Sunday, July 08, 2007

round and round

we've been on a mission for the last two years. a mission to become debt free and own as little as possible and we are almost there. we will be in a position to leave our work in about 12 months, this coming from stories that are long and hard won and are better told in person.

if you've been reading for any length of time you know we want to end up in Belize, but we've been contemplating a detour for awhile now and are close to the choosing. The detour is practical in some ways, we still don't know how to live permanently in Belize and the thought of going and coming back isn't really what we had in mind.

we are considering selling everything we own and put the rest in storage and hitting the road. around the world for a year, the year before M starts school and responsibilities beckon. the year of living in flats or guesthouses around the world soaking it in.

going with a child means certain things; longer stays in one place, less travel time in between. we keep going back to the same places. South Africa (Hel, I wasn't kidding earlier about coming to see you but I wonder how you feel about us sleeping on your lawn), Morocco, India, Laos. Or a South American journey, starting at the top and ending at the bottom. Longer periods of time in each place, flats rented by the month. Less around the world than travelling north and south in big chunks of it.

and already the fear creeps in, international sicknesses and doing right by M. what we are leaving and what we will return to. all of that seems manageable for the most part, we feel pretty comfortable that we can easily find work when it's over, might not be the best work the first time around, but we know we can find it. we know where we live now is not our home, we have no remorse setting it free. we know the open road creates possibilities, who knows what we'll find or where we'll end up.

it's the great unknown, of taking the leap, of looking at security and americana and laughing in it's face. of strange places and food, of dusty roads and washing clothes in the sink. of showing M the world, the hard bits and the good bits, of getting rid of the TV and living simply. of carrying our lives on our backs for a while. of doing something off the rails.

we've always dreamed of this and J has done it in his youth. having M requires shifts in thinking but i remind myself there are many families in the places we want to go, that it is indeed possible to live outside the box for awhile. others do it and do it well.

it's a long way off yet, a year from now i hope to be posting about selling our cars and the seventh garage sale in a row. but it takes time to figure this sort of thing out, to map our journey and consider our options. to close up shop and sing kumbayah. more than that it takes time to say yes and mean it, to choose this freedom over the illusion of security and capitalism, To rid ourselves of the ingrained notion that one needs to produce and consume to be a contributing member of the planet. and essentially to put our money where our mouth is, to see how ballsy we really are or if we are just a lot of hot air.

55 comments:

Aliki2006 said...

As I sit and read this I feel a mix of envy, excitement, and joy over your post. I would so love to do this, yet am so afraid to consider the possibility. I hope you can make this a reality so I can sit here and read about your adventures and, just perhaps, someday have the courage to do the same!

metro mama said...

So exciting. I can't wait to share this journey with you.

deb said...

It's harder with kids because it's no longer just about you. That being said, lots of people do it and I think it's an incredible experience to have as a child, or at any age.

I'm too chicken do it, but who knows, maybe one day I'll stop being scared of the unknown.

Lawyer Mama said...

I have friends who did this. Took a year off and roamed the world. Although, they did it just before having children. I can understand why it would be so much harder with a child. Right now, I'm dreading just a one day trip by car, plane, and more car to Nebraska with two small children. I just don't have the patience or the fortitude to roam any further.

I am so rooting for y'all to do this though. I think it would be an amazing experience. For you & J, yes, but also for M. How wonderful it would be for her to roam the world when she's older, but with a constant sense of deja vu.

slouching mom said...

You'll do it.

And you'll love it.

I have complete faith.

mamatulip said...

Oh, wow. I love this about you, because this isn't me. I could never do what you guys want to do. I find your roaming desire so exciting...and I'm so glad you're sharing your journeys with us.

painted maypole said...

first of all, you are clearly a woman who DOES, who puts her money where her mouth is. I've been reading you less than 2 months and I know that about you. I admire that about you. Think of the lessons you will be teaching M about tolerance, about different ways of life, about different values, about family, about the world. Your travels will be doing right by her. Could you really be doing "more" right by her by staying in American and letting her watch TV and stock up on Barbie dolls? You will be doing right by her by being true to yourselves and still being a good and loving parent to her. All I ask is please take us on your journey! I sure hope you can blog about it, because I want to read it!

mayberry said...

I think it's wonderful and I can't wait to join you for the virtual ride.

I recently picked up a book called the Family Sabbatical Handbook -- it's more about how to live in one place for an extended time, but there might be some good tips in there for you. I didn't even know how fascinated I was with the idea until the book caught my eye.

Kyla said...

Wow, I could never do it in a million years. I don't have the gene for adventure. *lol* But I love it in you. I am so looking forward to this for you all.

Deezee said...

I don't doubt for a moment your ability to do this, and I encourage it wholeheartedly. With a child, yes, more difficult, but what a foundation of perspective you would be gifting her with.

thailandchani said...

