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How I Ended Up in Bankruptcy Blog Series {Part Four}: How I Ended Up Moving to the Farm

Now that you know where all the debt came from, let’s dive further into my road to bankruptcy…

 (Get caught up on the series: Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.)

In the last part of the story, I had hosted an event at my favorite hot springs, investing even more of my debt intending to create something sustainable. There’s just a bit more to tell before I make the decision to file bankruptcy.

So, I returned from Eden Unplugged expecting my new team (handling the business that was supporting the Money Map) to have taken the next step in the business.  We were delivering on our $250,000 January launch, people were happy and ready for next steps.

The team was to have strategized the next launch as well as the launch of our program to train and license other coaches, financial advisors and lawyers to create additional revenue streams and more business for their practices by using the Money Map as a tool with their clients.

Nothing was done. Nothing. Not one thing.

bankruptcy blog seriesI was heartbroken. I honestly cannot remember how I handled it because I’ve blocked it out. It was that painful. I think I just said “okay” took a deep breath and moved on.

That was May. It was beginning to look hopeless.

I couldn’t see a reality in which I could fully give myself over to this transformation and run my business. It was one fucked up thing after another.

The lawyer business shifted into maintenance mode, so that didn’t require much effort and enough came in to just keep it floating along for the most part because the expenses were so low.

But the Money Map/LIFT business was falling apart. The $250,000 launch had been nice, but after affiliate fees and expenses to the team, there wasn’t much left.

We invested around $10,000 to bring everyone into Boulder for a team retreat so we could plan for the next level and zero follow up happened afterward. The entire team would be dismantled within 6 months.

So now it’s June, 2011.

I took the very last bit of my credit and invested it in the farm.

My man on the land created a place that looked gorgeous.

We held a yoga retreat there. We invested in filming on the land for the beginnings of a reality show. We had visioning sessions. And volunteers working the land. The gardens were abundant and gorgeous. The food plentiful. We had pigs and goats.

The events were so much fun. Martha and Timothy got married at the farm. Kimba and Chris became good friends. We had dance parties each solstice. And hosted ceremonies. Sweat lodges.

And people were making their way out from the community.

It was so promising.

But the cracks in the veneer were as massive as my ignorance.

The ceiling of the retreat space was covered with flies because the pigs were right outside the door with the goats just a few feet away. The guys on the farm were high constantly and I wasn’t too far behind. The heated floors never got hooked up to the plumbing and the ceiling began bubbling because our contractor was a fly-by-night drunk.

I didn’t understand the concept of discernment. I had no idea how to be a leader in the new paradigm ways I so desperately wanted to understand. I was the only source of financial contribution on the project. I didn’t understand how to communicate clearly and establish boundaries.

I didn’t understand the nature of addiction. This would be my training ground. It would cost me everything and give me more than I ever thought possible.

I thought we would be able to create a world that worked for everyone.

We didn’t.

By August, it was clear – I could not hold it all together.

My man on the land had started drinking sometime that summer when I made a massive mistake and brought an assistant out from California who turned out to be a total and complete whack job and who I had to pay $1000 just to leave.

But before she did, she went out to the farm and invited him to have drinks with her. He was lonely and probably sad that I was developing a relationship with Craig and not with him and he started drinking.

Four times, I brought him to detox. FOUR times. And he couldn’t stay sober.

There was constant fighting on the farm. A hated T. T hated himself. J seemed happy most of the time, but A and T were convinced he was shirking his duties constantly. K was holding space, but not really doing much of anything else. And the space was getting messy. N was sweet. And Y, a young man who came out from NYC, was willing to do whatever if only someone would tell him what to do. (Yes, each initial represents someone who was living on the farm.)

We flew T’s girlfriend from LA, Yv with the hopes she could exhibit some leadership and create order, but she became just another mouth to feed.

I had a sense they were all just putting in enough energy to make it appear they were contributing, but really were just waiting for the ship to sink so they could move on.

Truth is, that’s probably just a story I created and then saw fulfilled because it’s what I focused on.

It’s very likely that I could have stepped up into leadership in a different way and inspired this ragamuffin group of hippies into something amazing and meaningful, but that was not to be.

bankruptcy blog seriesBefore I could be that kind of leader, I would have to die and be reborn.

I would have to learn how to inspire from desire rather than drive from fear. I would have to learn how to let go, but only of the things that were not mine to do. I would have to learn how to own what was truly mine. I would have to learn to expand my heart more than I ever imagined possible. I would have to learn to express my desires and boundaries, clearly. I would have to learn to say no. And to say yes.

During those days of the community at the farm, I was constantly hearing from everyone (and probably mostly from myself), “Who’s responsible for this? who’s doing what? what is so-and-so responsible for? Is anyone going to fucking do anything around here?”

Turns out, no, not really. Once T started drinking, that was the beginning of the end.

