How many of you out there have thought about packing in the 9-to-5 or packing up your business and moving to the tropics? Yeah, I’d say plenty of you have done. Well Nadine Pisani, author of Happier Than a Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week, did just that. She and her husband packed in their businesses, sold all their possessions and retired to Costa Rica in their 30s. She has written about her experiences in two books, Happier Than a Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week and Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel. I’ve read both and both are hilarious, so if you want a belly load of laughs do buy them. Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Nadine about what drove her to the decision and how she recreated her life down in Central America.
You can listen to the podcast of the interview by clicking on the audio above or you can watch it on YouTube or you can read the transcript (with my ums and ahs edited out here).
Happier Than A Billionaire
So Nadine, I’m looking at you and you are obviously not in your 70s or 80s: you’re in your early 30s … or maybe early 20s?!
Oh yeah, stick with that! No, I’m 43 I’m happy to say.
So, what I’m trying to say is that you are not of the retirement age but you have actually retired to Costa Rica, which a lot of people do from the States, but they wait until they are in their 60s, 70s, and that’s when they start living the – what do you call it, Pura Vida?
One might say the smarter version of doing it! Yeah, I had to do it in my 30s; I had to pick the 30 years of no income, yeah, that’s what I had to do!
So, let’s just go back a little bit because you started this big adventure six years ago, yourself and your husband, Rob. You were both chiropractors, is that right, in Pennsylvania?
Yeah, very busy, busy, busy two practices, 12-hour days we worked; it was a hectic, hectic lifestyle.
So you had your own practices, you had your own businesses, you’re working 12-hour days, so you probably weren’t seeing much of each other?!
No, it was worse than that: the quality time wasn’t very good, you know you are just so tired at the end the night, you’re aggravated, you just hang out to be kind to the people around you. When you’re suffering from a lot of stress, it starts off with little things that become bigger things, until you see a shift in your relationship after that type of stress.
Okay, so you’re saying you got nasty with each other, you had rows!
I do a lot more of that than my husband so I’d say yes, he gets quiet and I get full rev.
So, at some stage then you said no more of this, what was that trigger?
My husband first came up with the idea that this isn’t sustainable what we’re doing, and it was funny because it happened around the time – a little bit of back story, we’re like every other American you know, you have a business, you paid off your student loans and you want to reward yourself, so you tend to, you know, buy your first home and you want wood floors and then you just start doing things that you think are going to make you happy and really they don’t. So, my husband bought this 265-gallon fish tank and if anybody knows how big that is, it takes up an entire wall. Okay, so because he bought this fish tank and he needed a reef tank, which is even harder to care for, he had a lot of cleaning to do. So our one day off is Sunday and he spent the entire day upside down in the tank with a toothbrush cleaning the algae off, so he’s in the fish tank doing this upside down, he was aggravated, and I was reading a book about Buddhism and there’s a line that said that “possessions cause suffering” and I looked up at him and I said isn’t that interesting, Rob, it says ‘possessions cause suffering’, and he stood up on that ladder and looked at me and he goes, “We are crazy, I’m crazy. What am I doing? Why have I spent my entire day cleaning this fish tank which I thought was going to make me happy?” and it was one of those moments that the light bulb went off.
He was very much for this move; I wasn’t. I was very scared and I had a lot of trepidation and it really wasn’t until he got sick, his stomach got really bad from working so much, he was in the hospital and it wasn’t until he was on the gurney, and I looked at him then I realised it’s not sustainable – this lifestyle – that something had to change and I think what is a little different about our story is, it had to be all or nothing for us; we couldn’t just pull back the hours, you know, for us it meant completely changing everything.
He got sick from stress, was it?
Yeah, it’s a shame that it takes your health to kind of motivate you to make changes and then it was really then that I said, we’re not going to live like this anymore, and if you think we can do this then let’s just do it, let’s just … you know … Because I listened to everybody, Rosie, nobody told me to do this, you know! We did it at 37, parents were mortified, absolutely mortified. Years into my profession and I quit, that’s your stride, everybody reaches the 10-year mark, and think that’s it.
The American Dream kicks in.
It kicks in, it’s happening, we finally built up a practice and we finally paid off our student loans, everything was working for us and then just telling everybody well that’s it, like I’m not a teenager, you know, I’m not 18, backpacking across Europe. My family were just like you can’t do this, you’ll absolutely regret this, you will never be able to get back the things that you have already accumulated.
