She Wants Out But She’s Trapped – A Common Way of Life

Aliso Viejo House for Sale

She wants out of her huge mortgage and massive house that she hates cleaning herself, her car payments, her meaningless job, and her splurge spending habits used to find a happiness that can’t be bought. She has two kids, a ten year old that she never sees and a toddler that she puts in daycare all day so she can work at a job that she despises. Is this you? Is this similar to your life? I spoke to a lady two days ago at Renaissance Club Sport in Aliso Viejo, California and she’s done with her trapped life. She wants out. We’ve all been there at some point, but not many of us do something about it and when we do, we’re resented for it. If you’re not living the life you’ve always wanted, there is more out there and you can have it.

Riverview High School Prom

Life in eastern Canada, for me, was simple and connected. Teaching high school English in Moncton, New Brunswick was a challenging yet rewarding experience. I loved my students and my co-workers, some more than others of course, and the benefits of being a full-time, pension-receiving teacher who enjoys stress free summers and all of the holidays are ample to say the least. The short, two hour drive to see my family was a breeze and made “family time” a regular event. My boyfriend, now husband, Darren, was more than I ever thought possible in a man other than my grandfather and he made me see how beautiful life can be. His technology position allowed him to work from home and give us the quality time that I always desired. We’d traveled to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Florida, and the Bahamas during my summer vacation and he worked during the day from the hotel rooms. We owned a house and a boat, we finally paid off our cars and student loans, and we spent our evenings walking in the park where we first met; but there was something missing – the sunshine and opportunities outside the norm. We were living a typical suburban life and it wasn’t for us.

Sailing in New Brunswick

New Brunswick is not a frozen tundra with 24 hours of darkness, snow, ice and cold. It has gorgeous summers with light winds that make for a spectacular day sailing or boogie boarding in the Atlantic Ocean, but was that enough? Two months of sunshine followed by a cold, dreary season of extended winter was not my idea of a dream location. I was living a beautiful life and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything else, including my environment.

Darren asked me one evening if I could live anywhere in the world and have any job, where and what would it be? The question struck me off guard. Was he, too, unhappy with the New Brunswick surroundings? After a short conversation about the top places in the world, we both imagined life in southern California. It became an obsession for both of us and we scoured the internet for information about life in SoCal and considered what it would be like living that far away from our families.

Santa Monica California

After only two days of dreaming, Darren applied for a Software Architect position in Orange County and he was offered the job immediately. With a house and other “toys” we shrugged our shoulders at the offer and thought it was impossible. Putting the house on the market was our half-ass attempt at considering the possibilities. We posted it on the Canadian version of craigslist.com called kijiji.ca and said that if the house sold, we’d move. Well, just like that, in one week, we sold the house and almost everything in it. If we were looking for a sign, that was it. We put everything that we couldn’t fit in a small u-haul car attachment for sale, I resigned from my teaching position and we said our good-byes. There wasn’t a drawn-out, complicated process of decisions. Like the rest of our experiences since meeting, it was simple. We had what was important – a source of income and a partner in crime or in greatness.

US_Route_54_in_New_Mexico

The drive across the continent was a total of 55 driving hours in various conditions, although it took us 6 days because we stopped along the way to enjoy some uncharted territory for us. We drove through New Brunswick, where the first snowflakes had fallen on the frozen ground, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and ended in California.  5,780 km or 3,592 mi later, we drove directly to a Bank of America, opened a US account, found an apartment and moved in the next day.

Destination Wedding Jamaica

Since meeting Darren in April, 2010, we’ve moved in together, traveled to more than a dozen countries, experienced sky-diving, white-water rafting, surfing, bungee jumping, paragliding, zip-lining, helicopter touring, dog-sledding, hiking, rock climbing, trapeze swinging, camping, and river boarding, got married in Jamaica, and now have a toddler daughter who is becoming more and more like her parents every day. Moving to another country in two weeks was not only expected, but required.

We had obstacles and restrictions just like the woman that I met at the gym but we made a conscious decision to live a life better suited for us. The big house with the white picket fence is for most people and good for them for making their dreams a reality. That life takes courage and hard work too. It’s just not for everyone.

