Our story!

For several years now I have had the urge to travel which has been a dream of mine before marriage and children. My husband was never keen on the idea until one afternoon last year he said, "let's do this!" The next day I began to sell, donate and give away items from my home. He was a bit shocked when he got home from work. I immediately called a realtor and our home sold within 24 hours for more than we were asking. I had sold, donated and given away EVERYTHING so that the day we moved we didn't even need a truck because we were able to drive away with everything we had left in both our vehicles. We moved to a smaller place directly across from the beach to enjoy the sunrise and sunsets for the following year before taking off to travel full time!

1st Stop ~ Texas!

We decided to begin our journey actually before we retired. It began by looking online at the most economical places to travel and go from there. I had been wanting to see my brother in Dallas so I checked on when the prices were best and found tickets for $100 each. I have flown to Dallas many times but usually holidays or vacation times which cost me almost $400 just for myself. 

Everything we read about the "nomad" life said to plan your travels based upon cost to decide where to go. We began to plan ahead for the next 6 months and found prices cheap enough to go to Europe as well. How exciting to purchase such affordable tickets to Dallas in the fall and Spain in the spring. 


Now we are looking a year down the road where to go next and making plans to travel to California, Germany and England. A really great site for good airfares is www.fareness.com - easy to use!



Dross

The definition of "dross" is something regarded as worthless; rubbish, junk. Of course, one person's junk is another one's treasure! It is amazing how much is accumulated in 30 years. There are things in our home that are my parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren. At least five generations of "stuff!"

Everyone's first question is "how did it feel?" Honestly I have always planned to die with my "stuff" and in my little home. So I was expecting it would feel much like putting my dog down when she became so ill - gut-wrenching! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it wasn't like that at all but instead it was like paying off a school loan or a car loan instead - liberating!


I'm not sure that is the status quo for everyone who does this and to be honest I don't believe for one minute that this is for everyone. Not at all! It's just right for us right now. Am I terrified? Of course, but fear is something I deal with even in the safety of my home. I find that I am so full of excitement and anticipation that it is overriding my fears. Each time something is either hauled away or sold it feels closer to making our dream into a reality. So right now in this journey it is pleasant and fun!



Selling

The first thing I did when I realized that we were really going to do this was to go through the attic - drawers - cabinets - closets - etc. Now I don't like organizational or cleaning days to ever become a day of bondage so I choose a much simpler method. This is how I do my chores: Walk around the house (doctors orders). As I enter each room I open a drawer, closet, whatever and remove something to throw away, give away or sell. I have a large IKEA bag to hold the give away stuff that I keep in a designated area so once it is full I can put in my car and drop off at the Goodwill on my way to work.

Five car loads of stuff that we didn't want to bother selling at a garage sale were dropped off at Goodwill. Then I was able to begin selling the nicer items online. Facebook garage sale sites make it easy to do by taking a picture and posting with the information and sale price. Immediately people began calling. There were 2 designated places to meet that were safe - one in the plaza where I work and the other the main post office by my house. In a couple of days and only 4 items I made over $300. It actually only took minutes to do.


The more precious items I boxed up to give away to younger family members. It was fun to put together small boxes with our treasures to pass on to them. Our children requested some of the bigger things in the house which we will give to them when the house sells.


We left enough furniture and accessories to show the house when potential home buyers begin to come. Also, just enough things to make the house look like home and for us to enjoy until the last day. We are excited!!!






Planning

My favorite part of any trip is the planning stage because I love having something to look forward to. It's like Christmas to me because I love the planning part of the holiday and preparation. Once the day comes it is over so quickly. So this has been so much fun as we plan and prepare much like Christmas without all the stress of time constraint. There needs to be time to make the plans of traveling for long periods of time.

Our first concern is my husbands health and well being. He had a kidney transplant eight years ago and still has to follow up with blood work and check ups. Plus with traveling overseas it is vital that we are insured properly. We have terrific insurance here in the states but it doesn't help us over there. Fortunately there are policies and companies to choose from and we need to be sure they are accepted in the country we plan to visit.


Also, it is a good idea to know where the doctors, hospitals and clinics are located in those areas. We don't want to leave that for the last minute in case something should happen. So that is the part of the planning stage we are now. We began by changing his doctor to one that is closer to our home instead of an hour away. It gives us an opportunity to see what we need in order to make this change and then we can look for new doctors wherever we go and have a better idea of what we need to do.


When traveling abroad there is a great link to check out to give you an idea of what to prepare for
https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/checklist.html

This picture was taken of my grandkids.

Anxiety

When I was only 38 years old I went through menopause and developed Agoraphobia which the Mayo clinic defines as a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. The doctor put me on Paxil for about 3 years but then the side affects began to bother us more than the agoraphobia, so I stopped.

