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May 27th, 2017-Uncertainties

Published May 28, 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.) 

It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a month since my last post. Time has been slipping by like a river, flowing all around us, but simultaneously, sweeping us downstream with it.

We are being carried along by the river.  Like we are just robots in motion, with something else guiding us and pushing us along.

My mind is on auto pilot. Constant lists run through my head:

  • Things we need to finish on the house before we list it for sale. (I’m currently drywalling my kitchen, that we are still obviously using. FUN TIMES!)
  • Things we need to get rid of. (Another yard sale is coming up on June 3rd.)
  • Things we want to do before we leave.
  • Places we want to visit, friends we want to see and connect with, one last time before we go.
  • Things we want to give to specific people before we go.

These thoughts, and many more like them, race through my head all day, even as I continue to run my own business, which is just starting it’s very busy season.

_______

Just recently I have started to find myself fielding some pretty intense and interesting questions from people about what we are planning.  It’s almost like it is somehow starting to be real to people.  Like maybe, just maybe, they thought we were bluffing, but now it is actually happening.

I was asked the other night, around a campfire, “So how do you feel about the uncertainties?”

After processing the question for a second, I croaked out a very caught-off-guard and shaky “ooookaaaayyyyy.”  (I couldn’t have sounded more insincere if I had tried.)

This, of course, was met with giggles and comments around the fire like “that’s not sounding very sure”, & “ya doesn’t sound like it.”

Without hesitation, although slightly embarrassed by my response (not my typical stoic self), I said “Well yeah, of course I’m scared shitless.  I’m definitely scared, but many great things have been accomplished by people who have faced their fears.”

And it’s true.

The hilarious thing about my response to the question, I now realize, is that my response ITSELF was uncertain.

I thought about this question for days afterwards.   Being the psycho analyzer that I am (mostly of myself), it bothered me that I had had a response like that, so seemingly unsure, and I needed to do some deep thinking to explore how I really did feel about the uncertainties.

“How do you feel about the uncertainties?”

It’s such an interesting question, for starters.

How do any of us feel about uncertainties?

My Dictionary app defines Uncertain in these ways:

  1. not able to be relied on; not known or definite. (an uncertain future)
  2. (of a person) not completely confident or sure of something.
    “I was uncertain how to proceed”

I bet there are VERY few people who do not experience some sort of uncertainty in their every day lives. We all carry around some kind of worries about things that MAY OR MAY NOT play out in our futures. We all second guess our decisions, uncertain if we have made the right ones.

Nothing is guaranteed. 

Most of us move through life with some general idea of what may come in the future. Whether it be goals that we have, or dreams that we want to fulfill. As most people busily plan out the details of their future, they are unconsciously aware that our “plans” may or may not happen.

Nothing is CERTAIN.  

Uncertainty pertains to those people who live in places for many years and are comfortable with their surroundings, AND it pertains to those who choose to go traveling, and can find comfort in their surroundings in far off lands.   It really is not picky with whose mind it occupies.

When I was asked the question, in that moment, I think I took it as a question where you either answered A) I’m okay with the uncertainties, or B) I don’t like the uncertainties.  And without trying to sound like I am defending my shaky response, I did my deep thinking, and decided this;

Not liking uncertainty really has nothing to do with a decision such as this. A decision like the one we have made, to sell everything to go traveling, is EMBRACING uncertainty.   I’m not exactly saying that I ‘like’ uncertainty, but I’m willing to open my life up to it.

The uncertainty of this plan, is what makes it exciting. It’s what causes my heart to flutter in my chest when I picture myself in this new reality that we are creating for ourselves.

Living with uncertainties, can for some, be debilitating. But I believe that it’s what lies out there, AMONGST the uncertainties, that shapes us as people. It’s what keeps us on our toes. It’s what creates our character.

How we react to the uncertainties that hit us on a constant basis, is what makes us the people we are.

The more we can drag ourselves away from the certainties, the more we grow.  Period.

And so, I am now ready to answer the question properly.

How do I feel about the uncertainties?

I say “BRING ‘EM ON!”

** 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.

It's how we embrace the uncertainty - Quote

When nothing is sure, everything is possible

April 5, 2017 – Plans and Planning

Published April 5, 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.) 

PLAN:
1. a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance: battle plans.
2.a specific project or definite purpose: plans for the future.

It constantly amazes me at how wrapped up I get in plans.  It’s the ultimate clue that I am simply NOT living in the moment, if I am constantly thinking and worrying about the future.

