Sometimes self-love is about the little things. But sometimes, it's about selling everything you own to travel to third-world paradise.

I was going to keep this a secret. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I’ve grown to focus on only sharing personal details if they relate, directly, to helping you with self-love, self-awareness, and peace of mind.

Somehow, I thought that selling everything I own to go on a daring adventure around the world wasn’t related. But I realize now—it is.

I should really start at the beginning, before this was even a thought inside my head. About two years ago, I was on the bus with my partner, Jamie, huddling against the coming cold of the Canadian winter.

He said, “I hate the cold.”

I nodded and replied, “Yes, I do too. I keep thinking I should be grateful for it, but I’m not. It’s awful. It sucks my spirit away.”

“This is why I want to live in a tropical country, on a beach. Maybe an island,” he said.

“Live? On a beach?” I choked.

My first thoughts: how hedonistic.

For the next twenty minutes, I explained to him all of the reasons that I could never, ever, live on a beach and he shouldn’t either, including:

  • I would get bored on a beach.
  • It’s hedonistic and wrong to want to be comfortable all the time
  • How would I make money?
  • I’d rather just travel 2-3 times a year, like I’ve been doing, because I need a home base to return to
  • I had a duty to help Western culture revive itself—I had people to save, damnit! How could I save them if I wasn’t right in the thick of it?
  • Wouldn’t it get boring on a beach and especially an island beach? I mean, what would you DO?
  • Where would you put your things?
  • Where would I put my cat?

To my surprise, he didn’t argue with me. He just looked at me, sort of amused in that way he looks at me when he knows I’m only flustered because I’m on the brink of epiphany, and said, “Well, it’s what I want.”

Simple as that.

I was furious. I kept ruminating on it for weeks.

What he wants? What does he mean, what he wants? He just wants to do what he wants, and that’s that? Does he feel no responsibility to this world, to save this culture from the jaws of its own self-destructive doom? Does he not see the necessity of suffering in order to shape ourselves into tolerant, loving people?

What he wants? He just wants to do what he wants? Isn’t doing what you want for drug addicts, spoiled children, and rich people?

As I allowed these thoughts to overtake me, allowing myself permission to fully experience the incredible amount of anger that welled up inside of me, I realized two things:

  1. I sound like my mother
  2. I want the same things

Since I was little, I wanted to see the world. I wanted to be around nature. I wanted sand. I wanted sparkly eyes and dirty hair. I wanted to be, deeply, immersed in the culture of countries where they understood that there’s more to life than traffic and TV and shopping. I wanted third world paradise.

I was angry because, here I was, suffering in this culture. I didn’t go to the shopping malls. I bought everything second-hand. I didn’t watch TV. I didn’t know the latest gossip. I hated the cold. I hated the pollution. No one understood me. And, it had been getting progressively worse, since I’d gone through an awakening and decided to love myself, stop wearing makeup, love people, and practice daily self-awareness. I didn’t fit in at all. Of course, I wanted to leave, but here I’d been for all these years, sticking it out. Didn’t that mean something? Wasn’t there a reason I’d been here? What was it all for?

That was two years ago.

Since then, I’ve given myself more permission each day to want what I want.

Since then, we’ve talked about beaches and islands and the third-world. We’ve looked at pictures of palm trees and dirt roads, thinking of a simpler life. We’ve huddled together in the bitter cold of a January in Canada and looked at videos of people living in Mexico working on the internet, loving the locals, walking on the beach, loving life.

I’ve told him about all of my worldly travels and opened him to the idea of going from place to place (though I still can’t get him to think hitchhiking is a good idea, despite my iron-clad proof of how safe it is—i.e. I haven’t died yet).

He, in turn, has told me about all of his ideas on entrepreneurship, freedom, passive income, and supporting local economies by making money in the Western world and then paying people in poorer countries ten times what they’re used to, seeing those smiles on their faces.

We’d talk and talk, but it all seemed like distant pipe dreams. In the real world, I thought, we needed to retire or win the lottery or make a million dollars or formulate some sort of solid, safe, unwavering plan for how we could do it without failing.

