Building a Life

This week, we decided to explore the concepts of “Getting through the hard stuff” and “What happens next.” We wanted to talk about the idea that when things are really hard, and really shitty, they can get better. It’s something that everyone on the APW staff has deep personal experiences with. In the past few years, all of us on staff have been through the trenches with things like miserable jobs, long term unemployment, family health issues, illness, family death, relationship struggle, and way more. So we have all done a lot of soul searching on how you get through the dark nights and make it through to something new. The form this takes is different for everyone, and we wanted to explore a whole bunch of stories of hope and struggle. So we’re starting with a post from Whitney about how she and her husband chose to leave their lives behind and travel (you can read more about their trip here). Like all dreams, it’s proving to be difficult and wonderful all at once.

A year ago, my husband and I sat in a pool in Phoenix and talked about our life together. We were on a short vacation with my grandparents—awesome retirees who have been together for over fifty years and now spend their winters in Arizona with all their high school friends—and we were having a really great time. The problem was that the thought of going home was crippling us with anxiety. The vacation had made us realize that the way we were living our lives was making us miserable.

I already knew that I was in a job that was causing panic attacks and depression, but what really set me off was being on vacation and thinking that the rest of our married lives together would be spent in small snippets of two week breaks (at best) until we were lucky enough to retire like my grandparents. I could see myself reaching my their age and wondering why we wasted our best years being miserable and using our awesome relationship just to help each other get by. Our marriage had thrown the rest of my life into sharp relief. I felt so good when we were together, so where did it say that I had to feel so bad the rest of the time?

So we talked about how we’d like our lives to look. Did we want to work? Yes. What did that look like? Well, we both wanted to be home for the kids as much as possible, including being able to take summers off when they were out of school. We wanted to have control over our time. Did we want to work from home all the time? No. Did we want to travel? Yes. Where did we want to go?

We had been married for six months, and the fact that we’d had a very brief honeymoon still stung a little. We had this long list of places we’d wanted to show each other and it was depressing to think that maybe we’d never see them. It’s easy for life to scoop you up and carry you along, and we didn’t want to assume that we’d ever be able to take kids to Spain. I’m not saying you can’t travel with kids, but we didn’t even have any yet and here we were again on another too-short vacation and it was starting to feel like our lives were over.

What a ridiculous thought, right? Of course our lives weren’t over. Our life, our family, had just begun. But when you’re in a dark mental place it’s really hard to see that you are only at the beginning of something else. We filed away our hypothetical life plan and went back to New York… but that plan had a really funny way of not staying filed. It sat there, hovering, taunting us. So we talked some more about it. What if we did a little traveling? So we let it sit there, and we talked about it some more. My husband devised some ways that he could work while we traveled, and suddenly it seemed a little more in reach. I had a lot of concerns, and we talked a lot more, until one day something clicked and we realized that we had talked ourselves into a huge change. There was nothing left to do but jump.

Our long-term plan had always been to move to Seattle since it’s my hometown and a number of my in-laws live there as well. We quit our jobs, packed up our apartment, said goodbye to our friends (and some family) and drove to the West Coast. We put all of our stuff in storage and set off for an open-ended trip to Europe—starting in Croatia, then moving on to France and Spain and wherever else we felt like until we’d used up our visa allowance. We agreed that I would use the time to map out my next steps and figure out what my next career might be.

So now we’re four months into the trip. Is it everything we had hoped? Absolutely not. Sometimes it’s really, really tough. There has been less work and more cost than we had planned for. Some days we get really frustrated. I still have no idea what I am going to do when we get back and settle in Seattle (though I am rediscovering my strengths), and it’s been a difficult transition to be completely financially supported by my husband. We’re still building it up piece-by-piece, and that is a messy process. What I’ve learned from the process is that it’s OK to miss a little on the first try, and to readjust and try again. We’re both learning that over and over. What is really important is that we are living our lives actively and that we’re working to shape the life we want. And even on the worst days, we’re still each spending time with our favorite person in the world.

