Showing posts with label home sale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home sale. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hearing "Tales from a Female Nomad" in Person: Rita Golden Gelman

Rita Golden Gelman
Author, "Tales of a Female Nomad"
and over seventy children's books
It struck me today as I was sitting having lunch with author Rita Golden Gelman how ironic that was. If there is anything Rita Golden Gelman is not - it is a 'lady who lunches.' Pinch me! I was meeting one of the exciting role models of my last four years as an 'Empty Nest Expat'."

I got to meet Rita, and by arriving early, have lunch with her at the Professional American Women of Istanbul (PAWI) meeting in Istanbul which I attended for the first time. Rita was the guest speaker! The women in attendance were also captivating, happening ladies making their dreams happen here in Istanbul.
Rita Golden Gelman is the author of the acclaimed book "Tales of a Female Nomad." I read her book as part of my vagabonding journey these last four years and was absolutely riveted. The blogging universe exposes us to all kinds of people living lives different than our own these days, but Rita Golden Gelman was a true pioneer in choosing a different path than the American dream of a house with the picket fence.

Rita lived the American dream, actually. She was married - a dutiful wife of an interesting man and mother to accomplished children. She lived with them in Manhattan and Greenwich Village, New York as her children grew up. Eventually, her husband's work took the family out to the film industry in Los Angeles in California. Rita didn't identify with any of it. Her marriage eventually fell apart and she decided to put the anthropology she had been studying in a PhD program at UCLA into practice by seeing the world. By then her children were grown. She sold everything, stuck the house money into savings without spending a dime of it, and has spent the last 27 years living without a permanent home and traveling the world.
She told such incredibly inspiring stories from her book which I won't share here because they are hers to tell. "Tales of a Female Nomad" inspired a whole community of readers to email her with their travel adventures (including the sublime recipes they collected along the way). Rita organized some of their tales into an anthology called "Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World."

Random House paid her and her 41 contributors an initial payment of $55,000 for the book. All of the money goes to support children of the lowest castes in India with vocational training. Guess what's on your Christmas list, family! What a legacy. And what a gift to give to her community of readers - the chance to be part of that legacy.

Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. Without risk, nothing new ever happens. Without trust, fear creeps in. Without serendipity, there are no surprises.
~ Rita Golden Gelman's quote on Starbuck's tall cup #31
There are cultures where overseas travel is really celebrated. The Netherlands and Isreal come to mind, for me, as two countries where citizens have enough time off, a lack of fear, and the willingness to hit the open road. America is not one of those cultures. Rita is interested in changing that and has a plan to do so.

At age 75, Rita is starting to feel her age for the first time. She wants to go home to spend the next two years in America working on her legacy. She is frequently invited to speak at universities about her global travels. She always asks the university to set up a talk at the local high school as well. Gentle readers, do you know of students that would benefit from hearing Rita's inspiring tales? Why not suggest her as a speaker to your favorite lecture series committee?

Rita believes Americans would approach the world with more understanding if each high school senior took a gap year between high school and college to see the world. She said high school students have three choices: university, work, or military after high school. They are not ready to experience any of these yet with full maturity. She urges grandparents to begin a $500 a year gap year fund for their grandchildren so that kids have a year to mature before starting the bigger commitments of study, work, or job while using that time to understand the greater wider world better.

She has started an organization called Let's Get Global. Her plan is to partner with a young man who is creating an American Gap Year Association and beginning an accreditation process for American gap year programs. Rita would like two people in every high school to be able to win a "Gap Year Scholarship" just to demonstrate the power of the idea to young people everywhere. Two young people from each high school nationwide setting off for parts unknown could begin to change American culture of fear about the outside world.

Rita says that fear drives one of the most common questions she gets about her lifestyle. "How can someone overcome the fear of setting out on an adventure?" She is currently working on a book of 64 tips for developing a successful mindset for global discovery.

What an exciting moment to
meet one of my vagabonding
role models!

So Westerner, ask yourself, could you give up the control Rita has over her life? It seems like control is the #1 Western addiction, but Rita just strugged her shoulders and says "I see what opportunities come to me." She rarely knows where she'll be six months from now. She has four steadfast rules 1) smile at everyone, 2) talk to strangers, 3) accept all invitations and 4) eat everything that is offered. The ability to be adaptable to multiple peoples, cultures, situations and opportunities has resulted in an incredibly inspiring life well-lived.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Yea! I'm Back in Prague

I'm glad to see this guy
is still going strong
in Prague's Old Town Square.
He produces endless smiles,
joy, and singing in those passing by.

I started this blog to move me forward to some very specific goals:

1) graduate youngest from high school.
2) sell my house.
3) move to Prague and take a TEFL class.
4) live in Prague teaching business English.

My youngest graduated from high school and is now in her junior year of college.  I moved to Prague, took my TEFL course and started to have the time of my life.  Six months into it, I had to go back to the States because my school waited 2.5 months before applying for my visa and it wasn't ever issued.  I tried to reapply for a visa from the States. I was told I was denied a second time (although I never actually received a letter saying so).