The risk of not doing it far outweighs the risk of actually doing it. I was thinking that to look back in five years and think that I didn’t do it that would be heart breaking, that was it.
Why Costa Rica? Had you been there on holidays lots? Had you travelled lots? Was it somewhere that you always wanted to go?
You know, I wish I had a good answer to all that; we did research other things and we researched the Caribbean, things were a little too expensive for us and remember we didn’t have that lifetime of savings like when you’re 65/70 doing it. So we were on such a ridiculous budget that a lot of these islands we couldn’t afford. There were some countries where there was an issue with the climate that made us uncomfortable. Costa Rica seemed to have it all. A lot of people now talk about Costa Rica whether it’s to live or vacation, it’s like it’s got a good buzz. Back then you didn’t hear as much, and we didn’t know anything about it. My husband came home with two plane tickets – let’s see what it’s like, yes seriously this story is so ridiculous, I can’t even believe that it happened to me but we landed and I knew, I knew when I walked off that plane it was the place.
So, did you go on a holiday, a short holiday first to check it out?
Yeah, like you know maybe five days just driving around, and the thing that really changed it for me was I had to go to the bank to exchange money or doing something in a bank – at that time in a bank it was a three hour wait, so I was sitting there and yes it’s the last thing you want to do while on vacation. But as I was sitting there I saw that anybody who was older, who had a disability, a woman with small children, a pregnant woman all went to the front of the line and nobody huffed and puffed. I love the United States – I’m not knocking it – but don’t put a bunch of people in front of the line of a very busy bank, it’s going to really stress people out. So, it just made the wait longer and longer but nobody reacted to it the way I was reacting to it.
So, it was the people that actually did it for you. You saw a different way of life.
Yeah, I have much bigger respect for people and more understanding, a slower pace, and I needed that, Rosie, it was the thing that we were lacking in our lives; it was more that than anything else that Costa Rica had.
So you then went back to Pennsylvania, sold your big house and your practices, is that putting it mildly?
Sold the fish tank, I take it?
Yeah, that went too.
And packed your bags and went out to Costa Rica. Did you then rent in Costa Rica or did you buy a house or what did you do there?
Sure, we have a piece of property that we bought, so we thought we would, eventually build a house on that and thus the sequel which you have read. But when we first landed we just rented. Well actually, we’re still renting and it’s an easy thing to do as most of the houses come furnished, so you can come down with a couple of suitcases like I did, with my dog and cat, and you can find a place that has everything you need.
I think one of the recommendations you said is to wait until you get down there, because it is actually quite expensive when you’re looking online to rent in Costa Rica and I think it’s true wherever you want to move to in the world, to wait until you actually get there to commit to a long-term rent because sometimes prices online are upped an awful lot, whereas if you get referrals within the country you actually get a better deal. Is that what happened to you?
When we came to find our place, we came back for I think it was seven days a month before our big move, and we said we have to find something so when we move in a month we have a place that we can go to. And we’re staying at a bed and breakfast and we asked the woman there, and the woman knew somebody, that’s exactly how this all works. And, I think the biggest misconception by people who come to Central America is it’s just so cheap, like it’s just the cheapest place in the world to live; it’s not true anymore because you have to think of transportation of goods and things like that. So it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cheapest place in the world to live, but just like any other tourist area or place, things online don’t necessarily reflect what’s really happening on the ground. So even if you came and you rented something that was a little more pricey than you’re used to, within a few months you will find something a lot cheaper, because that’s just how it works here.
You moved down to the coast and you have a sweet deal for where you’re staying now, don’t you?
My husband is just the can-do kind of guy. If we were stranded out in the middle of the ocean on a raft, he is the can-do guy, ‘we’re going to get back to shore’, he is such the optimist. We first lived in the mountains in Costa Rica which is lovely and when we decided to move to the beach I knew it might be problematic because it’s more expensive. We are living near Tamarindo which is a very big tourist area here. Now, you know, the tourist areas in any country are more expensive: he said no, no, no, no, we are going to do good, we are going to find a place … we got hooked up with a couple from the States that needed somebody to watch their house, somebody reliable that they got along with, so we rent a house for a $150 a month.
