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.

IMG_4135
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.

IMG_4957
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:)

Overwhelmed? Stressed? Anxiety Ridden? How Many of us Feel This Way?

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!


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…….


In recent weeks, my email inbox has started to receive a few kind messages from different people letting me know that our story is inspiring them in some way.  Whether they are living vicariously through our travels, or they are struggling with getting rid of an overload of ‘things’ in their lives, they are reaching out.

The other day I received the following message from Arnold.  With permission from Arnold, I am able to post his letter here (copied and pasted as written) with the hopes that others will learn from, or be inspired by his story.  He writes:


Hello, I enjoyed reading your story very much.  I am currently at a crossroads myself. I am sixty years old and living in the house I inherited from my parents. This is my fifth house but the only one with only a fifty thousand dollar mortgage left. My dad passed five years ago and I moved from Vegas to Connecticut to be a caretaker for my handicapped mother. She passed a year ago. Because caring for my mom was a full time job I have not worked in five years. I do play in a very popular band which plays about 120 gigs a year but don’t earn much money. In fact I am in debt up to my neck. Getting shut off notices from everyone. I have even been driving without car insurance for two weeks. This alone keeps me awake at night. The house like yours needs a great deal of work but I don’t have the resources to make these repairs. It is currently up for sale as is. Some interest but not a lot. If I do sell I might walk away with $100,000.00. Not much but I need to find a way to unplug from getting a bill from someone every time I turn around. And like you I am governed by my stuff. I have three cars. WTF. I am coming around slowly to getting rid of stuff. Hard for me but I know in my heart and more importantly in my head that it is the right thing to do. One thing that I liked about your story is you live in Costa rica. I have heard many great things about this region and would like to learn more. I have no problem living outside the US because everything, EVERYTHING is so expensive. I know I am not framing my thoughts very clearly but just wanted to say hello and hope that your story inspires me. I want to live life and be happy. I don’t want to be burdened with to much responsibility. Been there done that. Raised four kids and had a business that made millions. All gone. lol I just want simple. I want to unplug and detach from the norm or what’s expected of me. In a way I blame my parents generation. They instilled in us that success was measured by how big your house was, how pretty your wife is, and how smart your kids are. Bullshit. All this mentality does is chain you to seeing these things come to fruition. Work the same job for decades to keep it going. Well I’m going to try to find Minimalism now and watch it. Thank you for lisening. Arnold.


My question is this:  How many of us feel this way?  How many of us are overwhelmed and desperately just want to unplug from it all?

There are a few key points to discuss in Arnolds message, and I will attempt to break them down below.

  1. “I’m in debt up to my neck.”
    • This is a sentiment that rings familiar with so many people across the Western World.  Societies push to have the ‘latest and greatest’ gadgets has created an overbearing consumer society.  People simply do not have the money to purchase items, but they use their credit cards to do so instead with the hope to pay it off someday.  Arnold is certainly not alone in this!  In fact, here is a link to the average debt that American Households have, and being a Canadian, I can guarantee that these stats are just as applicable there as well.