In January, I will embark on another life-changing journey. I will become part of the Bark Europa sailing crew on a 22-day journey to Antarctica. It will be the most difficult, rewarding, mind-altering adventure that I will take on my own, but after years of living outside of my comfort zone, I finally believe in myself and my capabilities. And most importantly, I have a supportive partner encouraging all of my wildest dreams.

To my friend at the gym, if you’re reading this, please choose what you desperately want over what you have and don’t need. The world is at your doorstep knocking; just go to the door and open it.

Have you considered leaving your job for something more? Have you considered moving to a new state, a new countries, a new continent? If you could live anywhere in the world and have any job what would it be? It’s time to live your dream life. 

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53 thoughts on “She Wants Out But She’s Trapped – A Common Way of Life

  1. What an inspiring story and a great post! I admire anyone who has the courage to follow their dreams, as you certainly have. We moved to France a great many years ago, and although my husband had family here, it was certainly an adventure for me coming from Toronto and not speaking much French. I can’t say that I’m living my dream life in every way, every day, but it sure feels that way some of the time. Especially since I took advantage of being laid off to start my own writing business. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A magnificent post yet again ~ a truly inspiring journey. Super congrats on your incredible task ahead to Antarctica. That is truly incredible and I can’t wait to see the images you will take there ! In 1999 I stared out of the window of my very well paid office job and would count the windows on the building on the other side of the road. I wondered if people should really aspire to years of studying then spend their life in a cushy office job where they worked in a giant concrete building all day without fresh air; get into the car; go into another house/box to eat and sleep and do it all again the next day. Within months I quit and went on my first trip to the Hawaiian Islands based on nothing more than loving Hawaiian proverbs I had copied into little books. I had two nights hotel accommodation and yet planned to stay a month ~ and it changed my life completely. Not just to open my eyes to a whole new world and culture; but also for the healing philosophy and outlook on the meaning of our lives. I know for sure it saved my spirit in many ways.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this exciting journey. It puts a smile on my face to read the ease with which you embrace life’s call. Some people hear this call and respond to it… it’s a gift you give yourself, your family and anyone who reads these words. I wish you all the very best in the continuation of the adventure…. and perhaps a book in the making?… I think you should!

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  4. I am from Australia and moved to Norway for seven months on student exchange, living in a different country with a brand new language gets you out of your comfort zone like anything, but, that doesn’t matter so much when it enables to travel whenever you feel like it and that wanderlust in the end, and knowing that you’ll go back one day (when you can afford it, again) is all worth it. You’re an amazing blogger, this post was fantastic! Best of luck.

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  5. In a way I would love to do what you just wrote about… I have a very good job (though it is only temporary) which already allows me to travel a lot, but in a way I feel I would like to travel away and not come back again… but that doesn’t earn me money… so some things cannot be changed and have to be accepted I guess…

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  6. Too many people don’t know what they want. The trap is the scary first step to unknown change. For others change provokes divorce. How liberating to feel and trust the support of change together as a couple! Congratulate your husband for his desirable talent and work ethic! That definitely helped get you two to your dream home location!

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  7. I had a nice corporate 9-5 job at a Fortune 500 company, big house in a nice neighborhood, and plenty of toys. It was miserable. Now, I live in a tiny apartment in a rough neighborhood, very quickly building my own business as an upscale babysitter. It’s scary giving up all of the security of working consistent hours. Sometimes I feel embarrassed when people ask what I do and I let on that I ditched corporate America for a bunch if toddlers, but then I look at the massive portable activity center now built into my car and I’m proud to have created a way to support myself, without giving up myself. I’m positive that’s not something most of the suits from my old job can say.