In the meantime, I followed my heart in other ways. Around the same time we’d had that conversation, I made myself a promise that I was going to do my best to follow my heart and do something important in the world. I was going to change the world.

Soon enough, The Love Mindset was born. At first, I didn’t really mean for my writing to become a career, but over time it became obvious that there was a need in the world for what I had to offer. Writing evolved to coaching, to speaking, to radio shows. The more I gave, the more I saw the hunger for what I had to give.

I followed my heart. I did the scary thing.

About a year after my self-made promise, I quit my day job. I left the field of work that I studied (that I still have $30,000 in debt to show for) to do what I felt was my true calling. I was inspired, and then I was disillusioned.

Shortly after I went full-time with my passions, I realized that making a million dollars was just as far away for me as retirement (which was 40 years down the road).

For a while there, I let my travel plans take a back seat. Maybe I could live in Canada. After all, I was so happy with my work, so happy to be helping people. So what if it got cold? I could hack it.

About four months of being full-time self-employed later, I couldn’t hack it anymore.

You see, I’m already a nature girl. I’m already kind of a weirdo by Western standards. So, when I started working from home, I stayed inside a lot. My home turned into a sanctuary. I did yoga. I meditated. I coached people all over the world about self-awareness and self-love. I wrote. I read. I listened to nature sounds. I cooked meals from scratch. I loved my little life.

The more I lived this life indoors, the more shocked I was each time I went outdoors. My post office box, for example, is in Yorkdale Mall—the most high-end mall in all of Toronto. Imagine me strolling into this upper scale shopping establishment in my second-hand clothes, no makeup, my hair all wild. Imagine my distress at finding myself in a busy, over-stimulating environment with the lights too bright, the sounds too loud, the smells, oh god the smells.

For the last nine months, every single time I’ve left my apartment, I’ve been culture shocked.

Every time I’ve gone out into the traffic, the pollution, the billboards, the neon lights, the strip malls, the artificial lights, the cigarettes, the perfume—all of it—I’ve been overcome with a deep, painful understanding…

I don’t belong here.

So, I discreetly crept back to Google and allowed myself to research the possibility of leaving. That meant getting away from just Image searches and articles. That meant looking at actual places, actual tickets, actual possibilities.

Imagine my surprise at finding out that it’s way cheaper to live in a third-world country than here! And, then, imagine my laughter at realizing that this is obvious.

What was keeping me here?

I sat down and looked at my life. I realized that, somehow, everything had fallen into place for this exact transition. By a combination of coincidences and perseverance, all of my work had moved online. I thought this was just a temporary glitch, but I realized in one moment of bright-eyed epiphany that it didn’t have to be.

I didn’t have to be here. I didn’t need to be anywhere, actually. I could continue to help people from all over the world without staying in one particular place. The internet is my playground. My pulpits are digital.

With tears in my eyes, I realized that I didn’t need to stay where I didn’t belong.

And so, with many fears to face and many hyper-critical lectures from my parents, Jamie and I decided to leave. We made the plans. We bought the tickets.

So, this is the official announcement. We’re going to Costa Rica for 3 months in January, then Mexico for 3 months, and coming back to Canada for a few months in the summer. After that, maybe Southeast Asia. Maybe somewhere else. We don’t really know yet, and that’s sort of the beauty of it.

For the past two months, it’s been surreal selling all of my things, getting ready to not have a permanent address.

Sometimes, I get this feeling like I’m gliding off the face of the Earth, like it’s so big and scary and strange, like I can’t find any safety to grasp onto. But, most of the time, I feel this impending sense of liberation that grows stronger each day.

I wasn’t going to share my plans with you, but I realized that this decision wasn’t somehow divorced from my teachings of self-love and self-discovery. It was a direct product of these practices. This is a radical act of self-compassion.

In learning to accept and love myself, I’ve learned to listen to my inner voice. And listening to my inner voice has taken me on a wild journey. It made me write The Love Mindset. It made me start coaching. It made me share my authentic experiences when it was scary to do so. And now, it’s taking me out of the comforts of Western society and straight into the arms of the third-world.