      Here’s the Typical American’s Debt Load

  2. “I do play in a popular band……..”
    • I have to say…….KUDDOS to Arnold for continuing to do what he loves, despite the overwhelming pressure (likely) to get a job to pay off his debt.  If Arnold didn’t do what he loved, he would likely be much further along down the Rabbit Hole of depression.  Stress and Anxiety have reached EPIC proportions in the US and beyond.  It is CRUCIAL to unplug from your worries of life, by being creative in some way.
  3. “if I do sell, I might walk away with $100 000. Not much………”
    • $100 000 in Canada and the US, definitely is NOT MUCH money.  But, after living in Central America for over a year now, I can certainly attest that it is PLENTY for down here.  Chris and I housesit as much as we can, or find locals houses to rent in other places where we aren’t housesitting.  In Flores, Guatemala, we rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a beautiful deck overlooking a lake for $225/month.  When we shopped at the market, we would spend about $15-$20 for a week of produce.  Eating out was also inexpensive.  Even in the nicest restaurants in Flores, our meal cost would top out at $30, for both of us, including a couple drinks each, but we also frequently visited the street food stalls that usually charge no more than $4 for a very fulfilling meal.
    • I haven’t kept perfect accurate records of our expenses, but I estimate that the last year of living has cost us about $15 000.  Bear in mind that this does include some travelling and staying in Air BnB’s, plus a flight from Costa Rica to Guatemala.  This is everything combined.  In Arnolds case, if he stayed in one place, and lived like the locals, he could likely get by on $7000-$10 000 per year.  Suddenly, with no bills to pay, and all of his debts paid off, Arnold’s $100 000 will go a seriously long way!
  4. “I am governed by my stuff……”
    • This is an all too familiar sentiment for so many people.  I myself was completely governed by my stuff.  And worse, I didn’t even realize it.  Watching the Minimalism documentary, opened my eyes up to the fact that my stuff was controlling my life.  I had spent years building up mountains of stuff all around me, yes I too wanted ‘the latest and greatest’ gadgets.  My life ran off of credit, house payments, loan payments, car payments……the list goes on and on.
    • After living for over a year with only what I can carry around with me, I can tell you with 100% authority that WE DO NOT NEED ALL THAT STUFF!  Sure you might need a few things here and there to make your life comfortable.  But in Arnolds case, he has 3 cars!  What does one person need 3 cars for?!  When we sold our cars back in Canada, we vowed never to own a money pit like that again!  It is one of the largest expenses that we have in the North!  Insurance, gas, car payments, maintenance…….it all adds up to being so much money!  Then when you go to sell it, it is worth basically nothing.
    • In the last year we have ridden on buses, tuk tuks, taxis and any other means of public transport.  When we can, we walk!  We haven’t walked as much in the last year as we have for most of our lives, I’m sure.  When walking isn’t an option, riding public transport is always affordable.  The people down here rely on these services because many of them certainly can’t afford a vehicle.  They are well used, and cheap!  There is no need for vehicles in any place that we have lived so far.  Sure, having a car would have made our lives a little easier in some spots, but we didn’t NEED one.  That is the difference.  Up north we buy things (whether we can afford them or not) because we WANT them, not because we NEED them.  It’s important to create this distinction for yourself and figure out what it is that you only NEED.  Get rid of the rest! Click here for my blog post about How to sell all of your things to travel full time. Even if travelling isn’t your end game, it will give you insights into how to tackle selling at least some of your possessions.
  5. “Had a business that made Millions. All gone. I just want simple.”
    • It is with sadness that I hear this.  Arnold obviously had a productive life back in his younger years.  Made lots of money, bought lots of stuff.  But where has that gotten him?  Here he is at the end of it all, saddled with debt, an overwhelming amount of stuff, and trying to figure out how to get himself out of it all. How many people have worked so hard their whole lives, just to get to this same place?
    • Well, I’m here to tell you that NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE, it is NOT TOO LATE!  At 60 years old, Arnold hopefully has much time ahead of him.  But you know what?  None of us know just how much time that we have.  It is so important to take the steps to make you happy NOW!  Life is short, and we really need to make it count!  I can not STRESS this point enough!
    • After realizing that I had too much stuff, and also realizing that I constantly was trying to figure out ways that I could do more travelling, I FINALLY came to the conclusion that my stuff was getting in the way of it all.  If I wasn’t burdened with all the stuff, all the bills, all the RESPONSIBILITY, I could unplug from it all, and head out into the world to travel freely.  This realization was the single most important lightening bolt moment that I have ever had.  But the thing is, I acted on it!  I didn’t just sit there and feel sorry for myself.  I got busy!  I started selling things!  In a small amount of time, things snowballed and we kept at it.  And in 9 short months, we were heading off on a totally different adventure in life.
  6. “In a way I blame my parents generation.”
    • Yes, I can understand this sentiment.  Society has structured our lives in such a way that in order to succeed at life, we need to go to college, get a job, find a husband or wife, have kids, work our butts off, then retire.  I agree with Arnold, it is all BULLSHIT.  But you know what?  We can change the dialogue any time that we choose to.  WE can decide that we don’t want to live that way, and that alone is where our power is.
    • Having lived in Central America for the last 13 months, has taught me that there is much more to life than all of this.  Granted, nobody here can figure out why we don’t want kids…..but that’s a totally different story.  But no, here they know how to enjoy life.  If they need to work, they go out and find work.  If a restaurant owner is tired from partying the night before, they simply don’t open the next day.  If a group of men are sitting around on a porch on a Wednesday afternoon drinking, nobody questions it.  Nobody gets mad at the restaurant owner, they just go somewhere else.  Nobody wonders why the men aren’t working, it’s none of their business.
    • There is no pressure to be as busy as you can be.  There is no pressure to work yourself into exhaustion.  There is no pressure to ‘get a real job’.  People in this culture ENJOY their lives.  They live for the day, they live for the moment.  They don’t worry about some far off distant place called ‘retirement’.  If they feel like going fishing for a day to feed their family, instead of working to buy groceries, then they will do that instead.  The community spirit is strong, and neighbours support neighbours.  They work together to help each other if they need it, and everybody has SOMETHING to share with others, despite seeming like they have nothing at all.  It is a beautiful thing!

