Our final week in the states is a blurred memory of buying and selling things. We had a short list of everything we thought we needed and a 3-bedroom apartment full of things that had to go. We had an epic ‘everything must go’ garage sale, that literally consisted of strangers walking throughout our townhouse (we never actually got the things into the garage) unplugging T.Vs and grabbing paintings off of our walls, as Jarrell repeatedly asked me the price of everything, while I swiped credit cards on my iPhone in between telling everyone that would listen how we were going to Peru so that I could teach English. Whew! I tried to make that sentence as tiring as the actual process. By the time it was over, we sat in our empty apartment, exhausted, and for the first time it hit us: This was really happening. We were going to travel the world indefinitely.
We still haven’t made it to Peru, but I am amazed at where we have been. When we set out, our plan was to backpack throughout South America for three years, ending with a finale at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. We decided to take three years to focus on ourselves, disconnect from the rat race and prepare to have children. And by prepare, I mean have slumber parties every night, sleep in every morning, co-sign each other’s risky business ideas (that may or may not cost all of our savings) and travel the world, while only having to deal with my temper tantrums.
When we got married in Vegas, we drove across the country, in my silver Honda Accord packed to the brim with my wardrobe and beloved shoe collection (I do hope their new owners are taking great care of them), to our hometown of Columbus, Ohio. We decided, before our private nuptials, that we were dedicated to creating the lifestyle we wanted. On that road trip, we tasked ourselves with articulating our dreams so that we could finally create a visual of what our ideal life looked like. Halfway through Utah we realized that the cliché quote I learned in corporate America, “perception is reality”, was pretty true. We had our one perspective of the world, and while it seemed real and all encompassing, it wasn’t. Despite our desires our dreams were extremely limited because our pool of experiences was, well, limited. We knew that in order to create the grandest, most unique lifestyle we could imagine, we simply needed to live and experience more. After shocking our parents with our decision to get married and having to tell our sisters they couldn’t come (my big brother didn’t really care.. hehe), we couldn’t just run away to see the world immediately after our wedding. So, we found an apartment, signed a 12-month lease, and told everyone we were leaving when the lease was over. We grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where (like many other places, I’m sure) people talk about moving their entire lives without ever going anywhere. So, I imagine my mother didn’t think it would actually happen until she stood, teary-eyed, next to me in line at TSA, making sure she saw her baby daughter’s face until the last possible second. We said goodbye to our families and began our journey from Ohio exactly two years ago today.
After a night in Ft. Lauderdale, we flew out to Panama, City to begin our life abroad, without a clue that it would lead us to the places we’ve seen, the beautiful people we’ve met, or most importantly, the glimpses of different lifestyles that we’ve encountered. I often struggle trying to explain to those around me how much this life altering decision has changed my perspective, as well as my ideas about life. We’ve lived with families who spend all of their time together, raising children while balancing entrepreneurship. When we quit our careers, we knew that we wanted a lifestyle that allowed us to spend our days together. We wanted our own individual projects, but we also wanted a business that we worked together to build and grow. Seeing other people doing it made our idea real. It gave us a template, a model, and proof that we weren’t crazy.
I could go on and on with different experiences that have presented different lifestyles to us, but because that was the goal, it is to be expected. We knew we would expand our life experience pool, so that we could better carve out a lifestyle unique to us, because that was the point of the trip. What we didn’t anticipate was the impact it would have on us. Abandoning your comfort zone forces vulnerability in a way I’ve only ever experienced from intense drunkenness. You know, when you’re at that stage right before you either pass out or vomit, and your brain just won’t allow you to lie? You’re the most honest and open in your life in that drunken stage, and indefinite travel has given me a much purer (and less sloppy) example of that vulnerability. It’s taken me back to my childhood feelings of confidence, when I actually thought that I could do and be whatever I wanted. My newfound vulnerability has eliminated the pessimistic questions that used to follow every idea I had as an adult, such as, “How will you fund that?” “How will that make money?” “How much money will it make?” Because I didn’t know what I wanted, I was never sure of myself and could not fully believe in my ideas. Now I am, for the first time, sure about what I want in my life, and that intense desire allows me to focus and lead my life without questioning my intuition.
Throughout my life I’ve often been surprised by my accomplishments. I couldn’t believe I graduated from college, or moved to LA, or set out to see the world. Not anymore. I’m not shocked that I’ve managed to travel the world for two years, while building the most ambitious and amazing family foundation I could imagine with my best friend. I’m not surprised, because I know myself and believe in my process. I visualize my dreams so vividly that I can see them, taste them, hear them, and breathe them. Then I go make shit happen! And I’ve learned that those pessimistic questions don’t stand a chance when faced with passion. When I truly desire something, no amount of money or doubt can keep me from achieving it. And the Universe works with me every time I move in a direction that is in agreement with my happiness and betterment.
In a way, my blog has become my love letter to the Universe, which has constantly mesmerized me with its possibilities. I have always been a firm believer in the power of speaking things into existence, and often declare coincidences to be signs from the Universe. But this journey has multiplied that belief, along with my self-awareness and confidence. More than confidence in my looks, confidence in my talent, my resilience and my ability to commit to a goal and see it through to completion. I didn’t think I could love a person as much as I loved Jarrell when we got married. Now I look back on that time as a sweet beginning, as my love has grown along with my trust and belief. No one can ever say they know Jarrell the way that I do, because no one else has slept in a tent in the Panamanian jungle with him. Or got lost on the dark streets of Paris, laughing at our inability to retrace our steps. They haven’t planned a birthday for him in Amsterdam, taste testing marijuana strands in coffee shops and they have no idea how excited he was to eat pizza in Naples for my 28th birthday. We have shared some of the most remarkable experiences together, tasted some of the most incredible foods, and widened our perspective on life, together.
Years from now I hope our children will look back on our journey and understand how cool their parents
were are. But I doubt they will ever understand that this was all for them. Our bootcamp to parenthood, as we begin the never-ending mission of understanding who we are, what we want and how we want to live.
I’m writing this article from Istanbul, Turkey, our 47th stop, in our 18th country over the last two years into our honeymoon around the world. Looking at the mountains in Utah, I never imagined our life together could be so magnificent. I’m so happy and proud that we committed – to each other, but more importantly, to creating the lifestyle we want.