I’m on Day 30 of my “official” World Tour 2016 and I woke up rested, happy and incredibly thankful. Even after just a few days into it, there were a few things (death of a loved one way too early and a mysterious, thankfully temporary, illness of a wonderful friend) that reinforced my decision to get out into the world a little while I have my health, the money and the time. Now, after a whole month of traveling, I’m spending a few days alone, in a small studio AirBnB in Montpellier. My first real (civilian) cultural experience was in this sunny university town during a year’s sabbatical in 2009 and it never fails to re-energize me.

This is the first time since I left Canada that I haven’t stayed with friends or been on a housesit and I’m feeling incredibly decadent. I woke up at 9 a.m. and just enjoyed coming into consciousness – as you do when there is no job to rush off to, no animals to be let out and pretty much zero plans for the day. My only question now is if this little place comes with a blender so I can make my breakfast shake – yep, I’ve been carting around Ziploc bags of Isagenix protein and all the fixings. Thankfully, I’m almost done, so I have a bit more space in my bags. But I digress.

If you’re like me (well the “normal” me), you’ve been planning and saving for the future, retirement or a rainy day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also spent like a drunken sailor (apologies to my brother Terry, an actual sailor and a very good one at that, for any reference to less than responsible mariners!) at times when I felt like some “retail therapy” was needed.

I’m also usually a complete “glass half full” person who can bounce back and always has a positive, flexible attitude. But when the “series of unfortunate events” occurred, I found that my “get-up-and-go” had pretty much “gotten up and went”. I was stressed, trying to understand why these things were happening, but continued on. When I finally got laid off, I was upset, of course, but I hadn’t been happy with work for a while. It almost felt like relief. I’d been struggling with my self-esteem and feeling unappreciated and undervalued. I finally realized that maybe someone was trying to tell me something.

So after a good look at my life, I decided it was time for a change. That was when I realized how tired I was – my marriage breakup (and subsequent dating gong show), repeat homelessness and the value misalignment at work had taken a toll physically and mentally. I began to feel like my ability to deal with life’s challenges was suffering and it was a bit scary. I began to question my “why”, trying to figure out what I was put on this earth to do. I’ve always loved living within other cultures and I figured this was the perfect opportunity to get out and learn more about myself and about them.

So, I said yes to my therapeutic travel bug. I had already planned a trip with my sailor brother to visit our sister in the Cayman Islands, but then added a month-long trip to help friends open their restaurant in France. I began to wonder seriously if I could re-evaluate my lifestyle in order to afford an extended vacation. The Life Enhancers, who are also creators of another amazing lifestyle changer, The Whole Life Fitness Manifesto (Dai Manuel and his wife Christine Kennedy Manuel) were instrumental in helping me figure out what I needed to change to continue saying yes.

There have been other travel adventures (a massive thank you Janet Beeby, Jenn Mackey, Phil Ivers and Rob Armstrong for being amazing hosts and supporters during my initial wanderings through the western U.S.). But I consider Europe the true beginning of my expedition. My housesit in Tarrant Hinton was the first concrete step I took towards taking this extended time off. Perhaps it was the physical crossing of the ocean that makes it more “real” than those of my own continent? For whatever reason, I’m very happy that Sasha and Stuart also said yes (to my application) to make that possible.

Now as I prepare my first authentic French press coffee of the trip, I am determined to continue to say yes. Don’t worry, I’ll say no to the illegal and the unsafe. I’m old enough to know better and my mother did instill some common sense within me.

But today, I will say yes to a pain au chocolat or a baguette with cheese. And DEFINITELY yes to French wine!


Interesting bit of useless information:

I was reading the easyJet airline onboard Traveller magazine (I’ve seen a lot of these magazines lately) about the secret lives of adventurers and I really liked this one from Borge Ousland (page 49, under the Features section). While I would NEVER compare my simple adventure to his expeditions, I found his answers very inspiring.

What has life taught me? Say yes…

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