Alright, before we get to the good stuff I figure I should answer the most common questions. It’s nice because I’ve been asked so many times that the narrative is nicely condensed now, lucky for anyone who may want to read this! If it’s not complete enough, and there are any questions, please feel free to comment, I’ll do my best to answer.
So the upshot is this. I had a career for over 13 years working in horticulture/landscaping. In the Fall of 2009 the economy was tanking, and especially hard hit was Nevada and the housing market and construction industries. With construction naturally landscape follows. So, I went to my then employer and told him that I was going to lay myself off for the winter beginning in August so that he could retain the crew. I had been managing construction and gardening, and he took it over. I spent the following eight months unemployed, picking up whatever I could to make the mortgage payments on my house. I cleaned houses, cooked for people, exhausted my savings…and in the midst of this one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me came about. The cover story for a new magazine was essentially handed to me, along with another large article, both in the premier issue. I was published. This is something I had wanted since I started writing, around the age of nine. It really strengthened my belief that everything happens for a reason, that good follows bad like old pals, there to remind each other that you can always count on change in life. It was awesome, and one of the many ways I am blessed.
Alright, this is perhaps not as concise as I thought it was…oh well, can’t stop now. So spring sprang and the economy did not join it. There was not enough work to go back to my former employer, and I was out of back up cash. After a lot of trying I finally found a job waiting tables, and at the same time attempted to start my own design and consulting business. In order to keep the bills paid, I began working 6 days a week, with 7-9 shifts. This barely kept things together, at one point I went six months without underwear because the holes in them got so big they fell off! I didn’t go to the doctor or dentist, fix my car or go out unless friends insisted, I ate almost entirely out of my garden. This also left no time to market the business.
The main goal at this point was to save the house and micro-farm I had built, and I started trying to work with the bank to modify the mortgage. Around spring of 2011 the bank said no, and I stopped fighting. I changed dreams, remembering one that I had had since high school. It went like this: One day in late winter I decided that this year I needed to stop waiting tables. Not that I think it a bad career or anything like that, just because I wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t living. So I sat with myself one day and had a long conversation. First I said okay, this is how it is, you are going to push for your business this year and make it work, and you are going to keep your house whether the bank works with you or not (this was before I got the news). For an hour or so I meditated on this option, how I would go about it and all that. Then I stopped and listened to my response, and my insides groaned.
So I said okay, then try this. You are going to save all your money and somehow find a way to get to South America. I don’t know what you’ll do down there, how you will make it work or what will happen, you’re just going to go there and see. I listened. My insides had a party, set off fireworks and started drinking wine. What can I say, I try to obey my insides, they know me pretty well.
The rest of the blah blah blah is the bank said no, I did a short sale, sold everything I own save a few cherished items that I shipped to my mom’s and what I considered the basics that I would take with me. Clothes, furniture, chickens, everything was either sold or gifted/donated. I made a budget, I continued working and living as if I was paying a mortgage and I watched as everything lined up in the exact direction I wanted it to go. Really blessed.
I have the best friends anyone has ever had, and with their support and that of my amazing little family I was watching my dream appear in front of me. It wasn’t without sadness, I randomly cried most nights until sometime around July. A lot of the time I simply felt exhausted. The strangest part though was that I never got the pre-trip jumping out of my skin excited. It just felt like the right thing to do, the next logical step. All the way up until I left and even now that I have been in South America for two weeks, I still mainly feel content and the fear I kept expecting has not bothered to arrive.