It’s a little crazy and I’m not saying everybody can do that, but we lived here – when they met us, we were here three years – we weren’t somebody who just moved here that was testing out Costa Rica. We had already put our footprints in this country; we’re staying. We had a good – and we still do, have a good relationship with them. So, there are these things that can happen here.
Yes, getting your footing in the place and actually getting to know people and networking really.
What’s your budget, if you don’t mind me asking, to live off each month? Is it very low or is it high?
Our budget when we were living in the mountains was a lot cheaper because it’s a central part of the country, goods are all there, farmers’ markets are very abundant, so it was around $1,000 a month. Okay. When we moved to the coast it’s more expensive because of the transport of goods here, gas is very, very expensive in this country so we’re more like $1,200 a month and that might be $1,300 a month if we do extra-curricular activities, excursions and fun stuff.
Which you do lots of – I’ve seen your blog!
We have these cheap kayaks now, so we don’t have to pay! We bought these real cheap with holes in them; my husband patched them up and now it’s free, most of the fun things we do are free.
Do you have the same sort of lifestyle? Do you eat out lots like you would in the States or do you eat fresh produce; now tell us the truth, do you eat processed food? Come on!
We hardly eat out at all. Around here it’s a tourist area, so it’s very expensive. I think it surprises people when they come here and dinner can be so pricey. When we moved here it was really important to us that we were not replicating our life that we had in the States. It’s just too expensive because the goods that you’re used to eating – let’s just say a brand of cookie – is twice as much here because of import taxes. It’s a great way to get healthy and get in shape because who wants to pay $6 for a bag of cookies when you can pay a few cents for a melon.
So, it’s interesting, you don’t want to lose weight – it’s just the fact you don’t want to pay that money for the cookies; it will make you buy the healthier stuff! When I was in the mountains a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables – which were a lot of our meals (a little bit of meat, fruit and vegetables) was $20 a week, for the fruit and vegetables.
Is it all fresh produce?
Just the best! The beach is more expensive, I would say, at 20 percent more for the produce here, but it’s important that we make our own meals. We make stir-fries; we freeze them because it’s just not in our budget to go out and eat all the time.
To get around then, transport wise: I’m asking this question because I know the answer because I read your books! (and guys you have to buy these books because they’re really funny; Nadine’s accounts are really hilarious). You bought a car, but I mean the potholes are atrocious over there; we have potholes in Ireland, but they’re like crazy over in Costa Rica: they are like wells!
They’re wells, yeah!
So, you have a scooter now: is that a change of lifestyle? Is it expensive; is gas expensive?
I think the last time I checked gas was at least, like, $5 a gallon.
So, it’s very, very pricey, so my husband had this idea when we lived in the mountains – we are going to get a scooter! I have never been on a motorcycle or scooter; it was the last thing I wanted, but he said, you know, the scooter was roughly $1,000. It’s going to pay for itself in gas because our other car is an SUV which is just a gas guzzler, so we bought the scooter and we took it everywhere. We put all our groceries on it, we have done so many wonderful trips on it, and it’s such a great thing to have. However, as you could see on my last blog post, my husband took a spill on it and he needed stitches in his hand, so besides that…
…Life is wonderful!
Life is wonderful and it’s great and I recommend to people if you feel confident, if you come down here, you don’t necessarily have to get that big expensive car because cars are taxed a lot here in Costa Rica. My car in the States would have been $6,000: it was $12,000 here.
So, yeah, if that’s a very big expense you can get away with a scooter, you really can, and you get a lot done and you know not to invest so much in the car, especially if you don’t know if you are going to be here long term.
Could you speak Spanish before you went?
I can barely speak Spanish now, Rosie; it’s just it’s like the most horrible thing.
Okay, I know it’s a bad thing, I’m so awful. My husband is so much better and it’s interesting this happened because, you know, in America we give a lot of grief to people who don’t speak the language, you know. It’s kind of like ‘speak the language, why don’t you learn the language?’ type of thing we do and I came here and now the shoe is on the other foot: I don’t know the language and I’m having a very difficult time picking it up and I really thought it was just going to be like this, I could do it. My husband picks it up so much better than me. I don’t know why I have that much a difficulty, but it made me so much kinder as a person, when the shoe is on the other foot it’s a great learning experience.
