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My name is Jeannie Mark

I’m a mid-lifer who quit a growing corporate career to reawaken my passions — and forge a life set by my own rules.

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The Philippines

Figures and Landscapes

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China

Moving Forward

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China

Before You Teach in China, Read This

4 Years of Travel: What Has it Brought Me

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It’s come full circle.

There I was writing a freelance article when I realized that today marks 1, 460 days on the road.

If you were here at the beginning, I did one post, the one that recounted the first year of this personal journey that suddenly became a public display.

I opened up a vein to you and here we are again, four years later.

I was sure I wouldn’t last this long. There were so many self doubting moments when I’d seriously ponder booking a ticket home and forgetting the whole thing.

I had a good run, just pack it in.

Ultimately my mind came up blank on what I’d exactly do if I came home, knowing that even at my darkest moments, I couldn’t go backwards.

It was always about moving forwards.

In that first anniversary post, I referred to the ‘shake and slap’ syndrome, the intense desire to wake up my life — so what is the shakedown after four years then? The same or amazingly different?

Book of the Month: How to Live a Life of Travel

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“I’m gonna leave Canada, travel the world, have rich experiences and make friends from all four corners of the globe, and even make money at writing and creativity… OH, and then live in whatever country that strikes my fancy at the time.”

BULLSHIT.

If someone told me this five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed them for a second. Not one. I would have laughed, told them good luck (means, highly doubt it) and walked away from the interaction smiling smugly.

But, it’s true.

I’m now in Calgary having left Vancouver this past weekend and in another week I’ll be off again, with trips planned to Europe, then onwards to Central America (maybe a little South thrown in).

I am doing it. I am traveling as a viable lifestyle.

My European trip is chock full of friends that I’ve met through this blog or on social media — flesh and blood people that I will see, hug and hang out with.

I make money at this lifestyle that I once feared, but wanted — through freelance writing, partnerships, teaching, speaking engagements and any entrepreneurial idea that bursts open, my bookstore being one.

Just yesterday I had a conversation with my brother, when he finally told me that he’s proud of me. It felt so good to hear that.

Then, I told him, “I don’t make as much money as I use to for sure, but I’m so much happier. I wake up wanting to work, to tackle the day. I get to write all day long, a gift I thought I’d never see.”

His response? “I’m so happy that you are happy, sis.”

Via Rail: The Train Stations

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The Via Rail experience isn’t just about the scenery you see on board —  it’s also about the train stations too.

If you haven’t done a Via Rail trip, how it works is your route will have certain designated stops, some are longer than others, a quick stop can be as short as 20 minutes, while a long stop can be anywhere from one to four hours. It also depends on the schedule.

Freight trains take precedence (as Via Rail is owned by freight railways), so if they take a bit of time to pass by as the train waits on the track, then you might be behind by a few hours, which can alter the train station schedule.

But don’t panic!

A Via Rail trip is about the passing of moments, something I love about travel.

Either way, I was delighted with discovering some of Canada’s history simply by stepping into a train station. It can happen just like that.

Inside My Bag

It’s come to this. After selling my beloved backpack, Miz Chanel, I have now officially purchased a backpack on wheels.

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Coming home has been fruitful, I’ve found new gadgets to take with me, discovered things to downsize, upgrade, or toss away.

It’s a rite of passage between people who travel. Sure, they might make small talk, shuffle their feet a bit, and take their time to build up to it, but eventually they come out and ask.

“What’s in your bag?”

I don’t write posts on this, because overall the subject doesn’t interest me, but lately I’ve been very happy about travel finds that will come with me over the next six months.

Ladies (and gents), what you will now see is a rare look inside the bag of a long term female traveler.

Does she bother with tampons? Hair gel? What’s practical? What’s not?

Indeed, bask in a once in a lifetime glance.

Vancouver: The Food

Besides discovering that my friends are aging (as am I) and taking gorgeous photos of my hometown, remember her?

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Vancouver is proving to be a great pit stop for me to let go of baggage, literally. I sold Miz Chanel to a Japanese fellow wanting to do the West Coast Trail.

It was hard though, her and I have been through so much together. The chaotic, teeming streets of India, or the laid back island mentality of Taiwan, and my beloved France — where I dress to impress, basking in atmosphere and staggering history. I actually hugged her before letting her go. The Japanese guy laughed at my strange attachment issues. It’s kind of pathetic to grieve over a pack, but she held the contents of my life — all lanky 62 litres of her.

So to mollify my pain I’ve been consuming food like crazeee! And it’s working. I miss her less and less every day, but my waistline is in full protest. Who cares, pass the mashed potatoes, please.

Being Old in Travel

Have you ever tried to do yoga on a moving train??

I did, and sometimes knowing this is a miracle to me. That my body can still do these things.

Another strange facet of being home, I’ve been gone so long that my friends have aged on me. They moan about creaks in their joints, a spastic knee here, a wrenched ankle there, that will never right itself.

We don’t party as hard as we use to, usually sipping a chilled Pinot Gris and musing on past days, or talk in depth about aging parents.

Then they reproduced. I finally have a bead on what many of them must have been like as children. Their spitting images are potty training or learning to ride a bike, and this leaves me in a state of fragile papyrus, about to crumble into fragmented bones.

oldtravel01It’s come to that. Everyone is getting old, but so am I.

It cleaves keenly when I’m staying at a youth hostel. Since when did hostels have the word ‘youth’ by the way? Isn’t that some major offence to the English comma?

Inevitably at a youth hostel, the round table begins. When all the floppy haired boys and gleaming skinned girls state their ages, because it’s a fascinating subject at twenty-something. I’m 26 and ended up in this flea bag hostel in Peru! More beeeeers!

When it’s my turn, and all those eyes with no laugh lines and wrinkles stare at me — I beg off, avoid the answer entirely. I know what they want to hear. 28. 32. Something that makes them feel relieved that nobody near their parents age is doing this.