Pieces falling into place……

You see, I drew this image before I had ever visited an island, before I had ever been anywhere that I may have seen something like this.

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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…….


This morning this image came up on my Facebook timeline.  It was from 4 years ago.

Basement Wall

At first glance, this image just looks like a bunch of kids scribbles, like children were let loose to live out their wildest fantasies of scribbling on the wall.

It was an exciting day.  My partner had just procured his first air brush, a type of device used to paint, using paint and air pressure to spray the paint out of a nozzle.  We both were excited and needed a palette to play on.  It’s the sort of thing that takes time to get good at, and practice is a necessity.

We decided that this wall, in our recreation room, in our basement, was the perfect place to scribble and play with our new toy, and indeed we did both feel like kids going wild, if for only a short time.

Today when it popped up on my Facebook timeline as a memory from 4 years ago, I smiled at the memory and almost dismissed it as just that, a fond memory.  But then, I noticed a familiar word in it all.

You may notice in the middle in red, the word is TRAVEL.  It’s a scribbly mess, but it is there none-the-less.  I immediately thought back to where I was 4 years ago in my life, and what my life was like.

4 years ago, I was still recovering from a broken marriage and honestly, a shattered life.  I had lost myself in my 30’s.  I had been trying so hard to conform to what society had expected of me, that I completely forgot about what was important to me.  Through my 30’s I started multiple business’, I bought and sold multiple houses (never really making money on any of them), I worked at trying to save a marriage, but ended up letting it go as it wasn’t serving me anymore, I worked tirelessly and endlessly to make ends meet.  But no matter what I did, it never seemed like enough.

4 years ago, I was JUST starting to realize that I hadn’t travelled overseas in 8 years!  This may seem normal to some, but coming from a girl who spent her teens and 20’s travelling as much as she could, this was significant.

4 years ago, it seems, I was starting to put the pieces of my life back together.

I was 1 year into a new and healthy relationship with a supportive and loving partner, I was working as much as I could on my artwork, trying to make a name for myself in my small community, and clearly, I was starting to think about travelling again.

Also around that time, my partner tattooed (InkCap Art) the following on my foot.

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The symbolism in this piece, that was designed by us together, is that I wanted to start living a life that was exciting and bold. One that would make me ecstatic to get out of bed in the morning.  One that was fulfilling and exciting.

Of course, the symbolism of the planet relates to travelling, but there is also another interesting symbol in this.  The Palm Tree.

There is something about Palm Trees that excite my soul.  Maybe it’s just being near them, which means that I need to be in warmer climates, but I also somehow feel like in a past life, they have been a big part of me somehow.

When I was 5 years old, I also created the following image:

Kindergarten Plate

In the small town that I grew up in, making these plates was a right of passage in Kindergarten.  Every person that I went to Kindergarten with made one of these plates.

And although I let it go in my big purge before coming on this trip, and sometimes I get a pang of regret about it, I remind myself that it isn’t the physical item that is important, it is the image on it that matters the most.

You see, I drew this image before I had ever visited an island, before I had ever been anywhere that I may have seen something like this.  My 5 year old mind concocted this picture seemingly out of thin air.

Of course, the trees don’t necessarily look like Palm Trees, but I like to think that this is a  deserted tropical island in the South Pacific somewhere.  Because as long ago as I can remember, I have dreamt of tropical turquoise water, white sandy beaches and palm trees.


So you see, travel has been a part of me for as long as I can remember, even before I ever did any of it.  It’s a deep seated feeling that I have, and I will not be satisfied in life ever again, unless it is taking a front seat in my manifestations.

4 years ago I was just starting to realize that I had spent the majority of my 30’s NOT travelling.  I was just starting to put the pieces of a broken marriage, and a somewhat broken life, back together again. 

With a new relationship established, it was time to start building a new life and new dreams.  Obviously, travel was a part of that vision, and this was likely part of the start of the manifestation of what we are doing now. 

As these memories pop up on Facebook, I realize that this life we have created was just a tiny seed that was planted so many years ago.  It has taken time for me to start listening to the voices in my head, to the yearning and the want to get back to travelling. 

It took me realizing that the reason I wasn’t travelling was because I was so busy building a life that wasn’t conducive to travelling, that it became impossible.  Until I finally figured out that the life I had created for myself was actually IN THE WAY to my travelling, I wasn’t able to realize my dream.

