Spoiler Alert! This post is not like my travel tales from 2016-18, filled with stories of wonderful people and incredible places visited. It is a raw account of 2019, an unexpectedly difficult year—so much so, that it drove me to finally release my ties to Nebraska and “get the hell outta Dodge.” That said, the story does get better if you’re able to persevere through it. Thankfully, I did.
I returned from 8 months of travel at the end of January 2019, returning to an icy cold, gray Nebraska, a stark contrast to December’s summertime weather in South Africa, where I had just been. The first person I intended to visit was my long-time dr. and friend of 29 years, Shawn Schmidt, D.C. He died the night I arrived back in Bellevue. From that first morning waking up to a text from his daughter, sharing that news, I was off balance. The foundational “rug” of home was pulled out from under my feet. Add to that the shock of discovering that my renters had not cared for my home as lovingly or respectfully as they had promised, leaving me to discover the damage they had done and items that had mysteriously gone missing for months to come. One could say that I was pretty much a basket case from the get go. I spiraled into depression.
Thank God, I had dear friends to welcome me home! The Moseley family was my lifeline through the months that followed, introducing me to CBD oil for pain management, hosting me for the first week, while my home was professionally cleaned from top to bottom, and providing moments of laughter over meals cooked with love and evenings of binge watching NCIS and the first two seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
After five weeks home, things got worse. I got a urinary tract infection. I had had them in the past for a day or two—three tops, but this one wouldn’t go away. Knowing that my body has had terrible reactions to antibiotics in the past, I tried every organic over-the-counter remedy available. Week after week, month after month, I would think I had it licked, then it would come back with a vengeance. WTH? What was I to do? By June, I started experiencing acute back pain. Kidney problems I had not anticipated. Suddenly, they were screaming at me to show them some consideration. I ended up having to quickly purchase health insurance, (I had been uninsured for years.) for fear that any potential hospitalization would bankrupt me. Realizing that my medical expenses might be far more than anticipated and aware that my new insurance wouldn’t cover anything until I had paid $5000 out of pocket, the long-postponed sale of my house became as much a necessity as a wish. I was into my 6-month emergency fund at that point, savings that were never to be touched, or so I had always hoped.
When I finally reached a point of acknowledging that natural remedies were not going to do the job, it took three different antibiotics to finally kill the infection. The last one left me more frightened and worried than I had ever been before in my life, as the main side effect was that my tendons felt like they would detach from my bones. Every single joint hurt as never before (even more than the Fibromyalgia pain, to which I am accustomed). It was painful to walk, and I was unable to lift any weight. The worst part was, I didn’t know if these new challenges were temporary or permanent. How was I going to get my house ready to sell? Very simply, I wasn’t going to be able to until my body healed. I could proceed, albeit slowly, with getting my house on the market. I finally felt able to list it For Sale By Owner on August 17th, hoping for the best, but knowing that, if it didn’t sell by the end of September, I would have to hire a realtor.
Well, not only did it not sell, but I only had ONE inquiry the entire 5 weeks, aside from realtors wanting to list it for me. There were many of those daily! I met some incredibly nice and experienced professionals, but none of them felt quite right to entrust my beloved nest of 30 years to. Admittedly, the main reason that I was so adamantly opposed to hiring a realtor was that I needed the funds that would go to a realtor to live on until I could generate a steady income once again. (Since my brother’s death in 2016, I had been mostly unemployed, exchanging household help for room and board in most places I have traveled.) The house money was (and is) not to be touched, as that will be needed for my next home, once I decide where I wish to start a new life.
This is where the story finally takes a positive turn. Looking back now to my journal entry from September 19th 2019, I wrote “I stood barefoot out in the grass, greeted lovely Luna (The moon was full that night.), then surrendered ALL stress and ALL worry, affirming my faith in divine perfect timing, whatever that may be. When my friend Tom came by to treat the invasive trees in my yard this morning, he asked where I was heading. ‘Costa Rica’ came out of my mouth. That is feeling more and more like what’s next.” Just two days later, I received a completely unexpected call. My journal entry from September 16th:
“I am both fascinated and delighted by the timing of a request I received this morning from Costa Rica. Within 48 hours of my writing ‘I surrender…,’ a couple I know (from Facebook) reached out and asked if I could arrive by the 7th or 8th of November for a month-long cat- and housesit. Before my brain even had time to engage, I said “I’m there!”
THANK YOU, UNIVERSE! 😊 I bought my ticket that same day. $223 one way.
Two days later, I hired the very last realtor I interviewed—the youngest of all of the candidates. Brittney McAllister with Keller Williams in Omaha was like a ray of sunshine after all of the others—a breath of fresh air! What she lacked in experience, she made up for in light and enthusiasm. After telling her I would make a decision by the following Friday, I ended up texting her late that same night to say “Let’s DO this! You’ve got five weeks to get this house sold and closed,” and, by George, she did it!
Although we received an offer after the first week, we had to keep the house listed until we were certain the sale would go through. That meant having to keep it “show ready” and not being able to move anything out until the inspections and appraisal were all signed, sealed, and delivered. Then we were really under the gun! I could not have managed to get out of my home on time without the help of some very special people who went WAY above and beyond what one should ever expect or have to ask of friends. I could not have done it by myself. I will be forever grateful to Lesley and Randy Knox, Barbara LaPorte, Claudia and Bill Moseley, Paula Philippi, TG Ndoda, and my last relocation clients and newest friends: Sandra Jayan, Anoop Suresh, and Abraham George. Jonella DeLimas came from Lincoln, my high school friend Sue Blondin came all the way from Virginia to help; Rick Hall and family, and Gus and Doris Shoffner, along with their adopted family from Rwanda, Espoir, Eliea, and Elisha Mufungiz. They are all earth angels in my book! Words are inadequate to express my gratitude, but I pray that they all will be abundantly blessed! Their help was (and continues to be) an immeasurable blessing to me.
2019 was hands down one of the toughest years of my life. So, although the medical bills kept coming well into this year (2020), the year did end on a better note than that on which it started when I returned to the U.K. from South Africa to an unexpectedly brutal ending of a 2-year relationship, then stateside to the loss of my very dear friend.
Thankfully, my beautiful home sold to a lovely family on October 29th and I boarded a plane to Costa Rica on November 4th, so happy to put the extreme challenges of 2019 behind me.
Next: PURA VIDA! My petsitting adventures in Costa Rica