Beginner’s Mind



Travel takes a lot of thought and planning. It takes organization and strategy, creativity and resourcefulness. It also takes letting go of perceived notions of how things are going to work. Because if there’s one sure thing about travel, it’s that things will rarely go exactly as planned.

For example, I started out my journey having rented out my home, assessed what I needed financially for the year, and planned accordingly while on the road. With the additional rent from my mother’s home, my mortgage would be covered and I had a small savings from which to draw if ever there was an unplanned for emergency (which I recommend to anyone, by the way). We were ready to start our new adventure.

Within two months of being on the road, nothing was as I had envisioned. My tenant left – but only after leaving my home vacant for a month, which was just long enough for it to be completely invaded by deer mice. After costly remediation to clear said rodents from my once beautiful home, the tenant decided not to finish out her lease (having found a legal loophole to do so) and then to make matters worse (or because she saw a financial opportunity and far beit from her not to take full advantage) decided to SUE me for what she said was renting a mouse-infested home! Oh my… To say I was surprised by the actions of this opportunist is an understatement; I felt completely blindsided. I began to prepare a legal case from afar but quickly saw that that costs would mount far beyond what was being extorted from me already, and it would be best to cut my losses. So that emergency fund I had safely tucked away was emptied completely and put directly into the pocket of said opportunist. And this was within only the first few months of our departure! I was left without a renter and a very high mortgage to cover. It was nearly Christmas, which is not exactly the time when most people are looking to move to a new location and start a short-term lease… She had upset my best-laid plans with a sharp punch to the stomach.

But this is the reality of property management. And as I eventually — painfully — came to see it, I was given (in the form of that gut punch) the most important lesson I was to learn in as many years: I hated property management (I could go into the details of why no property management company could be brought in, but that’s a longer version…). Clearly, more subtle hints hadn’t worked. Like the time I was in the jungle of Ecuador and I got a note from the tenant renting my mother’s small casita that her composting toilet had broken down. I found a great composting toilet online, organized for someone to pick up and install the new one while carting away the old. I managed payment from afar and was in the process of giving myself a high-five when I got word that the water pump in the main house was going out. Still in the jungle, I managed to get a photo of the pump, reach out to the company that sold the pumps and… found out the company was no longer in business… and no one else had these pumps. Five calls to different people, photos sent, messages left and days then weeks of awaiting a response… and I had to return to trying to find a renter for the property with the highest mortgage payments. The pump would just have to belch and screech a bit longer. Being present in the given moment of my travels with my son? Not happening.

So yes, the lessons were there for me, but I hadn’t seen it as a lesson, only as a sweet reminder that I would be working very hard for this rental income and that the work was necessary to be funding my travels abroad. This was the truth. But the bigger truth was that I was rebuilding my life to create something different. I have always been a hard worker, but I didn’t want to be working only to live. I didn’t want the stress of responding to crises or of focusing on home repairs and needy tenants at the expense of trying to repair, say, larger social problems. I wanted to create a life that I loved and that had purpose, and I wanted the money I made not only to fund my lifestyle, but to be created with the same intention in mind. Meaning that I needed to love the process as much as the result. I needed to love all aspects of my life, including my work. And the way I was financing my life was definitely not in line with my passions. I needed to start again. I needed an open, more creative, passion-directed mindset that allowed for other possibilities. So the message started to clarify: That for me to be a traveler in the world, to create new visions and a different way of living, I couldn’t stay attached to the old ways of working and staying afloat. I needed a beginner’s mind. So here we are. At a beginning.


“The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything.
So when you try hard to make your own way, you will help others, and you will be helped by others.
Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you.”
Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice




One thought on “Beginner’s Mind

  1. Gosh, I’m so sorry this happened to you. People like your ex tenant sure make life challenging. It’s just awful what she did. My daughter has a saying for when not so good things happen…”It can only go up from here!” Starting over/new beginnings is brave of you. People are too afraid to start new whether it be moving to a different state or new city or even travel just outside their normal stomping grounds. I wish you well in your new adventures! Koko 🙂


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