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.

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


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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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:)

 

From Housesitters to Cabina Managers…..

And so here we are! Entering 2018 in a way that we never anticipated or imagined!


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…….


Wow!  This last couple of weeks has been a bit of a whirlwind!

Two weeks ago our plan was to finish our housesitting gig here in Matapalo, Costa Rica on December 30th.  We had booked ourselves into Spanish School up in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua from January 7th-13th.  But that was it, that was our plan, at least in the immediate future.  Beyond that we had a rough idea to head up into the mountains here in Costa Rica, to work on our friends farm, and help him to get some projects finished that he has been needing to do.  But that was a loose plan, nothing was set in stone, and we pretty much could have just showed up anytime that we wanted to.

We had also been applying to some more housesitting jobs, but nothing was confirmed, and we had been researching WWOOFING opportunities here, but again, nothing was really decided.

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We had a visit from a herd of cows that walked by the other day! I’ve never seen cows on the beach before!
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This guy was hanging from a tree just in front of our house the other day. The sloths are quite prevelant in this area, but they usually sleep much higher up. This guy was only about 8 feet off the ground, allowing a great opportunity for photos.

We weren’t really worried about our futures.  We had a short term plan, and knew that we would just figure the rest out as it came along.  As stated before, we want to be open to new experiences, and allow things to flow our way, without constructing our future too much, and over committing ourselves.

We want to be able to say YES, when an awesome opportunity comes our way!

Well, I can tell you that that is exactly what happened!

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While walking the dogs on the beach one evening, we discussed the fact that we only had a few days left here.  We both felt sad that our stint at Playa Matapalo was coming to an end.  We had grown to love this place, we had made friends, we had built community.  We didn’t feel like we were ready to go, and we both verbalized this.  We finished our walk, and didn’t think much else of it.

Around this time we had also learned that a German man that we had made friends with, suddenly had to leave the area, and it wasn’t clear when he was coming back.  He has three dogs, of which had become quite fond of us, and a small Cabina Rental with only 2 units.  Immediately we offered to step in to feed the dogs and take them for walks, plus put them in their house at night.  But over the course of the next few days, we started a conversation with him about possibly taking over managing the cabina rentals as well.  Christmas was coming and his bookings were full, cancelling them would mean a huge loss to him.

Of course, this meant that we would get to stay here longer, and our wishes would be fulfilled.  But it also meant that we had the chance to make some really good money, which is never a bad thing!  However, it also meant that we had to cancel our Nicaragua trip, but really, that isn’t a big deal.  We will go to Nicaragua another time, when we are meant to.

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This is our new view from our Cabina job.  All day long the Pelicans fly by, we see fish and mantarays jumping, and we listen to the rhythmic rumble of the waves crashing to shore.  

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The irony was not lost on us that this was another instance of verbalizing our wishes, and having them come true.  This has happened to us over the course of this entire year. We manifested the buyers of our house, we manifested our housesitting job here in Costa Rica, and now we have manifested a longer stay here in Matapalo.

We are also fully aware that the reason this opportunity came our way, is because we were open to it.  It’s because we have freed our life up in a way that we CAN say yes to any and every good opportunity that presents itself.  It’s the reason that we are trying to not over plan, and over commit to our futures.  We are very much living in the moment, and it is paying off in a big way!

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One question you may ask is “What do you know about managing Cabinas?”

The answer is simple: Literally Nothing!

But you know what?  We are willing to try.  We are willing to give it a go, to learn how to do it along the way.  We are willing to make mistakes and learn from them, but most importantly we are willing to take risks, and have new experiences.

This job comes with a lovely Tica (Costa Rican) lady that knows most of the ropes.  She has been able to guide us and show us the way.  Communication has been interesting, but thankfully I know enough Spanish to get us by, and she has been very patient with us.  If it’s clear that I don’t understand what she is saying, she will show us in a different way.  Together we are making this work, together we are learning as we go.  Not too mention, of course, our owner is only a message away if there is anything that we really need to know.

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Our Tica helper showed us how she makes the beds and cleans the rooms so that we could be prepared for when she had days off.  This is the result of our first try!  

And the best part of this job is that we get to meet other travellers!  Connecting with people from around the world, makes me incredibly happy!  This is exactly what I wanted to do while travelling, not only meet the locals of where we visit, but connect with other travellers from around the world, creating a network of like-minded individuals who love to travel.

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And so, here we are!  Entering 2018 in a way that we never anticipated or imagined!  We don’t know exactly how long we will be here, but we are definitely loving each and every day as it comes!