I know that Arnolds story is not unique.  I know that MILLIONS of people are feeling just like he is, in many parts of the world.  Trying to fit into societies standards has been a great undoing of the western worlds culture.  Until we realize that, individually, we need to live life to the fullest, be our happiest, and do what we love, the world will continue to dump its expectations on us, and we will continue to be over worked, over tired, and over run with anxiety and depression.

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!

It is time that we all, individually, started living life to be happy.  Find something that fills your soul and try not to worry about the money.  If you put your best out into the world, you will be rewarded in some way.  Things will fall into place all around you, and you will be surprised by what life has to offer.  Be a role model for your friends!  Show them how life can really be lived!  Show them how they too can be happy and stress free!

Thank you Arnold, for writing me to let me know where you are at in your process.  And for all of you others out there, that are feeling the same way as Arnold, please don’t hesitate to share YOUR story with me.  I really do care about helping you to become a better version of yourself!  You can do it!  I know you can, and I am cheering you on 100%!


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: Livingston, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: We are housesitting here until the beginning of January 2019.

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:)

January 11th, 2018 – One Year Later


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…….


Today marks one year since we made this crazy decision to sell all of our things, to not only seek out a life of travel, but to free ourselves of the burdens that society had placed on us.  (To read my post that day, click here.)

We had found ourselves suddenly drowning in debt with no clear picture of how we were going to get out of it.  We were living a life that seemed normal to others, but was terribly uninteresting and uninspiring to us.  We both made and created art, but because of our need to make money doing our “REAL” jobs, we didn’t have the time to properly sell it or promote it, something we really wanted to do.

We lived a life that was the epitome of being on the hamster wheel.  Running, running, running, working ourselves to utter exhaustion, but never getting ahead.

I asked myself all the time:  “Is there more to life than this?”

I knew there was, I knew there had to be, but I didn’t know how to get there.  I didn’t know how to pay all the bills at home, keep my house, keep my car, keep my things, keep my small business, and still do the thing that I really wanted to do…….travelling.

As I sat in my art studio one year ago, I was watching ‘Minimalism’ a new documentary that had just come out on Netflix, while working on my creations.  As I watched this enlightening documentary, in the most quintessential way possible, I had an epiphany.  It was as though a lightening bolt blasted down from the heavens and jolted me in the back of the head.  From that film, I suddenly realized that my house, my car, all of my stuff, was actually what was keeping me from travelling.  All of the stuff, was literally drowning us.  All of the stuff was what was making us feel like we were treading water.  All of the stuff was what was keeping me from doing what I wanted to do the most.

