This journey has been a long time in coming.
In 1985, when I was 23, I had been working for 1 1/2 yrs as a dental hygienist in Switzerland. I was determined to explore until i ran out of money and that’s what I did. An unexpected generous bonus and a little savings was what paid my way.
A small backpack and an unquenchable curiosity coupled with a pretty good command of French and German served me well for the 5 months of adventure that I had. Not one to follow the pack I rather sought out the surprises. I relied on tips and help from locals and other travelers I met along the way.
It was an amazing experience that changed me forever. With no need to worry about the when or where, I felt a freedom unlike anything I’ve felt since. I met fascinating people and got to see and participate in incredible and authentic old world festivals and events. People took me into their homes. Craftsmen showed me their skills. Sailors gave me rides. I ate, sang, hiked, danced. Oh the things I saw and learned across Western Europe.
I came home to Orlando with only $60 in my pocket and a promise from my old boss there that I could have my old job back whenever I wanted. He kept it and I went back to dental hygiene but also took a side job as a Disney tour guide never having been content in my practical profession. Enjoy it. Am good at it. But have always yearned for ever more adventure, challenge and learning.
Being where you want to be
Doing what you want to do
Letting your little light shine
What if you could be wherever you wanted to be- leave whenever you want and still be able to support yourself?! How awesome could that be?
Well as a free spirit and adventurer at heart, that has been a chief fantasy of mine for a very long time. This is the dream I’m working to achieve.
Worrying about the future.
When we step off the path of normalcy, go outside of the traditional and accepted
ie: choose to live in a camper and try to carve out a living, it can come with considerable angst.
My first marriage while the result of an extreme whirl wind romance (first date 11/10/87 engaged 12/31/87 married 2/5/88) lasted 16 years although ending, for me, very abruptly.
I spent it as a stay home mom and enjoyed a very comfortable life style with the luxury of lots of time and money to focus on and raise our three kids.
Never was myself much into the feminine fluff and stuff that ladies “of privilege” often indulge in which is just as well as my husband was generally very controlling (although I accepted and tolerated it at the time, that’s what I believed you do to keep peace for family).
But I must acknowledge and pay respect to the free reign I had to enrich the kids’ lives with museum memberships, books, art supplies and the like.
We relished in every cultural outing I could find and had seemingly endless magical times in parks and playgrounds.
We built things and grew things.
We laughed and played and cooked and camped and had big themed parties often. We had a large group of friends through a babysitting coop I helped start that was like a wonderful extended family.
If all kids could be so lucky. Many happy years.
I’ve always kept my fingers in mouths working on call as a substitute hygienist through the local dental society taking work when I wanted (and after my divorce when I needed).
Additionally I busied myself over the years as a dedicated volunteer to a variety of causes that I care deeply about primarily civic involvement, conscientious public policy, education, child abuse prevention and the arts. This provided me opportunity to become very proficient in event planning, fund raising, canvassing and the like receiving recognition for my efforts by a variety of organizations.
My husband and kids’ dad, very much the successful entrepreneur, launched products, invested in and developed commercial real estate, owned multiple businesses along with other investments. Oh I learned so much through observation and sometimes even got to participate if he really needed me.
I was a party store and restaurant owner/manager for periods of time, I helped with marketing various businesses on occasion and spent considerable amounts of energy and thought giving input and as a sounding board.
These experiences enriched my life greatly, offered me considerable insight into the business world from commercial real estate, to building franchises, to new product development, to venture capitalism but unfortunately did not include a retirement package.
Sadly, even though I did not want the breakup of my family and was accused of no wrong doing, I had to fight tooth and nail to try and get some kind of an equitable outcome for my contribution those many years.
It would be very much a matter of opinion as to whether or not I was successful but I’m much more tenacious than I was given credit for. When you’re right sometimes you gotta fight.
It took eleven years to completely resolve ending spring 2013.
Now the issues are settled and that is all that I am at liberty to share.
New Happy Beginnings
A few years after the end of my marriage a wonderful man appeared in my life and I now call him my husband. Though many years younger than myself, 16 to be exact, he is wise, patient and wonderful. I love him deeply. We’re together 8 years now and have had incredible times both fun and happy ones along with sad and challenging ones.
He has been my rock through my 5 years of caring for my mom with Alzheimer’s, fighting challenging legal battles with my ex, dealing with having to settle for part time parenthood (the inevitable consequence of broken families), as well as the strain of ongoing financial uncertainty.
His attitudes about life and love have made him a treasure to me that I can not imagine being without and hope I never do.
Life has taught me and I’ve learned to at least to try and not worry about tomorrow.
As it turns out, your plans may have very little with how it goes anyway!
Living dreams requires sacrifice. Saying goodbye hurts.
My kids, now “our kids”, have moved into adulthood.
They each have exciting dreams of their own and are on their ways…
Charla Vail Effron is 23 and a bit of an acclaimed artist entrepreneur in her own right running her own business of selling her own art and creations. She shipped product to 41 countries last year and did numbers that would impress most. Blazing her own trail. Keeping her head on straight even with considerable internet attention. Google her if you’d like. Her journey of success is both exciting and inspiring.
Tanner Effron is 21 and is an aspiring cartoonist. He has been drawing for as long as I can remember. He is the creator of “Average Joe ©” and a whole host of other characters. He is now working on animation skills to help him bring everything to life and uses a youtube channel to share. Also a start up entrepreneur, he does commissioned cartoon pieces both private and commercial. He is in school and has recently started in classes suited to his interests. He’s moved out and working hard.
Connor Effron is 20. Also entrepreneurially spirited, I’ve heard him explore a couple of different kinds of business start ups that I feel confident that he could succeed in. His interests include outdoor ventures and survivalism, airsoft and related businesses. He’s had an amazing couple of years working as a performer at Universal Studios Orlando as a drummer and stilt walker and then this past summer getting a great gig as a power skip stage performer at the musical revue in Medora North Dakota (their number one tourist attraction). He has many irons in the fire working multiple jobs at the moment and going to school. Hard working, talented and determined, I can’t wait to see what direction his interests take him.
We’re so very proud of them. Their hearts are huge and warm. They are honest, loving and tolerant. Generous and thoughtful.They strive to do right. They love and watch out for one another.
What more could a mom ever hope or wish for?!
They all understand that home is wherever we are together.
Although we haven’t been apart long, it’s hard and I miss them terribly.
So here we go!
Ryan and I are joined at the hip in this new adventure. Creating the life that we want. A life that includes creativity, travel, music, and spiritual exploration.
He’s left behind work as a server/bartender plus a band that he played with regularly for over a year.
I’ve left behind a community that’s been my home nearly 30 yrs, a house that’s being rented out and a business that I spent 10 years building, Staged Homes of Central Florida , and am in the process of selling.
We are Rhonda and Ryan setting out on our greatest adventure ever
making a home in a converted passenger van
pulling a trailer of art supplies
living off the grid as much as possible
and letting the winds of freedom and wonder blow us along our way
where are we going? not sure
what will we do? still figuring it out
Follow our blog if you’d like. We’d love to have you along!