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:)

How to sell all of your things to travel full time.

Is all of this stuff what is standing in the way of my travelling? The answer turned out to be yes.


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…….


the chances we didn't take

Today marks 8 months since we left Canada.  On October 15th, we flew to Costa Rica, on a journey that had barely any structure.  We were to housesit for 2 months on the beach in the South West corner of the country, but really, that is all we knew.

Chris was bringing his tattoo gear, I wanted to write, but really, other than that, we didn’t know how we were going to make money, we just knew that we needed to go.  We were tired of the life we were living in Canada.  The constant crush to make money, the massive overhead that we carried around, house mortgage, vehicle payments, gas costs, utilities, credit card payments, insurance payments…….the list literally went on and on.

So we did it.  We made a decision and made it happen.

It really is as simple as that.

Some will ask where our inspiration to do this came from.  For me, it was a bit of a build up over time.  I had been complaining about having too much stuff for months.  Finding a tool in our house was like searching for buried treasure, as our workbench was a heaping mass of different projects, bags of screws, and any manner of ‘you name it’.

Our basement was…….well let’s just put it this way.  We actually BUILT a shed in the back yard, a REALLY nice and EXPENSIVE shed, so that we could move STUFF from our basement, out to the shed.  It was ridiculous!  I look back at it all and all I can do is laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

We had grand plans for that basement, we were going to create the ultimate artist space in our basement so that we could finally one day focus on our art to make a living.  But we worked our asses off at our real jobs, hoping one day that we would get to that magical place.  That place somewhere off in the distance.

But you know what?  It was a fictional place, and we kept running on the hamster wheel, barely making a dent in our debt, barely eeking out an existence at all.

Then there is the travel part.  I grew up travelling and continued to do so all the way into my late 20’s.  But then the magical number of 30 arrived and I told myself that it was time to grow up.  It was time to start a family, it was time to build a life.  Pretty much all of these decisions led to a life of no travel.

8 years flashed by, struggle……. struggle……. struggle, a divorce happened, career changes happened, houses were sold and bought, a new relationship was born, but the outcome was always the same.  I ended up running, running, running and never getting anywhere.  PLUS, I realized that I hadn’t travelled anywhere significant in all of that time.  This coming from a girl that used to travel at LEAST once per year for 2 months or more.

What had happened to me?  Where had I gone?  All of my priorities had flown out the window and I was left feeling like I was constantly scrambling to pick up the pieces of my life.

When was life going to get easy?

I was tired, worn out and frustrated.  SOMETHING had to give!

And so, at the age of 40, I finally felt like I had a plan.  I was watching the Minimalism documentary when I had a lightening bolt moment.  It was like someone just smacked me in the back of the head.

“Is it really this easy?”  I asked myself.

“Is all of this stuff what is standing in my way of my travelling?”

 

The answer turned out to be, yes!  All of the things that I had carefully crafted my life around, having a house, building a career, gathering a bunch of stuff, is what was actually holding me back.  In that instant, none of it mattered anymore.  All of the stuff I had worked so hard to get, suddenly meant nothing to me.  I realized in that split moment, that I needed to let it all go if I ever wanted to live the life that I only dreamt about.  

I was going to do what was important to me after all, because I realized that if I didn’t do it then, when the hell was I going to do it?  

Thankfully my partner was on board right away, despite not travelling very much at all, and we got started getting rid of things right away and working towards our goal. 

In the beginning, we thought it would take us 1.5-2 years to downsize everything, finish renovating our house, and to close down our businesses.  But as we started to get rid of things, it all kept snowballing, opportunities came up and we managed to do it all in 9 short months.  

You might ask,

But how did you get rid of all of your possessions? 

Here is a short guide to how we did it, and how you can too! 

  1. Facebook

I immediately started a “Things for Sale” album on my facebook page. This album quickly turned into a “Clothing For Sale”, “Books For Sale”, “Plants for Sale”, and “Our Art for Sale” albums.  Almost everyday I was photographing items and posting them in these albums.  We had great success with doing this, but I attribute most of that to living in a small community where the community definitely does support each other.  Plus I knew many, many people through my involvement in community organizations and having owned a shop in town for 4 years.  

These albums, with the exception of our Artwork Album, would usually be items that were under $100.  Chris and I would walk around the house at night and just grab things that were the least important to us.  Normally this would include items that we had been carrying around just because…….you know the ones, gifts maybe, or something you had to remember a certain memory.  I think we all know what stuff this is.  It’s the easiest to let go of, and you just have to get started.  Once you get started, things start to snowball.  Suddenly you start to realize that these items that you have been holding onto so tightly, really are just things after all, and they are simply in the way of your goal and potential  freedom.