With our upcoming departure from Canada, looming on the horizon, I find myself completely overwhelmed (there’s that word again) with all the things that need to be done before we go.  We still need to sell more stuff, clear the clutter, finish renovating the kitchen and sell the house.

It seems like a monumental list of things to do, and I find the more I think about the overall picture, the more I get totally stuck.  I’m forever trying to remind myself that slow and steady wins the race.

I’ll be quite honest here, I dam near burnt myself out a couple weeks ago.  It wasn’t a full face plant, but I think I caught it just in time, before I completely collapsed under the utter exhaustion of it all.  Here I was bragging about my stealthy selling skills ( see my blog post about Overwhelm.  Hello??  That should have been a warning!) and how I was in overdrive coordinating all of my pick ups and drop offs of stuff everyday,  not too mention being constantly on facebook posting items to sell and making sure that what was purchased was deleted etc. etc. etc.  Meanwhile, my adrenals were screaming at me to take a break and relax a little, or a LOT!

I finally collapsed one evening and laid down on the couch, utterly exhausted, but feeling the Adrenalin still coursing through my veins.  I literally could feel my body vibrating.  I was so tired I could barely speak, but so awake from the buzzing that I couldn’t sleep.  It was a very strange feeling indeed.

But EVEN in that moment, my brain was telling me that I WASN’T doing too much.  “What is wrong with me?  Maybe I’m sick?  This can’t be burnout?  Not me, oh no, I don’t burnout!  Why is my stomach so clenched?  Maybe I have an ulcer?  Maybe I should go to the doctor.”  These were the thoughts running through my brain as I lay in a vegetative state on the couch. I was literally arguing with myself, in disbelief that I was actually just doing too much!  Going too fast!  Trying too hard!

After much back and forth between my egos, I finally decided that maybe, just maybe, I should hold back on the rapid selling that I was doing.

The whole point of this trip, after all,  is to get away from the everyday run around that we are experiencing here in Canada, the perpetual hamster wheel.  Somehow my sub-conscious seems to think that it’s a race to get there.  Like if I just put in all this effort and exhaust myself now, then when I get to where ever it is that I am going, I can finally relax.  But the thing IS, is that I have to get there!  And at the pace I was running, the only place I was going to get to was the hospital!

And I have finally realized that there are no timelines!  Sure, we want to have the house listed by July, and sure we want to leave Powell River by the end of September to mid October, but there really isn’t a specific PLAN, these are just goals that we are working towards.  We don’t have a flight booked, in fact, we are hoping to just fly standby using airline passes from a friend.  There are no hard dates, we haven’t booked a hotel or a hostel for when we get there, we haven’t done anything concrete to make running around like a maniac worthwhile.  Besides, the countries we plan to go to will still be there when we get there.  They will wait for us, I am sure of that.

However, I know that I am not alone in these thoughts.  Planning is a buzz word that inundates our society on a day to day basis.  We are told that we must PLAN for retirement.  In high school we are constantly asked what our PLAN is for education and our future.  We are conditioned to think that we need to PLAN our trips.  I hear people talk about their 3 year plans, 5 year plans and even 10 year plans.

The ludicrousness of this all is that we spend so much time PLANNING and working towards our PLANS, that we forget about the day to day.  The “happening RIGHT NOW stuff”.

What’s happening right now is the ultimate most important moment of our lives.  There is no guarantee that we will make it to “retirement”, or even tomorrow for that matter.  It’s those little moments that are happening RIGHT NOW, that shape our life stories.  What good is life if we are always caught up in what is happening in the future, which isn’t a guarantee anyways?

And so, after literally 2 weeks of recovery, I have resigned myself to slow down, take some deep breathes, and move at a pace that is sustainable.  I would like to enjoy my last few months here in the place I have called home for 11 years.  I would like to see people, engage and connect with my friends, and know that my last few months here were awesome,  not just a panic run around to get nowhere fast!

life-is-what-happens-to-us-while-we-are-making-other-plans

** 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.

January 14, 2017

Published February 6, 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 felt like writing.  These are real time, and not edited (except for grammatical corrections.) 

Well, the good ol’ fear has set in, and hard.  We are still set on selling everything in the house, but maybe not the house.  Is it silly to let go of our one major asset that may increase in value?  That may get destroyed on an earthquake while we are away?  We do live on the West Coast of Canada, isn’t “The Big One” supposed to arrive someday.  Do we really want to have to come back here to sell it in the future?  Will we ever live here again?

