I am not a trust fund kid. Not even close.
In fact, my father and grandparents arrived to Canada by boat from Italy, a 3 week journey at that time. My mother’s family immigrated to Switzerland from Italy to sustain a living. Both families became expats in foreign countries at a time when it was NOT fascinating or romantic to be Italian. They worked bone hard to survive.
My father, hardest working man I know. Up at 4am each morning to move asphalt and interlock fancy backyards. Some of my favourite childhood memories include me accompanying him and ‘helping’ on the job, making phone calls to collect money (How ‘old’ are you, dear?)
It was raw, it was hard and it was honest.
And so it went. I fell in step with the ‘must go to university to make a good life’ dogma. I accumulated debt, uninspiring dreams and a soulless office job.
Now, I attend and lead retreats at four times a year, vacation for a month at a time with my family and frequently take smaller weekend adventures. Many people assume that I must have fallen into some windfall of endless cash and good fortune.
But here’s the real deal. I decided that the framework to life as I knew it was bullshit.
I always had a passion for blurring lines. To live in the space between worlds, cultures and traditions. The ‘neither here nor there’ element of flying on a plane or speeding by train. It still exhilarates me, enchants me, commands my being.
So I found a way to do it more, and you can too. I began early on with leading volunteer humanitarian efforts in University, later volunteering on organic farms with an organization called WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). Some people can’t leave home without their cell phone, lip gloss or wallet. I never leave the house without my passport.
I committed to doing it differently FIRST, worked out the details later.
When I finally left the mind crushing office job, I did it to travel the world for a year. I told my boyfriend this was it – in or out. (He’d never left North America). Thankfully for me, he was ALL IN and we still traverse strange lands together. In fact, sometimes him more than me.
We also decided at that point that THIS was how we were going to live our lives. So we looked for jobs abroad and CREATED a new framework that matched our intensity. But how you ask?
I don’t buy things I don’t need.
Some girls love sexy shoes, beautiful clothes and sparkly rings. Ok, I like those things too. But I don’t NEED them. I re-frame my idea of fashion and trending. I thrift. I sew and knit. I grab the nearly new leftovers from my fashionista sister’s closet.
More importantly and what bears the most significant impact is this: I choose to NOT carry a mortgage, own a car, expensive furniture or country club memberships. I don’t invest in corporations, I invest in experiences. I don’t buy into insurances ‘just in case something bad happens’ to me or the people I love – I take care of my health today. I accept that we will all leave the world when the time is right. I’ve cradled death in my arms and know that our soul has eternal breath. I don’t live in fear or abide by people’s expectations. When I’m not traveling, my life is oh-so simple. I buy local foods, cook with what’s in season, share relationships and stories, not extravagant nights out.
There is not the one BEST way. It’s just my way.
Perhaps one of the most painful experiences was watching the heartbreak on my father’s face as he genuinely believed he had ‘failed’ his oldest daughter. That I didn’t want a ‘stable job’ with a house, two cars and lots of toys for my kids somehow reflected negatively on his life long commitment to build us a better life in a new world.
Once I got over that – I didn’t think twice about who I offend with my life choices. You can’t either.
I surround myself with people who call me ‘crazy’ with a knowing in their eyes… that I’m one of them.
I a loner at heart, but I crave community and a tribe to return to. To share with and integrate. I make sure I have people in life who love me unconditionally, and I them. It’s integral to feel anchored so that you can fly.
The formula for a life of adventure and travel is a simple one, though not exact. You have to be willing to be brave enough to shed everything you think you need to do in order to live a full life, then go forth with trust and love. Be patient and you will persevere, to create a revolutionary framework that works exclusively for you.
You are brilliant! Smart on so many levels, especially in this intensely consumerist culture, but also brilliant like the brightest star in the midnight sky. Shine on!!
I just LOVE your posts Mara!
Thank-you for reading!
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