Staring into the unknown

The past year has been one of new beginnings and a transition into a new lifestyle for my wife and I.

Making the Leap

Susan and I have talked in-depth many times about what kind of life we want to build. She changed careers a few years ago to become a nurse. Since then, she has always had an itch to do travel nursing. It seemed like a risky pursuit and I had no idea how I would fit into that equation so we let it simmer.

Creative South

Last April I won a ticket drawing to Creative South 2014 through my friend Lenny Terenzi. It was a weekend full of creative inspiration and honest conversations. There were two talks that stuck with me and helped shift my perspective.

First was Ben Jenkin’s Live Slow. Make Fast

  • Purge the excess. What in life makes you happy? What are your essentials?
  • The creative lifestyle can be mobile and sustainable.
  • Pursue journeys not vacations. Don’t live a life that you need to vacate.
  • 888: Sleep 8 hours. Work 8 hours. Play 8 hours.

Ben’s talk was my first glimpse into what my work life could look like if I pulled the plug and followed Susan around the country. We live in a beautiful age where a laptop and internet connection equal nomadic stability. I still haven’t manifested the 888 lifestyle but I’m working towards it.

The other talk was Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must

  • There are two paths in life: should and must
  • Should is the path others expect from you. What you ought to do, should or shouldn’t say. It is a smooth path layered with the expectations of those around you with little risk.
  • Must isn’t an option or a choice. Must is what you yearn and long for, your instincts, your cravings. It comes from within not from listening to what is outside.

I encourage you to read the rest of her article. After hearing Elle I had an inner shift to let go of my should’s and selfishness. They’d held me back from pushing Susan to pursue travel nursing. It was a selfish vision I had of my own career. I was having promising talks of a new job at a local agency only a block from my apartment. I was a lead organizer for a large event for the local AIGA. They checked off all the should’s I was looking for in my career. I also doubted my current company would let me go remote.

I’ve been encouraged by watching some of my closest friends follow paths to Thailand. We want to make our own path while we still have the freedom. So I saved some emergency freelance money and told Susan to go for it. I told my boss what we were doing and asked if it was possible to work remote. In June we began our journey in coastal Delaware and now I’m writing this post from northern California. This is the beauty of choosing must. Sometimes you feel like you’re jumping into a void. Entering only with questions and having no clue where they’ll lead. You also never know until you ask. My company had to write up a remote employment policy to even allow it. I’m still grateful for their support. We’ve both lived our entire lives less than 2 hours from our parents. We’ve now lived in 3 new states and 2 new timezones in the past 8 months and plan to keep pushing through the next couple years.

Keep Jumping

It hasn’t been easy. Moving every 3 months comes with it’s own set of difficulties. We sold both our cars and condensed to 1 vehicle. We’ve purged or stored most of our belongings. Now our entire lives, and cat, fit in a Subaru Outback. We struggle with feelings of guilt for no longer being around our families. We’re missing moments with our nieces, nephews, and friends back home. Our overarching goal is to pay off debt but it was a slow start. For the first 6 months circumstances made us feel like we were just digging a deeper hole. We’ve questioned if we’ve made the right decision multiple times.

I’ve learned this is part of the journey. It’s not a single decision so much as a persistent trudging to where you want your life to be. We feel like we’ve made it past the transition into the stride of this new lifestyle. As of this week (due to my wife being a badass), all our credit card debt is paid off. I’ve seen more of the country this year than in my entire life before it. Every time we make it to the top of a new summit or lookout I feel peace. 2015 will be a year of making, learning and progress as a couple and as individuals.

I’ll sign off with an African proverb Elle Luna posted recently:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.