How Kristina Barile Went From MIT Rocket Scientist to Living Off The Land In Panama
Ep. 117
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Kristina Barile

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    On this week’s episode, I interview the incredible Kristina Barile on her journey from a Harvard and MIT-grad rocket scientist to living in a mud home in Panama, teaching holistic, nutritional Ayurveda and freelance writing. In last week’s episode, we talked all about how unnatural our lives have become and the effects it is having on our lives. Kristina and her husband recognized this deep restlessness in corporate America and decided to embark on a journey to find a better way. Her journey opened her up to a wide array of experiences: Travelling 30 hours up to Mount Kailash in the Himalayan Mountains, to living in India for 5 months to focus on meditation and self-awareness, to finally building a sustainable mud home in Panama. Kristina’s story is still evolving but her unwavering desire to ground herself and live an authentic life will keep her moving forward.

Show Transcript
Goli: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode. I am so excited to have you here. We are going back to an interview. I know it's been a couple of weeks and I've missed these and this one is so good. And you're in for a treat because I have my friend Kristina Barile on the show and I'll talk about how inspiring her story is in a minute. But before I jump in, I just wanted to let you know that I am running a free challenge next month, October 12th, through the 14th, three days of hanging out together, going deep on all this mindset stuff so that you can find the path that is right for you and it's going to be pretty awesome. Our last challenge was amazing and I would love to have you in on this one. So if you want to join, go to quitter, and I know I'm gonna get a lot of emails.

So if you can't make the live trainings, I will be sending out replays, but make sure you get on the list so that you get those replays. All right, back to today's episode, it actually ties really nicely. If you didn't listen to last week's episode, you may want to do that. Last week. I talked all about how our lives are not natural, the way that we live, the way that we work, it is not the way that humans were evolved. And that might be part of the reason that so many of us feel this restlessness and unfulfilled newness and a lot of the feelings that we have, and we feel guilty for feeling that way. And part of it is honestly just the way that we're made. I think that episode actually ties in really nicely with Kristina's episode, because I think that hearing what she is doing really makes a lot more sense.

When you look at it, in that context, Kristina has an incredibly impressive resume and background. She studied at Harvard and at MIT, she was a rocket scientist and she worked as such in Los Angeles. She kind of lived this very, I think what most people consider like a glamorous corporate career, you know, working for places like NASA and space X and things like that. But she felt as though something was missing. And I think that's a feeling that a lot of people have and after realizing that she wanted to take her life in a different direction and not really knowing what the direction was, she and her husband left the U S without a plan and they traveled for more than a year. And they ultimately landed in the rainforest of Panama and they are now moved to their full time. And they're building a sustainable mud and bamboo home.

The way I actually found Kristina was on TikTok. You should follow her. I will put that in the show notes because she Chronicles a lot of the building of this mud hut and how incredible it is and how these, the way that they build these homes for hundreds of years is so much more efficient. It doesn't need any cooling or heating. The house just - literally the mud keeps the temperature of the house at like a perfect temperature. There isn't like erosion, there aren’t termites. There isn't a lot of the stuff that kind of modern-day buildings have. And so she is using her background as a scientist and an engineer to be able to build this house. And we talk about how she is really I'm supplementing her income as a freelance editor, how she got into that and how she's a holistic health counselor who now has been living off-grid and how she is building out her business and her life to fit her own needs.

Not the opposite way. I think it really ties into a lot of what we talked about last week. And I think a lot of what a lot people struggle with, and oftentimes we've just accepted that this is the way it is and that there's nothing else we can do. And I think Kristina is just offering such an incredible example of the fact that there are a lot of options out there if we're willing to kind of move past that fear and see what is available. So without further ado, let's jump in and hear from Kristina.
Kristina: Hi Goli, I am so happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Goli: Oh, I'm so happy to have you. And I have to let everybody know that the way I found you is on TikTok and we were just talking about how interesting it is, like how social media lets you find people. And I saw some of your take talks where you're showing how you moved to Panama and you're building a house there. And so I want to get into all of that exciting, but we typically start back at the beginning and I think what makes your journey and your story so fascinating is that you did kind of go the traditional quote-unquote, successful route that so many people follow. So why don't you tell us a little bit about your kind of education and what your career looked like before you made this big move?