Part of the wedding vows I wrote to my husband were that I knew we would “face everything—good and bad—the way we always do: head on and certain in our commitment to and love for each other,” and this statement has proven true innumerable times over the past year. Our life isn’t going to be great all the time, but we’re always working on it together. We went on this trip with the idea that we’d exhaust our dreams and come home and settle down. We thought we’d go and find all these perfect places, and the reality is that some of them were kind of a let down. There is no perfect place, there is no perfect marriage, there is no perfect life. That should be my mantra by now.

We’ve struggled with the fact that our dream trip has turned out to be kind of difficult and stressful. In a lot of ways it wasn’t what we had hoped. But the ways in which it is what we had hoped are priceless: we’ve become even more committed to creating the life that we envisioned, we’ve grown even stronger as a team, and we know that we really can face any challenge together.

Photos by: Della Chen Photography

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  • I can so relate. My husband and I have been fortunate enough to be able to set up our business so that we can take it with us anywhere. A year ago, we sold almost everything we own (except for what would fit in two suitcases each) and took off to see the world.

    Like your experience, it was a mixed bag. High points include a Gold Coast (Australia) sunrise and low points include a house sit from hell. But overall, I’m so glad we did it. We learned a lot about ourselves and it was fun to “try on” different lives. We also discovered–about six months into the adventure–that we were more “domestic” than we first thought and that having a home base was important to us.

    So, a year later, we’re once again putting down roots–this time in a glorious town in the heart of Mexico. We have found our true home and that wouldn’t have been possible without our year of travel. We too, struggled with the idea that our dream trip had more down (and just plain ol’ boring) times that we would have liked. But, in looking back, we now see that the travel was part of our life’s process–necessary in order to get us where (we didn’t know) we wanted to be!

    Thanks for sharing this post. Hang in there and see how things unfold. You may be surprised.

    • meg

      WANNA WRITE ABOUT IT??? Because, seriously…..

      • OMG totally wanna hear about living in Mexico!

    • Claire

      Can. Totally. Relate. I’m sitting here in my apartment in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, with interviews ahead for jobs I really don’t want to do, just so we can afford to move back to Australia. John and I have certainly had a lot of stressful moments living here, and sometimes been in real danger, yet I don’t regret a thing because we got through it all with humour and now have some fairly hilarious/tragic stories to tell. Living in Mongolia has been such an amazing chapter in our relationship and I wish we could travel together forever (even if I miss western comforts and conveniences at times).

  • I love this article, my boyfriend and I have had a lot of talks about one last big travelling trip before we settle down and have kids and all that jazz. I really identify with the feeling of “is this life” and living for the holidays/weekend.

    Really good to raise the point that sometime it isn’t easy and some parts of travelling will be disappointing but the overall experience is worthwhile, its all so easy to see it as the grass is always greener. Thanks for the post – enjoy the rest of your trip xox

  • Laura

    I can totally identify with this post. Thank you, Whitney! My husband and I have been married six months, and I am struggling with a job, agonizing over my next move. Whitney’s point about being so happy in one area of your life while miserable in another really hit home. This post reminded me that there is no such thing as perfect, but that together my husband and I can build a life that’s right for us.

  • Thanks for this post – especially for the line, “we are living our lives actively and that we’re working to shape the life we want.” I think it’s so important to understand that living the “dream life” requires patience and dedication.

    My fiance and I have been traveling the country in an RV since last July; it’s absolutely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It has also been a lot of work. More work than I’d imagined. Travel, especially long-term travel, is a crash course in compromise, financial planning, trouble-shooting, communication and self-reliance.

    The end of our trip is just starting to appear on the horizon. By late summer, we’ll be settling back in the Bay Area and looking for jobs. We aren’t sure exactly what we’ll be doing, but are certain that our life will be different from the one we left. We’ve learned we need less – less money, less stuff. Before we quit our jobs, we were each commuting 2-3 hours a day. We’ve decided we won’t do that again. Traveling has helped us understand what quality of life we want, how we want to fill our time and what we can give up in order to make that happen. Spending this intense amount of time just the two of us also makes me feel we’ve built an incredibly strong base for the rest of our lives together.

