A Different Kind of Normal

We have two weeks left here in our apartment in Playa del Carmen. Our time here is winding down, and whilst I am looking forward to discovering more of Mexico when we leave, I am also sad to leave the lovely home we have created here. Cooking lunch yesterday, I wondered what it is about this ‘different kind of normal’ that I love so much.

Obviously the experiences we have had here and the sights we have seen have been wonderful, but it’s so much more than that. Perhaps the beautiful location, and the fact that we have a comfortable little home to sleep, work and relax in; yes that’s definitely a part of it. Learning some Spanish and making new friends – that too.

But most of all I feel like we have found our own version of ‘normal’, a way of life that encompasses work, travel and relaxation, resulting in a sense of fulfillment I have never felt before.

Now I think back to how worried I was to give up a life that didn’t make me happy and I feel like wrapping my arms around my former self saying, “It’s going to be okay.”

Because it is. It’s better than okay.

Having the option to wear a sarong all day (and often doing it) may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, making lunch for their partner may not be much of a big deal, but when I think back to how unhappy I was before, pushed for time and always feeling like I was one step behind, always trying to catch up, simple things like that feel like heaven to me.

And it amazes me that even though I have less money coming in than for as long as I can remember, having complete choice over what goes out fills me with a wonderful sense of freedom. I remember back to the things I bought and did to make myself happy, and how they were just band-aids for what was really happening.

I wasn’t living the life I was meant to.

I was living in a way I thought I should, trying to ‘get ahead’ so that one day I would have the freedom to do as I pleased, only I forgot to ask myself what it was that pleased me. Asking that question, even without having a clear answer, seemed to realign the sails of my life, and from then the winds conspired to propell me forward, sometimes with a wisp, and other times a gale.

Some people might think of this lifestyle we have as difficult, unsettling, and ‘gypsy-like.’ It can be all those things. But there is a simplicity that suits us; we own very little, yet have all we need; the beach, delicious food, and cable TV!

I really mean it with that last one, we love TV and movies! This is not a lifestyle of ‘lack’ or denial, of replacing old masks with new ones, we’re just living the life that suits us right now, and if that means watching marathons of Keeping up With the Kardashians, then so be it! (Yes, I love it!)

I really feel like we followed our hearts here, which is as important in travel as it is in life. I loved our initial few months traipsing around Asia, and have so many wonderful memories, but that lifestyle wasn’t sustainable forever. I feel so much more fulfilled having time to make friends, get involved in exciting projects, write and read, than bouncing from place to place all the time. There will be plenty of that ahead too (like say, driving an auto-rickshaw 3,500 km across India), but for now, my ‘different kind of normal’ is the best one I’ve ever known, and I’m so grateful I found it.


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A Different Kind of Normal — 18 Comments

  1. This makes me feel happy FOR you.

    “I remember back to the things I bought and did to make myself happy, and how they were just band-aids for what was really happening.”
    I think back to my life before we started saving for our trip and wonder what it is I was buying. I definitely still eat out, although not as much as I used to, and we treat ourselves to a concert or two when we really want it, and even records once in awhile, but it’s a treat now, not something to make up for whatever was lacking in our lives.

    I have to say, though, this stage has to be the hardest because we’re stuck between the material life and the travel life. Having to save while wishing we could run away on vacation or buy something fun to distract us until our big trip is HARD!

    • Totally! It is hard when we are so used to one way of living. And it is a process that unfolds over time, not something we just ‘jump’ into (although it did kinda happen quickly for us, I’ve never been particularly patient!). I’m excited for you, Thanks Carmel :)

  2. Sarah, you don’t know me, but I wanted to drop you a line to say how much happiness your blog posts bring me every time they arrive in my inbox. I travelled around Thailand for 4 months in 2008 and have had the ‘bug’ to get back to it since, especially when my sister embarked on a 2 year travelling trip. Entering a serious relationship and having a (now 2 year old) daughter hasn’t allowed me to do so. Your posts have offered me a little escapism and the reality that one day I could get back on the road and share an adventure with my man. Keep writing and enjoying every moment. Best wishes from Kerri in England.

    • Hi Kerri, Thank you so much for your lovely comment, so nice to hear from you! Have you read Almost Fearless? They travel with a two year old!!! Not for everyone, Im sure, but it does show me that its possible. I wish you and your partner and daughter all the best, and thanks so much for reading :)

  3. I think the gypsy-like behavior suits you. :-) You can read, write, grow and experience more than you’d be able to in a traditional job, while flexibility continues to be enhanced. As for the Rickshaw Run, you’ll be taking the concept of being a gypsy to a whole new level.
    EarthDrifter recently posted..30 hours in AddisMy Profile

  4. Sarah! This, THIS is such a beautiful post. I love it and can feel your contentment and happiness in your words. Like you, I want to throw my arms around my “old” self and hug her- both to tell her that it will be okay and also to thank her for her bravery. I’m so glad we followed our hearts, and will continue to follow them, around this world XO.
    Kim recently posted..Updates, Rickshaw Run, and Travel Fits and StartsMy Profile

    • I know, it was such a crazy time!!! I was just so lucky to have had amazing people in my life, such as you, to inspire me when I felt like it was all going to go wrong. Thank YOU Kim :)

  5. Hi Sarah
    Love the photo of “the nipple” in your sandy hand. I absolutely love your blogs, it is as if I am there with you.
    Love to you and Tyrone

  6. Sarah, this is so beautiful, and your voice just sounds so… peaceful. I am feeling much the same as we enjoy our temporary home here in Goa. I’m looking forward to giving faster paced travel a try, but I know I will always come back to the slow and steady method. There’s just nothing better than feeling at home in paradise :)
    Hannah recently posted..The beginning of the beginningMy Profile

  7. Great to hear your gratitude Sarah!
    So glad it is working out so well for you.
    Sounds like my idea of heaven too (except for the Kardishians!!!)
    Not everyone follows their dreams and you are such a good example of someone doing just that . . .

  8. I’ve been thinking a lot about the life I want to create for myself soon, and I really hope I don’t get caught up in the ‘how I think I should live’ and ‘trying to get ahead’ lifestyle. You sound so content in this post, and I want to strive for that peaceful simplicity!
    Jessica Wray recently posted..#OnlyIn: A Friday Photo SeriesMy Profile

  9. What a beautiful sentiment, wonderfully expressed. It’s a thought I come back to again and again and something I see so many people on the road doing – living the lives we want to not the lives we think we should. Here’s to that! :)