See, since 2014, our lives have been a crazy, wild, roller coaster ride. The lowest points of the past few years have shown me, you simply have to go with the flow of life. Not everything is going to happen the way you want; not everything is going to happen the way you plan. When you take a step back and accept, that you need to allow yourself to follow the ebbs and flows of life’s river, you might just end up where you need to be. And where life wants you to be is usually, where you need to be. This is a lesson, that first began sinking in, while we hiked El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. And the past four years have solidified these lessons for me, even as I continually learn (and re-learn) them.
Back in 2014, soon after we hiked El Camino, Eric and I got married, and then, almost immediately, we ended up buying the oldest church, in the town he grew up in, Lake Charles, LA. Creating a home base was the last thing we thought would happen back then, let alone a home base in Louisiana.
The story of how we came to buy the church property is actually a spectacular one, that we feel our journey on El Camino led us down. (We will share that story soon in a future blog post.)
The entire historic church property we bought included not only our town’s oldest church, but also the oldest parsonage, the oldest one-room schoolhouse (think Little House on the Prairie!), and another building, that was used for social services and community outreach ministry by the church. In early 2015, we started the arduous task of converting everything except the church into livable spaces and apartments. Simultaneously, as we began this very long construction journey, I started working as a retailer for a then small clothing company.
Of course, as both of our new, professional endeavors took over our lives, long-term (and even much of our short-term) travel took a back seat. During this time, we experienced amazing successes, as well as hardship, pain, and a fair amount of challenges. We try to balance the good with the bad, and there was a decent amount of laughter in the mix, but those days were DARK and challenging.
2015 to 2017 were a tedious three years, filled with lots of challenges, mainly around our construction projects. But, 2017 in particular for me, was a year marked with personal turmoil and feeling lost about “what’s next.” I went through an intense period of time of crippling anxiety and feeling incredibly lost. Of course Eric stood by my side, encouraging and reassuring me at every turn.
I won’t lie and say I have the all the answers now- I don’t. Neither does Eric. But when we were hiking El Camino, we both had a vision, of creating a strong home base that could support us financially and emotionally, and that would somehow also allow us to travel freely, when we wanted. We’ve always consistently dreamed of having businesses that required travel, and the more exotic travel needed, obviously the better. We had no clue what that would look like at that time. But now I feel grounded in the path we have chosen, and the direction we are going.
Today, we have five rental units, I left the clothing company I was working for to start my very own company called Adventurista Boutique, and we are gearing up to start some serious international travel again. Our travels this summer will bring us to California, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Nevada. Our trip this summer is primarily business focused for Adventurista Boutique to source fair trade and ethical fashion (my dream come true). Later in the year, we hope to squeeze in a trip to Colombia. We also have a large number of trips throughout the U.S. planned throughout 2018-2019.
We still have the actual church property to renovate. Our dream is to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. However, last September, after our second batch of SERIOUS contractor issues, we decided to take an emotional and physical break from renovations. (Think mindboggling delays, deceit, outright lies, and theft). So for the first time in 2.5 years, we were temporarily unburdened from the stresses that came with renovating a massive and historic property. We must say, it feels liberating! Side note- if you want to test your new marriage and see what boundaries of stress it can handle, then take on a renovation project…or three!
We don’t have a set date to start on church/B&B renovations, but we trust, when the time is right, we will know. For now, we are excited for new adventures, more traveling, and to write again. For those of you wondering, we do plan to finish sharing our El Camino journey. It’s been a long process of feeling like we were ready to continue sharing our story, as it is deeply personal and sometimes challenging to write about. We are ready and will begin posting over on Love on El Camino again, when we return from Asia.
When we left our jobs and our DC lives, in 2012, to embark on our 2 Travel Everywhere adventure, neither of us imagined, this is where it would lead us. In taking that first step of making a dream become a reality, you have one vision in your mind about how things will turn out, or what they “should” ultimately look like, but it so often turns into something unexpected and amazing. Looking back, I can see how each twist and turn led us to this point. My biggest takeaway from the last 3-4 years is, while the unknown is terrifying, it must be explored in order to truly live the life we are meant to live.
So, here is to continuing into the unknown and many more adventures.
And up next on the blog, we will be sharing our favorite things from our recent Toronto and Ottawa adventure.
P.S. – You can check out Adventurista Boutique here.
P.P.S- You can read our Love on El Camino blog here.