Kristina: Sure. So when I was growing up, college and getting a graduate degree, those were the most - those were things that you had to do. You had to get a good job after that and then a home and all of these things. And so I just kind of, I believe that I believed what everyone was telling me and I put my full heart full effort into it. I studied my butt off. I eventually got into Harvard and I studied mechanical engineering there. And then while I was at Harvard, I loved math and science. I had an internship at NASA and I fell in love with aerospace engineering specifically. And so after that, I went to MIT for my masters for, for two years for aeronautical engineering, I worked on some very exciting projects and then I was ready to be done with grad school. Cause that was quite the challenge and made it to LA where I ended up working as a rocket scientist. I worked on rocket engine design for three years. And in that time I also was a professor of mechanical engineering for graduate students and seniors at LMU in Los Angeles.
Goli: That is quite the resume.
Kristina: Yeah. I mean, from the perspective of yeah, the traditional success route, then it it's, it stands out for sure. I worked hard to get there. And at that time having gone through all of that, during that process, that was what I really enjoyed doing. I didn't do like I was doing it because there was a part of me that was like, okay, this is what I should do. Cause I need to have a good job and support a family, but I really liked it.
Goli: So how did that change? I mean, I think it's very interesting that you did like it at one point. Cause a lot of times the people that we have on kind of went the way they should, like when we went to law school and really hated it from day one. And so it's always interesting to see, even when you do kind of like it, you know, there's a level of hustle culture in the US that can burn you out, even if you actually enjoy the thing that you're doing. And so I wonder like when did you start realizing that maybe this wasn't the path?
Kristina: Like you said, there's a different level of, of hustle culture, where people are working from early morning until nine o'clock, 10 o'clock at night. I have friends who were in finance and things doing that. That was not me. I knew right away that I needed to do something that was like a nine to five, but I was living in LA. So my commute was three hours total each day. And then so with that included, then it's kind of like work was becoming my life and life was just I was kind of missing it. I felt like my weeks were simply dominated by work or getting to work. And then my weekends were just recovering from work, you know, resting and you know, I still got to do, I mean, I'm a traveler.
I still got to do like go on like weekend trips and things like that. I made the best of being in LA and going out here and there. But the overall predominant feeling was just that work was going to be my life. And then I was sitting at my desk doing this work. I was doing super exciting work for space X and helping them with some of their, their engine issues. But I was just like, I don't know if I can be at this desk for the rest of my life. There was something missing because I was surrounded by people who were super excited to be at work and the stuff they were doing. And I liked it honestly, because I think I was good at it. And then I, you get that positive feedback. So it's like, okay, well this must be what I'm supposed to be doing because people are telling me that I'm good at it.
So maybe I'm, I'm just I dunno, it's just something wrong with me and I should just keep doing this. But something changed when I saw these people around me, who've been at my company for like 30 years, 40 years and they have these big grand retirement parties. So that was, that was one thing I was like, I can't see myself getting to that point where I'm just in this building and doing that and I could change jobs of course. And, but I think overall it's just, I felt something very off-putting for me for having a whole life dedicated to a job, having that be like the grand summary of my life until retirement age.
Goli: I think that's something that so many people listening feel so many of us, you know, I think there is a sense, especially in the newer generations, you know, you don't see the story as much where somebody stays at the same job or, you know, maybe even the same career for 30 years. And so it seems very strange to us that like, I'm going to be doing the same thing and that is kind of a crushing thought, but what happens is that so many people feel this way and then they revert to, well, this is the way it is. Like I have to pay my bills, I have to just do this. And so they just keep going in and doing the same thing. And so when you start having this inkling, I mean, what happened next? Like, did you know what you wanted to do from there? Or was it kind of, cause a lot of people would look for another job or figure out like, how do I make this? Maybe I moved to a place where the commute isn't as long.