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  8. I would love to have the courage to move to my ancestral homeland of Denmark, but my love for my family is way too strong. They are me. My dreams are just that: dreams. Still life is unpredictable, and it could happen one day. If I was to MAKE it happen, I doubt that I would find it fulfiling and happy, at least the way I envisaged it, as there would be way too many expectations. My gr grandfather made a gutsy decision to move from Europe to the antipodes, but I am afraid unlike him and yourself, I am far more cautious. I will be interested to hear how things work out for you. I hope it is everything you want it to be

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  9. Congrats on your decisions so far! You’re lucky you’ve been able to accomplish so many of your dreams.
    So many of us are stuck in jobs and other situations we don’t really want to be in but can’t find the way(s) to get out of all that. I would love to just take off and go sailing like that, but I’ve already looked into it and those ships are very expensive (unless you go as crew -if so, pay is EXTREMELY LOW). It also helps if you’re young, fit and have no family ties.
    I can only hope I can save up enough so I’ll be able to do that kind of thing before I’m physically unable to.

    PS- it’s barque Europa
    a sailing ship of three or more masts having the foremasts rigged square and the aftermast rigged fore-and-aft

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  10. Hi Lesley,
    What a fabulous experience-22 days sailing to Antarctica but no doubt difficult as you will not see your daughter or husband for that amount of time. What an amazing adventure and what a gem your Darren is, willing to get up and go right alongside you. My husband is like that at times to.

    I’ve brought up both my kids with the encouragement to find a way to live the kind of life they want to live. My son is 21 and a Professional Freerunner, my daughter is 19 and has just returned from 3 months living on Koh Tao, Thailand, training as a Divemaster – exploring work possibilities. As her mum, knowing her love of technical diving – I came up with Underwater Navy Bomb Disposal. A way for her to stretch out of her comfort zone. But she will decide her way forward.

    We have experienced rough times, tough times and good times. Success and Failure. My kids were road schooled and home schooled in their teens and experienced prejudice and ignorance from those within our society and close to us. They were different!!!!!! From other peoples points of view. But we persisted.

    I even sold everything to move to NZ to create and live the dream I wanted – leaving my 19 yr old son in the UK to do it. Only to realise that it was the wrong time to leave him and come all the way back to the UK to start again. WHICH IS HARD! Without work or support. We don’t have huge connections or a lot of family support. MY parents are dead, my husbands mum is dead and we are estranged from family. I have come through a hideous marital breakdown and been assaulted with loss upon loss. Our most recent turn of events saw my husband experiencing a heart attack.

    I view myself as full of colour due to all of my experiences, needs, wants, desires and necessities. Being out of my comfort zone has meant having children and bringing up a family. In a way that to me is a very personal form of skydiving or abseiling, mountain climbing or bungy jumping. In my teens I was raped which has caused undue problems in my life and brought the reality of dying very much to the forefront of my life just at the point I was ready to jump off the ledge and fly into my own life.
    There has only ever been two things I would never risk in my life and those two precious beautiful people are my children. In the forefront of my mind they are ever present. Everything else is open to negotiation.

    If you never have a go at doing what you want, you never grow or learn personally, emotionally, spiritually or physically. It hasn’t been easy at times for any of us and sometimes it has been full of ease. Life is like that – I’ve learnt recently through all my upheaval and changes doing what you want doesn’t necessarily lead you along a path to happiness but it does teach you what is important to you.
    I say reach out – love, live and enjoy each moment. Take learning from the pain and be kind to yourselves and others and go for it. If you don’t succeed – you’ll learn. If you don’t learn, then you need to find out why.
    Life is for living and in the words of Mark Twain ‘twenty years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than the ones you did.’
    🙂
    Go for it!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m so excited for you! What an epic way to journey to Antarctica!! My dream life is a lot like Thoreau’s – I just want to be in the woods and out of the suburbs. I want to move back to New England and have a bed and breakfast in Vermont, where I can be at home, writing my novel. I’d love to work for the National Parks in the summer as a fire lookout to be alone for a few months of the year.

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  12. It would be interesting if Darren could chime in his views on your adventures. How does he feel about the role reversal of staying home keeping the home fires burning? There’s a new level of honesty in your posts that are very appealing. You and your husband are in this lifestyle together so hearing his side would really round it all out.

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  13. I did what you just did over 25 years ago and I have never regretted it. It was probably the best decision I ever made. However, touting SoCal as a great destination is not what I would have chosen… that is debatable. The big takeaway from your post is that more is less.

