As I write this post, the final miles of this particular journey are counting down. In just a few short days, we will be back “home” where this journey began having experienced 33 states in 396 days.

Tonight we went to dinner in Port Angeles, WA and as we sipped our Chianti we reflected back on all that the last year has brought us. We also smiled at the different ways in which we process experiences.

For him, the mission isn’t over until we have safely arrived home, have conducted our after action reviews (AARs) and have prepped our gear for the next adventure. Then he says he will sit back with a glass of wine and ruminate on the journey.

Not so for me. I crave the bookends, the closure, the poignant beginnings and endings to a story with the overarching themes and journeys in between. I see our lives in the form of a movie script or a book. Perhaps this makes sense as I am, after all, a writer. 

The beauty of this is that we complement each other. His focus on the present keeps our logistics sound. My love of the story preserves the emotional impact of the experiences. 

Ceaseless Exploration.

Our story didn’t have a name when we started out, but it does now. Thank you, T.S. Eliot for perfectly and eloquently summing up our shared vision of this life and this journey.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place

For the first time.

Though I don’t feel ready for this portion of the journey to end, there is comfort in the knowledge that our lives are those of ceaseless explorers. This perceived ending is merely a circuit on the infinite Möbius Loop of our exploring. Each time, when we arrive back where we started, our goal, our end, is to know a little more about ourselves, about each other, and about our shared place in this vast universe.

Though the exploration may be ceaseless, my bookends of choice for this particular part of the journey are a photo of the road which I took at sunrise on the morning of our departure and a Cheryl Strayed quote I am reading the night of our return::

“‘Thank you,” I thought over and over again for everything the trail had taught me and for all I could not yet know.”

A few weeks ago we celebrated our one year nomadiversary. (For the uninitiated, a nomadiversary is the anniversary of the date travelers first became full time explorers.) On June 3rd of last year, we set out on this adventure feeling as prepared as possible yet also realizing that there were many things we would simply have to learn on the way.

We felt a sense of anticipation and the whole experience seemed surreal. Our society tells us over and over that the American Dream consists of a home in the suburbs (maybe even our very own mini-mansion), a spouse, two jobs, two kids, a pet, and a whopping 10 vacation days per year to go out and truly live life.

By daring to go out and seize this dream, we (and so many others like us), are believing that life can be more, that we can live more, that we don’t have to wait for someone else to sign off on us creating our own reality. We have that power all on our own.

In the last year we have met so many people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels who have had the audacity to make this life of exploration a reality. They each fund their travels in different ways, whether by campground hosting, vending their wares, taking on seasonal employment, online jobs, or through pensions/social security.

The common thread we see and hear is that they all are feel so grateful and blessed to be living this life. Regardless of the trade-offs that come with it (short showers while boondocking, small amounts of storage, etc.), this life of exploration is, for many of us, one filled with riches and growth.  

We look forward to the next year of travels and of living life in our own beautifully unconventional way. 

Now we challenge you – whatever your personal aspirations are – to craft and follow a plan to make those dreams a reality.

We would love to hear from you. What dream have you been putting off because it felt impossible? 

All Your Excuses are Lies

 

It’s been far too long since you have heard from us – a full 6 months to be exact. Those months have been filled with so much living and so many experiences that it will take many posts simply to catch up. Actually, I have a whole backlogged list of posts from the past 11 months that are just waiting to be written.

Instead, today I am sharing this: a post about just one of the learning lessons that this time has brought me.

*SPOILER ALERT: This post is not about travel, it is not about RV life, it is not about the sights we have seen or the people we have met. This post is about excuses. (pauses for the mass exodus of those who were just here for pretty photos or restaurant recommendations)

Still with me? Good! Today I am sharing something real and meaningful, something that has the ability to radically change the way you look at your life and that can impact your success in life if you let it.

Would you like to be more successful, more wealthy, more in shape, more creative, more motivated, more inspired, more productive? Of course you would!

So what is holding you back?

Let’s shift that bright, uncomfortable spotlight off of you for a moment and instead put ME in the proverbial hot seat. What has been holding ME back from building this blog, from staying on top of updating our Instagram account, from more rapidly expanding my freelance writing business over the past year?

Ask me that question and off the top of my head, I could give you a whole list of reasons (some very convincing and others less so) why I was simply unable to accomplish these things. You would listen to them, and maybe even buy in to them.

Of COURSE I was too busy, too tired, too rushed, didn’t have the proper equipment, was surrounded by retired people who just wanted to relax and party, needed to catch up on watching Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 (okay, maybe that last reason is NOT so convincing).

But here’s the point…all of those “reasons” aren’t really reasons. They are a way for me to justify why I choose to prioritize something else over doing these 3 things that I said I would do. Every time I did something other than blogging, updating our Instagram, or building my business, I was choosing a different priority and then coming up with an explanation for why I did so.

