I want to share a blog story with you, or more precisely a story from my (our) blog: Expat Journal Postcards from the Edge. And, surprisingly, this story is not un-typical, its happened before. But this particular story is about my friend Judy P. Judy and I have not met face-to-face (at least not at this point in time), in fact I’ve never even seen a photo of her. Yet we are friends. She subscribes to the blog, and is a frequent commenter (which I dearly love).
Some history first. I started Expat Journal a couple of years ago when my life was at its lowest ebb. I was a fast-paced commercial banker, of almost thirty years, working for the largest bank in the USA. Then I got sick. After almost fifty years of working hard for a living I found that I just couldn’t do it anymore. This coincided with the economic collapse and real estate implosion that you’re still recovering from in the United States. Long story short: I lost it all (and quickly). By electing early retirement at age sixty-four, a floundering marriage of twenty-four years ended in divorce, a beautiful home in the country was foreclosed on by the bank and I ended up filing personal bankruptcy. Within a year my 6-digit income was gone, my savings were depleted, I had lost another 6-digit figure in my 401K (having invested it in bank stock) and the real estate crash eliminated any equity from my home. I was basically penniless and solely dependent on Social Security and a small bank pension. It was then that I decided to follow my lifelong dream of being a professional photographer and world traveler. For those of you that are interested in more of the gory details they can all be found in my book Expat Journal (click on ‘The Book’ tab on the top toolbar).
I wanted to document this evolution of circumstances, so I created Expat Journal: Postcards from the Edge. Who knew what success this modest little blog would enjoy? Certainly not me. I like to think of myself as the ‘Indiana Jones’ type, conquering all of these new adventures on my own. But I now have such a huge net of supporters (including my brother Joel who travels with me) I realize that I’m no longer doing this strictly on my own. Expat Journal has some 300 followers now, representing over 100 countries and 50,000+ hits worldwide. And so many of you, like Judy, have become my friends. It’s like having an extended family with me wherever I go and wherever I roam.
Judy just purchased a piece of wall art from my online gallery (www.IndochinePhotography.com). It’s a recent work photographed on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, MX, but is rapidly becoming one of my new favorites. That it spoke to her enough for her to actually spend her hard-earned money to purchase it speaks volumes to me. What a HUGE compliment for a an artist/photographer to receive. Thank you so much Judy. But it goes beyond that—she also asked my advice about purchasing a camera. Now, I don’t know exactly how old Judy is (I think she mentioned once that she has me beat by a few years), but it inspires me when a person is willing to take on a new project or learning experience rather than just settling into old predetermined routines. She wants to learn and enjoy photography (irregardless of her age), and I say HOORAY for her. Have you wanted to try something new, but were maybe a little intimidated with the thought? Learn to dance, play an instrument, go river-rafting, travel or maybe learn photography. Let Judy be your inspiration. I have another good friend, Rose, who lost her husband a couple of years ago. She loved him dearly, but has made the conscious decision to live the rest of her life as best she can. Rose is amazing: She is completely restructuring her life so she can retire early. She dances, swims, kayaks, does crafts and is not afraid to make new friends. In addition to Expat journal, I follow her exploits on Facebook everyday—and she exhausts me with her activities.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting a number of you in person since you started following Expat Journal. Mostly we’ve hooked up when you’ve come down to visit Mexico. A number of you have purchased my work for your homes and offices (and I can’t begin to tell you how flattering that is). Some of you don’t travel, but live vicariously (you say) through my exploits and adventures. Many of you ARE world travelers like me, and I learn so much by communicating with you. Many of you are artists and photographers representing all levels of accomplishment—beginners (with talent), enthusiasts and a number of you are professionals.
I won’t lie, selling my images as a professional photographer is very important to me. I live a very frugal life as an itinerant photographer—as I’ve mentioned frequently on this blog before—so every extra dollar is not only appreciated but well spent. That I’ve been modestly successful, as a professional photographer, at this stage of my life has been, and is, very satisfying on all levels. It is truly the realization of a lifelong dream. Thank you to all of my friends, blog followers and purchasers of my work—you are my patrons. For without your continued support it’s all for naught. And, where two years ago my life was at low ebb, it is now surging at high tide. Having lost everything (material), I’ve gained EVERYTHING (emotional and spiritual). I am a rich man.
If I can offer one piece of unsolicited advice (and it’s not original): Follow your heart; follow your dreams [unexpected happiness will be your reward]. Do the most you can with what you have at hand. Be a Judy, be a Rose—and just GO FOR IT. Judy, once again, thank you for your patronage so the work can continue, and thank you most of all for your friendship. I have attached a copy of Judy’s recent purchase (just thought you might be curious).
(Click on image to enlarge)