    Best wishes for the rest of your trip. I look forward to reading about more of your adventures!

    • Suzanna

      Aimee, this sounds like so much fun! And I love “Traveling has helped us understand what quality of life we want, how we want to fill our time and what we can give up in order to make that happen.”

      This post and your comment are great reminders that even if we can’t all spend months traveling, it’s really helpful to be able to put life on pause and think about what’s really important, and what you really want your life to look like. Good stuff!

  • This resonates with me so much. Because of some major job changes, my fiance and I haven’t been able to travel at all in almost two years, and it’s wearing us both down. I can’t WAIT for our honeymoon–we’re spending a week in St. John, one of the US Virgin Islands–but I already know it won’t be enough. We’re trying to plan an extended road trip across the country for several months at the end of this year. I’m hopeful but also scared. Will we be able to save enough money? Is it completely irresponsible to leave our jobs for so long? But I know the regret will be too much if we don’t go, so I’m trying to have faith that we’ll make it happen. It’s so inspiring to hear from someone who made that leap! Good for you two. :)

  • Oh, thank you. This post is so what I needed right now.

  • PA

    “There is no perfect place, there is no perfect marriage, there is no perfect life.”

    I don’t know how you time these articles, but it is always (ironically!) perfect! Just last night I was lying in bed when I had the same epiphany: relationships are not about having everything figured out and problem-less, any more than single life is about having everything figured out and problem-less. But somehow we think that when we’re married (or on track to becoming married) that everything should be figured out and on track and without problems.

    And the truth is, it’s still a struggle – only now you have someone else to help you stand up, dust off, and move forward.

    Thank you so much for writing this. I wish you the best for your trip, for finding your dreams, facing them head on (dreams are scary!), and pursuing those dreams together.

  • Oh, the timeliness of this! My husband and I live in the DC metro area, and while we love it here, we also feel really tied down and like we’re limiting ourselves. We just spent the weekend in Denver with friends and OH MAN we want to move there immediately. We’ve been talking a lot about creating individual “life inspiration boards” and one for our babyfam together, to figure out what the eff we actually want out of our lives. Full time jobs? Freelance work? Constant travel or a strong home/community? Near family or not?

    Is there someone who’s really good at making life inspiration boards/telling people what to do? That should be a thing. Because I am overwhelmed like whoa.

    • meg

      “Is there someone who’s really good at making life inspiration boards/telling people what to do? That should be a thing.”


      • My fiance and I are strong STRONG believers of the vision board. The key is to keep them where you are most active in your house, in this way they become part of what you see everyday whether it is consciously or not. We spent most of this past weekend building one as we have been hunting for a property to purchase with the intention of getting out of our desk jobs (more me than him) and committing our lives to a lifestyle we have grown to desire more than air it would seem. We have made several boards over the years as we came to terms with the baby dream that was budding. Last night all those boards came together to form one great massive board as we finally found the property of our dreams. We came home from viewing this property, looked at all the boards that depicted what we wanted to create and began to build one to represent the now. This property we found. As we pulled the most important things of each previous board and brought them into the center it was profound, as if over time by working each individual board we had somehow created a spot for our selves in reality and we had just found it.

        I realize this sounds somewhat dreamy but now we are faced with a ton of physical work in order to pursue from here and the emotional work of finally taking the jump of a lifetime. The vision board though, that is huge and I strongly encourage everyone to start one. Keep it in your bedroom, your living room or the back of your bathroom door. Anywhere where it will be within sight on a daily bases. Keep adding to it, layer things. Do not judge what you pin to the board let your heart place it there. Do not let your preconceived notions of “how can that be done” or “we could never afford it” get in the way of placing something on the board. Do it anyway. Pin without fear. Then daily when your board catches your eye, go to those places in your mind, live it for a second. This way when it walks into your reality or when you see a hint of real possibility to make it happen you will recognize it for what it is and you can grab it and make it happen. Now there is work to be done. xo

    • I have been making my own life inspiration boards every year for about 10 years now, so let me know if I can help. This year I found this from wonderful Susannah Conway and it really helped put my thoughts together about what I want :
      You can read her full blog post about it here:
      Make a nice cup of tea, put some nice music and sit down with pen and paper and you will see clearer what you want. Good luck!