I also sold items on Facebook using local Buy, Sell, Swap pages.  Again, our small community is all about buying used stuff, and if they can get something used, they would much rather do that than grab it new.  On these pages we had great success selling tools, some appliances, our lawn mower, bikes and other larger ticket items.  I have heard that people in larger cities use Kijiji and Craigs List.  While there are certainly risks involved with using these platforms, they do present a good way to rid yourself of items.  My advice for selling things in large populations, is to meet people in public areas to do the exchanges.

2. Garage/Yard Sales

Over the course of the 5 months of nice weather that we had available, we held 6 yard sales.  Things that weren’t selling online, or that were too small to bother listing online, would go into boxes to go into the next garage sales.  We priced everything!  Normally we used masking tape and just wrote a price on with a sharpie, but it was essential to do this.  Of course, people would haggle (and we normally wholeheartedly accepted any offer,) but at least we wouldn’t have to decide prices on the fly.  Everything was laid out simply and easy to read.  Of course, we had a few boxes with things like books, DVD’s, Shoes etc. where we would just write $5 per item on the box, or make a small sign, but it was always clearly labelled.

Normally Chris would stand inside our yard, and I would be outside along the driveway.  We both had change and would negotiate our own deals with whomever approached us.  We never argued about what we should get for an item, it always came down to the fact that it needed to go. That was the end story.

When pricing items for sale, I would normally ask between 1/3 and 1/2 of the value that we would have paid.  Of course, some items are just easier to ask $1 or $2, and it really isn’t worth getting too bent out of shape about losing a couple dollars here or there.  Just remember the  end story……it all needs to go.  Getting $1 or $2 for something is still better then getting nothing by donating it to the thrift store.

We ALWAYS had a free pile at our garage sales.  Items in the pile included bits and pieces of lumber, coat hangers, plant pot and gardening trays……anything that really was a dime a dozen.  I mean, you can certainly bundle your coat hangers and ask $1 for them, but you have to pick and choose your battles.  Be honest with yourself.  If the items aren’t worth the effort put into selling them, just give them away.  It’s much easier that way.

3. Group Garage Sales

We had a group of friends that organized a group garage sale in a big hall while we were doing this.  Of course, we jumped at the chance to be a part of it.  Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be what we had hoped, and we didn’t move much stuff at this sale.  But it also gave us a chance to chat with our community members to let them know what we were up to.  The farther our story spread, the more people that would be interested in what we were up to. Consequently they would be keeping an eye out for our yard sale dates, or would be making sure to check into what we were selling on Facebook.

4. Thrift Stores

After items had been in 2 yard sales without selling, they were carted off to the thrift store.  Once an item went into the box, we weren’t allowed to look in the box or think about what was in it.  It just went.  After our second yard sale, and our first trip to the thrift store, we were ecstatic when they took everything except a pair of ski boots.  We left the place and high fived each other afterwards.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to do that initial drop off.  Our basement finally could breathe a sigh of relief as this really felt like we had cleared a lot and we could now use that area to start organizing the remaining items.

img_6988
Off to the Thrift Store!

5. Give things to friends and community members

There were many items that we had that we did cherish, of course.  The best option for these things, were to give them to some friends that we knew would appreciate them.  Over the course of the process, we would decide that certain items were meant for certain people, and we would set them aside to give to them at some point.  Both of us are artists, so this meant that many people got little pieces of our art here and there.  I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that little bits of our art, and our most valuable possessions ,are scattered across many peoples houses.

Another great idea is to find out if there are families or organizations that are in need of certain items.  Bedding, dishes, kitchen supplies and other basics are great to give directly to people who need it.  At the end of our process, we had a ton of pens, highlighters, paper clips, binder clips and all manner of office supplies.  I put a call out to my facebook community to suggest a local organization that could use these supplies.  Many answers came back and we were able to choose the one that we felt could use these supplies the most.  It was a great feeling to give this stuff directly to an organization that we knew provided so much to the community, and we could see how grateful they were to receive them.

img_6982
Office supplies and other goodies getting delivered during the last couple days.