As the Summer of 2011 came to a close, things started to get really ugly (and incredibly beautiful at the same time). Ah, paradox.

My landlord in the Longmont house decided he wanted to sell the house. He wanted me to buy it. I considered it, seriously. It was a beautiful house. But I never really felt at home in it. It just felt too big for me. Cavernous. And separate. I really prefer old, cozy homes. I do miss that bathroom though. That was the only part of the house I really loved.

Plus, the suburban families who lived on the double cul-de-sac fanciest sub-division in Longmont on Lake Macintosh weren’t liking that my house was starting to become a hippie haven.  My friends Annie, and Ben, their son Seamus, and their two friends, all moved in with us to fill up some of the space in the house and to support the next level of my transformation (or dying as I had begun to understood it).

The neighbors weren’t happy.

And I couldn’t both buy the house and continue to support the farm. I’d have to choose. Big, fancy house. Big mortgage. More of the same. OR move to the farm. Cut my expenses to the bare minimum. Discover who I am if money is taken out of the equation.

If it wasn’t for my partner, Craig, and my sister savior, Annie, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do it.

With their support, I decided to do what I swore I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever in a million years do. I would move to the farm.

Come August 2011, I was moving to the farm. I swore I never would. I couldn’t believe it was happening.

But, I had so much to learn. And the only way to do it was to go within and discover what I didn’t know and couldn’t see.

For example, I had no idea how to ask for help moving, so instead of making a clear request of the community I had only begun to get to know, I threw a moving sale and then when my friends showed up, I tried to rope them into moving stuff for me. Awkward. I really had no idea how to be in the world.

That was why I needed to leave the world for a while. I had to learn to live in it.

So, I did.

One of the things I now realize is that part of the reason I couldn’t keep expanding was that I didn’t appreciate the people supporting me in my life and began to feel burdened by them and their needs.

Part of the reason I contracted was so I wouldn’t be able to support everyone anymore. I had to test out the question I had first raised with Hitch, “would I still be loved if I stopped paying everyone in my life?”

It turns out, for the most part, yes.  Some people fell away and I learned that they were not my friends to begin with.

I moved to the farm. I cut up my credit cards. I fired the last of the people I was paying to support my life. And I learned to live the cash lifestyle.

It turns out that I would be even more loved, in a myriad of different ways, than I had ever imagined possible.

The next year would be the most transformational of my life.

>>Read the next installment of this series here.

In the next installments I’ll be discussing my actual decision to file bankruptcy and how I rebuilt so quickly.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story in the upcoming installments of this series where I’ll be discussing my decision to file bankruptcy, how I got there and what happened after I did. And keep an eye out for my books “Financial Liberation” and “You Are Not Your Credit Score” in 2015. Read Part OnePart Two & Part Three.

How Alexis Neely Ended Up in Bankruptcy {Part Three}: Facing My Greatest Fear & Letting Go

So, as we left it last, I had just packed up everything and headed to the farm in Colorado…

Before you dive in, be sure to get the full story: Read Part One here & Part Two here.

I tried to hold it all together in this transition, but I could sense that it was becoming less and less tenable.

I wanted to hand the business off to my right hand gal and have her run it for a while, but when I hired a coach to help with that transition, he told me I was crazy. This business would fail (just like my law firm did after I sold it) if I handed it off before it was ready and before I had someone in place who could handle the hand-off of a million dollar plus business.  I would end up with another failed transition.

So, instead, I fired my right hand gal. While her husband was dying of cancer. It was not a shining moment in my life, that’s for sure.  I didn’t handle things well, at all.  And, I didn’t feel I had another choice. There was a great deal of lack of trust between the two of us. I was falling apart and I either needed to shrink things back to a level I could manage with very little overhead or have a team that could run the business without me.

My team was not really running the company, depending on me for so many little things, creating tons of drama and conflict (which I contributed to greatly) and constantly pissed at me because more and more this “other part of me” (now known as Ali Shanti) was slipping out through the cracks in the veneer.

I began to get a sense that I might not be able to maintain things as I once had.

So, I decided to use my great credit score.

I used it to buy land. It seemed like it would be a good investment.

My ex-husband was going to grow medical marijuana on the land and, in the back of my mind, though I was sure it would NEVER happen, I could live there, if necessary.

But, let me repeat, that was NEVER going to happen. NEVER. I was NOT GOING TO LIVE ON THAT FARM, damnit. No way, now how. facing my greatest fear

I bought the farm in mid-2010. Then, after firing my right hand gal, I broke up with my boyfriend who was also a key supporter in my business and hired an interim CEO. Hitch McDermid. Little did I know, he would lead me on what I now know to be, my Fearwalk.  Back then, I just needed someone who could hold me and the business while I figured out what was going on.

Hitch was more like a coach than a CEO. Everyday, I would cry. “Hitch, I can’t do this.” And he would say “Lex, what do you want?”

