Leaving one’s long time home, moving to another continent, living a vagabond lifestyle for a year. Is this something a single person 57 years old and of sound mind would do? Not all of life can be planned; sometimes there are massive forks in the road, and one must choose. Then once the decision is made, we move into making it real. For Leanne, it led to an adventure of epic proportions. As you will read, she is an adventurer who came to adventure as a bolt of lightning from the sky. She had never done anything like this before and never wanted to. Then she had an inspiration, and what an inspiration it was.
Where are you living today?
I live outside of Toronto. I have a lot of family and friends in the province, so I’ll settle somewhere in Ontario. I’d prefer to be a bit more rural and live in a small town.
Canada to NZ…Then Back
Why did you go to NZ in the first place? What were you doing there?
I married a man from NZ and moved there. Then I started up a business doing management coaching, leadership training in organizations, intuition development and running shamanic weekend retreats in nature. I trained myself in various streams of psychology, brain science and intuition. I divorced and married again. I created a coaching methodology and trained coaches.
After 29 years, I was happily living by myself in my lovely home and property with abundant gardens and fruit trees I’d planted. Honestly, I was in heaven.
You do know that NZ is one of those places people are trying to get to, yet you left. Why did you do that? Was it a process to come to that decision?
I know. NZ is a beautiful place. On one hand, the answer I’m about to give you will seem insane. But on the other hand, I had to leave.
When I moved to NZ and left Canada I never missed it. I figured that was it. I was a kiwi (that’s what New Zealanders call someone from NZ). Then I started to get these “niggles” to move back to Canada: random thoughts, “Why don’t you move back to Canada?” or I’d dream at night about having moved back. But then I would think about it and realize that it was a very bad idea. There I was in my mid-late 50s, having been self-employed most of my life, and now I was thinking of leaving a place where I was established to move to a country where no one knows me, to start my business all over again? “You’re kidding,” I thought. I remember what it was like starting a business in my 30s and I just wasn’t up for that. So, I’d shake my head to get rid of the thoughts. But the thoughts haunted me, and each time I considered the possibility of moving, the fear shook me.
Listening to Intuition
Having done so much work with intuition, listening to it and teaching others how to listen to theirs, I knew there was something here I needed to listen to, even if I didn’t want to.
Then one day I made an appointment with a healer, a guy who lived a 4-hour drive from me. We’d never met. On the way there I had a chat with the Universe, “If I am meant to move back to Canada, I want that message to come through this guy and the message has to be so clear that I’m not left wondering how to interpret the message.” I figured that would be the end of the matter and I could finally go on living my life in New Zealand without regret.
At the end of the healing session he said, “Oh, just one more thing. You are going to move back to Canada.”
I don’t remember driving home.
I went out in my backyard with my trees and gardens and asked myself, “I’m going to die one day and I don’t know when that day will be. How do I want to live the rest of my life?” And then I knew. I no longer wanted to live scared, holding back and dying in comfort. I wanted to live full throttle, right to the end.
“I wanted to live full throttle, right to the end”
You moved back to Canada after 29 years of living in NZ. What was it like to be back there?
It was strange. Things here were bigger, more mass produced, less attention to beauty. I compared everything to New Zealand where even the garbage dump seems to be beautiful because of the backdrop of the ocean. I grieved for NZ, which I think is natural. I didn’t leave there because something was wrong. And I haven’t once regretted my decision to leave. I have no desire to go back and I know I’m on the right path.
Rather than put down roots, you bought a truck with a camper and traveled the country. Why did you do this?
Well, one would think that the most logical thing to do would be to find a place to live and get my business set up again. But I had listened to my intuition so far bringing me back to Canada; why on Earth would I stop now? So I sat to meditate and asked for guidance on my next move. I saw in my mind the vision of a camper and that I was to go on a road trip for 12 months.
So that’s exactly what I did.
I had just published my first book and I also figured it would be a great opportunity to tour with my book.
12-Month RV Road Trip Adventure
Was there a planned route?
The route was pretty simple: coast to coast.
Where did you go?
