Hacking a Full Time Vacation

October 20th, 2015 § 1




We all love a vacation, don’t we? I wonder why this is?

For me, vacation was always an escape from “real” life. A chance to relax from the hum drum day to day. But a few years ago, I got to thinking. Why am I living a life that I need a vacation from? Why am I doing things most of my waking hours that I don’t want to do?

Answering these questions has been a process. If you’ve read any other post on my blog you know we’ve quit quite a few things in recent years. Little by little we have eliminated things and activities that we just don’t enjoy, including school, jobs, home ownership and other things. My family has put more focus on the things and activities that we truly enjoy doing. We want to create a life that doesn’t require vacation time. We want a life that feels like a never ending holiday.

We’ve been living at the beach for two months now. We still don’t know where we’ll go next, if anywhere. We may stay right where we are for some time. Our days have been full of work (online work and my husband travels the hour and a half back to our home town to visit customers once a week), yoga, ocean swims, sunrise/sunset watching, playing games with our boys, shooting baskets, cooking good food, visiting farmers markets, playing with our dogs, Cocoa and Ginger and staring out at the ocean for inspiration. Even though we are working, we are doing work we love and so it doesn’t FEEL like work. And we’re living where we want to live and can take our work with us. That’s the kind of life we’ve been aiming for and we are believing and having faith that we can continue indefinitely.

So, what has been my process? How did this all start for me? Here are some of thing things that I have implemented into my life to begin creating a day to day existence that I don’t need a vacation from.

  • I accepted my life as it was and still do every day.
  • I acknowledged the absolute abundance in my life.
  • I cultivated skills in the areas I’m passionate about
  • I became open and believed in unexpected income.
  • I learned to trust and have faith in the universal flow.
  • I came to believe we were put on earth to enjoy it and more importantly to bring joy to it.
  • I learned to take chances.
  • I quit automatically believing what I was told.
  • I cultivated intuition and the inner voice.
  • I learned to truly give from the heart.

As I have practiced these divine truths, it became easier and easier to let go of old habits that kept me living a life that wasn’t fulfilling. Slowly but surely over a period of years, life became more like a vacation and less like a daily grind.

I truly believe we came here to be joyful and to bring that joy into the world. Everyone is born with something to give but so many of us have had that gift squashed right out of us.

Hack a full time vacation by living more from your center. Start small and let the inner guide rise up with its gifts and flow into your life. It can be scary at times because it challenges everything we’ve ever been taught, but in the end, living a fulfilling life is like being on an eternal vacation. And if we’re honest with ourselves, that is what we’re all after.

For Sale by Owner

September 17th, 2015 § 0


My brilliant husband, Stacy Conaway, generously agreed to write a post on how we sold our home in Texas by ourselves, saving nearly $8,000. I’d like to reiterate that it’s a good idea to do your own research – for your own state – but in our experience, this process was relatively easy.

You can get the yard signs from your local Home Depot or hardware store. You can hold your own Open House. You can take the photos and do the staging yourself. It’s really quite simple. With a little research and elbow grease, you too could save big bucks by selling your home by owner. We spent roughly $350 to have the home listed on MLS and have a real estate lawyer review pertinent documents. That’s quite a savings!

So read on! Stacy shares lots of enlightening information on how you can get on MLS yourself and save lots of money when you sell your home!


by Stacy Conaway


When we decided to sell the house we thought we could save quite a bit of money on Realtor fees by doing the listing ourselves (aka For Sale by Owner, or FSBO). Last summer I sold my dad’s house this way so I had a little experience to draw on. It’s not difficult if you don’t mind doing some work and you’re available to show the house yourself. We live in Texas so the practices may be different in other states.

In a typical transaction the seller pays 3% of the sale price to a listing (seller’s) agent and 3% to the buyer’s agent. This arrangement is not required by law so everything is negotiable, but that’s how it usually works. The buyer’s agent fee will be negotiable with some Realtors, but trying to reduce their fee could work against you—this is the person bringing you a buyer and you want them to be incentivized to do the job, so I didn’t even try to negotiate this fee down. If a buyer’s agent isn’t happy with a reduced fee they may just direct their clients to another home. In my experience it’s the buyer’s agent who does the majority of the work anyway, so it’s worthwhile to pay them.