Are you ready to hear something that will blow your mind? Something that you may not want to believe but that has the power to change the way you view yourself and your decisions in life?

Meet Jocko Willink, retired Navy SEAL commander, author, and host of the Jocko Podcast where he shares the life lessons that he lives by and that have gotten him to where he is today.

You want to know what Jocko would say about my reasons for not doing what I set out to do? He would call them what they are – excuses.

And then he would share this controversial, revolutionary sentence that sticks with you once you hear it and resonates in your mind when you try to avoid it.

Are you ready?

“All Your Excuses are Lies.”

Did you get that? All of your excuses are lies. But what about the being busy and rushed, you say? I was traveling around the country non-stop for months, sometimes spending only one night in each location. When could I possibly have found the time?

LIES. How many hours of movies did I watch in those months?

I was too tired. Surely that makes sense.

LIES. How many hours did I stay up reading click bait stories when I could have been sleeping or writing a blog post?

I didn’t have the proper equipment.

LIES. Yes, both my laptops are on their last legs, but how often did I try using my husband’s laptop after he went to bed? What about his netbook?

I was surrounded by retired people who just wanted to relax and party.

LIES. Regardless of who I am around and where they are at in their lives, what I choose to do with my life and my time is always my own responsibility. Well meaning as it may be, when those who have already made their mark, and left their legacy entice me to slow down, to stop pushing, to take the easy road of relaxation, it is on ME to respectfully stay my course and achieve my goals.

Do you see how this works? It is hard and uncomfortable. It is so much easier to tell ourselves that factors outside our control caused our failures and our lack of achievement. We play the blame game and convince ourselves that we are the victims, that it is not our fault, but where does that leave us? What good does it do?

You may ask, “How do I break that cycle? How do I make it stop?”

Jocko says,

“It Doesn’t Stop if You Don’t Make it Stop. Recognize. Recognize that the Excuses are not Valid…They are LIES.”

How do you defeat the lies?

“Don’t Believe the Lies. Believe the Truth.
Cast out the Lies. Burn them Down and Listen to the Truth and Live the Truth and Go Out and GET IT DONE!”

Ready to go tackle something important that you have been procrastinating and making excuses for? Maybe its time to go do a workout or spend quality time with the person you love. Have you been avoiding cleaning your house or washing your car or writing a blog post?

Whatever it is, take 3-1/2 minutes to listen to Jocko remind you why All Your Excuses are Lies, and then stand up, take ownership, develop discipline and go do that which you have avoided.

Trust me (now that I have completed this blog post), you will feel better for having done it.

Last week we celebrated our first Thanksgiving on the road. Those of you who have heard my husband tell the story of my Thanksgiving meal meltdown understand why it was so important to us to make some sort of plan for the day.

364 days out of the year, food is something I eat in order to live and to nourish my body. I don’t tend to get a lot of cravings and my criteria for food is that it is healthy, tastes good, and is easy to prepare.

All that goes out the window on Thanksgiving. I want the turkey (for the smell and just a bite or two to eat), the rosemary stuffing, the garlic chive mashed potatoes, and the pumpkin pie. In the morning, I need to watch the entire Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and maybe a just little bit of the National Dog Show.

This year on the road, my husband manufactured some serious holiday magic. We were invited to stay at the Bay Breeze RV Resort in Gulf Shores, Alabama with a couple of new friends we met in Eastport, Maine.

On Turkey Day, we woke up and watched the live stream parade while writing up a last minute grocery shopping list. Having recognized my need for certain traditional foods on this day, I have learned to set myself up for success by making and bringing said foods to any Turkey Day festivity so as to not be disappointed.

We dashed over to Walmart to pick up our supplies. Yes, we were *those* people rolling the dice and hoping that all the ingredients we – and everyone else making mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie – needed would magically still be on the shelves. Luckily for us, they were and the lines weren’t even long. Hurray for spending the holiday in a small town rather than an oversized city!

Back in our cozy 5th wheel, I got to work in the kitchen while we watched a movie (having gotten our fill of the dog show within the first 10 minutes or so).

A few hours later, the food was ready. We bundled up in cozy clothes and ventured out. The cool breeze blew in from the bay and mingled with the warm rays of the sun. We gathered around a fire with our Leelanau Cellars cranberry wine (not an affiliate link, but a personal favorite and tradition) and traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

The company was new, the food familiar, and the experience one that showed no matter where our travels take us, on the holidays we can create our own blend of tradition and exploration.

On this day, we are thankful for our time together, for the blessing and privilege of living a rich and fulfilling life together. We are grateful for each other, for our mutual desire to live a life on our own terms, defined by our own desires whether they fit within cultural norms or not.

