21 Months Later and Still Letting Go

I do think our pasts are important in shaping who we become, but we must sever the ties that do not serve us anymore.  We must cut the chords of our former selves, to allow ourselves to grow and move forward in this life.  


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


It’s been almost 21 months since we flew away from Canada, bound on a one way journey to Costa Rica. We spent 9 months before that ridding ourselves of all of our possessions, pairing down our lives, shedding years of collecting things, letting go of our pets, our beloved garden and the house that we called home.

In that time, I wrote in what I called “Jill’s Letting Go Diary”, which documented the process, physically and emotionally, of literally letting go of everything.  I last wrote under this heading in November 2017 , but since then we have definitely continued to let go of many aspects of our former selves.  It’s impossible to dive down and list all the things, as we have now been given so much time in this life to do some deep soul searching, contemplating and realizing of things that just don’t serve us anymore.  I’m talking about ways of feeling, old habits that needed to be broken, lies we told ourselves, stories that we made up in our heads.  The list literally could go on and on!

But today, I realized that there is still one major thing that I STILL haven’t let go of, and that is the last town that we were living in in Canada.  I lived in Powell River for 12 years, Chris for 4, and I had decided while there that it was the ultimate paradise.  By then, of course, I had travelled to many places around the world, 46 countries in total.  I felt that because I had seen so much, I knew how special Powell River was.  And, I digress, I still do think it is a pretty special place.  But I have to say, it is a small place, but a dot on the world map.  Although it is spectacular, and many of its residents truly do value what it is to be part of a community, it is not the be all, end all that I had decided it was.

Powell River has many different issues that are tackled by the residents on a daily basis, their lives are entwined with what is right in front of their faces.  Of course, this is the way it is with most people that live in their communities.  We all react to those things that are right in front of us.  We choose to be in those places, and to deal with those issues.  There are always bigger problems in the world, but it is that which is right in front of us, that always gets the most attention.

Today, as I was mind numbingly scrolling facebook, I noticed just how much of my news feed still has posts about Powell River on it.  Now, for a while I have been saying that I need to stop getting so wound up and involved in the politics of a place that I have no intention of returning to.  But, you know,  I didn’t really put two and two together that by actually seeing all the things on a day to day basis, that I WAS involved.  It’s like a soap opera on TV that I can’t seem to switch off.  It’s that addiction to drama, the need to keep tabs on others’ lives, the want to just see what happens with some particular project or another,  that has kept me stuck.  These issues literally have NO bearing on my life anymore, yet I am drawn to their outcomes, keen to find out every little detail.

OF COURSE, there are those people with whom I made special connections while living there.  Connections that go farther than just the place that we both lived.  These people are on the same page as me, and I feel like we are kindred spirits that will likely see each other down the road somewhere.  I will keep in touch with these people always, and will always want to stay up to date with who they are and what they are up to.

OF COURSE, I do love it when people update me about the plants that we sold or gave them.  They send pictures of their gardens, or mention us in comments about these sorts of things.  I know that the people who bought our house are taking care of our beautiful garden well, and that makes me feel good.

OF COURSE, I will always have fond memories of Powell River and the people that helped me to grow as an individual.  I grew immensely while living there, and I left a much different person than I was before I moved there.  But the time has come to cut the ties.  I will no longer follow business pages, the local news paper, the blueberry picking farm (oooohhh I miss those blueberries!!), or any other group that I was a part of in Powell River.  My ties to these things are holding me back from moving forward.  It’s like some long tether that keeps me looking back, always interested, always wondering.

It’s time to re-prioritize my time, to allow more space to focus on the issues that affect me in my current space and time.  It is time to get involved in the places where I am living, and figuring out what I can do on the ground HERE, not somewhere else where I have no input anymore.  We all only have so much space and time to put towards certain issues in this life, and it is up to us to decide what is important, what is not, and where we should be directing our energies.

I do think our pasts are important in shaping who we become, but we must sever the ties that do not serve us anymore.  We must cut the chords of our former selves, to allow ourselves to grow and move forward in this life.

You will always hold a special place in my heart Powell River, but it is now time to say goodbye.


An update on our current travels…….

For those that are following along, and are interested in what we are up to and where we are, here is a bit of a synopsis.