Kristina: Right. I did have some of those options. I could have maybe switched different jobs, but I, I was just feeling like engineering as a whole was not where I was thriving. I have a lot of creative energy and I was just at the time getting out of this bubble of academia and engineering where now I'm in my work field. And so now I have the time honestly, to think about doing other things, because everything before that point, you're just on like a high speed train just to getting a job. Like there's not even time to, to think you have four years of college, maybe a couple of years of graduate degrees. And it's like, then maybe after that, it's like, you're there. And you're interested in some other things, but you already put all this work in, you already put maybe this money in. So then it just seems like you always get to the work that you've done to continue in that. But that is absolutely not true at all. I just started to honestly, not even really think about the things that I want to do because I think the question of what do I really want to do with my life is a trap because it makes you think that you have to do one thing.
And you don't have to do just one thing. You don't have to just be a lawyer or be whatever you can, you can diversify and explore all the different things that are interesting to you. So at that time I was like, well, I really like to cook. And I'm kind of interested in nutrition and I'm interested in it in a holistic sense. Maybe there's something that I can do online. And I discovered our beta, the ancient traditional medicine from India. And I was like, this is super interesting. I'm just gonna do this on weekends. After work, it worked with my schedule where I could still feel comfortable and have my job like paying my bills and things. And honestly what happened was I met my husband. He was very interested in, deep into yoga and meditation. And he said, you know, I kind of want to go and do this training in India for six months.
And I was like, okay, well, I'll stay back here. We weren't married yet. At the time I'll stay back here. You can go for six months. And then when you come back, you know, I'll be here. But then it just felt like this, there was a hole in me. I just couldn't deny it. And I was like, I'm going to go with you. And I felt so free in that moment. Like everything that I thought I needed to do in my life, cause I was already planning on, Oh man, maybe I should start to look at houses because I'm at that age now I just, I should put a down payment on. And I was at this critical time of maybe I could just do something that's outside of the box of what I was always told that I should do. And another thing that was very, very important in giving me kind of that push was, my mom had unexpectedly passed away and I was, I was 25 and she had come out to California to see me for two weeks.
And we had an amazing time. It was like the first time that I had a kind of like a best friend relationship time with my mom. And then she left me on a Tuesday and then Wednesday night I got a call that she passed within minutes at the kitchen table and she's a healthy person. She was very fit and active and I was on the plane an hour after that to go fly home and plan for her funeral. Oh, I'm so sorry. Oh no, that's fine. I mean, my perspective on, on life and death is that the whole comment, but but yeah, I mean I felt like she, this was what was supposed to happen and this is something that I was just supposed to go through and experience. And it was honestly in a very odd way, like a push for me to stop waiting and to not waste life thinking that I'm going to get to retirement because retirement is an idea.
It is not a truth. It is not a guarantee. My mom had worked her whole life and just hoping, hoping she'd get to, you know, retirement age. And then finally she'd go to North Carolina and have her little house and have her garden and things like that. She did not make it there. So I was just like, Oh my gosh, do I spend my whole life doing this thing? Just because there's an idea or possibility that I might be able to enjoy this 40 years from now. Oh my gosh. I was like, I'm coming with you.
Goli: I think a lot of people you know, I mean, obviously we, we hear these stories over and over again. And so many of us where there is either a death in the family or a near death experience for the person or some kind of illness that wakes us up to this reality that we all know that like there is no guarantee. There's no guarantee that tomorrow any of us are alive tomorrow and yet we know that, but then you have to kind of balance that with, well, I still have to pay bills and have to sort of plan, you know? And so I think we get caught and sometimes it is these really jarring experiences that sort of shake us awake from the fact of like how much we obsess over things that don't actually matter or like are just significant and realizing that in the grand scheme of things that you have this one precious life and like, how do you want to spend it?
And it doesn't have to be the way that everybody tells you, you have to spend it. And so sometimes those are the events that jar us into kind of action. And it's unfortunate that it requires that sometimes for so many of us, because they think… They get lulled into this false sense of security or, you know, maybe it'll get better down the road and what you're saying, and I've seen this happen. I mean, we've had so many guests who worked for 30 years and then got laid off in their sixties and still, you know, especially in America, it's like, there's not really much of a safety net. And so it's like people are working into their seventies or eighties. And so it's like, you're just constantly putting off any type of happiness or fulfillment for this one day.
