Hello there from your resident, non-resident digital nomad newbie. It’s been awhile.
A lot has happened since we last chatted. I had sold or given away 75% of my stuff, stored 20%, and took the final 5% and left my dependable life (which you know) living in the cutest, wood-floored, many-windowed, 1920s studio apartment in Kansas City’s trendy Midtown Sept 1st to launch out into a wide open expanse of dream chasing and… the unknown.
(If you are already caught up on where I went the past 6 months and want to skip right to the meaty, good stuff, scroll to the first bold highlighted part below… )
I traversed the wide open road of Kansas into the distant Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I hiked the Garden of the Gods and the Manitou Springs Incline (in one hour and 15 minutes, thank you very much). I spent late summer evenings, glass of wine in-hand, on my longtime friend’s back porch, and then afternoon’s with her youngest son watching YouTube videos of gamers gaming while we ate bags of Ritz crisps (Ps. If you’ve never tried them, don’t… you’ll never stop).
The morning before I left Colorado Springs and my friends, someone randomly gave me a Rebel camera. No strings attached. Just because they wanted to. After showering gratitude on the giver, I climbed into my car in speechless awe and set off for my next Colorado destination.
I headed a little north into the ashy, smoky city of Denver to stay with family, the mountains completely grayed out by the smoldering wildfires. Within the first 24 hours of arriving, all of the area parks had closed, bracing themselves in the temperamental path of the wildfires hungrily building in the just beyond. My first two days I wore short shorts in a sweaty 95+ degrees (I love hot weather), followed sharply and shockingly by a 60 degree drop in temperature, a sudden need for my winter coat and two days of big fluffy snow, a welcome exhale of relief to the residents, and a temporary quenching of the widening yawn of the approaching blaze. I ate homemade soup, spent long hours in conversation (sometimes heated) with my aunt and uncle, played bean bags (aka corn hole), and saw one of my two brothers. I spent a morning in Fort Collins with an old camp buddy, then did get to go to Red Rocks after the snow had cleansed the sky a little. It was a short trip to Red Rocks, and not as exciting as I’d hoped, but at least I got to do something nature-y while I was there.
I made a surprisingly fun (and healthy! Hello, this is Colorado!) stop at a local surplus food store in Frederick, CO, then loaded back up the CRV, marking an end to my two-week debut into digital nomad life, and set out northeasterly toward Chicago.
I am originally from the Chicagoland area (most specifically the central suburbs and then the not-so-Chicagoland-area of Rockford). I have the (watered down) Chicago accent, Cubbie allegiance, and extensive Greek and Swiss / German families to prove it.
However, I came back this way for runway modeling. The final tryouts for the fall show of Chicago Fashion Week was in mid September, and my plan was to only stay long enough to walk for the show the first week of October.
Ah, how plans change.
This feels like a great time to take an important detour in our chat.
One thing you must know about me is I can handle high risk, especially if I have to choose between my life and time and something as replaceable as a job and place to live.
At the beginning of 2020, as you may recall, I had left—more like desperately leapt out of—my day job in tax and accounting (no, I was not a CPA—I was instead that essential personality who juggled a million detailed and important jobs like a total badass, rolling into deadline after deadline all while navigating a complete company acquisition, and doing so with a genuine smile and a “How can I help you again today?” to our clients and team, and still being incorrectly called (with spiteful subtlety) an assistant).
There is a lot I could say about starting my non-corporate life in a year like 2020, but I think the most important thing I can share is what the power of making decisions in defense of your life can do for you.
I rode many waves in 2020, sometimes numerous times: fear, hopelessness, excitement, sheer blinding panic, confusion of the dumbfounding and tearful variety, mental and emotional paralysis, fist-thrust-in-the-air hope, well, you were there in 2020 too… you get the idea.
Leaping into digital nomad life and leaving my beloved Kansas City was just the cherry on top to an already #yolo year of big life decisions.
But I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I just knew (that I knew that I knew) I was making the right decision, details be damned. I was compelled by the same thought that launched me off the crazy train of corporate life:
Time is not a renewable resource.
I have shared this quote by Hugh Laurie a couple times before, and it won’t be the last:
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
We live in a society that trembles woefully in fear of risk, a society who is quick to offer up a litany of corrective and policing disclaimers to big leaps of faith whilst fully believing it loves and unwaveringly supports people who take said risks. “What a cool thing to just go for it like that! Wow. But of course, you must have been planning this for years, and have $10,000 in savings, and have a clear laid plan of everywhere you will be staying for the next ten years, and have established back ups for your back ups, you know, just in case, and all your debt is paid off, and your mom is okay with this, and you realize you’re never finding a man now, right? But holy cow, so cool that you are going for it! I could never do that. You’re so brave.”
Fear often masquerades cleverly as wisdom in this society.
(Really ponder on this thought and see just how much it shows up in so many—often sneaky—ways in varying aspects of modern western life.)