I will leave this message with these wishes to all of you:

LIVE YOUR DREAMS IN 2018!

FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS IN 2018!

LIVE THE BEST LIFE POSSIBLE IN 2018!

Because I can assure you, that you, and only you, are responsible for your choices and doing what makes you happy!

Life is short, lets get busy!  Take the risks!  Go on the trip!  Do that thing that you have always wanted to!

I can assure you that you WILL NOT regret it!

I hope that life brings you peace, love and happiness in 2018.

Make this your best year yet!!

With gratitude and love,

xo Jill

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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!

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to do this, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Yes, Bali has an erupting volcano! But so what??

To those of you who weren’t planning to go to Bali, I must say, NOW IS THE TIME!!


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…….


An article came to me today while doing work on my laptop, and it got me thinking about how little it takes to scare most people out of travelling.

The article was put out by the New York Times (click here to read the whole article) and is titled “Bali’s Rumbling Volcano Leaves Tourist Industry Gasping for Air.”

The article was written on December 7th, only 10 days after the rumblings of Mt Agung, caused the mandatory evacuation of 100 000 people who lived within close vicinity of it.  The ash spewing from the volcano, caused flight cancellations and delays, stranding thousands of passengers.

The article goes on to say that because of the uncertainty of this erupting beast, it’s said that it could erupt again soon, many future flights and travel plans have been cancelled, and tourism seemingly came to an abrupt halt.  One man is quoted as saying that occupancy was at 20%, instead of the 60% that was typical at that time of year.

Despite the fact that none of the tourist facilities are near the volcano, people have been frightened off, once again, from this absolutely incredible island nation.  Is it the possible inconvenience of flight disruptions?  Is it fear of being in direct line of a piece of lava spewing from the volcano?  Is complete and utter unabashed fear?  Fear of not even knowing what one is fearful of?  Or maybe it is a fear that is ignited by others’ fear?  Maybe people get scared because someone else gets scared, and then suddenly it’s all contagious!?

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I have to say that I certainly can not relate to this sort of fear.

Bali is a very large island, by island standards, and there are many places to see that will bring you nowhere near the erupting volcano.  The people are some of the most caring, thoughtful, friendly and wonderful people that you will ever meet.  Experiencing the Balinese culture is like nothing else.  Their Hindu values make them extremely warm and inviting, and you can’t help but feel completely at peace when among them.

I first travelled to Bali in 1995 when I was 18 years old.  I was a student with Class Afloat, a floating class room, if you will, that took place aboard a 188 foot tall ship, S/V Concordia.  There were 52 of us students on board, plus about 16 professional crew.  We spent about 10 days on the island of Bali, back in the days of less tourism and less commercialism.  We stayed in Ubud for a few nights, many of the streets weren’t paved, there weren’t many people around at all.  There were a few smatterings of craft stalls and art markets, but nothing like it was when I returned in 2008.  I was aghast at what had become of quaint little Ubud during the 13 years that I had been away.  It was in that moment, that I realized how seemingly quickly things can change.

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This is S/V Concordia. 188 feet long, and the main mast stood at 150 feet high.  Yes, that is me at the very top and center, perched on the royal yard, as we navigated into port in Boston, Massachusetts in 1995.  Sadly, this vessel sunk many miles off the coast of Brazil in 2010.  All students and crew survived.

Although Bali has always been a tourist destination, mostly servicing Australians back in the early days, its popularity now, has put it firmly on many peoples’ bucket lists.  And for good reason!  However, this has unfortunately created a false economy for this island nation, as the slightest little things that go wrong, send it reeling into the pits of despair as tourists decide to go elsewhere, somewhere safer.

Well, I can tell you right now, that there is nowhere ‘safer’.  The world is changing at an incredible rate.  There are rumblings going on all over the place.  As I type this, I am sitting in Costa Rica, and my partner and I experienced our first official 6.8 Earthquake about a month ago.  Of course, it didn’t stop flights from flying, and it didn’t cause massive devastation, but it could have.  If the epicentre was in San Jose, it very easily could have created a scenario that might have stranded passengers and caused many fatalities.  But it didn’t.

Around the world there are hurricanes and floods, mud slides and typhoons.  They happen ALL THE TIME.  In fact, there are also volcanoes erupting here in Costa Rica.  At any moment one of them could really start spewing, and then what?  Do we all flee out of here, afraid of the entire country being carried away in a stream of lava?  Of course not!

