The Top 6 Reasons Why We Chose To "Hit Pause"
Some of you think this idea is crazy. Some of you might think it's crazy awesome. It's a mixed bag and we totally get that. We are still surprised we both had the guts to say 'let's go for it' and then actually make it happen. It's definitely dramatically easier when both people in a relationship are on the same page. We have been answering a lot of very legitimate questions about why we are doing this. To get inside our heads a bit, we have compiled six reasons why we decided to quit our day jobs, rent out our house, and travel for the next year (or two?):
1. Family time
Even before we thought of taking an extended trip, Chip started asking his patients, particularly the older ones, the same question and was pleasantly surprised by their consistent answers. If time allowed after an office visit, he would ask "What advice do you have for me?" An overwhelming number of them related that they would have spent more time with their kids when their kids were young. And consistent with that advice, the majority of the older folks he cared for were very supportive when he made the announcement that he was leaving the practice to follow it.
A friend wrote recently that you never hear a parent say "I regret spending so much time with my children." That hits home for both of us.
2. Simplify our lives
Our journey has been a gradual one. Over the course of our marriage, we have learned and continued to remind ourselves that stuff doesn't define who we are or make us happy. Wait, let me stop there. Yes, some stuff makes me happy. In fact, a lot of stuff makes me happy. But what I'm getting at here is all the extra stuff that we used to buy or clutter our lives with.
Have you ever opened up your kitchen cupboards and realized there are maybe 30 coffee cups and another 20-30 drinking glasses in there? What about those beer steins, wine glasses, and free water bottles from all those athletic races? Even if we had a huge dinner party we still wouldn't go through that many. After clearing out our cupboards (which surprisingly felt really good), we began doing this in other ways too. Like our closets - clothes, active wear, shoes, LOTIONS(!), and even our skivvies. I'm thankful to be surrounded by people who don't put pressure on me to wear the latest trends because I will tell you that Chip and I have very few remaining outfits in our closet right now. And guess what? We still have friends, who still actually like us! (I think).
Curious to know how many cups we are bringing on our trip? Four. Shoes? Two pairs each. Also, as a side note, Chip thinks he's going to get by with three t-shirts. For the whole trip! I'm not about to challenge him, because he would. And I'm over here thinking "But at least bring five!".
Chip talks a lot about white noise. Minimizing the amount of things we have to keep track of, maintain, and attend to frees up a whole lot of mental energy that can be put to much better use.
3. see family & friends
Since announcing that we were going to hit the road, friends and family have been reaching out to us offering a home cooked meal, beds to sleep in, a shower (Yes! But don't hug us until after we've used your shower). To say that we are grateful is an understatement. We are beyond thrilled to have them be a part of our trip.
Traveling solo as a family will be fun. But the strongest memories we have are from places we've visited where we've had "people." Seeing the joy as other people show us their hometown and getting local "intel" about the best things to do in their area far surpasses any online blog or tripadvisor review. Our trip to New Zealand would have been dramatically different without the friends we spent six intense, awesome months with.
Given our mobile and scattered family and friends this seems to be the best way to spend some quality time with the people who are a huge part of our lives. Social media is a great way of connecting with people, but we find it a very poor replacement for actual, face-to-face, quality time spent with loved ones.
4. There is no better time than now!
No, really. A year ago? Two years ago? That would not have been the right time. Right now...we are in a sweet spot. The boys are old enough to share in the excitement and adventure together but not be embarrassed to hang out with their aging parents for an entire year in a camper the size of a double bunk bed.
They are also at a great age to get outta dodge. No school, no books, no teacher's dirty looks. You catch my drift. We have no soccer practice, or homework, or school obligations holding us back. They aren't going to be depressed for the first month and lock themselves in the camper because they had to leave their best friend (I might be, but they won't).
Not to mention, as far as we know, we are all healthy and as much as we pray and hope that we remain this way, we want to take advantage of the strong bodies we have now because we don't know how long that will last. As we get older, and see loved ones get sick or pass away, it's a constant reminder to keep living the life we desire because truthfully, I have no idea how many days I have left on this earth. Heck, Chip and I are already halfway to 70 this year.
5. challenge ourselves to act kindly towards others daily
Chip and I have always talked about incorporating some volunteer work or time to help others while we are on the road. Initially, we just yearned for the energy to do it as our daily routine didn't leave much left over. As time has passed, however, we realized we want to make a daily effort and commitment to having a positive impact in the lives of others. Can you remember a time when you went out of your way to be nice to someone? Or help someone out in one way or another? Those moments stick with me like glue.
I can recall the time I stopped in a busy intersection to let an older gentleman on a bicycle cross the road. He had probably been there for minutes, cars zooming past him oblivious that he needed to cross. I could have done the same. But I stopped and waved him on. As he looked me in the eye and mouthed the words 'thank you' as he sped across, I felt on top of the world.
Those moments give Chip and I a high, and we are going to challenge ourselves, the whole family, to make a conscious effort to implement random acts of kindness in our everyday life on the road. If we're paying attention, there is an obvious opportunity most days to help someone out. We'd like to eliminate the excuses that have kept us from stepping in to act.
6. slow down time
Do you remember when you were a kid and one summer day felt like an entire year? Anytime I can, I love regaining that perception of slowing down time. We've found that traveling provides this feeling for us.
After we arrive at a camping spot, we eagerly set everything up, roll out our awning and arrange our chairs and table underneath it. Then the relaxing begins to set in. The boys snag their trucks and run off, pushing them to an ideal location for a makeshift construction site. Chip and I crack open a beer. We forget about surfing the internet or responding to text messages and begin enjoying our new surroundings (usually very excitedly).
We realized the more we filled our lives with routines - work, preschool, meetings, activities (repeat), the more familiar our world became. Our brain wasn't responding to the monotony of it all, so time was passing quicker. Breaking away from these routines has allowed us to actually slow down the way our brain perceives time because we are constantly doing, seeing, and learning something new in different environments. Like when we were kids.
I'm going to beg that you watch the short film below. It's four minutes long, so it is well worth your time. I've never had a video speak to me and accurately describe how we feel than the one below. If you asked me to pick a quote that stands out in this film, I couldn't. It is all that significant. I dare you to watch this and not be inspired. Ready, GO!
There you have it. While our list is probably no big surprise, we are really excited to take this leap and challenge ourselves in ways that we never thought we would. We can't thank you all enough for being a part of our journey and supporting, inspiring, and helping us along the way. Please leave a comment if anything you read was significant to you!