We are also thankful for all of YOU – our friends and family who are following along on our adventures and living vicariously through us. It is so special to share our stories with you.

 

 

Since high school, I have struggled to develop a healthy relationship with my body in terms of physical fitness. Eating relatively healthy foods? No problem. Avoiding binge eating? Got it. Establishing, maintaining, and actually enjoying any sort of workout routine? Not happening! Exercise has been such a nemesis for me.

As we were finalizing what to take with us for our RV life on the road, I dug through the closet (mainly in search of yet more errant shoes which needed to be culled out). Buried in the back was a beautiful pastel watercolor print Pilates mat. It was a Christmas gift from my husband – one which I had requested in an effort to encourage myself to actually utilize our gym membership more than once a month.

A part of me wanted to leave the mat and all the workout clothes behind. After all, if I hadn’t managed to establish a consistent fitness routine while leading a stationary and more predictable life, how did it make sense to think that I would somehow manifest that sort of discipline on the road?

Still, the idea of leaving the mat behind felt like giving up, the ultimate throwing in of the proverbial towel. It would mean accepting that I would never have that toned, strong, flexible body that I could be proud of sculpting.

On another level, it seemed that to give up here would be allowing myself to give up on other goals when the process gets challenging. As a perfectionist, I often find myself defaulting to doing only those things which I excel at while carefully avoiding anything which I believe I could fail at. This works to a point – I succeed at the things I choose to do, yet this strategy is also inherently self-limiting.

None of us are born with the knowledge and skills which enable us to accomplish everything we wish to in this life. When we allow our fear of failure and possible criticism from others to hold us back from learning and growth, we stunt our innate potential.
My husband frequently encourages me and reminds me to have more patience with myself and the process of learning new skills. Wanting to be the best is great as long as it drives me forward in a positive way. Expecting to be the best at everything immediately then getting frustrated and giving up if I don’t excel right away serves no purpose. It doesn’t get me any closer to the woman I wish to become.

Ultimately that Pilates mat made the cut and came on this adventure with us, as did the workout clothes. It sat in the back of that closet again until about a week and a half ago when we were talking about how we are now in the warm, sunny states where we will be spending much of our time in swimwear and taking lots of beach photos.

My body, for someone who has never worked out consistently in her life, looks pretty good. I am happy with it, with the places it takes me, and the adventures we have had together. Still, a part of me has wanted to see what I could look like with a truly fit body.

The one blip of enjoyment on my historical workout radar was when I first moved to the city, joined a gym, and did Pilates 3 days a week after work. The instructor always played inspirational, wonderful music and she guided us through the routines with just the right level of encouragement. I remember walking out of those classes feeling both my body and mind so calm and at peace.

After we moved, I didn’t get back into Pilates, but the memories of that class lingered. A couple years ago, my husband suggested I try Blogilates, so I chose a few of Cassey’s workouts and did them for a little bit before quitting yet again.

My physical fitness story has always been about quitting, about giving up, about feeling weak, inflexible, uncoordinated, unmotivated, and incapable of success. Here’s the thing – I am a writer. People pay me to write their stories, to change their stories, to improve upon their stories. If I can do that, then what is stopping me from editing my OWN story?

We all have those anchors holding us back in life – the childhood traumas and insecurities, the lingering echoes of others’ criticisms and doubt. We can continue to let them define our story or we can step back in and take charge of writing the next chapter of our lives.

The next chapter of my physical fitness story reads like this: “She downloaded the Blogilates beginner’s workout calendar and committed to following it for the full 28 days.”

Notice, it does NOT say: “She made a new year’s resolution to work out every single day for the rest of her life.”
28 days – that is the promise I have made with myself and which I am sharing with you.

I will not be running a marathon or be able to do the splits by the time this month is up. If I set those as my goals, at the end of the month no matter how much progress I made, I would still feel like a failure. Instead my goals are to complete all the workouts and follow the entire schedule while improving my strength and flexibility. At the end of the month when I have done the workouts and can do more reps and stretch a little further than I could when I started, I will give myself permission to feel proud of what I have accomplished without berating myself for how far I have yet to go.

So here you go – are you ready for it?

Your October challenge is:
1. Pick one piece of your story that you aren’t happy with, something that you have been trying and failing to change for years. Do you want to read more? Eat more salads? Become more flexible? Write/call the people you love? Learn a new skill?
2. Whatever it is, decide where you want to be at the end of 28 days and set a realistic goal.
3. Once you have your goal set, backwards plan and choose little mini goals for each day which will get you to your final goal by the end of 28 days.
4. Write it all down on a calendar so it is easy to see and to check off, then SHARE it with your friends and family.
5. Prioritize the plan and follow it through to completion. 28 days – we can do this!
6. Share your success and tell us how you took charge and wrote the next chapter of your life rather than letting your past write it for you!