But here we are!  We are doing it! I miraculously figured it out!  

THIS is the power of envisioning and manifesting our dreams.  We must keep at it, day by day, minute by minute.  Do NOT let your dreams go.  Keep them at the forefront of your mind, and you too will eventually bring them to reality. 

Pura Vida from Costa Rica!


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: We are currently in Samara, Costa Rica.  After having to leave Nicaragua unexpectedly due to civil unrest, we are here still figuring out where we want to go next.

Travelling Plans: We have nothing scheduled at this point other than a housesitting job in Livingston, Guatemala in late November.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our posessions to trave 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 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:)

The House that Amanda Built – Earth Bag Building in Nicaragua

Having ditched the North American 9-5 rat race at the age of 24, she decided that it was time for a simpler life.


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…….


As promised, Amanda picked us up from the bus drop off location upon our arrival.  We were riding on the Tica Bus, a bus line just as fancy as Greyhound Bus, from San Jose, Costa Rica.  After 7 hours, which included an hour or so stop at the Nicaragua border to obtain our entrance visas, we had arrived in Nandaime, a small town south of the more popular tourist stop of Granada.

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Volcano Power vs. Wind Power!  This was viewed out of our Bus window shortly after we crossed the border.  This volcano is one of 2 that make up the Island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.  

Amanda told us to look for the grubby girl in a dirty red truck, and sure enough we spotted her as she drove up the road to grab us.  We were greeted with enthusiastic hugs, and we were immediately enamoured with her positive and energetic personality.  ‘Yup, we are going to get along just fine,’ I thought to myself as we drove off to her farm.


We had heard about Amanda and her Earth Bag house project from a girl that I volunteered with at Envision Festival in Costa Rica, back in February.  Magda told us that Amanda is always taking volunteers to help her to bring her project to fruition.  At the time, and knowing that we were headed up to Nicaragua at some point, I stashed the thought in the back of my mind, knowing that at the VERY least, we would want to check the project out.  We have both been involved in numerous workshops and very small building projects to do with Cob building etc. on the West Coast of Canada, but had never seen a Earth Bag house.  Our curiosity was piqued.

When our time in Silencio (read my last blog post here) was coming to a close, and we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do next, we remembered Amanda’s project, and I immediately messaged her to see if it was possible to come and stay there and help out.  Of course, she wrote back right away, and the plan was set.  We were headed to Nicaragua!

After spending a few days in San Jose to purchase a laptop and some other art supply essentials, we were on our way!


Amanda is Nicaraguan-American and her house is being built on 12 acres of her Grandfathers land.  Having ditched the North American 9-5 Rat Race (or in her case 80 hours per week working) at the age of 24, she decided that it was time for a simpler life.  One where she can experience life, not just let it flash by.  She began her new journey by travelling around the world and volunteering on a couple earth build projects herself.  After doing all of that, she decided it was time to start her own project.  She had been to Nicaragua to visit her Grandparents numerous times, and was familiar with the land and it’s people.  With building costs exponentially cheaper down here, she felt like it would be a great place to construct her home base, while she continued to travel and work remotely.

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This is where we worked for Amanda.  Just outside Nandaime between the highway and the lake. 

Her Grandpa still lives in the country, but resides up in the Northern part near his coffee plantation.  The property that Amanda is building on has been a cashew plantation for numerous years.  You can imagine our delight when we realized that we could gorge out on tons of cashew fruit while we stayed there.

Immediately we were amazed with the difference in the Flora and Fauna than that of what we had left in Costa Rica.  Rich, diverse and alive hillsides, had been replaced with flat land, scrub brush and desert like conditions.  Of course, it was the dry season, so the layer of dust on the surface of the ground, that was constantly blowing around all over everything, is only around for a few months of the year.  But the climate was astonishingly dryer and much much different than what we had left only a few days before.

We were happy to still see numerous birds flitting about though.  The National Bird of Nicaragua, locally known as the Guarda Barranca (check it out here, it’s stunning!), but commonly referred to as the Mot Mot (my personal favourite name), was a frequent guest near our camp kitchen.  Their stunning colours captured our attention as they flitted about through the trees.  Butterflies were also numerous, as were the ever so persistent ants!  Chris and I had an absolute highway of ants about 2 feet wide that cut through our campsite every night.  Thousands of them marching back and forth, only once daylight had subsided.