Since then I have found other ways to deal with the anxiety. One of the best ways is my camera because I find that it changes my perspective. A crowded facility can cause me panic and then behind the camera it becomes art. Art soothes my soul so I try to always carry it with me to be ready for anything.


Because of this I am prone to anxiety for many different reasons. Home has always been my safe place. This has been a challenging decision for me and yet exciting that I would even consider the thought of leaving my safe place. Not letting myself be overcome with fear about the idea has been in my thought processes each day. 


There is certainly no easy cure for anxiety and some days are better than others. My youngest daughter said she can see I am at peace with this whole decision. Peace is exactly what I was not expecting as we have been making preparations. Peace came unexpectedly for both of us and I am grateful!



I took this picture in 2015 of my nieces on Sanibel Island during a weekend vacation together.


Emotions

Floods of tears came when I began putting together a box for one of my grandkids with some of my things that I have carried with me since a child.  Some of these things have been with me all of my life. I had a few pieces that my parents purchased in Africa when I was very young. They were my favorite things in my parents house because it brought me back to some very wonderful memories.

Later that same day I called my dear friend Gwen who lives in Louisiana and they had just gone through some terrible flooding. She shared with me how so many had lost everything because the water had risen so high. It was such a mess there that they were not able to buy food in the stores and people were very misplaced.


This really spoke volumes to me about my sadness earlier in giving away "stuff" that was sentimental to me. I felt grateful that, unlike many people who suffer tragedy and lose everything, I was able to give away and share with others in my family. I now plan to enjoy wrapping each precious item of memories with joy in my heart and not sadness. Emotions change when perspective changes I have learned today!


I took this picture from our hotel room of Niagra Falls at night.

Control

My husband and myself are control freaks in every way. We have raised kids who are also control freaks and they have raised kids who are "perfect!" Of course, what were you expecting me to say? I see them through "grandma" glasses! Actually, everyone is controlling to one extent or the other. The only difference is those who will admit it and those who won't. It's been this way since the beginning of time - just ask Eve!

Every day I try to control my plans, my routine, myself, etc. Some days I manage and most days something else controls my circumstances. Illness, family, friends, work....you get it. Happens to all of us. My husband leaves for work with a smile on his face and the day can go to hell in a hand basket before lunch. 


So what are two control freaks thinking when they are considering a "vagabond" existence? When we were young we wanted to change the world. At our age we have learned that we can't even change ourselves much less the world. We have just decided to stop trying to control anything or anyone around us and just enjoy! Enjoy the differences and enjoy the journey....I love this quote by Pastor Tullian: The bad news is we are weaker and worse than we think we are - the good news is that Jesus is stronger and better than we could ever hope or imagine.



I took this picture at Dreher Park Zoo while visiting with my grandkids.

Stuff

We all got stuff!!! Lot's of stuff too....right? I know I do and I am not a frequent shopper either. Which makes me realize there are homes all over filled to the brim with stuff. 

I started going through our home and beginning to decide what is going to happen to our stuff. Yesterday I loaded up a few things and took them over to my younger daughters house. Today I loaded up even a few more things and went back over. In fact, I took a nail and hammer to begin putting those things up in her home. She loves my stuff!!!

So now we are planning what to give away, sell and throw out. We would like to leave here with nothing but the clothes on our backs. This should be fun taking 30 years of things and giving them another home. Most of what I own used to belong to my parents, grandparents or given to me as gifts. So I pretty much treasure everything that I have been given over all these years. The first thing I plan to do is to check with all the kids in my family who wants what....then the nieces and nephews....pretty much all that is here is some type of family heirloom. What they don't want we will sell or donate.....sounds like a plan!


I took this picture when watching the sunrise on the beach, 2016.

Living Vicariously

I always tell my mom that I am living vicariously through her. She has always been the type of person that is not afraid to travel places. She doesn't even mind getting lost and says those have been her best adventures. My father was the same way and I never really appreciated this about them more than now.

They traveled by ship to Africa when I was only 6 weeks old in 1958. Who does that with a new born? Now that I have had my own children I often think how crazy that would be to do now much less in the 50's. When I became a grandmother I was horrified at how my grandparents must have felt at them leaving with their grandchild. Talk about anxiety!

I have to admit that at my age I more than admire both my parents for their adventuresome spirit. My brother inherited those genes and loves to travel too. I do enjoy discovering new places more than most but not at the level my parents did. I think because I grew up that way for the first decade of my life I now feel the urge to follow in their footsteps instead of living vicariously through their memories.

