The Anniversary of an Unconventional Life

by gigigriffis

It’s been a year since I sold my things, gave up my lease, packed up a backpack and a small dog carrier, and took off around the world.

Since then, I’ve hiked the Swiss Alps, wandered the streets of Paris, learned to salsa in Mexico, made pizza in Rome, and fallen back in love with my life. My highly unconventional, ridiculously free, unpredictable life.

I am so grateful.

And in that gratitude, I’ve found a beautiful, ever-present joy. Joy which wells up, grows, and expands the more grateful I become…making me feel even more free, joyful, grateful, and content. Joy that I can call on whenever I’m having a bad day and need a reality check. Joy that makes me want even more to see everyone else around me grateful, joyful, free, and content. Joy that makes my capacity to love grow ever bigger.

This is what I want to talk about today, on the day that marks this massive milestone for me, the milestone of choosing my own path:

Joy. And love.

It always comes back to love, doesn’t it?

This past year, I’ve learned so much. About love. About joy. About taking hold of your dreams with both hands, continuing to kick fear in the face, and how to really live. I’ve battled my demons, my anxiety, my depression. I’ve taken risks. I’ve learned to love myself. And I’ve learned to love my life.

I’m sure I still have so much to learn. But I’m grateful for how far I’ve come.

And I want to share.

Obviously, I write here about what I’m learning on the road. About how I lost and then found my mojo. About how a subtle shift in the way we approach our fears can change them into opportunities. About how I want to be sexy and what that really means.

But I want to do something bigger.

Because recently, I asked myself (as I often do), What do you want this year, Gigi? And the answers were big and beautiful:

I want to inspire, love, and share. I don’t want my lessons to be just my lessons. I want every precious thing I’ve learned and done to be yours too. I want to change the mindset of a culture. I want people to know that there’s something beautiful and unexpected waiting for them if they go for it and “work tirelessly to make [their] souls happy.”

In other words, I want to write another book.

So this is the part where you guys—my readers, my friends—are the first to hear that I’ve started mapping out chapters for a new book.

The working title is The Good Girl’s Guide to Living a Badass Life.

Think of it as a (super practical) love letter from your badass big sister about kicking fear in the gonads, grabbing onto your dreams with both hands, and changing both your own life and the world. Think of it as your guide to quitting that crappy job you hate, being your own boss, traveling the world, and falling in love with your life.

It’s still in its earliest stages, but I think it’s going to be big.

Which is why I need your help.

I need your help shaping the book. So if you haven’t already sent me an email (or left a comment) with your most pressing questions about starting a business, quitting your job, living a location independent life, etc., please do! What you guys want to know about is what I want to write about. Ask me your questions; tell me your stories; tell me what I can do for you specifically.

I also need your opinions. What do you think of the working title? Does it get you excited? Would you buy that book?

Finally, I want to thank you for reading, for writing to me, and for supporting me. Writing another book is, quite frankly, a little terrifying (but, hey, I keep telling everybody to face their fears, so I guess I should keep doing it myself, right?). Diving into the world of agent queries and book proposals is daunting. But every time I get a note, a comment, or a question, every time I see my blog’s numbers jump just a little higher…I feel encouraged to keep moving forward.

So thank you.

Even as I say that I want to inspire you, know that you all inspire me too.

Love,

Your Newly-Minted One-Year Nomad,

Gigi

P.S. If you’d like to keep in the book loop (and maybe even give me another opinion or two), you can sign up for either my regular email list (which means you’ll get blog posts in your email as well as the occasional book email) or this brand-spanking new email list (which will make sure you only get book emails and updates, not blog posts).

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23 comments

Heather May 30, 2013 - 7:24 am

In the past, when I’d be fed up with my life and my job I’d start perusing the CareerBuilder website for a new job, get a new job, and realize I was as unhappy in the new job as the old one. After years of soul-searching and asking myself the really hard questions, I’ve been able to change my life in baby steps – divorce, my own place, my own dog, my own part-time business… and now the journey to becoming completely self-employed. I realized that I have to make my own job; not rely on someone else to provide it for me. This sense of freedom and control is intoxicating. So, a topic for your book may be to create a job for yourself that you love rather than endlessly searching for something that will never be just right! Good luck Gigi… you have been an inspiration!