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  14. It’s cool to hear more about the background of where you started and where you’ve ended up. It sounds like Darren is an incredibly supportive husband and has similar dreams as yours — all the makings of a great marriage!

    We had a relevant but somewhat different epiphany regarding work. We had owned our software business for about 8 years and it had grown from nothing to supporting my family and about 25 employees/contractors. As the business grew, we upgraded our lifestyle with a larger home (3,500 sq feet), leased cars and more toys. Then the 2007 recession hit. Our revenue dipped and we began worrying about making payroll.

    My wife and I started taking account of all the unnecessary expenses in our life. We did not want to lay off any employees (we knew they were struggling too), so we sold our large house, got out of our car leases and bought a much smaller house. We purchased older cars, paying cash. We sold pretty much everything in our house that was not bolted down to the floor.

    Tightening our belt is what we needed. Fast forward 2 years later — we were living on much less and investing more into our business. Shortly thereafter, we made our largest software sale ever — to a game maker that any gamer would know. Later that year (2009), we got a call from a large NY investment firm wanting to buy our software business.

    That lead to us being financially independent and my wife retired immediately. I stayed on with the firm that purchased us for 2 more years and retired at 50 years old. Sometimes major life shifts pay dividends.

    All the best,
    Steve, http://www.aMemoryJog.com

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Everyone has a perfect place where they would love to live and for me it’s where I’ve lived all my life, Iowa. It’s not exciting and adventurous but it’s home. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy traveling, especially in the US and Canada. In the 44 years we’ve been married, we have managed to do a little traveling and with retirement soon we’ll do more. The thing is, our children and grandchildren are enough for us. With that said, I am finally living my dream of becoming a published author and it doesn’t matter if I become famous or not or make a lot of money. Will they sell, I hope so, but someone liked my stories enough to want to publish them. How cool is that! I’m living my dream!

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  16. What a inspiring post and congratulations on going to Antarctica at the beginning of the year. We are realizing one of our dreams this coming Spring and moving to a new state. Will rent for a year while we look for a house to buy. Dreams can come true and so glad that you are following yours ♥

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  17. I am learning to see the simple things close to me through a different glass. Travel (which, like you, I love) lightens me because it frees me of much of my usual “baggage.” I’m trying to apply the same lightness to familiar situations closer to home. To make them new by being present to them. The great New Brunswick (Shamper’s Bluff) humanitarian and photographer, Freeman Patterson, depends on his intuition for seeing the right composition in any place selected at random. I was always a little intimidated by the theories of photography. Now I am trusting my intuition more. An old SLR and a good macro lens are helping me find good things closer to home by simply following his advice and being present to them. As a Montrealer, I find where I am now comparatively dull, but the richness that the Trinidad connection (since my CUSO teaching assignment in 1965) brings and the fact that our kids and grands are close has sent deep roots into this naive, Ontario soil. Didn’t know you lived in NB. Also admire the adventurous way in which you followed, and still follow, the sun.Great post!

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  18. Life’s about choices, Lesley, as you often point out. And even more importantly, life is short, far to short to live in misery while daydreaming about escape. Peggy and I aren’t wealthy, but we have constantly made choices to follow our dreams. For example, right now I am sitting in our sun room looking out on beautiful mountains in southern Oregon. We live on five tree covered acres. Our house backs up to over a million acres of National forest on one side and the beautiful Applegate River on the other. A deer herd thinks it owns our property, and maybe it does. It is our dream location. We moved here three years ago. How can we afford this? We bought a 1500 square foot manufactured home. It’s comfortable, easy to clean, and we are always willing to lock it up and not worry about it when we take off on another adventure. Choices.