I say this in a first person narrative because Chris, at that point, hadn’t travelled a ton.  We had done a 6 week trip to Europe in 2015, and had done a 2 week trip to Mexico, but that was it.  He understood that he liked travelling, but he didn’t really know what it was like to LIVE in a different country, to really spend time learning different cultures, customs and traditions, and to learn about what makes different places tick.  He had had a taste, that was all.  But thankfully, he too decided that he wanted more.

On that fateful evening, we decided that enough was enough!  All of our stuff didn’t matter anymore!  The only thing that mattered was making our life count!  We knew in that moment, that we had some HUGE changes ahead of us, and we knew it would be a ton of work, but we were committed.  We had a plan, it was set, and we immediately got started on undoing the life we had built, to seek out a vastly different one.  One that was fulfilling, one that was inspiring, one that was EXCITING!

Fast forward one year later, and it all seems like a distant dream.  In nine months we held multiple garage sales, we sold items on Facebook, to friends, to neighbours.  We took mountains of things to the thrift store and inevitably, the dump.  We finished renovations on our house that had been half done for over 3 years.  We sold our vehicles and our house.  We closed down our business’ and we worked our butts off to pay off as much debt as possible.  We stopped drinking, eating out and buying things.  We completely flipped our life upside down, in order to make this happen, in order to unburden ourselves, in order to seek out a life of freedom.

It was not an easy ride!  We were utterly exhausted most of the time.  We put in as much effort as we physically could, and worked harder than either of us ever had before.  But guess what?  It worked!  We did it!

Our life has gone from “normal” to extraordinary, and it happened all in 9 months!


Today I sit in Costa Rica, staring out to the waves breaking, to the pelicans soaring by, and sometimes, to a sloth climbing the tree in our front yard.  Today I feel FREE!  Today the worries about money, how I’m going to pay the next bill, how I’m going to find the next client, and how I’m going to be able to travel again, are gone.  Literally gone!

Don’t get me wrong, life is not a perfect, easy, breezy time, all of the time.  Of course, we are both working on ways to secure a financial future, as the money we now have will run out eventually.  But we are doing it with clear intentions.  We are focussing on what is important to us.  We are seeking out those things that inspire us, that motivate us, that move us.  We are going where the wind blows us.  When we see a good opportunity, we take it.  If we don’t like the situation we are in, we change it.  We don’t owe anyone our time.  We certainly don’t owe anyone our souls.  We are in charge of what we do, that is it, that is all.

Many people we meet ask the same question over and over again.  They hear about what we are doing now, but then they can’t help but ask “But what about your future?  What is your plan for the future?”

Well, the answer if simple.  We have no real plan for our future.  We are simply just being.  Being in the moment, taking life one day at a time, enjoying ourselves and really getting to know ourselves.  We have given ourselves the gift of presence.  We have given ourselves the gift of living each day as it comes.  We don’t know what is around the corner, and quite frankly we like it that way.  Our future is not some construct that we have laid out, hoping that all of the pieces fall into place the way that we have planned.  Our future is determined one day at a time.  Each day determines tomorrow’s path.  Each day brings new directions, new thoughts, and new opportunities.

And so, I ask you this.  Are you living a life that is inspiring and exciting?  Is there something that you would like to do, but just can’t quite figure out how to do it?

My advice is simple, take a hard look around you and find ways to let go of what is burdening you.  Maybe you are like me and you realize that it is your stuff that is weighing you down.  But maybe it is your job, your relationship, the place you live, the people you surround yourself with?  There can be any number of things that we carry around with us that are holding us back from doing what it is that we really want to do in life.  But it is up to us, and ONLY us, to figure those things out, to let go of those things, and to build a life that we truly love.

Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

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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 managing a Cabina on the beach at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica. If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with fellow travellers!

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

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

 

 

 

 

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