Some things in life you can't escape nor explain.
I was meant to be here.
Mother Nature, especially her oceans, has always brightened my soul. While growing up on a farm, I recognized my love for animals right away and first intimately connected with the Earth through growing crops and spending countless hours alone in nature. Once I became a little older I listened to the healing spirit within me and since then I have been driven to be a part of something greater than myself and to have a home which resonated with all that I am. This began a search which spanned nearly two decades and included experiencing every emotion known to man.
My family has called Florida home for more than ten generations. As a teenager, Florida no longer felt like home to me so I embarked on a quest to find a new one just as my father's side of the family had done in the 1700's when they left the Balearic island of Minorca and headed for Florida. Although thankfully not as horrific as the one my ancestors survived, my journey was nonetheless a turbulent one.
I was lured first to Costa Rica by the thought of surrounding myself with all the magnificent animals and plants in the rainforests. It truly is an amazing Country full of endless beauty. I spent nearly a year exploring, making memories, creating a business and working towards my goals. But I realized a crucial element from within my overall vision was missing and I knew in my heart this wasn't going to be my home.
One of the consequences of putting all of yourself into something you believe in is the chance that it may never come to fruition and even worse, you may be sitting outside the grocery store wondering how you're going to pay for your next meal. Yep, that was me! The consequence of my first failed venture that was forever to be known as "The Costa Rica Days". Once I realized there is no such thing as failure if you learn something about yourself or about life, I picked my head back up and was soon back on track again searching for home.
All of my efforts and hard work in the world of big business finally began to pay off. I soon was given the opportunity to be a part of a different way of life, one which so many people choose either voluntarily or because they see no other road to take. I was well on my way to success, money and fame. But one day I woke up, overcome with sickness and realized something was not right, the energy around me was all wrong. So despite not having enough financial resources to begin a new endeavor, I chose to step off the golden road I was barreling down. And once again life was waiting to throw the big, thorny book of reality in my face. But this time I knew it was coming and I was not afraid. For I had been there before, climbed my way out and knew I could do so again. I was determined to find home.
The next chapter of my life was much more challenging. I say challenging very lightly because one day I received a phone call from a gracious friend who said I could fully adopt the baby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel she had introduced to me a year before. I had indeed bonded with this tiny creature and we had spent a lot of time together. But this was a huge challenge! I literally had no consistent bed to sleep in. I was traveling extensively by car, hotel to hotel and my finances were extremely thin and unstable. Not the best time to be adding another mouth to feed. But sometimes you have to throw away the rules which you allow to govern you, stop questioning the future, live in the moment and trust everything will work out. So as I sat there in the front of my jeep looking down at Magnolia as she sat comfortably in my lap, tail wagging profusely and ready for a ride, I pondered to myself what level of responsibility and burden have I just gotten myself into and how in the world is my current lifestyle ever going to ensure either of us a great life together. I suppressed those thoughts long enough to tell her that she was my girl now, I'd take care of her, never leave her and although I wasn't sure where we'd be tomorrow, one day we would have a home.
So away we went, top down, Maggie's ears flopping in the wind and not a worry in the world. Well, she had no worries! In the next couple of years we travelled extensively together. We ran with a moose and her calf in Utah, we explored caves in Virginia, we climbed huge rocks in Sedona, we saw the Aspen trees change color in Colorado and of course we stopped at nearly every secluded beach we could find. Maggie loved running free at the beach. And since her breed wrote the book on lap dogs I never had the heart to leave her behind. Sometimes I would try to sneak away on a quick trip to the store and back if she was sleeping but she always knew where I was. Before I could reach the door she would already be there, tail wagging and with that look on her face that said, "you said you'd never leave me." So she pretty much never left my side. Some things you just have to get used to and I got used to Mags always being there. She became my shadow, my buddy, but most importantly we were a team now. All of my fears and insecurities had turned into unconditional love. But despite all of the good times, we still didn't have a home .
Because my finances seemed to never improve no matter how much effort I put into my work, I kept struggling to support us. So again, I was faced with the choice of stepping off the current path and onto a new, uncharted one. With only $4000 in the bank, no job prospects, no future place to live and an adventurous friend of mine who was also searching for change, the three of us hit the road in Florida and headed to Arizona. We arrived to Sedona and immediately felt the positive energy from the people and environment there but decided to continue west to Southern California. I had always wanted to see California and besides, there were no beaches in Arizona so I knew Maggie would never be content.
After some research and heeding the advice from a recent connection we decided to check out a coastal area in Northern California where my friend could hopefully find work and I could figure out my next move. We drove pretty much the entire coast of California, stopped at many incredible beaches and I was able to check a few things off my bucket list on that trip. We soon arrived to a most incredible place called The Sea Ranch. The community was breathtaking and span over ten miles of absolutely beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline. We found a tiny cottage tucked in the woods to rent and things looked promising. The hiking and the scenery were amazing. We had, at least, a temporary home, but the funds they were a draining quickly!
