short!

Let’s get busy!!!

 

** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.


August 20th – The Bear

Published August 21, 2017 by jillamatt

***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

This is part of a series of posts (ordered by Dated Titles) where I am recording my thoughts and emotions as we tackle getting rid of all of our possessions. From the day that I came up with this idea, to sell everything and travel the world, I have recorded my thoughts on certain days where I feel like writing. These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections.) 

Wow!  This last month has been an absolute whirlwind of emotions!

After completing the house renovation project (big PHEW!), and getting the house listed, we pretty much collapsed for a good week. We were both still working, but the evenings consisted of not much more than lounging on the couches and recovering from that crazy ordeal.

We worked absolutely Day AND night to get our house ready to sell. But the feeling we have now is such relief, it’s amazing.

With so much stuff cleared out, the house is now easy to clean, and for likely the first time ever, I actually enjoy it (cleaning that is)!  It feels really good to have so many bare walls and clear surfaces.

Although, we still have some stuff downstairs that needs to go, we feel rest assured that we can easily sell it all in our September yard sale.  After that, the rest can be donated.

From here on in, we really only need to start focusing on preparations for our trip, and getting rid of the last of our big furniture items, and kitchen stuff.

The Bear

As we cleared a bunch of stuff from our attic, before listing the house, I came across a box of old childhood toys that my mom had passed onto me some years back. It had been in storage in three different houses that I lived in, and I don’t think I had even looked in the box for at least 6 years.

In it I found what looked to be a handmade bear, one of many stuffed animals in the box.  I recognized it immediately from pictures of me as a baby. I don’t physically remember having it, as I was never really attached to those things as a kid, but because I had seen it in the pictures, it immediately created some sort of sentimental value in it that was really hard to let go of.

As I pulled it out of the box, I set it aside to deal with the rest of the stuff first. When it came time to do something with it, every ounce of me just wanted to tuck it back in the box, and stuff it back in the attic.  I even suggested it to Chris. Which resulted in a “no way!” from him.

I held the bear, hovering it over the bag for the thrift store for about a minute. It was probably one of the most indecisive minutes of my life. I looked up at Chris as I held it with the most pleading eyes. “I don’ know what to do with it.” “What do I do?”

In that moment, I really needed him to tell me what to do. Even though I had no memory of it, it somehow had this power over me that really took some determination to get through.

He just said “you need to let it go.”

Begrudgingly I stuffed it into the bag, but not before I took a photo of it. I wanted to tell this story, to show people how difficult letting these things go is, but that it really is possible to do.

Those eyes!! I somehow felt BAD casting him off, like I was somehow hurting his feelings.

After posting the picture on Instagram, and sharing it to Facebook, I got a couple requests from friends that wanted me to give it to them, so they could keep it for safe keeping.  Although I felt it a little silly, that they wanted to keep MY stuff for me, it somehow brought a little bit of relief.

Later that evening my cousin messaged me to ask if I had gotten rid of it yet. I hadn’t, it was still in the bag, ready to head to the thrift store the next day. We had some discussion about whether or not her mom had made it, because that is something that she did back in the day.

At the end of the conversation, she asked me to send it to her for safe keeping. I am 100% confident that I will never see that bear again, but at least it’s gone to a good home. There is some comfort in that……..somehow.

Cats!

In this last week, I also let go of my cat, Norbert. It was really hard, but again, he has gone to a good home, so I feel confident that he will be just fine.


Suddenly the house feels very quiet. I miss the little demanding meows that he would echo through the halls when it was dinner time. Or when he just needed to talk and have you hear his gripes. Although we never really knew what he was griping about, the whine that came from the meows made us think he was definitely complaining about something. Maybe whatever it was, has been resolved for him now.

I swept the floor again today, and realized that for the first time in a while, I’m actually winning the war on cat hair. I guess there is one silver lining!

Dealing with Norbert leaving, was hard enough on us both, but to make matters worse, Chris had to put his 11 year old cat down this past week.

Her new owner had taken her to the vet, and there was a few major things wrong with her, including a growth that was suspected to be cancerous, an over active thyroid, skin disease, rotting teeth that had exposed nerves to the elements…..not good. The vet suggested that she was not going to start getting better, and that the treatments involved would be very expensive.

The new owners were clearly not ready to take on the financial burden, so he had to bite the bullet, even though from the outside, she appeared fine.

Like I said, crazy emotions going on around here lately!

———-

But, all in all, and despite everything we are dealing with, we are mostly just excited.

As I was driving to town the other day, I had this crazy wash of emotion start in my belly, work its way to my chest, and seemingly burst from my eyes. It hit me so fast it was impossible to figure out what it was all about.

Was it pure excitement? Was it butterflies? Was it the realization that we are almost there, almost leaving this wonderful town we have called home for so long.

I can only imagine that these things will continue to happen, until we leave.

Not long to go now!  Only about a month!  This weekend we are having a going away party for ourselves. Work is winding up as we complete projects, and time is ticking along, as it does.

Soon we will be flying south, to a life of uncertainty, adventure & excitement!

** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

August 9th, 2017- The House is Listed!

Published August 10, 2017 by jillamatt

***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

This is part of a series of posts (ordered by Dated Titles) where I am recording my thoughts and emotions as we tackle getting rid of all of our possessions. From the day that I came up with this idea, to sell everything and travel the world, I have recorded my thoughts on certain days where I feel like writing. These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections.) 

Many thoughts and emotions are consuming me as today is the day that I officially listed my house for sale.

