Digital Strategy Insights Marie Poulin

The year of couch-surfing

Wow. It’s been almost a year since I returned from my 3-month trip to Bali, Indonesia where I lived and worked for 3 months. It was a totally exhilarating year, full of lots of growth, change and uncertainty.

It would seem appropriate to look back on the last year, and summarize some of the things I learned in my year of living light and going with the flow.

First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to all of my friends that supported me along the way. I could not have done it without you! Thank you for your kindness in offering me your couches and beds, storing my things, and encouraging me to follow me dreams.

When I returned from Bali in late April 2012, things felt disjointed for me. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do next! I barely had any belongings other than my clothing, computer, and a few boxes tucked away in storage. I had experienced life in a way that I never had before. There were no real rules, and it was up to me to make decisions that would impact me from day to day. I lived with very minimal stress, and felt like I had opened up my mind to whole new possibilities. At one point I had actually considered cancelling my return trip home.

A few people have asked me why I chose to go from nomadic to planting roots again in Vancouver. The answer is not entirely cut and dry…

What I realized was that Bali was a bit of an escape from my previous reality, which I had not been happy with. I had gone through so many life changes at one time, and leaving the country was an easy way to make that reality disappear into distant memory. My soul needed that journey in a big way, there is no question about that. But there was something calling me back… unfinished business? friends? love? I can’t quite pinpoint what it was that brought me back, but ultimately, the thing that made me want to stay… was love. Within a few months of my return to Vancouver, I connected with an old friend — an American friend from Seattle, and we fell pretty hard for each other. The story of how this unfolded is pretty unusual, but that’s for another day 🙂

I spent the remainder of the year couch-surfing and border-crossing, trying to figure out how the relationship could work out logistically. Was it time to plant roots, or would I travel again? Would I need to get my own place in Vancouver? Could I move to Seattle (HA. Good luck moving to the U.S. as a self employed person!)?

Long story short, I lived between 2 cities without a permanent address, no employer, and no property in my name. This turned into very difficult, stressful and lengthy questioning sessions at the US Customs border! If we were going to make this work, I was going to need to have my own place as a home base in Vancouver.

And so, after 1 year of living on couches, I finally took the plunge and signed a lease on my very own apartment in Vancouver. Now we wait patiently with our fingers crossed that my partner will get accepted for permanent residency in Canada as a self-employed person.

Last year this time, I needed to unroot, rethink relationships (personal and professional), and lighten my personal possessions.

In time, I met the most amazing people; friends, mentors and clients alike. Once I spent some time thinking more consciously about the kind of life I want to live, and the kind of people that I want in it, they began to find their way into my life. This is not a coincidence; the universe has a way of showing you what you are ready to see.

2012 was the year of pushing boundaries, getting out of my comfort zone, and getting a better understanding my own strengths and weaknesses. It was the year of not saying no, and of taking chances. It was the year of massive spiritual growth, of forgiveness and letting go.

This year is a time for me to embrace a need to feel grounded, structured, and to plant roots. It is the year of conscious and mindful living. Of processes, structure, and workflow. Of love and energy, and holistic living.

I can’t possibly begin to summarize what I’ve learned in the last year, but if there is one thing that I can take away from the last year, it’s this:
The quality of your life is directly tied to the people you fill it with.

Do your friendships and relationships make you grow, or do they hold you back?
Do you feel inspired and encouraged? Do you feel like you can take on the world?
If not, maybe it’s time to more consciously consider the relationships in your life.

One of my missions this year is to continue to inspire and empower others to get out of their own way — to quit creating barriers to their own success. Take risks. Get real. Help others realize what their gifts are, and help them quit making up excuses as to why they can’t do it.

Grateful to all of you who’ve done the same for me in my journey.

Here’s to a year of mind-blowingly (yep, I just made up a word) awesome friendships and relationships.


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