I’m just after having a flashback to one of the chapters in your book where Rob was giving out to you, your husband was giving out to you, because you had mixed up the words for ‘punch’ and ‘pay’ that you had taught him, and he was going around saying ‘I’m going to punch you now’ to everybody, to waiters…
Three years he said that to people! You know it is funny when people gave reactions to us, because I just assumed maybe we’re gringo or my husband is wearing these Arnold Schwarzenegger cyborg sunglasses, bald head, muscle shirt, I just assumed that that was why, but these people thought he was going to punch them! At the Farmers’ Market, to children selling melons, I mean, it was just awful! They were probably so happy we left the mountains and moved to the beach. So yeah, I get in trouble like that a lot but I’m learning. But like I said, it made me a better person, a kinder person. Now, I understand what people go through when they move to a country; they need help and you know what they need? People just to be nice to them because that’s what I needed. What they did here for me when I couldn’t understand something, a total stranger who didn’t understand English, would just stand next to me and call a friend who did.
They would hand me the phone to translate, I mean it’s so nice, the people here are just so incredibly nice.
So, you’re living a great lifestyle. People should read the book to find all the different pros and cons of living in Costa Rica, as you don’t hold back, but you also tell the nice stuff as well as the warts and all. You’re living an incredible active life now and a very healthy lifestyle, Rob has lost lots of weight, and he’s not having stomach trouble anymore?
No, he is doing great, yeah.
How much weight has he lost?
Around 40 pounds!
Wow! So your lifestyle has completely changed and you’re more relaxed with each other and having lots of fun. So yeah, you’re living the dream – you’re living retirement in your 30s. Can I ask you, you’re not working there, so are you living off the savings and what you sold off, like the fish tank?!
Yeah, the fish tank money! When we moved here we didn’t have enough money for a lifetime, we knew that, so we said okay, if we can live on $1,000 a month we can probably do like seven years maybe to squeeze out more, we need to figure out something but you know we knew we couldn’t figure it out then, it would have to be with our feet on the ground before we thought of a business or you know anything like that, we didn’t want to jump the gun on anything. So, what happened though, was the book! I just wrote these funny stories down because it’s just ridiculous what my husband gets me into, honest to God, it’s really … I love his can-do attitude, but he puts me in predicaments that are just unreasonable! So after these crazy things I’d go home and write these stories and when I put the book up for sale and CNN picked it up and then that was it … and so I found my business.
Fantastic! So, have you always been a writer or is this just something new, like is it just because you started writing blogs about your everyday life?
I always enjoyed writing and I’d always write little stories. This experience was … you just had to write, you know, you just had to sit down and write it. I mean I would wake up in the middle of the night and jot down things because I just felt like it was too good of a story not to share with people or too ridiculous of a story not to share.
Yeah, and also your humour comes through and you tell the story very eloquently, so it’s just a brilliant read. So you’ve written one book and then you wrote a sequel, so are you working on number three? I hope so!
Yes, I’m writing The Escape Manual – it’s the ‘how-to’ since my books are funny narratives which tell you a little bit on how to go about moving to Costa Rica. But a lot of people email me with very specific questions about residency, buying a car, getting a driver’s license … very specific things, so I said well, it will be fun to write it. Of course, in a humorous way not a typical travel book and it’s coming along and it will be out this year. I’m excited about it because it gives a lot more in-depth information about the country with the usual twist of funny stories.
Nadine, it was lovely talking to you and thank you so much and I look forward to talking to you again when the new book is out.
Thank you so much, Rosie, it’s been a lot of fun.
BUY Nadine’s Books by clicking on the links below for a Belly Load of Laughs!
Happier Than a Billionaire: Quitting My Job, Moving to Costa Rica, and Living the Zero Hour Work Week
Happier Than A Billionaire: The Sequel
Tracey West is founder of International Downshifting Week and author of The Book of Rubbish Ideas and the Diary of Divorce: for Women and Men. She chatted with Life Is Short Magazine about how to found a week, getting published, getting through divorce and lots more.
(Listen to the full interview here)
Tracey started her writing career as a columnist writing about downshifting and living an environmentally friendly lifestyle. “I started Downshifting Week, as I wanted to simplify the process of simplifying your life. To take the rose-coloured spectacles off what the media were portraying it as. I wanted to take the freaky out of eco.’”
From this, The Book of Rubbish Ideas came about and became a sell-out success.
