IF YOU WERE UNABLE TO ATTEND THIS EXCITING, INFORMATION FILLED WEEKEND EVENT YOU NOW CAN HAVE ACCESS THE ALL THE VIDEOS! ANY AMAZING VALUE AND SOOO MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE OFFERED TO EVERYONE HERE…..
The weekend of September 21 & 22, 2019 found house sitters gathering from all parts of the world for the 1st House and Pet Sitting Conference in Swindon, UK. It was an amazing group of kindred souls with so much experience, wisdom, happiness and stories to share. There were talented speakers giving advice to the newbies as well as to the experienced. I highly recommend attending next year’s conference wherever it may be in the vast world.
If you are curious, here is my speech…..
Inspire and inform how I overcame the challenge life has thrown at me & how house sitting has helped me do that!
“At approximately 11:30 am on this exact day in September, 8 years ago I was at the lowest point in my life and believe me, I’d had some pretty low moments before that. I was at home alone with my husband of 16 years and he had just passed away, taken by the small cell undifferentiated cancer that he had fought for the previous 2 years. I had no idea how I would go on…..Have you ever reached what seemed like the lowest point in your life?
Life can be full of unexpected turns and awful surprises. But it is often out of such trauma that growth occurs and courage is built. You see my talk is about Courage and Growth. Earlier this year when this whole conference thing was but a dream I threw my hat into the arena, put myself “out there” and said I would talk if they needed speakers. Well I am pretty sure I had a weak moment and maybe some wine! So I didn’t hear back—Yeah! right? But wait, then I get the email from Ian accepting and making me the offer to speak. What do you think was my first thought? Oh Shit now what?! BETTER FIND SOME COURAGE GIRLFRIEND!
Let me tell you about some of my challenges, and what I’ve done to overcome them. I grew up in the deep south/USA, Alabama, Florida, and Texas….I’m not sure if y’all spotted a little bit of an accent…
I was part of the generation of women who were expected to get married, have babies, and have a job (not necessarily a career) and certainly not TRAVEL. So I did “the right thang” because don’t we all want approval by doing the right thing? Approval from family especially momma and daddy, friends and society. So I married a good man (with $), built a house together and had the beginnings of a career. Well, one day he came home and said “I don’t love you and I don’t want this life, home with the white picket fence and 2.3 children”. So guess what? I left him with the house and the dog!
Next, I found a man that did love me, we had a son, which he always wanted and then he left! So I worked on a career to support myself and my son. Then one day along came Scott. Well when you least expect something is when it happens right?
He was first a good friend and most importantly good friend to my son. Very important he made me laugh, he was such a Great Man and I mean that in every sense of the word Great! Love then grew out of our friendship, I had found the courage to love again. He truly was my best friend, my soul mate the love of my life. We were together for 16 years then one day he was diagnosed with cancer, 2 years later I find myself all alone, All by myself!
I knew I didn’t want my losses to define who I was or who I wanted to be.
So I began the cycle of self-therapy—1st alcohol to kill the pain, then food because alcohol makes you hungry, retail shopping because you gain weight with all of that drinking and eating. Next were the self help books any and all that I could download on to my i pad. Have any of you heard of Brene’ Brown? She has written books and talked about the connection between Courage and Vulnerability. I highly recommend you read her books or watch her Ted Talks or her Netflix special. I can’t quote her talk (or I would have to pay her royalties) but I will tell you, she was part of my journey to get here And continues to be an inspiration.
From all of the self-help therapy I started asking myself questions: What kind of things do I enjoy doing? What gives me pleasure? What makes me smile/laugh? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? I am young (relatively) and healthy! My answer was TRAVEL. I had always been jealous of the people who got to backpack across Europe or were able to take a “break” year in their 20’s. So now as my gap year is drawing to an end I am asking myself the same questions. Guess what the answers are the same.
So what do I do best? Take care of things, tasks, problem solve and take care of people. How can I use this to survive? and most of all enjoy my life? So
whats the first thing we do when we look for an answer to a question? We Google it right? That was 8 years ago and look how much more info is available to us now. So back then if you Googled budget travel (my husband was a high school teacher we didn’t have any money) I discovered books on Amazon and one day found Nate & Jodie’s book International House Sitting – How to Travel the World and Stay Anywhere, for Free. Wow, House and Pet Sitting perfect. I can take care of pets and homes and have a free place to stay while traveling. I am OCD, will I be able to control my want/need to organize the homes? And clean before the housekeeper arrives? Can I do this by myself?
Oh hell yeah! If I take my own pillow!
Being a “PLANNER” I put into place a Plan! (still hadn’t learned that God/universe whatever you believe in- laughs at those who plan) I started slow, sitting in my hometown/county for friends that knew I was OCD and would be forgiving. I found out that I was really enjoying being in a different environment with the unconditional love of pets, receiving praise and appreciation and requests to return.