Kristina: There's a lot, several other countries who are in the same line, but the US compared to many developing countries is not very good with prioritizing. You're having, you have like a work life balance now in the moment, while you're this age, while you're raising a family maternity leave, paternity, leave these kinds of things, childcare and not guaranteed. It's a very, it's very much a work, work, work, work, work. You'll get a chance to live later. And so, you know, it's always, Oh, once I get this money, I'll be happy. Once I get this promotion, I'll be happy. Once I get that house, I'll be happy. And then a bigger house, then I'll be even happier. But there's, there's people, many, many people who have these things and they're not happy. So it's not the things it's just, you, you don't realize it until you've gone through it yourself that, Oh, it's not that thing. But you just, I mean, hopefully you can listen to others around you who have gone through that.
You know, I've gone through this thing that looks like a dream that I went to Harvard and MIT, and I'm an aerospace engineer. When I tell people I left that, I get this crazy. I get the craziest look from them. Yeah. Yeah. And I didn't work for two years. I didn't work for two whole years. After that, once I left, I saved up enough money for us to, for just for me to feel comfortable because my husband has been a lot more trusting and open with things. And now that I have done that, where I've kind of taken my security blanket off, I've been able to see that things are provided for, by whatever kind of forces you believe in. Things will happen for you. If you pull your energy towards something, if you're fulfilling, what, what really satisfies you? Things will just come into your pathway without you even knowing. And we can, we can talk about this with, with the house and Panama and all, like, I did not plan any of this. And this is all within three years of me leaving. And I just, I can't even believe where I am and it happened.
Goli: I definitely, I definitely want to get into all that, but like really quickly before we kind of move on. So when you were saying, so you were saving and then when you took off, was there anybody in, I know that you were saying like people, when you tell them, I'm sure you get like, with these stairs of like, what, but what about people close to you? You know, like other family members or maybe coworkers or friends, I mean, were there people telling you, like, don't do this. This is kind of crazy.
Kristina: Everybody, everybody close to me told me don't do it like really. I mean, really the people closest to me, my closest family members, my closest friends, they were like they were very confused. And they said to make themselves feel better. They said, well, you could always come back. That kind of made themselves feel a little bit better. It's like, okay, well maybe she'll go and do this, but she's not really gonna go. She's just gonna go for probably like three months, six months Navy as like a vacation, then come back. And in my heart and my mind, I knew I am not coming back. Like that is not. But you know, I didn't say that at the time, like, sure. Maybe who knows, you know, who knows and who does know maybe I was gonna, I don't know. And I think that's a little bit of the challenging part. It just takes just a little bit of extra confidence in yourself. Because at that moment you might not have support from anybody. And I did not have support from that one person, besides my husband, both of us in our hearts knew that we were doing the right thing for us. And we just followed that pull, but we didn't have any outside support or belief in us at that time.
Goli: I appreciate you saying that because I think so many people when they have doubt themselves and then it's raised by well, meaning people, you know, well, intentioned people who have kind of bought into like, this is what you need for security, and they want you to be safe and they're doing it from a place of love, but then that heightens your own doubt. And so a lot of people start questioning like, am I crazy for leaving this? You know, even though I know deep down this isn't right for me and I want something else. And so I think it takes a lot of courage to listen to all that, but say like, we know what's right for us and we're going to do it anyways. And it kind of going back to what you were saying about like, you know, whatever the force you believe in kind of providing.
I also think that from my own experience and a lot of people that I've talked to and what you were just talking about, like the confidence, once you take that leap and you do it, it's not so much that things are always obviously going to work out or that everything will be the way it's just, it's really a confidence in yourself that you will figure it out. That it's not this grand end of the world that people make it seem like doomsday. Like, as you were saying, like, you could come back and get a job or you could do, there's a million other things you can do. It's just like, okay, I'm going to put one foot in front of the other without having to know what is going to happen a year down the line or five years. Like I don't need to have everything mapped out.
Kristina: Right. And I think like for me in that it's, it's a little bit scary and it's a little bit exciting at the same time. And I was always very much like a planner. My, you can't go to, you know, you have like your career path, you had the schools you went to and the career, like you have to kind of plan that out. There's a progression of getting to that point. So you have to plan that out.
