About this Site

Most people choose the comfort of a normal life over the uncertainty of an extraordinary one.

Corbett Barr

Creating Something New

Short Version:
Who Is This For?

Long Version:
Goals for this Website (The Topics I’ll Be Writing About)

Influences & Inspiration



Who Is This For?

This site is for my parents who did everything right: worked hard, saved their money, invested it, paid off their mortgage early, then retired before 60…then the economy tanked and took half their life savings with it.

This site is for my friend who built up a good career in the mortgage business, only to have the mortgage crisis cause her to lose her career and her home. Determined to recover, she enrolled back in school to start a new career in multimedia. Then she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Now she’s in chemo for a year, then radiation. She can’t work or go to school.

This is for my cousin who, like her husband, had a promising career as a young architect in Dublin. The economy bursts and now they’re working 3-5 days a week at half pay, unemployment is at 14%, and the cost of living is STILL rising.

If you’ve dreamed of escaping the “real world”…
If you’ve always had the feeling that you have a higher purpose…
If you’ve simply had enough…

Then, this site is for you!

Goals for this Website (the topics I’ll be writing about)

Influences & Inspiration

There are so many writers that have inspired me to take this journey, but the most notable ones would be Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, the author of The 4 Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss, and Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity. These guys were the first ones to open my mind to the possibilities of location independence, lifestyle design, and making a difference.
Along the way, there have been many other writers that have inspired me as well. I’ll keep a running list in the blogroll to the right.

Earlier this year when I had just realized that I had a higher purpose in this life and I was contemplating what I could possibly offer the world, I heard this wonderful story about the Starfish and it has deeply touched me.


The Starfish Story, originally written as The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley. There are many adaptations of this story, but the lesson is the same in every one. Here is my favorite. Enjoy…

A man is standing on the beach where the tide has just gone back down. He is observing a little girl silently bending down to pick up starfish from the sand that had been stranded by the receding tide. One by one, she throws the starfish back into the ocean. Suddenly he notices that there are thousands upon thousands of starfish all down the beach that are stranded.

He walks up to the little girl and asks “Little girl, what are you doing throwing the starfish back into the ocean?” She looks up at him and says “I am saving the starfish” as she throws another one back into the ocean.

“But,” he says “there are thousands of starfish all over the beach. You can’t possibly save them all. You won’t make any difference.” The little girl looks down the beach at all the stranded starfish for a moment, then she bends down, picks up another starfish at her feet, and as she throws it back into the ocean says to the man, “It made a difference to that one.”

I will change the world in some way, no matter how small. That is my goal and what keeps me motivated to live my life.

After all, if you aren’t living to make a difference….what are you living for??

15 Responses


  1. Tracey on 17 Nov 2010

    I’ve never heard the starfish story before. Love it! Definitely passing it on. Thanks! Tracey

  2. marianney on 29 Nov 2010

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the story. I fell in love with it right away! I even have a starfish ring i wear everyday to remind me of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Jessika Gilker on 28 Feb 2011

    Wonderful story and a great reminder that we can change the world with every small action we take.

    The starfish has always had an important meaning for me-my most treasured pendant is one ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy to have stumbled onto your site and look forward to following your journey.

    ~J

    • marianney on 28 Feb 2011

      that is so cool! i have a treasured starfish ring i wear as a reminder to make a difference! thank you for stopping by to say hello! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Barbara on 16 Mar 2011

    Hey Marianne,

    You may or may not know this but my father, who is semi-retired / unemployed, now volunteers with “Les Restos Du Coeur”, a charity in France which traditionally has been involved in the distribution of food to the homeless. These days, the majority of people who come to the “restos” are in fact not homeless, but rather have hit really hard times with the recession, they have lost their homes and their businesses and their debts mounted up to leave them destitute. Between the fall of capitalism and the increase in serious natural disasters, this scenario is not as far away from most of us as we might like to thing.

    Another interesting angle is the mass wasting of food in the first world – our demands for variety and choice leads supermarkets wordwide to over-stock their shelves with products which are then casually thrown out as they pass the very cautious “best before” dates. On the upside, “restos du coeur” and other charities worldwide often benefit from this waste through donations, but they will all tell you that logistically, they are unable to collect all this food through lack of time / volunteers.

