“Am I running away from something or running to something? That was how Cassie Stockamp and I began our conversation a few weeks back when we were discussing the idea of “escape” and how it has shown up and resonated in her life.
Cassie is now a 61-year-old blogger, photographer, and world traveler, but she shared that she first began feeling a nudge from the universe to make some life changes about 25 years ago when she discovered yoga. The nudge (and her therapist) told her she was a little too tightly wound and needed a change. That nudge intensified in 2017, and she ultimately decided it was time to truly alter her life’s path.
So, she began exploring ideas about how to travel the world. Cassie discovered the website Workaway.info and described it as “the Airbnb to volunteer opportunities around the world.” Cassie told me, “When I saw this site, I felt like a kid in a candy store. I could go and volunteer and do this, and this, and this.” Discovering that website was her green light to make the jump!
Cassie worked with her employer to determine how she could transition out of her current role, she sublet her house, found someone to take care of her cat, and off she went.
Cassie’s first destination was Australia. She volunteered at a yoga retreat center outside of Sydney, serving food, changing bedding, teaching yoga, and doing all the odds and ends necessary to maintain a retreat center—all in exchange for room and board. She described the experience as “magical.”
Her next destination was New Zealand, where she worked on an organic flower farm. Then Cassie traveled to Bentota, Sri Lanka and worked on a coconut farm, Hyderabad, India and taught yoga at an ashram, and Cape Town, South Africa where she volunteered at a craft café. These are just a few of her destinations, with many, many others along the way.
Cassie explained, “I tried to stay in each place for about a month. There is a difference between being a traveler and a tourist—and I’ve been a tourist many times already.”
After hearing about several of the fairy-tale-like experiences she had on her travels, I told Cassie that I imagined those experiences helped affirm her decision to make the shift and take the risk. She said, “It looks courageous, but once you’re out there, it just keeps unfolding. The universe is an abundant place.”
More recently, Cassie has taken bike trips—one in 2020 with a friend where they traveled 1,300 miles around Lake Michigan, and another in 2021 when she rode solo from Indianapolis to Nashville, Tennessee, and picked up the Natchez Trace Trail down to New Orleans and then East across the panhandle for a total of 1,049 miles.
In addition to the sights, culture, and overall experiences, Cassie has generated numerous meaningful and deep relationships on her travels; relationships that she still holds close to her heart and that leave her feeling like she has a home almost anywhere around the world. She said her biggest takeaways from all her travels are always the people. They are her “anchor.”
When I asked Cassie about some of the biggest challenges she’s faced on her journeys, she laughed and said she couldn’t really remember any. She tends to think of the challenges as “saves” rather than obstacles.
She recalled one specific story at the airport where she transposed two numbers on her passport, effectively canceling her visa. This was on her first journey to Australia, and after she had already had a going away party, said goodbye to all her family and friends, and was ready to begin this new phase of life. And it all almost got stopped dead in its tracks.
Luckily, the man behind the counter was able to help rectify the situation very quickly—despite initially being told it would be at least 48 hours for a new visa—and in only two hours she was back on her journey. She walked away realizing, “This isn’t all going to be perfect.” So, while she knows there were difficulties, Cassie said that experience really set the stage for her journey.
It was clear throughout our conversation that Cassie is open to opportunity. Open to the universe and what it presents her. So, when thinking about obstacles, Cassie said:
“This difficulty in front of me, it’s one of my lessons. So, let’s go! I chose this lifetime to learn these lessons, so I’m leaning in.”
Stevie Cromer (she/her/hers) builds authentic relationships and inclusive cultures. She strives to help others lean into life transitions and embrace the opportunities they present. You can find her on LinkedIn.
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