My name is Jackie. I’m 27 years old, and up until this point in my life, I have done everything “right.” I was a straight-A student growing up, graduated top 10 in my class with honors, played sports, did beauty pageants, played an instrument, started working at age 14 and paid for all my own stuff and then got a scholarship to go to college.
In college I remained on the Dean’s list for my tenure at Central Michigan University, and graduated in 2009 after 3 1/2 years with two majors: Broadcast Journalism and Integrative Public Relations.
After college I traveled; for 6 months on the road with a non-profit around the U.S. and Canada and then nearly two months in Europe (Holland and Germany). I came home, got a job, then another job and another job – started working my way up the corporate ladder. I’ve done direct sales, procurement/fulfillment, account management at a digital agency and public relations/communications.
In the midst of my working life, I met Junior. We got engaged. We moved to Chicago which is where we both really wanted to go – seeking a big city with public transportation, lots to do and better job opportunities. Between the two of us, we took a pay increase of about $30K. We were on top of the world. Our careers had taken to an upward spiral motion, we found a great apartment in Wicker Park (one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city), got married, went on our honeymoon, got a dog (Harvey, our pit/lab mix AKA our baby) and before we knew it, realized we had lived in the city for a full year and hadn’t had a chance to enjoy it really at all.
We were living to work rather than working to live. Long hours. The pay increases quickly revealed themselves as an illusion that we would have more money; between paying to live in the city and paying for our wedding, we weren’t in any better position financially than we had ever been.
We were unhappy, arguing about what kind of carry out we were going to eat for dinner since we were both too exhausted to cook, and arguing about me staying at the office too late, again and arguing about how we would get small things taken care of like calling the insurance company or taking Harvey to the vet, because neither of us had time to take care of anything really, outside of work.
And I learned this is what happens, when you do everything “right.”
There’s just more bills, more stuff to pay for, some new Jone’s to keep up with – the status quo is like getting trapped in a revolving door that has no opening. We decided, that’s not how we wanted to spend our lives anymore. Especially not as newlyweds. These are supposed to be the best years of our life.
It was time to break the rules and just do exactly what we wanted to do. We started looking for opportunities and researching how to make it happen.
“Day Well Lived” is a phrase that has been a part of our relationship since the early days of our courtship. I remember the day we started saying it very clearly. It was a weekend, we both woke up, took care of some work around the house and ate breakfast. Then we decided to go for a walk together in Rochester, MI. We got ice cream, took some photos around town, went to the Farmer’s Market. Afterward we came home and decided to go for a run. Then we ate dinner together and I think we watched a movie at the end of the day. We were both just very content.
I remember Junior turning to me and saying, “this was a really good day, ya know, that feeling you have when the day was just well lived.” We could both feel it, that the day wasn’t necessarily anything special – just sunshine, needs being met, a mix of productivity and enjoying free time, and we decided, “we should strive to make every day a day well lived.” Since then we’ve always reminded each other of that phrase, when we have a good day, or a bad day; we both used the phrase in our wedding vows which we wrote; and when we decided to go on this crazy journey, I knew that would be the perfect name for my website.
So here we are, officially “expats”. we sold everything we owned and picked up and moved to Costa Rica without ever having been here before; seeking a life that would allow us to make every day a day well lived. We want to focus less on stuff and focus more on experience. We want to be healthy. We want to work to live, not the other way around and we don’t want to wait for retirement for adventure and travel, we want that now. Life is short, today is the day to start living out loud.
Here is where I will share our adventures. I’ll share the good the bad and the ugly. I’ll share lessons this experience will surely teach me, in hopes that it can inspire or help someone else. I don’t necessarily think everyone should pack up and move 2,500 miles from home, but I do think everyone can take a step back to reflect and figure out what it is that would make them think, “wow, today was a day well lived,” at the end of each day.
Pura Vida and enjoy the ride with us!