I’m super excited for this edition of the Mentor’s MasterClass.
Rhonda Swan and the Unstoppable Family is a story I’ve been following for a few years now.
I don’t remember for sure when I first became aware of this high energy bride and her surfer dude husband (and cuter than ever daughter), but their story certainly got my attention.
Here was a couple of former corporate slaves turned family who had sold off all of their worldly possessions and set out on a (planned) 2 year trip to see the world and tell their story online.
Well, it’s now more than 7 years later, and they’ve lived in and traveled to countless countries and been to all but one continent on the planet so far. (Although their daughter has her sights set on achieving the 7th soon!)
Today, they live in Bali Indonesia, and have built a multiple 6 figure business online.
They live life on their own terms, and inspire and coach others from around the world to do the same.
Enjoy the interview! I know I did!
Here’s just a bit of Rhonda’s story from her own blog at www.UnstoppableMamma.com (make sure you go check it out!) or catch up on what the whole Unstoppable Family is up to at http://unstoppablefamily.com/
I haven’t always lived on a Caribbean island and traveled whenever I want. Once upon a time, I was office drone in the most humdrum, literal sense of that phrase.
I would sit in traffic for hours every day, arrive at work at seven in the morning, and leave at six at night. I had a six figure salary, but my life was empty. I’d come home to my husband tired and unhappy; we’d bicker, or not speak to one another at all, and fall asleep in tired heaps. It was the definition of a passionless existence; I didn’t care about what I did (thought I was quite good at it), and I had no time to do any of the things that, before I’d taken that job, drove me.
And then a couple of women who worked with me had children and asked for an extra hour in the morning to take their baby to day care and have just a little extra time with them before they left the in the arms of a complete stranger. Impossible—that was our boss’s answer. It was impossible for them to keep their jobs and also raise their children. They needed to find daycares, and leave their children there for the day – a full, often more than twelve-hour day.
The idea of daycare has always been offensive to me; my daughter needs and deserves time with her parents, and to not suffer through the emotional, spiritual neglect of being shunned off onto a group of professional babysitters. No idea pains me more than the thought of my daughter sitting in a room full of people who don’t care about her—and my daughter wondering when I’ll finally come back for her, and believing that I have abandoned her.
That’s not how children were meant to be raised, and when push came to shove I couldn’t do it, I refused to make the decision. I quit.
This was a major point of contention between Brian and me; he was a robotics engineer, and while that was a good job in a lot of ways, he’d never have been able to afford the mortgage on our house. It was a full time position with two weeks of vacation—he barely had time to be a husband, let alone to find enough extra income to make up for my quitting. But this was beyond important to me, and I was going to make it work.
The immediate problem was income. We had a nest egg, but it wouldn’t last very long. Despite the work that’s involved, being a full-time mom doesn’t pay the bills, and with just one job in the family, we were looking down the barrel of some serious belt tightening. For two adults, that’d be fine. But for a child? No. I had my cake and I was going to find a way to eat it, too.
My husband made it clear, too; the onus was on me to fix the problem. To him, daycare was as natural and American as apple pie, and our jobs were necessary evils. But I told him that I’d find a way to change what we were doing, and I set to my research.
So I looked up work that a stay-at-home mom could do. I got involved with a group of people who taught me how to run a from-home business. The first few weeks were stressful. The nest egg was getting smaller but the bills weren’t, and I hadn’t made a single sale.
And then I did it—I’d finally made a sale. And then a lot of sales. And all at once, the name of the game was five-figure months. I still remember our first time pulling this off, making more than thirty thousand dollars, from home, in a single month. It was 2007, and my family had everything it could have ever dreamed of wanting.
Then the real estate bubble popped, and worse, we found out that one of the people’d we trusted the most was a complete fraud. We’d been working together to develop a golf course, and right as the economy soured, we found that he hadn’t been working on it at all—he’d pocketed our investment and there was no golf course. He’d vanished, and he took everything with him.
Between the exorbitant legal battle with this fraudster and the economy crashing, we lost everything. We declared bankruptcy. We had nothing. I felt like a failure. I’d been fooled, and now I was trapped. The only thing left was for my husband and I to go find jobs doing something we hated, work on projects we had no interest in furthering, and to be a family in whatever cracks in the schedule our bosses left for us.
The only way I knew to not be at the mercy of a fickle market landscape, and perhaps, a few years down the road, the victim of another bubble popping, was the security of an office building. But I’d made a vow to my little girl that I would raise her and not leave her to some set of strangers on a daycare. That vow meant everything to me, but our investments were gone, our IRA’s were gone. It was like being cornered and wondering which animal would bite you first.
What I needed to do—get a job, or maybe move back home with my parents—was the worst sort of emotional torture I could imagine. I’d tasted freedom, and I’d had the joy of being with my daughter and my husband full time. Now the world was crushing down on me, and if I didn’t go back into the cage I’d just left, it was going to pop me like a grape.
Stress has an amazing sort of sorcery. It makes you think that when you’re pouring effort into keeping a huge house and a bunch of cars you splurged on—that when you’re managing your finances and your credit—that what you’re really doing is taking care of your family. That’s a lie. Taking care of your family is being there with them and for them. The house and all the other crap is extra. If your dream is raising a family, raise a family. Don’t be a slave to someone else because you think you need their permission to raise a family.
You can probably see where this is going. I did what any sane person would do who’d lived what I’d lived and had my realizations. I stopped putting off my dream. I knew how to make money. I knew how to talk to people—and my husband did too. The expense of keeping your family together is much lower once you realize that you don’t need the five-room house, and I took it the thought a step further. I cashed out. I got rid of every material possession I owned that couldn’t fit in a travel case, and I, with my family, set off on a journey that was supposed to last two years, but has now lasted six, instead—and doesn’t show any sign of stopping.
We left on our “Unstoppable Family” Journey November 2008. Started in Hanalei Bay, Kauai ( my daughters namesake) with $23, 808.27 to our name and a vision. We had no idea how our life would turn out, but I did know that I never wanted to experience the shackles I had before and my daughters life be determined by a BOSS. We have since been to Bali, Fiji, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua to name a few. In fact my daughter has more stamps on her passport than most adults and has now touched 6 continents [out of 7] and plans on seeing Antartica before she is 8 this April 2015. She has attended schools all over the world to be engulfed in the language and the cultures. At this point she is rather fluent in Spanish and is now attending school in Bocas Del Toro, Panama- a small island off the mainland of Panama where they speak english and Spanish during the day.
I would like to close my story with this. When the Universe throws you a bad hand- something that forces you to ask yourself “Why Me” ask yourself “Why Not Me” instead. There may be a hidden [UNSTOPPABLE] life just behind it.
Rhonda Swan~ Unstoppable Momma