      PS: I can also HIGHLY recommend Susannah’s Unravelling e-course

      • AHHHHH that is incredible! Thank you!!

      • oh wow, thank you! I am sharing this with the husband post-haste. I know if “we” don’t need a life inspiration board, I sure do.

      • FYI, we did this worksheet and found it really helpful! Not necessarily exactly what we need, but a great jumping off point. Thank you! (Also I’m giving you credit in today’s post that’s marginally about this because you’re awesome. FYI.)

    • I suspect that person would be a life coach, and maybe I need one, but I get very concerned that I would go bankrupt trying to listen to what someone else told me to do then realizing that this person had no idea who I was or what I should do with my life. In the end it always seems to come down to life lists and inspiration boards, something that I’ve started in the past and never seem to move forward with.
      Meg, someone should do a post on this! You yourself said it was interesting!

      Great post! I am way too domestic to travel the world indefinitely, but I love the inspiration to jump off together!

      • Yes, I agree that a life coach would do this. I actually have had one for just over a year now- somebody I have known for almost twenty years who got into life coaching a couple of years ago, so it’s a really good match.

      • Yep! A life coach can help with this sort of thing for sure. A short note about life coaching (because I *am* one) – And as a life coach, I don’t tell my clients what they should do. (That’d be a terrible life coach!) I trust implicitly that YOU know the best path your life needs to take. I actively listen to what you tell me, and I ask a TON of questions and make observations to help you see your path more clearly. I’m a guide on your journey, walking beside you, cheering you on, helping to keep you motivated and focused. :)

        I help stuck folks get unstuck. :)

    • Mine is as simple as a Pinterest board. It’s a bit more of a “right now” wants board. But after trying the “settling down” thing and finding it not really working for us, it’s what is important.

    • Sarah H.

      I’m also in the DC area and have the same feeling of being limited- like I’m set on a certain career path that I don’t necessarily want to be on. And my fiance is starting to feel the itch to make a change from his job. (We keep half-joking about moving to Hawaii.) There seems to be something about DC that you either become a lifer, or you get the itch to go and do something completely different. Maybe it’s the traffic. Or that the whole city revolves around politics/the federal government. :-)

      I wish you and your husband the best! I think I might try the life inspiration board idea too, just to see where it leads me…

      • em_perk

        My husband and I went from those half-jokes to actually moving to Hawaii five months ago! It was SUPER hard and stressful but it’s been so worth it. If you’re interested, I’d be more than happy to tell you more about it. And if you let me know what career field you guys are in, I might be able to offer some advice in that realm too (the company I work for is based out of DC). You can write me at emilylayman at gmail dot com if you’re interested!.

        • Sarah H.

          Thanks Emily, that would be awesome! At the very least just to have an idea of what it would involve and what we’d have to watch out for. I’ll be writing you soon!

  • Amy

    I can somewhat relate to that too. My husband and I have recently notified our jobs that we’ll be leaving for the Peace Corps in a month. We are in our early 30s and it was a big surprise to a lot of people, but most people have been overwhelmingly supportive. We don’t have debt, mortgage, or kids, and felt like the time was now to go have an adventure for two years before we move back home to settle down. I know it will be hard at times, and exciting at times, but I’m doing it for all of those reasons. But I especially think that having this experience with my husband will be something we can share for the rest of our lives.

    • meg

      YES!!!! (I wonder if you’d consider writing about it at some point??? Hint, hint, hint.)

