By: Laura Walton AFC®
I recently blogged about the importance of having a bigger “yes” – a passion that moves you forward in life by prioritizing your choices. Gwen is a friend whose life is a great example of that. I asked her to put into words her journey as her passion shifted from her work as an entrepreneur and owner of a fitness publishing company to unstructured travel. You’ll see the moments that moved her to redefine her “yes”. Please note that you’ll find the words “spend below my means” in her story.
“Nothing happens when everything stays the same”
Age 63: Evicted from my casita on a soon-to-be-developed 11-acre ranch while cycling in Italy resulted in an “Oh s*#t, now what” moment and propelled the search for a new “yes” – a more stable living arrangement for my next life chapter. Four months of diligent searching and working with my financial plan, I located a 1450sf townhome that met my criteria: windows for natural light, large patio, mountain view, end unit, masonry construction, and a small community that did not require much driving. Made the offer the day it listed – Sold! I settled in to create “el nido”, the nest.
Age 64: Then, on my bike and in the zone riding up Mt. Lemmon, the epiphany was big and bold, “How many more years are you going to be able to ride this mountain? Maybe 10 to 12 with the right gearing.” Another “oh s*#t” moment leading to a new ”yes” – I need to sell my business of thirty-five years, work less and play more! The next day I sent ten query emails to prospective buyers. In less than a year I found a good fit for my fitness publishing company, negotiated the terms of sale, and signed the final closing documents. Working remotely and part-time for the new company, the reboot began: Ecuador 2 months, Honduras and Guatemala 2 months, France and Spain 6 weeks, Ecuador again for 3 months, interspersing 3 to 4 months in Tucson, and July and August at the family lake home on the Straights of Mackinac in northern Michigan.
Age 66: Two years to date from selling the business I cut the umbilical cord and the world is now my playground – my current “yes”! Nicaragua and Costa Rica 3 months, Portugal 3 months, aiming for Columbia next. My friends ask me “How do you do this?” I’ve learned to pack light, live locally, travel using public transportation, and spend below my means. This kind of travel doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, porque no (why not)? Este es la buena vida (this is the good life). (Gwen is pictured to the left with her Spanish tutor in Antigua, Guatemala and to the right in Averio, Portugal.)
My “yes” is to be a traveler, not a tourist. My MO is to have no definitive plans or predestined outcome other than to arrive safely at my hostel or pensione by night fall. Devoid of GPS, google maps, and travel apps, I tend to rely more on hard copy, local maps and intuitive, emotional responses to my surroundings. I prefer interacting with locals over a rigid itinerary, allowing the journey to eclipse the destination. A perfect example of how nothing stayed the same when the “oh s*#t” moment was front and center and, instead, life happened!
(If you have a bigger “yes” that you’d like to share, I’d love to blog about it!)