Our modest Camp Kitchen! 

There was also another pest that resided on her farm that we had never even considered to be a possibility down here……TICKS!  They are smaller and more of a reddy-brown (they look exactly like freckles and moles!) than the ones that I know from the mountains in Canada, but they certainly behave the same.  Thankfully, we were told right away that there is no Lime Disease in Nicaragua, so at least that wasn’t a worry, but we were constantly brushing them off of us, and pulling the odd one out of our skin if they managed to evade our constant swipes, and had embedded themselves into our flesh.  They were so small that you could barely grab onto them, and quite often I would need to use tweezers to pull on them.  They were nasty little critters, and I have to say, not my favourite thing to have to deal with while staying there!

We ended up staying with Amanda for 3 weeks in total, and I have to say that we are pretty proud of ourselves for toughing it out so long.  The conditions were challenging, we were dirty all the time, it was sweltering hot with no relief until night fall, dust blew on everything in sight including our food, plates clothes etc., and the ticks…..well you can just imagine I’m sure.  However, the experience of it all far outweighed the trials and tribulations that we put up with, and we both came away learning a lot, and feeling like we had both contributed in meaningful ways.

Earth Bag Construction

First of all, I am certainly no expert on this, so please, click here to learn more about it.

We arrived after the walls had been erected, and the roof was just starting to be constructed.  When Amanda picked us up, she said that it had rained the night before, which was in her words, “terrifying.”

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You can see that the initial layer of exterior plaster is just starting to be applied on this section. After this layer there is a sturdier layer which includes lime which will be applied, this helps to seal out the weather.
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The roof trusses are just starting to be worked on.  You can see the stark difference in the landscape from where we were in Costa Rica.

This type of construction is done completely using earthen materials, clay, sand, straw, horse manure, and other natural ingredients, and it’s integrity depends wholly on being built in dry climates where you can depend on little to no rain during construction.  You can imagine what would happen if rain suddenly unleashed on the earthen plaster that covers the walls……it would all literally melt off.  Until you get the final Lime Plaster coat on the outside, that will repel water at best, and a sturdy roof with generous overhangs erected, the whole project is at the mercy of the weather.  With the rainy season scheduled to start any day, time was of the essence.

We arrived to the camp to find 2 girls from Austria and another guy from New Zealand, already volunteering.  Over the course of the project Amanda has had roughly 20 volunteers from all corners of the earth, help her on her land.  She advertises for volunteers through different online platforms, and also has physically hung posters around Granada and other local tourist spots, in order to entice volunteers to come and help her and learn about this type of construction.

Some of “the boys” working on the project. 

All natural building techniques lean very heavily on labour.  The materials are generally cheap, labour is not.  Amanda had a crew of about 10 Nica men ranging in age from 15-50 working on her house from the beginning.  Thankfully in Nicaragua, the labour is pretty cheap, but even with that, budgets run out eventually and it is therefore necessary to get volunteers in to do some of the less skilled, time consuming jobs that need to be done.  Mostly I worked on what I lovingly called “Stuffing Cracks”, but is actually referred to as plastering.  It involved creating a measured mix of Horse Manure, Clay and Sand, getting it to the right moisture consistency, and then physically pushing it into the spaces between the bags.  This provides a tight seal to reduce insects getting in, it smoothes the wall out so that putting the final plaster layer on is easier, and it helps to further stabilize the walls from expansion and contraction while moving from the wet to dry season.

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All of those cracks have to be stuffed!  And this is just the first inside room! 
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The start of my 3 weeks of work! 

In order to make the mix that I needed to do this, I literally walked around the farm and picked up dried horse poo from the ground.  Amanda referred to it as something similar to an easter egg hunt, and I will attest that this is true.  However, after a few days of hunting for sporadic piles here and there, I did finally find the hot spot where the horses get tied up every night……there was literally poo for days!  Throughout the process, I couldn’t help but thinking what my 19 year old self would think of my 41 year old self picking up horse poo.  I NEVER would have imagined that this would be my life some 20 years later……that’s for sure!

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Poo galore!
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Sifting small particles out of the clay and sand was a necessary step in order to get a very fine smooth plaster. 
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And the ultimate step and the easiest way to mix the mixtures is to stomp them with your bare feet!  Needless to say our feet had many layers of ground in dirt on them……ALL THE TIME! 

