Our True Story this week has all the elements of a true heroes journey and is compelling every step of the way.
I would like to introduce my friend, awesome camera man, surfer, all round water man, most loving and inspiring family man and now somewhat of an ‘eco warrior’ Sean Nolan.
In Sean’s own words, lets just jump right in….
I’ll never forget the feeling. Sat with my wife’s dr at Worthing hospital…
“I’m sorry to say, but your wife has a malignant cancer..”
The rest of his words blurred in my mind..
I have no memory of what he said after that…
Our 9 month old daughter was on my knee..
I’m pretty sure my heart stopped for a while.. which is funny, as the following week, I had heart surgery booked in at Brighton hospital.. an ablation.. life was a mess.
I worked 18 hour days in TV.. I was the director of photography on the BBC show Dragons Den.. stress was killing me and my wife.. we had no work life balance, we had a huge mortgage and an expensive lifestyle.. “Work hard, play hard!”, “Burn out, don’t fade away!”
All seem like fun ideals, but when you are faced with the very real risk of not seeing your children grow up.. some choices and changes have to be made.
My wife Ivana is from the south of Brasil. We had spent a few holidays there, the beaches are amazing and a relaxed cheap way of life. We used to dream of going to live there one day.. I lost my company as I had become very ill.. after my operation, my right lung was paralysed.. life and work became very difficult..
Ivana had a successful surgery to remove her Thyroid.. but with no nearby family, we felt quite at a loss.. we had and still have great friends and they were there for us.. but we made a decision to leave to UK and start our lives again… in Brasil.
We sold our house to the second person to see it.. a cash buyer, after this we had only a month to move out.
Brasil has a 100% import duty on all non essential goods.. so we decided to load our life into a shipping container and take everything with us! Ivana and I were both pretty weak still, so we organised a company to pack everything and move us door to door.. the only problem, was we had a month to find a new door to move in thru in Brasil…..
From Brighton to Brazil
We sold our house to the second person to view .. Can you believe, a cash buyer no less.
We had a month to move out..
Brazil has a 100% import duty on all non essential goods.. so we decided to load our life into a shipping container and take everything with us.
Ivana and I were both pretty weak still, so we organised a company to pack everything and move us door to door.. the only problem, was we had a month to find a new door to move in thru in Brazil.
Remember we are trying to have a more relaxed life?
Well, selling your house isn’t relaxing.. neither is turning your life upside down.. but, change is as good as a rest… so holding onto that thought, we flew to Brazil.. trusting in the universe is cool and we were doing just that, but it doesn’t help you open a bank account or rent a flat/house.. bureaucracy hit us pretty hard.
We didn’t exist. We had no financial history, which meant everything became very tricky..
So, we rented a room in an apartment hotel, in the hope we would sort everything out.
Finally we did actually start to chill out a bit.
There we were, sat on a sunny beach, watching the kids running in an out of the ocean..
“This is it!”
Crosses your mind for a moment.. and it’s these moments we kinda live for hey?
The moments that nothing else matters..
These are the moments that add years to our lives and take away the wrinkles better than any creams.
But …..reality has a way of kicking you up the backside!
The first big kick…
That shipping container company I mentioned?
Well, we got fully ripped off.
Without boring you all with the details.. we were left with £849.00… not enough to pay the hotel bill at the end of the month…
I wasn’t feeling so relaxed….
With all our money gone, I returned to the UK alone and went back to work.
I became a financial migrant for a few years.. working abroad, sending money “home” and it worked.. for a while.. we got back on top.. it was a fight tho! One I’m proud to say We won!
But, 3 years in, I was still working as much as I could, taking a lot of pills to keep my heart happy.. and I had some pretty bad AF episodes, all down to stress..
Stress kills us.
You can be fit and healthy but if you are stressed, forget it, it’s just a matter of time before the “game over” sign pops up.
If you are lucky, you can put another coin in the slot, but you will run out of credit eventually.. our dream was to build an eco house, by the sea.. we were close to it, but stuck in this half life.. which to me, was starting to feel worse than life we had in The UK…..
So.. we made the decision to really follow our dream and go for it..
We found a small piece of land near a lake, close to the sea.. and we did it.. we moved again!
The guy we bought the land from, rented us a little wooden house on the edge of the lake.. things really started to change..Izzy our eldest had never seen a sunrise! Can u believe that? About 7 years old an never seen a sunrise! We watched the sunrise everyday for weeks.. she was obsessed by it.. as was I.. the vibe was insane.. I could literally feel my body healing itself..
“this is good…”
Mão na massa…
The four of us Living in that one bedroom wooden shack with only one bed, was possibly the purest feeling I’d ever had in my life.. surrounded by my little family., with not much stress, was epic..
We had moved from a consumer lead society to one where family came first..
There were 456 boxes in our shipping container.. no one here could understand why we had so much “stuff”… that “stuff” was a sign of my success.. or so I thought..
I made money an bought stuff.. better stuff than my friends,
the latest stuff…..
All paid for with my hard earned money.. but it’s not.. we think we pay for that “stuff” with money….
We don’t, we pay with our time.. you can take “stuff” back and get your money back.. you can’t do that with time.. would you buy something that had a no refunds, no returns policy?
I bet you would think twice about it, yet we don’t think about the time we loose keeping up with the Jones’s…
We still have quite a lot of “stuff” but it’s old stuff, some of it is worn out and been repaired.. I have so much time now!
I don’t work to feed the system..
I don’t live to work,
I work to live..
We built our house, we did it, as a family.., the girls helped, Ivana and I did everything.. as we weren’t paying builders, We could “afford the time”…
We did it. I’m not gonna say that again, or too loudly in case someone hears me..
What have I learned? What haven’t I learned?
Change is as good as a rest.. yep.. but it’s actually more than that..
Changing ur life as much as we have, has been like starting again..
We literally have had a second life.. time has slowed down… our bodies have healed.. the stress is gone..
We live on about $400 a month… we have nothing new.. and we are not hippies!!
Maybe we are, but not in the traditional sense..
we grow our own food..
watch the sunrise a lot..
hang with our kids..
Izzy said to me two years ago “I know you now dad, I didn’t know you before..”
That’s my feeling of success..
You can change your life, you don’t have to be as crazy as us, but by wanting less stuff, you can have more time! I’m not a snake doctor! I’m talking from experience..
I worked with Ellen Macarther, the round the world sailor.. she was rounding Cape Horn off the southern tip of Argentina.. she noticed she only had one toilet roll left.. with 10,000 miles of ocean between her and the nearest Tesco’s, she knew she had a problem! And this is the thing, if we continue to consume everything as we have been, we will have no time left and the planet will be desolate.. AND we won’t be able to wipe our bums!
So don’t buy that new iPhone,
that new car,
don’t accept that higher limit on your card..
give yourself time.. more time..
and with that free time, let your body heal.. and let our home, our planet heal too..