Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once

My article, Live Your Dream in a Material World, struck a chord with many of you. In it, I described how we sold most of our belongings in order to make our dream come true and move to Central America.

Now I want to share the first page of my book about our experiences. It tells how we followed our hearts, ignored other people, took a risk, and put up with hardships to follow our dream. I hope that our story will inspire other people to be brave and follow their dream. Here are the first 900 words:

Our First Day in Guatemala

As I looked around the tiny hotel room, now stuffed to capacity with a family of five and our eleven bags, I wondered if we’d done the right thing. It was hard to believe that we’d sold our large, comfy home in New Zealand and most of our belongings in exchange for this. Outside the streets of Antigua, Guatemala’s best known colonial city, beckoned, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the kids here by myself. My husband Rich, my faithful travel companion for sixteen years, had gone on strike suffering from exhaustion and jet lag. My only ally in a 10,000 kilometre radius lay prone on the bed and refused to budge.

Meanwhile my youngest child, Kiara, aged two, was whining. With unfortunate timing, she’d broken her arm and developed a terrible tummy bug about ten days before our departure so a once happy and energetic girl had been replaced by a miserable, lethargic cry-baby. At the opposite end of the emotional scale her brothers, Max, five, and Luke, eight, were running round the minute hotel courtyard laughing uproariously. The colonial hotel with its inner courtyards and fountains, its tiled floors and decorative touches just hadn’t been designed for a large, noisy family. These small spaces were created for smaller, slower and quieter people than us.

Where We Came From

Our children were born and raised on Waiheke Island, just off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, a thirty minute ferry ride from Auckland City. Waiheke’s a serene and beautiful place, well known for its perfect beaches and famous vineyards. Up until this point the Candy kids had spent the majority of their time running and playing barefoot in a place with only 8000 residents, little traffic and no traffic lights.

Waiheke Island is the perfect place to raise young kids, and the Candy kids had enjoyed a sheltered existence with the security of living and growing up in a familiar place, surrounded by people they’d known since birth. Now we’d turned their world upside down, immersing them in a foreign culture with an unknown and incomprehensible language. The only familiar objects were the ones we’d brought with us. Exhausted after our 27 hour journey, I needed to remind myself why we’d done it.

Our Journey Started in the UK. Where Would it End?

Both me and my husband were born in the UK, but Rich was raised in Kenya. We both love travelling and we met in the Sinai in Egypt, so that’s where our adventures together began. For years we travelled, worked or studied in Africa, South East Asia, the USA, France and the UK, before finally deciding that enough was enough. It wasn’t that we wanted to settle down and stop travelling, just that we wanted a base, a place where we could keep our stuff, a home where we could one day live forever and raise a family.

Neither of us wanted to settle in Britain, but New Zealand fitted the bill: safe, unspoilt, and under populated. After a long, arduous process involving endless application forms, medical exams, and procuring certified copies of every official document that ever crossed our paths, we managed to get New Zealand residency. Our friends in England were horrified, especially our Australian friends who seemed to take it as a personal slur. The typical response from family and friends when we told them the news was disbelief:

“New Zealand? What do you want to go there for?”

But we were used to this. It seemed as if every time we packed our bags and went to a new place we got that same reaction of horror, combined with total incomprehension. Ten years later when we left New Zealand and told people we were moving to Panama the reaction was the same again:

“Panama? What do you want to go there for?”

I’d love to know what you think of this opening to my book. Would you like to read the whole story of how we moved from New Zealand to Panama, then ended up living in Costa Rica for a year, before finally moving to Australia? I’m excited about this chance to get feedback from my readers now as I complete my manuscript ready for publication.


Two years later I haven’t progressed with writing the book – too much blogging, travel writing and copywriting for other people! But I’ll get there one day.

Thanks for reading

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  1. Sharon (thesunlitdesk) July 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel
    From one nomad to another, I’m very interested in reading more about your travels.

  2. brioon July 8, 2009 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Cool article. What an exciting life! That yellow arch in Antigua brings back memories! What a nice place :)

  3. Nancy July 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Can’t wait to see the rest in print… you go girl!

  4. Beatle July 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    From a total non-nomadic point of view, I can’t wait to read the rest!