Having come from a hyper-organized corporate job, Amanda was all about using the white boards to create schedules and task lists each day.  Every morning as we ate our oatmeal breakfast, we would go over what needed to be done for the day, and she would assign tasks to people, depending on what they felt like doing.  Various projects came up including building a screen door for the shower, building bat boxes, putting a proper roof on the outhouse, shaping and tamping the pond (Chris’ job for the most part), planting trees and of course finishing the “stuffing.”  However, I did get a really cool job towards the end of our stint there.

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Chris working on the pond.  No, he didn’t dig it all by hand, but he shaped and tamped all the hard chinks down so a watertight seal can be put in the bottom at some point.  

After seeing some of my artwork, Amanda asked me to give a try at designing metal security windows for her house.  There were 10 windows in all, and 2 doors.  She had presented various ideas to professional welders, but they all said that her ideas weren’t practical, and they wanted to just do the typical metal work that everybody else had.  Obviously they didn’t have a creative bone in their bodies, so she leaned on those who did.  Within her Nicaraguan construction crew, she found 2 men that had welding experience and were willing to take on the project.  The first window took a bit of time, but after they got that going, they were rocking it!  It was an amazing experience to see my own concepts drawn up, and then to witness them get created and installed as a finished pieces.  So very rewarding, and one of my proudest moments as an artist thus far!

There were many more windows designed but sadly we left before they were installed.  We will return to take more photos for sure! 

We mostly worked about 4 hours each day, from 7:30 or 8:00 until about 12:00.  The afternoons were optional, and although it was sweltering hot most of the time, Chris and I did manage to swing a few afternoon shifts, just to help her keep moving ahead.  It’s a monumental task to build a house, one that I have experience in (coincidentally at the same age as she is), and we know the importance of keeping the momentum going.  2 days a week would be free, and because Amanda is also a traveller, and understands the importance of seeing and experiencing places, we generally would go on some sort of adventure on those days.  We visited an incredible local swimming spot, tucked way back in the woods and off the beaten track, and also hit up the popular colonial tourist city of Granada a few times, Laguna Apollo, a lake inside an extinct volcano crater, and some spectacular nurseries where we scouted for plants for the property.

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We were in 7th Heaven while cruising the nurseries for plants for Amanda’s property. 
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The view heading down the road into Laguna Apollo.  An extinct volcano crater that now is full of beautiful fresh water! 
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A locals only swim hole located well away from the beaten track.  Truly a little paradise. 
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The spectacular buildings of Colonial Granada. 

Our experience with Amanda was everything that we had hoped for.  We were both itching to do some heavy physical labour, we have been wanting to contribute to a project in a meaningful way, and of course, we always want to be able to hang out with locals and be part of the fabric of each community we visit.  Being located in a very rural part of Nicaragua meant that we were probably some of the first foreigners that many people in the community had seen.  We were able to practice Spanish and learn about their culture in a meaningful and educational way, we went to the church on Saturday nights to eat local Nicaraguan food, which helped them fundraise for the community,  plus we had a couple interesting nights at the local bar, where we were definitely the center of attention, and something new that the locals could gawk at.

Dinner at the church!  Cooked outside on an open fire! 

All in all, we are so thankful to have been able to take part in the project.  And the bonus is that we are now located only about an hour away from her for the next 4-5 months as we start our next housesitting gig.  So I am sure we will make our way out there again to visit her and check out her progress!

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Amanda’s house with the roof on it!  This is how we left it.  Can’t wait to go back and check it out in a month or so to see the progress, plus those windows! 

*Note to reader: I have so many more photos of our time spent in Nandaime.  Please head to our Facebook Page to see them all!

** If you or someone you know would like to volunteer for Amanda in Nicaragua, or if you have any questions about Earth Bag building, please email me at the address below and I will connect you.


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: We are currently in Rivas, Nicaragua, waiting to start our 4.5 month housesitting job on May 10th.

Travelling Plans: We will be here until mid-late September while we full fill our housesitting job.

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

To see more travelling photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

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

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

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:)

September 22, 2017- We Are Unplugged!!!

We have unplugged from life! It’s time to live with passion and excitement! Join us on our journey……

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!

—————-

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. 

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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???

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

***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.

April 5, 2017 – Plans and Planning

Learning lessons about making plans vs. enjoying the moment.

***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.