And then once it was kind of, open-ended where all my apartment sold, my car is sold. We're on a plane. I have no home. Now I have a hotel booked for where we're going for a couple of days. And that's, it, it is a little bit scary, but it is so exciting if you give yourself the chance. And I have anxiety, I have carried anxiety with me for a long time. It's a lot better now, but I hope that people can know that before you make that jump, it will not be done. Or it's almost impossible for it to be done with all the I's dotted and the T's crossed and everything planned out. It's not supposed to be that way. There's going to be a lot of open-ended things, but yet with confidence in yourself that you know that you're doing the right thing and that you'll figure it out, then you'll be, you'll be just fine.
Goli: So you guys went traveling for two years. You were outside of the country. And what were you, I mean, was it just kind of going day to day, figuring out, was there any type of like agenda?
Kristina: There was a little bit of structure. So we actually, our very first experience was we went to the Himalaya mountains for two weeks. We went with, with the group and that experience was also life changing just from the physical aspect of it. My, I couldn't hold any food at all. My body was dwindling and I lost a ton of way. I was turning purple, my altitude, my oxygen levels are dropping. And then when I came back and out of that, it just kind of gave me this new sense of, of life, I guess, just, it made me appreciate my body more and everything that I could do with it. Then after that, we traveled India for maybe about a month. And we had this plan to go stay at this Ash from this big yoga center in South India, with one of the girls, who's inspired us for a long time.
Basically someone who's encouraged us to take responsibility for our lives and our happiness and go for it. And so we went and we stayed there and we were there without internet or any kind of electronics for three months. And that was a very interesting experience. And I think something that I would recommend to anybody - I felt so joyous in that moment, I wasn't connected to the news. I wasn't connected to any other, any other thoughts or I wasn't pulling concepts about what's happening or what I should do from anybody. I'm just waking up and I'm living that day. Whatever's in front of me. And then we came to Panama and we did the same thing here while we were getting our feet set here for about three months. And so, yeah, that's, that's how we ended up in Panama.
Goli: So tell us what happened. So now you're in Panama and know your social media stuff is a lot about how you guys are building out a house. So how did you guys decide to pick Panama to settle down in?
Kristina: So Panama was something that my husband had had. He had visions about it when he was in his early twenties, just the idea of Panama, but he put that aside for a long time. He worked as a special education teacher. He worked with emotionally disturbed kids for 11 years. Then he kind of threw that idea by me. And I'm the one that's a little bit more like, I need to know, like, okay, what's the visa process like, what's, what are the logistics of this? I was comfortable speaking Spanish. I had learned Spanish. And so I learned after doing some research that Panama has a very easy permanent residency process.
One that would be affordable for us as well. And then I really fell in love with the Prophix when we were in India. And so while we were there, I was like, you know, I think I could do this. I, I love having as someone who is studying our Ayurveda, I really want to have food that is available to me all year round that I could grow right outside my home. That was something that was important. So, and the location was great that it's still a flight from LA or New York, wherever our family is. So to us, it just seemed, and it uses the dollar. So to us, it was just a very easy transition for me. The logistics checked out for him. He had a sense of, this is where we were supposed to be, but we booked that flight from India and we landed in Panama and we had no plan when we were here.
There was zero plan. I booked a hotel within one week. We found a plot of land that we absolutely loved, and we got that land. And then we ended up getting an apartment. The house project will take awhile, but we didn't, we weren't sure what we were going to do with the land yet. So we just got an apartment and we're like, Oh, okay. We'll figure it out. And we ended up moving right next door to the very last builder of traditional mud homes in this region. And then, so he's like, okay, well I could build your house for you. And we're like, what, what? And he's like, yeah. And then he explained how they made it. And as someone who was interested in holistic living, I was like, Oh my gosh, how amazing is that? This is - you wouldn't need air conditioning. You wouldn't need any kind of heating or cooling. The walls naturally take care of the temperature.