However, life has thrown Tracey a few lemons including a painful divorce. But instead of letting bitterness seep in, Tracey has used humour and writing to make lemonade from her life lemons (so to speak!).
“Writing was my predominate coping mechanism. It was wonderful. My fingers would just itch to get a big long story out of my head. When it was done I could go asleep; it was great and it turned into a book and I realised if it’s helping me it will help someone else.”
“Writing can lift you out of the darkness. Buy yourself a notebook and keep it for the purpose of spilling out the rubbish from your head. That way you can close the book and stick it out of sight, but you know it’s there when you need it. It’s a very powerful and useful thing to do.”
Diary of Divorce: for Women and Men is a practical therapy journal that helps you through the difficult times while offering practical support. There are practical pages where you fill out the details of your solicitor, counsellor, doctor for easy reference, then there are memory pages where you recall the good times and the bad and then there are the humorous pages such as ‘Draw your ex naked and then add spots and boils to all the places you would like them to erupt!’
“I wish that the book that I’ve written was available during my divorce. The author is the person who buys it. It’s your private journal, your private thoughts,” explains Tracey.
“A divorce is only ever two people wide; it’s that unity coming to an end. Your story is private and individual to you; it’s private, it’s your story. This book is about you coming out of the darkness and finding humour as well.”
“We can go through our lives as either a survivor or as a victim. We all struggle with stuff and you have to reach out to other sources and get yourself back on track and then find the chink of light in it and use it to help other people. It is about spinning your perception of whatever has happened to you on its head and saying, ‘You know what, I’m not going to let it beat me’.”
During her interview (Click to listen now) Tracey gives lots of solid advice to self-help book authors:
“There are millions of books on Amazon. Ultimately, it is down to you the author to make a noise about it otherwise it will just join the queue of millions of other books, so you do have to put yourself out there. It’s not impossible; you need to work out your unique points of your work and then you need to bang a drum about it, create a website, put some stuff out there and let people know about it.”
Websites and things mentioned:
Divorce coping tips (Free App)
Publisher: Magic Oxygen
A New Spoke In The Wheel Of Womanhood
A woman’s life used to be split into three parts: The Maiden, The Mother, and The Melancholy Old Woman.
However, there is a new spoke in the wheel that interjects stages two and three and for many women this new stage is turning out to be the most inspiring and profitable part of their lives.
They have done the fun, frivolous bit of being young, maybe even reckless, and finding a career and a partner. They have done the child rearing, career development, bill paying and faced the unexpected hurdles life has thrown at them – tragedy, reality, illness and the ups and downs. And they have come through the other side a bit bruised but not beaten.
The last stage used to kick in just when the bruises of life were healing and things were getting easier. This was seen as a lonely time: the kids leaving the nest, being widowed or divorced, parents passing away. It was a time when a woman would start thinking about sitting by the window and living for her grandchildren’s visits, or reading the death notices in the paper and waiting for the day when their name appeared.
However, this final spoke of the wheel of life has been intercepted by a whole new stage that women now look forward to rather than dread. Thanks to a lifetime of better diet (think about it, our parents were brought up on ration books and ‘old cures’), better education and better healthcare, the goal posts of being physically ‘past it’ or ‘unable’ have moved by 20 to 30 years.
More than ever, women in their 50s and 60s are now travelling solo and starting indie style online businesses, passing on the wisdom they have learnt through one or more of their life experiences to help steer other women through their life path.
The respect for the older, wiser woman is back!
Earlier today, I spoke with Deb Lange from Adelaide, Australia. Deb is a divorced mum of two. When her kids grew up and moved out, she cared for her parents in their home and then when they passed on she sold her home and started to travel. She has been to the USA, Sierra Leone, Europe, and South Africa and, today, I am chatting with her in Cambodia via Skype. She runs an online mentoring business to help women find and follow their intuitive body wisdom, to help them find themselves again and build their self-confidence, and to live the life of their dreams.
Listen to the interview by clicking the podcast or YouTube video above.
When Lainie Liberti, a 42-year-old single mom in California, said goodbye to her staff and closed the doors of her office for the Christmas holidays in 2008 she knew she wouldn’t be opening them again. The recession had hit her business hard and she had lost clients by the dozen. Other small boutique consultancies across the world were suffering the same fate. Branding, PR and other ‘additional’ consultancy services were the first to be let go as bigger businesses struggled against the recessional tide.
