Live The Life You Love – Hillary Cantu

I feel very privileged to have grown up in Southern California, I was raised at the beach and spent most of my years growing up in the ocean. I learned very young about the beauty the earth has to offer, and the ocean was my teacher. 

I also learned very young about the importance of money.

hillarybeachI was taught as a young child that in order to be successful in life, you must own a nice house and have a good paying 9-5 job. Something about those rules never sat well with me, and I knew deep down that I wanted to be an artist and have a creative arts job.

When I graduated from college, I got a job right away at an Architecture firm. My parents were ecstatic and I was pretty excited to start a new creative job. It wasn´t long before that excitement ended. I was stuck in an office all day and spent my weekends hiking in the mountains, climbing in the desert and canyoneering

I learned really fast what I enjoyed doing, and always dreaded the end of the weekend. I knew I would soon be sitting all day in an office again. I was constantly told how lucky I was to have such a good paying job in this bad economy and how most people couldn’t even find a job.

While I was grateful to have a job, I didn’t feel lucky.

After a little more than a year, I decided to quit my job at the Architecture firm and follow my love of nature. I was hired as an outdoor educator and moved out of my apartment on the beach. I sold most of my things, traveled and then moved into the middle of the forest for my new job. Most people think I am crazy to have left such a good paying job and an apartment on the beach but I could not be happier. To me that is worth the most.


At such a young age I feel truly blessed to understand the meaning of success, and it has nothing to do with money. Working and living in the middle of the forest is absolutely amazing. I have the entire forest as my backyard and I teach in the most beautiful classroom I could ever have imagined — the national forest.

Every single day I notice something that makes me take a deep breath and remember how thankful I am to be here. Today it was an Eagle that I saw fly above me as I hiked into Horse Meadows. Although I am not working in the “Art Industry” I am constantly being inspired by the beauty in nature and find art all around me.


At High Trails Outdoor Science School, we literally force our instructors to write about elementary outdoor education, teaching outside, learning outside, our dirty classroom (the forest…gosh), environmental science, outdoor science, and all other tree hugging student and kid loving things that keep us engaged, passionate, driven, loving our job, digging our life, and spreading the word to anyone whose attention we can hold for long enough to actually make it through reading this entire sentence. Whew….


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