And it's always a little bit cool on the inside and it gets very hot here. So that's important. It's a, it's a breathing, living home. It's pretty much like an above ground cave. So if you can kind of kick, if you've been in like a nice damn cave, that's kind of how it feels in there. Very comfortable, but modern. I have you know, we'll have plumbing and solar heating and solar electricity and all these things. So we came here without a plan of how we were going to build a house. We just knew that we wanted to look for a farm, find a farm. And we just happened to meet somebody who provided that opportunity for us without even, without even really looking for it.
Goli: That's incredible. Well, yeah. And if anybody wants to follow along and see more of what Christine is talking about on, about her house and how they're building it… What's your TikTok handle? Cause I know you've done a ton of videos showing the building of the house.
Kristina: It's I'm Tina Bina
Goli: I’ll put that in the show notes too. If people can't write it down right now. So you guys should definitely check that out, but like, do you want me to ask you, like, how are you making this work financially? Because I know you said you had saved up for the first two years, but then like going forward, how do you plan on doing that.
Kristina: So I'd say that for the first two years. And I think one, one concept that I think is that I realized along the way is that it is a lot more affordable than people think. Like, you think that you need to save so much money to make that choice. But we lived both of us off of $8,000 for a year. Oh wow. And we have - that's including meals. I use frequent flyer miles for flights that I already had just by using my credit card, like a debit card. So $8,000 for a year. And then our expenses in the second year were just $5,000 total for my class. And I'm cooking, I'm cooking my own food at home. I love to cook. I'm not eating out. You know, it's not like I went into this, trying to keep the lifestyle I had before I have it.
I didn't have a car during that time. I'm not trying to go out and do these things, but I was comfortable with that. You know, if you make a big change like this, they're going to have to make other changes in order to accommodate that and be okay with that. And so then in your three, I decided because we were, we bought our land and honestly, our house is very affordable because it's natural materials. It's the cost of maybe a year and a half rent in LA. Well, the house will be totally paid for. And in year three, I, we were coming up short on money. I was starting to get a little bit nervous. I was doing our Aveda consultations, but it's something that I, I really take care in. I don't like to infuse money and business with my, Ayurveda because natural healing needs to be done in such a way where it's not marketing and promotions.
You know, it just, it doesn't feel like savory to me in that way. So it wasn't something I just wanted to just do for like full time. I like to do just one a day at most. So a friend who I met in India happened to message me. And she said, Oh, have you heard about this website called Upwork? You might find it interesting. And I'm like, Oh, really? Like, and I really wasn't sure what we were going to do. Honestly, I was already having my dad send a little bit over to help us buy the extra little piece of land next to ours. And so I discovered Upwork and editing and freelance editing and writing. I had always loved writing. I had always, I had been good at it as well in editing. And I had always helped my friends apply to colleges and I edited their essays for them.
And so I started doing that and getting very positive feedback. And so now I am a full time. The majority of my income is freelance editing and writing where I edit college applications for a good portion of the year, undergraduate and graduate. And then I edit all kinds of other things. And one thing that has served me well is my experience in engineering has helped me to edit technical stuff, which a lot of people who are in engineering, they stay in it, they don't switch and go to the writing aspect. So I've been able to be useful and helpful with that. People who are publishing into journals or they have different publications or stuff for their company, technical engineering company, I'm able to do that. And I like it because I don't have to do all the experiments or have it behind the work. I can just, you know, make sure that however they're talking about it sounds good. And is correct and stuff. So I really love that.
Goli: I love that because that's something that I actually talked to a lot of people, my group coaching program for career switching, one of the things that I think a lot of people don't know about, and I talk a lot about is even if you're not moving away and doing it for a full time job, but experimenting, like if you want to change into a different field or you want to try something else, it's so much easier nowadays to try things as a freelancer to see if you even like it, you know, like if you did this and you're like, ah, I don't really like editing, you know, the writing is, it seems boring to me or it's like too cumbersome, at least, you know, that you haven't like completely quit or applied for a job or whatever. It's like, you've tried it.
