Making Lemonade From Lemons

October 28, 2009 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

You know what would have been easy? Or easier anyway. The day after the day that a part of my world crashed into flames right before my eyes? To go out there and get a new job doing exactly what I was doing. To keep my life basically as it was. To not make a big deal out of things. To keep going on that path I had worked so very hard at.

That, was not meant to be.

I set out on a different journey. One where I gave up my home to be a nomad for an undisclosed amount of time, sold most of my things and put the rest in storage, said farewell to good friends and bought a one-way ticket to South America to go on an adventure. Where that adventure would lead, I didn't now. I just needed to be someplace, anyplace, from where I was. I told myself I would rebuild from there.

I am one month away from the 1 year anniversary of that change. And I'm nervous now, more frightened than I've been all year. You see, all year I was in transition and moving all the time and going from a South American renewal of my spirit to a New Orleans revival of my soul to a Philippines emergence of my humanity. I found comfort in the unknown places and faces and foods and music. I felt connected, but just enough. I went out into the world to do good. I was completely free of whatever strange and curious confines society had put around me.

I've told my story all year. Sometimes little bits and pieces, sometimes big chunks, sometimes nothing at all. I have a overflowing suitcase full of elevator pitches and easy get-aways and one-way tickets to my next destination in my always moving and hardly sitting still version of a life.

There is safety you know, in having it all. But there is safety in giving it all away too. People say to me, "I never could do what you've done." or "Wow, tell me how be like you." And you know what I say? Please don't. Don't make me the poster child for giving it all away because I didn't have a plan, I've winged it pretty much all year, and now, nearing the end of that journey, I'm exhausted. Enriched beyond belief, taller, stronger, wiser, more able to understand who I am and the situations around me, I'm all of these things and more. But also plain tired.

Add to the mix a dose of fear. Butterflies in the stomach fear because I know good things are coming, I know I've given myself so truly and sincerely to this year that on the other side the sun shines bright down on my face and my toes wiggle in the sand and I'm surrounded my people who love me (and whom I love) and good things are a-coming. But let me tell you, the idea of getting it all back - all the things I fought so hard to give away - the idea of getting them all back just about scares me to death.

I know, what's to be scared of? I've learned we get a lot of chances in life, that we create those chances because maybe they aren't chance at all. People cross our path by the hundreds and only a choice few stick out enough to make you want to put out your hand and say, "Nice to meet you." And fewer still are those you want to connect with, need to, because it feeds something inside of you - the part that makes you think, makes you question, makes you feel alive. And those people, those experiences, those cities, those jobs, those THINGS aren't really things at all. They're something much richer and much deeper. For me, having given away most of my material things last year, I've found that the PEOPLE things are all I've got. And in all I've got, I'm a millionaire. I love and I care and I put myself out there and I acknowledge that I'm different (maybe) from most. That I'm a handful in over-analytical extroverted self. But I also know that I'm a true friend to many, and that I can keep all of the details in my head about peoples' lives because I am always listening. Always taking it in, always giving life my all, because we don't know how long it's going to last.

I trust myself more than I ever have before. I've had to make decisions about turning left or right down new streets almost every day. I've seen my fair share of sunrises and sunsets. I've walked down dark alleys at night with my senses exploding aware of every shadow, every noise the street makes. I've met many a reason, season or lifetime. I've somehow created a way of feeling comfortable while living in the uncomfortable.

Now, I'm looking at what's next. I'm scheduling meetings and phone calls and straight hustling. I'm not always sure what I'm pounding the pavement for, but I am out there every day trying on hats and seeing which one fits. I'm making progress every day. "You could just keep going," a friend said on the phone tonight. _"Year two of your nomadic journey might be easier than the first." _

Well, that might be true. But I'm ready for something that's mine again. A place to call home. I'm scared and nervous and overwhelmed, but I'm ready. It's going to take just as much courage and just as much inner-strength to go forward into the light, as it did one year ago today when I decided to step away from the life I had always known.

In reflecting on a year that caught me completely by surprise I must say, I've never been so poor but I've never felt so rich. While it's time to focus on making money again, I am holding on tight to the giving and the cause muscle that I developed this year. I won't give it up. I'm holding onto balance, I won't go back to the 16 hour days that killed me before. I will cultivate the happiness within me that I give to others without a second thought. I will continue to make lemonade from lemons, I know now that in myself, there is no other way to be.

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