The cost savings with FSBO are on the listing side. It used to be that listing Realtors had exclusive access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is where your property gets the broadest exposure to buyers and their agents. But now there are flat-fee services where you can get on the MLS for $99. This is what we did. I found a service on Google and called the owner to ask a few questions about how it worked. He explained things to me, I signed up that night, paid the fee via PayPal, and our house was on the MLS the next morning (actually on HAR.com which is the Houston Association of Realtors site, the local listing website for our area).

The way the flat-fee listing works is that once you sign up, your listing is handed off to a Realtor. If I understand it correctly, there has to be an agent of record on the listing and this person has to be a licensed Realtor. The difference in this scenario is that this Realtor doesn’t really do much other than put your property info into the MLS, and then forward buyer inquiries to you—however, it’s important to keep this Realtor in the loop when you get an offer and when you close so they can update the listing accordingly. In our case I just exchanged a few emails with the Realtor and that was the extent of our interaction.

I had a good real estate attorney that I worked with, and he was a HUGE help. He advised me on the process, offered suggestions on negotiating with buyers, and reviewed documents for me. I highly recommend having someone like this in your corner. Your situation may be different but my cost for this attorney’s time on our house sale was $225. (Last year I used the same lawyer on my dad’s house sale and his bill for that was $250.) I would have gladly paid twice as much, or more, considering the overall value of having an experienced real estate attorney watching out for our interests and guiding me through the process.

Once the house was listed on HAR.com

we started getting calls right away. We showed the house a few times and after one showing I immediately got a text from the buyer’s agent saying they loved the house and would be submitting an offer the next morning. What I received the next day was a standard contract of sale with their pricing offer written in. It was lower than our asking price, and lower than what we were willing to accept, so I responded to the agent with our counter offer and they quickly accepted. It made we wonder if we had left some money on the table, but there’s no way to know at this point and we were satisfied with the terms, so it was fine. We were just glad to have a reasonable offer and get on with things. Negotiation is an art, and I don’t know much about it except to say that if you are satisfied with the deal, consider it a good one and move on.

The next step was the buyers hiring an inspector (their cost) to come and check everything out and make sure there were no serious issues with the property. I think the big concern here is with major things like the roof, air conditioners, foundation, electrical, plumbing—big things that could be very costly to remediate. The inspector’s report noted a few minor things, and the buyers asked that we address some of those, but not all of them. We complied on all but one thing on their list and they accepted. This is a negotiable area too, but if the buyers are not satisfied with your response they can still back out within the option period, so it’s good to accommodate them as much as you can.

One of the first things you will want to do before you put a sign in the yard or do your MLS listing is to complete a Sellers Disclosure document. This is a standard form that you can download from the internet. It provides a lot of basic information about the property that any buyer will want to know. A buyers agent will likely ask for this right away so it’s good to have it ready.

There’s more I could say about doing FSBO but those are the key things, just from my limited personal experience. You will certainly want to do your own homework on this, but for us it was easily worth the time and effort to save the $7,650 we would have paid a listing agent.

One thing I want to be clear about is that this is not a criticism of Realtors, or the listing agent relationship specifically. I think that for many people it can be very valuable to just hand things over to an agent and let them work for you, especially if you don’t have the time or inclination to do some of these things yourself. But if your circumstances are anything like ours, I think it’s worth your time to investigate whether FSBO could help you keep a good bit of cash in your pocket at closing time.


So there you have it. Pretty simple, huh? To review:

  1. Download a generic Sellers Disclosure and fill it out
  2. Search Google for a Flat Rate Listing Agent and pay your fees to get on MLS
  3. If you prefer (and we advise) contact a Real Estate Attorney to review Documents
  4. Set appointments with Realtors to show the home.
  5. Negotiate price when you receive a contract
  6. Allow Inspectors and appraisers (hired by the buyer) to inspect your home
  7. Negotiate any repairs the buyer might request
  8. The buyers agent will set up the closing date
  9. Close on the home and enjoy the savings!

What is the Ocean. . .

September 2nd, 2015 § 2


Sunrise on the beach where my family is living temporarily


This is the definition of the sea I found in the dictionary:

the expanse of salt water that covers most of the earth’s surface and surrounds its landmasses.

While it is a tangible definition of the sea, it seems limiting to me. The sea is so much more than salt water that covers the earth.  When I contemplate the ocean I feel its:




Powerfulness and its gentleness

Demand of Respect


Metaphor for life

Ability to showcase the most beautiful sunrises

Ability to hold Secrets throughout time

Healing Force


Cyclical Nature

Ever Changing tides, waves and disposition


Labels and definitions are limiting. How can we really define the ocean and what we experience of it? We can try but it pales in comparison to the deep experience of it.

When I am at the ocean I feel free. Free from worry, concern or anything other than the present moment. The ocean demands it from me and I comply without resistance. I see that the world is big, the universe is even bigger and that all of life is in flow, whether it be stormy or calm. It is the expansion of life itself.

The ocean teaches me to weather the storms in life with grace and suppleness. I learn to allow the storms without resisting them, like a tree bending with the wind.  I sit still in the calmness too and imprint the present into my being-ness. Much can be learned from both the calm and the storm, if only we listen. Nature is the great teacher if we pause and heed it’s whispers.

Easy to do at the beach? Well, yes it is. But nature is everywhere. We are part of it. So no matter where I land, I always want to remember to watch nature without labeling it and breath in all that it has to demonstrate about life.

Embracing What Is. . .

September 1st, 2015 § 2

Eckhart Quote

There have been so many moments in my life that were a struggle. Struggling against what was in front of me. Wishing it weren’t so. Wishing it was another moment. Wanting something better. Wanting things to be different. Becoming reactive to all that wishing and wanting.

We have been taught that if we embrace what is in front of us, nothing will ever change. Embracing what IS, we think, will keep us stuck and unhappy. I used to think that if I didn’t struggle, I would never get anywhere. Never accomplish anything.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Fighting against what IS keeps us stuck. Ha! Imagine that.

My family is  living at the beach right now. Have you ever been caught in the undertow of a wave? The worst thing you can do is struggle in that situation. The more you struggle, the more you get caught in the current. The more you relax, the easier it is to float to the top and. . .breathe. Spending an extended time at the ocean is reminding me of this in so many ways.

Whatever comes my way I am reminded to embrace it, invite it even. For it is here to show me something. And the less I struggle the more I float. The more I am able to breathe. . .Right action always comes from that calm place inside. Accepting what IS does not mean that changes don’t happen. Accepting what is –  as if I invited it myself –  allows me to take action from  that calm core that we all have access to.

Life is not meant to be a struggle, despite what we are told. Life is meant to be easy. When I find myself struggling I try and remember to accept what is. Accept what is in front of me, no matter what it is, this very moment, so that life can become easy again. So that I can make choices that resonate with the life I want to live.


I Quit!! (or rather We Quit!!)

August 25th, 2015 § 3


We quit! Yep, my family  just keeps quitting. Quitting has really gotten a bad rap over the years. Of course, we’ve always been told that we should stick with people, places and things, even if we don’t like it! A winner never quits, right? We’ve been taught that quitting is bad and staying and sticking with everything we try is good (and safe), even if it feels bad to us.


quit for happiness

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you are sticking with something? Especially if you don’t enjoy doing it. . . or owning it or. . . being with it? Why do we continue to live lives that don’t really serve us? Why do we stick with things and people that we don’t really enjoy? Is it because it feels comfortable? That we think we should? That someone will be disappointed if we don’t? Or is it that we delude ourselves into thinking it’s the safest? These are the questions my family has been asking for the last several years. One thing we are discovering is that life is short. And happiness and enjoyment are our top priorities.


