How We Burned The Boats and Lived To Tell The Story - Bernadette McClelland

How We Burned The Boats and Lived To Tell The Story

TODAY is the day ONE YEAR AGO EXACTLY we flew out of Australia with 6 suitcases, 2 carry-ons and 2 backpacks and our head, heart and gut saying ‘do it’!

To live in the United States of America as residents, not just tourists on extended visas.

And during those 12 months, we have been asked these 7 questions many times over:

So, for any other brave souls willing to do the same, I will answer them here and it might, maybe… just maybe… trigger something in you to step out of your own ordinary world and experience something extraordinary where you aren’t just surviving, you’re thriving (and it doesn’t have to be moving to the other side of the world). 💥💥💥

Here goes:

❤️ 🔥 How did you just 'burn the boats'?

We came home from one of our trips to the USA in 2018 and my super supportive husband said, ‘You need to be in the USA – people get what you do and the opportunities are so plentiful’. We researched and discovered the only way for both of us to work here was for yours truly to be granted a special visa that relied on self-petitioning and ‘selling’ my economic value to the USA Immigration Centre, National Visa Centre, USA Consulate and Homeland Security.

He just had to carry the bags 😂

What I refer to as my ‘9 category school project’ was nervously submitted and I waited in pure anticipation. The fact that there was a possibility of it being approved was nail-biting. That’s when you know you really want something!! After only 12 weeks and while we were serendipitously in Atlanta, GA we got news both of us had been approved! Covid stopped the move happening sooner but that also gave us time to see our daughter become a mum which was, and is for the second time this year, so fulfilling. We met our first grandchild who we were able to fall in love with and watched our son as he married the love of his life. It also gave us pause for thought… was this something that we really wanted to do? And the answer was a resounding ‘yes’. Being given an immediate green card and not using it is like looking a gift-horse in the mouth and walking away. So when our passports came back stamped as ‘residents’, what did we have to lose? Apart from nearly 50 cents in the dollar!


❤️ 🔥 What are the biggest changes?

Apart from missing our Saturday morning Bunning’s ‘sausage in bread’ and the amazing barristas that serve up the BEST coffee!, having to resit my license – both written and practical – was more nerve-wracking today than when I was 15. Yes, I made my 12 month anniversary legit with a brand new Drivers Licence, nearly 50 years later and that just happened TODAY!

Drivers Licence Pass - Bernadette McClelland

Other differences include meanings for the same words…gas in Australia has a totally different meaning to here! When you reference CBD in Denver (Central Business District), you are immediately thought of as a fan of Mary Jane and tipping and taxes differ depending on what side of the road you are on – not to mention someone looking for the ‘rice’ in my ‘roast’ potatoes at dinner the other night 😂!

Apart from that, I have to say the hospitality, generosity and engagement from all angles – social and professional are a 10 out of 10!

❤️ 🔥 How could you leave your kids and 6-month-old grand-daughter?

It was both easy and hard. Being a mum there is a certain amount of ‘mumming’ you want to do, and feel you need to do. Getting clear on the difference is key. Whilst, we can’t drop in and catch up or be there to give their gifts to them in person or kiss them hello and goodbye or babysit or look after the dogs, the gains outweighed the pains:

  1. Our two kids get to be there for each other and strengthen their relationships without mum and dad being the conduit.
  2. We proudly get to see from afar the results of our parenting – two fully functioning adults with their own little families who are contributing to society and who are happy! What more could parents wish for in life – than to see their kids flourish under their own steam.
  3. To put into practice something I have always told my kids: that at the end of the day your priority is to the relationship you have with your husband or wife or partner.
  4. Finally, that our kids see their mum and dad as (hopefully) role models for what is possible in life by seeing us happy, too.


family picture - Bernadette McClelland
The night before we flew from Australia to the USA

❤️ 🔥'What possessed you to sell everything?'

Walking through Portugal and Spain - Bernadette McClelland
Walking through Portugal and Spain

Whilst we rented our house out and we did sell everything except a 10′ x 6′ pod with our treasures in it and my car. I still have flashes of panic when I picture bedding we sucked into those vacuum bags having expanded and smashing my artwork! Not sure why I kept them, but I digress!

We to’d and fro’d about different storage and shipping options and decided on going all in! Once we began selling stuff, we felt so light. I cannot, to this day, even tell you what we sold or even what we stored.

There are parallels to minimalistic living and a clear mind. At the end of the day we only need what we need. I learnt that two ways:

1. Walking the Camino – so long as I had my phone and passport – nothing else mattered. Coming to America with 6 suitcases, 2 carry-ons and 2 backpacks was the same. A year later we only have what we need.

2. Coming out of bankruptcy – so long as you have the basics and each other, nothing else matters.

❤️ 🔥 'What made you move halfway across the world at YOUR age?'

Hmm… let me respond with a couple of questions:

  1. What difference do a few wrinkles make when you’re helping someone?
  2. What difference do a few extra pounds make when you’re doing what you love?
  3. What difference does another candle on the cake make when you are living a life by design (apart from a few extra pounds)?

I believe that you are only as old as you want to be seen as, be known for and be in yourself!

Besides, hadn’t you heard? the 60’s are the new 30’s 😉

❤️ 🔥 'Did you have a plan?'

In a nutshell – No! we believed the Universe had our back and one of our beliefs is that stepping into uncertainty is the only way to control your own destiny. Outside of that you are being led by what you think others will think or what you believe others expect.

In a nutshell – Yes! We backed our own skill-sets and potential to make this work – and so far it has exceeded our expectations.

If that’s a plan – then that was our plan – and then again none of us know what is around the corner – plan or no plan, right? 😉

❤️ 🔥'What about jobs? Your business?'

Working in the sales space is versatile, flexible, agile…and adaptable.

Whilst Tim nailed a sales role in a company that he loves, meeting his need for travel and selling a product he believes in, I am meeting my need for doing what I love as well.

Having a network that ‘gets you’ is crucial and I am so fortunate to have expanded that network tenfold over here. Having zero stress, an amazing network and a ton of opportunity is so very liberating.

❤️ 🔥 In Summary,

Life is so short and goes by so very quickly as the past 12 months have demonstrated.

I wanted to share this story with you because in hindsight, not only is it a ‘pinch me’ moment for us personally, but the underlying message is that life is also so uncertain.

  • Our banks are so uncertain.
  • Our jobs are so uncertain.
  • Our customers are so uncertain.

The world is so uncertain as it continues to prove to us everyday.

And, in my book, the only way any of can achieve total certainty is being brave, look uncertainty in the eye and whisper, ‘Come Get Me, I’m Ready!’

Until we get to that point, we will always be in a state of wanting and needing for things to stay comfortable and the same, and that’s OK if that’s what you want. But for those that feel they are on the hamster wheel of life or living in Groundhog Day, then don’t wait for life to throw those unwanted curve balls you’ll never be prepared for and look at what boats you might burn in the meantime. ❤️ 🔥

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant.

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