Build Your Own Ark — Explorations of Working From Anywhere



About 5 years ago I started conjuring a plan to retire in 5 years. Well I have not gotten to that, yet… but oh so close! I, of course, had other dreams too…

1. To be bicoastal and live near a tropical beach
2. To have enough passive income to be able to be out of the country at least 6 weeks a year
3. To be out of debt, including mortgages
4. Extreme health and fitness
5. To make a lasting difference in the world

Five years ago I was getting married and some of my 5 kids were still living at home, I had a fledgling construction company (2 years old) and we owned a couple of rentals that we managed to get and hold on to.

So I started building my empire in 2008, at the start of the real estate crash in the United States. I just saw so much opportunity and I jumped in with both feet.

Now I have 13 rentals that pay both my mortgages, one on my house on the west coast and one on the shore in Florida, plus all the utilities. That being said, I wanted more. I wanted to be free to be anywhere (bi coastal) and although I am still building that asset and have an excellent track record for picking the right properties, I felt geographically stuck. There is no getting around it, construction and real estate is a hands-on business.

So I launched into, what has turned out to be, a multi-year exploration about generating income from anywhere. I have been at it for about 5 years now and I have learned so much.

This blog is about those lessons and how they unfolded. Honestly, this is a dream life and I hope you find yours!


How To Start a Business Without Losing Your Job



Small start-up businesses have had a huge resurgence in the past 5 years. Since the US recession and ever so slow recovery, people of all walks of life have started needed additional income or are so worried that they will be laid off that they are turning to self-employment at unprecedented numbers.

 

At the same time, you really want to give your business time to develop before leaving your steady paycheck so here are a few tips on how to start your business without having to lose your job, especially if your “job” is something that you really can’t or don’t want to lose, such as being a stay at home mom or dad (which is most definitely a full time job!)

 

#1. Start small. You can start almost any business at home. It is important that you plan for being bigger, but in the really expensive things, like offices, phone systems, equipment leases, etc. you do NOT need to do that. What are the things you must have?

 

1. A great business card (VistaPrint is my go-to for all this type of printing, first 250 FREE)

2. A great printer, scanner, fax machine (an HP All-In-One is my personal choice, about $400)

3. A business license from the Department of Licensing in your state. $59-ish

4. A computer – you can get a decent computer for under $500

5. Internet access — about $50 a month at its most basic level

6. Website — WordPress $0

7. Blog — if you are doing on line marketing this is a must have $0

8. Facebook page and Twitter accounts, Linked In profile for a professional

 
#2. A budget

What is your plan for making money. If you are a weekend cabinet maker, then how long will it take you to make cabinets for someone once they order them? Can you take 2 orders and get help if needed? How much money do you need to make to make ends meet? In other words, how much do you want to make from your business and how long do you want it to take? Then double the amount of time. Remember to include your materials and build your hours into the cost of making the cabinets at the expense it would be to hire someone to do it. To make that clear, cost of the labor is no more than what you could hire someone off of Craigslist to do it for (plus taxes and insurance).

 

#3. A Plan

This is more about the time. If you have a job you will have a harder time marketing at networking meetings and other mid day opportunities. So you will have to be creative in finding your niche market and reaching them. So get creative and make a plan that works in your schedule.

 

#4. Wardrobe

Look the part. If you are a house painter, do not go do bids in your suit straight from the office. Never tell folks this is your hobby business. You can show up in your nice car but make some comment about the truck being in at another job site. You are a house painter, that is who you need to be when you are with your customers.

If you are a house painter and you are trying to change to something more business suit like, then go to Nordstrom’s (or you best local department store) and try on some outfits. Get a sense of what makes you look and feel like a million bucks. Then take a picture and go to Good Will, or your local Value Village and find the pieces for pennies on the dollar. You can look fantastic for under $50 with the right wardrobe choices.

 

#5. An Offer

What do you do? What can you do for your customers? This is the most important piece. You need to have a strong, compelling offer that soothes a pain your customer is experiencing. Remember that we are all over busy, so saving them time, stress, or $ are easy top-of-the-pile issues. Then there are, looking or feeling better.

 

#6. Boldness

Call this whatever you like, courage, chutzpah, confidence, or boldness… you must find that spot in yourself where you can approach strangers and open your mouth with a smile and build a relationship.

