I was the kid who ran away to join the circus.
I grew up in farmland. It was an idyllic place to grow up and I was the epitome of a free spirit. I often say my childhood was “free-range”. In the fall, the carnival would come into town and set up in an overgrown field close to my home. At night, the cool breeze would carry the exciting sounds of the bustling midway over the fields and the lights of the big wheel would glow tauntingly in the distance.
By the light of the moon, I would slip out of my room and make my way through the fields and crops between myself and the smell of cotton candy. I would sneak onto the carnival grounds unaccompanied and into an adventure.
I did this day after day and year after year. Finally, one year, I left with the show.
For over a decade and a half I was a traveler and performer. I lived a carefree life out of suitcases, not really knowing where my next adventure would take me. I worked ridiculously hard, but it didn’t feel like work. Sometimes fortune smiled on me, and sometimes I found myself dependent on the kindness of strangers. Through it all, I was happy, free and untethered.
I ‘retired’ from that life at 30 and started a new chapter. I settled down, met a girl and I eventually followed her to the big city of Toronto. There, I went completely corporate.
In contrast to my previous life, I dove into a disciplined work schedule. I started up the corporate ladder as a customer service representative for a very large Canadian company and quickly moved to an account manager, then a team lead, then a manager, and then finally upper management where I had dozens of people reporting to me.
Another ten years flew by.
If you were to take a snapshot of my life back in January 2017, it would look like I was living my ideal life. I had a career in upper management with a good salary. I had an expensive house and a couple of nice cars in the driveway. But the truth was that I was absolutely miserable.
The career was high stress, and the company I worked for was disorganized and dishonest with its customers. The commute to the job I hated was two hours both ways, and we were no further ahead then folks making minimum wage due to our high mortgage, car payments, and gas. The grind cost me my happiness, my time, my health and nearly my marriage.
The dream was to eventually move out to the East Coast of Canada. My wife and I always talked about retirement in Nova Scotia. But in conversation the idea struck us. Why did it have to wait until retirement?
In a whirlwind, my wife found and was then offered a job in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I immediately quit my job. We quickly sold our house and we bought a beautiful home practically site unseen. We packed up our belongings, and our two dogs, and we moved East for a slower pace of life.
For work, I started looking into remote career opportunities. After some false starts, I found ReCharge. I now work from home, and my commute is two minutes. Or three minutes, if I put on pants. I’m able to enjoy my time and the relaxed pace of country life. I have time to enjoy living.
The relaxed work/life balance also meant being able to enter a chapter of life I never thought I would be able to. Parenthood. I’m a first-time father at 43 and loving every moment of it.
Antigonish is a beautiful town. It’s the Highland Heart of Nova Scotia, with rolling mountains and nature at your door. While the air no longer carries the sounds of the carnival, it does carry the sound of bagpipes when the annual Highland Games are on.