Greg with a good friend and mentor in Alaska

Opening my eyes I realize that I am awake, and feel an immediate sense of dread. I would sooo much rather be asleep and enjoying my dream world than conscious and facing reality.  My. Awful. Life.

Sharing the bed with me and my husband are one or two kids. The other two are on a twin size inflatable mattress on the floor (that has a slow leak and goes flat every night).

In the 'living room' (which was about the same size as our room), my sister was crashed on the floor with two of her friends. In the 'second bedroom', (that was the size of a walk in closet), a 16-year-old neighbor boy was staying, who had moved in because he had no where else to go. In the 'maid quarters' slept our friend and hired help, Maria, who did our cooking, cleaning and helped with the kids. I don't know that we could still afford to hire her, but our need to focus on working and producing an income justified the expense.

All eleven of us were crammed into a basement apartment in Escazú, Costa Rica that measured about 800 square feet. We shared not only one bathroom and meals together on the floor, but even ringworm and some lice. It wasn't pretty.

Above us lived our closest friends who had been generous enough to let us (all) crash with them when we finally admitted to the stark truth that Greg and I no longer had the funds to live in our $3,000 a month mansion on the hill. Yes, things were that bad. If it wasn't for them, I don't know how we would have made it.

The before house in Escazú

It had been a wild, fabulous ride. The real estate and stock market had provided us with a very cushy life. Maria had been our live in maid and worked full time, doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning and babysitting. We went on weekly dates to one of the dozens of fantastic restaurants in San Jose.

On the weekends we went to the beaches or explored some other part of Costa Rica. We drove a fancy SUV. We went bungee jumping, swam with dolphins, ate gourmet food on the beach with our toes in the sand and stayed at all-inclusive resorts. We lived the high life.

At the beach in Samara, Costa Rica

Then it all came crashing down around us, piece by piece. Bit by bit. Like the indicators on a stock market chart. That was our life, one big bear run.

We tried our best to hold it together, but everyday I felt more and more depressed, as I watched our pile of cash - all that we had left - diminish little by little. I dreaded getting up in the morning. Reality was just too painful.

Our focus was on launching the internet business that we hoped would replace our income, and provide us with what we needed to stay in Costa Rica, the place we wanted to make our permanent home.

But as we counseled with our friends, who supported and encouraged us, and faced some hard realities, we decided that going back to the States might be the best option we had for now.

It's hard to say good-bye

We sold whatever we had left of value (my husband's $2,000 mountain bike, and my flute) to buy plane tickets back. We moved in with my (wonderful) mother-in-law, until some kind people took pity on us and gave us the money to get into our own apartment. My husband took a job as a waiter.

We were starting out at ground zero. It kind of sucked. And it was really humbling.

Step by step we worked and saved and dreamed and planned. Participating in a mastermind group (with some more awesome friends), we re-gained the courage to keep pursuing a deliberate life, and to design it the way we wanted it to be - they way it HAD to be, if we were ever to feel fulfilled in living.

It wasn't all downhill from there. We tried. And failed. And tried. And failed. And tried again. And failed again.

Dominican Republic sunset

We didn't always have positive support. Sometimes we felt very lonely. Sometimes we received a lot of negative kickback and plenty of noise from the criticizing peanut-gallery.

But through it all, it's been the mentors, lenders, leaders, encouragers, supporters, providers, advisers, counselors, house-ers, readers, business partners and countless others who have helped us to continue on our journey.

They've provided comfort and inspiration when we were discouraged. They gave us work when we needed it. They loaned us money, provided a roof over our head, shared meals, empowering discussions, friendship and encouragement. Without 'using' them for support, we couldn't have made it alone.

On top of that, we've always had our books. Reading about the lives of others who chose to live deliberately, through failure after failure to ultimate triumph, was sometimes the only thing that got me through when I felt like giving up. It was Emerson who said:

I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

Good friends, family and books have sustained us when we thought we couldn't go on, and shared our triumphs when we felt on top of the world. Carefully choosing (and 'using') our friends has brought out the best in us.

If it wasn't for the people who have helped us along the way - mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, dear friends and even acquaintances and strangers - we wouldn't have the ridiculously amazing life we live now - slow traveling the world and learning through experience with our five sweet children.

In the words of John Donne,

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.

