Live Your Dream in a Material World

The sum total of our possessions: three kids and 11 bags (not all pictured.)

2007: The sum total of our possessions: three kids and 11 bags (not all pictured.)

Things I’ve Given Up To Live My Dream

Giving things up sounds like such miserable, hair shirt stuff, but even the thought of writing this article makes me happy. Somehow downsizing my life so that I can achieve my life goals isn’t much of a sacrifice at all. In fact, it’s liberated me. Granted I’ve had some practice in this area over the last year or two and gone to extremes that some people couldn’t. Here’s the story.

Dream of Travel: the Perfect Excuse to Declutter Our Lives

In 2007 my husband and I sold our lovely home on beautiful Waiheke Island, New Zealand, in order to finance a trip to Central America. We got rid of most of our other belongings too and broke our kids’ little hearts by selling, giving away or simply binning most of their toys. The Candy kids were just two, five and eight at the time, so they got over it. We did put some personal stuff like photos, baby books and a few favourite toys, into storage in New Zealand, but during our time in Central America and Costa Rica, where we lived for a year, we had very little compared to what we had in New Zealand.

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Although we ended up spending 18 months in Central America, there wasn’t much we missed in the way of creature comforts apart from a comfy sofa. Books and clothes came to us by swapping, borrowing or second hand. We had minimal furniture and our walls were bare but there was plenty to entertain us. Every house we lived in had spectacular views and a swimming pool. Toucans visited our garden daily, occasionally monkeys or coatis popped by and a plethora of amazing outsized insects diverted us on a regular basis.

Work Out What Really Makes You Happy in Life

Now we live in Queensland, Australia and I’m pursuing writing full-time. I’m more or less resigned to a life of less since writing isn’t usually well paid, but somehow that doesn’t bother me any more. I’d prefer to be happy and fulfilled than have all the mod cons some people work long hours for, often in jobs they don’t even enjoy.

We’re blessed to live in a good house in a gorgeous area, surrounded by clean, safe beaches and with plenty of free activities on tap to keep us busy. But we’ve definitely made sacrifices and will continue to do so happily ~ unless an unexpected and extremely large windfall comes our way in which case we’d probably get rid of everything again and spend a year in Africa.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once.

>> What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

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New to Noosa and enjoying all it has to offer

The koala that motivated us to walk on

The koala: a little known motivational tool

Free activities huge draw card for family with Scottish ancestry

Before moving to Noosa we lived in the south of Costa Rica where there were more monkeys than people and the only family day out would be the odd cabalgata, or horse parade. Cabalgatas are generally typified by the number of drunken cowboys riding their horses round the village, while sinking progressively lower into their saddles and leaving a trail of crushed beer cans behind them. Not really that family-friendly in fact.

Prior to Costa Rica, we lived on Waiheke Island, a stunning wine-producing island in the north of New Zealand. There were some great events on Waiheke, like the wine and jazz festivals, or the spectacular biannual sculpture walk, but the time between these big events seemed to drag by, often for months on end.

TravelSmart Noosa

Meanwhile, here in Noosa we seem to be spoilt for choice with the vast array of things to see and do. Take last weekend, for example. On Saturday, we enjoyed the TravelSmart Noosa event, kindly organised by the local council to encourage us to be more eco-friendly in our transport choices. To this end the lovely TravelSmart people organised a fun and non-competitive bike and walk circuit for us, and about 500 other people, providing free entertainment afterwards with music, a stilt-walker, a giant twister board and a prize raffle with loads of prizes that you’d actually want to win: a family voucher for Australia zoo, a bike or a two night stay in a posh hotel, to name but a few. As if this wasn’t enough, they also plied us with useful freebies including water bottles, bum bags, bicycle repair kits and backpacks. Thanks a lot!

Because we thought our seven year old would struggle to cycle to the event and then complete the ten kilometer circuit, we opted to drive there and do the five kilometer walk. I know, going by car kind of missed the point but still, we weren’t the only guilty ones. The car park was full.

I’m sorry to say that the walk didn’t get off to a very good start. Our adorable four year old kept falling off her bike as the trainer wheels weren’t in the right position. Our adventurous seven year old complained of thirst constantly. Even my dear hubby bleated on about how hot it was and how he wished they’d chosen a shadier route. He even suggested we sit down for a while, wait until all the other walkers had gone by and then take off our numbers and go back to the car! He then claimed that he was joking but I have to wonder.

How we got Motivated by a Real Live Wild Koala

Just when I thought I’d surely go mad if I heard another complaint in this unrelenting heat we spotted a koala.

“Look!” Someone shouted.
“It’s awake.” And sure enough it was.