      Also, I think the idea of “settling down” is a little bit of a false construct. I’ve found that “settling down” can be the most liberating, and allow for the biggest adventures… something you’re never told. And maybe we something should write about… hummmmm….

      • I love this post and what it reminds us about the life we envision and the life we go out and make for ourselves.

        And to the comment above, that is so exciting, I hope you come back to write about it. The Peace Corps was on my radar for a long time in college (how is that already ten years ago?) but then I met my now husband and we fell into a settled down life. For a while I worried that settled down meant giving up on those adventures and I became just a bit resentful of his massive student loans which felt like handcuffs to our every day working world. But now I feel like our world together is so settled and solid and strong that I can take some risks, try new things within it. Like Meg says above, it’s liberating in itself. The financial aspect means that those risks can’t include quitting my job and moving away right now, but the comfort and support aspect means I have a launch pad for taking personal leaps. If they don’t work out, I have a solid place to return to.

      • Mandy

        We JUST, not two weeks ago, decided to “settle down” and it has been the most freeing, happiest decision we’ve ever made! We’d spun ourselves into this construct of who we were in our community and had somehow convinced ourselves that forcing entrepreneurial goals into fruition was what was going to make us happy – nevermind the kickass jobs with benefits in fields we love that we’ve both managed to land “in the meantime.” It’s been refreshing and liberating to decide just to LIVE LIFE for a little while!

        • “Settling down” seems almost like the wrong term. It makes it seem like there’s something inherently disappointing. I don’t see any “settling” in choosing a home, a making your own family.

          It’s more like owning your life, but deciding that you want to build your own home to do it in.

          • Mandy

            Maybe looking at it as “settling in” instead of “settling for”? Because for us, it was most definitely a settling down from this frenzy of spreadsheets and meetings and guilt that things weren’t happening fast enough – things we thought we were SUPPOSED to be doing – and being able to take a breather to realize that walks in the park and breakfasts on Sundays didn’t have to be dreamed-about luxuries but real gifts that are helping us reconnect in our marriage.

          • YES. I can’t reply to Mandy directly but the “settling in” instead of “settling for” distinction is PERFECT.

          • Class of 1980


            I like your term the best. “Building a home.”

          • meg

            Settling UP.

      • emma

        A wonderful post and a reminder that it’s okay when expectations don’t align with how things carry out. I struggle with that often.

        I also have to agree that “settling down” for me was such a relief. Married to an athlete and now coach life changes every summer and while you can’t plan it’s a constant question. Thankfully the mister landed his dream job last summer and now we’re planting roots where we BOTH want to be. It’s an amazing feeling to see our vague life plan come together and now feel like we can pick and choose how to alter it in the future.

      • I agree completely. Since ‘settling down’ with my man, in some ways it’s been tougher to make those decisions to have big adventures. There are two lives to consider now, two schedules, two sets of hopes and dreams, etc…but in most ways settling in to the comfort, the stability, the certainty that some on is by my side, on my team, and totally there for me has given me the freedom to dream big and pursue adventures with abandon. Because I know that when one of us falls, we have someone there to catch us.

      • Amy

        I’d love to write about it at some point!

    • I did something similar when I was still single (I went to UN peacekeeping)…and that’s how I met my husband. Most enriching experience of my life.

    • Raechel

      I am so excited for you and your husband, Amy! I had the absolute best and absolute worst experiences of my life in the Peace Corps. The highs are high, the lows are low, and you’ll often experience both extremes several times in one day. The bond I have with my fellow volunteers after sharing those experiences together is so unique and so strong – I can only imagine the incredible impact it will have on your marriage. I will be forever grateful for the experience and the person it has allowed me to become. Congratulations and best of luck!


    Perfect timing. We moved to the US knowing we wanted to spend some time on this coast (East) then move to the West coast. We had decided that this was the year, so started making preliminary plans to sell the house here and start the job hunt 3000 miles away. Husbando’s just been offered a transition in his current job to AZ, and we had originally discounted the idea. But the more we have talked about it, the more we’ve realised it might make sense for us to loosen our plans and spend a year or so in a place that was never in ‘the grand scheme’. Thanks so much for writing about your trip and experiences!