Lavinia Spalding, 43, writing and teacher in San Francisco said it best: Don't think about it too much. Don't make pro and con list. Pro and con list are nothing but trouble. If you think about it too much, you'll just end up staying home and then someday you'll be telling your grandchildren, "I always wanted to do that" instead of showing them photos of the trips you took and giving them advice on where to go. Over the years, family and friends have said to me, "I'm living vicariously through you." Don't ever live vicariously. This is your life. Live!  ....quoted from the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts


I took this picture at Bethesda by the Sea garden.


Fear

We were fearless when we were young and then life shows you a few too many things to fear. In my 50's I am having to overcome more fears than I care to admit. We don't want fear to keep us from living our dream. It is so easy to do and easier to just stay put because of fear. I have relatives that won't leave the house if there is a rain cloud above their house and I have other relatives that travel in ice storms and monsoons. I am hoping there is a happy medium. I have no desire to drive in perilous weather but I don't want my day to be decided on by the weather either.

There are health issues to fear but I really believe getting out of the house is always healthier. Walking and doing at any age is always best. I love to walk and can walk several miles easily. 

I love how Rolf Potts put it in his book Vagabonding - Never underestimate your ability to learn and adapt quickly - and don't waste your time fretting about every possibility that might come your way on the road. Again, simple courage is worth far more than detailed logistics, and a confident, positive, ready-to-learn attitude will make for any travel savvy you lack at the outset.  With such an attitude, most people find themselves brimming with confidence after their first few days of vagabonding - and kicking themselves for not having mustered the courage to do it years ago. (Chapter 4)


This picture was taken when my husband took me to see the sunrise on the beach in 2006.

Dream

When we were young we dreamed of being "rock stars" then realities of life came along and our own dreams turn into the dreams for our children. We have all been there thinking that our children would get life right because we were motivated to help them reach their own dreams. Life comes along for our children too and there you are feeling you will leave the dreaming to another generation instead. At my age I really didn't believe it was possible to still dream. Especially after life crushed so many before. It is possible!

Right now we are in the "dream" stage for the first time in many, many years. We are like high school teens picking out the perfect college and what will we be when we grow up kind of thing. This is the first time that I actually don't find myself filled with anxiety over what may be wrong with one of my kids or one of my grandkids. I had an "aha" moment not long ago that I am not doing my kids any favor by worrying over them. If anything all the anxiety is taking me to an early grave.

My husband and I are very controlling personalities and we want to control everyone around us. We have learned that we have NO control of anything, especially our children. So lesson learned, let's learn to live by letting go. If we poured into them anything good then they will benefit and hopefully wherever we failed - which was often - God can help them without our interference.

I love this picture of me with my youngest daughter Deena on top of Stone Mountain Georgia.

Prayer!

My husband has been talking about retiring now for a couple of years. I can't imagine us stopping long enough to even make a plan much less retire. We are empty nesters but our home is constantly filled with kids and grandkids. There have been those quiet moments that we never knew before and we find that we absolutely love it more than we could have ever imagined. Then the house fills up again and the only way to describe it is like trying to come up for air after jumping in a very deep swimming pool, gasping for breath. We love our children and we absolutely adore our grandchildren. We have also found that we love our time together too, just the  two of us. Absolutely "heavenly!"

We have been parents for four decades and grandparents for two decades. To be honest we never took time to imagine our lives without them. I believe I spent most of my kids lives grieving their growth and that one day they would leave our nest. I grieved each time one of my kids became pregnant with my grandkids because of all the worries, fears and anxieties I felt raising my own kids.

I never suffered postpartum depression at all when my babies were infants. It came much later in their teenage years but that may have been called something else altogether (menopause) but feels much the same. We were so busy raising children, then grandkids and one day when I took my youngest to college I had a day all to myself. Freedom to do whatever I chose to do without having to work around a music lesson or church event. Trust me it was short lived but I got a taste of that freedom and I didn't hate it.

This past year our youngest grandkids began to attend pre-school and we found ourselves with more time to do things we had only talked about. We began to take day trips together, weekend getaways and weeklong vacations to places we never had the opportunity to go before. We found that we were perfect traveling companions and loved discovering out of the way places. It has been such a joy for us to plan on where we are going next.

That is where "prayer" comes in like in everything else we are making it a matter of prayer - our plan to go on a long trip. One that requires we sell our home and leave our family longer periods of time. We came up with the idea together so we know it's the right plan because when do two people ever agree on anything right?  We are eager for this adventure and can't wait until it begins. For now, it is a matter of prayer and we are asking others to pray too. In most cases, my prayer request is just to ask for prayer without all the details because I don't think anyone will take time to pray if I requested prayer about our "nomadic journey!" They would be too fearful for us or think we are silly and I certainly understand. So until then we will be "praying!"


These are two pictures combined that I took on different mornings of the sunrise.