Tele work & Travel: How Do You Find Yourself Without Losing Your Clients

This week we have a guest blog from Hollie Olivia Whitehead of The Glamorous Monk. Hollie wrote to me after she read Location Independent Work + Travel Hacking.  Hollie practiced asking the Universe to give her a sign and then she released it and well – the rest is a fun journey to France that you might enjoy reading about.

Have you entertained working in a new or different location?  We’d love to hear from you. 

It all sounds fake, like a bunch of BS. But it’s the truth.France

I’ve just returned from nearly two months in southwest France where I stayed in a lovely stone home with pale blue shutters, surrounded by vineyards and oak trees. I spent my days doing whatever I pleased, with only the intention to write dancing in the back of my mind. I drank tea and read books. I napped in the sunshine on the terrace.

I can’t fathom what might be next and my socks are still blown off with how it all came to be.

You see, a few months ago I was sitting up in bed, pissed off at my journal, jabbing my black Pilot pen into its empty white pages. It was 1 a.m. The tears dribbled down my chin and a snot bubble was developing nicely. I was asking the Universe, no, scratch that, I was begging the Universe to answer me, What should I do with my life?

Sure, this is a rather complex question to pose in the middle of the night, but it’s what my ego was asking. In that moment I was deeply committed to believing my entire life sucks no matter what. It was messy. Soggy Kleenex quickly piled up.

Eventually exhaustion took over. I reasoned with the Universe, “Okay, I’m not making any decisions tonight, and not tomorrow either. I’ll just follow what comes up. So, show me what’s next, for cryin’ out loud.” Then I conked out.

The next morning I checked my messages. A girlfriend (who had been off the radar for months) emailed saying, “I’m house-sitting in France. Come visit!” She attached horrifyingly lovely photos of the stone house and its 16-acre property.

Holy crap.

If that wasn’t a clear ‘next step’ sign from the Universe, I didn’t know what was. The thing is, I have had a seven-year love affair with France and was scratching my head on how to manifest a trial run at living there. Her email was like 50-foot tall blazing neon sign saying DO THIS, YOU BONEHEAD.

The truth is I didn’t ‘decide’ to go to France as much as I chose to be ‘in flow’ with what the Universe showed me. And even though I’m pretty sure I have free will, I felt like I HAD to go.

Logistics meant Hubby had to stay home and hold the fort (ie: make money) and I had to scrounge up long forgotten British Airways miles to get there. But I got there.

My long-term marketing & research contract client understood how awesome this invitation was and I promised his monthly newsletters would still happen from abroad. For all the other loose ends I prepared information packages with checklists and handed them off to a competent and ridiculously organized colleague. Successful entrepreneurs say their secret is to hire the best people. Now I believe them.

I also believe a few other truths that surfaced during my French adventure, comme ça (like this):

Mundane tasks are healing. We had to gather firewood, by hand. It was unseasonably cold and the petite radiators couldn’t keep up. We needed fire. While it’s tempting to think this was an inconvenience, do not be fooled. Yes I got slivers, but it was insanely meditative. I reconnected to the earth. I grounded my energy for the first time since for-friggin’-ever.

An Internet connection is a life line (if you don’t choke yourself with it). Through the wonders of Wi-Fi, apps and iPhones I was able to talk with (and see!) my Hubby, for free, every night. And I could work remotely. Client eNewsletters and research? No problem. Happily though, my electronic devices mostly remained tucked away.

Rubber boots change everything. {Back-story: I grew up on a farm. I had good times in rubber boots.} Since I was staying in the country, I invested in a pair of Hunter gumboots. I wasn’t afraid of getting wet socks. I played. I explored. I walked wherever I pleased. I jumped French ditches and trotted across mucky fields in those boots. I was alive and free. I say, get some.

When the writing comes, it comes. The one intention I set for myself (I don’t do well with the word ‘goals’) was that I would write. However, my inner writer refused to show up for weeks, despite the little voice in my head trying to coax her out. Which reminds me of this awesome quote:

“To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.” ― Lili St. Crow

My only choice was to show up and be patient. And get quiet.

Wordlessness is hard. And it’s easy. The little voice pressured me… “I should be writing.”  But I couldn’t. In those first weeks I was feeling, breathing and noticing every tiny detail. I was clearing away old patterns, shedding self-imposed limits and opening to possibility.  I was so insanely PRESENT I could not possibly write.

I discovered what I was doing is a real thing(!), and smart people even talk about it. It’s called Wordlessness — the 11,000,000 bits per second part of the brain (instead of the verbal 40 bits per second) — as Martha Beck says in her book, ‘Finding Your Way in a Wild New World‘.

Then one day, after I had observed the hell out of everything, the writing came. It was a quick burst, and then I was back to resting and presence.  Later, another burst, longer and interwoven with brilliant in-the-moment symbolisms and what I can only call signs from the Universe about being ‘on track.’