For an unknown reason I decided to reach out to a few people whom I had tried to established a connection with during my previous business venture. To my surprise one of these people not only responded right away but said she had an opportunity for me and to come meet with her immediately. So I dusted off my partially wrinkled suit, grabbed Mags and headed a couple of hours south. We arrived to one of the most expensive homes in the country. A mansion overlooking San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, it was breathtaking. The weather was perfect and of course we had the top off the Jeep. Maggie knew by now based on my attire that she'd be left to relax in the cool air while I go do my thing and this never bothered her. As long as her tail was wagging I knew she was happy. I came back about an hour later to find Maggie content and snoozing in the front seat and we headed back north to the rental house. It took almost the entire drive for the shock to wear off of what had just happened. I had secured the largest deal I had ever pursued and the potential financial windfall from just this one deal could change our lives for the better. One of the perks of the job I had was getting to stay in the homes I worked with, for free of course and although Maggie and I were no strangers to beautiful homes, this home elevated "wow" to a whole new level. We (yes of course I negotiated for Mags to be allowed to stay at this house with me because she was an important part of the team, don't you know, and I wouldn't take the deal any other way) gathered our things and headed back to the castle on the bay where we would stay for the next six months. After successfully (on paper) completing that project we were immediately asked to work with another equally impressive mansion in the hills of Silicon Valley. And after total success with that project we headed back to Florida with new life breathed into us and our finances were much better. We could finally start searching seriously for a home.
Until... about a week after arriving to Florida I received a call saying the original deal I had worked on would not come to fruition and could I return and work it again. So Mags and I grabbed out suitcases, which weren't even completely unpacked yet and loaded the car and off we went cross country, again. Our stay this time was only three months and after a fully successful endeavor we made the trek back to Florida. It was on this trip back that I really began to reflect on the quick reversal of fortune that had happened to us and knew it had happened for a reason. Upon returning to Florida I continued searching for our new home, like I had always done for many years, but this time I actually had the funds to make it happen.
During my years of online home searching (dreaming as I always called it) I had come across a property about five years prior which resonated with me but was way over budget, especially back then. It was located on an island in The Bahamas called Long Island. Island life had always appealed to me on many levels but could I really enjoy living on an island? It would be a much different lifestyle than even the most remote parts of Florida could provide. But since the property had now been reduced by 50% and I had the funds to make it happen if I choose to, Mags and I packed our bags for the one millionth time and away we went.
Flying through the Bahamas is a breathtaking experience. So many different shades of blue and the islands just seem to be resting so peacefully below. Long Island grabbed my heart the moment I stepped off the plane in early 2015. I remember taking a deep breath of the fresh, salty air as the birds seemed to serenade our arrival while an unexplainable calm fell over me. Within the first couple of days of renting a car we headed to our potential dream property, which had just been reduced again in price. It was a diamond in the rough. I immediately felt a strong connection to it and could see the unlimited potential of a half acre with a couple of old buildings so close to one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. Maggie, with tail wagging, never left my side as we explored every inch of the property. Then we walked down the road and to the beach for the first time and that's the moment I felt heaven. Everything we had worked so hard for, sacrificed so much for, had come together for this moment. And as we sat there gazing out into the sun falling into the ocean, we made our decision. We didn't need to look at anything else. Our dream had come true, we had found our home.
Despite all we had been through life still managed to keep us away from our home for most of the next four years for one reason or another. We came and we went, all the while renovating, planning and enjoying ourselves every moment we were home. It wasn't until April 3, 2019, a little over ten years since Maggie first claimed me and a little over four years since we made the purchase, we stepped off the plane on Long Island knowing we were here to stay.
I spent the first week reworking the guest house into the yoga studio/zen room, which Mags promptly laid claim to the sheepskin rug. And the next two weeks we spent the whole time together doing everything we enjoyed, just as we had done so many times before on all of our adventures. But this time we were celebrating an end to all of the ten hour car rides, the frustration, the cheap hotels, the bathroom breaks on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, all the sacrifices and headaches and uncertainty and heartache that came with our journey home. Then one day towards the end of April, as Magnolia and I rested in the hammock and felt the cool wind on our skin, I told her that we had made it, we were home and I couldn't have made it here without her. And about a week later, my baby girl, my best friend, my champion through the best and worst times if life, died most unexpectedly in my arms. Her tail wagging until the end. I had lost her to heart disease, which is almost certain to claim all dogs of her breed by her age or younger.
After the constant tears and shock subsided I reflected on my life with Maggie and understood that she had been one of my most important guides. She had fulfilled her role and it was her time to go. We had spent the majority of the past 10 years together on the road and involved in all sorts of adventures and great memories and despite me believing we never had a home, she was my home and I was hers and it was the greatest time in my life.
As I sit here at my island paradise I know I'm here because of family, I'm here because of friends, I'm here because of strangers and of course I'm here because of Maggie. I'm supposed to be here. This is my home now, where Magnolia's loving spirit will always be. I invite you to join us for one of our retreats. Come be a part of our world and enjoy the unbelievable beauty here. Come enjoy the companionship of the people who are a part of Encante and help us make new memories. If you cannot afford to join us then please contact us to discuss workaway options. Everyone is welcome. Spread the love.
"May your journey be blessed by even the smallest of God's gifts, for they are sometimes the greatest gifts of all."