I was 38, living in Flint, Michigan, and operating my Advertising/Creative/Audio Production/Voiceover agency. When the awakening occurred I found myself trying to process it, which took a lot of energy. During this time there was a dawning that my life was too complicated, frustrating and inauthentic. I'd won a ton of creative awards—some of them fairly major ones. This led to my Ad/Creative agency. In 6 years I'd done it; I proved I could get clients, handle their full-service advertising needs and hold my own as a 2 employee small business. But I was living in desperation.
I just wasn't suited to the hand-holding common to such a business, nor to the bullshit agency games. I was competing with people who basically convinced clients they had their interests at heart, got control of their budget—then held to three priorities. Number 1: keep the client, Number 2: extract as much revenue as possible from their budget, and Number 3: improve the results of their advertising if possible. I was determined not to be like them, but discovered that most clients actually seemed to like it this way. I could no longer find enthusiasm for this world, and voice overs were just so easy and, when you considered the relatively little time spent, profitable. I slowly began letting ad agency clients fade away.
So I was doing my voice overs and enjoying the decreased stress. Then a client offered me a position helping put on group sales presentations on weekends. For 7 years I was on a plane 44 weeks per year to various US cities for these things. My compadres and I had a lot of fun, partying like hell in hotels from Miami to Seattle and New York to San Diego, but it was no excuse for a life. One great thing? It got me used to thinking less locally. I moved to southern California in 2005, then to the Phoenix area in 2006 where I bought a house. The thought that I really could do my voice overs from pretty much anywhere was freeing.
By 2011 the traveling seminar company was kaput, and I was left with more time to consider my life. It was so stress-free and comfortable as compared to 7 years previous. It's also true I began to think there might be more advantages to living outside the US. In another time I guess the country of my birth really was the Land of the Free, and all due credit for that. But, again, that was another time. So I spent loads of time trying to find the right place for me. A place where the weather was nice, the internet reasonably stable, tax advantages high, cost of living low and where the powers that be were a touch less Orwellian.
My original list went like this...
- 1) Central Chile
- 2) San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
- 3) New Zealand
I spent 3 weeks in Chile in early 2013, 2 weeks in San Miguel in mid 2013—and never made it to New Zealand.
There were lots of options in Asia, but the difference in time zones meant I'd be doing VOs with my US clients at 3 in the morning. Same deal with Kiwi Land. No thanks. Along with the fact that renting a shipping container to move my studio to Chile was going to be pretty expensive—and San Miguel was just so cool—my decision was made. So I sold most of my stuff, put some in storage, packed up the recording studio and my cat Kimba, and headed for the border.
San Miguel de Allende is a town that might just be the closest thing to “magical” that I’ve ever experienced. It’s like being transported into some 300-year-old European villa you’ve read about in a book. The narrow, cobble-stone streets, the magnificent old buildings, the little parks, the wonderful jardin right in the city center where families, friends and lovers are sitting on benches beneath meticulously manicured trees, talking and laughing in the presence of enormous, gothic churches and delightful street musicians. But, while you’re almost hypnotized by this old world elegance, you’re also surrounded by a huge number of amazing little restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops and art galleries. Combine all this with daytime temps in the mid 70s to mid 80s and low humidity year round, and you'll totally understand why more than one travel guide identifies it as one of the Best Cities in the World.
So moving to Mexico was just one consequence of letting go of previous attachments that simply weren't benefiting me. That I've been able to chip away at that hunk of granite and find the life that was right for me, while continuing my career as a voice actor in this magical Mexican town is something I'm truly grateful for. There's very little complicated or frustrating, and desperation? Jajaja! Nada.
Now I think I might be ready for the actual ayahuasca experience. ;-)