nothing to lose


I took a risk. I used my tax return to buy a one-way ticket back to Las Palmas, Spain. I bought the flight for the exact same reason that I left the island with sand in between my toes.

For love and for laughter. I’m not kidding. It’s actually that simple.

Something about that island brought me to life again and introduced me to so many good people, places, and things. I’ve never laughed or loved so deeply as I have when I was there.

I took a chance. For a short while, before I officially purchased my flight, I realized that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, by making this decision to return.

I came to this conclusion after I reviewed a few of the facts that showed me how spot on I was in my assumption:

  • I have no job
  • I have no bills
  • I have no money
  • I have no health insurance
  • I have no cell phone, no car, no partner, no mortgage…
  • I don’t know what I’ll be doing
  • I don’t know where I’ll be working or volunteering
  • I don’t know how long I’ll stay
  • I don’t know if I’ll get a VISA

On one hand, I have nothing to lose because I literally have nothing.

On the other hand,

  • I feel free
  • I am happy
  • I have a (growing!) family and friends that support and love me
  • I dwell in possibility
  • I have everything to gain
  • and I have a dream to return to Las Palmas.

So I took once small step in making that dream happen.

The morning I left the island, I found myself sitting at the airport at 6:30AM, not having slept all night, nodding off in-between sips of espresso and smiling—as I looked through teary, tired eyes—at the sand that had stayed between my tan toes from one final night of singing with friends at the beach. I could have rinsed it off in the bathroom sink or brushed it off with a few extra napkins, but I decided to leave it. It made me happy. Those grains were full of memories and they reminded me of what I had come to love deeply.

Even before I left the island, I knew I would return.

I’ve been home for exactly 1 month now. To my surprise, I’ve found myself much busier than I thought I would be. Up until a few days ago, when I bought my ticket back to the island, I was wandering around all insecure, lost, and confused like I did when I was in Jr. High and I had flashbacks of our 7th grade dances where everything smelled like pepperoni pizza and pimple-faced boys with uncontrolled body odor burped Mountain Dew into your face as you slow danced to Savage Garden’s “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” standing an awkward arm’s-length apart, touching someone else’s sweaty back for the very first time, avoiding eye-contact at all costs and smiling at your best friend nervously—with bright pink, punch-stained lips—from across the room, as the disco ball sent all sorts of silly shapes dancing about the room.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

I’ve been job searching, looking into the logistics of getting a VISA, thinking about returning to Spain, looking at a pile of clothes that need mending, mourning the fact that mice ate through half of my wardrobe while I was away and nested in every single pair of my shoes.

I have been getting ready to sew and sell some more tunics, visiting with friends and family, staying up late watching sappy Spanish movies and watching bugs crawl across my bedroom floor out of the corner of my right eye, not caring about the fact that bugs are crawling across my bedroom floor, taking pop cans back to Kroger and collecting measly sums of money to add to my travel fund, frequenting the family flower shop and dumpster dancing on mountains of useless waste that I’ve pitched to the curb and decluttered, watching my skin crack, dry out and fade in Michigan’s cold weather, wishing I could be back in Las Palmas…

You know, the things you do when you return home from a heavenly holiday and find yourself feeling slightly lost in transition and transported right back to that 7th grade dance. It’s horrifying, really.

After the ecstasy, the laundry… or so they say, and I’ve got loads of it.

And then one morning I woke up and jumped out of bed with a divine dose of clarity, feeling totally inspired, as if the moonlight had bleached all of my fears and anxieties from my body.

I was laughing and squealing with excitement, jumping up and down and doing silly dance moves while I was on the phone with my mom asking her if I should really, “like seriously, Mom,” do this. Should I honestly buy my ticket?! I asked, rhetorically really, because I made up my mind months ago. Of course I should. Of course I would.

Her response confirmed what I knew to be true. “Yes!,” she said, “you should do anything that makes you laugh this much.”

Is it that simple?

It can be.

But we have become so very good at complicating things, overthinking our options, overanalyzing everything—even the bloody grocery list—and worrying, sometimes about silly things, like what toppings to put on our pizzas.

What is the balance between choosing our dreams over life’s demands? What if we woke up and gave ourselves permission, on a daily basis, to pursue the things that help us accomplish our dreams? Perhaps this is isn’t possible; perhaps it is even a bit unrealistic. And even if it was, none of us would actually have time for it anyways, right? But what if?

Aren’t we, to some extent, the authors of our own reality?

For the time being, because I’ve decided to follow my heart back to Spain, I’m learning what it means to make a living as a digital nomad, which is a super cool way of saying that I’m learning how to use my skills in combination with WiFi and my laptop in order to earn money while traveling. Although it can be quite painful at times, I have begun to write articles for pay online. It’s very freeing to know that I can work and travel simultaneously!

If I were to put an image to this place and time in my life, I would say that it’s a bit like doing a puzzle. When I was old enough to attempt my first “big girl” puzzle with actual “big girl”pieces, I was taught to begin by flipping all of the pieces over so that I could see what I was working with. From there I was taught to separate the straight edges from the swiveled ones, fill in the four corners, set the border, and have at it!

When I put it that way, I guess it doesn’t sound so crazy that I’m heading off to Spain without a plan and everything in place. I trust that the pieces will fall into place with time, and if they don’t, then the adventure continues! There is always 1 piece missing from the box anyways. That’s just life, isn’t it?


10 thoughts on “nothing to lose

  1. Oh Chelsea you are such a brave girl. I am so jealous you have the courage to follow your dreams. I pray for a happy content life for you where ever you are. I am thrilled to learn you are earning money by writing. Your posts are so entertaining and I had visions of you authoring a book or two and think you are your way for that. You certainly have talent. All the love a post can send.

  2. Keep in touch – Not many of us have the courage – or maybe not the dream. Earning money for writing! Go for it!

  3. hi, i’m a friend of jeff steele and i live in La Palma, if you need some help while you’re in Las Palmas, let me know. Regards and good luck

  4. Be well, dear Chelsea. Thank you for inviting us to come with you through your writing. Know that I’ll be faithfully tagging along again this time! Much love, Julie

  5. Oh my, Chelsea. You have indeed surprised- and delighted- me again! So happy for you. I hope you continue to take us along on your journey—-

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