I think back, now, to all of the protests I had against going to travel and live in paradise. Thinking it was more expensive. Thinking I’d have nothing to do. Thinking I’d be bored. Thinking I needed to stay here and suffer in order to be a good leader.

Now, I hear people say things like that when I tell them what I’m about to go do, and it makes me sad, because I can’t help but wonder if they’re not just doing what I was doing: lying to themselves so they don’t have to face the crippling fear of doing what they really, really, really want to do.

So, here’s the beginning of a new chapter in my journey of self-discovery. I look forward to learning about peace of mind from cultures around the world that understand it more than I do. I look forward doing yoga on the beach, meditating to the sound of the ocean waves, and walking barefoot, feeling the sand between my toes and the sun on my back. I look forward to paying the locals more than they’d ever expect to be paid, and seeing that light in their eyes. I look forward to learning about my true nature from the nature all around me. I look forward to not knowing where I’ll be going next year or the year after that. I look forward to being a better role model and a better leader who has the energy and courage to follow her own inner call. I look forward to the self-respect that will inevitably flow from my spirit, knowing that I did what I wanted, even though it didn’t seem like the most logical thing.

Most of all, I look forward to gazing out at the ocean and feeling, with every fibre of my being, that I do belong. I look forward to having the peace outside of me match the peace that I cultivate each day within.

I will, of course, keep updating you on the details of what I’m learning on my journey, and hoping that my courageous leap into the face of what I really, really want might just inspire you to do the same.

Because life is too short to hate your job, feel like you don’t belong, and put off travel, or anything you really want, until you’re “ready”.

And the biggest misconception in the world is that those who get to do what they want are lucky in some way. I’m not lucky. I’m just stubborn.

Some people might read this and think, “Must be nice,” but this opportunity didn’t just drop on my doorstep. Just two years ago, I was working a job I didn’t like, writing a book I didn’t know if I’d ever share with anyone, and talking about how everything that I wanted to do was too hedonistic and impossible to ever accomplish.

It’s amazing the doors that open once we open our minds. Once I allowed myself to think it was possible, I found so many stories of other people who were doing the same, like this guy who travels the world with his four (about to be five) beautiful kids or this woman who was a housewife and, after ending a 39 year marriage, moved to a tropical island to open her own eco-resort and run ambitious environmental initiatives to save baby turtles in the area.

It’s amazing what we can do once we give ourselves permission to want what we want and be who we are.

We all deserve that. Every. Single. One of us.

Why I’m Selling Everything I Own and Going to Travel


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31 More Comments

  • November 1, 2014 at 10:01 pm
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    I’m very happy for you. I truly am, but a bit sad at the same time. It’s a weird feeling since we never really met in person, but I feel like it’s a separation. Do you have someone who will take care of the cat? I smiled when you mentioned your cat and thought: I knew it!! I love my cat. We have such an amazing connection!!

    Reply
    • November 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm
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      Aw don’t worry, it’ll be less of a separation, in the end. I’ll be even deeper connected with my spirit than ever, which will help me be even more honest, more vulnerable, more generous, more wise, and more helpful to you. Sometimes, we have to go away to come home 🙂

      The cat is a strange story. Around the same time as my conversation with my partner about the beach, I was moving. All my things were packed in and there I was with my cat in the carrier, about to take him there, when my new landlord called me to ask about something unrelated. I told her, at the end of our conversation, that I was about to come bring the cat. She said, “Cat?! What do you mean cat? My husband is allergic!” Of course, I tried to tell her that I’d mentioned this about three times, but there was a language barrier, and I guess nothing had gotten through before. In any case, it was too late.

      I called up a friend and she gladly accepted him. He’s a cute one. I should mention, too, that he used to live in a house full of cats when I lived in a house full of roommates. He loves to play and socialize. I was about to take him into a basement apartment where I’d be alone. I cried and was sad, but I knew the friend I’d given him to had two other cats (one of whom used to live at the house), so he’d be happy. I always meant to take him back.

