The journey of each of our lives takes its own path. We create it each day, with our every action and inaction.
My journey has taken the shape of a nomadic businesswoman and philanthropist.
It has been quite a journey. I would like to share it with you.
I’m watching the sun begin to set, at 10pm, from Ushuaia, Argentina.
This trip came about over the last six months, and 28 years.
As a young nomadic traveler, a Rotary Youth Exchange Student to Finland at age 16, I felt the tug of nomadic life.
I considered what I wanted to look back on my life and achieve and fulfill. I determined that I wanted travel to at least one country per year, and to live on six continents and at least travel to Antarctica. I gave myself the arbitrary deadline of 50, considering that be then I should have the capacity to achieve such a goal, and waiting on a journey to the poles doesn’t get any easier.
Let me provide the backdrop to how I my progressive leaps of faith brought me here.
Growing my businesses & living my dreams led me to the edge of the earth.
Forming the Pearl of Life
It takes time for the shape and form of a pearl to grow into itself, and each their own.
Six months ago I celebrated the longest days of the summer, not knowing yet that they would not actually be my longest days of the year.
I was grateful and excited to experience a massive rebound in demand for our vacation rentals, pent up desires of humanity to connect and get away. The last couple of years have been a roller coast covid ride. We now live in the Olivia Beach community of Lincoln City, Oregon, & own and operate Sweet Haven, a boutique vacation rental agency.
Ten years ago we built twin cabins in Olivia Beach, my identical twin sister & I, that is. We dreamt up the cabins in the wake of our father Wally’s death, another dream that was informed by my lakeside experience of Finland. It is most certainly what Wally Would Have Wanted.
Four years ago we spent Christmas, pregnant in Paradise, California and New Year’s at my twin-in-law’s wedding, while taking every spare moment I had to work on our business, and build the foundation for launching Sweet Haven. My wingman and husband, Adam, & I had spent the prior three years, with increasingly frequent trips to the coast, and living as Airbnb and start-up vagabonds while we ran and built our businesses on the road.
It has been a very long four years. It feels like a mini lifetime, or a full one, if you ask our youngest, Ellis.
Building businesses and raising a family, in the midst of a global pandemic, it isn’t for the faint of heart.
When covid hit, we were already adept at working alongside our family life and work, though we had been on the road in one manner or another for the prior four years. It was like grounding a flock of starlings.
We were thrown into the deep end of covid, from an economic perspective. We were as generous as we could be with refunds, returning over $100k to guests disappointed to be cancelling their Olivia Beach vacations. It was exhausting hours of thankless and profitless work.
The financial and psychological apocalypse of covid was very, very real, topped off by the turmoil of the Echo Mountain forced fire evacuation line a mile away, and yet we thrived through it. By buckling down and doing whatever it took, we were there at every hour to serve our guests and our community. We supported and held our team together. In a mere year, we had gone from the worst off I had ever been financially, to the triple our prior year. We’ve had a record breaking year for revenue for our homeowners and team. It took steadfast endurance, determination and stamina to achieve that.
It took cleaning toilets and covering for our team to allow them much needed time off. Creating covid protocols and practices. Filing in the gaps. Responding to guests and homeowners at all hours. Maintenance. Jacuzzis. Systems development. Managing money. Pricing. Responding to community needs.
It was – is – the time to further build our Sweet Haven team.
Gaining from my experience of abundance and gratitude, I knew I needed to take leaps of faith to allow this process to evolve. First, I needed to consider what our life would look like with a team supporting me to not have to be on call 24/7. Adam and I have done a miraculous job managing the abundant needs of our growing enterprise, but there are human limits.
I had just booked our November family trip to Kauai, on an early May morning, when I needed something to look forward to. I also knew that the first step was putting something out there in time and space to force reality to meld itself into the opportunity for our family to step away from work for the first time in years. I would have to find a way to support that into existence. It was my first time off call for any extended period in 7 years, and prior to that I worked a career across numerous time zones and worked 16 hour days for more than a decade. With a full time career as a humanitarian, landlord to three properties, and building a blogging empire simultaneously.
As was the case when I first learned to dive in Zanzibar, I was / am in great need for some serious self-care.
When I considered what I love most, diving came to my top of mind. I was quick to jump to curiosity about possible volunteer diver needs there might be at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I reached out and learned more about what it would take to engage with the program. There was an upcoming volunteer info session in August.
We then took the plunge, and hired our first two office side team members, while promoting and evolving our existing team.
I also booked a Manifestation Retreat with my couch, Lia Dunlap in mid August. It would be a mini test run to put down my alerts and get clear on my path forward. To pamper myself and be reminded of who I am and where I’m going. To appreciate life at a new elevation. To be reminded of the vibrational energy that we share.
Becoming an Aquarist
The experience of becoming an aquarist has been one of continuous leaps of faith, while simultaneously quelling the voice of doubt and discomfort.
On the eve of the retreat, our family visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium for an initial informational session. They outlined the conditions that were necessary to certify as an aquarist, a term I learned means one who dives in and cares for an aquarium.
I took in the information excitedly and considered how I would be able to fit in the time to meet the requirements. They had certifications offered in October and January. I was already certified as an Advanced Diver, so I needed 15 cold water dives to qualify for certification.
On a spontaneous seven-mile Lincoln City beaches family Sunday walk, we chatted about how I could start to get in a dive trip to qualify for diving in cold water. Before I knew it, Adam had managed to surprise book me for a long weekend in Hoodsport, WA for mid-September. I was impressed with the incredible underwater world that existed in a water way I had passed periodically for two decades, tall fluffy anemones in sherbet and cream shades that bely the Pacific Northwest surrounds. It was an experience unlike Zanzibar, Kenya, and The Philippines, and equally as liberating for a nomad’s heart.
It occurred to me how diving was the perfect cure for needing to be off call. Truly unreachable.
We managed to get in my medical qualification and insurance just in the nick of time for the fall training session in Eugene, with Eugene Skin Divers.
My cohort of 8 divers and four trainers spent back to back weekends doing pool diving in Eugene, a just around the Bend Sunday road trip, and then practical hands-on training and safety certification in the aquarium tanks at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
On the Saturday night of training, a handful of divers and trainers met for dinner and a beverage at Rogue Brewery.
My nomadic ears perked like those of an adventurist, at the mention of Antarctica.
Adam looked at me and knew. It was meant to be. It was my final continent. A lifetime dream.
One of my trainer’s upcoming trips was to dive in Antarctica. She was looking for a cabin mate. We looked it up immediately and virtually booked on the spot. It would take an additional 30 dry suit dives, or another 15 days of diving. I plotted out possible dives and calculated that with our previously scheduled family trip to Kauai in November, that I would be able to pull it off by diving more than weekly for the rest of the year.
I took in a massive gulp of air, and knew it was my time to take my next leap of faith.
As luck would have it, one of the leaders names is Faith. She also hails from the town I was born in, and met my husband in. A very small world indeed.
Fast forward six months, and I’m welcoming the morning light on the far edge of the earth, with the Sweet Haven team supporting our homes and guest needs for our homeowners and community.
I’m ready to dive to depths I’ve yet to experience.