    A couple of notes: One, I bicycled across New Brunswick. Two, I am now blogging about the six-day sea kayak trip Peggy and I went on this summer with Sea Kayak Adventures looking for killer whales off the northeast corner of Vancouver Island. It was an incredible adventure that you might want to go on and share with your followers. The area is drop-dead beautiful. Check out my posts. –Curt

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  19. I always feel trapped, but then I think back on the fact that I am only 22 years old and I’ve already shared three apartments with my boyfriend and 8 years of struggles and successes and I realize that it’s all temporary. I obviously have a really strong mindset about my goals and am not one fear taking chances or pissing people off (they’ll just have to get over it). It’s still hard sometimes. There are days when I sit back and think of how pointless my job is and I just need school to be over with so I can move on to a life without any commitments to anyone’s dreams but mine.

    Thank you for posting this story. Reading your blog always makes me feel like the few of us who do what many deem impossible aren’t crazy after all. ❤

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  20. Brilliant post. Most people, for all sorts of reasons, never take a chance on life. On the treadmill without really even pausing to explore paths. It’s amazing how even small steps of change can be a ripple to a new direction and that which is best – the freedom to really live.

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  21. Excellent post! As someone who has pursued their dreams and the life I want I can second what you are telling this person and others like her. I too felt trapped as many do. But one day I finally got the courage to put a plan in action & go for it. Life is so very very short, you have to do the things you truly want to do, even if they go against convention. I love your story and the next big adventure sounds exciting. Cannot wait to read all about it!

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  22. Very jealous of your Antarctica trip – it’s the one continent that I am yet to reach.
    I emigrated from my native Scotland 3 years ago to live an exciting new life in New Zealand and haven’t looked back. Sometimes change is easy, other times it’s hard or scary. Sometimes it needs to be a little change and others a great big one. It’s all too easy to forget how important the little changes can be sometimes too and stepping outside the comfort zone is a great eye opener to inner strengths. Kudos to you for all you have achieved and strength and best wishes to everyone that needs that encouraging push out the door.

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  23. We moved to Mexico for 5 years, and I miss it so much. I came back to the U. S. for a job since pesos don’t go very far. I am always on the look out for adventure!

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  24. What a wonderfully written and inspiring story! Just proves that there’s always hope for all of us to have what we want. We just have to have faith and go for it. I’m 25 and i feel there’s all these things that I have to do before I settle down because when I do that is it, you’re locked in. That’s why I moved to Beijing, China for an adventure and in search of what is it that I really want in life. Yet you proved that no matter when in life you can take that step in a direction that you want, that brings happiness. Thanks for a great post!

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  25. I got to see John C Maxwell speak the other day, and he talked about intention. We have to live life with intention. That’s different from having good intentions. It’s what we do that counts. Congrats to you for living a life of intention and for your next journey!

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  26. I remember the day when, feeling trapped in my corporate “box”, I jumped ship, eventually left town, and found a great happiness in my life. The best thing I ever did. It’s been a few years ago; and now, some married and Mom years later – I am not trapped – but needing to make some changes. . . Your site here is a good reflecting spot. I blog, too, and appreciate your having stopped by.

    I am enjoying lots of your posts and remember your having stopped by my blog some years ago when I first began my blogging adventure – I visited you then, and have never forgotten your good and inspiring work.

    I hope to follow some of your blogging advice. Will stay in touch.

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  27. Absolutely enjoyed this post. I am considering moving out of the country next year, most likely applying to Teach English Abroad programs. It is so scary to think of moving to an entirely different continent all on my own, but love to know I am not the only person looking for an unconventional lifestyle.

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  28. Lesley, this is a great post, timely even. I have used the word “trapped” to describe where I am in my life but that isn’t accurate. I dreamed of a life and I got that life, only I discovered that this dream I had dreamed, no longer fits the woman that I want to be.
    Stretching outside of my comfort zone is what keeps me moving and dreaming but my partner is not a dreamer and loathes the thought of moving outside of his comfort zone. I could probably push and cajole him to try things my way but isn’t that forcing my dream life on him?
    I know that I am going to have to release myself from this gilded cage (for lack of a better description) and your posts continue to give me the courage and determination to dream of a different life.
    I don’t know the woman in the gym but I connect with her problems.
    It’s hard to change when everyone thinks you’re even crazy for dreaming, out loud.
    Even still, I am going to go further out on a limb, come what may.
    Thank you.

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