Hi, I’m Lea Woodward, founder of this website, single mother of two, multi-passionate business owner and partner to a wonderful woman.
I feel like an outsider 99% of the time in and around my local town. I don’t work in an office surrounded by colleagues, I skirt around the edges of the local home ed community, and most of my local ‘friends’ are friends of friends who I don’t know well at all, despite trying.
If it weren’t for my online life and the close friends I’ve made over the past decade of being online – some of whom I’ve met in person and others I still haven’t – my world would be a really lonely place.
I believe it’s important to feel rooted somewhere (it doesn’t have to be in just one place) but my two worlds don’t ever seem to collide, yet alone play together nicely! I want to change that…I no longer want it to be either/or – to be local versus online or ‘real’ versus online – I’d like these worlds to merge and to be integrated.
I’d also like other people – you? – to get the best of both of these worlds too. Whether you feel confined by geographic borders and would like to explore beyond these, or you too feel like more of an outsider despite having physical roots in a place. Are you in?
I first coined the term ‘location independent’ in 2007 to describe the way of life I and my then-husband had inadvertently created for ourselves as we travelled the world for several years, running a web design & development consultancy (and numerous other incarnations of an online business!).
Since then, location independence has become a growing and popular lifestyle for many aspiring digital nomads, worldschooling families and adventurous folk looking for an unconventional way of life. But that was never my intention…
We originally left the UK to find a ‘home’; having been born in HK and adopted from birth by British parents I never felt like the UK was my ‘real’ home and so we left the country to try and find one.
The irony is that I’ve ended up right back where I started – in the home I rented out before we became nomadic, and on many levels, I’m happier here now than I’ve ever been…though my circumstances are now rather different than when we set off!
Discovering a whole new world…
Aside from the obvious benefits of working from a balcony on a Caribbean island while sipping water from a fresh coconut, one of the most life-changing results of becoming location independent was discovering a way of remote living online…not just remote working.
Not only was I forced to stay in touch with existing friends and family using online tools such as Skype and Facebook, I began to meet new friends and colleagues online. Many of these deepened into ‘real’ friendships even though we’d never met in person, and although that sometimes happened at a later date, in some cases it still hasn’t happened at all.
Opening up to this online world has, quite literally, changed my life…
It has changed my professional life and career – bringing a diverse and breathtakingly talented range of people into my world. It has changed my personal life – introducing me to people who ‘get’ me on many levels and given me a sense of belonging I’ve never been able to find in any one place. And it has provided me with real and tangible proof that “the world is our oyster…if only we’d open our eyes and embrace it”.
The opportunities that open up to you when you reach beyond your local borders – without even having to travel beyond them – are unlimited and powerful. Will you embrace this with me too?
How I Got Started…
I usually say that I had a relatively conventional upbringing though my recent work with a therapist has confirmed it was actually anything but conventional! I was adopted from birth, flew on 20-hour plane journeys alone at the age of 5 with my younger brother to visit my Dad who’d stayed in HK after my parents divorced, and was raised by a strong, single mother who died from ovarian cancer when I was 25.
My education was pretty conventional – I went to a private school, then Warwick University (to study German & Business), then graduated having secured a job with the world’s largest consulting company, Accenture. But after several years in the rat race, I knew it wasn’t for me.
The impetus to change came when my Mum died. I took a 6-month sabbatical, then quit my job (unexpectedly) on my first day back in the office. I’ve done my own thing career-wise (and personally) ever since!
In 2006, after spending several years re-training as a personal trainer and holistic health coach, my then-husband was made redundant.
Out of desperation, I started to look at where we could live on a smaller income yet still maintain a more-than-comfortable standard of living (I like eating out, I don’t like having to budget strictly!).
Deciding that this was a more-than-doable thing, I began to pivot my fledgling business into something I could do purely online and thus after 6 hard months of preparation, we took off for destinations unknown. And the rest, as they say, is history!
[Note: If you’re interested in what I’m currently up to personally and professionally, outside of this project, you can read more about me here.]