Independently Wealthy, Right?

You’re rich, right? You travel around the world at your leisure and don’t worry about a thing.Skydive Fiji You don’t have a day job, do you? You’re playing and living and indulging your “bucket list” in luxury. Are you really in need of anything? These are the comments I receive on a regular basis and I’d like to take just one post and one post only to discuss it and then dismiss it because I don’t feel like I need to give it any more of my time.

So… here it is. Here’s my background.

I have a beautiful life filled with travel, adventure, love, and family but it’s because I made it that way. Most people assume I was born with money, but that’s not true. I’m not rich, with money, and I work darn hard to make my life what it is.

Dalhousie University DormI went to university for 7 years and worked two jobs while I was there. I was a full time student with student loans and I worked at Statistics Canada and a call center to get by. I ate Mac & Cheese (Kraft Dinner in Canada) almost daily and I walked two miles to school and three miles to work every day, even in the severe winters of Halifax, Nova Scotia. I volunteered at an elementary school and the hospital during any other free second that I had. Life was busy but full. I managed to travel to a few countries during this time. By volunteering at camps and working in schools, I was able to see the world. There were times that I tented, slept in cars, and found the cheapest hostel possible, but I make it work. I found ways to travel and experience the world because there was too much out there not to.

Run for the Cure Pink Hair

I taught high school for another 8 years and worked another job on the side to pay for myNorway House experiences. I coached basketball, volleyball, and soccer so I could develop a deeper connection with the students and explore the provinces where I was working. I was the editor of the school newspaper and tutored students on the side. I worked in a remote community in Northern Canada to pay my student loans and I lived in isolation. I may complain about the cold in North Carolina, but it’s nothing compared to the -60°C that happened from October to March in Norway House, Manitoba. International travel was restricted to the summers because I had over $60,000 student loan to pay. I did take the summers, though, to volunteer, teach, and work in others countries.

I don’t think anyone in my blogging community knows that this is my second marriage. I married young and while my ex-husband is a wonderful person who deserves all the happiness in the world, we were not right for each other. After spending a decade together, we finally separated and it was at that moment that I decided living a “regular” life was not for me. Being ok with the ordinary was no longer acceptable. It was then that I realized that the more unrealistic I am with my dreams and goals, the more I’m able to achieve.

Costa Rica PoolWhen I met Darren, my husband, I saw life with new eyes. We decided what was important in our lives and found ways to make it happen. We don’t spend money on the typical things that eat up a large part of an income. We rarely buy new clothes and when we do, it’s usually secondhand. An evening of entertainment is a movie at home, homemade popcorn, and if we really splurge – McDonalds. I don’t wear make-up and I even cut my own hair. We could easily go an entire week without spending a cent. We do this because those things are not important to us; what is important is travel and adventure so we put our money toward the things that make our life full.

We consciously chose where we wanted to live in the world and moved. It was as simple as that. Darren applied for a job, we sold everything we owned, and drove to California. Now that we have Athena, North Carolina is more of a family environment so we moved again.

Turtle Rock California

Since we met later in life, my student loans were paid off and we were able to use my income for travel and Darren’s income to pay our bills. We spent the last few years living in a modest apartment and driving our modest cars. Rather than splurging on a huge apartment with all the luxuries, we lived well within our means and used the money for exploring, creating new experiences and life.

Then, I started blogging. It was the accumulation of all of my dreams come true. I write and write and write; I’m addicted. I’ve made it my career. If I’m not writing, I’m connecting with others in the blogging community and finding new and unique ways to utilize social networking. This is my job. It may not seem like work, but should anything that you plan on doing for the rest of your life?

Now, my blog is seeing enough success that I’ve been able to have some of theseheliskiing unbelievable experiences in exchange for media coverage. I’ve used that to help others make their dreams a reality during my year and a half of blogging. People send me there bucket lists regularly and I do everything in my power to make them a reality. You can see examples here: http://www.bucketlistpublications.com/category/we-make-it-happen/. I organized and found a way to offer these experiences for free for my readers. One reader drove a NASCAR and hung out in the pit with the crew, another reader went skydiving, and another went heliskiing. (These are just a few examples.)

I hope all of your dreams come true and you stop at nothing to make them happen.

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

421 thoughts on “Independently Wealthy, Right?

  1. Hi. Yours is one of the very first blogs I ever followed and still to this day is only one of about 15 I look at. I have marveled at your success and taken all of your advice to heart. I’ve emailed you and received great responses and for that I am thankful. I am a believer that anything is possible and I do think that fear is the only thing that holds us back. My mother taught me you can do anything and I look at your amazing success as a testament to that. I read your blog and check in often because it inspires me to make my own wishes come true. I always feel like there’s more I want to do and experience and I will continue to push for it all. It’s what life’s about, right? Thank you for posting this. It has inspired me even more. I wish you years and years of further success. Way to go. -S.

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  2. Good for you!
    It’s sad when people see someone living a dream life and they automatically assume they were born with wealth. Why don’t people realize that by working hard, we can achieve whatever we want?!
    Inspiring story, and good luck with your contest! 🙂

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  3. Lesley, I hear it all of the time. What an easy job you have being a photographer, You’re so lucky to live in Hawaii. What a lucky shot. Right place at the right time. You must have the best camera equipment, that’s not real, it must be photoshopped etc…. I’m living a lifestyle I worked hard to achieve and I continue to do so. I also do without most things people take for granted and I’m fine with it. Its a lifestyle choice. Most people have no idea what I go through to capture the majority of my images. Everything I did early in life led me to this great lifestyle. I drive a Jeep from the last century. If something doesn’t directly relate to my adventures, I don’t buy it. I figured you made it all happen through both hard work and brains. Good luck with the contest. There will always be doubters and haters. I ignore them as they are wasted energy 🙂

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  4. Rock on chick! You are definitely an inspiration for all of us to dream bigger and reach higher. Although you didn’t have to give the explanation it was quite an interesting backstory. Very cool, and definitely rooting for you 🙂

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  5. That was a great read as usual. I shouldn’t be surprised about people’s assumptions, but somehow knowing that you get those type of negative comments does surprise me because your blog is so positive and uplifting; but it’s great you don’t let those comments get to you.

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    • I always try to remain positive and when those types of comments come in, I just delete them and move on. Today, though, I just felt like discussing it. Maybe many other travel writers or bloggers in general deal with similar situations so I wanted to share that I’m not deterred and they shouldn’t be either 🙂

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  6. I enjoyed reading that. I am a newcomer to your blog so this answers a lot of questions for me! I would love to make my dreams a reality too. I’m similiar to you, but I’m still out in that isolated Norway Cabin (figurativley speaking)! Good luck with your contest.

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  7. Your blog is inspiring and I have thoroughly enjoyed following it over the past year and a half. I have watched as this blog has grownband exploded into the wonderful blog it is. You have worked hard to achieve your goals and continue to do so. I am in the process of changing my lifestyle that includes more living and traveling and less working at a job that is unfulfilling. I know my ideas are unconventional and I’m alright with that. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest. You are an inspiration! Keep it up 🙂

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  8. Great post. Making my vote now !
    Agree totally that you drive your own direction if life. If you unhappy with the direction then you make the effort to change it. Not complain about it.

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  9. You told me a lot of this on my with the post I made for you, http://michelledicken.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/following-your-dreams/

    It blows me away the amount of drive and determination that you have. I think one day you should write a book about your experiences. Your life is the one I always wanted to have but never really knew how to get it. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post and am SO happy you shared your life with us!

    Oh and BTW…. I think you really ARE going to win this!

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  10. I think it’s such a shame that you have had to write this post as people are so busy concerning themselves with your personal life. I often have a similar response when I tell people we are going back to Disney World, they think I have money to burn! What they don’t see is that we work our socks off for a year in advance, save every penny we can and cut down on as many luxuries as possible to give our children (and us) the most magical and wonderful two week holiday.

    I think your post was very eloquently put and I was interested to read more about you as a person as you inspire me to push for more in life. The thing that surprised me most was the short amount of time you have been blogging for – your blog is so professional that I had assumed you had been blogging for years and years.

    I wish you the very best of luck with the competition and have my fingers crossed for you!

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  11. I think you deserve to win. Really, I do! I have a friend with whom we’ve promised ourselves that we will travel round the world together no matter how old we get, cause right now we just can’t afford it. To see you achieve your goals is inspiring, and I’d like you to go, so I can read about it from your blog.
    Good luck, from Nigeria! 😀

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  12. Got my vote too.
    And respect for taking a clear look at what you want and what is possible and going for it.
    Keep on.
    (And I also like your line about the more unrealistic the better.)

