Learning to Leave to Fully Live

By: Stefana Chivoiu, Marketing Specialist & Unsettled: Amazon alum 

At the beginning of this year, I fell madly in love. For the first time and for real. I had a great job and I was booking my plane tickets for my big #30before30 plan, while checking Pinterest for bathroom designs. I had it all. 

Everything was falling into place. Everything was according to the plan.

Generally, I’m the type of person that speaks to you now, but inside her mind is planning the next two weeks. God forbid I enjoy the moment. God forbid I’d be spontaneous.  

Little had I known… 

Broke and broken hearted

Fast forward two-three months. I’m alone in my living room, smelling like paint, crying my soul out. I just finished refurbishing the house. Also, my relationship was officially finished.

I’m all alone, thinking, rethinking, overthinking. Can I change my past? Can I set my future? 

I can’t. 

And it took me quite a while to understand that the only thing I can do is make sure I live my present fully (aware). 

Between questions and regrets, and all the noise of my brain,  I get the Unsettled newsletter, announcing the following retreats. I take a look, then forward the email to a friend, recommending the Amazon trip. 

Three days have past and no reply, so I check my email again to see if I really forwarded that email. Turns out I did, he just didn’t respond. I take a few seconds to scan the email again, and then, without me realizing, I’m all “what if?” in my brain and I click “apply now”. Next thing you know, there’s an answer in my inbox and I have an interview scheduled.

It’s past midnight in Romania and here I am, in the same living room, laughing with Taylor from Unsettled. We share the same birthday, we have a good connection. I like this program already. She lets me know all the details, including the $500 deposit. I recently finished refurbishing the house and I had quite a few vacations this year to complete my #30before30 resolution: visit 30 countries before turning 30. I have a credit at the bank and a credit card I need to cover. I am literally broke. I can’t do this. 

The only thing I had left was an economy account for “in case of emergency”. I check the balance. Exactly $500. I take this as a sign and I pay the deposit. My jungle adventure is booked. 

It’s mid-July now and I’m embarking on a 38 hour flight. I’m eager and enthusiastic. I promised myself that I would try to stay present. I figured that if I can’t do it, the jungle life might oblige me – you can’t afford wandering around in your mind when there’s always the possibility of a venomous snake coming to get you, so this shall keep me focused. 

Remote people give you deep lessons

I arrive into this breathtaking, beautiful place. No wifi, no reception, no electricity. Just the sounds of nature and a conveniently situated hammock where I spend all of my afternoons. 

Early in the morning, before everyone gets up, I like to go by the river and just watch the sky. I now realize that, no matter how lonely you get to be in your daily life, you never actually get the chance to spend some good time with yourself. 

I breathe in, listen to the birds, observe myself. I look around, I smile, I thank the world and I go for breakfast. We stay in an ultra-remote place. We are 10 people, from 9 countries, with 7 different diets. Even so, the food is abundant, delicious, and the staff is super nice. 

These people work remotely from a perspective different from what we know: for them it is no wifi, no reception, no electricity, no family. Sometimes, the temperature is unbearable, not to mention the mosquitos or the humidity. They have 4 free days in a month. Even so, they are incredibly kind, sweet, helpful, and… serene. 

Every now and then, after the guests finish their lunch and they finish their chores, they go out to play football. And that, my friends, is a moment of pure bliss. Not only for them. For those watching them as well. 

Be present. The present is a present.

And let me tell you how it was for me: one day, I traded my afternoon nap-time in the hammock for some pretty inspiring conversations with my colleagues and a cup of coffee. When I eventually went out of the dining area, I walked into a different world. In front of me, on the lawn, the staff, along with the guides and some other tourists, were playing football. Never in my life have I felt such joy. You could literally feel the happiness in the air. They were so happy to play and they lived the moment so intensely that everybody around them felt their pure delight. 

After waking up at 5 AM, after working the whole day, just before starting another shift, in the heat of the jungle, barefoot in the grass, with a blue, childish ball, these people were playing football. And they were so caught up in the moment and so cheerful, like children at Legoland, with nothing to care about. 

My eyes filled with tears and I started smiling. This scene and that feeling in the air, the pure bliss that surrounded us, made me understand that really, all we have is now. So why not enjoy it? 

You can have nothing in this life, in this world, and still feel like you own the world, if you are able to truly live in the present. 

When you leave so you can live

At the airport, in my home country, before embarking on my flight, I wrote this: time to leave to fully live. I was right. Cause this was not just a trip to the jungle. This was a trip to my deepest self.


We are diving back into the Amazon jungle for one week this August. Join us! 

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