      Well, time went on and I’d visit and… well, he was so happy. He was happier than I’d ever seen him. Of course, my friend was kind and loving to him, and he’d also formed tight bonds with one of her cats. They actually slept together! I never saw him sleep with another cat.

      One day, I was at her place to do a meditation and I could feel him there in the room. After I came out, I looked at him and asked him in my best eye-language, “Do you like it here? Do you want to stay? Do you want me to take you back?” I think he wanted to stay. It made me sad, but happy at the same time. I love him, but I love him enough to want him to be happy, and he’s better off here. I’m too busy running around saving the world. I petted him for a VERY long time in a sort of unofficial Goodbye. That was about a year ago. He’ll still get a goodbye from me when I go away, because he’s still a little piece of my heart. And as long as my dear ones are happy, I’ve realized that I don’t need to own them or their time. Hope that was enough detail for ya 😉

      Reply
      • November 2, 2014 at 1:26 pm
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        That is the perfect answer :). I thought I would give my cat as I felt she might be happier with others,but she’s still with me. I love her so much. I talk to her, she listens and shows me so much love. We communicate all the time and she understands me so well.

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        • November 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm
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          That’s a beautiful bond, Nicole. Wow. I know how it is with cats – hard to get close to, but once you do, wow! I think, with cats and with people, it’s okay to leave if we know they’re happier without us. And, somehow, if we’re unhappy where we are, we can’t be happy enough to help them be happy. I heard somewhere once that it’s impossible for just one person in a relationship to be unhappy with the other. I’d say that it’s impossible for just one person in a relationship to be unhappy, period. If it’s a truly close relationship. I keep thinking, when I visit my friend and I look in his eyes, that my cat has more wisdom than any of my ex-boyfriends or than I ever did during breakups. He’s not looking at me like those animals look at you in cages at the Humane Society, which is how one ex of mine looked at me for a long time after I left. No, this cat knows. He really loves me. He does want me to be happy, with or without him, too. Maybe I’m just making that up in my head, but it feels good to believe, so I’ll just keep on believing it 🙂

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          • November 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm
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            i hold her and cry. I cry and feel I will never be able to stop. It’s not something I can do witH anyone else.
            Sometimes, like tonight, i am filled with confusion. I feel like I will never get better, i will never be able to be a good person, a good mother, a good friend. It seems like anything I do, I do it wrong. I read a lot that depressed people like me feel the whole world would be happier without them. I don’t feel this way, but what I do feel seems worse. It is worse for me. The world cant be happier without me since i feel i don’t exist, im invisible. Sometimes even abuse is easier to handle. I am so sorry for tonight’s negativity, very sorry. I’ll hold my cat and let it pass

          • November 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm
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            That sounds incredibly difficult, Nicole. I wish I could give you a great big hug across this virtual abyss. You deserve to be loved and respected, above all by your own self. In my experience, depression is self-abuse. It’s worse than being abused by someone else because you have all the fury of the bully, all the sorrow of the victim, and no ability to walk away. Don’t apologize for the pain that comes up from this process – it’s okay for it to hurt. It’s okay to vent while the toxic effects of your relationship with your mind swim into your awareness. It happens to all of us who go through healing. Your only job is to allow yourself to question your thoughts, devote time to understanding yourself, and be unconditionally forgiving for each time you break down, because you will. We all do. And don’t ever hesitate to reach out. <3