Practice your opening in the mirror. When I get started on something new, I always write out a 1 sentence way of saying what I do. That is the most common question you will get, and sometimes you will only get 1 sentence – or 30 seconds at some networking meetings. So you need to be prepared to say it really well and get your point across. Give them benefits, not services. If you clean gutters for your new business, you want to tell them that you will prevent water damage and flooding, quickly, and leave the place spotless.

Tell Everyone you know!

Just make an announcement when you are ready to get started. Tell everyone. “ I am starting to do roofing on the weekends and if you know anyone I will give them a great deal and great service. “

They may not know anyone right away, but give lots of cards out and you will surprised how many calls you will get if you keep going.

 

#7. Stay Focused on What Matters

To not lose your job, you need to stay focused on it. So keep your attention where it matters. When you are at work, be at work and do not try and sneak other business in on company time. That is the single most common reason that bosses don’t like people to start other ventures. It takes your attention away from what you are doing. So keep doing a great job there.

At lunch, before work, and after work, you can return calls, follow up and plan marketing meetings. Use the weekends to fulfill your promises to your customers. And take at least 1 day off to rest. Exhaustion is not going to work in the long run.

 

Have Fun!!


Butterthief Gardens, A Sacred Place



Nestled among 40 acres of pristine old growth cedar high above the rambunctious Chehalis River this fantabulous spot is a sacred

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place for me to find clarity, write without distraction, breathe, discover inspiration, and just be among nature at is finest.

 

Home to nut trees, wild blackberries (of course), huckleberries, exotic   vining fruits that hang from the cedars, amazing medicinals, this rich   corner of the universe is full of faeries, gnomes, and all likes of natures helpers.


Costa Rica White Water Rafting



For those of us who love adrenaline, this trip was worth the effort.   It was quite a hike down to the river and fortunately they float the boats down from up river.  We have good class 4′s in the Pacific Northwest during the spring, however the water is just above freezing and it is loaded with boulders.  Helmets and wetsuits are a necessity.   In Costa Rica the water is warm and if it were not for the fall of the river, the white water would not be slower, just not as bouldered.

 

Started with a few days trip to Panama City, then a day hop in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.  Looking for an adventure beyond the amazing banana fields and wild toucans (with real striped beaks!) we found a river trip that turned out to be one of the best day trips of my life.

 

 

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Class 3! Really? Amazing day with amazing friends!

 

 

You work up quite an appetite after a few hours of this kind of work.


Schoolhouse Earth —



Love, love, love Schoolhouse Earth.   A 501(c)3 parented by Transformation of Education to develop innovative programs that interface with schools, support teachers, and design powerful and impactful stewardship education that leaves contributing adults who are responsible, creative, and engaged in life.

 

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With programs like Edible Rainbow, Local Growers Program,  Body Logic, Schoolhouse Gardens, Sugarfree Schools, Dreambuilders, and Guinea Kids Education Fund… this organization is playing big for fun and making a difference.

 

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Ahh, Italy



Two and half weeks of blissful travel.  In the dead heat of August, started in magical Venice, and trained to Florence.  Never was there a city like Florence.  So beautiful, so full of art and architecture.  Everywhere you look is a wonder of craftsmanship.  The people are lovely and warm (except when I asked for ice for my coffee, ouch!)

 

Trekking to the top of Michaelangelo’s hill and having fresh caprese with wine at a little cafe that overlooks the whole city, so lovely and perfect.  Every bite of fresh basil and summer fresh tomatoes sprinkled with sweet balsamic and olive oil that tastes like it was pressed yesterday.   The sun, the slight breeze, and the site of olive trees, castle walls, and a walled river that twists on to the Mediterranean.   Like a postcard, it was.

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Every day was a new treat, from Florence we went to Rome and climbed the tower inside the Vatican Doumo.   The Vatican Museum, the trains, we walked every where to get a better taste of the cities themselves.   I was in heaven until my son went on strike from museums, palazzos, and really anything old… finally, we had to seek out a Hard Rock for the boy… and he deserved it.

 

 

 

 

 

However, since there is no Hard Rock in Florence, we had to make a bolt to Rome!  Oh, poor babies… more old stuff for me and hamburgers and english for David.