Both of us keep teetering on the brink of wanting to go full throttle with this, but we also have hesitations.  Then there is the stuff that really is super important.  Do we keep a small container of stuff and ship it from place to place as we re-settle in different places?  Do we just put a few things in storage somewhere for future keeping?  That’s a waste of money unless we can find a free garage or something.  But then that is a burden for someone else.   What if they want to sell their house and move and we are way across the world?

In 4 short days, our thought patterns have been roller coaster rides.  It’s all we can think of.  In the middle of anything we are doing, either one of us will blurt out something like “We can rent an apartment for really cheap in Guatemala.” Or “I guess we are going to sell……(fill in the blank with something that seemed important to us months ago, but is now our path to freedom)”.  We both know exactly what each other is talking about, and it shows that we are both thinking about this day and night.

Initially we discussed only starting to tell people about this in June, thinking that at that point, we would have thought about this thouroughly enough that we would know all the answers and be prepared for peoples backlash.  But really, who cares!!?? And why are we so afraid of others’ opinions? This is our decision, and those that can’t be happy and supportive, then I guess they aren’t the kinds of friends we want to have around.  This is for US!  This is NOT for anyone else.  Yes we may be being selfish, yes it is totally self indulging, and yes we don’t want to answer to anyone about our decisions!  We  have no kids (however we do have 2 cats, so that has to be dealt with at some point, and we aren’t sure what the answer to that one is at this point), and we have no legitimate ties to anywhere really.  Either way, 4 days into this decision, we are thinking that maybe we should start telling people now.

It feels, all of a sudden, like time is on fast forward.  Like there is something seriously awesome at the end of this hard working, burnout circuit that we are on.  Like no task is to large if it means that we have this to look forward to at the end.  Like we can tackle ANYTHING!  The power I feel already is immense.  All I can hear in my mind, over and over like a stuck record is “It is time.”  This encompasses so much, I can’t even put it all together right now.  For once in my life, I am so excited about every day, that it’s like time doesn’t exist.

In fact, our plan to sell the house may have just accelerated to this September, as of this afternoon.  It seems that the more time that rolls on, the more eager we are to blow this pop stand!

Travelers, Are they the real Peacekeepers?

Published January 30, 2017 by jillamatt

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…..

Published January 28, 2017 by jillamatt

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!**

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Idle working days on Paros Island. 

Published December 25, 2015 by jillamatt

Capturing an experience such as this, is difficult to describe in words. However, I feel it necessary to spread the joy that we have experienced, and so, I will give it a whirl. 

Our Wwoofing (see my last post ‘Gone Wwoofin’ to learn about woofing) hosts, Jim (from England) and Irini (from Greece), are fabulous! They have been sculpting the land they live on for 15 years.  And when I say sculpting, I mean sculpting! With the help of numerous Wwoofers, they have turned a hillside of prickle bushes and scrub brush into a venerable landscaped oasis. 

Jim, Irini and their dogs. Taken circa 2013

 
Brilliant plants, constantly bursting into various colours, line impossibly adorable pathways, that lead to even more adorable cottages. We have spent the last two weeks absolutely in awe of the utter beauty around   us, that looks like it has been dropped from the heavens.  

Just one of the beautiful cottages to rent, and the one we were fortunate enough to call home for two weeks.


 

The closeup of ‘our cottage.’

 
 

Gorgeous handbuilt pathways run every which way!

    

Yes, thats a Rosemary bush! And there are many more like it!

 

More adorable cottages, more adorable pathways!

   
On a daily basis, we inspect the plants, and constantly find something new that we didn’t know existed before.  Some days I feel like Alice in Wonderland, completely aware and wide eyed, discovering new and exciting plants and nooks and crannies, around every corner. 

   

Aloe Vera!

  

  

 Yes, there has been work. But it’s been the sort of work that provides so much reward.  At the beginning of our time with them, I asked Jim what he expected in terms of how many hours we needed to contribute in a day, in exchange for our accommodation and meals. We are both very honest, hard working people, and the last thing we want is to be taking more than we are giving.

Succulents bloom everywhere!

Bouganvillia cascading from above.

Yes, that is a Geranium, planted in the ground and huge!

 Jim’s answer wasn’t exactly cut and dried. Instead of demanding 5 or 6 hours per day, Mon-Fri,
with weekends off, he attempted to explain his philosophy while successfully sidestepping my question. 
It became clear to us, quite quickly, that Jim does NOT do the nine to five routine. He is more free wheeling and doesn’t conform to any sort of “societal standards.”  

