Good Things Happen When You Follow Your Dreams

Writing this on a slowboat from Laos to Thailand

Since starting this journey of following my dreams a LOT of amazing things have happened to me. They may not seem like big things to you, but to me they are small miracles, subtle sign posts that reassure me I’m on the right path.

My ‘dreams’ are neither solid nor concrete. They’re not even that clear to me yet, and are forever growing and changing as I go along. They were born out of a deep discontent with the way things were before, or perhaps they were always there in a flattened form, smothered by a life that I no longer felt was my own. A job that left me cold. Mounting bills and mortgage payments that signified a supposed successful life, and a relationship with my partner that we tried to squeeze in between work, friends and other commitments.

I felt like I was running on a tread mill, always trying to get ahead to a point where I could slow down. But that time never seemed to arrive.

That was of course until I made a decision.

First I had to ask myself, what was I willing to sacrifice to be happy?

The answer – everything.

Because I really didn’t know what it was exactly about my life that was wrong, I honestly threw my hands up and said to the universe “Take it all! If that’s what is necessary, just take it!”.

I had what I thought would make me happy, but realised it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, happiness is definitely an inside job, but with my outer world at such stark contrast with the yearnings of my inside, changes had to be made.

Financially, I was over-committed. This left me stuck in a job I no longer enjoyed. The dream I once had of owning my own home was strangling my other dreams of doing what I loved. When I watched Oprah’s last episode, the final from-the-heart message from one of the world’s most
successful women was “do what you love.”

I felt those words inside me, knew she was speaking the truth, but had no idea how I was going to do that.

I love the story about the poor man praying to God to win the lottery, and after years of not winning, asks God why his prayers were left unanswered. God says “buy a ticket!”

Once I had asked for guidance, the signs came thick and fast. My company was offering voluntary redundancies complete with a payout, but still I hesitated. It wasn’t untill the deadline came and went, and the reality of not taking the opportunity hit me, sending me into a panic, that I was able to take the plunge. Like I said, the signs were sent, but it was up to me to take the action.

The key to my shift was sacrifice. I took a risk. A chance that I could lose everything and wind up miserable. I gave up a steady income, a secure job with good benefits, and a home in a nice part of town. But I only gave those things up because I knew that they weren’t the things I would remember on my deathbed.

I knew I wouldn’t look back and say “I’m glad I played it safe.”

So even though they were extremely difficult decisions to make, causing me countless sleepless nights, I made them anyway, because I wanted to live a life of faith instead of fear.

When I started my first job with a major Australian airline, I was nineteen years old, full of energy and a lust for life. I was so excited on my first trip, that when I got into the plush hotel room, I threw open the curtains to take in the view then broke out into hysterical, shrieking fit of excitement. Immediately afterwards I made a pact with myself that when I stopped feeling that excitement for what I was doing, I would leave.

I can honestly say today that I have no regrets about my decisions. In fact, I struggle to comprehend why it was so difficult to make them when I was obviously not living the life of my dreams. The biggest gift of this whole experience is, for me, having space. Without the clutter of work,
bills, social commitments, chores and errands, I have time to allow the dust to settle. I’m not magically transformed into a perfectly happy, enlightened creative genius, but wonderful things are occurring in my life that I never would have had the chance to experience had I not woken up to the possibility of following my bliss.

And if I could emphasise one important detail in all of this, it’s that I didn’t even dream these things up.

You see, I dream in full-scale, high-definition Hollywood montages (no, make that Bollywood, there has to be dancing), complete with slow-motion effects, a rocking soundtrack and a killer wardrobe. My dreams don’t cover the little details of actual life.

Today, however, since awakening to te possibility of living those dreams, real life (complete with melt-downs, bed-bugs and a weird rash on my neck) has become so much more enriched.

I’m still a sucker for  a good montage though.

When I published my first ever blog post, answering a  deep desire to record and share my experiences, as insignificant as I guessed they might be, I had no idea what I was doing, where it would lead me, or if I’d even have anything to say. What I did find however, much to my amazement, were connections with people who related to me in some way.

Whether words of encouragement, support or sharing their own dreams, so many people both in my life and in cyberspace opened their hearts to
me and shared something of themselves.

My work colleagues began opening up about their own dreams, or began sharing past stories of travel and adventure. Readers (yes, there were a few!) reassured me with their comments, and even told me that my story inspired them. It was unfathomable to me.

Even though I write on the homepage that the purpose of my blog is to inspire people to follow their travel dreams, really, between you and me, it’s YOU that have inspired me. Another major detail that I didn’t dream up.

I had no idea the love that would flow into my life just by saying “this is who I am, and this is what I’m going through.” Honestly, no idea. In my full-HD montage, I am traipsing around the globe with a wide-angled lens (that I have NO idea how to use!), translating exotic experience into
titillating prose, wowing you all with my worldliness and adventurous spirit.

In reality, I’m blabbing about my insecurities and experiences, revealing my mishaps and mistakes, and you are saying “I’m really enjoying reading.” And I’m like, “Really? Are you SURE?”


