Wellness, culture, and language perspectives from all over the world.
Hey, I'm Tara!
I'm Canadian and I've been living in Greece for 11 years. I'm from a beautiful little village called Cumberland on Vancouver Island. If you haven't been there, you really should! Now home is another beautiful little village on an island, Molyvos in Lesvos Greece. Add this to your list as well. In fact, put it at the top of your list! You'll see why when you get here.
Growing up I loved my town but knew I wanted to see more. After high school I worked here and there, saved money, travelled, came home, worked again, saved money, travelled again. Eventually I gave in to the idea that I was supposed to settle down. So I did! I got a job in a bank, saved money, bought a house this time, got a dog, even had a gym membership with a two year contract...two years! I settled hard! But after a while, I couldn't ignore that I wasn't doing what I really wanted to be doing in life. It wasn't even a hard decision, something needed to change.
So I quit the job, sold the house, packed up my things and my dog and we moved to Vancouver to go to University and travel some more. I'd always wanted to be a teacher but I was also interested in psychology. So I studied both. While at university an opportunity came up to study in Greece for a summer. Never mind that the focus of the study was on Byzantine history, which had absolutely nothing to do with my major. Never mind that I needed to google to find out what a Byzantsomething even was. I also had to google Lesvos. I'd never heard of it.
Now, more than a decade later, I'm still here in that little village I had to google back then. I fell in love with Lesvos. I met someone, fell in love with him too. We got married after a minute and now we have 3 daughters, our oldest is 7 and our two youngest are 5 year old twins. It's beautiful, it's chaotic, it's the best gig I've ever had! It's also the hardest. I'm an embracer of chaos though. Even days where I'm hanging on by a thread it still feels normal somehow. I still became a teacher! I teach English to the local children and it turns out, my gut was so right. I love teaching! I can't even call it work, I'm so grateful to be doing exactly what I wanted to do career wise while halfway across the world from where I originally realized that this is what I need to be doing. It's been quite an adventure and I can't wait to see what else there may be around the corner.
I also love playing my guitar and singing at the top of my lungs. I love getting out into nature for a run, a walk, a day at the beach, or a hike in the forest. I love my girlfriends. Wine. Good food. A combination of those last 3 are the perfect evening. If I have the time and can take my time, I really like to cook. Mostly I like to eat though.
I love writing. I really love writing.
I'm going to do a little of that for you here. I hope you enjoy it!
I’ve never been one to conform; where other people ‘zig’ – I’ll always ‘zagged’, and in a world where doing the ‘right thing’ is rewarded, life has sometimes been tricky.
From a pretty young age, I’ve never really ‘fit in’ – when we were kids, I remember my sisters talking about marriage and babies whilst I was socially awkward and fantasised about being an archaeologist – I imagined it rescuing me from the status quo and taking me on a Jurassic Parkesque adventure!
I’ve always been a daydreamer; the archaeologist fantasy lasted about as long as the movie was a box office hit…I also dabbled with becoming an actress, a singer, a writer….I even strived for a career as a lawyer (until I established that was too much work!) – what I’ve established through all of this is that I am hopelessly fickle and tragically whimsical.
And that’s OK – I’ve made some of the bravest (and scariest) choices because I’ve not felt fulfilled in what I’ve been doing, and this has taken me to some fantastic places and seen me experience some exciting things! In fact, what isn’t OK is living a life that other people expect you to live.
I have also limited myself at times and not taken my life in a direction I’ve wanted to because I’ve been too concerned about what other people would think. This has been my only regret – listening to other people. And that’s not to say that they are in the wrong…the people that love and care about you will only ever give you advice that they think is helpful…but, I wish that I’d never listened to my mum when she told me to focus on my academic career rather than music or acting, I wish I’d been brave and chosen to nurture that creativity. You can never regret trying – you can only regret the things you were too scared to try.
It’s OK not to know what you want out of life, I’m 33 and I still have no idea; I know what I don’t want, and that’s to be stuck in the ‘normal’. Amazing things happen when you push yourself and do the things you love; it’s taken me a long time to realise that making heaps of money is not the ‘be all and end all’.
This takes me to why I’m a huge advocate for what Angie is doing and why I want to share my experiences; there has been two pivotal moments in my life which have changed my perspective and opened my eyes. My first was in 2014 and spearheaded an amazing experience where I lived abroad for two years, the second is happening right now.
I have just quit the ‘dream’ job, high pay with huge career growth potential…the reason? Because it was compromising my integrity and mental wellbeing and I’ve not been this stressed or anxious in over 10 years…
I found myself initially panicking about my decision and applying for similar jobs, blinded by the fear that I’d be up the metaphorical creek without a paddle. This is about the time that I took a deep breath and started to evaluate why I resigned and what I wanted to do next. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a realist, I know we all need to work to pay the bills, but for now I think it’s ok to work to live (rather than living to work).
This is how I manage my mental health and wellbeing; by channelling my energies into the things I’m passionate about. The first pivotal moment of my life – I was in a very similar situation as to now. I was working my butt off in a job that brought very little job satisfaction and paid even less, I was closer to 30 than I was to 20 and miserable.
I had this moment of clarity about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and I decided that I was going to take some time out and travel. I’m lucky to have a few friends that live abroad, and I quite quickly formulated a plan, I spent 6 weeks in Thailand getting TEFL experience before moving on to Japan where I lived with a close friend and worked for a year.
This was in 2015 and was quite honestly one of the best years of my life; I felt empowered to expose myself to all kinds of opportunities – I never said no to anything, I tried everything once and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t do it again.
I also allowed myself the flexibility with work, if I wasn’t happy with a job, I moved onto something else without feeling the social guilt that I may back in the UK. I worked as a 1-2-1 tutor and took part time teaching classes at a language school, I hosted conversation classes and I worked 3 days a week at a private high school. I loved every second of my work, it allowed me to be creative and as much as it was scary initially, I built some great relationships with my students. I fit in travel around my working schedule and had some fantastic experiences – one of the most unique; attending a country music festival – the backdrop of which was Mount Aso (an active volcano)!
I spent a further year away living in Australia, before returning to the UK at the end of 2016, I came home to the same job (because, you know, returning back to your old employer after a stint away looks really good on your CV right?!) I literally lost perspective about the reasons why I moved away in the first place and I’ve fallen back into the trap of doing what’s expected of me.
What I guess I’ve learnt, 3 years on from my trip of a lifetime, is that contentment is a state of mind, it doesn’t come from where you are in the world or your social status, it comes from doing what makes you happy and what makes you feel passionate. This is what I plan on focusing on going forward and I’m excited to share my journey with you all as I go on it!
The things that make me happy;
-Spending time with the ones I love
My Wellbeing Goals:
-Work to live, don’t live to work
-Make sure my loved ones know how much I appreciate them
-Read and write more!
-Get creative; sing more, act more
-Volunteer – give something back
-Get back to tutoring and language teaching
-Never turn down new opportunities.