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her arm and developed a terrible tummy bug about ten days before our departure so a once happy and energetic girl had been replaced by a miserable, lethargic cry-baby.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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Reading List for Writers, Travelers and Parents

Ever-Growing Reading List

Of course this book list isn’t comprehensive, I’m just trying to get the ball rolling and I’ll be adding to this as I read more and rack my brain for those old favourites. If there’s anything I’ve missed, or that I need to read, please tell me. I spend so much time researching books and reading book reviews and I’d love to hear your thoughts. After all, word of mouth is always the best recommendation.

This is a list of books that I’ve read and that I’d heartily recommend. I have to say that I rely on my local library and garage sales for books. The Candy family always get each other new books for birthdays and Christmas, and if we’re going traveling I’ll buy some new books for everyone, but otherwise we use the library. Typically we borrow 60 books a week, for a family of five, and most of them get read too.

By the way, I’ve discovered some links to great author websites from doing this, and what a diverse bunch they are, but if I couldn’t find the author’s site I’ve provided a link somewhere so you can find out more if you wish. Forgive me for declaring this page an umlaut and accent free zone. I’m still trying to forgive myself and hope that I don’t feel the need to go back and add them. Happy reading!

Reading List for Writers

A Novel in a Year, Louise Doughty

The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction, Elizabeth George (She makes it sound like hard work though)

Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss (On punctuation and grammar)

On Writing, Stephen King

Gotham Writers’ Workshop Writing Fiction Excellent stuff.

Reading List for Travelers

Undress Me Naked in the Temple of Heaven, Susan Jane Gilman

Dervla Murphy: Pick your destination, she’s been all over the place

Swahili For The Broken-Hearted, Peter Moore

Reading List for Parents (and the lucky children they read to)

Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl (and all his other books too)

Kaspar Prince of Cats, Michael Morpurgo

Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey (If you’re a seven year old boy it doesn’t get much better than this)

Dr. Dog and Mummy Laid an Egg, Babette Cole

Each Peach, Pear, Plum, Alan & Janet Ahlberg

Miffy, Dick Bruna

Mister Magnolia, Quentin Blake

Pukunui, James Waerea and Pat Hohepa

Cleo the Cat, Caroline Mockford

Hairy Maclary, Lynley Dodd

Gordon’s Got a Snookie, Lisa Shanahan

The Great Pie Robbery and Other Mysteries, Richard Scarry. Excellent stories and brilliant illustrations. What more could you hope for? Characters don’t get any livelier than Lowly Worm, Huckle Cat and Bananas Gorilla.

Reading List for Preteens (If you’ve got kids the time will come when you need these)

Puberty boy, Geoff Price

Puberty girl, Shushann Movsessian

General Fiction Reading List

Enduring Love & Atonement, Ian McEwan

I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith
(If you like this one, the prolific AMS has a whole series for you)

The Secret History, Donna Tartt

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

The Other Boleyn Girl, Phillipa Gregory

The Shipping News Annie Proulx

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

Perfume, Patrick Suskind

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley

The Vintner’s Luck Elizabeth Knox

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Bride Stripped Bare, Nikki Gemmell

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka
This book was rejected by agents and publishers over and over again before finally being published when the author was 57, and going on to win literary prizes. It’s a brilliant and witty read about immigrants in the UK. Her second novel, Two Caravans, is in the same vein. Love them.

The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger (Compelling non-fiction)

Reading List for Thinkers

Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered, Geoff Dyer

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Flow: Psychology of Happiness, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

Miscellaneous

Cash, Customers and Ads That Sell, Bradley Sugars

There are so many great books and authors missing here, like Paddy Clarke, Isabel Allende, Graham Greene, Voltaire, Margaret Atwood, Faye Weldon, Doris Lessing to name but a few. Still, it’s a start and I hope there’ll be something new here to entertain you.

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

Good luck with all your plans!

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