Without each person who's helped us, even in very small ways (you know who you are), we wouldn't have been able to design and pursue the life we wanted to live.

And we wouldn't be here without you (yes, you) to read our blog and take an interest in our life and in living deliberately. Thanks so much for everything.

Choosing good friends is probably one of the most critical factors for living a deliberately life. Without others who are like-minded to support and help you, your journey is hard before it even begins.

It's hard enough to achieve success, to push through the failures, to keep going when you feel like quitting. It's even more difficult to do it in isolation.

Surrounding yourself with great people - people who have something to teach you, who inspire you and who challenge you to be better - is one of the biggest 'secrets' to 'winning in the game of life,' of going from awful to awesome.

Someone once said, "Be friendly to everyone, but be careful who you let close to you."

The people who are close to you are the ones who will influence your decisions at the crossroads and encourage, or discourage, you from taking less-traveled paths.

You need others to be a success. You need support, ideas and inspiration. You can't do it alone. You can't live deliberately without the help of others. Whether it comes from great and inspiring books or blogs, from like-minded friends, from attending webinars or seminars, or belonging to a mind-blowing mastermind group.

Having a positive support group is a game changer. It can make the difference between an 'okay' life, or one that's totally awesome and getting better.

We've interacted with a lot of you. We know that you're amazing. We want to help connect you with one another, and we want to connect with you. (Start by reaching out to us and others on our Facebook Group)

Thanks to each one of you who have helped us along our path. We love you.

Thoughts and experiences?



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19 Responses

  1. Fives OntheFly

    As our family is just starting out on our path to live a deliberate, family- and travel-centered life, your experiences are humbling and inspirational. Everything feels new and exciting for us, but as you eloquently describe, failure is a part of the process. When we hit out bumps in the road (I’m sure sooner than we expect them), we’ll carry your story to sustain us. Thanks for such a moving and insightful post!

  2. Living Outside of the Box

    Again, I learn something new about you! Why don’t you guys talk more about yourselves in person?! Haha! We’re so happy to be counted among your friends, and to count you as ours! Thanks for a great (almost) year of knowing you!

  3. Catherine Forest

    What an amazing story! You truly are inspiring! We spent the winter in Costa Rica with our 3 girls and are now leaving for a year-long road trip accross Canada (from Quebec to the Yukon, where our 3 girls were born), all around the States and Mexico. I spent hours reading your blog section on Mexico (and watching your videos) and feels super confident now! Thanks bunch!

  4. Ashley

    I’m so glad that we were introduced to your blog! We’ve had similar circumstances. We had a tough year last year and had to start building from the ground up… for the 3rd time in our 10 years of marriage. It was through those challenges that we’ve changed and grown tremendously. My husband is currently working 3 jobs, one of which is delivering pizza, and we’re just so grateful for the support we’ve received from our family and friends and for the inspiration we’ve received from people like you. We’re headed that way next year and I can’t wait. One of my favorite sayings of yours is that when you fail you fail forward. Failure is your fertilizer. When people come to me seeking guidance in their own lives, I now tell them that. I recently wrote about how our losses helped us to recognize our true gains:

    Thanks for being an example and an inspiration.

    • Rachel

      Thank you so much Ashley. I really needed to hear that. And be reminded… failure is fertilizer. It helps you grow bigger and stronger.
      Keep going strong!

  5. Andie

    Friends are really important for all of us and I guess there are a lot of people agree with me.. They play a major part in our life as well..

  6. tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations

    thank you for the inspiration.

    I have had 3 situations where I lost “everything” and had to begin again. Once it was financially, the second it was relational and the third was really everything. I had nothing and had to begin again. But it was the best of all 3 because it was freeing. There was nothing holding me back. I had nothing to go back to. So yeah, it was the fertilizer that propped me forward and of all 3 times the result was the best yet!!!

    God is good. 🙂

  7. A King's Life

    Another brilliance, Rachel.
    In this modern society we tend to be so individualistic and thinking we can take care of ourselves. We, as humans, are incredibly social and should rely on others for inspiration and help.
    I wish you great luck in leading the group of masterminds to a more deliberate reality.

  8. Janet Perkins

    You are lucky to have wonderful friends and family. I would like to share this with you:
    “God will make a way when there seems to be no way
    He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me
    He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side
    With love and strength for each new day
    He will make a way He will make a way…”


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