My daughters and I

I spent a very lovely 10 months in Madison, Wisconsin.  Madison is a city frequently chosen by magazines as the #1 most fabulous place to live in all of the United States.  I can heartily agree! Madison was a physically beautiful, intellectually-stimulating, healthy, wonderful place to live.  I may end up there some day, who knows. While I was back in the States, I finally got my house sold and watched my oldest daughter graduate from the University of Wisconsin (she did it in 3.5 years while working 20 hours a week and serving as president of one of her student organizations. Yea, Daughter #1! Somebody hire her please, she's amazing.).

But living in Madison was not what I wanted to do with this portion of my life here on Earth, so having accomplished all of the goals I set out to do, I'm ready to start Part II of Empty Nest Expat.  This part will be more spontaneous.  My goal is to write a very specific book about the Czech Republic.  I can visualize the entire thing in my mind.

I have come back to Prague to see if I can get a residence visa from the Czech Republic to live here while I write. I've applied for what is called the živnostenský list which is essentially a business trade license so that I can earn a living while I'm here writing. I am absolutely horrible at bureaucratic paperwork like visas and the like and am actually pretty proud just to have figured out (with the help of friends) how to do the živnostenský list without an agency's help. Having applied for this business trade license, and been approved, I will then have to move back out of the Czech Republic to apply for a residence visa (don't bother asking, I don't understand it either). Still with me, or have your eyes glazed over?  If they've glazed over, welcome to my world.

House of Týn Church

When I got back to Prague and first saw the spires of the House of Týn Church, I cried.  They were so damn beautiful!  And then I cried when I was on Revoluční, and realized I was going to have my first chlebičky in 10 months at my favorite kavárna (coffee shop). Oh, the joy of familiar Czech pleasures!

I hope I'm successful living here.  That's why I say Phase II of Empty Nest Expat may have to be more spontaneous.  I'm not yet ready to give up my Czech dream, but if I have to do so, I'll read up on how to develop Buddhist non-attachment to what I want and then find a country that welcomes me.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Blog Birthday to Me!

One year ago I started this blog to help me go through the emotional journey of graduating my youngest child from high school, downsizing and potentially selling my home, and moving across the world from the American Midwest to Prague, Czech Republic.

My home in America

One year ago, I was living a very American mom lifestyle in a 3 bedroom/3 bath suburban home with one child at university and another in her senior year at high school. I only went places by car. I didn't yet know how to blog. I didn't yet know how to Twitter. I didn't yet know how to couchsurf.

I was mowing the lawn once a week. I read somewhere that not having a lawn to mow anymore frees up 30 hours a year. Hallelujah! I still own the house and the magnificent blackberry tree that goes with it. Currently, I have it rented out to some terrific people.

At the beginning of my blogging journey, I was working on what to do with all of my "stuff." I don't think of myself as particularly attached to possessions but once a lifetime of them have built up, the task of thoughtfully going through each and every one and making a decision about what to do with each one is overwhelming.

Fortunately, I found this fantastic book that helped me go through the process in an incredibly empowering way. It's called "When Organizing Isn't Enough: Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life" by Julie Morgenstern. Wow, did that book help me. I didn't waste any years in procrastination before starting. All of those posts are under the label SHED. They used to be the most-read part of my blog.

My children have thrived on their own. Each of them are attending their university of choice and living their own dream. They're loving life and they haven't needed their mother stateside to do it.

Pinch me!

And where am I now? I'm living in Prague!!! In the six months since I moved here, I've found great students, great friends, a great neighborhood, a great flat, a great flatmate, and a great church community. I feel like I'm living my values 100%. Life is awesome!

My property maintenance consists of cleaning my apartment every other week when it's my turn. That takes about two hours max.

I no longer have to worry about oil changes, or tires, or brakes. That frees up even more time. Using public transportation has been a Godsend. In six months, I've lost twenty pounds because I'm walking to and from metro and tram stops rather than merely to the driveway. I have zero worries about traffic - imagine how stress-free that makes life.

Even the stress of having a rotten president has gone away! Hallelujah!

Over a year of blogging, I've written 226 posts. I've had 4,200 visitors and 10,000 page hits. My blog was chosen as Expat Blog of the Month (thank you Julian!) in December of 2008. Now that I'm actually living here in Prague my readership keeps growing about 5% a month. If this were a business that would be an outstanding rate of growth. But it's not, it's just for fun.

And fun it has been. Blogging has helped me focus, focus, focus on achieving my dream of moving to Prague to learn about this beautiful city and the wonderful people of the Czech Republic. Thank you for reading and being part of the conversation!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Own Bed

There was this lady in Chicago named Bernadette.

Bernadette was a single mum and had her own set of children. She then took in her sister's kids when her sister was going through a heroin addiction and wasn't caring for them properly. I can't remember how many kids there were total but it was around six.

Bernadette worked at Starbuck's in Chicago and passed sunshine on to every single person who came into her store. Her attitude was remarkable and she did nothing but give, give, give with enthusiasm to everyone she came in contact with. One of her customers or coworkers came to know her well, know her story, and wrote Oprah and said "here's a beautiful lady who could use some help."