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gigigriffis May 30, 2013 - 8:42 am

Thank you!

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Marin May 30, 2013 - 9:39 am

Okay, I have a question! I’m currently on a cautious path to quitting my full time job (yes, the one I’m sitting at right now)and taking on more freelance work so I can wander around the world a bit. I’m 25 right now and don’t really have any big responsibilities tying me here – but I do have great friends, family, connections, and a life that I DO love…if I could be sure that I would come back to all of it in tack I would leave tomorrow, but I’m scared that I will come and everyone will have moved on with their shinny urban lives without me. Is that a fear and possibly a fact I just have to deal with?

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gigigriffis May 30, 2013 - 12:29 pm

Hey Marin,

As Roommate #1 says so eloquently below: yes, you will change and your friends will change and life will change, but really great friendships and family ties very often weather the distance and the changes. And perhaps you’ll return to find your life still wonderful and full of friends, but all the richer for the new and different experiences you’ve had along the way.

I’ll also tell you what my lovely and brilliant therapist told me when I expressed a similar worry: you can always come back. If you change your mind, if you need to return for a project, if you need to be with your friends, you can buy/change a plane ticket at any time. You can come back and visit. You can come back and stay. You always have an exit if you need it (https://gigigriffis.com/you-always-have-an-exit/).

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Roommate #1 May 30, 2013 - 10:40 am

I have to chime in here in response to Marin’s question. I left a similar situation to be abroad for six months (maybe you’re thinking of more or less time, but I think this still applies). I’ll admit I cried a little when I left, because I loved my life and my friends and my family where I was. You will miss out on some things while you’re gone, and your friends and family will grow and change (and so will you) while you’re away.
But the connections and relationships you have at home will not disappear on you. Remember that those people will miss you a whole lot, too, so write emails and send pictures home often – maybe even send back some Italian olive oil or some Swiss chocolate or bring home some hand-made gifts from Africa. :)
You will find that when you get back, you will still have the friends and family ties you had before, in addition to having new friends all over the world.
All that being said, definitely pack your bags and go find some adventures. You will not regret it. Bon voyage!

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Rebeca May 30, 2013 - 12:13 pm

First off He** yes I would definitely buy the book. As for just a few suggestions might be to include a few handy things such as what to pack, weather depending upon where in the world you are going and time of year, how hard it is to get a passport from the US and how to avoid the lovely baggage fees at the airport.
Guess you can tell I have not traveled in well like forever.

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gigigriffis May 30, 2013 - 12:33 pm

Excellent. Thanks!

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica May 30, 2013 - 6:19 pm

I like the title. Hurry up and finish it, so I can read it :-)

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gigigriffis May 30, 2013 - 10:24 pm

Haha – yes, ma’am!

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Kim May 31, 2013 - 3:17 pm

I *love* the title!

I am at a different point in my life. I am retired and taking care of my 85-year-old father who is having some health issues. I know I won’t be blessed with the opportunity to care for him forever, and I am trying to think of interesting options.

I’d like information about how one goes about finding furnished places to live for a while. Usually, when I have traveled, it has been of the youth hostel variety. While that is good for a couple of months, it doesn’t sound like what I want to end up doing.

I’ve been thinking of getting a small travel trailer and giving up the house and seeing more of my own country – and maybe Canada.

Right now, I am living on my pension and part time gigs I can fit in around the Daddy care.

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gigigriffis May 31, 2013 - 5:49 pm

Wow. That’s amazing of you – taking care of your dad like that.

I love the idea of getting a small travel trailer and taking off by land. (In fact, my little sister and her boyfriend are about to do something very similar.)

As for furnished rentals, I’m a big fan of Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/tell-a-friend?airef=ld1nz54ab3zz5). There’s also Wimdu, though I haven’t used it personally. And in the US, Craigslist also often has short-term furnished rentals – just search their housing section for “furnished” and you may come up with something lovely.

Will definitely do some more posts on the topic in the future as well. :)

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Jonathan Welford June 2, 2013 - 12:49 am

Okay Gigi I’ll get involved with this discussion.