I started from Ontario and went to Nova Scotia, then to Florida, California, British Columbia and back to Ontario. I took 6 months in Canada and 6 months in the US.
I assumed I would camp along the way until I did the math on $50 a night for a campground site. I needed to find other options for sleeping as I traveled. Given I knew so few people here I decided to reach out to a women’s network I had just joined. I posted in their FB group a photo of me and my camper, told them what I was up to and asked if anyone would be willing to let me park in their driveway for the night. I offered to do book readings and workshops for them. 5 women put their hand up to host me and I stayed with each one of them. I tried out boondocking, which is a website that connects other people who have RVs and who are willing to host fellow RVers. I went couch surfing. I learned I could spend the night at truck stops and in Walmart parking lots and that national forests in the US are FREE for the night! There’s also an app you can get on your cell phone called “Free Campsites” which guide you to some great places.
I did book talks and workshops in Nova Scotia, Florida, New Mexico, California, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
“I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do this when I was 22!”
At 57, what was it like doing something a 22-year-old would do?
Funny, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do this when I was 22! Well, I sat down and had a wee chat with myself because I don’t like getting my hands dirty, dealing with mechanical things, figuring out geography and directions and timing and I don’t really like driving a lot. I was going to have to deal with all of that.
I also knew I’d need to keep myself physically strong to maneuver the equipment, set up the tent and carry the heavy cables of the camper and to lug my bicycle in and out of my camper each time I stopped. I brought small weights and my yoga mat which I used daily.
“In each place I became part of the family helping to cook, do dishes, and tell stories”
How long did it take and how long were you spending in each place?
I spent 6 months in the United States and 6 months in Canada. It wasn’t long enough, really. It was hard to decide where I would spend time and where I wouldn’t. I was guided more by where the people were who I wanted to see. I started off in Ontario and spent my first month of travel visiting with family, some I hadn’t seen in 50 years. Then I went to Montreal because I lived in Montreal in my 20s and loved it there. Then I felt drawn to be in Nova Scotia so I drove straight through the rest of Quebec and New Brunswick. I spent about 4 weeks in Nova Scotia. I stayed at different places: friends of friends, one of the editors of my books and one of the women who put her hand up to host me. In each place I became part of the family helping to cook, do dishes, and tell stories. Sometimes I stayed for 2 days, sometimes a week and many times I left in tears having enjoyed so much the heart connection with new friends.
“I had never been camping on my own. I had no experience for what I was about to do”
Did you have experience with camping for long stretches like this before you went?
I had never been camping on my own. As a kid I hated camping. Then with a previous boyfriend, we went on road trips and I let him take care of everything. I had no experience for what I was about to do.
Did you ever break down?
Me? Or the truck?
I’m assuming you mean the truck. I did have a couple of “almost” breakdowns. I was one month into my trip. I had stocked the freezer with some organic meat and fish, a happy camper knowing I’d have food now for a while. After a few days visiting with a friend, I opened the freezer to take out something for dinner, only to find that the whole fridge was “off” and everything thawed. Actually, I had forgot to plug in the camper and the battery can only run the fridge for a few days before it goes flat unless you’re running the engine which charges it up. I’m sure the guy who sold me the camper told me that but he also told me a hundred other things to remember.
Another time I was driving North in California on my way to Washington, when an orange light on the dashboard began flashing. Not being mechanically minded, I freaked out assuming I was going to break down. I was miles away from any big city and my mind started to catastrophize myself stuck on the side of the road and my roadside insurance wouldn’t cover getting to me. At the same time, I felt a strong inclination to turn off at the next exit but my mind kept interrupting telling me to keep driving and look for the next gas station. But the pull to take the exit was stronger and I listened to it. I turned off the highway and into this real small town. I don’t remember the name. I thought, “Oh great. Now you’re going to waste time getting lost around here only to have to get back on the highway again.” But I kept following my instincts. I turned right, for no reason at all, and then I saw a sign that said “Car repair.” The guy who ran the place was standing outside, as if he was waiting for me. I told him the problem. It was a tire going very low. He fixed it and also fixed my AC which I had had some issues with. Then he wouldn’t let me pay him and wished me happy travels.