We have been working at the Botanical Garden on the island of Nevis since mid February.  We have gone full circle from leaving our 9-5 jobs in Canada, to seek out more freedom, to arriving right back to a 9-5 job (well 8-4 actually) here in paradise.  We absolutely love the garden, and have taken great pleasure in getting back to working with plants, as it is definitely something that we have missed since leaving our home and garden, but I won’t lie, the schedule has been HARD.  The time that we would spend on our art and our online shops before this ‘job’ almost vanished and we found ourselves scrambling morning and night to fit time in in order to keep some progress happening.

One day, after some sort of emotional breakdown from both of us, we suddenly realized that we were both overworked and extremely exhausted with trying to do too much.  We also had been raising 3 kittens and taking care of 2 dogs that kept escaping the yard to run around the neighbourhood to kill goats (plus they killed one of the kittens!), so our emotions were frazzled to say the least.

It has been a strange and interesting few months, and I won’t get into details, but many times we have felt like running as far away from this island as we possibly could.  However, we had committed to helping out the owner here until August, and that is just what we are going to do.

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The beautiful Oasis Restaurant at the Botanical Gardens of Nevis.

Call us crazy, many who have been here before us, probably would, but we have also had a huge realization that with this nomadic lifestyle comes the ultimate freedom of when you don’t like something, you just move on.  However, the always running away from things, also doesn’t help us to grow.  It is in the tackling of these issues and annoyances in life, when we can dig deep and learn the most about ourselves.  This stop on our journey has tried us beyond belief, and it’s impossible for me to explain the details, but through it all, we have both come out feeling wiser and stronger than we did when we arrived.  The serendipitous way that this place came onto our radar, meant that we had important things to learn here, and we have tried our hardest to open ourselves up to the learning, and to not be drug down emotionally by things that we have no control over.

Thankfully in June, the owner of the garden sent us off for a bit of a break to another property that she owns on another Caribbean Island called Anguilla.  I have to say that it was JUST what the doctor ordered.  White sand beaches and spectacular turquoise waters surround the island, and with it being the low season, we had most places almost all to ourselves.  The house where we were staying was located a stones throw from the beach, so after our allotted 4 hours of work (yes we still worked a bit!), we were free to do whatever we pleased.

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We were so happy to have made friends with BJ while in Anguilla.  He is the caretaker of the house that we stayed at, and he took the time to show us around a little bit.  This is the lookout down to Sandy Ground. 
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The fact that turquoise is my favourite colour, and lime green a close second, I couldn’t help but snap this beautiful quintessential Caribbean pic. 
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This is the beach that is close to our house where we were staying.  It’s called Shoal Bay, and you can see just how close the corals come to the shore, making it an awesome snorkeling spot for all levels!  

The beach we were on had some spectacular snorkelling right along the shore, and most afternoons we would don our bathing suits and snorkel gear, walk to the furthest point away, then drift on the natural current that ran along the shoreline, back to the house.  This was the highlight of our day, and it seemed like each day we saw more and more incredible sea life than the one before it.  On the last day we saw 3 Barracudas, 5 rays, 1 spotted eagle ray, a few puffer fish, some sort of spotted eel or sea snake, and numerous, NUMEROUS large schools of fish, and other sea life.  The coral is not in the best shape unfortunately, likely trashed by years of people anchoring their boats on it, plus getting thrashed by hurricanes can’t help, but we did see much of it growing back, which gives me great hope that the reefs are mending.

We spent 2 weeks there healing from our kind of over-worked and hectic lives here on Nevis, but returned here on July 3rd to finish off our stint for one more month.  We have arrived back with a refreshed view, and know that in a very short time, we will be off on a whole new adventure.

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First day on ‘our’ beach and feeling pretty good about ourselves! 
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High above the natural arch!  Photo courtesy of BJ Kirong

On August 5th we fly to the island of St. Martin, also in the Caribbean.  There we will spend 2 nights before we make our way back to Guatemala for a short visit.  In Guatemala, we will not only be checking in with the friends we have made in the last year, but will also be collecting our art supplies and Chris’ tattoo gear (plus some clothing), then we will start our journey back up to Canada to visit family and friends for a couple months.  It’s a loose plan, other than our flights, there aren’t any set dates and times, but we like it what way of course!  We expect to be back in Canada mid-August.

