Live Your Dream in a Material World

Things I’ve Given Up To Live My Dream

Giving things up sounds like such miserable, hair shirt stuff, but even the thought of writing this article makes me happy.

Somehow downsizing my life so that I can achieve my life goals isn’t much of a sacrifice at all. In fact, it’s liberated me. Granted I’ve had some practice in this area over the last year or two and gone to extremes that some people couldn’t. Here’s the story.

Dream of Travel: the Perfect Excuse to Declutter Our Lives

In 2007 my husband and I sold our lovely home on beautiful Waiheke Island, New Zealand, in order to finance a trip to Central America. We got rid of most of our other belongings too and broke our kids’ little hearts by selling, giving away or simply binning most of their toys.

The Candy kids were just two, five and eight at the time, so they got over it. We did put some personal stuff like photos, baby books and a few favourite toys, into storage in New Zealand, but during our time in Central America and Costa Rica, where we lived for a year, we had very little compared to what we had in New Zealand.

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Although we ended up spending 18 months in Central America, there wasn’t much we missed in the way of creature comforts apart from a comfy sofa.

Books and clothes came to us by swapping, borrowing or second hand. We had minimal furniture and our walls were bare but there was plenty to entertain us.

Every house we lived in had spectacular views and a swimming pool. Toucans visited our garden daily, occasionally monkeys or coatis popped by and a plethora of amazing outsized insects diverted us on a regular basis.

Work Out What Really Makes You Happy in Life

Now we live in Queensland, Australia and I’m pursuing writing full-time. I’m more or less resigned to a life of less since writing isn’t usually well paid, but somehow that doesn’t bother me any more. I’d prefer to be happy and fulfilled than have all the mod cons some people work long hours for, often in jobs they don’t even enjoy.

We’re blessed to live in a good house in a gorgeous area, surrounded by clean, safe beaches and with plenty of free activities on tap to keep us busy. But we’ve definitely made sacrifices and will continue to do so happily ~ unless an unexpected and extremely large windfall comes our way in which case we’d probably get rid of everything again and spend a year in Africa.

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  1. Jackie Dishner June 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm - Reply


    I have a neighbor who would love to do what you have done. But I’m not sure what she would sacrifice for it. I’m impressed. It’s quite a change you’ve made. Sounds like a good one, though. I wish you well with your new writing career. Tough it out, and I bet you’ll do very well.

    All my best,

  2. Molly Hoyne July 3, 2009 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    What an incredible inspiration! My boyfriend & I did the whole “sell everything & travel around the world”, but I imagine it’s a different story with three children!!

    It’s not about giving things up, it’s prioritizing what’s really important to you based on YOUR definition of success. If that is writing & travel & less mod con- so be it. Love the message.

    What was the inspiration behind the trip? I’m always fascinated by the catalyst to “living life on purpose”. (Mine was a quarterlife crisis!)

    Cheers. Molly

  3. Peter July 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Lovely post and kind of post I need always :) After ending first level of school I also plan to travel more. I want find best teachers in the world and the most intersting people in world and learn from them.

    For long time I try to get rid of everthing which I really don’t need becuase on the most things just don’t matter, some or just very useful.

  4. Michael July 4, 2009 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    this really sounds great. I love you for sharing!

  5. Kate Hayes July 16, 2009 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    I love the article on walking! Why, just two minutes prior to reading this I was whining to my husband for taking the car all day and leaving me at home without letting me get my workout in at the gym this morning. I felt trapped and frustrated. How silly – I live deep in the jungle with plenty of roads and trails to explore and I’m also at the base of a hill that I can get a good workout in on. Well my little motivator – you got me! I’m up and out of this chair and am on the first of many early morning “hikes” not walks! teehee!

  6. Sara July 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Hi! are you already member of HUB: Humanità unites Brilliance?
    Bye and thanks for the joyful articles!!
    sara from Italy

  7. Fida October 16, 2009 at 10:14 am - Reply

    What an inspiration you are! I admire you for having the guts to do it even with your young children – what a gift you gave them!

    I moved around quite a bit in my life, even changing continents. Every time I got rid of a bit more ‘stuff’. I am now at the point you were before you moved to Central America – selling everything and become a serious traveler.

    Good luck with your writer career (-:


  8. Donovan Moore April 4, 2010 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Just discovered your blog today. Really enjoy your writing. As a side note, my blog aggregates spiritual news from around the world. If you have a guest post that fits with the format, would be more than happy to link back to you. My alexa rank is 260,000, not quite as good as your 218K, but close.

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  10. Ching Teoh April 9, 2010 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Thanks Annabel, you have really give me a push to make me step forward and say I want to live my dream!