You Can Be Anyone! You Can Do Anything!



At this time of year there is always a flurry of coaching clients who want to reinvent their lives. There is something about the start of the year that calls for a new beginning… a fresh breath that feels somehow completely disconnected from the past.

 

Delightfully, from science to spirituality, it is proven that Humans are remarkable, neuroplastic, creative Beings with the capacity to invent anything and be anyone, no matter what has happened in the past. No matter where they come from, no matter when they begin.

 

This is big news… just like Dorothy in Oz in her ruby slippers, this new beginning that we grant to ourselves at the start of each year is actually available at any moment of anytime…

 

Taking the time to thoughtfully choose our goals for the year — not just taking the unfulfilled resolutions from last year, but really looking out into the future and creatively choosing where you are headed for the next 12 months.

 

and then getting in action — that’s the critical piece… not hoping but acting…

 

 

 



How Anonymously Adopting a Family For the Holidays Rekindled the Magic!



 

It is dark outside on the morning of Christmas Eve and there is still so much to do before tomorrow’s special celebration of family. I will bake all the special treats that are only eaten on holidays. But I wanted to take a few minutes to share something special that we did this year and the difference it made for us as a family.

 

At the end of each Christmas our family always feels somewhat over full from getting… we know we have enough stuff yet we want to acknowledge and appreciate each other in some meaningful way… we have struggled with it for the past couple of years as the kids become adults and the magic and wonder of surprise becomes the stress of having enough for everyone…

 

So this year we adopted a family that we have never met and will never meet. It was offered through a radio station after Thanksgiving and on the spur of the moment I called and accepted a single mom with 3 little kids.

 

The station sent me their Christmas list complete with sizes and favorite colors and it included their wish list (of things they did not think they would get but wanted or needed). I called my family and told them what I had done and with mixed feelings we went to work.

 

As we started shopping and buying things for the children… picking out toys and clothes, dishes, and books, towels, pj’s, yo yos for stockings… suddenly, even though we were not going to be there to see them open these gifts… the Magic of Christmas became more real then it has been in years. We cared what they wanted, whether they would like it, was it going to bring joy to their lives, would it entertain or keep them warm.

 

Our whole family spent a full day together where we laughed, wrapped presents, and had a big, messy crab pot dinner and were full of the joy of giving.

 

There is something so special about giving to someone who has no idea whether they will get their Christmas list items or not… it was especially great to get a bright shiny bike and stick a bow on it. I remember the morning my children got their first bikes and the amazing joy it was for them for get outside and ride in the freezing cold. Well, quite simply, it was magical for them and that is what I hope and anticipate for the family we adopted. That they really feel like something magical has happened for them.

 

But the real magic was that our family felt great about it. We shared in something that makes the holidays real… We got to be Santa and honestly, I can say that this holiday has been one of the best, although not traditional, we have had in years.

 

I know that next year we will do this again and it will be better organized (I hope).

 

I truly wish you all a happy holiday and the very best of seasons with your family, friends, and loved ones. The times they are a changing and the magic is where you make it!

 

Please spread the joy good will to all.

 



2013:The Year of Breakthrough!



 

Every year there is a calling to start fresh.  The beginning of the year is like a breath of fresh air to begin newly or recommit to projects that fell by the wayside in 2012.

 

Each year has a new intention for me. For example, this past year was The Year of Transformation and Power and I lived fully inside that context.  Lots of adventure, new beginnings, and extraordinary growth in many areas.

 

As I look forward I am declaring this year The Year of Breakthrough! 

 

I tend to work with businesses and individuals who want to start something big or make a big change in their lives or career.  Reinventing one’s life can be exciting and, for some, is absolutely essential.  It can also be daunting.

 

For some it is a career that has ended or is not making the money that it once was.  Or simply, having fulfilled what there was to accomplish and it is time for something new.

 

Maybe it is a personal breakthrough.  Something that has limited them for years and they are finally ready to be done with it.  Like a poverty mentality, or a constant struggle with happiness in relationships, or vitality.

 

Really, The Year of Breakthrough can be in any area of life… whatever is important to you.

 

Be bold!  Be daring!  Take this new year’s energy and launch yourself into your dream life… especially if you are unsure how to get there!