I received an email from Loung Ung the other day, author of two heart-wrenching memoirs First, They Killed My Father, and The Lucky Child, about her life during and after the Khmer Rouge genocide which she miraculously survived. She actually replied to an email I sent through her website to thank her for writing her story, which I read whilst travelling through Cambodia.

Again, a small thing perhaps, but for me, such a blessing that I get to connect with amazing people.

Speaking of which, we are meeting up with more amazing people from the blogosphere,  Kim and Hannah and their partners Brian and Lee in INDIA in January 2013 for the adventure of a lifetime. I’ll let you now the details soon (because I need your help) but I have to tell you I am already terrified and excited beyond belief.

Oh yeah, and in the interests of showing you another amazing thing that has happened (and not tooting my horn at all, ahem) Travelfish, the popular online Southeast Asia guide, mentioned this blog in their last monthly newsletter, and wrote “keep it coming.”

Again, these things are all little miracles to me, and I shudder to think that had I continued on the path I was on before, I would have missed out on all these amazing connections with fantastic people who inspire me with their words of encouragement.

So, I’d like to say thank you, to each and every person who has visited my blog, sent me emails or commented on a post. You have given me so many precious gifts, just by sharing a little of yourselves.

I don’t know what the future holds, and I definitely haven’t got anything worked out, but this journey is teaching me everyday that we are all just doing our best, trying to live the best possible lives that we can. Thank you for helping me to live mine.

So whilst I may be a few years overdue in honouring that pact to my nineteen year old self, I think she would be happy that I eventually came

Still on the slowboat!






Good Things Happen When You Follow Your Dreams — 12 Comments

  1. I read something somewhere once that said we exhibited all of our real skills, interests and dreams before we were five years old. And then we got shoved through the public school system where such things were smothered because they didn’t “fit” with the system. Did you love to play in the garden with your Mom? Forget taking botany classes, take calculus instead.

    Then I remember myself as a little child, being driven down a highway with forests on either side of me. I always thought about wanting to go and explore in those forests, to see what was behind those trees, or what those people in that house behind the hill were like. I wanted to explore, but there’s no real course in school for that. Instead, I was funneled into business, and I blindly went that way, thinking it a good way to make money and live the ‘dream’.

    All this to say that there are many reasons why choosing our lifestyle is so, so difficult. But the important thing is that you did!

    And more opportunities….they are a’comin’. I think the (not so) simple act of opening yourself up to the world is just going to make it so – especially when you see the miracles in everyday things and connections. I personally have eschewed the overkill process of “goal setting” because I like to happily wander around the world being pleasantly surprised by everything. (I think we might be similar in that aspect?)

  2. Thanks for your wonderful words, Dalene. I used to dance on the coffee table as a four year old, so yep I think you’re right there! A couple of years later, I was still dancing, but began writing and writing, even though I couldn’t spell. Twenty five years later, and they’re still the things I love the most! I guess this journey to faraway lands is really just a return to self… Thanks for giving me something to think about. I wish you all the best with doing what you love most :)

  3. I love that story about the lottery…I think about that one a lot.

    Your mention of faith reminded me of this quote I found from an author Kim loves and I stumbled upon recently:
    “I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
    ― Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

    Taking the discomfort head on takes a big leap of faith, but the rewards can be greater than our wildest dreams. So kudos for taking that first blind step. I can’t wait to do it myself!

  4. Thank you, Carmel, that is such a wonderful quote, thank you so much for sharing it!! I love it, walking through the fear and doubt, accepting the ‘mess’ of everything sometimes… It’s been wonderful to connect with you through this blog, and I’m excited for your journey (which you have already begun by the way!) xxx

  5. I love this! Thanks so much for sharing =)

    Take care! And I hope that someday we can meet on the road… somewhere 😉

  6. Sarah, I loved this post so much. It is amazing what can happen when we allow ourselves to explore the unknown and allow our dreams to flourish. I have loved following your journey, and have felt emboldened by your words to keep treading my own path towards uncertainty. Though recently I stumbled, the path is still there, and my feet keeping walking it. Much love xxx

  7. I love this! It’s so true. When you put fear aside and listen and follow your heart, amazing things happen. It’s interesting hearing from friends and even my BF because I realize how much I’ve grown from Africa and now teaching in Spain when I allow myself to step outside of my comfort zone. It’s scary but as we both know, so worth it and usually the fears we had never come to fruition!

    Great post. Keep following your heart. Our hearts ALWAYS Know best!

  8. Sarah, how did I miss this post? I love, LOVE, LOVE it. It is beautifully written and I relate to it- I feel like you were telling my story, except I didn’t have a cool job where I got to fly all around the world!

    Like Dalene, as a child I just loved to explore. My mom couldn’t get me to come inside and I still remember the thrill of just walking down a street in our neighborhood that I’d never walked down before. I remember the thrill because I still have it today. I am still the same girl, all grown up and finally with enough faith in myself to take the leap. I can’t wait for our adventures together :)

    • Aw thanks Kim :) I can’t wait either, it’s goin to be so unbelieveably AWESOME to finally meet (in the most unlikely of circumstances!!!)