Sometimes…I look around and think to myself, “Did I really do this?” I think back to my life before I moved to Panama and what it used to be like and I’m just a little stunned that I’ve made such an enormous life change. I mean, Man! I actually picked up my entire life and let go of all that I had built, all that I had worked so hard to create, and I just got rid of it and walked away. Sheesh! And I did that solely because I wanted to! Not because I had to or needed to for any life shattering reasons. I didn’t leave because I hated my life. No. I made this enormous life change simply because I was ready to do something completely different and I wanted to redefine my life and to do it all a bit differently. I wanted to have a different reason to get up in the morning. I wanted to make different choices about what was important in my day to day life. I had a strong drive to discover different priorities and work towards different goals together with Scott. I had gotten what I wanted and much more from all my hard work and in my mind continuing down the same path wasn’t bringing me anything different. In many ways continuing to do the same things and not making this move to another country to start all over again, would have been a much easier route. And in many ways staying in the life I had created and ignoring my longing for something different and new would have been the hardest thing to do. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like right now if the idea to move to another country and have a big adventure together with Scott hadn’t come into my mind. I have the occasional day when that thought will pop into my head and I begin to reminisce about my day to day life ‘before’. I think about the people and the familiar walk to work ,those are two things that usually bring me a sense of longing for my past life. And other times I remember the heavy burden I felt trying to maintain that life I had worked so hard to create. Yes, I remind myself, I worked tirelessly everyday for 30 years, spending most of my waking hours trying to make enough money to afford that life. The house, which included the insurance, the PG&E, , water bill, the garbage bill, the taxes, the mortgage, the second mortgage, the pest control, maintenance,gas , just to name a few things and leaving out all the other expenses that are required to live in the states….Ugggg! The bills, soooo many bills in that mailbox everyday! The weight of all that financial responsibility was really heavy, much heavier than I could handle for much longer. It was all beginning to make me rethink what I wanted in my life. And one thing I knew I wanted more than anything was to rid myself of that feeling of sacrificing my days and a huge chunk of my ‘life’ simply to ‘have’ a house, and many other material things of which had previously been what I had wanted. I know, I may sound whiny. For the majority of people all that is just ‘life’. It’s what we all work for. And I see nothing wrong with that, after all why else do we work , if not to have a home and to create a life for ourselves and our families? But then, after seeing my daughter all grown up and heading down her own life-path Scott and I both just knew it was time for us to go down a different path.
There just didn’t seem to be anything more that we wanted to accomplish where we were. Oh, we both had thriving businesses and we could have continued to build on that, we could have found happiness just staying put…..But….only if this big idea to move to another country and to do just what we’re doing now had not come into our heads and turned into a burning desire to dive into an Adventure of our making! I do realize that our life before was also an Adventure of our making, but I must admit, the increasingly burdensome financial responsibility was making it all feel like a trap that we’d fallen into and not like a ‘choice’ that we had made. I think we were both a bit disillusioned by what we thought we wanted. Or, maybe not so ‘disillusioned’ as much as just ‘changed our minds’ (shrug!) about what we wanted our lives to look like. We can do that…right? Change our minds, that is….Yes, I do believe we can do that! Because that’s just what we did. We worked hard, built a life, we made investments in our life, business investments, career investments, real estate investments, relationship investments and investments in a path that brought us great pleasure for a long time. We found and continue to find, great personal reward in being fiercely independent people. Entrepreneurs, and serious ‘Do it Yourselfers”! I spent 30 years as a hairdresser and only the first two years of my career did I actually work ‘for’ someone. I owned my own business and built my success all on my own. I can say , I feel great pride in that accomplishment. I learned a lot, giving of myself to both my co-workers and clients and friends and receiving endless rewards. I managed to navigate my career in such a way that gave me a sense of satisfaction that I’ll own forever. I left on a high note, for sure. Scott and I succeeded in navigating and actually growing together from raising a child that ended up taking a dramatically painful adolescent path. We fought like champs to keep our lives in tact. We can say that we made it through the fire that was parenting a troubled teen. And, I should add, for those who don’t know us, that ‘troubled teen’ is now a successful, happy and very healthy young women who we both just marvel at all the time.( Whew! wiping our brows in relief!)
