Today I hired myself.
How three years of travel taught me to be my own boss.
Today I hired myself. Given my current financial situation—broke—this may seem like a risky decision to make. You might even see it as downright irresponsible. I, however, am quite excited about the choice I have made. I am fully confident that I will excel at the new job I have decided to give myself.
When I left Canada three years ago, I was technically already my own boss. I had been a yoga teacher for five years and a Thai yoga massage practitioner for over two years. As a yoga teacher, I was a contractor and had a fair amount of control over the classes I was teaching. I also ran a small and thriving massage practice out of the spare bedroom in my shabby and colourful Chinatown apartment in downtown Toronto.
I was making good money and could fit my work in around my university classes. I was always on the lookout for new ventures and even started a yoga program at OCAD University that is still running today. I was also working 60+ hours a week, never had a day off and ended up in the hospital two weeks before graduation.
I was my own boss and I was really bad at it. I never gave myself vacation time and eventually ran myself into the ground. My hospital visit led to major abdominal surgery—my gut gave out on me—and two months where I could not work because exhaustion kept my incision points from healing at a normal rate. So I did the only logical thing I could do after realising my work situation just wasn’t working: I quit.
A couple months after I had made a full recovery, I liquidated my life in Toronto and boarded a plane to the other side of the world. It is then that I started to build a life resume. In turn, this life resume has lead me to my commitment today to hire myself as my own boss once more. I have complete confidence that my new boss will be a knockout. Here’s why:
I am not afraid to fail & get back up again.
I started my travels in Bali where I learned to surf. As a landlocked Canadian, surfing was a novelty idea and—let’s be honest—really cool. After a week-long yoga retreat in Changuu, I spent three weeks going to the beach twice a day, every day, to surf. I sucked at first. I fell down. Ate sand. My boobs fell out of my monokini. I got dumped violently by waves and drank enough saltwater that my body is at least half ocean now. And I kept getting back up. Pretty soon I was catching waves for a second. Then two. Finally, I dropped into my first wave and surfed it all the way to shore. I am not saying that I never fall down but I sure as hell don’t stay down for long.
I am ridiculously dedicated & determined.
After my visa was up in Bali, I headed to New Zealand. There I walked half of the Te Araroa trail, a 1600 kilometre route from Cape Reinga to Wellington. It took me three months with a 30kg pack on my back. I tramped through ranges, beside highways, across paddocks full of sheep and did a seven-day kayak down the Whanganui River. I twisted my ankle on the second day, abandoned my no-longer-waterproof tent on the third day and got lost in places that my body probably would have never been found if I had died. I had days where every step hurt my entire body and I had already eaten tomorrow’s lunch. Despite experiencing some very physically, mentally and emotionally uncomfortable situations, I was determined to keep going. With one step at a time, I finished walking the entire length of New Zealand’s North Island.
I am able to ask for help when I need it.
Walking across half a country taught me a lot about personal survival. It also taught me to accept help graciously. Over the course of my walk, I had numerous people take me in. I hitchhiked quite a bit in New Zealand and most of the time people took me home for dinner. I will dedicate a whole blog post to all the kindness I was shown while in New Zealand but for now, know that I did not complete my walk alone. I had assistance from so many strangers who would give me a proper bed to sleep in, a hot shower and their phone number if I decided I needed to be picked up anywhere at any time. I learned to say yes when offered assistance and to ask for it when I was in need. For this reason, I was able to finish my walk skinnier but feeling more full than I had ever felt in my entire life.
I am grateful for the small things.
