You owe it to yourself to make your days here count. Dream big.

In two and a half weeks, Mike and I are leaving Toronto and moving to Europe.

Moving to a different country and staying there long enough to soak up the culture there has been one of my life’s greatest dreams for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I travelled a lot, but it was always to the same few destinations to visit family – Hong Kong, Singapore, and sometimes mainland China. Not that I’m complaining, but seeing our extended family was a big priority so all of my parent’s vacation times would always revolve around that. Other parts of the world, Europe especially, became a fascination for me. Over the years, I developed an obsession to live abroad there (heavily influenced by one of my best friends, Julie, who began travelling the world on her own at 17). I didn’t have a specific plan, I just knew that I was going to do it.

Over the years, I took small steps toward moving abroad, but something would come up and I’d end up staying in Toronto. If I’m being honest with myself, I was just making excuses.

In 2009, I was being stubborn about where I wanted to move to – London and no where else. Back then, I decided that I wanted to be employed – after a few interviews, I decided the salary range I was being offered wouldn’t be good enough to live in London and travel so I decided to gain some experience and try again in a few years.

In 2011, I took an impulsive solo trip to Portugal and spent hours one day telling a new friend I had met at a local cafe how much “I always wanted to live abroad”. After patiently listening to me, she asked me a very simple question: If you want to do this so badly, what exactly are you waiting for?  She was right. I declared right then and there that I was going to do it by the end of the following year (2012). When I came back to Toronto, I immediately asked my boss to help transfer me to the London office. We agreed to work together to make it happen in the next 6-12 months. I really believed it was going to happen.

During this trip, I decided that I was going to do it. I was going to leave Toronto and move abroad.

And then I met Mike.

Early on in our relationship, I told him how important it was for me to move and live somewhere outside of North America. I was worried that would be a deal breaker since he had just moved to Canada from Australia, but I had been single for long enough that I was protective of my dreams and I didn’t want to compromise on this one for a guy I had just met (lol). I knew it was a bit selfish, but I had to be honest with him and myself. I remember feeling so relieved when he told me that he wanted the same thing and he promised we would do it together. I had a good feeling about him and I trusted that he would keep his promise.

One of our first photos together as a couple. We were celebrating my 27th birthday.

Life, as always, got a little complicated. We both took a few unexpected turns in our career and left our day jobs to start our own businesses. That took up the majority of 2013. We also got married. 🙂 Earlier this year (2014), Mike got his Canadian permanent residency and found a job at a company that he really loved. We also found a running group that we fell in love with and it carried us through the rest of the year. Life was good.

Halfway through this past year, I started to wonder about this dream of mine. Was it really something I still wanted? Was it worth “throwing” everything I had built up for myself in Toronto? When (almost) everything was going great in my life at the time, was moving away really the best thing to do at this time?

The truth is, I was scared.

I was completely terrified of the unknown. My life in Toronto was pretty good – I had wonderful friends and family, enough work to pay the bills, and a great running community to keep me motivated and active. But, I couldn’t compartmentalize this dream of mine. I tried my best to convince myself that it wasn’t really what I wanted anymore. One day, Mike found me crumpled into a ball on the couch crying my eyes out because I was torn between wanting to stay in Toronto or leaving everything we had behind to take a chance and see what life could be like somewhere else.

“And the day came
when the risk to remain tight in a bud
became more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.”

– Anais Nin 

Mike knows me better than anyone else. He knew what my heart really wanted, and also understood that I was too afraid to ask him to give up everything in his life as well. So he took the reigns for a while and decided on my behalf.

We booked our plane tickets that weekend, before either of us could change our minds. Since then, everything has fallen into place – Mike was lucky enough to keep his job and work remotely while we’re away and I’ve left things open with the company I do work with so I may be able to pick up some consulting work as well. So yes. There it is: we are leaving in a little over two and a half weeks and I have never felt more ready to go. It’s time.

If there were ever a time to dare, to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing, it is now.
Not for any grand cause, necessarily,
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that’s your aspiration,
something that’s your dream.
You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.
Have fun. Dig deep. Stretch.
Dream big.

– Author unknown


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9 thoughts on “You owe it to yourself to make your days here count. Dream big.”

  1. I am so excited for you both! I know how hard it is to step out of your comfort zone but in the case of travel, just remember that these experiences, no matter how uncomfortable or frustrating at the time, will make for some memorable stories later in life 😉
    Try to say yes to every opportunity (within reason) – you never know if you’ll have another chance!

    1. Thank you so much, Kim! As much as I always WANT to step outside of my comfort zone, it continues to be a lifelong struggle for me. Typically, I end up ripping myself out of my comfort zone even if I’m not 100% sure it’s the right thing to do (don’t tell my parents that). I’ve yet to regret any of the risks I’ve taken though, and eventually, we all adapt to change. xo

  2. Alison and Mike, What a wonderful adventure to take together. May you continue to build your treasure chest of shared joy. Love, Judith

    1. Thank you so much, Judith! Sad we could not make it to Guelph to visit you before we left, but I’ll be in touch when we are back in May. xo

  3. As much as I’ll miss running with you, I’m so excited for you and Mike to embark on this grand adventure! I hope the experience is even better than you’ve ever dreamed. In my early 20s, as a painfully shy and unconfident kid, I moved to London for a summer on my own, with not much more than a carry-on MEC backpack and a student worker visa (but no job, or clear sense of where I’d live). Those few months taught me stuff about myself that I carry to this day—like the fact that I’m capable of doing scary things. And you are, too! Wishing you a new year full of countless inspiring, eye-opening, life-changing moments. We’ll be here when you get back.

    1. Thank you, Wing! It’s not going to be nearly as fun training without you for the rest of the Winter/Spring, but at least I have something to look forward to when we come back! Moving to London on your own – that sounds so incredible. I’ll have to ask you all about it the next time I see you. 🙂

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