In 2014, I was accepting the reality of divorce.
I wanted to go somewhere, almost anywhere, to spend some time alone. To see what new perspectives I could find.
I didn't know where I wanted to go. I thought of going to Africa, to volunteer in some capacity.
I was talking to a friend on the phone. We were both in a great mood, talking about life and experiences. I said that I could live anywhere.
The things I said I liked were: walking everywhere, mucking out a barn, living in a city, living in the countryside, living near a forest, living near a beach, speaking another language... And wouldn't it be fun to live in a hotel, where you could meet new people every day?
A short time later, I was Googling something random, and came across the words 'working vacation.' I had never heard of such a concept, and it sounded intriguing. I clicked on the link and it led me to the website of a hotel in Tuscany, Italy.
The hotel had 17 horses, and offered treks for their guests. The working vacation was to be a guide for trekking in exchange for room and board.
I had a visceral longing to be there.
I emailed the hotel to ask if I could work there. They emailed back to say, No, sorry... We can only have students in this capacity.
I had such a strong feeling for this place, without knowing why, so I decided to go anyway.
By the way, at this point I had not a dime to my name. I only imagined there were funds somewhere available to me to allow me to go.
Just then my soon-to-be ex gave me $6,000 as a sort of pre-divorce settlement. Little did I know that was all he intended to give... But anyway, it was enough to go.
Yes, I had lived in Europe as a teenager, going to high school in Belgium, but I had never been to Tuscany, I didn't speak Italian, my German language knowledge was from high school, and I hadn't been on a horse in ten years.
I purchased a round trip ticket with a 2-month return date.
On the day of my arrival, at a stunning sunrise in Pisa, I realized my cell phone had no signal.
I met a man who spoke English to help me make a call on a public phone to reach the owners of the hotel to arrange to pick me up in Follonica, after having taken the train from Pisa.
During the car ride to the hotel, the owner told me the manager of a stable nearby had broken her arm, and from that moment I was unceremoniously given a job managing a stable, giving riding lessons in German (the knowledge of which magically came back to me), and leading treks through the rolling hills of Tuscany. Really?
I took a leap, and already it was paying off.
But there's more.
The hotel was everything I had been thinking and talking about with my friend on the phone. And then some. It was in a forest, near a beach, I could walk everwhere, I could speak another language, I could muck out the barn, which comes with working with horses, my true love..., it was next to a medieval city and near other bigger cities, the stable was in the countryside, I was living in a hotel meeting happy new people every day... Plus there were the other benefits I had forgotten were on my list: Having someone else cook for me; all my meals were cooked by the chef of the hotel, and driving a manual transmission car! On fun, winding roads, no less.
After two weeks of riding and teaching, I realized I wanted more. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but I did know what I didn't want. Same thing, really, in the vibrational sense.
At that point I had developed physical symptoms of resistance. I didn't like working on someone else's schedule, and that was enough to make me very sick. I came down with a flu-type illness. Several blissful days were spent in bed. The understanding of that manifestation didn't escape me.
Also, I had noticed that whenever I was doing something that made me uncomfortable, like staying for dinner when I didn't want to, I had developed a cough. It was a post-nasal drip sort of cough. It only appeared when I felt uncomfortable, but it was very sensitive to any sort of negative thought, and persisted for 3 months. I met a client who understood my symptom and recommended a meditation which said, in short, "I have this symptom, and I accept myself completely." When I did this meditation for just a few moments, the cough disappeared for days.
Anyway, after two weeks of teaching and managing the stable, the season ended, and the hotel owners asked me what I wanted to do, since I still had 6 weeks of vacation remaining.
I said I didn't know, but I did know that since I had been talking to guests every night, I determined the hotel could be making more money by offering excursions by car. The owners agreed at once and declared on the spot to start a new company with me, offering excursions for sightseeing, wine tasting, sailing, etc.
So now, after taking a leap of faith that this place seemed to be good for me, without knowing why, it delivered not only the environment I wanted, with all the bells and whistles, plus more I had forgotten. It also delivered a little contrast, from which I could create more independence. And an avenue to create even more of what I want...