  • November 1, 2014 at 10:16 pm
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    I’m rooting for you! I think you are right that this is perfect timing for this and I feel that it will make a huge difference in your life. I’ve had a chance to travel quite a bit. I’ve lived in 10 US states and visited most of the rest. I’ve been to 14 countries and lived in Europe for a time. I’ve always enjoyed learning about other cultures myself and it always makes me realize how small minded people in the US are. I imagine it’s the same in Canada. Good luck on your journey, my friend and don’t be a stranger. You are in for a wonderful ride.Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    • November 2, 2014 at 1:23 pm
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      That made me laugh, Ken. Yes, it’s strange, our culture, but I think it’s evolving slowly as some of us are feeling VERY uncomfortable and seeking ways to change. I used to feel like I had to save Western culture, singlehandedly (no pressure). Now, I feel that my responsibility is to help people who want to get off this ride get off with grace and wisdom. All the rest… if they cease to love their suffering, I am here. If not, I will preach to and force no one. I think you, more than most people, know exactly what I mean. To be great leaders who teach people to follow their inner voice we must… actually do what the inner voice says. You’re doing yours with your novel, my friend. We’re both on a journey. Enjoy your ride too!

      Reply
  • November 2, 2014 at 12:30 am
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    Wow! I’m so happy for you that you are going to do what you want. I can’t wait to hear your adventures and how it all goes. You are truly a unique spirit and have much to offer the world. Good luck!

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    • November 2, 2014 at 1:23 pm
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      Thank you for your kind words and warm wishes, Sheila! I am happy to share this path with loving people like you 🙂

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  • November 2, 2014 at 2:17 am
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    I love you! I love your courage, your spirit, your dedication to life and truth…
    I love how you rised above fear,conformity, and the need for approval.
    This is what freedom really is!

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    • November 2, 2014 at 1:25 pm
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      Yes! It certainly is. It’s funny how we say “true freedom is within” and, sometimes, we believe that means we need to have crappy surroundings with this powerful mind, like it proves our peace somehow. I think what I’ve learned, slowly, is that the truest freedom is, also, freedom from that belief.

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  • November 2, 2014 at 9:14 am
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    I cannot even begin to tell you the depth of love and admiration I feel for you to live your heart and your words and follow your dream. I have the same dreams for much the same reasons. Why haven’t I? The usual reasons but reading this today has renewed my passion and desire and perhaps this time it will be enough to override the fear. Happy travels and thank you for sharing your fears and your courage. I’m excited for you both and wish you all the so much happiness in your new path to go home.

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    • November 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm
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      Wow, I live for this. To know I’ve inspired you and renewed your passion to pursue your inner call… that feels very good. Thank you for sharing this, my friend. You’ve left me grinning like a fool.

      Reply
  • November 2, 2014 at 11:58 am
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    Hi Vironika! I’m from Costa Rica so whatever you need, don’t hesitate to contact me.
    Blessings♥♥♥

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    • November 2, 2014 at 1:26 pm
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      Thank you Maribel! What a kind offer! I might just take you up on that. Where are you from in Costa Rica? We’ll be around Montezuma.

      Reply
  • November 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm
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    Bravo! So happy for you!
    PLEASE keep in touch however works for you – I’d love to hear how it all goes.
    Much joy and peace to you on your new adventure.

    Reply
    • November 2, 2014 at 3:13 pm
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      Thank you so much, Covalent. Thank you for being such a vocal, supportive, open-minded member of my Google+ community. I will definitely share all my adventures with you!

      Reply
  • November 3, 2014 at 12:02 am
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    Bravo! Congratulations! And thank you. Where do I begin there’s so much to thank you for. Reminding me how free I used to be. Howard piece I used to be. How much laughter and music I had in my life. Reminding me that I still have a choice. Reminding me that life is rich and delicious and it’s bigger than my little corner of the world. I could just go on. Thank you so much.

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    • November 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm
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      Oh wow, Bette. So happy to have stirred up memories of yourself within you 🙂 I hope you can embrace yourself, past and present, and find the timeless power within you. So much love to you!

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  • November 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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    Great idea. My Son just moved to Costa Rica last spring with his wife and children. They found good schools for the children and just had another baby in Costa Rica. They love it there because the people are so relaxed and friendly. There is a good affordable supply of local organic food grown in some of the richest soil in the wold as well as clean drinking water and clean air. They call it the green zone. I think one of the biggest problem in most modern day societies is an inability to slow down and enjoy the simplicity of life. Always striving yet never arriving, Its a self perpetuating trap.

