Saturday, June 13, 2009

2012: Gap year of travel. Pay it forward...

Recently a series of inspiring events occurred that opened the possibilities of realizing a personal dream. I've always wanted to invest one year of my life road-tripping across this beautiful unique continent of ours, the americas. However, when you're two with solid careers, a mortgage, dogs, and typical daily responsibilities of being human in Canada, the romantic notion of up and leaving it all behind to pursue a dream can sound, well, irresponsible and maybe a little disillusioned.

This past year I have been a little, ahem, addicted to a travel documentary on the OLN channel called Departures, in which three young Canadian men do just that- they leave their lives behind to travel the world. Childhood friends Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach host the show candidly as themselves, while their friend, award-winning cinematographer Andre Dupuis, captures each memorable moment on camera.

Recently I joined the web-community of Twitter with the idea of promoting my blog and paintings to anyone and everyone who might share my interests. If you are familiar with the strange world of Twitter, you'll understand how rare it is to get a 'direct' message from someone who actually took a moment to check out whatever it is you are trying to promote. Last I checked, I had over 500 'followers'. Only three ever contacted me to comment on my artwork! One was from an interesting username 'travel x 4'. Have you ever had a good feeling about something, and listened to an inner voice direct you towards taking action on that 'good feeling'? I was curious, so I clicked on her link. By doing so, my life as I know it will never be the same. What I learned, was that 'travel x 4' is a family- Philly Markowitz, Myke Dyer, and their two children aged 10 and 13 - planning an extraordinary journey. This September they will be heading out on a 10-month long road trip through the americas- east across Canada, and as far south as Guatemala and Belize, then back up the west coast. Here is their amazing story:

Philly and I started a dialogue which led to her asking me if she could 'couchsurf' at my home when they arrive in the Halifax area, to which I responded YES! My husband and I would be 'hosting' Philly and her family of four as they camp out on our lawn and share stories over dinner together. Her Twitter site actually links to her couchsurfing site. A month or so before I met Philly, I heard about through a friend. I checked it out and realized this would be the perfect way my husband and I could afford to travel to Hawaii and also enjoy a richer experience by meeting like-minded interesting local folk while we're there. So I joined.

As I read Philly's story, our seedling idea to travel the americas felt much more possible. My husband and I had already been discussing the idea and how could we do it. The plan would involve renting out our house once our mortgage was paid off. We would start saving money before then. I'm an emerging professional artist, and am hoping that once 2012 comes around, I'll be selling paintings more regularly. So our income would consist of rent money and painting sales. I would also plan to paint while we're on the road, plein-air style, and sell as I go. I might still be able to do some computer work for my current employer. Stefan could pick up construction and handy-man jobs. Our mode of transportation would be truck and camper. We'll have to think about tradeing in our current truck and car for a more fuel-efficient truck. Hopefully all these bail-outs will finally result in eco-friendly transport options. If you're a Departures fan and saw season one Canada: Pushing North, that's the camper style we would buy. The kind that sits on/over the truck. I'm sure we could find a decent used one somewhere. Every day we would pursue a new adventure- canoeing, hiking, camping, try hang-gliding, snorkeling, fishing, etc. I would document our experiences- the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright hilarious- in writing, photography, and on video. I'll be trading in my current camera for a good digital SLR, and somehow borrow or rent a video camera. So when I read that Philly and her family will be couchsurfing and working in exchange for room and board, I thought it was a brilliant idea. We will also couchsurf 3 days a week or so. There is no better way to meet amazing new friends, experience true local life, new foods, and save money.

This is a dream I haven't shared with many people since it is still in the mulling stages. Some will think we're impractical, crazy, irresponsible... Others will be positively supportive and encouraging. And, hopefully, a few will be inspired to pursue their own adventures and make their dreams a reality. Their reactions will also be their divide. I feel we are moving into a new age; energy is shifting, the Earth is under great stress and is in the process of purifying. Now more than ever in the history of our planet, humanity needs to come together and break down our barriers. There are so many ways of spreading positive energy; couchsurfing while traveling is a great channel to do so.

We originally chose 2012 as the best year to embark on our voyage simply because it is the year we will celebrate becoming mortgage-free. I will be 37 years old. Stefan will be 40. If we have a little one by then- and Mother Nature willing we will be so blessed- then what a more wonderful and rare experience that would be, for our child to spend a crucial early stage of life with both parents! When I shared this dream with a friend yesterday morning, she made me remember that 2012 is also the time of transition between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius. I got goose-bumps instantly! What an incredible privilege to be alive and experience this period in history!! The last great shift occurred 13,000 years ago. I don't believe December 21, 2012 is Armageddon, The End of Time, Doomsday, as fear-mongers will have you believe. I feel we are moving toward a united consciousness, a heightened energy, waking up from our self-destructive path. This is something that has already begun. The Earth needs this shift if it is to survive. We all need it. But of course there will be a divide in human consciousness. Some will resist and choose fear and ignorance and go on destroying each other and the Earth. But I like to believe most will see the good. It is ok to be afraid of the unknown and the great changes we are facing. But only for a brief moment. Change is the only constant in our universe, so resisting change is resisting to live in the moment. Let's appreciate our lives, love our selves, our friends and families, and understand that we all share this beautiful planet, and to live accordingly. If we are to survive, we must respect it. 

The fragility of life can be overwhelming sometimes. Yesterday I learned that a friend's father-in-law died suddenly when his heart inexplicably filled with blood. He was 50 years old. For years we have had a pair of rabbits living on our property. I have never seen baby bunnies. Our rural neighborhood also has a pair of mating ducks. They've never had ducklings that I have seen. Watch the Weather Network, the National Geographic channel. The destruction of species is alarming; the weather patterns are becoming more extreme and unpredictable. While I am still young and have many more years to go, I'm feeling a little anxious about fulfilling my dreams now, and not waiting too much longer. There are too many what-ifs to put off dreams until I'm retired, like so many people convince themselves they must do, that it is the responsible thing to do. There is no doubt sea-levels are rising, tsunamis are more prevalent, as are hurricanes, floods, drought, earthquakes, asteroid showers, etc. Just know that everything is as it should be, and that we are in charge of our destiny. The health of our planet is a direct reflection of the health of our hearts, minds, and spirits. Now is the time to make a difference...

If you have any wonderful dreams you would like to make a reality, why wait? If you love your life and where you are, if you feel something shifting and welcome the change, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'd love to hear stories about making dreams come true, that make my heart sing and fill our lives with hope. Let's call this paying it forward...

Websites to check out:

Architects of a New Dawn:

NASA: Is a new Solar Cycle Beginning?

21 December 2012: The Mayan Calendar End-Date:

The Spirit of Ma'at:

CouchSurfing: Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time!

Joy T-Shirts: Wear the World on Your Heart!

Deepak Chopra:

Effective Relief, Jane Moody:

A refreshingly positive and extremely informative book to read in preparation of our time of great change: The Astrology of 2012 and Beyond, by Cal Garrison


  1. Hi Daina,

    I recently found you on Twitter. So nice to connect with another Nova Scotian!I always find it so fascinating that when an idea is a passion, answers come in unexpected places! Wishing that your dreams come true and you get to go on a fascinating journey in 2012!
    Love your paintings too! All the best:D

  2. Wow Daina! Your posts are always so inspring! Your plans for 2012 sound amazing- I can't wait to hear more as you plan! I definately plan to check out!


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