Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

My article, Live Your Dream in a Material World, struck a chord with many of you. In it, I described how we sold most of our belongings in order to make our dream come true and move to Central America.

Now I want to share the first page of my book about our experiences. It tells how we followed our hearts, ignored other people, took a risk, and put up with hardships to follow our dream. I hope that our story will inspire other people to be brave and follow their dream. Here are the first 900 words:

Our First Day in Guatemala

As I looked around the tiny hotel room, now stuffed to capacity with a family of five and our eleven bags, I wondered if we’d done the right thing. It was hard to believe that we’d sold our large, comfy home in New Zealand and most of our belongings in exchange for this. Outside the streets of Antigua, Guatemala’s best known colonial city, beckoned, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the kids here by myself. My husband Rich, my faithful travel companion for sixteen years, had gone on strike suffering from exhaustion and jet lag. My only ally in a 10,000 kilometre radius lay prone on the bed and refused to budge.

Meanwhile my youngest child, Kiara, aged two, was whining. With unfortunate timing, she’d broken her arm and developed a terrible tummy bug about ten days before our departure so a once happy and energetic girl had been replaced by a miserable, lethargic cry-baby. At the opposite end of the emotional scale her brothers, Max, five, and Luke, eight, were running round the minute hotel courtyard laughing uproariously. The colonial hotel with its inner courtyards and fountains, its tiled floors and decorative touches just hadn’t been designed for a large, noisy family. These small spaces were created for smaller, slower and quieter people than us.

Where We Came From

Our children were born and raised on Waiheke Island, just off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, a thirty minute ferry ride from Auckland City. Waiheke’s a serene and beautiful place, well known for its perfect beaches and famous vineyards. Up until this point the Candy kids had spent the majority of their time running and playing barefoot in a place with only 8000 residents, little traffic and no traffic lights.

Waiheke Island is the perfect place to raise young kids, and the Candy kids had enjoyed a sheltered existence with the security of living and growing up in a familiar place, surrounded by people they’d known since birth. Now we’d turned their world upside down, immersing them in a foreign culture with an unknown and incomprehensible language. The only familiar objects were the ones we’d brought with us. Exhausted after our 27 hour journey, I needed to remind myself why we’d done it.

Our Journey Started in the UK. Where Would it End?

Both me and my husband were born in the UK, but Rich was raised in Kenya. We both love travelling and we met in the Sinai in Egypt, so that’s where our adventures together began. For years we travelled, worked or studied in Africa, South East Asia, the USA, France and the UK, before finally deciding that enough was enough. It wasn’t that we wanted to settle down and stop travelling, just that we wanted a base, a place where we could keep our stuff, a home where we could one day live forever and raise a family.

Neither of us wanted to settle in Britain, but New Zealand fitted the bill: safe, unspoilt, and under populated. After a long, arduous process involving endless application forms, medical exams, and procuring certified copies of every official document that ever crossed our paths, we managed to get New Zealand residency. Our friends in England were horrified, especially our Australian friends who seemed to take it as a personal slur. The typical response from family and friends when we told them the news was disbelief:

“New Zealand? What do you want to go there for?”

But we were used to this. It seemed as if every time we packed our bags and went to a new place we got that same reaction of horror, combined with total incomprehension. Ten years later when we left New Zealand and told people we were moving to Panama the reaction was the same again:

“Panama? What do you want to go there for?”

I’d love to know what you think of this opening to my book. Would you like to read the whole story of how we moved from New Zealand to Panama, then ended up living in Costa Rica for a year, before finally moving to Australia? I’m excited about this chance to get feedback from my readers now as I complete my manuscript ready for publication.

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 on the next installment.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Live Your Dream in a Material World.

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

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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?

How To Work Out What Your Dream Is

So you don’t know what your dream is?

Me and my daughter stand up paddle surfing in Noosa

Me and my girl stand up paddle surfing in Noosa

First don’t beat yourself up about it. Probably, the sad truth is that you did know but well-meaning people (teachers, parents, friends, lovers) have beaten it out of you. Don’t worry, they probably did it to protect you from failure. But personally, I’d rather fail at my dream vocation than never try it because my well-meaning entourage mentioned that it would be too hard. I might be sensitive but I’m also determined. I believe that if I want something I’ll get it and so far, in 41 years, nothing has happened to disprove this theory. I’m sure you can get what you want too.

