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A Past Journey and a Look to the Future

CONTEXT: This post was written on a sailing vessel in Mexico waters on November 1, 2022.

Me? I'm an entrepreneur, mother, friend, daughter, sister and a solo traveler.

I’m on a journey that actually began in 2009 and that path led to my retirement on October 8, 2022. My heart needed to travel which led to early retirement and this sailing journey with friends is part of the plan to see more of the world.

I’ll share with you a bit about my former business. My business partner, Susan Leathers, and I started an online news publishing business serving the community in Tennessee over 14 years ago. We expanded to three sites before Susan

exited the business in 2014. From that point, we expanded to a total of nine sites.

In 2017, a big change happened in my life and my marriage of 30 years was ending. Of course, this one change would affect many aspects of my life. The constants were there, deep friendships, the love of my children, the support of my family, but I was shaken to the core about what was next for me.

Because of this life shift, I decided to hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain, a 500-mile pilgrimage. I had a friend, Bill, who had hiked the Camino and I knew how it had affected his life. It was with fervent hope for my new yet-unimagined future that I began to train with a 20-pound backpack. I would train 450 miles before I even left Tennessee.

That Camino journey began with the decision, grew with the training and became a reality on April 29, 2018 when I left Nashville. My three daughters spent the weekend with me leading up to my departure, helped me pack and repack and saw me off at the airport with sweet gifts to encourage me along the way.

I was not afraid. I somehow knew that I was where I was supposed to be and that the path ahead had been prepared for me.

The Camino was a very personal journey filling 7 weeks with challenges, joys, tears, laughter and rebirth. What I learned on this journey was how simple life can be and you have a choice in how you want to live. Each day on the Camino, you rise with the sun, eat a simple breakfast, walk for a few hours, eat again, walk, eat, walk, eat and then you sleep. The next day you do it all again.

Decisions for great change are not quick and easy to enact - it’s been 5 years that my new life has been unfurling. When I sold the company, I committed to stay for three years and continue to take the company forward. This was a gift because it showed me the runway and gave me a timeline with which to plan.

So what’s happened since then?

One idea that might be controversial among you Type A planners like myself is that my plans were made to get me started but not necessarily to follow. Having that checklist provided me courage somehow to take steps forward, but it was what happened along the way that actually guided me to the next plan.

What I hope to impart is, don’t feel like just because you have Plan A, that it is your only option. Plan A is only there to lead to Plan B - and this is so because you just can’t see yet what is out there for you.

The pandemic opened my heart to think about how my life might be full of travel and adventure. I started dreaming of what that would look like.

I was blessed to have my supportive family to talk through the options and see what it would take to make it happen. A good financial planner makes all the difference and I think many women don’t take advantage of this resource. If you don’t know someone, ask a friend for a recommendation.

I might actually be on Plan X by now with all the changes in my life. But this journey of late has been completely about following my heart and soul. Yes, I have retired but it is hard to imagine not working again. We will see where this plan of traveling for 15 months leads.

This is my time and I very intentionally walked toward this moment. The kids are grown, healthy, happy, employed and off mom’s payroll. My obligations in the business world are completed. My grandchildren have not arrived yet (looking forward to that). So here I sit in Mexico, looking at the ocean, drinking a Cerveza.

What is next for you?

  • What would you do if you had no obligations?

  • Is work something you love to do or need to do?

  • What, if anything, could bring more joy to your life?

Think deeply about where you want to be next year, in three years and in five.

I encourage you to think about your path and where you might go next. Live in the moment but dream for the future.

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