We are made for newness; we are made to be flexible; we are made to travel light; we are made for connection; we are made for flow.
A Portable Life is about travelling light – from the baggage we carry in our hands to the baggage we carry in our hearts. My invitation to you is set your bags down for a while & see what else you find room for in your life.
So I am Jessie, the main writer of words & seeker of adventures behind A Portable Life. I kinda hate About Me pages because, really, who can be or even wants to be summed up in such a small space with mere words!
But we are known through our stories, what we do and who we are to each other. So I invite you to stick around a bit and you’ll know who I am in not too long. And in a little bit of a story on this page, instead of telling you facts about me, I’ll share the why’s of this site, and my life in general.
What began as musings on the meaning of life (always a dangerous subject to ponder), and was intended only as a few life adjustments, has turned into a full scale overhaul.
Some would say the wheels fell off my life. Some might say everything fell apart.
I’d say I was a caterpillar, but I just came out of a cocoon — and there are these funny things on my back I think are called wings. And I think, I think, it might just be time to fly.
“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
— Steve Jobs
So what is A Portable Life about?
When I was a kid (and let’s face it, as an adult too) I would read fantasy novels and imagine myself a heroine in the action. And I was always the wild one, the fearless one, the warrior in the battle, the adventurer.
But that was only in my imagination, right? In real life I was the shy one, the awkward one, the introverted day-dreamer but not much more. I thought all my wild fantasy and adventure would only ever be in my mind, and in the pages of the stories I wrote myself.
And that’s what life told me too. I dreamed of adventure, but I settled for the conveyor belt that everyone else seemed to be on. An endless, factory-stamped march towards death.
That’s what it began to feel like, and never more so for me than around the middle of 2014. From the outside everyone else would have thought — and did think, and told me so — that my life was perfect and I was “so lucky”. They’d been telling me this for years. Just be grateful for the little adventures you have had, and move on, get on with “real life.”
But I had never been more depressed. I felt weighed down by the life that was supposed to be everything I’d ever wanted. But it was everything I thought I was supposed to want.
I wanted a back pack, a compass and a sturdy pair of shoes — and somehow I’d attached myself to baggage I couldn’t lift, a road map made by other people’s expectations, and too many shoes to make sense of. (Take this image as literal or metaphorical as you will — it was kinda both.)
And I’d been holding all this and trying to grin and bear the crushing weight, because I didn’t believe I deserved anything different. I didn’t believe I was allowed to ask for anything different. I didn’t believe anything different was actually possible.
But I was crumbling under the weight of it. And so out of sheer necessity — feeling like a failure who just couldn’t hack it — I began to shed. Physical stuff. Emotional stuff. The labels, the expectations, the possessions. I went off track, and everyone thought I was just going to get lost — but it turns out it’s the wild road where I really find myself.
Start heading cross country for even a few steps, and you’ll quickly learn to drop everything that doesn’t serve you.
My first step (leap) off the path was going to Peru at the end of 2014. Ostensibly to learn Spanish. That was the semi-respectable answer I gave to the why? But it was a soul journey. The first step to remembering who I really was under all the stuff that had covered me over.
I went with only a carry-on back pack of physical things, and while I was there I let go of so much of the emotional baggage I was carrying too. And so my love of adventure and travelling light only deepened — in every sense.
And my idea for A Portable Life was conceived there. Can a life with less be so much more? Can we really create the things we dream of instead of settling for the status quo?
My answer is obviously a resounding YES! But even I am only at the beginning of my journey. My YES is a yes of faith and vision and hope. I will believe it and pursue until I take my last breath.
Because now when I look back, the ‘life’ I’d built around myself as a protection against pain, now appears to me as it really was — a prison. They told me I’d never make it on the outside, that I’d never make it on my own, that I may as well make the best of that confined, chained life. At least I was alive.
But one day I realised I’d rather die trying to breathe fresh air again, than live forever in the darkness. And I walked out.
I left the well worn road and entered the wild forest of my dreams.
If that sounds too whimsical to be realistic… well, good. We could all stand to embrace a little more whimsy.
I’m here to stand up for the impractical adventure of life. To stand up for a life that can be both magical and meaningful. That can be both pleasure and purpose — even when it’s painful.
