About eight years ago, Anne McKinnell asked herself, “what if I get to the end of my life and discover that I didn’t live the life I truly wanted?” Although Anne felt it was scary to change her life, she felt it was scarier not to. She is grateful she took the leap.
I’ve been following Anne’s Blog for many years - since first meeting her at a Photography Club meeting on Gabriola. I asked her if I could go through her posts to summarize her story.
Anne’s Journey of Reinvention
Wishing to release a feeling of unhappiness that was starting to be overwhelming, Anne sold her home in Victoria, BC, closed her software consulting business, bought an RV so her dogs could travel with her, and hit the road for the life of a nomadic photographer. She made a decision to “follow the beauty” with her camera. Her goal was to photograph as many beautiful places as she could.
She knew other people were out living the life she dreamed about, so why not her? She wanted to follow her passion. She decided to take a one-year sabbatical to live the life of a traveling photographer. It was an investment in living a happier life while testing her skills.
Her photography transitioned from her previous photo-journalism work documenting the sadness and darkness in the world, such as homelessness, to seeing the goodness and beauty in the world. As she did this, her mood gradually lightened.
Three months into her first trip, Anne knew she never wanted to return to her old life. She had found her passion and loved being a photographer. She didn’t want to have to worry about making money that first year. She wanted to spend her time practicing her craft, honing her skills, figuring out her niche and how she could build a business in photography.
Anne now lives a life of freedom and adventure.
She spends six months a year travelling around British Columbia, Canada, and the other six months travelling in the United States or on trips Abroad.
Her first major adventure was a Winter road trip through the American Southwest - California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Summers are spent on Vancouver Island - primarily in an RV park where her little boat Snoopy is moored. Photography has also taken her to China, Iceland, Scotland and Africa.
Her photography and search for beauty in the world have helped her get through many dark days - including the immense loss of family and pets.
Of her RV lifestyle with her husband and pets, Anne says “we spend our time doing things we love and anytime we’re ready we have the freedom to fly. It’s not about money or success. It’s about enjoying your life. If you wait until retirement, you might not get to do it at all. There is more to life than owning stuff. Older people seem to understand this.”
“Years flew by when I was wasting time doing the same thing day-after-day. Now I’m making new memories and time has slowed down. I am inspired. I have time to imagine new creative ways to express myself. I have time to experiment and play. Now I’m living.”
Benefits of a Creative Life
Anne thinks being more creative leads to a better world for everyone. She highlights some of the benefits of using your creativity:
- It lowers your level of stress. Spending time on a creative project can lower your cortisol level.
- Lowers depression and increases well-being. Being immersed in a creative project can help you cope with chronic pain or illness.
- Enhances problem-solving ability. Contrary to popular belief, creative people often exhibit a higher degree of logical thinking and are less attached to social and cultural norms.
- You notice things others don’t see. Being creative helps you visualize different scenarios and come up with new ideas and unique solutions to complex problems. This can spark asking questions and challenging long-held beliefs - ultimately leading to increased understanding, tolerance and a shifting mindset across society.
- It makes you more curious. Curiosity encourages empathy. When you can look at the world through a different lens and a new perspective, this can build bridges between cultures and backgrounds.
- Being creative enhances our personal growth, fulfillment, self-worth and purpose. The spinoff is those things can make you nicer, more tolerant and less angry about things you can’t control.
- Creativity makes you happy. People who regularly engage in creative activities feel more enthusiastic and energized. Being creative leads to feelings of well-being and can contribute a ‘sense of purpose.’ It feeds your soul and is fun. ( This is Anne’s favourite benefit. )
- If you’d like to make a similar change in your life, Anne has this advice. “Sell your stuff. It owns you. When you have no debt you are free. You don’t need a ton of money saved up to travel. You will find creative ways to accomplish what you really want. If you dream of living a different sort of life, give yourself a year to experience it. Don’t worry about whether you have the skills to pull it off - just go live it as if you do. If it doesn’t work out, you will have had a fantastic year. Give yourself a chance to live your dream.”
When Anne initially envisioned what her dream life would look like, she described it like this: “Anne lives a life of adventure travelling all over the world, photographing and writing about beautiful places.” Her dream has come true.
Anne’s work now supports her lifestyle. She has a series of eBooks and eCourses - all with wonderful photos included. Her advice is to “follow the beauty. It will lead you through the darkness in your life.” To view Anne’s photos and to contact her, please visit: www.AnneMcKinnell.com