I could have continued my walk for another three months through the South Island. Feeling I had learned my lesson about accepting help during my time in the North Island, I opted to find a place to land instead. I ended up at the Lost Gypsy Gallery. I found out about the LGG—and its artist-owner Blair—from a video on Vimeo that I had watched long before deciding to relocate to the other side of the world. As it turned out, Blair’s friend Dave needed help taking apart a house. I thought I would be there for a week and ended up leaving two and a half months later. The LGG is in this small, fly-by town called Papatowai with nothing more than a poorly-stocked corner store. Blair’s house is solar powered and a hot shower had to be a quick shower. We went into town once a week to go grocery shopping but aside from that I—and the other wanderers there—had to entertain ourselves. I was running low on cash, living in the middle of nowhere and had so much to be grateful for. Here is a short list:
The caravan I got to stay in that was warm and dry.
The good food I got to eat.
The hot showers I had every day, even though they were quick.
The music I got to partake in when Blair’s musician friends came over for a jam.
Clyde, the big black dog owned by Ppg who ran the LGG’s coffee truck. We played fetch and went for walks on the beach every day.
The beach and beautiful hiking trails nearby. I ran naked into the surf when the sun was out.
When I went surfing with Blair and the water wasn’t as freezing as it normally was and a sea lion came over to say hello.
The time I had to write and reflect on my travels thus far.
All the delightful things we got up to—including building a set of fire baths so we could watch the stars and steam ourselves.
Blair, Dave, Ppg, Sophie, Roel, Melissa, Gloria and all the other humans I got to connect to.
I am an unstoppable sales woman.
When was the last time you delivered a sales pitch completely naked? Never? Well, I did it for three months straight and I was bloody good at it. With the LGG closing up for winter, I had to decide where to go next. My original plan was to go to Queenstown and work the ski season. Last minute, I decided that I much preferred being warm to cold and spent what little money I had left paying for a visa and flight to Australia. I landed in Brisbane and got a job as a stripper. If I ever expand my business beyond myself, I will look favourably on hiring women who use to be strippers. Not only did I learn to close a sale either totally naked or wearing very little, I figured out how to spin fantasies like cotton candy. I could sell an hour of my time in the lap room like it was the cure to all the world’s ailments. Did I mention I did this naked? And sober? Whether or not you feel comfortable with women getting their kit off to make some extra money, you have to admit it takes balls to do it. I paid off my credit cards in no time and quit three months later because I found a sales job where I got to keep my clothes on.
I am industrious & create opportunities.
My new sales job was working as a marketing assistant for a local CrossFit box. I rocked up to the group interview wearing workout gear when everyone else was in business attire. I am sure they were all way more qualified than me but I talked a good talk and started training at the gym to show the owners how much I wanted to be a part of their community. When I got the job I learned quickly and did work outside of office hours to figure out exactly what a marketing assistant was supposed to do. I also took over the yoga classes at the box and set up a successful Thai yoga massage practice in a small, unused space upstairs. This happened within a span of only six months. My contract eventually ended—the Australian working holiday visa only allows you to stay with one employer of a maximum of six months—and I had to go do farm work so I could renew my visa for another year.
I work well under pressure.
As luck would have it, I made a connection through the CrossFit community and moved up the Sunshine Coast to learn how to be a beekeeper. This was a leap of faith as I had never been stung by a bee before. Fortunately, I am not allergic because the first time I did get stung, I was stung ten times. Despite this, I loved beekeeping; bees are really amazing and curious little creatures. They are also sometimes hateful and angry beasts. I learned to stay calm and keep my cool while checking on hives even when the drone of a swarm would reach that pitch where you knew they were not happy. While checking on hives is worth the disruption it causes the bees if it means you catch disease or mites early on, bees are very sensitive to temperature and get pissed off when things get a bit chilly. Given my choice to move to Australia, I was not one to judge. So I breathed deeply and got the work done even if it meant being stabbed by multiple little bum barbs along the way.
I learn new skills quickly.