So what have we said NO to? What areas of life have we called quits on? Read on. . .


quit school

We Quit School!

9 years ago my husband and I quit sending our kids to school. A year after that, we quit trying to “teach” our kids and let them follow their interests, with our help and encouragement of course. And you know what? They know how to read, write, do math and are pretty darned good citizens of the world. The’ve learned HOW to learn – learn anything they like. And they’ve kept their thirst for learning intact by learning what they’re ready for when they are ready.  Not only that, they KNOW themselves. They know what they like, they know what they don’t like and they know how to quit when something doesn’t serve them.


food pyramidWe Quit Eating what the Government Suggests!

We know our bodies better than anyone! And everyone is not the same. We cut out sugar and most grains and started feeling better and healthier. We stopped buying most processed foods and try to buy local when we can. Farm fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast every morning is so delicious!! And healthy, I might add.



I quit boss

My Husband Quit his Corporate Job

My husband has a passion (and wonderful gift) for technology. He was a technology director for a major corporation making six-figures, but he didn’t feel fulfilled or get to work in the areas he really enjoys. So he quit his corporate job a year ago and is pursuing his passion for working with Mac products and servicing small businesses who use them. He loves what he does now and gets to work from home and be his own boss! A lot of the work he does can be done from anywhere. We’re looking at other avenues for making money where-ever we are. This took a huge leap of faith on both of our parts, giving up a secure salary for uncertainty. So far, the net has been waiting for us every time we jump into the unknown. We couldn’t be happier with the decision to work for ourselves.


health insuranceWe Quit Health Insurance

This was kind of a byproduct of quitting the job, but when we looked into private insurance which would have cost us over $1,000 a month we elected to go without. We try to keep a cash fund for medical emergencies (put the $1,000 we would have spent on insurance into savings) and we take VERY good care of ourselves. We don’t run to the doctor for every little thing. We pay cash to doctors that we like and who promote wellness (of course these types of doctors don’t even take insurance) We’ve had one emergency room incident since not having insurance and were surprised that cash paying customers get DEEP discounts. Didn’t even phase us to pay the bill! We may elect to get a catastrophic policy sometime in the future but that’s as far as willing to go when it comes to health insurance. Changing our lifestyle has made us FEEL so much healthier and health begets health. A happy day plus nutritious food really makes for a healthy body. Plus, we put the focus on being healthy and luckily so far we have been.


home saleWe Quit Paying a Mortgage

After 16 years of home ownership we sold our 2,500 square foot home. And we ditched the realtor and did it ourselves, saving us $8,000. Selling your own home is so simple and my husband will be contributing a “how to” post in the near future on how to sell your home “by Owner” and even how to get on MLS without a realtor. Home ownership was great while it lasted but we’re ready for some adventures that require us to be tied down with less “stuff”, so this made total sense to us. It’s been a week since we handed over the keys and we haven’t looked back! Plus, with the equity we received, we have a very secure nest egg in place.


Im a quitterWe’ve quit other things too. Like:

  • * Trying to live the “safest” way
    * Living for what others think we should do
    * Caring what other people think
    * Doing what we’re “told” is best



There is so much uncertainty in this lifestyle, but if you get down to it, nothing in life is ever certain, including a six figure income. We decided that life was too short to do a lot of things that didn’t bring us joy. Do we ever have to do things we don’t want to do? Of course! That goes without saying. But we’ve minimized those things and we focus on living lives that are inspiring and uplifting and that make a difference on the planet.

We are currently living in the question of where we want to be next. For the moment (or the next two months) we are renting a house on the beach and enjoying every minute of it. Yes. We’re working here. But it’s work we enjoy. And we’re playing and laughing and enjoying life a lot. We don’t know how long we’ll stay here or where we’ll go next, but we do know that in this moment . . .in this most precious moment which is Now. . .All is well. And for us, that means EVERYTHING.