Our story began looooong ago, back in 1999, when Mike and I met. But I won’t delve into that right now. Fast forward a little after our marriage in 2002………..
A few months after Bryce was born, we officially started a “side” photography business in January 2007. That means I filed our first sales and use tax. It was my fault for asking Mike if he had done that. He looked at me like a deer in head lights. “Uh, can you help me with that?” he asked. Of course I could. For more that half of my working life, I had been self employed. He was employed full-time with a software company, so I ran the day-to-day operations while he was at work, along with caring for a newborn. Good. Times.
Soon thereafter, in January of 2008, Mike’s employer went up for acquisition and his “cost-center” position was eliminated. I was pregnant with our second child. We FREAKED out. We were forced into photography full time. We were blessed to be able to start paying ourselves a salary just a few months later, which was good considering our Cobra health insurance was $1200 a month. Yet, I was happy to be able to support my husband in the business that he loved. Our studio became a “top-performing” studio according to the numbers put out by the Professional Photographers of America. Mike was excellent at his craft.
It slowly began to kill me. As I struggled to run a business and raise two babies, my health began to suffer. My marriage began to suffer. My relationships and friendships began to suffer. EVERYTHING was suffering. I suffered with post-pardum depression with BOTH kids, so this was not an easy time at all. But I didn’t want to be the wife that extinguished my husband’s dream. So I carried on, like a “good wife”. I went to bed at midnight and got up about 4:30 every morning for years. I was miserable, but I had a smile on my face that was as fake as Dolly’s boobs. Another post for another time.
Fast Forward again……..
February of 2011 I was rear-ended while taking the kids to school. The car was totaled and I ended up with several herniated discs and severe spinal cord compression at C5 & C6. I was told by one of the top neurosurgeons in Orlando, Dr Nizam Rizak, that I need spinal fusion surgery immediately . Mike and I debated fiercely on the issue. He loves me and wanted me to get well. I knew that surgery was not what I wanted, so we got a second opinion from Dr Chris Baker (LOVE him)!! He told me he made LOTS of money to operate on people, but he couldn’t guarantee that it would fix me. He told me to live my life and that I would know when, and if, I need surgery. I TOTALLY believe in the body’s ability to heal itself. I moved on.
May of 2012 I had a colonoscopy because I’ve had a history of polyps since I was 19. I ended up almost bleeding to death and was in the hospital for 3 days. I refused a blood transfusion and recovered at home over the next few months.
November of 2012 I went to the doctor certain that I was dying of a brain tumor. I was suffering with migraines, heart palpitations, chest pains, leg pains, sharp shooting pains all over, severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, (Mike wants me to add ZERO libido) etc. After a battery of tests and blood work, it was decided that I was healthy (all numbers look great) but that I had fibromyalgia. My amazing D.O., Dr Gregory Samano, had been trying to diagnose me since 2004. He looked at me and told me that “Anything you can do will be 100% better that any drug I can give you”. He knew that the drugs didn’t work since we had tried everything. It was such a blessing. It was also a game changer.
I got home that afternoon completely empowered and started doing research. Most people would have wanted a pill or something. I was just glad I wasn’t dying of some dreadful disease. I knew it was fixable. Mike was not so sure. For days I researched “diet for fibromyalgia” and Paleo kept coming up. January I decided to give it a try. I’ve never looked back.
Free from pain in about 3 weeks in January of 2013, I became fascinated with food and wellness. My body began to heal and I started feeling better. It was amazing. My family was very supportive. I went from not being able to pick up my kids to lifting them in the air. They saw the difference. I could get out of bed in the morning without moaning in pain. I no longer told them “No, Mommy can’t right now”. I became a YES mommy! (And a YES wife!) Again, another blog post for another time.
The year of 2014 brought much change. As part of my healing and wellness, I started using essential oils in February. In March I decided that I wanted to go back to school and become a health coach, so I started at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in June. In July while in the north Georgia mountains with Mike, and after a couple of glasses of wine, I told him I was done with the photography business. It was literally killing me. I also told him that I hated living on Florida. I loved my friends, but I hated the heat and lack of seasons. He decided to take over the business and my responsibilities were done. By October, the business no longer paid us a salary. It was time for him to get a job. These were not easy times.
In January 2015, Mike started working for a software company that is entirely virtual. Everyone works for home. We started talking about relocating. On the last day of school, we packed up the kids and headed to Atlanta. Mike and I made our way to Chattanooga and decided that it could possibly be our new home. We returned home, got a realtor, staged the house after a month of hard work, and put it on the market. It was listed on a Monday afternoon. We had 17 showings on Tuesday and Wednesday and it went up for highest bid by Thursday. Bids closed Saturday and we chose a buyer by the next Monday. Oh crap! What shall we do?? I thought we would have months to plan.
Then it hit us. Seriously hit us. Why don’t we rent an apartment? Let’s travel around for a few months. Let’s go hang out in Atlanta with relatives. We went from thinking about renting an RV to travel around for bit to deciding to buy one in 36 hours. We had gotten excited about traveling around for a bit, and then realized it was the same amount of work to travel in an RV for a few months as it was to do it indefinitely. We bought our fifth wheel RV on July 31st. We had decided that we would do a post-occupancy until the end of October so we could wrap things up and get prepared for life on the road.
Just before we bought the truck on August 31st, we decided that we needed to close and be out by September 14, SIX weeks earlier than we had planned. The post-occupancy was not going to work. I had to make it happen. It was a mad dash, to say the least. I contacted a friend to see if she knew where I might be able to go and still be close to the homeschool group where the kids were going to go until we left town. She offered up her beautiful property out in East Orlando. What a blessing!! There will be lots more on that too!
Through it all, I remained calm. I never lost it. I started selling everything and loved it! We met so many cool people who loved our story. Because I had such an inner peace about it all, I knew that we were doing the right thing. It was almost scary how intune Mike and I were with each other, and how we sailed through the downsizing of our lives. We secured a small storage pod, made lots of donations to Mustard Seed and Goodwill and made it happen.
On September 14th, 2015, we closed on our house and started living in our RV full time, still in Orlando until we could get completely outfitted for full-time living. Finally, on November 21st we set out on the road and headed to south Georgia for the holidays. The blog will update you from there.
I hope you enjoy our travels & crazy lifestyle!