Well, the resulting show was so touching and so moving that it was even featured in one of the Ocean Eleven movies. George Clooney's character asked Brad Pitt's character, "you're not going to cry, are you?"

Oprah bought Bernadette a house, had Nate Berkus, her decorator, fix it up, promised the entire family she would send them all to college, and basically changed the trajectory of their entire life.

When Oprah asked one of the teenage boys, "what was your favorite part of this whole experience." He said, "the first night when I got to sleep in my own bed." He and his brothers and sisters had all had to share beds. My mouth fell to the floor. His gratitude for something so simple was so profound.

Ever since then, I've had a GREAT appreciation for my own bed. I know my emotions are in overdrive as I get ready to move but I'm just really aware that I have two nights left in my OWN bed. He and Oprah taught me something that day, which of course, is why people go so crazy for her.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Picture Me Here!

Wenceslas Square, Prague

Two months to the day after putting my house on the market, I rented it to terrific tenants who leased it with an option to buy.

So you know what that means???

I'm moving to Prague!
I'm moving to Prague!
I'm moving to Prague!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If you need a case of the giggles

As someone in the midst of selling my house right now, I'm cheered by this website chosen by Blogger as today's "blog of note."

It's Lovely! I'll Take It!

features a collection of poorly chosen photos from real estate listings. With love.

I'm still giggling. Click on the title to see it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Revising my Goal

I need to revise my arrival date for Prague. I had originally planned to leave seven days from today and that is not going to happen because my house hasn't sold yet. It will though. I have faith.

The good side of that is that I will get to spend time with my children one last time before they go back to college. They arrive Friday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For Sale By Owner

Tomorrow I'm listing my house for sale on a local "for sale by owner" website.
The total cost is $99.00. I've sold a home "for sale by owner" once before. I love copywriting and sales and describing that which I love, my home, so I'll see how it goes.

I am as ready as I'm ever going to be. It took longer than I thought to prepare and stage my house. All the vendors were terrific. Usually they promise they'll show up by such and such date and don't deliver. My painters were so nice, that if I wasn't moving half way across the world, I'd want to hang out with them as my new friends!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Baby Steps toward Selling

My baby step toward selling this house that I'm celebrating today is that the lawn man did two solid days of work on the yard and the wild "forest" of uncontrolled trees the original owner/developer left growing in the backyard. The trees and understory bushes don't look quite as untouched now. I'm not sure that's a good thing. At least the organic debris on the "forest" floor is cleaned up and not fuel for a fire (I'm trying to think like a very critical buyer - all I ever saw was the beauty of the trees).

My next two vendors to deal with are the painters and the carpet layers. The painters are supposed to paint this week. Carpet to come the following.

Daughter #2 has become addicted to applying for college scholarships. Every week another "yes" comes in. Her goal is to have her first year entirely financed from scholarships. So far she is at 60%. She is making her father sooooooo happy. That's a good thing.

She has additional assignments to turn in plus a United States Constitution test to pass before she officially walks across that stage.

May we all keep on task this week and focus on what's in front not in the future!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

First Things First

I've done enough reading about Prague to know that today in "Lover's Day" where couples go to kiss under the statue of a famous Czech poet and celebrate Spring. It is very hard to not completely immerse myself in all things Czech because I am so excited to get there.

My child has the same problem. She's trying to focus on taking care of the last 20 days of high school when she is so "over it" and excited about college. Yesterday, when returning to class after being gone most of the last week, one of her favorite teachers jokingly said "well, look what the cat dragged in."

Her whole day was like that. Later, the principal boomed out her last name as she was walking down the hall and said "Get in here." After she slinked into his office worried about what she was in trouble for (don't get me wrong - my kid is very well known and respected by the administration of her high school). He gave her grief about missing so much school and said to her "size 10 1/2! You need to know that's my shoe size in case you have any trouble graduating." I just laughed when I heard that. I can hear him now. I'm glad she's getting it from all sides.

Transitions are hard. What I need to be doing is reading stuff about selling my house rather than reading stuff about Prague. I meant to have it on the market a month ago. A month ago! First things first. Get this house sold.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Getting There

So what possibly could keep me from my romantic notion of Prague?
What stands in the way of me moving and taking up residence in one of the most beautiful baroque cities on Earth if that's what I've a mind to do?

In a word: logistics.

Between me and the Charles Bridge stands the work of fixing up my home, selling my possessions, and executing my home sale. Hands-on, concrete stuff!

I can do hands-on, concrete stuff, honest, I can. In the past, daughter #1 would always help move me. She could pack a moving box that would exhibit the grace of a Bento Box. Daughter #1 is grown up and gone.

I live in the world of ideas. Hands-on concrete stuff seems like a lot of work without the fun. My feminist self is secure enough to wish I could just punt on leading this effort and defer to my imaginary husband who tells me what to do! But oh, there's a problem. He's imaginary. I guess I have to lead after all. Ugh.

I don't think I'll every own this much stuff again.
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