Sitting at home and sighing about how good things used to be and worrying about the debts that had to be paid was one option, but Lainie decided to think outside the box. She decided to do what she had done for so many businesses over her 18-year career – to rebrand. To rebrand her life.
“I decided to be the change instead of the victim. Miro, my son, was growing up and I wanted to have stress-free quality time with him. I said to my son, ‘What if we got rid of all our stuff and went on an adventure?’ He said, ‘Yes’, and when I told him he wouldn’t have to go to school he said, ‘OH YES!”
Lainie and the then 9-year-old Miro began the process of redesigning their lives. They sold and gave away all of their possessions, and six months later the pair hit the road for an adventure. Rather than be a dictating mom, Lainie took him on as a partner – for every decision they were in it together.
“The plan was to spend a year traveling and to reach Argentina by the end of the year.”
Four years and 14 countries later, Lainie and Miro have not yet reached Argentina. They currently reside in Peru and intend to continue to slow travel around the globe, living an inspired, possession-free lifestyle.
“Of course people thought we were crazy! A blonde single mom from California traveling with her son to all these ‘dangerous’ places. Yes, people thought we were crazy. A friend even recommended that we get kidnap insurance!
“Fear cripples a lot of people and stops them doing what they want to do. I’ve chosen to live without fear and live through inspiration and intuition instead. We decided to participate in the world without fear.”
When Lainie realised their travels were becoming a lifestyle rather than just a one-year adventure she looked into alternative schooling for her son and discovered unschooling.
“Once I discovered that learning never stopped, our world opened up with possibilities. I started learning again, and learning with my son. Learning about unschooling and trusting the process has been a huge gift for both of us.”
Lainie looks back on how they were when leaving and their transformation to the people they have become. Their relationships with the world, with cultures, and their attitudes have changed completely.
“I don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. I don’t need a lot of money to be happy. I am just happy and my relationship to stuff has definitely changed.”
However, learning to appreciate and live in the moment seems to be the biggest discovery for Lainie.
“I no longer needed to be the ‘doer’ and within the first year, became perfectly fine with just being still, in the moment. Other people had a hard time with that, but that no longer was my problem. For me, that was huge.
“There is nothing more precious than the moment. To think, I almost missed the ones that included my son’s tween years. I missed a lot of the younger years because I was working. Working. A. Lot. I’ll never compromise these [moments] again.”
To hear the podcast of Rosie’s full interview with Lainie click the link below.
To follow Lainie and Miro’s Travels:
To learn about their unschooling in Peru project:
Recommended Reading About Unschooling:
Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education
The Unschooling Unmanual
The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom (Prima Home Learning Library)
If you liked this PLEASE share by clicking the buttons below!
Where to now? BACK TO HOME PAGE
It was when she awoke from her 20th colon rectal surgery, and following the reversal of her four-year colostomy bag, which all resulted from a massive infection caused by a botched-up biopsy 10 years previous, that Yulady Saluti, a 32-year-old yoga instructor and mother of six, was told she had Stage II breast cancer.
She had thought the 20th attempt to fix the problem was going to be the last surgery; she had kept her spirits high with plans for the future.
Even though she had had major surgeries in the last few years in an area of the body that most people would be embarrassed to discuss, Yulady managed to excel in her new-found passion: yoga. So much so that she appeared in yoga DVDs with Tara Stiles and Deepak Chopra and on TV with Sadie Nardini, and she was teaching in four different yoga studios.
But now life was throwing her another clanger.
“My husband was standing next to me, waiting for me to regain consciousness again, just as he had been doing since the first surgery I had exactly two weeks after our wedding. I blinked up at him and said, “Hey, babe. How did it go?” He looked back at me. “You have breast cancer, honey.”
Yulady had Stage II breast cancer at the age of 32. Not only was it ruining her future plans but she also had six children waiting at home for their mama.
“I had been depressed before. It’s very easy to play the ‘Why me?’ card – I did not want to go back there. Rectum, colon, colostomy are taboo subjects and definitely not something you want to be talking about in your 20s. It was keeping my illness to myself that caused the depression.
“So I dealt with this a whole other way than my last illness. I googled double mastectomy and you wouldn’t see the women’s faces. I said I want to show the world what a woman looks like with a double mastectomy. I still felt beautiful. My husband thought I was still beautiful. He has helped me a lot through it. I gave myself one ‘Why me?’ day and then I picked myself up and got on with it.