And that’s the thing — if you’re a dreamer and an adventurer too (and I suspect you are if you’ve read this far, even if you don’t know it yet), then people are going to tell you that you’re too fickle and flighty, too irresponsible, too starry-eyed. Settle down, they’ll say. Get to grips with the real world. Life is not all about fun.
But you and I, Dreamer, we know — we know that the ‘real world’ is what we make it. And that the pursuit of a life of adventure and beauty is not running from pain — it is embracing all that life is and has to offer fully, all of it. Pain included.
It is the insulated, possession-filled, consumeristic, soulless life that is running from pain. We have tried to anaesthetise ourselves from reality by walling ourselves in protectively. We have literally and metaphorically created dams in our lives out of fear and control. Trying to ensure life is safe.
But we have cut ourselves off from the very things that make life actually worth it! We human beings are not made for stagnation. We get depressed, sick, angry, stressed. (But can be so numb we don’t even realise it.)
We are made for newness — new experiences, people and ideas. To keep us challenged, inspired, growing, creative.
We are made to be flexible — body, mind and spirit. Ready to take on anything.
We are made to travel light — free from the crippling burdens of debt, possessions, guilt and shame.
We are made for connection — to know others, to be interdependent, not isolated. To live in flourishing ecosystems and communities.
We are made to flow — a constant, unhindered flow of creativity, ideas, resources, life blood, Spirit, love.
So this is what I’m searching for. This is what I’m attempting to build. And this is the journey that I will document — and hopefully inspire you with — here on this blog. A life of Newness, Flexibility, Connectedness, Portability and Flow.
Driven by the belief that it is possible. That life truly is an adventure, and that with the Spirit as my compass, my long held dreams are not just fanciful notions, to be confined to day-dreams and story books — they are real, and purposeful, given to me and embedded in my heart for a reason. And they are where living really happens.
If anything in you tingles or sparks at any of this — if you’ve got even a little inkling that there is more to life than you’ve been told (and sold) — then why don’t you join me?
I hope as I spread my wings in freedom, I can inspire others to do the same. And then none of us will be flying alone.
What exactly will you find here?
It’s not just a travel blog — though I will do plenty of travel.
It’s not just a lifestyle blog — though I will explore the lifestyles and principles of Permaculture & minimalism. Both the practicalities and the adventurous essence of those things.
It’s not just about being nomadic — being settled in a home is important too, though ‘home’ starts within us and can exist in so many forms.
This is about Intentional Living. Which means living life on purpose, according to your own inner compass, not someone else’s map.
So this blog isn’t really a How To guide either — I don’t plan to create a blueprint for you to follow. That would be easiest. But that’s not where the real adventure and freedom lies. If we want a well-trodden highway, well, there are already plenty of those.
But formulas only make you like someone else — what we really want is to become fully ourselves. And how that looks for me may be different to how it looks for you.
I may uncover some sage advice to share with you as I forge this path of mine. But most of all, I want to inspire you to discover your own path. To rediscover your own dreams and purpose. And I hope to ignite in you the courage to pursue those things relentlessly.
It may be a cliche, but it is true — life really is short! Let’s not waste another minute.
Who’s with me?
What’s coming up?
True to form for me, there were a lot of plans in the works, and they’ve all since changed. Life is ever evolving, and it’s a little scary, but I do like it that way. Really I only know for certain what my plan is a week in advance, and sometimes not even then.
We left Adelaide for Perth, intending to head to England and Peru. But ended up in Far North Queensland instead. Then Melbourne. Then back to Adelaide. (Which I swore I never wanted to do, until I realised I did. More on that soon!) We bought a campervan. Toyed with other travel ideas.
And then signed a 12 month lease instead…
And now we are settled in the village like town of Willunga in South Australia, for at least the next year. With plans to grow herbs & create music and love and family life here for a while. And while it seems like an oxymoron, to settle down in order to get more wild — that’s exactly what is happening. I’m feeling wilder than ever.
So I can’t exactly tell you what will be coming next. But if you stick around here, it will never be boring, that I do promise.
Read the main Blog for stories and articles on creativity, connection & adventure. Inspiration and motivation to shed baggage, free your thinking & create your own path in life.
And read the “Travel Diary” for more casual daily insights on any trips we do.