Thanks to everyone who follows us along on our journey.  I know I haven’t done the best job of keeping you up to date, but I try to allow the writing to come when it is meant to, and not force myself to write just for the sake of it.  It is in these moments that I feel like I actually have substance and thoughts that are worth sharing, and hopefully it comes through that way to my readers.

xoxoxo Jill


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Nevis Island, St. Kitts & Nevis

Travelling Plans: On August 5th we will start our long journey back to Canada to visit family and friends for a couple months.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

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

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

Life in a Botanical Garden


In 2017 we packed up our life, and quit the 9-5 to head out into the world.  We came with no expectations, we only wanted to experience life.  Since we have left, we have packed more fun and adventure into our lives than we ever could have imagined.  Being on the road now for over a year, has brought with it the freedom to explore what it is that we want to do to create an income for ourselves, the time to pay attention to the things that are truly important to us, and the adventure to truly make life fun and interesting once again.  We left seeking an exciting life, and we have not been disappointed!  Join us as we explore as much of this big old world that we can!


Well, over 10 weeks has gone by since we arrived on Nevis, and I would like to say that I am surprised at how fast time is going, but in reality it’s not really that surprising at all.  We have been thrust back into the life that we left, working 8 hour days, 5 days/week.  It’s definitely been an adjustment, but we are taking it head on and with as much enthusiasm as we can muster.

Puerto Rico!

 

My last post ends with us flying to Puerto Rico for 10 days, so I will start there.  As we didn’t have accommodation booked, and were honestly a little concerned about how expensive it would be when we got there, we headed straight for a tourist office at the airport to ask if they could recommend reasonable accommodation options.  Of course, they had a spot for us located right in Old San Juan for only $40/night.  This was a relief since the only prices I had seen online were no less than $80/night.

We figured that we would start there, then branch out if we felt like it afterwards.  We immediately fell in love with Old San Juan.  The old colonial apartment buildings lined teeny cobble stone streets, worn smooth from years of wear.  The city itself, is located within old fortress walls, some of which were taken down for the expansion of the city, but most of them that remain until this day.  The character of this Spanglish city was intoxicating.  It was the perfect mix of Latin and North American culture.  It’s own version of Spanish was spoken, and most young people spoke English.  We didn’t see too many signs of the hurricanes that have wreaked havoc on these islands in recent years, but we also didn’t leave the city!

After a couple days there, we spoke with our hostel manager to see if we could indeed live out our whole stay there.  Our flight wasn’t until February 21st, so we had some time to kill.  He said our room had no bookings, so it was set.  There were public beaches near by, the fort to explore, buses to take us around the city.  We had it all right there.  Our adventurous selves were screaming to see more, but our practical selves decided that we were best to stay put and see and do all that we could in that spot. Looking back, I can now see that we were exhausted.  We had been on the move since our housesitting gig in Livingston, Guatemala, almost full bore.  Jumping from hotel to hotel, place to place.  It had been 5 full weeks of that, and we really just needed a place to land and stay for a bit.

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The view from our balcony of our $40/night hostel with kitchen! 

It was a great decision.  We REALLY enjoyed the city and the people of Puerto Rico and I encourage anybody that is thinking of going there, to just do it!  The islands need money flowing through them to help mitigate the hurricane damages, and the people and the culture is just so neat.  PLUS if you are American, you DON’T need a passport to go there!  So what really are you waiting for??

Off to Nevis!

When we first arrived to Nevis, the later part of February, there were 7 other volunteers here.  It was nice to arrive with such a welcoming committee as they were able to show us the ropes and teach us the ins and outs of living here.  However, over time, one by one and two by two, they have left, heading back to their countries for the summer season. Upon arrival, we got a permit to stay here for 6 months, so after we had decided that we liked it, we committed to the whole 6 months in the garden.  To say that we LOVE the garden is an understatement.  We both are so happy being there and we have really fallen into a groove with our routines and responsibilities.

We were supposed to get another volunteer here in April who would stay 5 weeks, but he only lasted a week.  He couldn’t hack that life is a little less organized and not quite as efficient as good ol’ England is in these parts.  I get it though…..coming straight to these island nations is hard on the psyche.  Everything happens at a slower pace, nobody works too hard, life is just simpler and easier somehow.

