My Nomadic Life 

Hello beautiful souls! My name is Nour, I’m a Lebanese-French illustrator and graphic designer, and a full-time traveler. I was born in Paris, grew up in the UAE, went to college in Lebanon and then did my masters in Paris, where I ended up living for 6 years. When I was still a student, I ‘accidentally’ started a business – an online shop called Draw Me a Song, where I sell music-inspired illustrated prints – although I had no intention of ever becoming a business-owner. I always thought I would follow the traditional path and have a job in a company once I graduated. But that never happened! During my spare time in university, I was making music-inspired drawings and posting them on a personal blog. People would find and share them online, and would write to me asking if they could buy my drawings as prints. So the credit for the idea goes to them, not me! I presented the idea as my final year project in my masters’ degree, and my teachers loved it and thought I should do it for real. At that point, I had absolutely no business knowledge and no confidence to start something of my own. But after entering a competition for creative entrepreneurs and winning the prize, which was a funding to launch the business, I knew I had to go for it! It’s been around 3 years now, and the shop has been successful and still growing, and I could not be happier or more grateful. Up till last year, I had been running the whole thing on my own in Paris, including packaging and shipping every single order. I decided to hire an assistant to help with that logistic part, so that my focus can be only on the creative work. That also allowed me to finally leave Paris and start traveling full-time, which had been my dream for years. I’ve now been a nomad for a year, working on the road while exploring and learning about the world, and getting inspired by all the incredible things around me.

According to the Buddha, happiness is simply freedom from suffering, and suffering comes from craving and clinging to things. That is something that resonates with me a lot. Happiness to me is very simply not desiring anything more than we already have, no matter how much or how little we have. Happiness is acceptance of what already is, even if it is not ideal, and having extreme gratitude for it. Happiness is also sharing whatever we have with others, even if it just our attention or time. Happiness is genuinely wanting others to be happy too.

Meditation helps a lot with dealing with any kind of difficult or painful situation. It helps you have perspective over whatever you’re currently going through, by removing yourself from your own problem and observing it from a distance. Suddenly, when your ego is out of the equation, problems and worries don’t seem that big or important anymore. It really is all about the ego, learning to manage it, to recognize it when it arises, and to have compassion for it. It’s about recognizing that it isn’t all about “me, me, me”, that our problems are not the centre of our experience. Realising that we are all part of a collective consciousness in which all the sentient beings, all the plants, the seas, the rocks, the stars, the atoms, all are fragments of one and the same divine energy – God, the universe, consciousness, source, or whatever you choose to call it – that really puts everything in perspective. How can our tiny little insignificant problems have any power in all this? 

Although I have always loved what I do, and always been very grateful for doing something I love for a living, something just didn’t feel right when I was living in Paris. Even when I lived in Lebanon for a while, and in the UAE before that, I just never felt like I truly belonged anywhere. I was always passionate about travel, and the idea of becoming nomadic had been in my mind for a few years before I actually took the leap. But I had been too scared to do it. Too scared of completely changing my life and doing it all alone. The turning point was when I walked the Camino de Santiago last summer. It was a life-changing experience. Throwing myself into the unknown, meeting people from all walks of life and hearing their life stories, connecting with these strangers very deeply and very quickly, walking every day towards the same direction, meditating in nature, pushing myself physically and mentally towards a goal, and finally accomplishing it. It gave me so much courage, so much confidence and strength. I had no more fear of the unknown. I let go of trying to control my life and my destiny. When I came back to Paris after that trip, I couldn’t even unpack my backpack. I immediately booked a one-way ticket to Barcelona, packed an extra carry-on, and left. I had already hired my assistant to manage the shipping for my shop, so I had no more reasons to stay in Paris. As of that day, I have been following the flow of life, or perhaps my intuition, and I let it guide me towards the new places I need to go. I don’t plan anything in advance. I just flow. And that, to me, is ultimate happiness. It allows me to stop worrying about the future and just live completely in the now, putting all my heart and passion into the present moment. I’ve had incredible experiences during this year that have further expanded my happiness and spiritual journey. The first that I can think of is the Vipassana meditation retreat I did in Thailand. Being in complete silence for 8 days and learning about Buddhism more deeply was so eye-opening! The second big experience I had was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for a charity organisation, The Nasio Trust. Throughout this year as a full-time traveler, I developed a new interest in sustainable travel and have been wanting to create a more positive impact on the communities that I meet when I travel. I’ve been involved in several sustainable travel experiences, but this was by far my biggest one. After visiting Nasio’s projects in Kenya, education centres for underprivileged children in areas highly affected by HIV, I climbed Kilimanjaro with another volunteer for the same organisation. It was the most physically intense experience I have ever had, specially the last day’s climb to the summit. It was also one of the most beautiful natural sceneries I’ve had the chance to see. I’m incredibly grateful to have had those adventures, they’ve made me feel more alive and connected to the world than I’ve ever felt before. 

I’ve learned so much throughout this journey, and continue to learn every single day! I love my current lifestyle, but it can also be very challenging at times, and it’s in those difficult times that I learn valuable lessons that make me a better traveler and a better person. I’ve learned how to trust my intuition and let go of wanting to control things around me. I’ve learned to completely rely on myself, and solve my own problems. I’ve learned how to live with less. I’ve learned how to be careful about the impact that my actions have on the environment as a traveler. I’ve learned how to have no expectations and no prejudice when I get to a new place. I’ve learned how to be aware and grateful for every privilege I have. I’ve learned how to live in sometimes very uncomfortable situations! I’ve learned how to connect with anyone. I’ve learned how to encourage people to tell their stories, and not be shy to also share mine. I’ve learned how to balance my work life and my life as a traveler, how to work efficiently while still exploring and making the most out of my time in a place. And of course, what I love above all is learning about the history and culture of every new place I visit. I’m very excited to see what the future has in store, and all the many more valuable lessons I’ll learn from this wonderful world and its beautiful beings! 

 Nour Tohme


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“SINGLE LADIES (PUT A RING ON IT)” (Christopher Stewart, Terius Nash, Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles) © 2008 Songs of Peer Ltd., March Ninth Music Publishing, 2082 Music Publishing, EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing. All rights reserved. Used by permission.