    Yes, my husband and I are making a big decision and action had been carried out, but sometime the final decision is not us to make, we have to wait for the results… and still waiting with high hopes .. that we could live our dream one day in OZ.

    These few days, I have been reading your post from older post to new post… and I love them all. And have to say THANK YOU!

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  12. […] 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 […]

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  15. […] continually pushing the boundaries of what makes you uncomfortable.” Annabel Candy presents Live Your Dream in a Material World posted at In the Hot Spot, saying, “This is an inspiring story for people who want to do it […]

  16. Jacob Sokol December 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Annabel, that is super cool! Such courage and wisdom to make a move like that. Way to set the example for the seeds. -=)

  17. Thanks for sharing that. It’s always good to be reminded that when we die we can’t take with us any ‘stuff’ just our experiences. Living in Brazil for a year I saw people living in poverty stricken conditions that had a happier life than some Australians filling their houses and their lives with ‘stuff’ to make them happy.

  18. Eddie Porucius November 7, 2011 at 4:47 am - Reply

    I consider, people like you Annabel, my heroes;) and I would love to do the same. I’ve been thinking about it for last 2 months I guess. Right now just searching for inspiration. I’m sure you are happy now and you know you made the right choice. Love it.


  19. Mary Eve @ Do What You Love Journey March 1, 2012 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Really interesting, I’m linking to it in my next post Have Less Love More.

    I’m glad to have found your blog, all the best!

  20. Have Less, Love More | Do What You Love Journey March 2, 2012 at 11:35 am - Reply

    […] me having less means a better quality of life overall. And I’m not the only one in this situation able to live the dream downsizing my life, other accoun…. I lend you this secret so you too could laugh hysterically and drool over it as I do (just […]

  21. Emily of Roads Less Traveled April 7, 2013 at 6:32 am - Reply

    If I had poked my head out of my own life a few years ago, I would have had a timely comment for this wonderful post. I am soooooo with you. My husband and I took off on a life of full-time travel at a time when all our friends were advancing to the highest heights of their careers, padding enormous retirement accounts and planning luxurious retirements.

    We wanted to get out and go before it was too late, so we got rid of all our stuff in 2007 and hit the road. It was extremely liberating — and scary…

    Since we started, we’ve revised our dreams several times, embarking on a voyage by sailboat for 3 years and now contemplating closing that chapter so we can open one that might include RVing in Australia or Europe (maybe we’ll meet someday!).

    I wrote a post about why it was important to us to pursue our dreams back in 2008 written long before my move to WordPress and my discovery that what I was doing all the time on my “website” was “blogging”).

    But what I’ve learned since I wrote that post is that the biggest reason to go after and fulfill your dreams is that only by actually living your dream can you discover that your dream wasn’t 100% dreamy, that it needed to be re-examined and honed, and ultimately that it needed to be reworked into an even better dream that you now set out to fulfill…

    Thanks for a great post!!

  22. Steve Consilvio November 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    “Less is More” It sounds so counter-intuitive, yet is so true.

    Of course, it is easier to travel from a rich country to a poor country. Not so easy the other way around. The skills acquired in accumulating wealth are always at the fore, and instead of purchasing stuff, one purchases experience.

    It’s not quite a ‘give more than you take’ model. To simplify, like Thoreau did, does not require going somewhere new.

  23. Kiran Bhatia October 14, 2014 at 7:39 am - Reply

    What an inspiration. I am a 41 year old indian girl who always wanted to be a writer but never really thought I would. My generation were never encouraged to follow our dreams but what was expected. Now at my age I follow my travelling shoes and write in my journal. I read your article in making a plan of action and mine is going to be writing and publishing my book. I also agree with your article for older travellers. Its true that you take in and enjoy so much more and have the confidence to know yourself to speak up about what you want. I returned from Lisbon, Portugal 2 days ago with a mission to follow my dreams. I am just not good at the actual implementation side of things but my heart says to make that plan as per your article and that is what I am going to do. Thanks so much for sharing. Kiran

  24. Becalm September 10, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Very inspiring story indeed! Great to know you finally settled in Australia and you’re now pursuing what really makes you happy.

  25. Rebecca Temsen February 14, 2017 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Wow, my whole thoughts on dreams have just been shaken. I guess dreams are not all about getting rich and all that but more about being happy and doing what we love

  26. Tim Ahern April 27, 2017 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    I can’t exactly hire you to write for me but the next best thing I can do is let you know that my website pays for travel story content. Road trips and places to visit are generally the theme. It is best if the journey is in a rented campervan, but a good travel story is a good travel story right. Obviously, this is open to all your readers too :-)

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