It is time that people started thinking clearly about these things.  By cancelling a trip of a life time, or maybe one that you do every year, because of the teeny tiny rumblings of a volcano, is utterly ridiculous.  You are in more danger of being hit by a car outside your house, then you are of being harmed by an erupting volcano.  Let’s not forget that people have lived amongst volcanos for centuries!  Besides, how cool would it be to actually see an erupting volcano!?

One of my all time favourite travel moments, actually was right here in Costa Rica back in 2004.  I was near the town of Fortuna, made famous for it’s proximity to Arenal Volcano.  The volcano was erupting at the time we were visiting, not a lot, just a bit of smoke through the day, but the real show was at night.  I will never forget the experience of sitting in a RIVER of hot water, coming straight from the innards of that very volcano, while watching red rocks rumble and tumble from the top of it, splitting into thousands of red embers as they crashed down the slopes.

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Photo Credit:  Aaron White.  This is a recent shot of Volcan Fuego, which is currently erupting in Antigua, Guatemala.
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Photo Credit: Aaron White. This is a recent shot of Volcan Fuego, which is currently erupting in Antigua, Guatemala.  You can imagine what a cool experience it was for them to witness this!

Of course, we were well enough away to not be in harms way, but seriously, can you imagine bearing witness to such a sight?  I really felt like I had to pinch myself.  I absolutely felt like I was in a dream world, like this only happened in books and in movies.  But no, here I was, ACTUALLY there, ACTUALLY experiencing this awesome sight!  Wouldn’t you like to experience that?  Are you willing to set aside your fears of the unknown to really get out there and see things that you only dreamed of? That you too only thought happened in movies.

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This is me looking up to the summit of Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica, 2004.

Please for the sake of all that is holy (I am not a religious person), re-consider your decisions when you make them based solely on ridiculous insights.  Think, for once, about the lives of the people that depend on you.  About those who survive solely because you have enough money to go wherever you want in the world.  Don’t punish those that rely on you, just because you have an inkling of a fear! And really, don’t punish YOURSELF by taking away what could be one of the most incredible experiences of your life!

To those of you who weren’t planning to go to Bali, I must say, NOW IS THE TIME!  Less tourists means a better experience after all!  Go check Bali out, check it off your bucket list, and do it as SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!

The Balinese people will be thankful for it, your soul will be thankful for it, and in turn, you will help to heal the world!

This will be a decision that you will NOT regret! And while I can’t promise you everything, I can certainly promise you that much!

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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 housesitting until December 30th 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 you.

To learn about how YOU can be housesitting as well, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica – Destination Guide

As we were only staying for 2 nights, our main priority was to go to Manuel Antonio National Park. Chris had yet to see wild monkeys, and I knew that this was the place to be guaranteed a sighting.

I have noticed that the title “Travel Blogger” can have many different connotations. Some travel blogs simply tell of the travellers experiences. Some travel blogs tell people how to travel; ie. what to pack, how to secure medical insurance, what kind of currency to bring etc. Some travel blogs tell people about locations and destinations, specifically how to get there, what to do, where to stay, and all the ins and outs of each spot.

As I do with how I live my life, I like to think that I don’t necessarily fall into any specific category. My ultimate joy is to share my experiences, those that I feel are WORTH writing about. They might be inspiring, they might make people laugh, they might bring insight into the places that I am visiting. But above all, they are what make me WANT to write. They give me great joy in sharing them with the world, which in turn inspires me to “put pen to paper” (I do try to still do that once in a while!), and to just get them down and out of my head.

However, I too realize that there is also great value in me sharing the things that I learn along the way. By sharing a few local statistics, information about where we stayed, what we did, and where we went, I may be helping those out there that are just getting started traveling, and who may need a nudge in the right direction. Or I may be helping those that feel like my information helps to give them a little insight into a place, which will make them more comfortable with going there. After all, there IS a reason that the website Tripadvisor is so popular. It’s because people can either recommend places, or not. In the grand scheme of things, all information that a person can gather before heading out, helps them to have the best trip possible.

But don’t forget one important thing! Some of the best experiences do not come about from sitting in front of a computer, doing hours of research about a place. They come from just TRYING it, from just DOING it, from just LEAVING your house, and heading out into the world! The beautiful thing about travelling, is that it is absolutely impossible to plan for every eventuality that you may encounter. That is the exciting part! That is what makes it so much fun! That is why we keep doing it over and over and over again. We get away from our day to day, predictable lives, to places where anything can happen, at any time. It sends our endorphins into overdrive, alerts our senses, and makes life adventurous. Humans are adventurous by nature! It is in our genetic make up that we want to see new places, explore different horizons, try new experiences. We wouldn’t have spread ourselves all over this planet, in every nook and cranny, if we didn’t.