  5. J.D. Meier July 9, 2009 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    I think it would be great to read you story and yeah, I agree, you only live once. Might as well make the most of it :)

  6. Laura Cococcia July 9, 2009 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Absolutely love it! Please keep sharing if you need additional feedback – I’m travel-obsessed and you have a great angle here. Congrats!

  7. Nicolas De Corte July 10, 2009 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Like everyone else here, I think it looks like a great start of your book, and I’m quite curious to read the rest of the story!
    I can surely recommend Peter Moore, Brian Thacker and Rolf Potts as great authors of travel stories.

  8. Leanna September 12, 2009 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Very interesting – I’d like to read more about your family’s adventures.

    To be honest, though, I’m a bit disappointed. This story is about YOUR dream, not me following mine, so I think the title is a bit misleading. I thought the article would be advice/inspiration for me on how I should follow my dream…or did I miss something?

    • Annabel Candy September 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Damn, sorry that left you feeling disappointed. I think I was trying to inspire people into thinking:

      “If she can do that then I can have a go at nailing my dream too.”

      I hope these articles will provide some of the advice you’re seeking:

      How To Work Out What Your Dream Is

      Give Fear The Finger and Live The Life You Want

      Three Keys To Living Our Dream

      10 Ways To Get The Life You Want

      101 Ways To Feel Happy

      If you have ideas about what I should be writing I’d love to know and will do anything I can to provide them!

  9. hilary November 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel –
    Just sold the house, got divorced, was made redundant at work, sold all my belongings, and am moving to UK. Stress? I’m happy to find your fearless, fabulous, fierce blog, and look forward to following your continuing adventure. I am bolstered by your bravery.

  10. scheng1 November 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    That’s true. Live once and die once, and nobody remembers us a century later

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  15. Penelope J. August 17, 2010 at 5:12 am - Reply

    Annabel, You may have a fantastic book here. I think this can be a fun travel book about an astonishing part of the world, Central America, that has been overlooked/neglected for far too long.
    However, it depends on the way you present it. First, I have to agree with the person who felt the title is misleading. It needs to convey what the book is about. I like that first sentence because it will give you and the readers a chance to explain/rationalize why this crazy move. I want to understand your motives and see more of you and Rich (back story), and like you both, be with you and in your heads, before you (and I, the reader) embark on this new adventure.
    This account certainly caught my attention, it hooked me as a reader, but it also put me off. When you described your situation in Antigua, my interest was waylaid by the thought, Serves you right for uprooting small kids and an ailing toddler and gallivanting off halfway around the world because you have the travel bug. To some readers, it may seem like you are following your own dream at the cost of your children’s wellbeing. You don’t want to come across as careless rather than adventurous.
    With that Anabel flavor, I’m sure it will be a great read.

  16. Sowmya July 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    Looking forward to read about your journey through all this. I would love to live a life like you exploring different places around the globe, I’m sure it is a hell of an experience worth penning down.

  17. Ali Davies October 10, 2011 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel
    Found this first installment really interesting. I think your statement of selling all your stuff really resonated as we are just about to do the same as part of a big move we are about to undertake.
    Your point about other peoples reactions also hits home – I think often our choices to live a life fully can frighten others who have settled for mediocrity is it makes them confront their own choices ( or lack of!!!). But the bottom line is we only get one shot at life and we have to decide are we going to live the life we want or the life someone else feels comfortable with.
    I think sharing your story is a great idea. Often these things can inspire others that are teetering on the brink of grabbing life and might need some evidence to know that it is possible.

    • Eddie Porucius November 7, 2011 at 5:02 am - Reply

      So well said Ali! Totally agree with you!
      Don’t dream your life, live your dream!
      Where are you moving to btw?

  18. Eddie Porucius November 7, 2011 at 5:13 am - Reply

    It’s great thing you did this move.
    I am not happy with my work and thinking of taking a year off and travel around the globe. The thing is – you did it and I am just thinking of doing it;) I know that few right decisions can make this happen, but…
    well we will see! For now I’m going to read some more of your great stuff and get some inspiration!


  19. Erin Bender (Travel With Bender) March 25, 2013 at 12:00 am - Reply

    And here we are in Antigua learning from your experiences.So great. But really New Zealand over Australia, I can see why people said WHY :P

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