And then when you do try it and realize, Oh, I really like this, or I'm good at this or not. You know, I'm sure your background, having gone to Harvard and MIT makes you like a great candidate to help people with college essays, you know, on people that want to get into like these top schools, you start realizing that there's so many more skills that you have that are on. Cause I think so many at times we pigeonhole ourselves and it's like, well, I've done this so I can only do this. And it's like, no, you have a lot of those skills are transferable. A lot of those skills can be used in different ways. And so there are just so many ways to make money online these days. And I feel like part of my mission with this podcast is to help people see that, that like you don't have to stay in these cubicles all the time. Like there's other ways of thinking about it. It's just a matter of like experimenting, putting yourself out there and like being willing to try new things.
Kristina: Right, and for me, like with the Ayurveda stuff, I dabbled in that a little bit while I was still working full time with engineering. And then I was like, Oh my gosh, I really like it. And I still do that a lot. I still work with clients with that regularly. And I am going to, once our house is complete, be putting together a cookbook and different eBooks on the gestion guidance, nutritional guidance, how to live naturally, these kinds of things, which have just kind of come out unexpectedly just from that little interest, that little inkling I followed years ago, just because I was interested in it. I wanted to know more about it, you know?
Goli: Yeah. I love that. And I think that there's a lot of other people, you know, I'm sure you've run into this more, but, and I think people are becoming more aware of how many more people are doing these types of remote living situations. Or even if it's, even if it's just for a year or two years of like gap years of traveling and working abroad, there's just so much, there's more infrastructure now obviously with the internet and, and kind of the breadth of it. And you know, back in the day, I think a lot of other countries like you wouldn't maybe have access to the internet so you couldn't be able to work, but now it's like, everything is kind of set up and there are so many that are now doing this because I think people are waking up to what you were talking about.
The fact that like, I don't want to live my life waiting until I retire someday. And that like a lot of the stuff that I was told I should care about, I don't care about like, I don't care about the big house. I don't care about the car. I don't care about the clothes. Like I care about experiencing things and feeling free and waking up without anxiety every day, because I have to go to this job that I dislike.
Kristina: Exactly, I mean, I was waking up at 4:30 in the morning to go to this job. And now I wake up in the morning and it's like, what do I want to do that day? If I want to work, then I can work. But the thing is, I've changed my lifestyle to be in such a way where I am not obligated or need to work so much.
So if you do make that choice, you know, if I was doing all this in LA, then I would feel, I think a lot more stress about it because I would have a huge rent payment and car payment and insurance payment and medical and all these things. There's other laces that you could live and perhaps do the same thing where you're not spending so much on just your, your basic necessities. And if you travel and like you said, one thing I noticed when I was traveling is that, Oh my gosh, there's a ton of people out here doing the same exact cause you think that what you're doing is unique because you might be the only person, maybe in your family circle your friends circle, who is breaking the mold a little bit. And so it feels scary because you're, you're the only one who's in your, in your experience doing that.
But then you go out of the bubble and you meet all these people that are doing the exact same thing. And we look at YouTube videos of people traveling and do, and it just seems like, Oh, that's nice for them, but I could never do that. You could, you could totally do it. And living long term and other places like getting, not hotels, but staying longterm and apartments, very affordable. Our rent in our rent and Panama is $200 a month and we have a two bedroom house. And because of that, I don't have to like bust my butt to work, work, work. I can actually work because I enjoy working. So that's a little bit of a shift to just from changing the place. I think I enjoy the work I'm doing now more than what I would have, cause I don't have the stress of all of these expenses.
Goli: Absolutely. I think that's such a huge point. And I think that a lot of people maybe know that other places are cheaper, but maybe don't know the extent and how much it's possible again, like maybe not to move permanently, but like so many people are waking up to the fact that like, maybe I want to try living a year somewhere else just to see what it's like or take my children, you know, and live in Costa Rica for a year or wherever it might be. And it's so much more doable than we think because we're so locked into what we are used to in the, you know, wherever we are in the U S or similarly situated countries, but even within the U S now, like with the rise of kind of these types of movements like minimalism and you know, those, the fire community, which is financial independence retire early, like there's a lot of people that are now realizing, okay, I can go against the grain.
And you know, maybe for a lot of us, our listeners maybe moving across the world are moving to a different country is not a possibility, but it is a possibility to wake up and realize like, how can I be intentional with my life? If these things don't bring me happiness, then how can I cut it down? Like how can I, maybe even the house, you know, maybe in the, in the city that you're in, maybe you don't need a house as big or in, you know, a different part of the city or whatever it might be. It's just a matter of sort of getting off of autopilot.