I think because we have already spent 18+ months in these sorts of areas, we have become accustomed to a slower pace, one where it’s okay to stop and smell the flowers, chat with your neighbour for an hour or so, or just sit around and do nothing, with no judgement or opinions of others to wreck your day. We are definitely on “Island Time.”!

BUT, we are also working pretty much 40 hours per week at the garden, then working on our, what now have been dubbed “side hustles” in the evening and on our days off.   One would think that jumping back into work like this would be annoying to us since our schedule has been so free for so long.  But in truth, we are enjoying the routine.

We are enjoying having a place to go, and a purpose.  It’s rewarding knowing that we are contributing to a project bigger than ourselves.  We are putting our heart and soul into a place that thousands of people enjoy each year.  Somedays it’s hard work, sure, but we can see the fruits of our labours right before our eyes, and it is very rewarding.

Working at this garden has also reminded us just how passionate we are about plants, gardens and gardening in general.  It has shaped our future thinking about where we want to go, what we want to do, what specific things are important to us, and we have also realized that it is nice to be in one spot for a while.

It’s nice to rest our bodies and minds.  To be at peace with the fact that we don’t have to figure out where to go next.  We can unpack and make our new place our home, we can get to know our neighbours and make friends with the garden staff at work.

Despite the workload, it is somehow different than when we were at home.  At home I rarely went home at the end of the day feeling like I could just relax for the evening.  There was always so much to do.  But here, it’s different.  Here we know that when our day is done at the garden, we are free to work on our other projects if we want, read a book, do art, and RELAX.  It’s something that I found very difficult to do in Canada, but here it just seems easy.

Have I shed my need to be busy?  I guess so!

It brings back a reminder of a blog post I wrote while we were packing up our house and selling all of our possessions a couple years ago.  In it, I spoke about not knowing who I was if I wasn’t busy.  I was ALWAYS busy!  I ALWAYS had something that needed to be done.  If I didn’t I created something.  I think I was terrified of not having things to do.  Maybe I was worried about being bored?  Maybe I was worried that somebody would think I was lazy if I was doing nothing?  I really don’t know.

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Time to stop and watch a rainbow! 

But I can tell you for sure, that I now sit and do a lot of nothing, and it feels great!  I have the time to sit and enjoy a sunset without feeling like I need to go here or there afterwards.  I have the time to stop and LITERALLY smell the flowers, and I take the time, believe me, MANY times in a day!  I have the time to read a book, hang out on facebook, do art and just ponder life.  It’s a wondrous thing!

If leaving Canada has only helped me change one thing about myself (there are many more though), dropping the need to be busy ALL THE TIME is a great thing to go!

Days in the Garden

Our days in the garden consist of varieties of things.  Usually we arrive and spend a couple of hours doing a basic clean up each day, making sure that the pathways are presentable to guests.  We sweep and rake leaves, do a few small chores that are now daily routines, then head off in our different ways.

For most of our stay here so far, I have been working in the Admin office, bookeeping and helping to get the 2018 financials in order for taxes.  It seems like a bit of an extreme job for just a volunteer, but when I told her the things I was good at, she jumped at the chance to use me to the best possible ability.  I don’t mind it really, other than wanting to be outside with the plants more.  If anything, it has reminded me that my knowledge of such things is valuable, and maybe I should be using these talents to make us some more money in the future. Besides bookeeping, though, I have partaken in couple of painting jobs, and the odd gardening project.

garden quote

Chris has spent all of his time outside on various projects that are underway.  Things keep growing and there are numerous chores that need to be done on daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  

He has also started a composting program, as there wasn’t one in place before.  We dump all of our leaves and as much greenery as we can find, usually mostly in the form of weeds from the ponds, into a big pile, and he rotates and flips them every 4 days.  We are creating a VERY rich dark soil which will go a long way to provide some of the trees with some much needed nutrients.

We Have Kittens!

The cat that we care for at the house where we are living had kittens about three weeks ago.  We figured that she was looking a little round, and weren’t surprised when she started yowling incessantly one evening after work.  We figured that the time was near when she kept insisting that one of us follow her into one of the spare bedrooms where we are staying.  Once inside, we would sit on the bed and she would stop meowing and just sit and stare at us.  We did this in rotations until we decided it was time for bed.