Travel was restricted, so housesitting opportunities, my preferred mode of lodging for the time being (I mean, come on… taking care of puppies & kitties, watering plants, and cooking in real kitchens? Duh!), dried up completely. Like, completely. My debt was looming and crushing. That familiar spiral of helplessness was beginning to gleefully swallow me up. Will I ever get out of this cycle? Will I ever be free? Did I just sign myself up for homelessness and spectacular failure? Was I wrong in believing a life of happiness, abundance and freedom is available to me?
There is an important underlying lesson to all of this:
You are the single most important investment you could ever make.
This is where everything starts. This is where your life starts. This is also where the shitshow of all your fear, shame and personal accusations, amongst many other lovely, long-held beliefs and accompanying emotions, raises a colossal counterattack to maintain the status quo. It’s rough, y’all.
Your call to action may not be to do exactly what I did, but I encourage you to consider that the life you’re dreaming of really does lie in wait for you. Stop… and think… about what lies behind that door. All the good people, incredible opportunities, resources to get you there, happiness, character development, love, and wide open spaces beyond what you could ever hope or imagine.
But—yes, there is a but—for most of us, this internal door to the brilliant manifestation of our futures is fiercely guarded by a monster cocktail of fear and pain. Teeth barred. Fists clenched and white-knuckled. Eyes wild and ready for a knock-down-drag-out fight.
There is hope though. Heaps, mountains, galaxies full of hope. Brimming and ready to overflow in a persistent tidal wave. Remember that song Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey sing in The Prince of Egypt?
“There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracles you can achieve? When you believe, somehow you will. You will when you believe.”
I get teary every time I think of this song.
You CAN get through. You WILL get through if you do not give up. And by the way, you DO have what it takes.
Many people have asked how I have been doing. To that I say, I am in the thick of the fight with the monster at the door of my destiny, and though there are many moments when all looks lost and I am almost cowering in the fetal position, I will succeed. In brilliant colors for all the world to see.
And so will you.
A few things I have found is helpful when beginning to raise your fists against the monster at the door:
- Meditate daily. (Insight Timer is a great app.) Taking daily deep breaths and slowly chewing on a truth that feels right for you that day / week / season is so helpful, and is, frankly, ground zero. Don’t overthink it, and give yourself grace to relax into the thought of something wonderful walking happily into your life. Some ideas for what to ponder on:
- “I am always in the right place at the right time.”
- “I am overflowing with life and hope.”
- “With god, all things are possible for those who believe.”
- Name your struggles. Lay it all on the table. Put a time on the calendar to spend a couple uninterrupted hours going inward and writing what comes up. Get real with yourself about the things you struggle with:
- Is there a word that could describe your deepest pain? Mine is “unwanted.”
- What are your “I never” statements? (I will never find another job that pays as good as this one. I never seem to be in the right place at the right time. I never meet men who are reliable and who aren’t insanely selfish. I will never have enough money to pay my bills and invest in an organization I love, etc)
- What are your “I am” statements (negatively speaking)? (I am not wanted. I am a failure. I am unlovable. I am terrible with money, etc)
- Make a list of affirmations, and say them daily and whenever you feel yourself spiraling. This is huge. Why? Because you are literally rewriting neural pathways in your brain. Take those “I never” and negative “I am” statements and flip them. Add in other general statements that feel right too. Do it proudly and with excitement! Such as:
- “I am overflowing with gratitude, joy, faith, love and hope.”
- “I make smart decisions and have solid instincts with money.”
- “The right people and opportunities come into my life at the right time.”
- “I always exceed all expectations.”
- “I become a better person the more money I make.”
- “I am no longer striving; I am THRIVING!”
- Get to dreaming… vividly. After you’re done pouring all of your fears, pain, and other struggles on paper and rewriting them, then switch into dreaming and rewriting the narrative about how your future will play out. Trust yourself and get as dreamy as you want to. NOTE: Be sure to recognize the difference between dreams and fantasy—remember you cannot make someone love or crave you who has already expressed disinterest, who is already in a relationship, etc. Stick to the concept of your life work, how you spend your time, what thriving looks like to you, removing narratives of lack and replacing them with abundance, and so forth
- If money wasn’t a problem, what does an ideal day-in-the-life look like for you? (What are you wearing? What quality of people are you surrounded by? What is your morning routine?)
- Write a detailed description of your life’s work. What legacy do you want to leave behind? What kind of character do you have? How is the world a better place because you are thriving in the greatest expression of who you are?
- You gotta FEEL it. This is important—nope, I take that back, this is CRUCIAL. Why? Because you can say affirmations all damn day, but if you do not actually feel them, not much is going to change. This is related to the mindbody connection. The thoughts you think have to physically translate from a thought into an emotion. Think about that. This right here is where—at least in my experience—the work behind affirmations and visualizing a better future for yourself really comes into play. It has to become substance, tangible, real in the form of an emotion first before it is actually substance, tangible, real in the physical. As they say “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
As always, you’re worth the investment, and you can trust that there really is more. Happy thriving!