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I quit my job.

I quit my job

I didn’t know when I woke up last Friday that I was going to quit my job.

And then, just after noon, I did. I asked my boss to go for a walk. We sat on a sunny bench in the park near our studio, and I told her:

I don’t want to do this anymore.

I don’t want to spend 80% of my time doing things that I hate doing, that sap my energy, that I’m not particularly good at, and only 20% (if I’m lucky) doing the things I love and am good at.

I didn’t go tens of thousands of dollars into debt getting my master’s degree to be a sad cliché who is miserable at work, who spends Sundays plagued by The Dread.

Don’t get me wrong — there are elements of my job that I love. There are moments, days — weeks even — when I feel great about what I do. And those are the moments that I want to stretch out and build into a career.

I spent (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend with a roomful of people who have done exactly that: built careers out of what they love doing. They were storytellers — not just people who have bought into the marketing buzz around storytelling, but people who have made a living telling stories. And I could — can — do that too.

So I quit my safe, secure, well-paying job. I’m giving up fortnightly pay cheques to venture into the terrifying, exciting unknown and make a go of it as a freelancer.

Wish me luck.

Stay tuned for more stories about this new adventure.

P.S. A couple of posts/articles that influenced my leap of faith: Here’s Why the Freelance Economy is on the Rise (Fast Company) | Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (Raptitude) | The Mobile Workspace (Micro-Documentaries Blog)


Vancouver Love

It’s fall, and I’m back.

It was an incredible summer — long, hot, glorious. A bit exhausting, too, if I’m being honest; I was constantly on the go — to the Gulf Islands, the Okanagan, Toronto, Calgary, but most importantly around Vancouver. Down the Indian Arm in a kayak, up to pristine mountain lakes, around the Sea Wall on my bike about a million times.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I’m finally getting over Melbourne. I was heartbroken when I left Australia. It felt like being dumped: forced to leave against my will, before I was ready. The life I loved — poof! — gone.

They say the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else — that only when you find someone new to focus that energy and attention on do you really move on.

Well, there’s a new city in my life, and I think it might be love.

When I moved back to Canada, it was for All The Right Reasons, but in the day to day of my life, I was unconvinced that I would ever come to love Vancouver the way I love(d) Melbourne. One year after my repatriation, I was still mourning Melbourne hard. I still haven’t found in Vancouver what I had Down Under — my tribe, if I am to use obnoxious marketing speak — but I’m starting to think that I’ll get there. And you really can’t beat that mountain and ocean combo.

That said, if Stephen Harper gets reelected, I’ll be Melbourne-bound by Christmas.

P.S. If you want to see what I got up to in and around Vancouver this summer, check back soon for a photo post, or follow me on Instagram @chelseatellsstories 



I turned 32 the other day. I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling with this one. I loved 30, was fine with 31. I’ll probably like 33, because it’s frankly just a great number, but 32? Meh. I had a vague sense of dread and anxiety as the big day approached, and since I believe that gratitude is a really powerful antidote to anxiety I’ve been trying really hard to feel grateful and to think about how much more centred and self-actualized I am than I was five years ago. Wise, even, some days. I mean, I use words like ‘self-actualized.’

So I started thinking about some of the most important things I’ve learned in my 32 years, and I figured I would share them with you, after another long blogging hiatus. It’s a mixture of borrowed wisdom, advice to my younger self, things I’ve learned about myself, things I’ve learned about other people and the world. A lot of it is stuff I’m still working on accepting / understanding / integrating into my daily behaviour. Like I said, I’m only wise on my better days.

Anyway, here’s what came to mind one evening in Crab Park…

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I’m settling in. I said a while back that that was the plan, but as recently as April I was actively planning my escape…as is my way. I wasn’t planning on going very far – my Melbourne student debt precludes any big adventures – but to somewhere not here. Calgary, maybe, where the streets are paved in money and cowboys (or so I’m told). Then, in July, everything changed. Or at least enough changed to make staying put a great deal more attractive. The most important change: I got into a housing co-op in Gastown, the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver.