I’d love this to be read by an 18 year old so that they could nail their dream and get on with it without wasting any time. But in all likelihood it will be read by more mature individuals who are still hoping to achieve their dreams and looking for permission to do so. Well, I here by grant you permission to follow your dream and live the life that you most desire, now you just need to allow yourself permission to do it too.

By the way, I read somewhere that most people will have three distinct careers in their lifetime and I think there’s a reason for this. Maybe the first two are just practice and vital experience for your ultimate vocation. I certainly enjoyed my previous careers as a teacher and an Internet designer and one of the things I liked most in those jobs was the planning and writing element, so it’s not much of a suprise that writing is my ultimate dream career.

Trust Your Instincts

Don’t expect to be able to work out what your dream is overnight but you’ll get there. In fact, you probably know what your dream is already, you just need to get back in touch with your natural instincts on this one. That’s right, now’s the time to trust your instincts, an old and vital skill that some of us have lost touch with. I know it sounds like hippy shit or corny new age wisdom but our instincts are usually right. So why don’t they work anymore? Because other people have confused us and told us not to trust them. As a child, did your parents, teachers or friends ever ask you if you were sure about a decision and cause you to doubt it? If that happened a lot your instinctive knowledge may have got scrambled.

By the way, if you’re a parent beware of doing this with your own children. Do you ever find yourself saying:
“Are you sure you don’t want a sandwich/to ride your bike/to go swimming?”
If the kid’s made a decision don’t confuse them, let them stick to it. Most of the time they’ll have made the right one.

So What Is Your Dream?

In order to work this out you’ll have to do a bit of inner soul-searching and ask yourself a lot of questions. Don’t forget to write all the answers down so that you can reread them later. At this point I need to give a big plug to a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It really helped me work out what my dream was and make me determined to live it. The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course to help people ‘discover and recover their creative selves’ and I’m sure that some of the ideas I’m recommending come from the book.

I said it wouldn’t happen overnight but I’m sure that if you put a weekend aside and made a conscious decision to devote 48 hours to working out what your dream is you’d be closing in on it. Here’s what you need to do.

Seven Steps To Find Out What Your Dream Is

All you need is a pen, a notebook and some time to yourself. Try to spend a lot of time thinking and brainstorming as many ideas as possible. The more time you spend thinking and writing, the more you’ll get out of it.

1. Cast your mind back to your childhood.
What did you enjoy doing? Think about your favourite toy, game, book and place.
What made you totally happy?
What were you best at at school and at home?
Jot the answers to these questions down.

2. Now look at your present life.
Really spend time noticing how things made you feel. For example, recently I realised the smell of oranges makes me feel happy so next time I’m feeling down all I need to do is peel an orange and I’ll feel much happier.
What makes you happy now? Think of as many things, places and activities as you can.
Write it all down.

3. Now imagine you’ve got a death sentence on your head. Only one year to live.
Sorry, but what would you do in that final year? Where do your priorities lie?

4. Now think back to your childhood again and think about any negative comments or reactions to you doing the thing or things that you enjoyed. Write them down and ask yourself if they’re still holding you back from achieving your dream.

5. Is there an excuse you use for not following your dream? Then think about what you’d do if you weren’t so old/hard up/fearful etc. Just insert your excuses here. Write down the answers.

6. Now think about the things that you loved doing or that make you happy and seek them out. Treat yourself to a walk in the countryside, a visit to an art gallery, a day at home reading, wear your best clothes and enjoy your own company. Write a list of all the things that make you happy and all the things that you’d like to do more often and do them. Spend time by yourself and do some of these fun activities. Have fun.

7. Now take some time to reread your answers and think about what you’ve learnt. Is there any common thread or idea coming out of these?

Take Time To Work Out What Your Dream Is

Whether you do these over a weekend or spend an hour on it each night for three or four weeks, at the end of it you’ll be much closer to knowing what your dream is. Maybe you’ve worked it out already, but if not I hope this helps. I spend a lot of time thinking about my dreams and planning how to realise them and you should too, because we all need a dream that we can make come true.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps. Feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your plans!