I packed everything up rented out my home and went travelling with my husband, we were away for a year, living in Turkey, Berlin and Thailand (yep I know, a bit of an usual mix, but hey it worked for us.) We took the time out to re-align our lives. We wrote and wrote and wrote, we both found publishers for our separate fiction books, and together wrote and published three relationship coaching books. Our output was magnificent. We wanted to realign our lives, and it worked, and my husband is now training to become a psychotherapist and I am writing full time and working part time. But I can’t get the wonderlust out of my system. I tried monthly weekend breaks away, but they just don’t cut it and are hideously draining and exhausting.

How can you adjust to returning to a static non travelling life? We’ve realigned our lives to a certain extent but the travelling wonderlust keeps taunting us.

How long do you feel you’ll be able to continue doing what you do? In five years time can you still see yourself living out of a suitcase? Is the long term desire not to set some roots down?

I don’t think I would be able to completely sell up and be a forever nomad, but the element of freedom it gives is amazing, however I really like knowing i have a base as home.

I look forward to reading your book.

Jonathan

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gigigriffis June 2, 2013 - 6:02 pm

Thanks, Jonathan. Will have mull over some of those questions.

But as for the five-years-time question, I’m not sure I’ll ever have the answer to that one. One of the things I’ve been learning about myself is that I thrive when I give myself the flexibility to follow my instincts and passions. Currently, they say to keep traveling, but as soon as they tell me to settle in someplace, grab a visa, or split time between places, I’ll do that.

One of the big lessons of life on the road, for me, has been to spend more time really living in the moment, enjoying the now, and not worrying so much about tomorrow. So in five years? Who knows. All I know is I still want to love and inspire. I will probably want to write (that desire has been around my whole life and I don’t see it going anywhere). And I definitely want to hang onto this hard-fought joy.

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Jonathan Look, Jr. June 2, 2013 - 10:53 am

Excellent Gigi! I celebrated two years on the road on May 31st. I feel like a kid and with a life like this I NEVER want to grow up. Congratulations!

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gigigriffis June 2, 2013 - 6:07 pm

Congrats on your two years! And thanks!

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Melissa June 2, 2013 - 11:01 pm

One thing I hear a lot of is “quit that crappy job you hate”. What about that job that you really quite like but want a change from? It’s much harder when you genuinely like the people you work for and (for the most part) the work you do but have just gotten tired of a physical location. It seems to be one angle that people don’t talk about much.

As for the book title, I really like it at first blush although it has a bit of a self-help air about it (which I guess is what it is so that’s ok).

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gigigriffis June 5, 2013 - 10:47 am

Really excellent question. I think the principles of quitting and change are the same, though your motivation may be different than someone who hates their job.

Thanks for the feedback!

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Emma June 9, 2013 - 1:12 pm

You’re an inspiration, my dear. I would love advice on the whole starting your own business thing. I’m so sick of working for other people, but I’m not really sure what I want to do. I would love to keep working in film but I’m finding that it’s harder and harder to find paying work as a freelancer (everyone wants you to work for free…). I love making films or videos, I enjoy writing, I like to plan events, and I would like to use these skills sets somehow to set myself up in a way that whatever I’m doing, I can work from anywhere, so that I have the option to be a nomad such as yourself. Thoughts on what might be a good business for me?

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gigigriffis June 9, 2013 - 2:01 pm

Hola!

I believe that the Wynns of http://www.gonewiththewynns.com are doing film work while traveling full-time, so definitely check out their site and feel free to drop them a line (I’ve met them live once and they’re super nice people – I’m sure they’d be happy to answer any questions).

As far as business ideas go, pretty much anything you can do from a computer, you can do from the road. So perhaps start by making a list of the things you love doing, whether you can do them from a computer, and how a career of doing that thing might look like…and then ask your heart how it feels about each option to start.

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Samantha July 6, 2013 - 4:28 pm

Congratulations Gigi on one-year of the beautiful traveling life! You are an inspiration to those of us who aspire to location independence and a life dedicated to the journey. I like the proposed title of your book. I will buy it when it comes out:) I would definitely like to hear more about the internal battles you face with a life lived in ever-changing environments. It is something I face myself and want to hear about how you overcome, accept, or even embrace those battles. I also want to hear some hilarious travel stories. Looking forward to connecting later this summer!

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gigigriffis July 7, 2013 - 9:37 am

Thanks, lady! Excellent questions. Will mull.

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