  • We had the same conversation! Ours was sitting in our living room on a snowy Saturday rather than sitting next to a pool but the essence was the same: we both admitted that we were unhappy and that something needed to change.

    We’d already tackled the traveling for a month together and it went well (the two of us, a puppy, and a Jeep Cherokee!). It was probably one of the times we were most happy. So we decided to do it again. Unfortunately, this time we’re a bit more tied down then we were when I finished grad school but the plan is to move into our Sprinter Van starting on our first anniversary: September 22, 2013 and travel until we’re ready to stop.

    I think it’s so important to reach for those things that are meaningful to you. To figure out how to make them central to your life.

    Thank you for sharing your story!!

    • Oh! Sprinter vans are sweet (and soooo much more room than our econoline cargo). You guys are going to have a blast! :)

  • Kristin

    Thanks for posting this! This is exactly the kind of thing my husband and I dream of of. It’s great to hear from someone who took that leap, and it’s really great to have a reminder that it won’t always be perfect because life isn’t perfect. It’s easy to fall into the grass-is-always-greener mindset.

    And of course, this: “What is really important is that we are living our lives actively and that we’re working to shape the life we want.”

  • Oh man, this really resonated with me, especially this: “Our marriage had thrown the rest of my life into sharp relief. I felt so good when we were together, so where did it say that I had to feel so bad the rest of the time?”

    I’m currently in a job that I know is so wrong for me, and I’m trying so hard to get out of it, and to figure out what exactly I am doing with my life/career, but like you said, when you are in a bad mental place, it’s hard not to feel like your life is over. It’s hard to find the courage and mental strength to break out of the hole you’ve found yourself in. I desperately yearn to have that trip of a lifetime with my husband, and in my head I feel like it would solve all of my problems. Your post was so helpful in making me realize that perhaps having that trip might not be the ultimate cure to my unhappiness, which is what I idealize in my head.

    Thank you for posting this. It came at a very good time for me :)

  • What a brave, brave person you are. Seriously, this is so inspiring, and I hope we have many nore APW posts like this.

    Two memories were brought up as I read this: one from early on in our marriage and one from last year. About a month after we were back from our honeymoon, for whatever reason I was thinking about work and did a little mental math. I turned to A, shocked at what I’d figured out, and said, “Hey honey, guess what? Until we retire, we’re going to spend more time at our respective jobs than we ever will with each other.” Without missing a beat, A answered, “then we’d better make sure and love what we do.”

    This became sort of a mantra for me over the course of our marriage: love what you do. It helped me when I was in un-employment hell and decided to take a job I was overqualified for, amde me feel stupid and worthless, and bored me to tears. I took the job to pay our mortgage, but the five months I spent there before I found my dream job were not worth it. So I got out. It’s led A to a point where he is looking to leave a company that a few years ago he was talking about retiring with. You have to love what you do, whatever you do, or life’s just not worth living.

    The second memory was from our five-year anniversary almost a year ago. (Eep! Time flies!) We were in Hawaii, the first time either of us had been, and were meeting all these locals and having a great time. Almost all of the locals we met were people who had transplanted in from elsewhere. They all had the same story: we came here for a vacation and never went back. One young man told about how his parents visited Maui when he was two, came home to get him, sold all their stuff and moved to Hawaii. A and I were talking towards the end of our trip; Hawaii was definately our kind of place, all the things we love about California but even more so.. We could imagine coming back every year and never getting tired of it. But when we started talking about if we could ever see doing what so many others had done, we couldn’t imagine it. We realized that we love out lives just as they are. We don’t always love our jobs or the minutae of daily living, but we have a home here, a family, a community. We have a church full of people who we want to be around to help us raise our kids someday. We have beaches, mountains, deserts, and snow all within a two hour drive of our house. We love our lives and couldn’t see severing ties and moving. As much as we loved Hawaii, we actually missed home, which told us more than anything that we are happy with this life we’ve built. Discovering that brought us so much peace and contentment.

