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:
- I sound like my parents
- 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 was 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 family, 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 wise inner voices. And listening to those voices 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, truly 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 I wanted to do was hedonistic and impossible to ever accomplish.
The most amazing doors of opportunity 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.