So, what are you waiting for?

Get out there, have fun and explore!

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Manuel Antonio

To read about our interesting arrival to Manuel Antonio, please click here. 

Manuel Antonio, best known for it’s National Park, is located just south of the larger city of Quepos in the Province of Punteranas.  The town mostly services the National Park, and is heavily populated with hotels, restaurants, gift shops and other tourist amenities.

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The Air BnB we stayed at in Manuel Antonio was a great find, as it was located in a Tico neighbourhood, a little off the beaten tourist track, but accessible to all the amenities as well. (Email me at the address below if you would like the Air BnB link to this place, it cost us roughly $20/night, but prices may increase during high season.) Just a 5 minute walk from our place, got us to the main road leading down to the beach, and the National Park. For only roughly 350 colones (roughly 75 cents USD), we could ride the bus down the hill, and check out whatever was down there, then could catch the bus back up again. In fact, that bus came all the way from Quepos, and runs constantly throughout the day.  Even if you have your own vehicle, I would recommend this option of getting there as parking is limited.

As we were only staying there for 2 nights, our main priority was to go to Manuel Antonio National Park. Chris had yet to see wild monkeys, and I knew that this was the place to be guaranteed a sighting. However, much to our surprise, we did manage to see them swinging from the power lines, and climbing on our roof and trees, at our Air BnB early that morning as well!

Home to 109 different mammals, 184 different bird species and many different reptile types, Manuel Antonio National Park is a very diverse coastal jungle. It’s one of the number one visited parks in Costa Rica, attracting 150 000 visitors a year, and was listed in 2011 as one of Forbes 12 most beautiful parks in the world.

Obviously it was necessary to go there for more than just monkeys! The scenery, the beaches, and all the other wildlife, are truly spectacular as well.

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When I was last there in 2004, the entrance was along the beach, and I have to say, much more ‘entrancing’ (pun intended) than it is now. Almost immediately, when you would walk in, the monkeys would be hanging from the trees, and you could see the beautiful beach and ocean on your right hand side.

As the park is now under some pretty major renovations, while they install miles of gangways and walkways that loop themselves through the trees, they have moved the entrance onto a non-descript roadway, where you have to walk for some time before spotting any wildlife.

I can see that these renovations are important, and will cut down on damage to the jungle floor, but in the meantime, the entrance is not what one would expect from one the 12 most beautiful parks in the world! They are also constructing a massive Welcome/Interpretive Center, which will definitely add value when it’s completed, hopefully soon.

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As we were told that it’s an absolute zoo in the high season, we were happy to have been there during the slower months. Apparently if you don’t get to the beaches by 9:00 on some mornings, you will barely find a spot. Not my idea of a relaxing day out. However, on this particular day, there were minimal people, but it was still busy enough to see that the high season would be much more difficult to even move around on the trails.

NOTE: The park is CLOSED on Mondays!! Guess the monkeys need a day off as well:)

As predicted, we saw many, many monkeys. And despite signs every 100 feet or so to NOT feed them, we did see some silly tourist throwing them an apple core! Argh! I had flashbacks of a trip that I did about 8 years ago, back to the popular tourist destination of Lake Louise, in the Canadian Rockies. My middle name is derived from this place and I grew up just down the road in Canmore. I witnessed chipmunks being fed directly from peoples hands and was thoroughly horrified by their domestication.  They certainly had never done that when I was growing up in the area, and they have now become quite the pests!

PLEASE! If you visit the park, DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!! The animals will become more and more dependant on these food sources, will lose the ability to forage for food themselves, and will eventually become aggressive and hostile if not fed. When this happens, as it always does, people will get hurt, and monkeys will be killed. It’s a cycle that, unfortunately, plays out everywhere around the world where there are close encounters with wildlife. In the end, the animals ALWAYS lose this battle!

Upon entry, we heard the distinct howl of the Howler Monkeys, and were able to spot one high up in the trees. Though we heard more howlers through the day, the White Faced, or Capuchin Monkeys were the ones we saw many of. We also saw a sloth moving slowly through a tree, a South American Coati and a cool Iguana was hanging out near us at the beach.  Of course many different birds, insects and butterflies were spotted as well.