We have worked tirelessly to put it all back together, after living with walls half torn down, bare drywall in patches, and plaster and lathe exposed in every room.
Not too mention the yard was a dumping ground for all makings of potential renovation materials. Wood, windows, pallets, concrete blocks…….you name it we had it.

Now, it honestly does feel like an oasis, and hopefully whoever buys it, appreciates the love and attention we have put into it.
Like I said in the video, I’m sending it out to the universe now, and it’s in charge of whether or not it sells. But I know one thing that is certainly clear.  We have physically worked as hard as we possibly could have to bring this to completion, while both still working 5-6 days per week.
At the end of such hard work, I can only believe, with all my might, that there will be a payoff.

There is also a partially finished basement that didn’t quite make it into the video, but the good stuff is on the upper floor!!

Enjoy:)

** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

 

July 23, 2017- We are getting there….

Published July 24, 2017 by jillamatt

***Jill’s ‘letting go’ Diary***

This is part of a series of posts (ordered by Dated Titles) where I am recording my thoughts and emotions as we tackle getting rid of all of our possessions. From the day that I came up with this idea, to sell everything and travel the world, I have recorded my thoughts on certain days where I feel like writing. These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections.) 

Wow!  It’s been a while since I wrote last. I have had so much to say about this process, but never the time or energy to sit down and write it. I’ve also been having trouble with my laptop lately, so that has seemed like an easy excuse to not have to write. However, I remembered today that I wrote my whole Europe Blog in 2015/2016 on my iPhone. And so, here I sit, on my iPhone. But this time, instead of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, I’m going to try and catch you all up on what has been going on.

On July ninth we had our third yard and plant sale. As we set up for it, we had a chuckle about how tired we had been after our first yard sale. It almost seemed cute.  Like really??  Did we really even know what tired was at that point??

The sale went fine, we made our ,what now seems to be, typical $1000 or so. But instead of putting everything away into the house again, we made a decision then and there that whatever had now been in three sales, was going to the thrift store. This also included our Christmas decorations, a massive bag of clothes, and a few other items that we didn’t feel like looking at anymore. So we packed up the van and took it in the next morning.

We felt massive relief right away, and high fived outside the thrift store doors to celebrate our jubilant mood, when we had finished dropping it all off.

Other than the sale, we have both been working full time, plus busting our butts around here to get our house ready to list on the market. I have learned so much about myself over these last few months. It’s almost impossible to wrap my head around it all. But over all, I have learned these three major things:

NUMBER ONE:  I will NEVER burden myself with so much stuff again, that climbing to get out of all of it, feels like scaling Mt. Everest.

I am sick to death of my things! Although, there are still l moments of feeling bad about getting rid of something, I know that I don’t need it where I’m going. All of this is in my way. It’s in my way to my dreams, it’s in my way to my sanity.

I feel like the moment that all of this stuff that is burdening me is lifted, I will FINALLY feel like I can think again.

I feel like I’m going to be popping my head out of a gopher hole to see what’s  been going on in the world lately.

I can’t wait for that moment!

NUMBER 2 : I will never ever, never ever ever, never never never ever start SO MANY PROJECTS without finishing them again!!

This house has been one massive unfinished project from almost the day I arrived. It’s not just the house itself, but it was filled with many, many, many started art and craft projects that were never finished. They all just sat around in various spaces whispering to me as I would go by. Some were hidden in boxes, but I knew they were there!  Calling my name, taunting me to come back……..”please finish me” they would call.

The house had walls half torn down, drywall up in some spots, not in others, trim that had been pulled off some windows, had crumbled the plaster walls away, leaving a gaping hole in the wall that would just sit there forever. Old construction meeting new construction, but not completed.

For some reason, I just couldn’t get to finishing things up. Was I mentally ill?  Am I mentally ill?  Was it my need to seek out new experiences that had me jumping from project to project, always finding a new way to express my creativity, or a new way to change my surroundings.

I really don’t know the answer to that. I just know that because of all of these unfinished projects lurking about, I constantly was able to guilt trip myself. Everything I looked at made me feel bad.

I lived in an environment, one that I had created, that literally just made me feel bad ALL OF THE TIME.

As we near the end of our renovations, and are finally just down to painting and small cosmetic things, I also am starting to feel a massive amount of relief. We have started the ball rolling with Realtors, but don’t want to list until we are finished. We are close!

NUMBER 3: If our relationship can make it through this, I feel quite confident that it will get through anything.

We are both so exhausted from working all day, then working on the house all night. We have barely taken a day or two off since we started putting this house back together.

We are short with each other, our patience is fried, we are exhausted. But we are both very aware that we are living in extremely stressful times, and if we can just get through this, we know there is a reward at the end.

At the end of the day, we share a common goal. We are both extremely hard working, and I know we will get there. But man oh man, I don’t think either of us anticipated how challenging this was all going to be!  All I can think is that there absolutely MUST be a payout in store for us after all this hard work. We have to believe this.

The minute my mind starts wandering and I think, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?”  I find myself returning full circle to the night that I made this decision, to sell everything and head out into the world.

I knew then what I know now.

That it’s the only way.

My heart knows. My gut knows.

My whole being knows that I must disengage with this life. I must cast off and seek out new experiences. It’s a deep yearning. A need. An itch that desperately needs scratching.

Only once I do it, will I know the reasons why.
** Thanks for reading! This is part of a larger group of blog posts about us letting go of all of our possessions to go traveling. If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.**

To learn about where I have previously traveled, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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