How I Found Healing and Happiness in a Third World Country


“Your
life
does
not
get
better
by
chance,
it
gets
better
by
change.”
~Jim
Rohn

For
years
I
dreamed
of
leaving
the
winters
of
Northern
Ontario,
Canada
and
basking
in
the
warm
golden
sun
somewhere
in
Central
America
from
October
to
May.
I
would
joke
with
my
co-workers
every
winter
“This
is
my
last
winter
here,
I
swear!”

I
did
that
for
years
until
finally,
one
year,
it

was

my
last
winter
there.
But
it
wasn’t
because
it
was
the
most
brutal
winter
we
had
experienced
so
far.
Oh
no.
It
was
much
more
than
that.

Rewind
Back
to
2012

I
had
just
walked
out
of
my
eight-year
abusive
relationship.
I
was
beaten
down,
ripped
apart,
and
left
as
a
shell
of
a
woman.
I
had
nothing
to
my
name
materialistically
or
emotionally. Very
few
belongings
and
no
self-respect,
self-worth,
self-love,
or
self-confidence.

I
left
empty
and
numb.
But
at
that
time,
it
didn’t
matter
to
me
what
I
had
or
didn’t
have.
All
I
knew
was
that
in
order
to
preserve
what
little
sanity
I
had
left,
I
had
to
leave.

Rebuilding
my
life
took
a
lot
of
time.
I
had
just
declared
bankruptcy
and
didn’t
have
two
cents
to
rub
together.
With
the
amazing
help
of
family
and
friends,
I
was
able
to
get
a
job,
find
an
apartment,
furnish
it,
albeit
very
simply,
and
start
my
life
over
again.

I
was
fifty-one
years
old.
And
scared
out
of
my
tree.
I
have
never
lived
alone,
ever,
and
wasn’t
sure
I
could
support
myself
or
how
I
was
going
to
live.

My
Journey
out
of
Despair

After
I
left
my
relationship
I
delved
into
the
world
of
personal
development.
I
needed
to
get
my
hands
on
things
that
were
going
to
help
me
improve
my
life.
I
read
eBooks
and
self-help
blogs
and
watched
YouTube
videos
by
some
of
the
greatest
people
on
earth
(Les
Brown,
Tony
Robbins,
Lisa
Nichols,
etc.)

I
had
hundreds
of
Post-it
notes
with
motivational
quotes
and
sayings
taped
all
over
my
tiny
apartment.
I
read
them
aloud
every
chance
I
could.
I
had
a
lot
of
healing
to
do
and
was
willing
to
do
whatever
I
had
to
do
in
order
to
heal.

I
was
broken,
empty,
and
numb
and
I
knew
I
had
a
purpose
here
on
earth—and
it
wasn’t
to
be
miserable
for
the
rest
of
my
life.
I
was
not
interested
in
subscribing
to
that
life
anymore.

And
then
something
wonderful
happened….

I
Found
Home
in
a
Homeless
Shelter

One
day
I
was
having
a
conversation
with
someone
I
had
just
met,
and
they
told
me
they
volunteered
at
the
homeless
shelter
and
how
amazing
it
was.

I
was
all
ears
then.
I
wanted
to
know
who,
what,
where,
when,
and
why.
All
of
it.

The
next
day
I
found
myself
there
applying
to
become
a
volunteer.
And
suddenly
I
had
something
to
look
forward
to
that
took
me
out
of
my
misery,
helped
me
to
forget
my
troubles,
and
opened
my
eyes
to
a
whole
new
world.

The
volunteering
gig,
I
soon
discovered,
was
a
huge
part
of
my
healing
journey.
I
had
no
idea
how
my
whole
world
was
about
to
change
simply
by
feeding
homeless
people
dinner
twice
a
month.

I
fell
in
love
with
these
people.
Each
and
every
one
of
these
broken,
lost
souls
filled
my
heart
with
immense
joy.
It
was
here
that
all
my
troubles
disappeared
and
my
heart
opened
up.

The
more
I
helped,
the
happier
I
became,
and
I
suddenly
realized
what
my
purpose
was
in
life.
It
was
right
here
with
the
poor,
the
broken,
the
helpless,
and
the
hungry.

Fast
Forward
to
2014

Every
day
I
became
stronger
and
happier.
I
started
falling
in
love
with
Iva.
I
found
a
new
Iva.
One
who
had
something
to
look
forward
to.
A
woman
who,
once
broken
and
beaten,
was
coming
alive
and
had
a
zest
for
life.