Yes, I do hope you can rid yourself of the brainwashing about produce and consume and *any* obligation to be "contributing". We all contribute in different ways. And you don't have to be building to do that. It's okay to leave a gentle footprint.

Remember the story on Cecilieaux's site?

I don't see where it can harm M. in any way. If anything, it will teach her about possibilities instead of just being trained for the gerbil wheel.

If you decide to do this, and I'm already in Khon Kaen, I hope you'll choose to come by.

I've intentionally not read any other comments. So.. now I'll publish this and then read them! :)

Peace,

~Chani

Hel said...

You are welcome. On our lawn, In our caravan, in the dojo, in the spare room. And if we are finished in our cob house.

I'm getting all happy and excited just thinking about it.

You are so wonderful.

flutter said...

You will do this and do right by her, and right by you. I love it.

Julie Pippert said...

An amazing journey on the horizon. I can understand the excitement and trepidation.

My friends toured the world with two kids AFTER they started school. They homeschooled while touring and those kids learned more than in any classroom. I dream of this!

If you decide to travel the US...you are welcome here. :)

Pendullum said...

We have friends who just came back from Honduras...
They packed up four kids.. ages fr 3 to 11 years of age and had the grand adventure as a family...
I will look forward to living your dream with you through your blog jen...

Cristi said...

Best of luck with your plans to get up and go! Something I've always wanted to do myself. GO FOR IT!

I'm pretty certain you are NOT full of hot air. But you'll be feeling light as a feather when you get rid of the baggage now holding you back.

kristen said...

Be still my heart. Jen, you are the second friend that's mentioned doing something like this - children pre-school age and there's never a better learning experience than any of your suggested itineraries. And I like the idea of staying a little longer, it's great that M will have the ability to slow everything down. Right on sister. xoxo

crazymumma said...

I found me a computer!

Just the thought of it,the possibility makes me feel restless.

And M? She will look back at it as a wonderful childhood.

Sober Briquette said...

In my opinion, it will be better this way, this slower way. The places you go and stay will touch you more & you will touch them.

You cannot predict and prepare for everything, whether here or on the road, so put that element out of your minds. I recall you commenting that you're on the well-prepared end of the kid requirements spectrum, so I'm sure you'll all be fine.

I was shocked today when Tony actually said he'd like to go to Africa. He always says the travel to certain places is too far & too much of a hassle.

meno said...

Oh do it, do it, do it. Go go go.
School changes everything, not the child.

Beck said...

I think we're on the reverse of your mission: we apparently want to incur MORE debt and MORE stupid possessions and be stuck here for the rest of our lives! Yeah, good times.
So have fun travelling around - I can see a book in that.

liv said...

Gosh. Good times. I think you will do a marvelous job, and I smile to ponder the excellent stories M will tell one day about her worldly childhood.

KC said...

This seems so very right for your family- a wonderful, grounding, soulful journey. This is not something I could ever do, but I love that you could and will.

Oh, The Joys said...

You can do it.

M will be the most flexible of the three of you.

Future employers will see it as an asset in both of you.

There are others out there with kids - in all of the places you mention.

If someone gets sick, you call the U.S. Embassy, you ask them where to take the sick member of your family. They tell you to go to [insert what locals will think is the most unbelievably expensive health care facility in the universe - where the president of the country is treated]. You will go there. The care will be excellent and the cost will be a tiny, TINY fraction of U.S. healthcare costs.

You will never regret it.

I can help in umpteen practical ways... want to see our completely anal spreadsheet budget? (I'm so not kidding.)

Little Monkies said...

I feel like Michigan is a foreign country...but if you come this way, you have a home with us!

Sweet dreams of travels to be!

Mad Hatter said...

Yoda said it best: "do or do not do; there is no try."

Laurie said...

You amaze me every day, Jen. I can totally see you doing this.

Hugs,
Laurie

Ally said...

Wow, this is so great. I know that you will see this through, and that you will never, ever regret having done it. I can't wait to read about it (because of course you must let us live vicariously while you're traveling...)

Jocelyn said...

It's a beautiful plan, one that's romantic but practical. And what a gift to yourselves as a family.

Do the detour! Hard right...in about a year.

Z said...

I suspect that writing this down will have crystalised it in your mind, and you feel you have already made a decision.

I think that the upbringing you have given M so far will make it easier for her to adjust to that life than it would be for most children.

Bon said...

it is a good plan, Jen. and i agree with OTJ...M will likely have the easiest time of this of the three of you, because for her the changes and the adaptations will merely be on the material plane. whereas, for adults, the soul-searching of turning one's back on Americana is a whole other journey into self and motivations and values.

great friends from our expat days are picking up from Korea next month with their 2.5 year old daughter and beginning their own journey, in a spirit rather like your own. they'll start in Vietnam, hope to make their way to India by Christmastime, then on to their eventual destination of Turkey, to teach for a few years there. if that path ends up being the one they follow, we hope to catch up with them in Istanbul in...oh...about eighteen months. bring it on.

ewe are here said...