The other time was when I was trying to get out of a camping spot. It was really snug. With the camper on the back of the truck, that means you can’t use the rearview mirror. I had only the side mirrors to help me negotiate maneuvering the vehicle. I was sure there was no tree behind me, until I hit it. It squished the railing to my staircase. Oops.
“Oftentimes I didn’t know where I was going to end up at night until partway through the day”
You have a camper, but where does one park one’s camper to sleep?
That turned out to be a daily question in my mind: “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” Most of my days consisted of driving for 4 – 6 hours and then stopping for the night. This routine would stop when I stayed to visit people or go camping. Oftentimes, I didn’t know where I was going to end up at night until partway through the day.
Apart from campsites, I slept on the side of the road tucked into the bushes, in truck stops, Walmart parking lots, abandoned roads and properties, people’s driveways, the street and the forest.
The first night I slept in a Walmart parking lot was scary. I remember lying awake thinking, “I’m in a parking lot all by myself!” Knowing I had to calm myself down I began to do a special breathing technique. Then I imagined all of my fear standing in front of me, and I saw a 4-year-old me who was scared. I realized that my fear was from when I was 4, and felt frightened and no one was there for me. I imagined taking her in my arms and telling her she was safe now and that I was here to hold her and that I wouldn’t leave her. I felt her melt into my heart and then all I felt was love. I had a deep peaceful sleep and after that I really enjoyed sleeping in Walmart parking lots!
Routine and Practicalities
What is the role of routine when you are on a journey like this?
Routine was very important for me. It was the only way I was going to stay sane. Although keeping a routine was super challenging with this lifestyle. I joined a 30-day yoga challenge to help me and for 30 days I did yoga every day, wherever I was, no matter the weather. It was great. Kept me focused and helped me to remember my journey had a purpose.
A lot of people fantasize about this sort of thing. What would you say to them? Like the practicalities of how did you get your mail?
I would suggest to sit down and write down all your questions and then interview people who have done this. You’ll get all kinds of ideas. Everyone does things differently. I had all my mail go to a friend’s place. He told me if anything important came. Email was the best way to reach me. I could hotspot my computer with my cell phone so whenever I had a meeting, I pulled into a convenient stop, jumped in the camper and booted up my computer for the meeting.
I had three suitcases: 1 for summer clothing, 1 for cold weather clothing, 1 for office supplies.
I learned, the painful way, that everything EVERYTHING that is in the camper needs to be secured.
I kept handy the phone number of the help desk at the place where I bought the camper and had many helpful conversations with them when things were happening or not happening with the camper that I didn’t understand.
“I learned that it is never too late. Ever.”
What is the Blue Lagoon in Florida?
The Blue Lagoon was on the west coast of Florida. It is actually a name that the locals give it. It isn’t actually called that. I can’t find its real name. I do remember them saying they wanted to keep it a secret from the public otherwise it would get overrun with tourists, and I can see why.
What did you learn about yourself by doing this trip?
I learned that it is never too late. Ever. That it isn’t too late to do a trip like this and it isn’t too late to start up my business and it isn’t too late to fall in love. It isn’t too late to start living full throttle. And sure, every once in a while I want to go away somewhere to do nothing and be served…for a holiday!
I am now 60 and does my wrist bother me a bit? Yep. Does my knee hurt sometimes? Yip. And I do all the herbs and healthy practices to take care of my health because I’m not holding back anymore.
“The real beauty of this country is in people’s hearts”
What did you learn about the country that you didn’t know beforehand?
That the real beauty of this country is in people’s hearts. Everyone I met truly wanted to connect. I felt nourished in so many ways. People I didn’t know, so generous, offering me places to stay, the use of their home, meals and good company.
Are you planning more adventure travel?
I would love to do that trip again and take more time and visit all my wonderful new friends, but I don’t have any plans to do that just yet. My adventure travels right now are adventures of the soul as I continue to evolve my own consciousness and build my business.
What is your next book about?
My next book will be the sequel to Open Me and will tell the story of leaving New Zealand, going on this road trip, starting my business and meeting the love of my life.