Monthly Archives: April 2012

Restless Roots – Where to Next?

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The problem with traveling, and enjoying it, is that once you start, it’s hard to give it up.  I fantasize about putting roots down and settling in one place…except, the reality of doing that some how scares me.  I think of the routines and habits that come along with being “settled”, the consistent parade of familiar faces, sites and scents, and I run for the nearest airport and farthest/quick destination point.  Why that is? I do not know…perhaps I do not want my roots to show. Roots being a metaphor for permanent settlement and not my socio-cultural /ethnic background.

So the constant question these days is, “Where are you going?”  My standard response has become, “The Caribbean for two months and then we will see from there.”  This is the plan that is not.   Going to Cuba has slightly side tracked my Ecuador plans because while it’s markets are spartan, compared to Cuenca (Ecuador), Cuban people are really hard to beat.  And in the end, isn’t the experience of being in a new place more about the people than the marketplace? Of course I can’t work in Cuba,  so unless I create a project for myself, the Cuban adventure will last until boredom sets in and we move off to the next country.

So, this summer’s adventure is all about discovering Cuba, its culture, history, people and food.  We will see where the adventure leads us from there.  I am committed to spending at least the next 12 months abroad, so we will see.  And if I happen to meet my prince and fall in love  in [enter the country name], I may consider planting my roots in the ground  and not simply in a portable/roll-away flowerpot.

Onward ho!

 

 

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Final Stages for New Beginnings

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I just realized that it has been 3 weeks since my last post and time has just flown by.  So that said, I wanted to give you an update regarding our pending move to “way down yonder”.

  1. Our flights have been purchases and accommodation taken care of, for our two month stay in Cuba.  For those of you just joining in on the conversation, the original plan was to go to Cuenca, Ecuador this summer and build our lives from the ground up again…which, by the way, is still very appealing.  But of course, we went to Cuba last month, I was seduced by the warm climate, gregarious personalities, and living history…not to mention the eye candy!   In all seriousness, as an entrepreneur, it is very difficult for me to wrap my head around the notion that 90% of the economy is government owned and private business is so heavily taxed that it might as well be government owned.  It’s an interesting notion and one I plan to explore more fully when I’m on the ground.
  2. I have consolidated most of our life into 1 suitcase.  Granted it’s filled with mini skirts, sun dresses, tank tops, shorts and other summertime paraphernalia (no sweaters here).  The packing effort which began several weeks ago, has resulted in serious soul searching regarding the value I place on cloths and things versus memories.  No point in traveling with Indian saris, abayas from Abu Dhabi, and Africana from Senegal, so those will sit in storage at my sister’s.  The Brooks Brother suit is just too beautiful to let go of, but all of my “business” blouses and Ann Taylor odds and ends were donated to and are now hanging on racks at my local Goodwill…really, I saw them on the racks!
  3. Craigslist is my best friend when it comes to moving and relocation because now my apartment is mostly empty.  IKEA dressers, file cabinets, kitchen carts, carpets, desks, etc., have an incredible way of sprouting feet and leaving quickly when they are posted in craigslist ads.  It’s a wonderful thing and now I am just left with the basics to give my youngest sister to furnish her first apartment or donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
  4. I have purchased gifts for all our friends and new family in Cuba, which is exactly what I would do if I was going back to Sierra Leone to visit.  As a guest, you must come bearing gifts…it’s just the polite and considerate thing to do.  The great thing about Cuba is that because things are limited and relatively expensive, relatively small gifts are really appreciated and valued.  Between gifts, shoes, bed sheets (I’m very particular and never leave home without them), towels, and bags, we filled up a second suitcase.  The third suitcase will be all the things I just couldn’t leave behind and our school curriculum materials for the next year.  No matter where we are in the world, we will still homeschool this coming year.
  5. My company officially closes down this Friday and we are leaving our town in under 3 weeks to head out for the summer…this means the beginning of graduation season, hanging with family and getting on planes, trains and in automobiles.

There you have it, the last three weeks consolidated into 5 bullet points.

Ready to Semi-Retire – What About Your Business?

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“What about your business?”  This is among the top three questions I get when I mention our pending Ecuadorian move and quite frankly, it is a question that I spend a significant amount of time mulling over.  The fact is, I run a contractual service business, so once our contract is finished later this year, I could go into hibernation/quasi-retirement for a year, and then resurface the following year with a new contract.   However, the concerns I have, have nothing to do with getting hired again, and everything to do with the people I employ and the families we serve.

I am reminded daily about the positive impact we have on children, their self-esteem, and academic success and I see the relationships we build with parents and guardians who are trying their best to raise these young people in urban environments that most of us would never want to live in.    So, is there gratification and pride in the work I do?  Yes!  I also know that our employees rely on this income to help them achieve personal goals, such as car payments, family vacations and gifts.

But an ex-boyfriend once told me that travel was like my lover…and I have to agree.  The thrill of pulling out my passport and whisking off to some location where the first language is not American English…is for me exhilarating.  Like encountering love afresh.  My cheeks even get rosy…or maybe that’s just my blush.

I have also been reminded that there are multiple companies that do my same work (though in my opinion, not as well) and my students and families will just migrate to them.  Reality check!  While I like to think I am indispensable, I can be easily replaced…shucks!  So with that in mind, I am reminded that my staff can find positions with these other companies and I no longer feel bad about shutting down my operations.

I am fortunate, given my business model and the fact that I can essentially walk right back into it, that letting go of the business for a year,  or more, is really not that big of a deal.  I also enjoy rather spartan living, so moving to a less expensive locale will help with the drop in income. However, this solution does not work for many cases, so I leave it to you to decide how you want to retire.  But I do think the decision should be your own and not someone else’s.

For those of you who have been following this blog, you know that I like to keep my decision making relatively simple and stream-lined. I am no different when it comes to running a business and thinking next steps.