I think so often we've just been funneled on this path and we go through school and we get the job and then it's like, okay, well now work for the next thing, work for the next thing. And sometimes it's just a positive, like, what is it they actually want? Like, what do I want to be doing with my days? What, what brings me happiness? And I'm actually not at all. It's funny, cause I'm not a minimalist. And I don't think that you have to be like, you know, not spend money in certain things. I just have gotten really clear, like what brings me happiness and I'll spend money on that and not doing things because Instagram makes me feel like I need to have like new purse or whatever. It's like, okay, I don't care about things like this, but I care about let's say travel or restaurants or whatever it might be for me. I think it's just like really just finding out your own, like what makes you tick and what makes you happy outside of what society tells you?
Kristina: Exactly. I agree with that a hundred thousand percent. And yeah, the things that we've, that we've invested in are things that we really care about. Like for me, I am very passionate about living an environmentally sustainable life. And so I wanted our house to be, off-grid completely with its own power and water and things like that. That's a big, that was a very big investment, but we live a little bit cheaper rent wise, but we spent a lot of money on getting the solar panels and things like that. But I'm more than happy to spend my money on that. You know, I'm more than happy to do that. And I live in a country where healthcare is incredibly affordable, even without insurance. So I don't have to worry about putting a ton of money aside for that. So it's being conscious about what you really care about what you could minimize or not, but yeah, just paying attention to where your money is going and what changes you can make, just taking responsibility for the things in your life. And the choices I love that this has been super helpful.
Goli: Kristina, thank you so much. Do you have any like maybe parting advice for somebody who is kind of where you were at that job, you know kind of has the resume has done like checked off all the boxes and I think by society standards is successful and is thinking to themselves, I'm crazy to walk away from this. If I walk away from this, like I'm going to regret it, but I know there's something wrong here. Like anything, any wisdom that you would like to impart to them?
Kristina: Yeah. I would say that everything that you're doing right now, thing in this job, how much of that is based off fear and how much of it is based off expectation. If you're staying in that job because of either of those things, then you owe it to yourself to give yourself the opportunity to see if you're wrong, because we don't give ourselves that opportunity to see maybe things will be okay. We just assume they won't be okay. So give yourself a chance if you are right, then you can go back. But if you're, if you're wrong, then would you regret it having gone your whole life, not giving that, giving that theory a test.
Goli: Oh my God, I love that this has been super helpful. I think everybody should. So where are the best place for them to follow you? Would it be TikTok or Instagram or where can they come? Like follow along on your journey?
Kristina: Follow on, on both, but the content is different on both on TikTok. I try to keep it a little bit humorous and there's some goofy story and travel experiences and things like that. But on Instagram bliss, food, B L I S S F U D underscore ayurveda is I post mainly things about our Aveda and healthy living and our home. I provide updates with that or my website, bliss, as well.
Goli: Awesome. Well, I will link it to all of those in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining me, Kristina. It was so amazing catching up on your story.
Kristina: You're very welcome. Thank you so much for having me.
Goli: I love Kristina's story. I think it shows so powerfully that we have more control than we think we do, that we are not tied to the identities that other people have for us or even the ones that we've created for ourselves. No matter how great it looks on paper, you're allowed to choose something different. Here are my three takeaways. One, the idea that we have to work all of our lives for this possibility of maybe one day, enjoying it in retirement is absurd and it is outdated. And that day may never come stop putting it off to you. Don't need other people to understand your dreams or to accept your decisions. Stop living for the validation of others and do what you want to do in your own heart. And three, you owe it to yourself to see if you are wrong. You can try. And if you fail, you can go back. But what if you see that all of that fear and doubt was actually just wrong and the possibility is so much better than you ever gave it credit for on your deathbed.
You're going to regret not ever taking that chance. So give yourself the opportunity to see if you're wrong. If you guys liked this episode, reach out to Kristina and let her know. I'm sure she would appreciate it. And I will see you guys next week for another one. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcast, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.