So, it was no surprise to me to hear his philosophy on the whole Wwoofing process. His philosophy, in basic terms, is that humans are meant to interact, learn things from each other, inspire each other, help each other, lean on each other. We are meant to cooperate as a community. We are meant to trust in each other, see the good in each other, celebrate each other’s talents, and help each other to improve. 

He really wants nothing more than to see people learn and grow, as they contribute to the improvement, and overall vision of his property.  And his hope is that they will take their learned knowledge out into the world, to positively contribute to the growth of humanity. 

He and Irini, have created, from scratch, a place where people can come to explore themselves. Whether it be through Wwoofing, as a guest, or as a paid customer in the cottages, they encourage a space of personal freedom, inspiration and growth.  

The oasis from above

 While his property isn’t technically a “farm”, and we haven’t learned much about what we set out to learn originally (about growing different foods in other parts of the world), we have come away completely inspired, and better as humans than when we arrived. If it wasn’t for some amazing travelling that we still need to do, I would be super excited (and still will be at the end of the trip), to get home and tackle my yard!

They operate the development of the property using perma-culture techniques. Everything that is pulled out of one thing, is used somewhere else. We started out constructing a pathway, and my thoughts were that we need to get it done as quick as possible, which is the hurried, more corporate way of things. However, we spent more time sifting the soil, removing rocks, combing through massive piles of rocks, to find just the right one to line the path, and getting everything ‘just right’ before moving on to the next step. 

For example, the stones we pulled out of the surface of the pathways that we built, were piled up to be used to build walls, or become filler for areas of the property that needed to be raised up a bit. Like I said, everything is used, nothing is wasted.  

Before

After

In progress

 

After. Jim had previously constructed the round concrete bits from leftover concrete used for larger projects. I was happy to put my mosaic skills to good use.

 
Jim made it clear that slow, intentional steps, are more important than rushing about, and doing things hastily, therefore possibly creating problems in the future. He also assured me that if he felt our work wasn’t a fair exchange, he would let me know. Good enough. 

We worked away on an area of the property that started out as a few small plants (and when I say small plants, I mean massive Rosemary bushes,) and ended up as a sculptured garden, with pathways and rock walls, ready to be transformed into another garden oasis. Jim was pleased with our work, and we are thrilled with what we accomplished. As a first Wwoofing experience, we both couldn’t be happier with the results! 

 

Before

 

After

  
Our work days ran from approximately 9:00 or 9:30, and ended pretty much when we had finished a section of what we were working on. Sometimes it was 4:00, other times it was 2:00. As long as progress was made, everyone was happy.  

I think everyone is happy!

 Our evenings were spent in Jim and Irini’s house, sometimes with other Wwoofers, around the fireplace. Here, many philosophical conversations were held, as we imparted our individual views on the world to each other. Incredible meals were constructed by Irini (and sometimes Jim), and we generally followed that up with a movie or tv series of some sort.  

Not alot of room for Humans in this house! :). They like to relax by the fire as well!

 Our accomodations were spectacular!  Normally, Wwoofers stay off the main house, but because another girl was there before us, we were able to stay in our own guest cottage. Let me tell you, it may well be the cutest fairy tale cottage that I have ever stayed in! 

Stairs up to the bedroom, stairs down to the kitchen.

Looking down on our living area and the entrance.

I can’t imagine Hansel and Gretel having a cuter kitchen. Can you?

 In the summer (but also year round if necessary), these beautiful cottages are rented out to vacationers and the like. It’s called ‘Living in the Garden’, and let me be the first to tell you that, YES, you will be living in the garden! 

(Click here for their website and to book a stay.)  

Because they are both artists themselves, they have a special knack for attracting similar craftsmen, that are doing artist retreats, or who come to help with working on the property, in exchange for the chance to work on their art and become inspired. They are open and welcoming to many different arrangements, because, as Jim insists, their aim is to inspire. 

Jim, himself, is currently creating the most magnificent Men’s rings from scratch (but will also do Women’s by request), which, in his words is “managing to finance our way through the diabolical Greek economic crisis.”  His years of craftsmanship are paying off, and he feels extremely lucky to be able to survive in the hard economic times that the entire country is facing.  

 

Visit his Etsy shop here!

Our days on Paros were not all filled with work, we did a couple excursions to explore this island, and also a trip to Antiparos, a neighbouring island. But those stories will have to wait for another post. 

For now, I would just like to wish everyone an amazing Christmas!  We are so very thankful to be exactly where we are, and hope that happiness and joy is finding everyone, today and always.  

  

 

We are off to Santorini tomorrow!  Can’t wait to see this amazing spectacle. 

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