 

Then DECLARE it.

 

This is what I am committed to!  I will _____!  This shall be!

So, what exactly counts as a breakthrough?

 

Any unpredictable result.  In other words, you cannot see the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be.  There will be some leap into the unknown.

 

For the most part, this is the stopping point for the ordinary person.  If they cannot see the next step, they just leave it as a dream and never take any actions toward their goal.

 

This is the most certain way to never achieve your dream and it has a subtle and profound effect on us.  Every time we don’t start something that matters to us we become  a little more resigned about life, a little sadder, a little older.

 

Reinventing your life or taking on a bold new adventure is not an ordinary thing to do.  Extraordinary people take on extraordinary quests.   Reinventing your life is for remarkable, magnificent, and courageous people, like you!

 

So I encourage you to start… even the smallest step toward your goal will make a difference.

Here is a good beginning question,  “Am I willing to have _______?”

 

Are you willing to have your dream?  You might discover some emotion there when you ask that question. Ask it out loud… talk to the universe.  “Am I willing to have my dream?”

 

If the answer to your question is, “Yes!”, then spend a little time with your eyes closed and imagine your life with that accomplished.   How would life be?  Who would you be if you had already fulfilled this impossible quest?  Maybe you want to get married, or you want to quit your job and open a business, maybe you want to buy a house, or you want to run a marathon (or just be able to!) , or go on a vacation with your whole family.  Maybe you want to save money or do something creative with your life.

 

Whatever it is… imagine yourself having it/ being it right now and notice your thoughts and body sensations.   That is the beginning of your adventure!

 

Just commit and you will be amazed at what the universe will bring to aid you on your quest.

 

As Geothe said so brilliantly,  Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

 



What Would Richard Branson Do In Your Situation?



 

Being Unstoppable Leads to Breakthrough Results!

 

How important is it to be unstoppable in life?Well that depends directly on what you have at stake. There is absolutely no reason to beunstoppable in pursuit of something that does not matter to you.

 

However, once you decide something matters to you, whether it is putting your child through college, or buying your first house, or getting fit, or ending world hunger;  once you commit to it… well then it matters!

 

So what does it take to be unstoppable? This is simple question really.   Just keep going no matter what.

 

So why does it  seem so much harder in real life?  That is a better question.

 

If you are working towards your child’s education, or buying your first house, or the career of your dreams, then it is pretty important to be unstoppable.

 

What does it take to be unstoppable?  Especially when the world gives you a challenge that makes your dream/goal seem impossible?

 

This is the heart of being unstoppable.  When we start a project, we have a lot of enthusiasm for it.  We want to give our time and energy plus we are making progress that we can see.  Then something happens.   We are invited to a dinner party while we are on a cleanse.  We have a cash flow issue beyond our ability to stretch the budget.  We get a “no” from a critical alliance we were counting on.

 

At this point, being unstoppable is who you must become.   Most will not pass this point.  They will hang up their spurs and sit on the porch thinking about this moment for the rest of their lives.

But not you!  You are going to accomplish this goal no matter what.  Why?  Because you said so!  You knew you would face some challenges and here one is.  Now what?

 

This moment is what weeds out the dilettantes from the real result producers.    You are going to figure it out.   I know that sounds too simple, but it is exactly what there is to do.

 

In these moments of great need, sometimes the best coaching comes in.   This is the coaching I got when I was completely stopped during a major life change.

 

“Ask different questions”.   The question I was always asking in my head was, “How am I going to get through this?”  Or “Where am I going to come up with that money?”   Some version of that.

 

The question I needed to be asking is, “Who knows how to do this already?”, and then either, “What would ______ do?” or get on the phone and reach that person or read their book.

 

I model my business life after some mentors and it really assists me to look from their point of view.  What would Richard Branson do in this situation?    Or What would Seth Godin’s next move be?”

 

Living an “unimaginable life” means that YOU can’t imagine it… it does not mean that no one has imagined it.    So get out of your perspective and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, someone who has walked your path (or close enough) and answer from there.

 

And most importantly, to be unstoppable, keep going.  Keep taking effective action.  Even little moves can make a big difference and every single step is a learning experience.

 

My mantra:  Keep breathing, Keep pushing, keep learning!