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