Despite having studied textile design in university, I never really had an interest in fashion. My work was more art focused and the only time I really sat in front of a sewing machine was to sew Halloween costumes. Despite this, when I relocated to Melbourne after completing my requisite farm work, I got a job as an alteration girl at a jean store. Dejour jeans is this little hole-in-the-wall shop where you can pick a $53 pair of jeans off the shelf and have them tailored to fit for free. I marked up jeans so they could be cut and altered by the machinists who worked on site. Not long after, I got a job working in lululemon’s hemming department where I was one of the machinists. I had never marked up garments or hemmed leggings before but I put my foot to the pedal and figured it out. I then went on to sew costumes for a professional puppet show. This included a ringleader jacket, an Evel Knievel costume for the puppet and a 4m inflatable killer whale. How’s that for taking on a challenge?
I take initiative & make things happen.
Again the six-month mark rolled around and I was out of a job. By this point, I was pretty sure that I wanted to keep travelling but the work visa restrictions were getting a bit tired. So I signed up for an STCW and stewardess course in Sydney with plans to work on yachts once I had was kicked out of Australia. After my two week course, I returned to Melbourne, joined a yacht club and started doing weekly races on a boat called Bacardi. I would jump in wherever I was needed and quickly learned how to be an adept crew member. I got a job working for a small private charter yacht company to gain some experience before I headed off to the Caribbean to work on the big boats. When I was offered a place on a boat delivery from Melbourne to Auckland, I said yes. The sail took nine days across the Tasman Sea and I was only seasick for the first three. When I want to learn something I go all in and make it happen.
I am invested in self-gowth.
When I finally left Melbourne, I headed to Thailand where I spent seven weeks learning how to scuba dive. I had never dived a day in my life and went from Open Water to Divemaster. Having diving qualifications in the yachting industry is helpful. More than that, I am always eager to expand my ideas of what is possible in life. So as much as learning to scuba dive was a career investment, it was a personal investment too. After finishing up my certification I headed to Bangkok where I did a 10-day Thai cooking course and spent time hanging out with my new Thai friends Parn and Palm. Really, everywhere I had visited and lived was an investment in self-growth. Travel taught me to see the world—and myself—in entirely new ways. What I lacked in financial capital, I made up for in identity capital. Which brings me to now.
I know my value as a worker & as a human.
I had planned to return to Canada for an overdue visit before carrying on to work on yachts. By the time I landed in my country of birth, I was having other thoughts. When I lived in Melbourne, I designed and wrote content for two websites for Andrea, the owner of the yoga studio I was teaching at. At the time, I thought of these as one-off projects. When I was in Bangkok I joined Upwork and started working as a freelance writer. This was more to ease my anxiety around my dwindling bank account and maxed out credit cards than a conscious career move. During some much-needed rest and recovery with family in Vancouver, I had some time to think about everything I had experienced an accomplished over the past three years. It was then that I knew that I would be crazy to work for anyone but myself. After everything I had chosen to do, starting my own business as a web designer and content writer would be a walk in the park. Not because my plan was bulletproof but because I now know I can overcome anything.
So here it is. The beginning of my new life as my own boss. It is just the beginning. In November I start life coaching school and will transition from web design and content writing to helping people become their own bosses too. I have found my calling and it is helping people realise that anything and everything is possible. It took me three years and a whole lot of mistakes to figure this out and I know that I can help people accomplish what they want in a much shorter time. So welcome to my business of one. I am my sole employee and my boss and I am going to do great things because I have already done great things. I know what I am capable of and am not holding back any longer.
Today I hired myself. It is the bravest, most radical decision I have ever made. If I can do everything I have done to date, anything less than me being my own boss is a waste of my time and potential. Today I committed to living the life that I want and working toward my goals, not someone else’s. I am choosing to walk a path where I get to elevate myself and the people I work with. I am choosing to stay awake and give this beautiful and temporary existence everything I have got. I have faith in the process and I have faith in myself. After three years of travel, I can tell you that that is all you need to be your own boss too.
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To learn more about how you life resume can actually set you apart, watch this TED talk:
For more inspiration on how to build "identity capital" and why it is important, watch this TED talk: