This isn’t a happy post. Some people will be very upset by this announcement. They might feel disappointed, angry, sad, or they might feel nothing at all.
Recently, our House Hunters International episode titled My Three Daughters In Merida aired on HGTV, which documented our move to Merida, Mexico after being nomadic for the two and a half years prior. Here, we chose a home and then went on to open up a single mom co-living hostel-style home exclusively for members of my Single Moms DO Travel group on Facebook.
Taking on a completely unfurnished eight bedroom home was absolutely terrifying, but the idea of having a home where single moms from all around the world could try out living and traveling abroad to a safe space pulled me in. My whole mission is about empowering single moms to live a life of freedom through travel.
I had seen lots of moms ask about co-living, but I didn’t know any moms personally doing it, and I found very little information on how to make it happen.
We traded in our three backpacks for an eight bedroom home in Merida, Mexico and for nearly nine months hosted nineteen single mom families who stayed anywhere from one night to two months.
It was an experience that I will forever be grateful for.
I remember the night I made the deposit on the house. My dear friend, Barbara Blanco, a house-hunting expert in Merida and former client of mine, asked me if I was absolutely positive that I wanted to put a deposit down and lease the home for the next three years.
I WAS NOT POSITIVE but I said yes anyway, because taking on this passion project felt right. I chose three years because I knew I would be investing a lot of money on furniture and improving the house, and I didn’t want the rent being raised or the house being sold.
I went to bed that night and woke up in a panic. I wanted to walk away from the deal, but a good friend talked me down, luckily. I felt so much pressure. I had already put it out on social media. My supporters were already raising funds to help furnish the house. People from all over were so excited, and the thought of disappointing people didn’t feel good.
Plus, your dreams are supposed to scare you. If they aren’t scaring you, then they are NOT big enough.
I woke up the next day refreshed.
We started getting our home furnished and we welcomed the first single mom families into the official Single Moms DO Travel House.
I had so much to learn when it came to co-living. The girls and I had pretty much been alone for the two and a half years prior, traveling the world with just three backpacks.
Adjusting to sharing my home with others didn’t prove easy for the girls or me.
I specifically asked Barbara for an older home with character. I wanted something that wasn’t cookie cutter and had charm.
That is exactly what I got.
What I didn’t really know was that in Merida, Mexico, when you are renting, repairs are not guaranteed. It depends on the owner. Basically, it is very much like owning a home.
From the very beginning, there always seemed to be something to repair. Always! It was a weekly event. I was also investing in a lot of improvements to the house, like putting screens throughout the entire downstairs because that is where the guest rooms were, and also the shared living spaces, and there wasn’t AC downstairs.
Electricity in Mexico can be crazy expensive if you use AC.
Multiple times I wanted to quit and just give up, but each time I was about to another mom would come and I would change my mind. I didn’t want to give up on these amazing mommas, and I didn’t want to disappoint everyone that had supported this passion project of mine.
I faced criticism with raising funds to furnish the house, so I was terrified of the hate that would come if I were to fail.
But the truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as FAILURE. Not in my book at least. You are learning from everything. It is a lesson. Learn from it and grow from it so you can do even better.
Here is another thing. And it is something that I have to admit I still struggle with, but I am working on it on a daily basis. You can NOT care what anyone has to say about you as long as you are staying true to yourself and not harming others.
Caring what others think, both good and bad, will keep you FOREVER imprisoned. Your happiness is up to you. Take control and don’t let other’s opinions control your choices.
With any co-living situation, there will be some challenges. With a situation like mine, where there is a new set of single mom families typically arriving every month, those challenges can increase.
As soon as we would get adjusted to the mommas and kiddos in the home, it would be time for them to move on, and a whole new set to move in.
This was tough. I found out months into the arrangement that Novella actually thought her friends were dying when they moved on from the home. It broke my heart and I tried to explain that they were just traveling on, but she struggled to understand that.
The holidays were tricky as well. We wanted to celebrate Christmas. I still like playing Santa for Novella and so do her older sisters, but what happens when the other members in the house do not celebrate? Unintentionally, it can be very uncomfortable and confusing for all members of the house.
What about discipline and different parenting styles? All of this can be confusing and challenging to navigate in a shared home.
Little things. Sharing a refrigerator has its challenges. Different work schedules with online work, especially teaching online, can be challenging if others need to sleep while one works.
I need to state this again. It was worth all of these challenges to have had the home open for nine months. We have learned and grown so much because of this experience. I will not teach others how they can navigate co-living, because I still highly recommend it, especially for single mommas.
I am not going to say I should have closed the doors to the Single Moms DO Travel House any sooner than I did, because I don’t believe that to be true.
I believe that everything happened the way it was supposed to. I was supposed to meet each of the moms I met.
I’d love to tell you about two of the nineteen mommas that stayed at the Single Moms DO Travel House. I am just going to use the first letter of their names to preserve their privacy.
Momma E rolled up in her rental car one day after I had just returned from a trip to the States. When she wrote to me and asked about staying, I really wanted to say no. I was exhausted from our trip so the thought of hosting a momma the day after I got home did not sound very appealing, but something inside me said to go for it, so I did and I am so glad I did.
Momma E and her two beautiful kids brought an energy that lifted me out of the funk I was in and raise my vibe higher than it had been in months. Truthfully, they restored my faith in what I was doing and why I was doing it.