As for Scott, given the fact that he isn’t the writer in this duo, I will speak for him..ahem, he wont mind…:) Scott too left a thriving career that he had worked hard to build. He had previously been working in the corporate world as a Financial guy, a controller and accountant. But, that was never his passion. After single handedly building our house we discovered that he had an incredible talent, his creativity and natural desire to create things along with his natural ability to learn quickly, blossomed right along with our house. No, he had never had any experience in construction previous to diving into our house project. Scott has this very rare ability to just dive into almost any project and I have seen him get great pleasure in learning how to master almost any given thing he comes up against. The guy loves a challenge and to learn new things and building, constructing and remodeling gives him an outlet for that passion like nothing he’d previously done in his life. Well…aside from cooking that is! And when my clients at the salon began to see his work, well, let’s just say, there was an instant business for Scott! They were lining up, waiting for him to have time to build this and remodel that and ,”Could Scott do ‘this’?” “Do you think Scott could do that?” That poor guy became so popular he could barely breath! (smiling as I say this!) Seriously, everyone wanted a piece of him and there didn’t seem to be enough months in the year for him to fit in all the projects on his schedule. But, you know what happens when a ‘hobby’ becomes a ‘job’? Well, suddenly the stress begins to seep in and what was previously ‘fun’, becomes not quite so ‘fun’ anymore… And then, when the idea to move to a different country arose, you can only imagine how energized he was! Oh, his mind was racing…all the new things he would learn and the new things he could do! Yep, after the idea to expatriate entered that mans head, he was ready to leap!
So here we are. We did it. We actually picked up and left all that behind. We left all our friends and our family. We left jobs that provided a lot of satisfaction to us. We sold our home, got rid of the majority of our material possessions. We sold our cars. We cancelled most of our credit cards ( we kept only a couple that don’t charge fees for using them outside the U.S.) . We cancelled our health insurance. I gotta say, making those phone calls to cancel everything was soooooo much fun!! Canceling our cell phone contracts, canceling the PG&E, Car insurance, and water and garbage, calling all those people and saying “I’d like to cancel my _____” Was ever so fun to do. Now, as I said, I sometimes think about what we’ve done and I just can’t believe it! Wow! We actually left our life and are in the midst of a new beginning! What a hoot! 🙂 Geesh! It’s just so amazing when I really stop and ponder what we’ve done. And what we have yet to do. We really do find great pleasure and unending joy in our choices to take the path ‘less traveled’. Although, living here amongst all these other nutty folks (loving said 🙂 ) who have done the same darn thing as us, we are not in the minority around here! I’ve come to the realization that all these other people who up and left all that life behind for an adventure are much more like us! And I think I speak the truth when I say I bet most of them, like us, sometimes stop, and look around and say, wow! Look where we live! Let’s celebrate! I must say, for me anyways, and maybe for many of my new friends, I don’t think I’ll ever stop celebrating this Adventure we call life! Not only celebrating the here and now and the move and the changes that we’ve made in our life, But I gotta say, when I ponder what I left behind in California, I celebrate that life as well. For, I didn’t leave anything so horrible, and I don’t look back and mourn a loss of a life left behind. No! I look back at all that we had and all that we did and I smile. Our life will always be made up of all the things we’ve done in our life and we did some pretty rewarding things before this move. When I ponder what we left, I think to myself, “I didn’t really leave anything ‘behind’, it’s all a part of who I am today.” All those people and that wonderful walk to work, the house we created with our own two hands, the happy times the hard times, the success and the losses…we never walk away from….we bring it with us throughout our lives and incorporate it all into this next new part…And nothing is ever really ‘gone’ or ‘left behind’, it’s all a part of the whole…My whole life is what makes me who I am and my moving to a different place and choosing a new path doesn’t mean that the other path is gone, not gone, just not the one I’m on at the moment. 🙂 My Blog may be called Let The Adventure BEGIN….But man…it did not just BEGIN…Noooo The Adventure’s been going on all along!!!