    So I definately believe that you have to love what you do, all that you do, and applaud you in your journey with your man. I wish you both the best.

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  • I love this too.

    Realizing that you’re not living your life the way that would be most fulfilling is a powerful realization. For some, taking a grand traveling adventure is the answer. For some it’s deciding to build a home and family (in one spot or on the road). It’s something that my husband and I talk about a lot — not settling for life that’s too easy, but allowing ourselves to choose what we want without feeling like we need to go crazy in one direction.

    As such, we recently returned from our first out-of-country trip together (after being together more than six years). I got laid off after Thanksgiving — a big surprise — and we’d been planning take a trip this summer. But we thought about it and decided that waiting until I had a job again, and the vacation again would take too damn long. So we took a leap with the money we’d saved up, and it was a great experience — albeit just over two weeks and in a gray European winter. Despite that, the act of traveling itself is fun and exciting of course, but also has a way of putting your life at home under a microscope. (And to be clear, I think this can happen if you travel 2 hours away or 24). But taking a step to live your dreams, whether it’s fun or not, is also freeing and reminds one that it can be done.

    Side note: if you’re looking for a cheap place in Europe to hang out, we really liked Berlin. It’s surprisingly affordable — more so than the rest of Germany — and also quite fun.

    • Meredith

      I LOVED Berlin. I was only there for a short time last April (~11 days) but it was GREAT!

    • I totally agree with the unemployed traveling if you can financially swing it. When my now-husband was out of work, we managed to go to Ireland and Scotland for 3 weeks. It’s a lot easier to get that much time at once if you’re employed. It was a totally awesome experience.

  • Meredith

    oooo Thank you! I recently (maybe 6 weeks ago) made the decision to leave my job and basically my life (including my partner of 6 years, who I live with, he’s staying in the states while I’m gone) and travel for a year, starting in September. Recently, I haven’t been as excited about it as I initially was. But, after reading your post (and then reading almost every post on your blog) my excitement is back in full force! I think I just needed a reminder about how exciting/ fun/ great traveling can be.

    And my goodness, every time I see photos from eastern Europe all I think is ‘I HAVE to go there.”

  • Jessica

    I can’t tell how you how timely this post was. Today at work I was Googling places like San Diego, Denver, Seattle, etc., just wanting to experience life somewhere else, besides the city I’ve lived all my life. I feel tied down here–to my job, to this city, to this way of life, etc. and don’t feel satisfied.

    It’s a scary thing to think about completing doing a 180 in your life. But we have no kids, no pets even, and besides our jobs, no responsibilities. This would be the time to do something. It’s definitely a topic my husband and I have to discuss. But I admire you so much for taking this brave leap with your partner and living out your dream instead of just dreaming it.

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Awesome post. It took me a minute to realize after we had gotten married that the stuff you want in life doesn’t just happen. You really have to create the life you want and put in real effort to make it happen which is why you must have those discussions — what does the life you want LOOK like? For some reason, I just assumed when we got married that we’d do all of these things before kids — take trips, go here, do this and that. Our lives haven’t gone at all the way I had envisioned, some due to circumstance and a lot to just being lazy. Living actively as the poster put it is something you have to decide to do and then show up and do it every single day. It’s so easy to get lazy (for me anyway). Now we’re expecting our first child in TWO days and I cannot help but feeling overwhelming pressure ot fight that concept that our lives are over until our kids are out of the house. Why? Because we had planned to go Italy this year which was thrown out the window the minute the baby popped up. But I still want to go and I’ve made the decision to LIVE everyday until I die. It’s hard work, easier said than done, but that’s what building a life is all about.

    • Sarah H.

      Congratulations and good luck!!!!

      I think you’re giving your child a great gift by committing to “LIVE everyday” to its fullest, not just as their mom, but as a person.