Except that she was still yowling, even harder than before, and now scratching at our bedroom door making it impossible to sleep.  Finally, exasperated, I got up and followed her to the other bedroom.  With her finally stopping meowing, I realized that the only thing for me to do, was to lay down on the bed and go to sleep.  In an instant she jumped up on the bed and curled up next to me on the pillow.

I must have slept a bit before I heard the first of three high pitched meowing screams coming from her.  I realized that this was probably the time, and she was about to have her babies.  I comforted her by petting her and taking softly, and in one final scream she squatted down and out popped a tiny black log of fur.  She immediately took to cleaning it from top to bottom, then actually ate the placenta right before my eyes.  This process repeated itself another couple times through the night, and by morning there were three brand new little kittens on the bed.

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Mere hours old! 

Within a couple days she had moved them into a dark cupboard in the same bedroom.  But I had also noticed her standing by, and picking at a hole in the side of one of our couches in the living room.  A few days after the first move, we came home one night to discover that she had moved all the kittens into the hole, and in essence, to the inside of the couch frame.  I was initially upset and concerned that I now wouldn’t be able to check in on them 20 times per day, but quickly realized that I just needed to let mama do her thing.  She didn’t need my ‘help’ and in fact likely wanted privacy to get to the business of raising her babies.  Besides, we kept good tabs on them, knowing they were okay, when we heard their little squeaks coming from inside the couch whenever they were hungry.

We had heard that it takes cats three weeks to start walking, and I figured that once that happened, surely they will walk out themselves.  Well, sure enough, to the day, I noticed a tiny set of eyes looking out from under the couch. The lining had a tear in it, and they were able to come out from the gap at the front of the couch near the floor.

Of course, I was there with bells on, trying my darnedest to encourage them to come out, while mama meowed and paced nervously back and forth in front of me.  She even went so far as to reach in and bat at them, trying to push them back in.  Was she trying to protect them from the trials and tribulations of life?  Haha, who knows.  Either way, SHE clearly wasn’t ready for them to get curious and start exploring.

However, each day they come out now, they explore just a tiny bit further from the hole, bit by bit they go farther from home before they decide that it is just all too scary, and they need to quickly retreat to the safety of the couch.  It’s a beautiful thing to witness, and we are enjoying very much the ability to watch them progress from day to day.  We can see which one is excited and rambunctious, and which one is quiet and reserved.  They each have their own little personalities, and we are having a great time watching them evolve.

Other than that, life in Nevis is quiet and peaceful.  We were happy to leave behind the hustle and bustle of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to be in a place where we hear the birds  and crickets chirping at night, the doves cooing their favourite tune, and the pitter patter of monkeys on the roof of the house.  There are more donkeys, monkeys and goats here, than there are people, and honestly, we really like it that way!

As we navigate this world of being nomads, we are both learning so many lessons about ourselves.  Life, of course, isn’t perfect all of the time, but we really are happier now than we were then, and to us that is the most important thing of all.  Best of all, we are experiencing new and different things, figuring out how we want our future to look, and we are streamlining our processes and fine tuning it all as we go.  Life is so exciting, and we are so happy to be living it the best way that we can!

One more thing!

We have ALSO been working hard at making an idea that we had back in Guatemala come to fruition.  We will be hosting an art and culture retreat near the city of Flores in Guatemala in November.  We have been working on the website, and now have it published and ready for people to sign up.  To see what it’s all about, head to www.artisticvoyages.com. We think that it will be a fabulous 10 days of art, painting, good food, exploring cultures and seeing mayan ruins!  We can’t wait!  If you are at all interested in coming down to Guatemala and expanding your art repertoire, this will be a fabulous time!

Artistic Voyages Logo from Canva small

Thanks so much to all of you who reach out with an email or message on facebook!  We are thrilled to have you along on our journey.  If you have any questions at all about anything that we are up to, please don’t hesitate to email me at jillamatt@me.com.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Nevis Island, St. Kitts & Nevis

Travelling Plans: We have committed to being here until mid-August.  After that we plan to head back to Canada for a visit, before returning to Guatemala to host our retreat.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

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

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

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