We did a bit of hiking and hung out on one of the beaches for a bit. Our total visit was probably only about 2-3 hours long, but it was a nice day and we were lucky as it had been raining many days leading up to our arrival.  We actually had decided to cut our visit short, because we didn’t bring any food with us into the park, and we were getting hungry.  Needless to say, I think it’s proabably a good idea not to bring food into the park, as it inevitably leads to what I mentioned earlier.

After the park we gave into one of the many street vendors outside the gate that had earlier tried to sell us a fresh coconut, to drink the juice inside. However, this one came with a catch! He added a shot of Rum to it, and we happily drank our coconut juice with rum, and (sort of!) re-hydrated ourselves, after having felt dehydrated from the sweltering tropical sun.

After poking around a bit, and grabbing a quick bite to eat, we headed down to the public beach outside the park, beautiful in it’s own right, and relaxed until we were chased away by the rain. We were able to very quickly catch the bus heading back up the hill, and we retreated back to our Air BnB to cook some dinner and relax for the evening. Well, Chris didn’t exactly relax, as our roommate and new friend, “Aaron from Canada” (as our host had called him) at the BnB wanted a tattoo! Chris happily obliged, further solidifying his thoughts on making a living as a travelling tattoo artist.

We didn’t really experience much more in Manuel Antonio, and I have to say that as a lover of places that are quiet, and less touristy, I would probably not go back there.

Where we are now, is so much more up both of our alleys! For example, yesterday as we laid on the beach relaxing with a book, I looked in both directions and saw nothing but sand, sea, palm trees and sun for literally miles. Not another soul was in sight! Plus, we have monkeys in our trees almost every day, and Iguanas that actually LIVE on the property. We even saw a sloth today high up in a tree on the side of the road!
But, I won’t spoil it all for you, because this place surely deserves it’s own blog post……..or 6!  Stay tuned……..

Manuel Antonio National Park facts:

Park Entrance – $16USD – tickets must be purchased from a bank that is about 100 meters from the entrance to the park, on the left hand side of the road, one block back from the beach and bus drop off area.  There are guides that are available to hire, and I’m sure you will see much more wildlife than we did as they have long telescopes that they carry with them.  Only hire guides that are part of the park service! 

High Season approx. November 15 – February 28

Website: http://manuelantoniopark.com

Phone: 1-800-381 3770

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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!

To see more 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, click here.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

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

 

 

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!)

__________________

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!

__________________

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.

To see my blog post menu, click here.

 

 

I dream a dream…..

I dream a dream where every day is new and exciting.  Where the ordinary things in life, cease to exist.  Where time stretches on into infinity.  Where the sun kisses my skin, and the warm wind blows through my hair.

I dream a dream of visiting far off destinations, of meeting new people, of discovering the world. I feel like I was born a traveler, and there is so much to see out there in the world.  It boggles my mind…….  I want to see it all……..  I want to do it all.

This is my dream…….

It all seems so far off, but this dreams’ realities CAN come true.

And I have figured out how!

For about 6 months to a year now, I have really started to ask myself “Is there more to life than this?”  I would even go so far as to ask my partner what his thoughts were on the matter.  After a long and exhausting day at work I would look him squarely in the eyes and say “Do you ever think that there is more out there in life than running on the hamster wheel, working 9-5 and feeling like we are never getting ahead?”  He would shrug his shoulders and say things like “Well that is what we are working towards aren’t we?”

Yes, we worked!  And worked, and worked and worked……and then worked some more! 

We still work and work and work.  We are both self employed.  He is a Landscaper and I am a House Painter.  Together we make a good team.  We both have experience doing each others’ jobs, so helping each other when needed works well for us, and we rarely need to hire subcontractors.  We are also both artists.  Chris is a tattoo artist, and I muck about with many different art forms (visit www.jillianamatt.com if you want to see a bit.) Neither of us have ever made a living at our art, but it has been something that we have both wanted to do at some point.

Sometime last fall I realized that despite the fact that we were working and working and working as hard as we could, we were falling behind financially.  We were eating out frequently because we were too tired to cook, we were going away on weekends because we just needed a change of scenery.  We were exhausted from a busy summer of gardening and transforming our yard from a rectangular patch of grass to a stunning park like setting.  We also grew food!  Lots of it!  We didn’t buy produce or fruit for months last year, but we were still sinking into a pile of debt.

I also started to get completely overwhelmed with our stuff!  In fact, we had a shed built (that we couldn’t afford) with the intention of moving “stuff” from the basement to the shed, so that we could gain some breathing room down there.  Our ultimate plan was to open the basement up so that we could create the perfect artist studio, so that we could finally start working seriously on our passions.  (My passion, in fact, is not art after all……but there will be lots more about that to come.)

