Stacy Hope Small
5 min readSep 17, 2022


A Little Bit of Spirituality and a LOT of Letting Go Helps Us Ease Into These Very Different Times

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do or where you live. For so many reasons, nothing about the past few years has felt easy or normal or precedented. That’s because it’s a whole new and different world. And so much of it now requires unprecedented levels of love, trust and faith that only come with a wide-open heart.

When I think back to where I was this time in 2019, I was starting to feel a bit unsettled in my surroundings. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, as I’d just bought a beautiful house by the beach that I’d always dreamed of owning. I had a lot of wonderful friends and a thriving business. I had even written and published a book about it all! Last thing I expected was to hear my intuition tell me to move along…and move back to Maui with my pups as quickly as possible. WTF. Really? Yep, really. That’s the very short version of why I moved to Maui for the second time in a few years after thinking my time there was complete.

When you follow your intuition, as I have my entire life, you stay the course. It doesn’t always make sense in the moment, but it never fails to show you exactly what’s happening later on. In my case, that global pandemic that rocked our world and my travel business and found me thanking God daily that I’d seen the signs, heard the messages and booked it to Maui two months nearly to the day before the world imploded.

Lots happened on Maui. I spent days on end for 16 months straight with my beloved three rescue pups. One was my mom’s dog Romeo, and when he went blind in 2021 and then crossed the rainbow bridge, it was a peaceful transition for all of us. We’d had the most beautiful year together, more concentrated time than I’d ever spent with my dogs in decades as a rescue dog mom. I had nowhere to go and no one else to spend time with, so we bonded and played in the backyard and took rides around the quiet island.

It was pretty wonderful, even if I had zero income for the first year since graduating college. I launched a gluten-free cookie business to keep myself busy. That was also fun, for a short period of time. I am not a natural-born chef, but I am a creator, and my gluten-free, reiki-infused cookies were delicious and sparked joy for all who tried them. Learning an entirely new business (online shipping omg no one tells you what’s involved) and meeting people on an island involved in the local food scene was really memorable.

Fast forward to spring 2021 when everyone seemed to have my number as the elite travel person to call for trips to Hawaii. Seems surreal, but flights still were pretty restricted to domestic and a few destinations, and all those covid requirements were daunting. It was a busy year to be me, selling travel to Hawaii to many in serious need of a getaway. I realized quickly that my destiny wasn’t simply staying on Maui to sell inbound travel to Hawaii, and thus reshaped my entire business model to what I’d always dreamed of wanting it to be. Private. Members-Only. Annual Fee. The concierge medicine model, but for elite travelers.

This time a year ago, I sent out my first batch of invites to a very select group of existing clients inviting them to join the Elite Travel Club. It was SCARY to say the least, because pre-pandemic I was so busy thatI was on auto-pilot. When your business is selling $20 million of luxury travel, it didn’t seem necessary to change anything. But the pandemic made it clear that not charging my clients for my time and expertise wasn’t a smart business model at all. If no one travels, and everyone cancels their plans I spent tons of time on, my income drops to zero. Pretty simple. It was a huge lesson in business that I wasn’t taught in journalism school. Since making the shift, I’ve had the peace and joy and bandwidth to work much more closely with my most enjoyable clients/members-turned-friends who trust me to manage their most valuable asset, their time!

If anything, the last six months have been an ongoing lesson in just rolling with the changes. I opted to move back to the mainland on March 2 with my two senior rescue pups, who are thriving in our new environment. We landed in Larkspur, CA because it called to me in the same way my Brentwood neighborhood did for years in Los Angeles. I feel like I’m “home” here in the Bay Area, and enjoy being equidistant from my favorite city San Francisco, and beautiful Sonoma/Napa.

It’s a daily adventure figuring out where to explore, but also one that feels so much easier than anything in life has felt the past 20 years. I realized today that it was in 2002 when my dad got diagnosed with cancer. TWENTY years ago. That’s a long time ago, but it had a huge impact on my life in my 30s. My mom’s long battle with breast cancer took a huge toll on me in my 40s. At almost 53, I feel (mostly) healed and at peace with what happened to both of my parents too young. I am enjoying my life for what it is, not what I wish it would be. It’s totally my choice to be living in Larkspur, running a new version of my business, and prioritizing my happiness, health, wellness and spiritual growth while staying open to what comes next.

In closing…it probably isn’t shocking to learn that this post is a pre-cursor to my next book “A Little Bit Spiritual, a Little Bit CEO”. It IS possible to be both, that much I know. Stay tuned, lots more to share on the topics! Thanks for reading. Stay the course. Follow your intuition. Trust you’re on the right path. xo Stacy



Stacy Hope Small

Founder & CEO: Elite Travel Club | Author: Why Not Me?!? | Santa Monica, CA