I think the three of you will have an amazing time together. A truly amazing time.

I can't wait to read about your travels...

Lillithmother said...

Jen, I have read your blog from the beginning, and you and J will get there with pure determination and all the rest. You've been calling that energy since the beginning sister...it's coming for you!

Motherhood Uncensored said...

I envy your energy and your freedom to make the choices you want to make for yourself and your family.

No doubt it will come to fruition when the time is right.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Holy crap you are brave.

Brave!

Jenn said...

So excited for you.

And scared for you.

And jealous of you.

Mostly, though, just excited for you.

How amazing to accomplish such a big goal and be able to spend that kind of time with your family and all that the world has to offer.

You rock dude!

NotSoSage said...

I wanna come!

Good for you. We are working toward something similar but, being younger and probably further in debt, it will be a while yet before we can do it. So I will jealously anticipate your travels and take notes at the same time.

QT said...

As you point out, others do it with children - I think like OTJ said, M will be the most flexible.

How exciting that you are getting closer to realizing your dreams! If you do decide to go to South America, let me know - I have many contacts in Ecuador.

mitzh said...

I am so excited for you and your family. I know that you can do it and make all your dream a reality!

You are such an inspiration to all of us.

radioactive girl said...

I always thought what you want is what I wanted. I married someone who had absolutely no desire to live that way ever, and had four kids. It just would not be something I could do now, but I wish you the best in this. I will live vicariously through you when you accomplish something I dreamed of doing but in the end didn't want enough to actually achieve. Good for you!

Seattle Mamacita said...

"to rid ourselves of the ingrained notion that one needs to produce and consume to be a contributing member of the planet" this is what i'm taking away from this post please go and write us all about your adventures that we may some day join you.

PunditMom said...

I've always dreamed of doing something like that, as well. I wish you a lot of luck deciding. It could be incredible.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I have been flogging my friend Linda for not contacting you yet. Just yesterday, in fact. Just now, I instructed her husband to flog her some more until she e-mails you. I will flog until the deed is done. I promise.

You have a great adventure before you, and it's going to be all that and more. Don't fear.

Tabba said...

I know you guys were meant to do this. And you will and it will be fine.

Her Grace said...

What an adventure! Good luck to you.

urban-urchin said...

i'm just kinda in awe about the whole no debt thing.

carrie said...

I say follow your dreams. Whatever it takes.

A while back, we had the pleasure of meeting an amazing couple and their child who had travelled the entire length of South America and into North America in a vintage automobile. They had written a book about their journey and were selling copies of it to fund their travels. When we saw them, they were on their way into Canada and planned to go to Alaska as well, their son was about 2 at the time.

Anyway, they kept in touch with everyone who "funded their dream" through emails and even had another baby during this time.

All I can think of when I think about this family is what a gift they are giving to their children and to each other.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanderlust, as long as it's shared by those you love, if you ask me!!

Carrie

Momish said...

You know, part of me thinks it is the perfect time because M is so young and adaptable at that age. They just go with the flow as long as there is pretty stuff to see and nice people to smile at. But, then I think of how she probably won't retain much of it and that saddens me. It's a wonderful idea, full of greatness. I can totally understand your fear and doubts, but they would be with you even if you stayed right where you are now for the rest of your life. You and J are strong and wise and good.

I can't wait to read about it all!

Magpie said...

Good luck - I am so rooted I never even go on vacation - but I am awestruck at your plan, and jealous too.

kgirl said...

if anyone can do it, you can.
friends of ours did the same kind of thing - packed it up, put it away and went to australia/new zealand for a year. i know they don't regret a thing.

The Expatriate Chef said...

You are an amazing woman.

Our next great adventure is to downsize so we can afford real adventure. I am not likely to win that battle, tho. Still, I fight.

Lillithmother said...

Jen, if I had the money, I'd get this for...alas I don't...so I'll send you the link instead...

http://www.leonielife.com/journal/journal.htm

...because it reminds me of your gypsy heart...

xo

ps. You probably already thought of this...but I'm gonna say it anyway...just in case M's gypsy heart need more grounding than you and J's do, have you thought of ways to begin to prepare her for the trip??

amusing said...

Bravo and hurray and how wonderful to be so close to a dream.

A children's book you should look at that might allay some fears?

Giselle Potter, The Year I Didn't Go To School. I just went upstairs to check the title and am horrified to find it's not on the shelf! I must have sent it to school with one of the boys and it never came home. Her parents were puppeteers and took her out of school one year and they traveled around Italy (her little sister slept in a drawer).

Susanne said...

Wow. (I'm just catching up right now...) Sounds perfect. And of course you're a little afraid, but I think it will be alright.

Binky said...

What an INCREDIBLE experience to give M. It's giving context to your beliefs and ideals. It's something a six year old will take with her forever.