Momma E took me on adventures nearly every day she stayed with us. We went to the market and had a crazy adventure to some cenotes that required us to ride on horse-drawn mining carts. Actually, you can read about the experience by clicking here. It is still in my top ten life experiences.
Momma E makes you feel like you have known her for years. Something about her is so unbelievably special. I was beyond sad to say goodbye to her and her beautiful family, but they restored my faith in continuing on with running the Single Moms DO Travel House.
Another momma that will forever have a special place in my heart was Momma J. Momma J had never traveled outside of her home country of Canada before. The Single Moms DO Travel House seemed like the safe landing spot when she needed to make the leap.
Within days of arriving, Momma J was confident enough to go off on her own with her daughters by bus to other cities in Mexico. I saw so much growth in this beautiful soul. She left the SMDT House feeling refreshed and confident in herself. In fact, Momma J went on to join her first coaching program, and then after that joined my Inner Circle. Now, she has tickets booked for Thailand with no return date. Talk about a transformation!
There were seventeen other single mom families that stayed, each with their own powerful story. Most loved their experience. One or two didn’t for various reasons.
A Moment Of Clarity
A few weeks before I found out our House Hunters International episode would be airing, I went to yoga with a friend here in Mexico. I’d only done yoga a few times before, and it was many years ago.
I hated every second as my body was stretched, pulled, and held in odd positions for what would seem like hours, but would be only seconds.
However, after an active yoga session we would lie down and meditate. I shut my eyes and listened to the sounds around me. I was at complete peace.
When I opened my eyes, signaling the end of the meditation session, I knew I had to close the doors to the Single Moms DO Travel House.
In fact, after we left the studio, I turned to my friend and told her I would be closing the doors. Most of my friends in Merida knew how much I was going back and forth with this from the very beginning, but I never felt clearer with the decision than I did when I woke up from my meditative state.
A Strange Illness
It was really the end. It is crazy how things can turn so quickly once you make a firm decision. I got super sick almost immediately after making the decision. I mean really sick, with some odd virus/bacterial infection that doctors seemed be struggling to figure out.
Apparently, eighty percent of the patients coming in had this strange illness that affected people with different levels of severity. I got the worst of it, and luckily, my friend helped care for my little ones and also took me to see a doctor so I could get on antibiotics.
I usually avoid going to the doctors like the plague but by day three of the illness I was only getting worse, and I was truly worried about myself. I hadn’t taken antibiotics in at least ten years, but I honestly would have taken anything to feel better at that point.
I had two long term mommas in the home at the time, and in the period that I was sick I had two other mommas arrive at different times, and I could not give them a proper welcome. I basically quarantined myself in my room, not leaving the house except to go to the hospital and pick up meds for ten days.
I did not want to spread the illness to anyone else. Unfortunately, each of my girls got the illness as well. Luckily, only Mia and I got the worst of it, while it was shorter and more mild with both Novella and Alaya. It could have been because they got started on antibiotics right away.
After ten days, everyone in my family was better except for a still-lingering cough. I can’t tell you the level of gratitude I had for my health and my girls’ health again.
This illness seemed to be such poor timing, especially considering I had taken some time off from creating content for my Inner Circle membership site so I could spend quality time with my girls during the holiday.
Eventually, we got better but it left me feeling weak and exhausted. There was even a major conflict in the home that left my family unsafe. I knew my decision was the right move.
Over the next couple of weeks we prepared to move and start a new chapter. After a month of me refusing to see any house that Barbara Blanco from Merida Moves sent me, she finally wrote me and told me I was going to go look at houses the next day no matter what. She wasn’t going to send me which ones they were. We were just going to go look.
I didn’t want to go, but nevertheless she came and picked me up the next day, and by the second house, we had found our home. Barbara is magic. Seriously.
The whole process of closing down the SMDT House was so emotional for me that I was holding myself back from getting a new home I truly loved or any at all. But Barbara broke past the wall I was putting up and found our dream home.
I contacted the local non-profit here so I could donate mattresses and sheets plus a monetary donation. People helped raise the funds for the SMDT House to be possible, and giving back to the community here was the perfect way to give back in the same way I had received help ten months ago. The SMDT House could not have happened without the assistance and patronage of our supporters.
You all literally helped change the lives of some mommas, and I need to say THANK YOU!
We are now getting settled in our new home. There are still a lot of emotions going on but there is also so much peace and relief. It took me closing the house down and moving into our own place to see what running the SMDT House was actually doing to my family and myself.
My teens are so happy to be in their own space. Even little Novella is much more at peace playing in the yard for hours on end, swimming in the pool, and just having freedom to do as she pleases.
After traveling the world full-time for nearly two and a half years, I promised my girls a home. However, I failed to listen to their wants and needs, which is not our typical family dynamics. My teens actually hold a lot of weight in the decision-making process because it is super important in our family for every member to feel heard and respected.
Finally, I listened to them, and I also listened to my own gut.
It is just us again and it feels nice. We still have such an amazing community here. There are currently twelve other single mom families here, and a much larger community made of of single and married people as well.
I hope that by reading this post you understand that it is always OKAY to change course. I went back and forth with the house from the very beginning. I am grateful I held on for as long as I did because I met moms who changed my life. I am also grateful for this new chapter.
It is nice to walk around with no pants on and to be able to hang out in the kitchen and living room. Little things that you wouldn’t even think about.