We are in this order: a designer; a writer of books and this blog; an 8 year-old whose name means winged one. These are a few of our favourite things: Alfredo de la Fe’s versions of that song, steak on a Wednesday, dancing, dreaming and doing, screaming until we get our way (that’s just Alula and I), not doing laundry, thrift store hunting, record digging, hot spring lazing, kayaks, Curzon cinemas and cake.
Can We Live Here is our adventure, started in January 2010, when we decided to leave behind the day jobs in London – John’s at a design agency and mine at a non-profit running volunteer led programmes – pack two very small rucksacks and a small child wearing a pink tutu and head off into the sunset to find a new place to live – somewhere sunny and warm, somewhere where I could spend all day writing, where John could take design to new places, and where Alula could just be (…away from the evil grip of Barbie and Disney).
Et voila. Ten months later we wound up in Bali living a hot, happy and ecstatic life, drinking lots of coconuts. OK, and the odd Margarita.
I managed to secure a three book deal with a major publisher half-way into our trip, and have gone on to publish seven young adult novels in total with them over the last four years. In 2014 I signed with Pan Macmillan under the pen name Mila Gray and started writing adult fiction. In 2015 this blog was published as a book too.
John worked in design and innovation in Singapore, as well as starting two ventures in Bali – Hubud and Green Design Camp at Green School. And Alula… well, Alula turned into a beautiful hippy who ran free, declared her love to ‘mother earth’ and laid offerings to the Buddha and Ganesha every day. Our Bali experience and all that travel has shaped her into the most confident, empathetic, sensitive and beautiful soul I’ve ever met.
Great things did come along when we left the UK! There were huge ups and downs of course, moments of crippling self-doubt, rocky marriage moments and frequent times where our overdrafts were maxed out, but it was also the most incredible, rewarding, life-changing adventure of our lives. Can We Live Here is simply best thing we ever did.
At the end of 2014, after almost five years and lots of umming and arraing, we returned to the UK to pursue some amazing work opportunities we’d both been given. John joined a London-based tech startup with a mission to make money work better for people. I had signed with film agents in London and LA and was starting to spend more time writing screenplays.
Our plan though is to stay only until a year before we head off on another adventure: Can We Live Here pt2.
We want to inspire others to do what we have done – to dance into tomorrow, to follow their dreams – because it really does rock on the other side. Come join us. Or just be in touch. Follow me on twitter @sarahalderson or Instagram. Or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
J & S & A