By the way, as this stuff is usually the most overwhelming stuff to deal with (ie. junk drawers etc.) I simply created a small tote for each item and left them out in the living room.  Anytime I came across a pen, a roll of tape, a paper clip, an elastic band etc., I would simply pop it into its appropriate container.  At the end of it all, this stuff was all organized and so easy to deal with when we donated it the the community organization that we choose.

img_6254
This bear became a symbol, or more appropriately, a mascot, of our letting go process.  I posted a facebook post about this bear, and my cousin just couldn’t bear the thought of it going to a thrift store so I sent it to her to keep.  (Check out my blog post titled The Bear to read about it.)

Also, if your community allows it, you can place FREE items on your curb in front of your house.  Quite often these items would go quickly…….we even got rid of a small bar fridge that didn’t work anymore.  Of course, we labelled it as so, but someone picked it up all the same.  The old saying “One mans junk is another’s treasure”, couldn’t be more true.  You just never know what people are going to want.

6. The Dump

One of the things we detested was having to take things to the dump. And in the end, we really didn’t have to take that much stuff there thankfully.  After giving away free items in garage sales, and to anyone that we could think of, our dump runs were few and far between, but they were still necessary.  It was heartbreaking taking items that we still knew had reasonable life spans, but we simply could not find ways to get rid of them any other way.  In our town the dump charged dumping fees, and I’m sure they do in most places now.  So the more we could get rid of another way, the better.

One idea that we had, and unfortunately our town didn’t have one, is a re-use facility.  These places take all manner of building supplies, sometimes old tarps, and other items that people simply don’t want to take from you.  Its best to research some of those places to see what they accept before carting stuff to the dump.

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We had a REALLY old and crappy mattress that just had to go to the dump.  This was the final day…….our bed was the last thing to go.  This was it!  We were definitely going that day!

All in all, and at the end of it all, I felt like we had accomplished an impossible mission.  We started with an overwhelming amount of stuff, but by tackling it all in bite sized pieces, we were able to get rid of all of our stuff in a short period of time, and we still brought in roughly $13 000 by doing it.  This didn’t include our vehicles which netted us another $4500.  Unfortunately our vehicles were left until the last minute, as we both needed them for work, so we ended up taking them to a dealer to get rid of them on our second last day in our town.  So, we possibly could have gotten more for them if we had of had more time to try. But again it was all about moving the stuff, and they really were left to the last possible minute.

Through all of this, our end goal was to reduce our possessions to only those that we carry with us.  Of course, it’s really hard to let go of some precious items, and we both have one tote stored at our parents houses, and I never did have the time to scan all of my old photos, so my albums are at my parents house as well.  But the rest, it travels with us.

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What remained in our living room at the end of it all.

Today, when we want to leave a place to go to the next place, we know that we can pack up in an hour and be off.  I can’t tell you how good that feels, and I can assure you that we DO NOT MISS OUR STUFF!  Plus, I can assure you that you won’t either!

So what are you waiting for?  Get the ball rolling by opening that drawer or cupboard that you haven’t looked in forever.  Take a good look at what is in there and just get started.  If it’s sellable, put it in a box to sell.  If it’s an item to donate, put it in a box to donate.  But the key is to get started!

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At the end of it all, these are the only keys we had left.  They both went to the realtor, and for the first time in our adult lives, we didn’t own anything that required a key!  A strange feeling indeed!

I can assure you that once you do, the end will come quickly.  Soon enough you too will be off travelling into the wild blue yonder, and you will look back at it all like it was some big dream.  You will ask yourself, as we quite often do,

Did that really happen at all?

img_7004
Our last meal in our town as we waited to catch the ferry out that evening!

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 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, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

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

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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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Family First

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

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

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

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

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Rundle Mountain, just outside my birthplace of Banff, Alberta.
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Cascade Mountain, also just outside of Banff.
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The gravel road and approach to the farm where Chris’ mom lives in Central Alberta.
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Some hoodoos in Grasslands National Park on the border of Montana and Saskatchewan, near Chris’ home town of Lafleche.
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A typical Saskatchewan scene. This time, driving through the prairies, I really appreciated the vast, wide open spaces.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was next on the list, where Chris re-connected with numerous friends and family members, some of which he hadn’t seen in 16-20 years!  After Saskatoon we made our way down to Lethbridge in Southern Alberta to celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving with 39 family members at my Aunt and Uncles house.

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

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

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

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The story of selling our house………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then we sold it………sight unseen!

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

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

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

Dear Jillian,

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

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

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

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

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

With gratitude and hope-

Erica 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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