Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Little Reminders


“Don’t every give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about” was the only phrase ringing in my ears as I was sitting in front of the most magnificent, gushing waterfall, Cedar Falls, in central Ohio watching my husband mesmerized with taking photos and our two kids splashing around with gigantic smiles on their faces totally carefree.  In that very moment, everything became so clear.  Maybe it was the turquoise water.  Maybe it was the cool breeze or the array of colors along the rock cliff.  Maybe it was just the perfection in the moment.  But, whatever it was, it was clear to me that this is why we travel.  This is what it is all about.  This was the discovery awaiting us that day.  A treasure that can only be discovered by seeking away from the busy, away from the normal, away from it all.

It took 20 miles of hiking over two days, but we had moments like this the entire time at Hocking Hills State Park.  Simply magical.  One waterfall and cave after another surrounded by the lush landscape with the birds chirping and trickling water meandering around the trails.  It was like finding paradise.  We all imagined what it must have been like for someone to happen upon it hundreds of years ago for the first time.  Our imaginations soared and our senses were overwhelmed.  We do tend to have the best conversations when we hike.  And, it hit me, as it does once in a while, that this is our life.  We GET to do this.  We can soak up these special moments with each other without any hindrance.  No leaving after the weekend.  No time constraints within our day.  No, this is our life and this is us living it.  This is our America and this is us really seeing it for the first time.  And when we leave one place, we can go right to the next adventure. 

It was a moment of serenity, pure genuine worship, thankfulness for my life and this astonishing planet we have to explore.  And the only phrase that kept ringing in my ear was that quote that started it all for me, “Don’t every give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about” by Winston Churchill.  As you might know by now, Tom and I are kind of big on quotes.  We plaster our Facebook page with them and share them with each other.  I think we all need inspiration…reminders.  I remember it was two years ago almost to the day that I heard this particular quote and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was obsessed with it.  I pinned this quote to my cubicle at work.  I stared at it, but I swear sometimes it would stare back at me taunting me.  
Tom and I talked about this idea of RVing across America for years and we couldn’t put away the idea.  It was always in the back of our minds, but when would we ever do it?  When would be the right time?  How silly was this whole idea…a pipe dream?  In that moment with the sun beaming on my face and the cool mist of the waterfall bathing over me, I remembered our old life.  I remembered how we came to this point.  I remembered that very quote.  It was heeding that advice.  It was intentionally letting go of our old life and embracing a new direction with no looking back.  It was deciding to not be defeated and to not to give up on our dream.  It was at a pivotal moment in our life where we could clearly go one way or another and we chose to leave the life we had wrapped ourselves up with completely behind to see what we would find.  It was exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, but looking back, oh so worth it!

This is why you pursue your dreams no matter how crazy they seem.  To others they may seem like nonsense, but the reward is not for them.  The reward is yours.  The sacrifices made, the time spent planning and the final jump is worth every moment once you realize what is in store for you.  We couldn’t have begun to know what was waiting around the corner, but we have all come to appreciate it over the last two years.  And maybe only just now the four of us actually realize what a blessing this nomadic life really is to us—what it allows us to do and to experience.  We now embrace not knowing the destination and letting the journey lead us to the moments that we could never create ourselves.  The real reward is in the mystery and then discovery.

So now I guess I must disclose why this day was so special for me.  To be totally transparent, this epiphany came at a time when I was second guessing our lifestyle going into this new chapter of our story.  Can we manage to live in a travel trailer and travel the country with a newborn?  I love our unique life, but as I was waddling around the past few months (feeling very pregnant) with the doubt creeping into my mind of how we would continue this life with our new addition.  There was quite a conflict going on inside of me. 
My heart knew that settling down in any capacity wasn’t what I wanted or what any of us really wanted, but my brain tried to convince me it was the logical thing to do.  (Luckily, my husband has been very patient through all of this turmoil I was having.  He never had a doubt.)  So, let’s just say that I came to realize that we didn’t take this journey in the first place by using logic.  Once again it was clear to me that following our heart, and not fear, is the only way to make a good decision.  Looking back, thinking logically left us working two jobs and “keeping up with the Joneses” in our past.  So this very day I needed that reminder once again of how we were meant to live a different path than others. 

It took me back to when we started our travels.  It wasn’t too long into our journey we hit a tough week and my son, Tyler (thirteen at the time), said in a moment of frustration, “I can’t believe we’re living this way.”  There were lots of moments along the way where we all had to find our way.  And then I fast forward to our life now.  Just this past month we have been hiking up mountains, swimming in waterfalls, spending time with family far away, fulfilling bucket lists, exploring a new country and enjoying each moment as it comes. 
This has become our usual way of life (sometimes we forget).  During our last family talk, while discussing whether we should continue our travels, our same son told us, “I can’t imagine us moving back into a house and living a normal life.”  That says it all right there.  Needless to say in that moment we all knew we wanted to continue to travel.  Sometimes we need a moment to be reminded of what an impact the past two years has had on us.  It has changed all of us in a way that I can’t even fully comprehend.

We really do love this simple way of living.  We love spending time with all of our family and meeting up with friends along the way.  We love the adventure around every turn and new opportunities to do things we never would have dreamed of doing before.  And Tyler is right, I can’t imagine going back to a normal way of life. 
We have travelled to only 22 states and have barely even touched the surface of what we want to see and experience.  Tyler has started to document his travels though his Instagram page, TylersTravels01, and has dreams to do big things like hike the Appalachian Trail and take a trip overseas while exploring his passion for history, politics and geography.  Haley has been writing, learning everything she can about animals in North America and making friends all over the country.  Right now both Tyler and Haley are spending two weeks in New York City with their aunt and uncle living right across the street from Central Park.  What a wonderful experience!  I would be lying if I said Tom and I aren’t a little jealous!  We are grateful to Uncle Russ and Aunt Catherine for allowing them to stay and giving them such a great opportunity they will remember forever.  As parents, we are so proud of seeing them discover who they are and embrace their opportunities.

We will continue to chase our dream (with baby in tow) to wherever it takes us—to new heights, untold adventures, meeting wonderful people along the way and reconnecting with family and friends.  So, here’s to all the dreamers out there who are pursuing their own dreams (whatever they may be) who “didn’t give up on something they couldn’t go a day without thinking about.”