    I think we could all do with re-assessing our food consumption in the first world. There are outrageous issues of obesity (which put an enormous strain on healthcare worldwide), ethics (to compete with low prices, producers pump our foods with pesticides, hormones, etc, animals are reared in horrific conditions so that we can have cheap meat, our oceans are overfished and so on) and sustainability (it takes 18lbs of vegetable matter, on average, to produce 1lb of beef in America).

    It’s not easy for some people to make the right choices regarding food though lack of money or education, but plenty of us can’t use this as an argument.

    So – baby steps – re-assess your food choices, cut out waste, buy less but better, give up some of your unseasonal choices (fruit and veg which are not in season are usually flown in across the world and have a huge carbon footprint – this is a really tough one when you crave a yummy peach mid-December!!).

    But then, in the community – how do we start looking at re-distributing waste food to those who need it? I have often wondered what could be done and would welcome any thoughts on the subject.

    Recently I read a news article about a woman in England who was arrested for taking food from dumpsters at the back of a supermarket – the store had had a power outage and they had thrown out all their frozen goods. She was charged with theft for taking some frozen pizzas which were otherwise heading to an overused landfill dump somewhere, to decompose and add to our carbon emissions.

    We need to wake up!!

    • marianney on 16 Mar 2011

      Barbara, everything you just mentioned is exactly what I stress about almost every day these days. I am tired of sitting back and doing nothing. We are changing our own daily processes little by little (being more conscious about what we buy, how we consume food and other products, recycling, saving water, etc.) so I know that’s a start.
      This year we are going to start composting and gardening our own vegetables and saving our gray-water.

      But anyways, back to how do we get other people to jump on board? I just had an “argument” at work yesterday with co-workers who think that recycling is a waste of time, resources, and money. Yes, it isn’t perfect, but it’s better than NOT doing it!

      The story about the woman in England is horrible! Why should it be illegal to dig through trash? It is illegal here in the states too and it’s ridiculous. That woman obviously didn’t have the money to buy the food so it’s not like the store lost those sales. And even if they did, so what?? We need to stop being so overly concerned with every single lost sale when it comes at the expense of our world!

      Thanks for sharing Barbara! I didn’t know your father was involved in that charity and I think it’s a brilliant idea. I’d like to start something like that here as well.

      Also, there is no reason for people ANYWHERE in the world to be starving when we have so much available food. Why couldn’t we ship off containers of food to places like Africa and South America to communities that need it? There is no excuse anymore to be ignorant about what is going on outside our of own little worlds.

      • Barbara on 16 Mar 2011

        Yes, I’m very proud of him because he’s using his time wisely instead of staying at home brewing dark thoughts about why things don’t go his way!

        I think that’s true for anyone, if you’re feeling frustrated with your life, hard done by, unlucky… volunteer some of your time, give blood, whatever – giving is so rewarding and it’s like natural prozac!

        My father told me that a few days ago, a woman came to the Resto to make a donation…of cans of dog food. She was trying to make a statement about how that is all the homeless deserve because “they are lazy”. People were obviously very upset about it but my father rose above it. He thanked the woman and distributed the cans to a homeless man he has befriended and who has a dog. The man was close to tears because his dog is the most important thing in his life and he normally shares his food with him!! Needless to say, the woman left when her plans for a big confrontation fell apart.

        No matter what the change, you will always meet people who want to fight you, but you have to rise above it – you can’t save everyone but it’s still worth trying!

        • marianney on 16 Mar 2011

          that’s a great story about your dad! i would have done the same thing. how sweet that the guy was so happy for his dog. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Laura on 20 Mar 2011

    just found your blog and I’ve only just read this page, but will be devouring it now. Great stuff. Love your energy, attitude and presence and love that it can come through this blog so clearly! I suspect that you are about to make a difference to this starfish! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Steve Roy on 29 Mar 2011

    Hi Marianne,
    Just found your site and I love your message! The starfish story is a beautiful one, so thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Steve! I appreciate your kind words. Btw, just took a quick look at your blog and it’s beautiful! Did you design it?

  7. Jill Barth on 18 Apr 2011

    Thank you for such a comprehensive collection for information. I look forward to more!

  8. Jack on 16 Aug 2011

    You might want to update this page – every link I clicked on came up broken.


Leave your comment

Please leave these two fields as-is: