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Deborah Fingerlow is a writer, storyteller, traveler and explorer seeking
adventures both large and small. Business to business communications and the development of authentic connections are her superpowers. You can find her at the local farmer’s market, therapy dogs in tow, camera in hand. Catch up with her on her blog at www.ridingthedime.com and check our her website at www.deborahfingerlow.com.
If you’d like to connect better with the folks around you, sign up for her free, 5-day email course, Stop. Smile. Connect. http://ridingthedime.com/lets-talk/.
“Life is a grand adventure; don’t be afraid of taking a wrong turn. Embrace it, and own your decision.”
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Welcome to The Art of Living big. My name is Betsy Pake entrepreneur, author and personal success coach. This is the show that brings you stories and small ideas to help you live a big life. I hope this once a week podcast will inspire you, motivate you and encourage you to think differently about what could be possible for your life. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now let’s go live big. Hey, I’m here with my friend today, Deborah finger low. Hey, Deborah.
Hey, Betsy, how are you today?
Hey, I’m awesome. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m excited to get into it. Because there’s a lot of different facets of you. And we started talking right before we got live on the show. And I got a little excited. So I was like, wait, wait, wait, Doc. So go ahead and tell us a little bit about you. And let’s get into it.
Well, I am a writer, and I’m a wordsmith and a storyteller. And part of the way that I get my stories is to get out and talk to people. And when my daughter finished high school and before she headed off to college, she said, Mom, do you think I could take a gap year and could we do something? I said, Well, what do you want to do? And she said, I just want to get in the car and go on a road trip. And I want to go see the cliff dwellers in Hilo, New Mexico. We live in Pennsylvania, and I said, Sure. Let’s do that. And my husband was on board with that. And he said, Well, since you’re a freelancer and I homeschool my son, he said, here’s my gift to you. Take the car, take the two dogs, take two kids and go and do whatever you would like. So we actually hit the road for probably four months traveling. Yeah, it was the it was the best experience ever. Okay, and
wait so you have your dogs with you.
I have two therapy beagles. I actually train and handle therapy beagles and I take them to hospitals and schools and things. But they’re very personable. So yes, we popped the beagles in the car and the two kids and everything else that we had, that we needed, and we just hit the road.
And like my, my jaw is open right now. Okay. Okay. I love this. Okay, but let me get more details because I need to, like I’m almost hyperventilating right now because this, like, I’m like, I’m like, Oh my God, this summer, I could do something. Okay. So you could, so so your daughter just graduated from high school? Is that right? Yes. She’s Yes. She was and that How old was your son?
My son was 13 at the time. Okay. So and,
um, what kind of vehicle Are you in?
I am in, we were in an SUV, okay. And we had a big dog crate in it, okay, has my dogs like to travel in something. So they were in the backseat and the kids and I ran there. And my daughter crafted all these playlists for us. So that we had music on the road, I listen to our playlist. And because I got to be the one that was pretty much in charge of what we were doing. If I saw something that looked interesting, we would just drive off and see that there was no set schedule that we have to be here and we have to be here. We have to be there. That’s not like the way out really what I travel, I like to go where things look interesting. So that’s what we would do we you know, we’d see a sign that says best barbecue and I say, Let’s go there and and see what that’s like, we’ve never been to that town before. So
Oh my God, I thought okay, this is
okay. So I love this. Okay, so you got your two kids. You got your beagles, you got your SUV. And it’s what it’s what it’s June, July, what’s the month Actually, we left in April. And we we headed out and we made it as far as we stopped in Tennessee, and then we hit Arkansas. And then Arkansas was seeing record storms that they had never seen before hail like they had never seen before. And we were driving through it. And we found a little place. And I dropped the kids and the dog stuff. And then I said let me go find food and I’ll be back. But the weather was so horrible that I was trapped where I was. The kids were trapped where they were they were trying to read and watch the news. And my daughter would call and say should we shelter somewhere what you do? Yeah, just stay. And I will eventually make my way back. So we did that and and we made it through those and there was a lot of adventures like that that we had along the way we were chased by tornadoes in Kansas. Well, we were on our way back.
Which is interesting. I’m kind of glad you had that happen. Because I feel like that’s like a really great story because you were in Kansas.
As we were in Kansas, and we drove through areas that we would say I I haven’t seen And I’ve seen fields and fields and fields were going through Nebraska and there was nothing but fields and we finally pulled over and we stopped for the night. And I walked in and I was talking to the guy was checking me and he said, Did you see our tree? I said, I only saw one tree on the entire route. He said, yeah, that’s what we have. No, how can you say there’s one tree at a state? But really, that’s what it was like? Yeah. And in New Mexico, we, uh, we met up with a medicine man and honest to God, shaman,
So okay, so how do you actually me? I am still hyperventilating, by the way. Like, this is like there’s something about this that lighting me up. So how do you actually meet him? Like, how do you like so you go out on a road trip? But how do you? How do you meet people, because that’s the fun stuff to me too, is like, getting to meet people. And it’s the characters right that you meet along the way.
The best part,
tell me how you meet that guy?
Well, I don’t, we don’t go and stay in a Holiday Inns or hotels or anything like that. That’s not the way I like to travel. I like to live local, wherever I’m at. So I’m a huge fan of these house rentals through Airbnb. So I’ll go through and I’ll find something and be tried to keep on a budget because you’re planning to be on the road for a while. And I’ll look through it. And I’ll read reviews. And I’ll actually read the BIOS about the owners. And, and then I’ll choose to rent. And when we went to New Mexico, there wasn’t we stayed on an 800 acre ranch called bear power ranch. And it was run by two women. One of the women that her husband had died. And the other one her husband, they had just parted ways. So they decided since they were friends, they would join forces, they would run this 800 acre ranch with horses and cattle and mules on it. And then they had a couple of old little houses that were actually on this property and one was 100 year old Pueblo. And that’s where we stayed in this tiny little Pueblo in the town of Hilo, New Mexico, which is not near anything at all, with the darkest skies that you can imagine in this tiny little house. We go out at night and we crawl up this hill behind the house and sit and chairs that we brought from the kitchen. And the skies were so black and the stars were so bright. And I would talk with the owner and she said you know what I have? I have a friend of mine. She said I think he might like you he actually he works with federal government. He’s a medicine man. And he helps out people with PTSD. But he actually is really interesting person to talk to if he likes you. So we came out and we met up with him. And we were talking with him at the farm. There’s he was he was harnessing the rules. And he asked about my daughter’s name. My daughter’s name is Dylan. And Dylan means spirit carrier. It’s an old Celtic name. And because he his wife, it was an American Indian and Native American. He was just in trance with her. So he said, Come on, we have to do this, you’ll get to drive the mule team. So he brought her up, he let her drive the mule team, he took us all around this 800 acre property, introducing us to people along the way, and talking about what he did and what happened to him after Vietnam and his journey, you know, up to Canada and back and finding a woman he loved and adopting a completely different lifestyle. So it’s people are so interesting. If you take the chance to, to talk with them, and to listen to what they have to say you’re gonna your life is going to be so much sweeter if you reach out and talk with people.
Yeah, it’s funny, too. It’s like the people that you you know, lots of times we’ll see like strange characters, right? So we’re at a restaurant or something, and we see the strange person and my husband often thinks that I’m insane, because I’ll always try to talk to them. Because it’s always amazing. There’s always some really cool story or something really awesome that you get from that conversation.
Yeah, it is. It’s just and you just have to keep plugging forward. And even if it’s not comfortable the first time it is an acquired skill to actually get out there and talk with people and be able to connect but once you do, it becomes like second nature.
Yeah, yeah. So tell me tell me Then what? Like so you go on these this trap these travels? And then do you write the stories like aren’t Do you have a blog or like
you I do I have a blog. It’s called writing a dime. And the reason it’s named riding the dime is because I want to travel it I want to live local, but I don’t want to spend every dime that I have. I want to I want to have an enjoyable experience, but I don’t have, you know, endless funds for that sort of thing. So we travel on on a reasonable budget that you know, most of the time I cook my son has allergies. So that kind of fits into our whole scheme anyway, but the people that you you meet and the places that you get to stay De are amazing, right? Yeah, I did, we stayed with a Swedish Merchant Marine on a thoroughbred horse ranch in California. And this guy was so cool. He was a songwriter, and he was a trainer. And he would come and we would sit out on the patio and he would talk about his past and how he got here and, and how he trained young girls and, and young men to ride so that they could actually be jockeys and and ride these thoroughbred horses. So it was really interesting. He was in his 80s. So, you know, where am I gonna, I’m not gonna find that at the hotel, right? Like that, you know, so at his house and talking with him about it. So it is it is the best it is the best way to live, I’ve found is to just talk with people. And I know if anyone has a teenage son, that I’m probably horribly embarrassing to mine sometime, because you have to talk with everyone. And yes, the answer is, I do have to talk with everyone. I mean, studies show that basically, we are happier. And we have a greater sense of belonging. If we interact with others, and it doesn’t have to be it, you don’t have to go and stay on a ranch in California for that you can talk to the people at your local market. people that you meet on the street, when you’re walking, have those little interactions, and the combination of the big interactions and the small interactions. Really, does they work together to make you a happier person?
Yeah, you know, it’s funny, because I’ve interviewed Dan Ellison that was on the show, and he’s like, gave up everything and traveled and a girl in her van. She like gave up everything and traveled around. And so I’ve been in the travel thing, you know, we were talking before this about how I choose my debt, my guests, and it’s really like about what interests me. And, um, you know, and I was saying, you can kind of see like, a timeline of my life. The guests are like, What’s Betsy going through. But I myself, really have felt like I was lacking adventure. And right now, and I like to phrase it like this right now I’m choosing not to travel all over the world. Because my daughter’s in high school and right, I want to be here. But on the weekends, we’ve been trying to go and do things and have adventures and adventure could be just going and trying a different restaurant. And like absolutely no talking to the waitress a whole lot more and finding out, you know, we went to my daughter and I went to a Turkish restaurant, we talked to the waitress and her family owns the restaurant, you know. And so I think sometimes when we hear stories, at least I do I go, Oh, I want to be able to travel all over. But really, you can find those people right where you are. So if someone’s listening, and this intrigues you, or it’s something that you think is for you, and if you feel goosebumps, it is for you, then exactly figure out ways to bring it into your life like on the every day when you say and I’m sure you do this, like no matter where you are,
we do and I have friends that laugh because they say if Can we just ask you what we should do? Because you always have the best ideas, even locally? Because I do things like Oh, you know what, there’s I haven’t really been to Adams County very much. Let’s go do discover Adams County day. And we get in the car, we just drive down there. And we we look and see what looks interesting. And I did I happen to do that 114 years ago. And I remember it because I found the most fabulous farm that I spend weekends at every single summer where I can pick these wonderful thornless blackberries and the woman that owns the place has become a friend. And when you pull up, it’s like, oh, hey, it’s nice to see you again, here, start over here. The berries are really good. And here’s a recipe to make this bad or whatnot. And so I on a random day, following a little tiny sign that said yellow Hill Farm up a hill, I found this treasure. And there are a lot of things like that. There’s so many things like that, that are off the beaten path. And that don’t really cost a lot of money to do.
Yeah, yeah. Tell me Have you been like this Your whole life? Or is this like Did somebody show you this way?
Or is this sort of just I think it is my nature, I would say that I was not like this my entire life. When I was growing up, my dad was self employed and vacations were few and far between. And when we would go somewhere it was usually the C grandparents and another state. Yeah, but as, as I grew older, I thought I really want to experience this. And when I made the decision to homeschool my son I remembered what school was like when I was in it and in reading through textbooks and not really appreciating what happened because I was just reading about it. So yeah, I I tried to make a conscious decision to to actually see if we could get out and we could experience these things. So one of the first trips that we took when we left that year, is we drove up to Nova Scotia. And that’s 21 hours from here. So it took us a little while to get there. But I had read about Nova Scotia, and about how you first settlements from Europe were there. So we had read about it. And we had talked about it. And he had written papers about it. I said, Let’s go see it. I want to actually walk in those areas. I want to hike on Cape Breton Island, I want to see what it’s like up there. And it makes such a huge difference in what you’re learning when you can actually experience what it is.
Yeah, so true. I’ve been to Nova Scotia, by the way. And there’s Yeah, there’s not a lot there. I think I went when I was like, 12. So I probably didn’t appreciate it in the same way. But um, but yeah, that’s funny. You say Nova Scotia, I grew up in Vermont, and just like you, we would go on vacation, but only to visit like my aunt out of state, you know, we didn’t go anywhere. Right. So when I graduated from college, I left because I wanted to experience something different. And I’ve lived in several different states. But I’m curious. So like, let’s say this summer, I want to go like for a week. Okay, and I just want to get in the car? Would you just get in the car and go and figure it out? Or would you like, you know, hotels.com has an app. But is there an app for it? Does Airbnb have an app? Like do you decide as you’re going? Or do you have it all mapped out like
did you know I do, I do not I do not have it mapped out. I love to be spontaneous. I love to fly by the seat of my pants, and but you have to go into that with a certain mentality. And the mentality to go in with it is this is going to be fantastic. Now, it might be raining on you, it might be you might make a wrong turn and this and that. But you can’t let that color what your experiences. If you plan to have a good time, if you plan to have a great experience, you’re going to have that and I always plan to do that. But I don’t plan ahead to do it.
Isn’t that like life though? Like, if you’re planning to have a good time,
you’re gonna have a good time. It is. Uh, but I do have friends that when they, when they travel, they everything is planned out to the last final thing. And I you see this mostly when people had to places like Walt Disney World, whatnot, they have their he would have our dinner, I’m going to have dinner for the next 10 days. And these are the places that I’m going to have never do that. Because I don’t know what I’m going to want one day versus the other. So while I don’t do that people say Well, yeah, but you’re not going to be able to get in and this and that is true. But usually, if I stopped by and I’m talking to the concierge, or somebody at the front, and we start to have a conversation and we make a little connection, it usually works out. I’ve never had I’ve never really been turned away from anywhere. I may have to eat later, I may have to eat a little earlier, I may have to try to experience a different day. But I’ve never felt that I’ve missed out because I haven’t planned ahead on that.
So and you know, I like and I’m gonna say something that people are gonna roll their eyes. But if you were supposed to eat there, you will be able to
write. Yeah, that’s right, you have to look at that you know what it was meant to be or it wasn’t. And my my big thing when I travel is always leave something to come back to. Because I don’t want to go somewhere. And we used to call it in Disney. I used to live in Florida do demo and die. Because you would try to do absolutely everything you could possibly do in in that 24 hour or three day period. And it’s not fun for anybody. It isn’t. Yeah, I would rather say you know what, next time when I come back, I think I’ll make sure I try that. Because that makes it easier for me to leave. If I know, in the back of my mind somewhere. I’m planning to come back and do some more here.
Yeah, yeah, I like that. And then you’re not like stressed out, you’re really enjoying unable to be in the moment because you’re not thinking about rushing to the next thing. Or like rushing to hit a time. Like we got to hurry up so we can be such in such a place.
Yeah, right. Right. I would rather take it slow, take it easy and and see how things actually turn out. So if I’m driving somewhere and I want to take a detour, I don’t want to have to be somewhere by a certain time. So I do have a I do belong to Airbnb, you kind of have to set it up. So you’re vetted ahead of time, so I am on that. But a lot of times I’ll just call and say hey, you know what this is last minute. Can you guys help me out, this is who I am and this is what I want to do. And I’ve never really been turned down for anything. And as a matter of fact, sometimes those are the sweetest encounters that you have. We were heading into St. Louis and I didn’t know we were going to stay and I found this place and we didn’t pull in till nine o’clock at night. But the lovely woman had left everything for us to make dinner. They are sitting on the counter and stocked the refrigerator. And when she found out that I had bagel, she said, Oh, I have bagels that I used to live in that house. I’m so glad there are beagles there. So we texted pictures back and forth, I made dinner, we had a lovely evening in a stranger’s house in town I’d never been in before. And I felt like I was at home. It was wonderful.
That’s so cool. And your kids must be learning just some cool stuff. And getting to see more of this country is just awesome.
They are and they’re learning to go with the flow. You know, we have this, you know, our kids are so scheduled down here, you need to do this, and you need to do this. And at 18 really lucky to pick what you want to do for the rest of your life.
Oh, my God, I’m at Frito Lay anymore. I get 14. I’m shocked. Like my daughter’s High School. They want her to pick what she’s gonna do. And I keep telling her like, just put anything down because it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter. Like you don’t have to do it. Like if right, you know, but yeah, but we do that we schedule them, and we get them put in a box as soon as we can.
Exactly. And I guess what I told my daughter pick what you want to do first? Yeah, do that. I said, and then if you want to do something else do something else. I just, you don’t have to I don’t know what I’m going to be doing five years from now. Maybe I want to do something totally different. Yeah, I can’t I bet I’ll still be talking to people everywhere I go. But I may be doing something completely different. I don’t know. But I like the idea that there are possibilities. I don’t want my life to be mapped out at a time. I really don’t.
So you left from Pennsylvania, you let set out for four months, you went down it sounds like down through New Mexico and then to California. And then did you come back up through the top of the country.
Actually, we came back to the middle of the country halfway through my husband met us. He taught. So we spent a week in Utah, he actually flew out and and that was his treat. And we hiked through, you know, the National Parks there. But then we found these amazing state parks that no one knew about no one was there. We were totally by ourselves and loved it even more than the big, you know, Xi’an and Bryson and that sort of thing. And we stayed in. Once again, we stayed in a place called the apple cottage that isn’t normally rented out by an entire Shakespearean troupe. But they gave it to us for a week. And it was charming. And it was along this river that ran through Utah. And every morning, we could go on a walk along the river and then come back and sit in the garden and walk into town to the local actually had an old fashioned soda shop where they actually made your soda for you there. And it was just the the most calming, relaxing place to be. But when we headed out, we really didn’t stop where were things were interesting. We stopped for a night in Tennessee, and we saw a sign for a waterfall. So we went and we were the only ones that this waterfall was like 120 feet tall and had been used. And it escapes me right now. But it had been used to film a movie. But no one was there. And there was there was just this little sign and you had to hike down to it. And there wasn’t anyone else there. So we went and we played my son crawled around on the rocks. And we splashed and had a really good time. And then we retired at that we got in the car and kept driving. I love what we got. Yeah, we got to Texas. I said to my daughter. You know what, if you’re in Texas, it seems to me we should have cowboy boots. What do you think? And she said, Absolutely. So we drove around till we found a place where we could have a cowboy sell us cowboy boots. And we went and got our cowboy boots. And we started them proudly through you know, Texas and New Mexico. But it’s just I really like the wherever the wind blows you. Yes, that it’s the best way to travel you because you find so many interesting things. Did you know that there is a national RV museum? Oh my gosh, state, you know, there was
there’s that app that’s like there’s an app that’s like I forget even what it’s called now, but I’ll try to think of it and stick it in the show notes. But it’s like, all crazy stuff all over the country. And I use it when my husband and I he likes to go he’ll stay at he likes to go to real hotels, you know, but maybe this was we started doing this before the whole Airbnb thing became a thing. But right, we’ll decide on our way, you know, so we’ll be like driving, and then we’ll be like, I’ll probably want to stop in about an hour. See what’s an hour ahead. So we’ll do that. So that’s as adventurous as we’ve gotten with that. But there is an app that will tell you all of the crazy things across America and you can go see like the world’s largest rubber band ball and like we’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff off the beaten track, which makes it really fun and like crazy, you know, kind of makes you feel like you’re like seeing some fun stuff.
Definitely. And if you have that app, check out where you actually live. You might be surprised at what’s what weird thing is where you are. I mean, we happen to be in South Central Pennsylvania and the shoe house is apparently a national thing that people know about on the original Lincoln highway. It’s a health that shaped like a giant shoe.
I think that i think
that’s so fun. So my list. So
tell me then like, so you know, you’re traveling all over like, and this is a personal question. So you can say I have my ways that’s okay to say, but like, how do you make money doing that? Like, do you just have you just saved? So you didn’t we’re in a time where you didn’t need to be making money? Or are you making money online while you’re traveling? Because that’s the thing for me, I’m trying to build, you know, build a business so I could really be anywhere is sort of my goal.
Right. But like it was, that is the that’s the wonderful part of the business community now is that you don’t have to be anywhere in particular, you can submit your story as long as you have an internet connection, right? Or hotspot if you know, yeah, and that’s the way is I write and send things out from there, and I can still pitch and you can still do, I happen to be a writer and write for a variety of places. But I can still write on those. I mean, it’s not like you’re 24 hours a day, you’re actually on write, but he comes in and they watch out for a while. So I can work for a couple hours. I can submit. And then we can keep moving on. Yeah, and go to the next thing. But I did you know, as I said, I budgeted I didn’t. All these fabulous places that we stayed everything. Everything was under $100 a night. I never went over dollars at night. Oh, that’s awesome. That’s super cool. Okay. You can pick that out. And I and I never I never looked and the kids we never walked in and said, you know, yeah, maybe we should have got something nicer. It was always this is a really cool place. Yeah. It in Nova Scotia, we stayed in this on Cape Breton Island, this man migrated from Holland where he was the head of their state mental hospital. And he said I was just getting burned out. So I came here and I built a couple little cottages right on the edge of the water right on the edge of the ocean. And he opened a place called the dancing most cafe. And he would make these wonderful Dutch inspired breakfasts. And we would go in every day, and he would make these fabulous breakfast for us. And then he would tell us different places to go on the island and different things to do. And, you know, he totally changed what he was doing and was so happy with the life he had chosen. I’m sure his salary was not the same as it was as the head of a, you know, a major health institution. But I think his happiness and level and his satisfaction was so much higher with his little cottages. And you know, we would look out in the morning and he had all these free range chickens, and they were as big as my beagles are. And the dogs would look and the chickens would look and then you know, we shoot everybody away and walk up and he would make us pannekoek and which is like a baked Dutch pancake with the all these wonderful toppings and on them. And yeah, and get us ready for our day. And it was just, I would do it again in a
heartbeat. That’s so cool. And you know, I think, in the United States in general, I think for most people, we associate success with money. And I really think if we could shift and associate shakes success with happiness, we would all be healthier, we would live longer, we would enjoy our lives a whole lot more.
I agree, totally agree. And I think that’s an part of that. I think you get part of that happiness when you connect, and you talk to people. And it isn’t all about making the money. It’s it’s about making the connection. You get enough that for the things that you need. But maybe you find you don’t need maybe as much as you thought you did. When I was years and years ago, when I was working in an office, you know, of course, I had to have my suit. And I had my heels and I had this and I ended up that. But now if I go and meet a client, that’s just no one’s expecting me to show up that way. I don’t dress that way anymore. I don’t require any of those things. And as I look around the house that I live in now, I think you know what, I don’t even know if I need what I have here. Maybe we should do we should go tiny. Yes. Good idea.
Yeah, totally. I’ve thought that Yeah, yeah, my daughter’s big dream. And my friends, I think, Well, my friends probably get it. But a lot of people that I tell think that I’m crazy, but she wants to graduate from high school and live in a van and travel around the country. And I say do it. And so I’ve been trying to help her to create an online business on Etsy so that she can be making money so she’ll already know how it works and be ready to go by the time it’s time to go, you know, and I totally think that it’s those experiences like have your life don’t just do what you’re think you’re supposed to do. Because what you’re supposed to do is what you feel that you’re supposed to do. So I really, really love that. This was So interesting. And I look like you’ve inspired me to road trip.
I’m gonna do a
little road trip, it might be local, but I’m gonna have some new adventures, I’m gonna reach out and talk to more people.
And, and I
love this. So, so much. So I’ll make sure that everybody can get your website inside the shownotes. But it’s writing the dime.com Oh, and that app, I thought of it, it’s roadside America. So you’ll have to check that one out, too. Thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate your time and hearing all about your adventures.
It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me on it. And I hope everyone gets out there at least a little bit. go have some fun.
Thanks for having me on your journey. today. I want to invite you to jump inside our free Facebook group. You can find that at SS lB community.com that stands for start small, live big community.com and we can just continue the conversation in there. And as always, here’s a little message from my husband.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai