We have spent the past twenty odd years accumulating, beautifying, comfortizing our lives. And here we are – down to about 12 cardboard boxes with all those things we surrounded ourselves with in someone else’s possession – giving them joy. We are sleeping on a mattress on the floor and soon that will be gone as well. The idea of becoming global nomads is literally knocking at our door – and that door too will belong to someone else.
We have lived in a unique home in a small forest with a creek running next to it. We have watched our deer Edgar come back time and again with his doe, mallards Bob and Margaret frolic in our pond, and innumerable birds, squirrels and coyotes wander through for food. Inside the house, our creativity took flight and we were able to make our home sing while still respecting the original architectural vision. Mid-century Brutalism is not for everyone – nor is it for the faint of heart. Hours spent renovating, fixing, repairing and just loving this home. It has been a part of us and has given us that safe haven many people dream of. We have been very fortunate. Yet we were just stewards – and it is now time for someone else to pick up the torch.
Many ask if I will miss this place. As I think on it I realise that this home was part of the natural progression of our lives to get to this point. This house 15 years ago was a big risk, was called ugly, was misunderstood – was well before its time. We saw what it could be, and what we could be in it. We grew as people, as partners. This house taught us it was ok to dare to be different, to dance off beat, that quirky was just our rhythm.
Will I miss this house? I will carry it with me wherever I go. It has taught me that the environment I live in is what feeds and nourishes me – and that is something I will never miss.
Back in 2004 I began my MBA in what was considered an unorthodox way – I did it online through Athabasca University. As I was self funded and working full time, I wanted the ability to learn on my own, at my own pace. I also considered the fact that the world was digital and I truly believed at that time that learning was going in that general direction. In addition – it provided me with the opportunity to work in groups with people around the world in different time ones, and hone my written communication skills.
So why does that matter? Well within a week I connected with someone in my first group and we developed a terrific relationship. Class over class I virtually “met” interesting people who were located around the world, and have continued those relationships both in person and online. The MBA class pushed me to be social in a very different environment – which brings me to today.
In our move to become global nomads, I have been selling our belongings, finding the right home for our fur babies, and been able to donate items to people with a need. On the other side of the world, I have joined an expat women’s Facebook page in Penang and Internations.org, and suddenly the potential fear of landing in a faraway place with no social net has disappeared. Folks have been stepping up, generously answering questions, allowing me to peep at conversations and experiences that will likely mirror my own, and sharing “where can I find a good (fill in the blank)” referrals.
A most incredible experience that has my partner shaking his head. He is an introvert compared to my “jump in with both feet naked” extrovert personality. He laughs when I tell him “I found a Dragon Boat group, birding guide, real estate agent, car rental agency…” Secretly though, I think he is thrilled that my “social” cupcake standing has tasty side benefits to him.
My message – Use social media with the intention of positive connection with others. Get out there – in the most unorthodox way you can – with a full heart and plenty of chutzpah.
Back in 1993 after living in the south of France for a couple of years, travelling across Europe and Canada, and working in Bermuda for a year and a half – I figured it was time to grow up and put my big girl panties on. Not that I was the least bit irresponsible – just that feeling you get in your mid 20s when you think I better get on that thing called life.
Since I travelled so much, my social circle had dwindled and meeting guys at clubs and in bars seemed unproductive. So I joined a telephone dating service called Telepersonals (yes you read that right kids – this was before internet dating and I was on the cutting edge with my Casio Boss SF 8000). I made it my mission to have 30 dates in 30 days (yeah – again before it was a thing). Somewhere around date 14 – I met Jacques.
We had lots in common and lots that was uncommon between us (which some 20 odd years later is what makes us simpatico). We both loved travel, food and wine and had lived and work in other places. After a time, we also discovered that we wanted to continue to live and work elsewhere in the world as expats. Funny thing is – as individuals we had no problems locating jobs – but as a couple – lots of hurdles.
So we built our life in Toronto while still dreaming of living overseas. We travelled to many far off places and had some fantastic adventures – many of which are chronicled in this blog. And in 2007 we ran away from home and travelled through SE Asia and the Middle East for 9 months. We spent 24/7 with each other and learned how joyful and frustrating that could be. We had many long discussions about how we wanted to live out our lives and what our dreams were. I was a newly minted MBA trying to figure out where to take my next step, and Jacques was a bit burnt out as a consultant and ready for new challenges.
It was then that we began to formulate our “retirement plan”. We always knew we would want to live overseas but the question was how? Retirement seemed so far off – but we always talked about living somewhere else.
We set a plan in motion. We focused on our exit strategy from Canada in such a way that would feed our need to live overseas, our love for travel, and in places around the world that are inexpensive where we can feed our passions. In 2008 while walking on a beach – we set a date – April 1, 2018. Ten years out. And yes – April Fool’s was intentional.
Incredibly – by setting a date – it started to inform our decision making process in so many ways. From that seed grew every step we took from that point forward to where we are today. The steps following? Well you just have to wait for the next instalment!
I love cats. There I said it. Now don’t get me wrong, I pretty much love all animals and that love has lead me to far off places around the world to see them (though the honey badger still remains elusive despite three trips to Africa).
One of the most challenging decisions has been what to do with my beloved Hiro and Bella. We adopted these two rescue kitties at a time when we thought our exit from Canada was still far away.
However, once our exit plan was accelerated we were set with the challenge of what to do with them. We desperately wanted to bring them with us – but the road blocks were not in their best interest and we feared would do them harm.
In the end – we have found two wonderful homes for them. A newly married couple for whom Bella will be their first fur baby together as they embark on their adventure. She is a very smart girl and will thrive on the single attention she will get (and will no doubt challenge her new parents as she searches for little plastic bags and carries them proudly).
Hiro has been adopted into a family with a little girl who was hoping for a brother. He will be a patient teacher who will be so laid back and just love the cuddles he gets as she whispers her secrets in his ear. His stealth mousie retrieving skills will no doubt be honed and he will get the exercise he needs with some serious play time.
As crushed as we are to say goodbye to these two fur balls – we know they are in great care – and this is the best for them.
20 years and the plan is now less than 7 weeks from realisation. We have just had our 10 year Visas approved for Malaysia and on September 10 – we will be jetting our way on to Penang.
We are now in the short strokes of wrapping up our lives here in Canada with most of the big things taken care of (house, belongings, paperwork, medical files etc.) and the small things of packing up and away still underway.
What I am noticing more and more is how our social calendar is suddenly filling up rapidly as people want to connect before our departure. And that tells me what a wonderful life we have been living here.
Amazing people who have had an impact on our lives are stepping forward with cheers of support – and some very candid ones are telling us “don’t go – I will miss you – but go!” It is so very charming and endearing and has us realising how we are not alone in this next step.
I have come to understand how very much we have been part of an extraordinary community of people – in all aspects of our lives. It is not often one hears of how we impact others, and gets incredible expressions of love for that impact. As I think on it – it happens during eulogies – which is far too late.
So my thought on this is very simple – the give the gift of who you are often and willingly – and express your appreciation of the gift of others given to you.