Enter Self Confidence! What Self Gratification!
While still working, I started using vacation time to sit in the US. because what was one of the statements from the doubters? Why would you want to travel the world when you have 50 states here to see? East coast, West coast and some in betweens proved to be expensive and honestly, not so very exciting, at least not for me, but I was able to rack up some credit card miles!
Next step, fast track retirement, I had become so bored, frustrated, trapped and experiencing anxiety that it was time….
Sixteen months ago I “ran away from home” and now I sit full time internationally combing the things I truly enjoy and love, taking care of pets/homes and travel, far more rewarding than any job! So far internationally, I have completed 20 sits, visited 6 countries.
My style of travel is not as a tourist but as an ambassador from the US/Texas. I try to represent the real Americans, the ones that have love and kindness to share. I want to learn about the countries and cultures that we never see or hear represented by the media. As part of that I have added teaching english to my lifestyle. I have been to Poland and Hungary with the Angloville program. Sometimes I enjoy a little human interaction and you talk about a fulfilling experience! Learning first hand how these countries lived under communist rule and are now Free and Happy. What they eat, how they live their lives, we are all not so very different, we all just want to live a happy life. Now I have friendships all over the world (or at least the part of the world).
I have stories now, about other countries, other cultures and people! I now have more pets then I could ever imagine and I don’t have the food or vet bills! I love them all as if they were my own, each with a unique personality that makes me smile.
Let me share just a few stories with you; “The Homeowner that picked me up from the airport waiting patiently for me to clear immigration and greeted me with a bottle of cold water, drove me back to the house and we shared my first Fish n Chips or the anonymous man that walked by me at the train station in Poland and literally took my luggage out of my hand and carried it up the stairs, put it down and walked away! Waiting for nothing in return.
I was in Ajijic, Mexico and I walked into a Chinese restaurant for a quick lunch, there were no tables available and a woman seated at a table said “are you alone” and i said yes so she invited me to join her. Being who I am now I said “ok, thank you” we introduced ourselves and started the small talk which for me is stating that I am a full time house sitter and that usually gets the conversation really going. She got her food and I ordered. Well as the conversation went on it got a little deeper and you know what? She had lost her husband to cancer only 2 years prior. Our stories were so similar that we really connected and 2 1/2 hours later we hugged, said our goodbyes with promises to stay in touch. Thats the way I like to travel, connecting with people building my own community.
The support of the house sitting community gives me so much courage and but has also helped me grow in more ways then I ever expected or could imagine—-Homeowners give me the self confidence to go on (I actually think some homeowners are living vicariously through the sitters) It is tremendously rewarding when I complete a sit and the pets are happy (sad to see me go) Homeowners are pleased and they invite you back.
There FB groups, House Sitting Magazine, video chats and reading the travel blogs that put the self doubt right out the window. House sitters are such an amazing support group. If you have a question or concern someone is ready to answer because they have lived it! SOOO many years of experience in this group! And let me mention my favorite is the MEETUPS, with Mapahub you know where all the house sitters are all over the world and when, it allows you to arrange a get together with other sitters that may be sitting close to where you are sitting! A real way of connecting and putting a face with a name!
My other area of growth is in technology, it continues to grow and change which is a good thing. In the corporate world I was on the computer a lot but updates and problems were taken care of in the corporate headquarters. With help and support from others I have learned so much and created a webinar, a website/blog which is always a challenge and “a work in progress”. Let me say I did not do it alone, so when you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it!
I have more travel apps then I really need, but technology is such a great asset to have when traveling alone. And frankly all of this technology helps to keep your mind in a growth pattern. Growth has come in the form of acceptance; the love and generosity of people, to trust my instincts and trust in the universe to provide what is needed and when.
Let me just say that there are enough negative things/ideas/people in the world you don’t need to do it to yourself. Until you put yourself out there you won’t be able to receive the love & support that others are giving you.—Our thoughts are our Energy, let the Universe return to you positive energy.
We all have something or someone to propel us forward in our lives—mine was loss! Mine became House and Pet Sitting.
I wish I had more time not more money (well a little more $)
I hope I have enough time to at least make it around the world once.
So I challenge you —- don’t become complacent! Get out and Enjoy LIFE!
The major house sitting sites were present to give out swag and discount codes! Sooo much hard work was put into making this a HUGE SUCCESS!
Unfortunately, I had to leave early on Sunday to catch a car ride to the train station which was delayed by a 1/2 marathon in Swindon (only to find the train was cancelled) but with no other issues I arrived at Heathrow Airport in plenty of time for my flight to Malaga, Spain where I am enjoying a repeat sit for the next three weeks. Having a repeat sit is always nice for recovery time. Hoping to see all my new friends somewhere in the world sooner rather than later.