Round and round we went as he systematically dismantled the companies, bringing my overhead down from $70,000 a month to $20,000 a month and creating something that I could likely run myself rather than relying on a large team, which I simply couldn’t manage.

By August of 2010, I was starting to face the reality that something serious was going to have to shift. Hitch and I had a transformative conversation while I stood at a gas station and cried to him that I couldn’t run out of money because no one would like me anymore if I did.

He said, “Lex, everyone likes you. It’s okay, just run out of money. Stop paying all the people you are paying and just let go.”

I asked him if that meant I could stop paying him too and he said yes.

The seed was planted, but I wasn’t ready yet.

This would mean facing my greatest fear of all.  

I had built multiple million dollar businesses, precisely because I was afraid of running out of money, so to now actually do the thing I was most afraid of seemed, well, ludicrous.

But, I could also see that he may be on to something. Maybe, in order to stop being ruled by my fears, I would have to dive into them head first. I took it under consideration.

Considering the possibility of facing my greatest fears and running out of money gave me the courage to face smaller fears, such as losing face, which led to me getting married at Burning Man that August. Yes, married.

When I came home and posted about it on my blog, I got more negative feedback than I had ever gotten in my life.

I (mistakenly) took the feedback to heart. I thought it meant that lawyers would no longer respect me and invest in my programs. Forget about the results we were having for the lawyers we served, I figured they cared more about the fact that I was a freak than on their results. So, I shrunk.

I stopped posting anything too personal on my blog. I stopped marketing to the lawyers and I decided to offer the lawyers already in our program the option to stay with us at either $197 a month or $497 a month (down from $1,500/mo.)

I went to Peru with my new husband, launched his book Heart Wisdom into the world plus his Clean Up Your Life program and then the relationship blew up and came to an end.

But he left me with something far more valuable than his love. He left me with an emerging vision around the part of myself I now know as Ali Shanti. bankruptcy blog series

On New Year’s Eve 2011, as 2010 drifted away, I sat in ceremony and heard the words “Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti” being chanted from across the room. As I heard the word, I also heard a voice in my head that said, “That’s your name. They are calling your name. Shanti is your name.”

Shanti’s my name?!? What? Alexis Neely was confused. But the part of me that is Ali Shanti was not. She knew. It was true. Now, how to integrate that?

It would take a few months and I would add Ali to the front of my name, but the gift of that awareness — I am Ali Shanti — was seeded during my time in relationship with Russell.

2011 began with a bang. A $250,000 launch of an early iteration of the Money Map program.

At the same time, my first ex-husband’s medical marijuana farm collapsed.  So now I had to figure out what to do with the farm.

You remember the farm, right?

The farm that I was never, ever, ever, ever going to live on. It was supposed to generate income, not suck all my resources. So, I decided to create a community/retreat/co-work space.  I recruited a former boyfriend (the first man I dated after divorcing my husband) to come out to Colorado and build out the space and the community.

bankruptcy blog seriesAt the same time, I was producing an event at the land I had fallen in love with, Eden Hot Springs, 50 Entrepreneurs, unplugged. We called it Eden Unplugged and it was amazing. Almost everyone who attended that event has had their work emerge and evolve gorgeously since then. Life-changing.

It was another hit to my bank account though. More Debt.  I was reeling from the end of my relationship with my Burning Man mate and delivering on the sales of the Money Map launch and trying to figure out how to live as an entirely new being (Ali Shanti). It was exhausting. I didn’t have time to market the event as well as I could have and while we got 50 people there, we made a lot of deals on the tickets.

It’s probably one of the very best investments I’ve ever made, considering the businesses and people who grew out of that event. So lives were changed significantly, but once again I dipped into the last of my savings and credit.  

Plus, I took on even more debt to finance the build-out of the farm and turn it into a community/retreat/co-work space. It would be my last ditch effort to create something sustainable that would allow me to pay back the debt I had already taken on. It was another financial nightmare. But, infinitely worth it in terms of the lessons learned about living in and building community, lessons which serve me deeply today now that I’ve rebuilt.

I do not regret the investments I made with the debt I took on. I invested in things that couldn’t be taken away from me, no matter what. Lessons learned, personal growth, connections with community, my own creativity and resourcefulness, all of which I now give back via teaching, coaching, and supporting others.

So, between this post and the prior post’s in the series, you now know where all the debt came from.

In the rest of this series, I’ll share how I made the decision to file bankruptcy and was able to rebuild so quickly and easily after filing bankruptcy.

Stay tuned and please share in the comments any questions you have so I can make sure they get addressed.

>>Read the next installment of this series here.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story in the upcoming installments of this series “How Alexis Neely ended up in bankruptcy” where I’ll be discussing where the rest of the debt came from and how I was able to rebuild so quickly and easily. And keep an eye out for my books “Financial Liberation” and “You Are Not Your Credit Score”. Read Part One here & Part Two here.