Our First Year Pursuing Happiness

My expat life Hamori family
One year pursuing happiness
expats living in France
Our First Year Pursuing Happiness

August 2nd marks a year since we left Canada to find a new life. Here I reflect on our journey and try to put things into perspective.

What is the secret to happiness? What is the time/money ratio that would make life perfect? Balancing time together, time pursuing individual hobbies and interests yet always keeping it exciting and full of adventure. Seems like a tall order to fill, nevertheless, we should be pursuing our ultimate happiness.

Do we really have time to waste?

Everyone’s combination is sure to be different, although the common denominator for all would be the pursuit. This act along with the courage to change and to push the borders of your comfort zone can lead to an exciting life, one you are excited to wake up to everyday.

We are born into our families, brought up with their views, knowing their history and are conditioned to their values. We follow blindly as we grow up being who they mould us to be. To break free from that mindset, to follow your own interests can feel unnatural. To think outside the box and find creative ways to become that person you are supposed to, takes a leap of faith.

I had to first believe in me. For me, it took striping down to nothing; no home, no friends, no support, leaving with my husband and our two kids with little more than 2 suitcases to eventually find my version of happiness. We set off to Europe to look for our dream life and we gave ourselves a year.

On the road, confronted with my own limitations, the battle within began. For me, I struggled with what I believed and what I discovered along the way. I learned first hand what the world was actually like, not the North American spoon-fed version I was subjected to my entire life. The world expanded, my opinions changed, and I could see what North America looks like to the rest of the world. And honestly, I was shocked at how crazy we looked- working so hard, and enjoying life so little. We were chasing the dollar, and consuming, but not living authentic lives.

I learned to trust my own judgment and felt certain we could accomplish what we set out to do. Giving negative comments no power, I felt that the majority of people who stay put in their lives, do so out of fear. They don’t believe in their own abilities to succeed away from home.

Believing is achieving. We are all on this earth for the same amount of time, more or less and we learn as we go. No one’s position is better than others when it comes to finding happiness. We can be rich or poor, overeducated or undereducated, privileged or disadvantaged and we all have the same chance to be happy. It is really how we perceive trials and tribulations during our time on earth. We can let life weigh us down, or we can decide to be happy. Happiness comes from within, and decided upon long before any situation occurs.

With the same percentage of success or fail rate, what is the differing factor when chasing your dreams? I believe it is courage. It sets us apart from one another to go after what makes us happy. In turn, when you do what you love, the rest falls into place. Happiness is a contagious state of mind and one that attracts other happy and successful people. This then opens doors that doing the things you were not passionate about would not have opened.

Somewhere along the lines we realized that happiness does not equate income. For us, happiness was based on family time and not money. We decided to renovate our life and to find a life reflecting those time currency values. Saturated in a life influencing me not to change, I was a certain person. It was getting harder and harder to keep up the façade when I felt my character and my goals change.

The relocation, stepping out of the rat-race, checking out of the commercial lifestyle of consumption was just a small part of the growth I experienced. Where before, we based our life on working, buying things and working harder to keep up with our desires. Is this a life worth living? Some might think so, but not me.

Getting back to the basics was the step I needed in the process to find myself. Shedding layers of doubt, dealing with unresolved issues from my past, I found myself unable to run away any longer. Once the perpetual motion of our busy life had ceased, I took the long overdue time to deal with my demons. And after, there was calm and contentment.

It was just the four of us. No facade, no showy cars or house, just simply a family in sandals walking the streets of Europe looking for a new life based on time together. Learning as we went, we hoped to find the ideal life we were looking for.

Some people do not have to strip down to bare essentials to make changes in their life. I have heard of people making many small changes each day to become a better version of his or her self. For me, this was my combination.

How much money does a person truly need? At the end of my life, will I tell my grandchildren to pursue money? I hope not. Yet I hear it all the time. People pick their courses dependant on the income outcome and not their true passions.

Life’s too short to be unhappy. I want my family to find things that they love to do and go after those interests. Not everyone on the planet was made for finance or academic degrees. I feel we are losing viable additions to the arts and new business ideas as they have no avenue towards good income, especially right out of school.

At the end of my life, white haired rocking in my porch chair wherever we end up in the world; I hope to recall our travel with great fondness. I want to be that cheerful old gal wearing too much makeup and colourful clothes, who shares those amazing stories of the people met along the way, whenever I bump into people. I’d say, ‘I remember the time we went to Peru, swam with the sharks, and catmandu.’ or whatever amazing adventures my life may bring. Then, when I reach the end of my life and evaluate, I hope to be proud of breaking free from what society says I should have done. Once our currency changed from money to time, I could not deny how little value our former life had.

When did I realize we were on the right track?  I have no idea. Somewhere between Vancouver and Capestang there were little moments of clarity, knowing it would all fall into place. I had faith.

The moment I dropped the facade I cannot pin point either. Now what is left is a truer version of myself; more sure of herself, and no excuses; just me.

What are we doing? From home, we run our rental apartments both in Capestang and Budapest and I write about our family adventures on different online travel sites, which combines my true passions and income. I started small, testing the theory and hope it all falls into place. Now we seed, and we will see what grows.

Alfonz is renovating the house and starting up his own home based wine touring business. www.south-westy.com His passion is riding his motorbike and the weather allows him to make the most of his passion. We spend most days together building our life.

The best for us is meeting like minded travellers from all walks of life and corners of the earth, that believe as we do. Why is the world such a beautiful diverse place if not to be explored?

Not everyone’s dream is to move across the world, renovate a house and run a B&B in France. I understand that most people would panic at the thought of our new life in a foreign country with all its uncertainties; a new language and starting again at 40.

What is your life’s dream?

A year to the day since leaving Canada, the chance we took to change our life was the beginning of our adventure, the journey our education and the new life our reward.

Along the way we overcame weaknesses, drew on our strengths and learned to adapt to each other in small spaces for long periods of time. Travelling and working together as we go, the kids learn how to roll with the punches and adapt to change. Some days we wonder ‘what the heck are we doing?’ but most days I feel truly grateful to have the opportunity to search for something as profound as happiness.

Life’s a journey. I want to live my life fearlessly, and savor each moment… still pursuing happiness.


my expat life, France
I love my expat life


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