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  13. Knowing what you want is the first step to achieving it, working hard is the second. Go on Lesley… and be an example for Athena. Of course you’ve got my vote. I’ll keep my finger crossed

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  14. We all love stories, and compelling stories are inspiring! You’ve highlighted what few ever realize: Most things in life come down to CHOICE. I’m so glad you chose to live your life in a way that brings meaning to it! I also hope (in fact, I’m SURE) this post will prompt even more people to vote for you in the BBB List contest! 😀

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  15. Great blog. And totally necessary. It’s necessary because you lead a life that others admire. It’s necessary because it shows people that they can do it too. When people say to you “you’re rich? Right?” it’s not that they necessarily believe you’re loaded to the gills with green. But what they do believe is that within their current situation, their current framework of comprehension, that what you have is not possible for them no matter how they want it. If you WERE wealthy, it would confirm for them their inability to lead such a life should they choose to lead it. This blog is necessary mostly because by removing the illusions of wealth, or special circumstance, you challenge people to challenge their status quo. Most will never accept the challenge…but those that do will change their lives.

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  16. Hi Lesley,
    I never once gave it a thought as to how come you get to do all these things and how do you make it possible. I firmly believe that whatever it is, if it’s something that makes you happy and something that makes you who you are, you just have to go ahead and make it happen. At times, you’ve got to ignore what people have to say, as not everyone is genuinely pleased for another. I’m glad that you’ve finally found what makes you happy, when it comes to family as well as adventure! 🙂 I hope you get the desired vote count so you can make yet another dream come true. Lots of luck, Juliana x

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  17. You are such an inspiration. I am still studying at university at the moment but I can’t wait to start travelling as soon as I graduate and save up enough money. Can I ask, when you travel do you take your daughter with you? One thing I am very conscious of is making sure I see as much of the world as I can before I become a Mother.
    Thanks and good luck! 🙂

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  18. Whooaa haha, congrats! this blog really really amazing! good shot of photos. Id love to travelling too, but i think climbing and freelanding is the best haha. Thanks for visiting my blog, keep visit each other . GO bucket list

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  19. You didn’t need to explain any of this. I’m glad you did because it is a great story. With great lessons. Work hard. Choose your priorities. Live your life as the valuable gift it is. Thank you. 🙂

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  20. “at that moment that I decided living a “regular” life was not for me. Being ok with the ordinary was no longer acceptable. It was then that I realized that the more unrealistic I am with my dreams and goals, the more I’m able to achieve.”

    Yes! I know that well-intentioned but empty pity smile people give me when I tell them about my dreams. Sure, maybe I am out of touch with their reality, but they can keep it!

    Awesome, awesome, awesome post! good luck!!

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  21. I’ll be honest with you….when I first found your blog (I can’t remember how I came across it, possibly on Freshly Pressed) and browsed through the posts about all the amazing things you are doing in your life, I assumed that you *are* independently wealthy. I wasn’t jealous and I certainly wouldn’t make spiteful comments but I thought that surely someone who does all these things must have a lot of money.

    Thanks for sharing your story! The knowledge that you have worked hard for what you do is a big inspiration to me and many others. 🙂

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  22. Hi Lesley, I think it’s a shame that you’ve had to justify your life but I am getting exactly the same sort of question with my imminent move to Turkey and a less frantic life. You are right – you just make things happen and I find you end up becoming a hell of a lot less materialistic. I couldn’t have done what I am doing now a few years ago because I wanted THINGS but I’ve now realised that it is experiences and memories that give you a full life, not the latest DVD or bit of designer clothing. I think what you’ve done is amazing and you are an inspiration to me. If I can go on and achieve even a small amount of what you’ve achieved I’ll be very, very happy…and if a Bucket List item brings you to Southern Turkey you know you’ve got a place to stay…

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  23. I’m sorry for the circumstances of your writing the post, but I’ve certainly enjoyed getting to know you better. Maybe you will inspire others to live less with things and yearn for experiences. Your adventures are always exciting to read about. Good luck!

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  24. Very few people appreciate hard work, but when they see others reap the benefits of hard work, they will often try to put you down. It is really sad that you had to clarify things due to a few comments. You got my vote. I hope you win this and manage to cross many more things off your bucketlist.

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  25. Pingback: Independently Wealthy, Right? | cherylhardacre

  26. This was such a great article and read. Very inspiration and should be a lesson that you can’t wait around for life. If you want something really bad, you need to go after it and make it happen. Even if you are faced with every obstacle, you will reach your goals if you want it that bad.

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  27. Hey. That’s so inspiring. Good on you!!! If you’re going to do things you want to do with your life – you have to put the work in first and that’s just what you’ve done! :)What I love most about it is your use of pictures. They really work to tell your story. Keep going I like reading about your exciting adventures. Jemiluce

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