Yulady began blogging and creating YouTube videos about her journey through treatment and recovery.
“It was important for me to show the woman behind the treatment …”
It’s now exactly one year on since her diagnosis and Yulady is cancer free.
Through the highs and lows of the year, Yulady’s frank blogs and bare-chested (and sometimes bareheaded!) empowering photos have helped remove the veil of mystery surrounding the issue of breast cancer treatment, which so many women face every day. It also shows a woman following her passion no matter what life throws at her.
“In my very first yoga class, I felt the happiness and the peace I’d been searching for. And I still feel this way. Practising yoga, I lose track of time. My mind stops thinking about the future or the past. I feel whole. I am able to just breathe and be aware of the breath, to be present and only present. I let go of everything else. Yoga is my happy place, which (I think) makes me my happy place. Because of yoga, I can find the bright side of a crappy situation.
“For me, yoga was the light in my darkness.”
Now, every day on Instagram and Facebook, Yulady posts photos of herself in the most amazing extreme yoga poses and she posts regular tutorial videos on YouTube encouraging others to take their yoga passion to the max.
Cancer is not mentioned much anymore because it is no longer an issue; it’s now more about one powerfully inspiring woman following her one powerfully inspiring passion.
Links to Follow Yulady:
A mommy-yogi-with-cancer and yoga tutorials: YouTube.com/YuladySaluti.
Listen to Rosie’s full Podcast Interview with Yulady (at the top of this post) or watch the YouTube video.
If you liked this PLEASE share by clicking the buttons below!
Sharon’s decision to change her life started on a compost heap in Devon, UK. She and her husband, Gary had made it – they had the careers, the big incomes, all the stuff money can buy. They lived in their ideal house in the country. The only problem was their rubbish collection was unreliable, so to cut down on waste Sharon started a compost heap. Then some ‘thing’ began to grow on top of it. This Thing changed their lives.
Our journey into downshifting started very appropriately on a compost heap about 15 years ago in deepest Devon. As a then twenty-something couple on hefty incomes we were about as blasé as you could get when it came to spending big bucks on unnecessary tat and space-absorbing stuff.
I had always loved the countryside and never strayed too close to suburban living and back then Gary and I were enjoying life in a tumbledown cottage just outside Exeter. With a very casual interest in being self-sufficient and a rather unreliable rubbish collection service we started up a compost heap in the back garden. Sometime in the early summer I spotted something odd growing on the heap. I thought it must be something horribly poisonous, but as weeks passed a very large and very beautiful squash-type thing developed. It became clear that we should do something with it, so one night after a horrible day in a stuffy office I bravely sacrificed the globe-like squash and roasted it in the Rayburn. Gary came home from work and we ate home-grown, all be it accidentally, squash with yoghurt and mint sauce and some rice, it was fantastic and it was cheap, nearly free in fact.
We were hooked. So what next? Well in all honesty we both hated our jobs in Marketing and were always secretly looking for something better or different. Over time our lifestyles became less wasteful and more productive – we grew vegetables, we preserved food, collected kindling, made and drank wine, sloe gin and damson vodka, shopped locally where possible and generally lived a fairly ‘good life’ so to speak. However, it would be untrue to say we were ‘green’, more that we were looking after ‘our own’ and not really aware or tuned-in to what was going on with the planet or outside the safety of our little haven where rain and sunshine were plentiful and the soil good. We were complacent.
Moving house to be near Gary’s new job marked a pivotal and pretty low point in our effort to live greener. Life was hectic and spending even more so, time was non-existent and we barely saw each other in order to keep payments up to date on our burdensome credit cards which had amassed over the years. Archie was in nursery and therefore in expensive disposable nappies. I had a three-hour round trip to work each day – somewhere along the line we had lost sight of what crucially mattered in life. We had to change and get things back on track, and so we did.
After many late nights talking through our options, we realised that not only were we time and energy poor but no better off financially as commuting and nursery fees ate away nearly all our income.
We wrote down lists of aims, ideals and plans, we identified ways of earning money in a more family friendly way, and most of all we read, and read some more: books, magazines, newspapers, journals, websites, case studies, biographies and blogs by those who had already made the leap into living more naturally and consciously. By researching options and lifestyle choices I became acutely aware of the wider impact all our individual choices had on the world as a whole, from choosing to buy local and insisting on fair trade to opting to cook from scratch and refusing GM foods.
