alex from rat race to paradise

Where do I begin?

The story really began in 2008 When I took my first overseas trip on my own. I visited Samoa for the second time. I had been the year before, with a boyfriend, and fallen in love with the country. Ironic enough, when I returned the following year, on my own, I was in the middle of getting over the same boyfriend.

After spending a week in Samoa, and returning home to Los Angeles, I found myself anxious, bored and unsatisfied.

I went back to my 9-5 job as a designer in fashion. I hate the fashion industry. It embodies everything I'm tired of. Its shallow, and materialistic, its just another thing Americans obsess over and pour money into for a false gratification. It paid me well, I had my weekends off, I met celebrities, and went to Hollywood parties, but none of that made me happy.

I realized, I don't want to look back on my life and think "I had a fabulous car, and a big house, and lots of money", I want to look back on my life and think, "I traveled many places, loved many people, and had great adventures." This is my idea of what a great life is.

In July of 2009 I was laid off from my job. I was bored and needed an outlet. I visited Craigslist and fell upon an internship for scuba diving. Long story short, I became great friends with 2 very supportive instructors, who have been training me to become a dive master in exchange for my design services.

I eventually found a new job, doing the same thing, and decided to put myself on a 2 year goal. By the time I reached the age of 30, I would be living in a tropic country, living an adventurous life. I continued my scuba education and joined the US coastguard auxiliary for boating experience.

For 2010 New Years I traveled to the Cook Islands, Rarotonga (again, on my own). I dove every day, I became friends with my instructor there, at Pacific Divers. We have kept in touch over the last year. we entertained the idea of me coming to work at his shop, once i received all my training.

So I thought I had it all planned out. But you never know what life brings you. And, I did ask for an adventure.......
(the pic below is from New Years in Rarotonga)

alex roratonga


The Fire under my ASS!

On Friday, March 21st 2010, I was in a great mood. I didnt know why, but I felt like good things were gonna happen today.

At 4:30PM, the department phone at my job rang, It was HR, I was being asked to come up stairs. A familiar feeling came over me. The anxious feeling you get when your about to loose control. I knew this was my last day at my job. They laid my entire team off. This was the second time now, in 1 year!!!! I left my job with all my belongings, and 10 min later, found myself parked in the parking lot of Target on the corner of Jefferson and La Cienega.

After going through my last unemployment, I felt trained. I knew what I needed to do. I started making arrangements to move out of my apartment and into my truck. I knew that I would not be able to survive another several months of unemployment. I figured the best way to not stress over piles of debt and unpaid bills, is to eliminate the biggest one. RENT.

I had a camping trip planned that weekend, and decided to take that time to figure my life out and spend some quality time with friends.


Thursday, June 3, 2010: The New Plan A

When I returned from my camping trip, I emailed Steve, my Scuba instructor in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. I told him, about my situation and he instantly told me, "come to Raro!!!!!" With his inspiring words and sparkling offer, I hatched a new plan!!!!


Well..... in September. I am selling everything I own, and moving to Cook Islands. I will live out of the back of the scuba shop and intern with Steve and Pacific Divers. 6 months later I will travel to New Zealand to find work.

I cant believe its happening.....

Friday, June 4, 2010: Riding the waves

Today I went diving on Redondo Beach. It was the first of several days of Rescue skills to complete my Rescue certification. It was my first "Beach Dive" ever, and it had been a while since I last dove. It was slightly overcast today, and I was a bit nervous about the waves since it was my first beach dive and first dive in a few months. The whole dive was very symbolic of what's taking place in my life right now.

Even though, I am excited and sure about my move to Rarotonga, I am nervous about whats to come, and how I will navigate through the experience. Just like my dive today, I was so anxious to get in the water, but the waves looked a bit crazy and the water had minimal visibility. I may not be able to see whats in the waters I'm about to dive in, but I know once I make the plunge, I will relax, enjoy, and experience. They say every dive is new, even if your diving the same spot. Maybe that's why I love it so much. I cant wait to dive into the next chapter of my life. I don't care how good the visibility is, I know I will enjoy the adventure to come.


Saturday, June 5, 2010: The hard part


Today was my second day of rescue diving. We spent the first half of the day at the pool and then headed to the shop. At the shop Szilvia described what happens when scuba goes wrong, she told horrifying tales of blood and puke and death!!! Last night, as I was reading up on Redondo Beach Diving conditions, I came across some stories of people dying while diving at Redondo Beach. Almost one each year on average, all in their 50's, but that still makes it scary!!!! I have to remember that this new career move, shouldn't be taken lightly. As fun and exotic as the sport sounds, it can be deadly, and I will be responsible for peoples lives. I really paid attention in Rescue Diving. I hope I will never be faced with a scary situation like that, but if I do, I hope what I have learned in this course will help me save lives.

After practicing our skills in the pool, it was time was time to put them to work in the ocean. We also did some search pattern skills. We practiced a search and recovery using a search pattern, guided only by our compass and measured by kick cycles. If it sounds complicated, it kind of is. It was quite challenging since the visibility was SHIT. We dove in disgusting merky, smelly waters near lots of boats and multiple ocean birds crapping at the surface. YUCK! UGH! I CANT WAIT TO DIVE IN BEAUTIFUL RAROTONGA!!!! I was further reminded of how difficult it is to dive in California waters, when we were forced to walk more than half a mile in all our gear, in sand, to my truck. At least when we finally got there, an ice cream truck was parked next to us. AHHHHH, nothing like a Choco Taco after hours of diving.


To be continnued... in the meanwhile, follow her journey at


Written by Alex Kasdan, still in California.