[Reader Questions Answered]: Pushing hard toward freedom WHILE maintaining health and happiness

My husband and I were recently honored and just plain giddy about having the opportunity to be guests on one of our very favorite podcasts, BiggerPockets Money. Having a face to face with two people that we’ve listened to for so long, through a format that we’ve learned so much from, was perhaps the closest to starstruck we’ve ever been.

This opportunity brought something else to me that I’ve been hoping for and working toward since starting this blog, questions from readers/listeners. Writing about all of my imperfect progress since learning of my autoimmune disease, has been such good therapy for me. The thought that it may impact or help others in their own progress is just like icing on the cake. That’s why I was so excited when the emails started coming in after the interview.

The great thing about the blog format, and one of the primary reasons I began writing it is its efficiency in sharing information and answering questions to a larger audience in a one-time shot. So when friends and family would ask me recurring questions about getting and staying healthy, I could refer them back to posts I’ve carefully and thoughtfully constructed to answer those questions fully.

That’s why I’m sharing this conversation below. I just loved this email Carrie sent me. I’ve made such a connection with someone I otherwise never would have met. Hopefully, our conversation has some value for others as well. Read on for the unedited email and response!


Hello Deb!

I was recently connected to your blog after listening to your interview on the BiggerPockets money podcast and felt the need to get in touch to let you know what an inspiration your story was to me, on many levels.  It was refreshing to hear a perspective on the pursuit of real estate investing with a family in tow, and made the endeavor of it seem much more achievable.  I noticed that we seem to share many commonalities – from chickens and gardening, to homeschooling and travel, and now real estate.  It is comforting to know that there are kindred spirits out there 🙂

My husband currently is part owner of a coffee roasting business here in Cincinnati, Ohio, which overall has been very successful; however he does work a lot of hours/week and we have sacrificed so much of our precious time to ensure its success.  Lately I have a sense that his workload and stress load may be affecting his health and I feel the need to pursue other alternative forms of income to release the pressure on him, which has led to my interest in real estate as a form of passive income.  We are in the beginner stages of learning/research/searching for a small multi-family property and some days it all feels exciting, while other days feel like a dead end when it seems that no deals are to be found.  I’m trying to remain open and patient and wonder if you have any advice to offer as you recall this stage of your journey?

I also noticed that you offer coaching and would love to know how you manage your work in addition to homeschooling and real estate?  Oddly enough, I myself have been researching coaching programs to start that process, but I hesitate with the concern that I may lose balance if I add too much to my plate.  How do you do it all?

I realize you are likely a very busy lady and may not have the time or ability to respond.  Something in me felt the nudge to reach out to you though – at the very least to share my appreciation for the way you so openly offered your story.  In many ways I feel that you are 2 steps ahead of us and sense that you have a lot of wisdom to share.  Thank you for showing an example of some practical steps toward financial freedom – I hope to be following in those footsteps!

many thanks,


Good morning, Carrie!

I am so glad you reached out to connect, and I’m touched that you think of me as a kindred spirit. Thank you! I love the thought of you being in Ohio, enjoying your chickens and family the way that I am [here in Colorado]. It took me a while to get back to you because your email meant a lot to me, and I wanted to give the answer the time and energy it deserved.

First of all, congratulations on a successful coffee roasting business. That’s quite an accomplishment! 

So…there are a million directions I want to go in, to answer all of your questions above, but I think I’ll start with priorities. Please understand that I can’t do it ALL, though I do try to often, and I’m still in the beginning stages of learning to use the word no. When I have trouble with any of the questions you’re working through above, I have to circle myself back through my priorities. Yours are most likely different from mine, but I’ll share mine with you here, in their order of priority in my own life:

  1. Health – The reason I quit teaching and started staying home with my children is my health. When something in my life begins to negatively affect my health or the health of my family (mentally or physically), I find a way to let it go, outsource it, or make it a more efficient or painless process in some way.
  2. Freedom – Real estate investing, and the other changes we’ve made in our lives, are a path to freedom for us. When we’ve taken on something that begins to pull us away from freedom, we do what’s necessary to bring that freedom back into our lives. This is not a one-time or simple process, but a frequent conversation, where we (my husband and I) have to remind and help each other to move in the right direction again. Our business, wants, needs, and family is constantly changing, so this isn’t a quick or simple one-time step. My husband is great at creating systems that allow us to be less hands-on and more automated with the properties we do manage. We’re also both fans of the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s helped us learn to use time blocking to prioritize and complete our daily tasks while staying sane. For instance, I block a specified amount of time (usually 2 hours) 4 days a week for “office” type work. That is the only time I spend on email, returning calls, bookkeeping, paying bills, filing, etc. I don’t answer emails or return calls outside of that blocked time. When I slip and find myself responding to this type of stuff at all hours, I know those are the times I’m most stressed and overwhelmed. This also goes for homeschooling the girls. When we’re working on school, that’s all we do. I don’t answer calls, have the TV going, start cleaning or try to multitask. Doing multiple things at once or getting sucked into all the distractions, needs, whims or other people is a quick path to insanity for me.
  3. Growth – I’m trying, as often as I can, to move in the direction of growth. This applies to my physical health, mental health, our business, relationships, etc. It means that sometimes I do things that are difficult and/or very uncomfortable because I know they are leading me in the direction of growth. I’m trying to be ok with this phrase lately, “I don’t know all the steps, but I know the next one.” That is what the coaching addition to my blog is. In all honesty, it is a very recent addition, and I haven’t had any takers yet, so it’s not something I’m having to manage at this point. I was able to do quite a bit of professional growth coaching in my last teaching role before quitting. I really enjoyed it, and I’ve missed it since. As I’ve been working on my blog and applying for freelance jobs, it’s something that I wanted to include in my skills. It feels like the next step, without knowing all the steps yet. I do know one thing though, if it were to begin interfering with the HEALTH or FREEDOM or GROWTH of my family or myself, I would find a way to change that.
Now to answer your question about being patient in regards to finding a multi-family property to invest in…Please understand that I know very little about the Ohio real estate market. I have heard on several podcasts that it is a good market for turnkey, passive investors, but we haven’t researched it yet. What I do know from my personal experience is that we have an easier time finding single-family homes than we do multi-family. We’ve been lucky to get a few properties that were multi and/or more than one home in a single purchase but find single-family homes more often. I don’t know if broadening your options might help or not. Another thing that helps us is investing in Memphis while we’re investing locally. We couldn’t have acquired the same number of properties if we were only investing locally.
Now as far as patience is concerned, I have to work on this from time to time too. My husband has a little more trouble with patience in finding the next deal than I do. Make no mistake, maintaining focus and pushing hard in the direction of our goals has helped us get where we are. It’s a necessary side of our personalities, but it’s only half. There has to be a softer side that allows for rest too. Impatience can lead to a feeling of desperation that could make us invest in properties that might not be good for our health, freedom, and growth. So I have a few things that I tell myself when I feel impatient, fearful, or desperate:
  • There is enough for everyone.
  • I choose to live in trust.
  • You find what you’re looking for.

I hope this doesn’t seem patronizing or over-simplified, because it truly is what helps me. Here’s a blog post I wrote about it if you’re interested: 7 Reminders that keep me on the path to peace and freedom.

Please keep in mind, that I am always learning. I don’t have it all together. Lately, I’ve been letting myself feel ok with taking risks and not being afraid to make mistakes. I like to think that someday I’ll look back on myself at this point in life and laugh about how much I thought I knew (just like I do now with the ME of 10 years ago). That will mean that I’m moving forward, growing, and improving. I love the thought of that!