Since I am often asked similar questions, I've developed this FAQ -- yes, I'm a dork!
When are you departing?
We are aiming for mid-February – weather dependent – and are driving to Portland with our belongings -- what's left of them in a truck and our car. We are going to take a few days to make the trip so it'll be enjoyable. My dear friend, Michelle (click to see her website), is helping us with the drive.
Where the heck are you going?
We are driving to Portland where David’s brother, Tim, and their family live. I will stay in Portland with David for a few days and then fly to Miami, where my brother, Brad, and his family lives (including the one-year old twins!). David and I plan to divide and conquer for several months and check out each location for work opportunities, feasibility for living, etc and travel back and forth to visit during this period. We are calling it the Feasibility Study with Portland as our HQ and Miami as our Satellite Office. :)
I also plan to use Miami as a landing pad while probably making some other trips or spending time in FL with family. For example, in the near term family will probably come down for Spring Break in Miami, my dad and stepmom turn 70 in April and may be in FL or OH for that celebration and I have a high school reunion in April back in Ohio (yes, it's a big number!). After a few months we’ll make some sort of decision or develop a plan for the next phase.
What kind of work will you be doing?
I have been working for months on a new project at the Workforce Center that has been rewarding and challenging and presents some great possibilities for the agency. (In case you are interested, I essentially have been developing and implementing a business plan that allows for the agency to charge fees for services -- a brand new initiative -- in order to create financial sustainability. We are federally funded and that is always at risk.) I have been striving to get this project in a place where I could work on it remotely. I plan to drop back to 20 hours a week and work on the project from out of town.
This will allow me to dedicate more time to the nonprofit I’ve established, Uhambo, which I can do from anywhere. I hope to have the opportunity to do some travel for the organization (conferences, meetings, etc) and eventually return to Africa. While in Miami there is also the opportunity to help work on my brother’s business, Integrative Change. I also will explore some other consulting projects.
Essentially I am planning to be mobile with my work so that I can work from anywhere, be with family in Ohio, Portland, Miami or wherever, and be flexible enough to travel for work or to visit family.
David will be exploring opportunities in Portland and thinking more about what he wants the next stage of his career to look like. At the same time he may be able to assist his brother’s business, GreenLite Motors.
What about the lake?
We had an opportunity in the fall to sell the easement – something we were never planning to do but it seemed like the right time. Heck, we were shedding everything else in our lives, why not?!?! We are sad to let it go but it worked out well. We need to clear out the property this month. (UGH!) We may plan on a garage sale, a Shack Sale, if you will and sell as much as we can and then dispose of the rest. Don’t ask me how this is going to get done but we are just putting one foot in front of the other.
What’s your new mailing address?
We have a PO Box in town that I will keep for a while:
1001-A E. Harmony Rd., PMB 376
Fort Collins 80525
How did you get this crazy idea?
This plan has been one year in the making officially and David and I have talked about it for a couple years now. When our dogs passed away a couple years ago, that is when it really sank in that we could make some changes. There have been several challenging and a few even more challenging situations over the past couple years that led us to re-think life. We identified several key drivers for making such a change including: wanting to be closer to family (if only they would move here it would have solved that!), be in a bigger urban area that provides more economic / work opportunities for David especially and create a co-op / collective living arrangement with family to simplify life in which we could be available to help them out with kids, etc., and not have a lot of “stuff” to manage. At the same time I have been more than ready to focus on my work in Africa and create an opportunity to return.
We have spent considerable time planning this – we literally held our own white-board and brainstorming sessions. I worked up the spreadsheets; David drew mind maps and vision boards. We knew that if we dropped our expenses considerably, it’d give us more flexibility to make these things happen and we wouldn’t have to earn as much. So, we embarked for the past year on shedding stuff – we dropped down to one car, sold furniture, and lastly, sold the house. No more mortgage, second mortgage, HOA fees, maintenance expenses and utilities. Our life now fits into a 10’ x 15’ area.
Do you have plans to return to Fort Collins or Colorado?
The thought of leaving Colorado really pains me so I have to just think of this as a temporary absence. I truly hope that my plans to be mobile will bring me back through Colorado. For example, it’s not possible to fly direct from Miami to Portland so I could stop over in Denver. I also can make plans to return to Fort Collins for work meetings and there are some other business activities in the area that are important for me to keep active in.
Uhambo’s 501c3 status is pending approval by the IRS. I sent the 100 page application (after working on it for a year) the day after we closed on our house – like we didn’t have enough going on! We are starting to fundraise and are focusing on partnership development with universities and other strategically aligned organizations. It’s been very exciting! Visit www.uhambofoundation.org.za/uhambo-us.html to learn more.