  • Meg

    My lovely other half and I had a realisation of not being happy with our current situation of work/home/life and decided to change it. Actually, if I was to be perfectly honest, a job offer presented to myself gave us the kick up the backside that we needed.

    We sold everything we owned packed two suitcases and moved to England (from Australia). It has simultaneously been both the best and worst thing we’ve ever done. It got us both out of jobs we didn’t like, but it meant that my other half was finishing off his masters by correspondance and not working. He was effectively unemployed for about 20months. Financially we struggled, actually it was hell. We bought an apartment and my partner went back to Aus for a friends wedding spending money that we didn’t have, leaving me with a negative bank balance for a month, trying to find creative ways to feed myself and me telling him to get his sh!t together or it’s over and don’t bother coming back to England. (Not his smartest move, and not my finest hour.)

    One thing that I started to notice was that we were sticking together as a unit. Picking our battles and just generally getting along better. We learnt how to communicate better during an argument/disagreement, skills that I now know are fundamental to building a life together.

    We figured that we survived those first 18months or so, we can survive anything that marriage/life throws at us.

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  • Anna

    “I could see myself reaching my their age and wondering why we wasted our best years being miserable and using our awesome relationship just to help each other get by.”

    This, I totally relate to. The future Mr. and I met in graduate school and after we finished, we stayed put in a ho-hum town with ho-hum jobs. We have mutual dreams of moving wherever the wind blows us, but so far the wind has been rather still. I admire your bravery in quitting your jobs and moving across the world and back again! I wish I wasn’t so scared to give up health insurance…but that’s another point completely.

    I guess my point is that even though we’re not in a financial or professional point in our lives where we’re fully content, we’re MORE than happy knowing that we’re on the same page at all times and that we have a frickin’ wedding to look forward to! We can’t have all the things we want right now, but a happy marriage is more than most people have, so it’s hard to complain! We have been blessed with each other and in time, the rest will fall into place.

  • When my husband and I took off in a van last year, I had NO idea what a wonderful and amazing community of travelers were out there. It’s TOUGH! We had visions of time stretching on and on to the point where we’d be bored and be looking for things to do. What a joke that turned out to be!

    Whitney – it gets better, I promise. We were on the road for 364 days and it took us a good six to eight months to really get into the swing of our rhythm. The first months we kept looking at each other and saying, “this is it?” Because sleeping at Wal-mart and spending time in Starbucks working everyday is *not* what we envisioned at all!! (It was too cold to camp and recreate on the weekends as planned.)

    Decision fatigue is real and the constant change in routine and environment can be exhausting… I can only imagine it moreso as an International traveler. It was *the* most surprising thing we experienced.

    But it got better for us and when we hit our sweet spot, it was magical. I have every faith that it’ll happen for you guys, too.

    On a side note, wondering after reading all the comments here if I should focus my life coaching business on getting folks out on the road and helping with the transition. :) Seems there’s a lot of us out there with serious wanderlust. Would anyone be interested in group coaching? :) :)

  • I love this post. Why wait? If you want to get away, and you can, why not do it now? Himself and I just got back a few days ago from two months in South America (yes, I’m drowning in my Google Reader feeds). We’d pushed it off before and I was so scared that it’d be one of THOSE things that you just keep pushing off and pushing off year after year until it’s nothing more than a dusty ol’ dream stuck under a jar somewhere.

    And while we aren’t moving anywhere permanently — hooboy, we’ve had enough of that drama to last decades — it was such a breath of fresh air. I felt as if I was able to break free of an unhappy employment situation (with some weird emotional attachments) and start fresh somewhere else. We’ve talked here before about how traveling with your partner can be encouraging and disheartening at the same time, how it can broaden horizons and make you yearn for your creature comforts. How it’s confusing and satisfying and hard and fun. Oh wait, is that marriage? Yes. That too. So it’s really fantastic to hear from people who are doing it, on both a large and small scale. (Because small scales count!)

    Safe travels to you both.