Through this process I was struck by the fact that my writing voice had changed. Of course, as a writer this is something one develops over time. We craft it, mould it and come to know ourselves better through that voice. Yet, she had changed. A deep shift had indeed rattled down to the depths of my Being. Which bring us to my last (ancient) truth…

You’re not the same You coming home. It’s an age-old saying that traveling changes us forever. It’s impossible for this not to be true. At the very least I’m a much improved fire starter and ditch jumper. I’ve embraced my (once suppressed) romantic world outlook and am even considering the idea that I don’t need some big master plan for my life.

I’m toying with the notion that if one acknowledges what they love and takes steps toward it, if one asks the Universe for guidance, if one gets quiet enough to hear the whispering of their soul, then life just might unfold rather beautifully.

But who am I to say? I think tonight I’ll ask the Universe again to show me what’s next (but without the snot bubbles this time).

  1. This piece is so inspiring. For any of us who dream of a life abroad and the magic of giving life a try elsewhere, this is wonderful food for thought. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Charity, I like how you say ‘giving life a try’… It makes me think we can have many lives wrapped up in this current life… A French life, a Canadian life. And perhaps in each place we get to express a different facet of ourselves…? Hmmmmmmm. Thank YOU for sharing!
      with big fuzzy gratitude,
      Hollie Olivia

  2. Wow! That was fantastic, inspiring, witty, motivating, encouraging, and a high-vibing blog. Congrats on your clarity conquering! I want to know you. Sincerely, Felicia

    1. Felicia! You are zingy, sister! Yay! Thank you so much for your kind words – uplifting! Funny how a change of (outer) scenery can create a change of (inner) scenery… Love it.
      with glittery gratitude like those cake sparkler sticks,
      Hollie Olivia

  3. Thankyou for sharing your “French Life”. You have written the often wrenching process of self discovery with such humour, wonder and gratitude. Iam left believing that perhaps in those fleeting moments where I can let go and be truly present I too shall hear the whisper (or as in your case) bellow of the Universe in my life! Merci for the inspiration.

    1. Sharon – Merci to you! Wrenching and whispering… such is life, isn’t it? … and I have to remind myself that we mustn’t be fooled into thinking we can’t handle what our wise whisper tells us… That wise-ass, She knows all our secret strengths! Here’s to us!
      Hollie Olivia

  4. Thank you for sharing your incredible speak to the often forgotten simplicities in this day and age. With out realizing it, the art of just being present, quiet, mindful, etc. are all but distant and “foreign” for many of us. Your article has reconnected me to the magic of soul-changing moments that I have experienced and reminds me of the incredible importance of taking time to heal, nourish the soul and just ‘be.’

    1. Oooh, you give me goosebumps with ‘the magic of soul-changing moments.’ It’s amazing, isn’t it, what can shift in an instant… Really, it is AWESOME in the truest sense of the word. Great big gratitude to YOU for being exactly who you are in every moment!
      Hollie Olivia

  5. Hollie Olivia
    I LOVE this piece. I am all about following and SURRENDERING to the signs, as Sherold well knows. This is such a great example of surrender, putting our ego aside, our personal fears and small minded goals and letting the universe point us in the right direction. I love that you had been drawn to France for 7 years, so much information inside our bodies when we stop to listen. Why does it have to take us to the edge before we can hear sometimes?

    I adore this quote from Lili St. Crow, I too struggle with feeling I SHOULD be writing every day but I am short burst writer as well. And I also love that you had long forgotten miles from British Air. My husband needed a break from his job and I had a dream one night that I had a passbook with savings in it I didn’t know I had. I wracked my brain the next day – what did it mean. And suddenly I remembered MILEAGE! I checked my United mileage and there were boatloads of miles I didn’t know I had. Hubby got a vacation and I was reinforced in the power of dreams to send us messages from the universe. Thanks for the reminders of this!

    1. Oh Lovely Laura… THANK you for the generous words. Heck yes to SURRENDERING – if only I could remember more often 🙂 without getting tossed off the proverbial edge! I suppose that’s what we’re here to practice, non? How brilliant that you know yourself to be a burst writer – this is an epic piece of information… which reminds me of another super fantastic quote: (yay for quotes!)
      “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

      ― Albert Einstein

      Sending super rocket power gratitude to you,
      Hollie Olivia

  6. Hollie I just got lost in your Glamorous Monk website and found my way here to your guest blog – hello Sharold Barr pleased to meet you!

    Hollie, your words warm my heart and I find that as I read, you pull me along with your energy and I get this sense of woosh…(?!) over me that seems to ground me and make me feel safe.

    I too get signs from the universe but you have reminded me to take time to listen and process each and every one…..for this is our journey unfolding.

    thank you for holding me hand along the way.

    1. Oh dearest Denise! It blows my mind and warms MY heart to receive your generous words. I love the infinite circle of receiving/reflection/reciprocity that is created by sharing words and gently reminding ourselves (over and over). Comments like yours and all these here are like a sippy cup for me, they keep me going, keep me nourished and supported. Thank you, thank you!

      Hollie Olivia

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