Well, if even a koala could stay awake for a few minutes to egg us on during the walk, then we could complete it. Mercifully, soon after that we reached a water stop, and it was all down hill from then on, via the bat colony and back to our starting point. Apart from one final scooter accident involving our independent ten year old, it was all good old-fashioned fun from then on. We saw a few familiar faces from school and the Surf Life Saving Club, and had a laugh thanks to the man who was manning the microphone and encouraging us to chant childish inanities like:

“What do we want? The prize draw! When do we want it? Now!”

Even though we didn’t actually win one of the big prizes we came very close, had fun, got a bit of exercise and got motivated by a koala. Now, not a lot of people can say that.

Family Fun Day at the Noosa Regional Gallery

For us jungle-dwelling, island escapees, it was an action-packed day and we had barely recovered from all the excitement when Sunday rolled around with a family fun day at the Noosa Regional Gallery. Yes, another free event to keep us off the streets. We rocked up grumpy, well, some of us, and not quite knowing what to expect, only to be pleasantly surprised once again.

A bevy of friendly, helpful volunteers guided our children through the array of shoe-related activities on offer. It’s a monthly event and this time the theme of shoes was chosen to tie in with the amazing display of creative footwear by Pendragon Art Shoes. From designing shoes, to actually making them or decorating a shoe box, our kids spent a happy hour or so letting their creative juices flow. What’s more we didn’t even have to cook them lunch as there was a sausage sizzle to stave off hunger pangs and give us a much needed break from the feeding and cleaning merry-go-round.

It wasn’t just us that had fun either. I saw a few kids leave their thongs, as Australians adorably call flip flops, behind, preferring to go home sporting a pair of gladiator sandals hand-crafted out of cardboard and twine. So next time my kids want to buy a pair of fashionable but impractical shoes I know what to do, just let them make themselves a pair and keep everyone happy.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!


How to Move Overseas or Emmigrate to Australia, Costa Rica and New Zealand

How In the Hot Spot Got Started and the Big Idea

Three years ago when I set up this blog I proclaimed:

“I’m setting myself a personal challenge to write, if not daily, then at least on a regular basis. As Joe Rogan (the host of Fear Factor) would say, I am here ‘to stare fear in the face’. I am taking on my personal fear, the fear of being read, the fear of being judged.”

How I Conquered the Fear of Being Read

Fast forward to the present (2009) and I seem to have overcome that fear without actually trying. The simple act of time passing has allayed my fear of being read and of being judged. I am enjoying a new confidence and feeling motivated to write more and write better. I guess that part of that confidence and motivation has come from writing newsletters about our family move to Panama and emailing them out to over a hundred friends and relatives around the world. Those newsletters ended up as an 18 month chronicle of our travels around Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, our 14 months living in Costa Rica and our ultimate decision to leave Central America and move to Australia! Not bad for a family of five from New Zealand. The feedback I received from those newletters was great. To secretly dream of one day writing a book is one thing, but getting emails from people who have actually read my letters and think that I should write a book is the best encouragement I could hope for.

Writing: My First Love

While in Costa Rica, I also took time to read a book which a friend lent me which reconfirmed what I already knew: that writing every day is crucial. As a child I kept a diary and as an adult I continued, only stopping writing daily when, aged 23 I got a boyfriend (now my husband) whose peeping over my shoulder when I was writing in bed at the end of a day and seemingly constant demands for me to turn the light out, or otherwise indulge him, brought about the demise of my daily ramblings.

But last year in Costa Rica I started writing again daily. I had continued writing during those 17 years in the wilderness, keeping a diary on and off, attending a creative writing course and composing emails to distant friends. I even wrote for a living, penning proposals and effective web copy for clients when we ran our own Internet development and marketing company.

Setting Up a Support Network

In Costa Rica I also realized how important being surrounded by positive and like-minded people is to me. So I set up a writing group, imagining about eight fun, interesting people who gathered weekly to read their musings and provide each other with positive feedback and encouragement. Somehow it turned out to be just me and one other English woman, a like-minded free spirit with drive, determination, passion, creativity and brains. Of course, her zany sense of humor was a huge bonus and we really bonded in frenzy of smoking, wine drinking and sharing every Thursday night. It worked!

The Big Idea
Having been through all of the above, I am now ready to write my blog regularly with one big idea:

To inspire other people to follow their dream of traveling by following my own dream to write.

This is the new introduction to In the Hot Spot which I had to shorten on the actual header:

Have you ever wanted to move overseas?
Wondered what it’d be like to start a new life abroad?
Or shelved the idea because you’re too old, with too many kids and responsibilities?
Don’t give up!
I’m no spring chicken and I’ve recently moved to New Zealand, Costa Rica and Australia with my husband and our three young kids. So if you want to hear what it’s like from someone you can relate to, read on.
Any questions and comments are welcome. Thanks for reading and good luck with your travel plans!

Next time I’ll write more about our move to Australia and how we are settling in.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!