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    • January 14, 2015 at 3:49 pm
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      Wow! What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. I bet they are overjoyed here. We’ve just arrived and, already, it’s a paradise.

      I do find that there are lots of people still striving here – locals and expats alike. It was a surprise for me, because I thought everyone would be very laid back and “arriving” like you said.

      I suppose, no matter where we go, there we are 😉

      To those who consciously practice self-awareness, this is definitely the perfect place to be. It’s very conducive to growth, though of course, we still need to take that step!

      Reply
  • December 2, 2014 at 9:41 am
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    Vironika, I trust you to be kind. You have passed my spidey sense test : ) Nikki, don’t give up trying to suffer less. I think crying into our beloved cat is alleviating and also trying not to suffer so badly. I applaud that <3 I hope you don't give up <3

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    • December 2, 2014 at 11:44 am
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      You are so right, Ellen. Sometimes, we must all cry into our cat. <3

      Reply
  • December 2, 2014 at 9:44 am
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    excuse me Nikky, I spelled your name wrong at first : ) xox

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  • December 5, 2014 at 10:00 pm
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    What a great post Vironika!

    I am jealous lol

    I wish you guys all the best in Costa Rica…if you’ve never been there before, it is so stunning, you will love it!

    I too hop to one day soon have my own business working well enough to travel and be able escape the horrible Toronto winters that I have no more use for lol!

    thnks for sharing!

    Reply
    • December 6, 2014 at 12:16 am
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      Yes, the winters are cold, aren’t they? I do have to say – I quit my day job before it was practical and I’m traveling well before my work is truly sustainable. I’ve always been a bit on the impulsive side, but at the end of the day, life is meant to be lived and everything in this world comes down to people (even matters of money). I trust that everything will work out.

      I think the fastest way to escape is not to make more. It’s to spend less. That is the little told secret.

      And trust. Faith. Love. Hope. That little glint you get in your eye that looks like childish foolishness to some. It’ll never 100% completely make sense. It’s not really very sensible. But, for me, it’s right. My heart says so. 🙂

      Reply
  • February 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm
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    I just found you today. Wow. From what I’ve come across so far (which has given me goosebumps several times) I can’t wait to read your book. I was on tinybuddha.com and then all over the place researching you. What you say truly speaks to me. Like everything. I don’t belong here either. That part gave me the most goosebumps. I’d so love to sell everything and join the Peace Corps or teach in some third world country. My son is like me, but even more so as he has not been molded and shaped and subdued by this society. Life is short. Good for you for living yours! Inspired.

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    • February 25, 2015 at 11:08 am
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      You make me smile. Thank you for your kind words and your gratitude, Jen. I’m happy to rip myself open, so that others can recognize their insides in mine 🙂 I’d love for you to do what you love and go where you feel you belong. Please stay in touch along your journey!

      Reply
  • October 30, 2015 at 8:21 pm
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    I just stumbled across this article. I’m at a cross roads in my life. 27 and recently single. I’ve lived in four states in the USA. This move back to my home town is my 21 move. I hate packing. I hate stuff. I’m going back to school in the spring. Online courses because I can still have a normal what ever I want to do life and not have to be tied down to a campus. But I want more I feel like I don’t belong. Like there’s more to my life than this 30 mile radius town. I’m afraid. I no that’s why it’s stopping me from selling everything and ditching this routine life. I have people in my life that would be strongly against it. But I have an extreme itch to move somewhere entirely new. Where I can walk outside and walk around a town where no one knows my name or the family I belong to with just looking at me. It’s happened several times. I need something more. I’m not sure what it is. I have a gypsy heart. I can’t stay in one place for too long. Three years is the longest for me. But I need different just don’t know where to start.

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    • November 2, 2015 at 6:24 pm
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      Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability, Mallorie. It sounds like you’re going through a rough transition, and I hope that you choose authenticity and awareness over fear. I know how hard that choice is to make, and I know how hard it can be to admit that fear is what’s holding us back. I admire your courage, and I look forward to hearing how you worked through this part of your journey 🙂

      Reply

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