Issues were raised in our house from homeschooling to politics, shopping to crafts. We both realised that we had taken control of our lives again and could make informed choices on how to live better in the future.
We started our own business and became responsible for our own hours, income and working environment. Working for ourselves has given us much more freedom and allowed us to enjoy time out with our children without having to schedule them around our work. I also completed a year-long course in Horticulture with the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and most significantly we moved to a rural area of Tuscany in Italy.
The journey into downshifting is a continual one and each day brings a new challenge or discovery; I am constantly amazed at how many people want a simple way of life but do nothing about it. The debt issue is universal, most of my friends owe large sums to the bank, us included, although we are nearing the end of a long period of miserable loan repayments. Personally, I only recognised the link between income and expenditure in my late twenties when I had already immersed myself in the debt culture.
What has changed most remarkably in our lives is not what we do but how we think. I have always been a sucker for a bargain and trawled charity shops for cheap clobber, but now I consciously ask myself do I really need that novelty cake tin or pink spotty teapot or do I simply want it because it is cute. This train of thought is saving us money every day, and every day we are able to decrease our financial commitments and buy time and freedom. Of course, actions speak volumes and in our household things that come naturally nowadays are recycling, re-using, revamping, cooking food from scratch, growing our own, creating new plants from cuttings (totally free and makes great gifts), eating as a family, turning the TV off (well, as much as we can), enjoying the outdoors, and sharing our enthusiasm and home-grown produce with friends.
The move to Italy was more to do with loving life than downshifting. We’d had a long romance with the country and I wanted our children to enjoy a childhood in an environment where kids counted for something and were cherished by those around them. Sadly, the UK still struggles with this concept in my opinion. Children are welcomed in all restaurants here in Italy and there is no such thing as a children’s menu; most Italian food is loved by kids – you can’t really go wrong with pasta and pizza after all!
Italy has got recycling down to a fine art; we take all our rubbish with us when we leave the house and place it in the designated large roadside recycling bins, all clearly labelled. Train stations boast a minimum of three recycling bins and plastic bags are shunned by most food shops. One phenomenon sadly missing is the ‘charity shop’ as Italians are by nature very proud and do not entertain the idea of buying other people’s cast-offs. However, I think this may be offset by the strong make-do-and-mend approach still very much alive within both the home and workplace. Here, you can pretty much find parts for any type of electrical appliance or white good and everyday things such as shoes and leather goods are made to last.
The essential thing in changing your lifestyle for the better is to recognise your ‘energy thieves’ – in other words what really drags you down. If it’s your job, why not think about learning a new trade, one that inspires you and has purpose? If it is where you live, what are the possibilities of renting a house somewhere different, where you can enjoy nature? I long ago gleefully rejected the ‘must own a house’ mentality and now live happily and mortgage-free in sunny Tuscany. By taking a few logical steps to a simpler lifestyle you could literally be saving your sanity whilst saving the planet.
Sharon’s top three tips for downshifting:
Grow something to eat
As a little girl I remember my dad carving my name into the side of a marrow and each day we watched my name get bigger and bigger – pure magic.
Say No to stuff
Gadgets, gizmos and all those mad-capped supposed timesavers are just money wasters and space guzzlers. Learn to use your brain and your hands and reduce electricity and battery use.
Rescue some animals
What better way for children to learn about life than to watch an animal grow. Whether you choose livestock for food or pets for pleasure, loving and nurturing is a core life skill and one that gives back tenfold. Always check out rescue and rehoming centres for information – there is no better stress buster than a hug from an old dog.
Where To Find Sharon:
Sharon’s Recommended Reading List
The Self-Sufficient Gardener: A Complete Guide to Growing and Preserving All Your Own Food (Using the New Deep Bed Method to Grow More Food in Less Space)
The Spirit of Silence: Making Space for Creativity of John Lane on 04 April 2006
Timeless Simplicity: Creative Living in a Consumer Society
Listen to Rosie’s Interview with Sharon, the podcast link and link to the YouTube interview are at the top of this blog post.
If you liked this PLEASE share by clicking the buttons below!
Where to now? BACK TO HOME PAGE