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UPDATE // 36 by 36

When I made my 36 by 36 list, I told myself that I would keep myself on track by doing a review every six months. Time goes so fast that I could easily find myself at 35 and not have checked anything off the list.

So here I am, 30.5 years old and checking in. It feels like an appropriate time to be doing this, since I had such a rough couple of months. During that time, I found myself thinking a lot about the kind of life that I intend to have. My 36 by 36 list is a reflection of that.

When I sat down to look at my list, though, I found that there were a few items on the list that don’t feel that important any more. It seems this list will likely shift as my priorities do. I realized, for example, that I don’t really care about learning to surf. I have fun trying, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I also don’t really think attending Lollapalooza is a priority. It would be nice to go to Lollapalooza, but there are a lot of other things that are far more important to me. So the list has changed, and will change again, I’m sure.

As far how I’ve done on this list in the last six months…not great. Blame lack of money during my unemployment or lack of time during my over-employment, the fact of the matter is that I did not do a great job crossing things off this list. I did do some things that were on earlier incarnations of the list: I taught myself how to use Photoshop, and cycled around the SeaWall and beyond many times over. I tried to take last summer off TV, but given my unemployment and my being new in Vancouver, I found that I had a lot of time to fill and Breaking Bad proved to be an excellent way to fill it.

I’m not going to use these updates to kick myself, but to remind myself that there are lots of adventures I intend to have in the coming years.

Here’s the updated list of adventures:

36 by 36

We’ll see how I go…


an austere year

Adventure FundReal talk: I’m in debt. Though I’ve been fortunate to have an incredibly generous immediate and extended family, a decade of frequent travel and a master’s degree obtained overseas have put me in the red. This year, I’m going to do everything I can to claw my way out of it.

I hate the position I’m in for a few reasons (outrageous interest charges!), but the main one is that it restricts my freedom. For a hopeless wanderer like me, that’s an uncomfortable position to be in. It also impedes my ability to create this full, wonderful Vancouver life that I’m determined to create.

So, resolved to right my course, I’ve got a plan, spreadsheets, and tax-free savings accounts. Inspired by Blonde on a Budget (and to keep myself accountable), I’m going to write about my austere year periodically. It’ll certainly be a departure from my previous, predominantly travel-related content, but I suppose money is an important consideration for most travellers and wanderlusters.

On that note, I want to share an article that my friend Fiona posted on Facebook the other day. It really resonated with me, and I imagine it will with many other travellers. Why is it so much easier to live well on a little when you’re on the road? Is it because we’re so much happier and more fulfilled when we’re travelling, and therefore we need less stuff, less convenience, less material padding to fill the void?

I truly believe that one of the best ways to change your financial circumstances is to change the way you think about money and spending. So for this first spell of my austere year, I’m going to challenge myself to really think about each and every purchase I make, from a cup of coffee to a piece of furniture, and consider what value that purchase is adding to my life. If money is being spent mainly to offset the malaise of normal working life…is it worth it?

I’ll let you know how it goes.


on cutting one’s losses

Happy New Year, folks! It’s a new beginning, which has special significance for me this year. Want to know why? Read on!
Have the strength to start all over again

“I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible for me to work here and live the life I want for myself.”

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A New Chapter

New ChapterOh, hey! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I wish I could say that my latest unplanned blog hiatus was the result of my being off having glorious adventures, but it wasn’t, really. I was pretty much a big ball of raw nerve endings throughout the month of September (please forgive me if that analogy is not biologically sound; you get me though, right?). As I communicated earlier in the month, I was feeling very unsettled and unsure. I spent the month bouncing between friends’ couches, my folks’ place, hotels, and hostels. On several occasions, I didn’t know where I was going to stay that night. That kind of displacement feels like adventure when you’re on the road; when you’re in the city in which your purport to live, it’s pretty damn stressful and exhausting.

But don’t worry! This story has a happy ending! Continue Reading