One
year
after
I
started
volunteering
at
the
homeless
shelter,
I
became
team
captain
and
was
there
almost
daily.

But
part
of
me
still
wanted
more.
I
wanted
to
help
more
on
a
personal
level
and
somewhere
poverty,
homelessness,
and
malnutrition
was
prevalent.
I
drifted
back
to
my
dream
of
going
to
Central
America
and
suddenly
had
a
major
a-ha
moment.

If
I
could
just
find
a
way
to
support
myself
down
there,
I
could
go.
Once
again,
I
delved
into
the
personal
development
world
but
this
time
with
a
different
goal
in
mind.
I
was
going
to
learn
how
to
become
a
freelance
writer
so
I
could
make
this
dream
possible.

But
it
was
two
dreams
now:
escape
Canadian
winters
and
help
the
hungry.

Suddenly
the
Dream
Became
a
Reality

After
much
research,
and
submitting
numerous
amounts
of
guest
blogs
for
free,
I
finally
found
a
job
as
a
freelance
writer.
It
took
me
eight
months
of
cutting
hair
for
nine
hours
a
day
and
writing
for
free
for
three
to
four
hours
a
day,
but
I
finally
did
it.

In
July
of
2015
I
resigned
from
my
hairstyling
job
and
had
become
a
full-time
freelance
writer.
The
next
step
was
to
downsize,
find
a
country
in
Central
America,
and
move.

It
was
all
happening
so
fast.
It
seemed
like
just
yesterday
I
was
leaving
my
abusive
relationship,
and
here
I
was
looking
at
third
world
countries
to
move
to.

I
was
scared,
excited,
terrified,
and
finally
happy.
I
had
a
new
lease
on
life,
and
this
lease
didn’t
just
include
me
anymore.
It
was
bigger
than
that.

But
I
Realized
Something
Very
Big
and
Important

In
October
of
2015
I
landed
in
Guatemala
with
two
suitcases
on
a
one-way
ticket.
I
was
terrified
but
knew
I
had
to
be
here.

I
found
organizations
that
needed
help
and
found
families
on
my
own
that
I
helped
independently.
I
helped
people
on
the
streets,
bought
lunch
for
the
young
shoeshine
boys,
and
sent
kids
to
school.

I
loved
life
in
the
third
world.
It
was
simple,
people
were
beautiful,
and
I
was
finally
happy
and
at
peace
with
my
past
and
the
traumatic
life
I
had
lived.

That’s
when
I
realized
one
very
important
thing:
When
we
help
others,
we
help
ourselves.
Through
helping
others
we
create
deep
connections,
which
helps
prevent
depression;
we
find
a
renewed
sense
of
purpose;
and,
research
shows,
we
reduce
our
stress
level
and
boost
our
happiness.

I
realized
that
volunteering
was
the
best
thing
I
could
have
ever
done
for
myself
during
my
healing
journey.

When
we
take
ourselves
out
of
our
own
heads
and
lives
and
put
ourselves
in
a
place
that
not
only
rocks
our
comfort
zone
but
gives
us
a
chance
to
serve
others,
that’s
when
true
healing
occurs.

That
doesn’t
have
to
mean
moving
to
a
third-world
country
or
making
any
major
changes.
It
can
be
as
simple
as
volunteering
for
an
hour
once
a
week,
or
even
once
a
month—or
even
just
helping
friends
and
neighbors
in
need.

We
heal
by
helping
others.
By
bringing
joy
to
others. And
by
sharing
our
stories
of
change,
courage,
and
bravery.

It’s
four
years
later
and
I’m
still
in
Guatemala,
still
helping
and
still
growing
personally.
I
don’t
think
I
could
ever
move
back
to
Canada.
Living
in
a
third
world
has
brought
ridiculous
joy
to
my
life
and
so
much
love
to
my
heart.

It’s
changed
me
in
ways
I
never
dreamed
possible.
And
I
couldn’t
be
happier.

About

Iva
Ursano

Iva
is
a
retired
hairstylist
turned
freelancer
from
Northern
Ontario
Canada
living
a
life
of
freedom,
peace,
and
joy
in
sunny
Guatemala.
Her
two
main
goals
are
to
inspire
people
around
the
world
with
her
blogs
and
to
feed
hungry
little
bellies
in
the
poor
town
she
now
calls
home.
Follow

her
here
on
Pinterest
or
head
over
to

her
website
and
sign
up
for
weekly
in-your-face
inspiration!

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