Now, I should also note here that with Chris being such a great tattoo artist, he decided to take over a tattoo shop in September that was about to close down.  He hadn’t worked in a shop in a while, and he felt it time to get back at it, and to build his portfolio once again.  (www.facebook.com/inkcaptattoos) While he was getting some business, it surely wasn’t paying for itself (we all know these things take time), so we were forced to try and pay for that, as well as all of our other bills that we already had.  We have payments on 2 vehicles, 2 car insurance policies, house insurance, mortgage, workers compensation, cell phones, utilities, business insurance, etc. etc. etc……. you name it, we have it.

But tattooing is Chris’ passion, so although we knew that it wasn’t currently sustaining itself, we held faith that the clients would come.  Unfortunately with the winter being a quiet season in the tattoo business (coupled with living in a smallish, and remote town), things were grim.  He was only in there 2 days of the week, while landscaping the rest, but being away from landscaping for those 2 days, while taking on more debt, was not a happy scenario.

At some point, I realized that I had been down this path before.  My now ended (for 5 years now) marriage was a string of bad financial choices and too much stuff.  We were also constantly drowning in stuff and to top it off,  we moved 5 times in 6 years!  Not a happy scenario!  (Oh did I say that already?!)  I knew that I was headed in the same direction (although this time I wasn’t moving anywhere), and I knew that things needed to change.

After Christmas, when I got back home, I decided for once and for all that it was time to seriously sit down and take a look at what bills were coming out of our account, and how much it all was.  I’ve never been a budget-er, but I have excellent credit.  I always find a way to make just minimum payments, but even that was starting to become really hard.  2 credit cards had approached their limits, and there was no sign that this was going to be corrected anytime soon.  After doing my calculations, I knew that something major had to change.  We were in way over our heads, and there was no end in sight.

Coincidentally (or more appropriately “synchronistic-ly”), an interesting documentary had just come out called Minimalism. I’m sure you have heard of it, it is getting rave reviews right now.  I watched Minimalism on January 11th.  That evening as I sat and watched it, while working on my artwork, it was like a lightening bolt erupted out of the sky and blasted me right in the back of the head.

I thought “This is it!  Can it really be this easy?”

I left my art bench and went into the living room to talk to Chris.  I said “Can I talk to you for a minute?”  He said “Sure.”  I could tell that he was nervous about this conversation.  After all, we have been dealing with a huge amount of stress around money, and conversations weren’t always the best as we really started to realize the situation we were in.

I said “How do you feel about selling everything and going traveling?”  He took a deep breath and said “Well, I wouldn’t mind, but what about my tattoo shop?”  And in one sentence I said “Sweetie, the whole world is your tattoo shop.”img_0637

Within 10 minutes, he was completely on board and even super excited!  On January 11th, our lives changed, our perspectives changed, our focus changed!  On January 11th, the world became our Oyster again!

Since the decision we have been excited to face each day.  We are driven and focused, and we know that there is finally an ultimate payoff for all the hard work we have been doing.  Everything we are now working for, is worth it and has meaning.  Clarity is falling down all around us like bright comets descending from the heavens, helping to guide our way.

We don’t know ALL the details yet, but we have a general idea of how this will play out.  First off, we are headed to Central America/Southern Mexico.  Chris really wants to learn Spanish, and I could certainly use more practice.  We don’t want to flit about from place to place, but would rather rent an apartment or small house ($275 a month furnished in some places!), for 3-6 months and REALLY experience a place.  Experience the people, the food, the culture.

Chris will bring his tattoo gear with us, and be a roaming tattoo artist, while I attempt to create a living at writing.  Which, by the way, I have wanted to do for quite some time, but never felt like I had the time (surprise, surprise!).

The plan is ambitious. We have A LOT of stuff!

It will take us a few months, maybe a year, to get everything sold, and get our ducks in a row.  But we are focused!  Focused on creating a life that we LOVE!  Focused on finding HAPPINESS and CONTENTMENT!  Focused on cultivating our passions (mine is traveling in case you didn’t figure that out yet). Focused on living a meaningful, exciting and, even, EXHILARATING life!

I knew when I turned 40 in October that life was “just beginning”, but I could never have predicted how true that was!  Look out world!  Here we come!

** Follow our letting go process (already there has been tears!) through this blog by signing up with your email address.  I will update frequently and let you all know how it is going!**

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