Wanting to Be Stationary


“I would love to do what you’re doing!”

“I so wish I could figure out a way to quit my job and travel like you.”

“You’re living the life of my dreams!”

I used to get messages like those on a regular basis. Nearly every day I got an email from yet another person who looked at our life as though it was the ultimate – the pinnacle of aspirations.

And it WAS a good life! Together with my husband and children, I was riding my bicycle from Alaska to Argentina. All told, we pedaled 17,285 miles through fifteen countries. Our journey took nearly three years.

I loved our life on the road. I loved our connection to nature and each other. I loved that we were working together, as a family, toward a common goal. I loved the idea that we were striving toward a goal and not giving up.

family on bikes

There was much to love about our journey, but after a few years on the road, I found myself tiring of it all. As we cycled the highways and byways of South America, I found myself dreaming of having a space of my own. The artist in me dreamed of being surrounded by my lovely bead collection. I dreamed of modern conveniences like a stove that got hot with a simple twist of a knob, a washing machine, and that most miraculous of all modern inventions – running water. HOT running water was way too decadent to even dream of.

How does one reconcile the two? We were living a life so many dreamed of. People around the globe aspire to travel full-time, and we had figure out how to make it happen. We had done it! We had figured out what so many could never quite reach. And I didn’t want it any more.

Our arrival at the end of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina, was one of the most remarkable days in my life. After three years of working to reach that goal, we did it. We screamed and shouted. We hugged and kissed. We threw our bicycle helmets in the air in jubilant celebration.

And then we faced a vast void of… nothing.

For years, we knew where we were going. We knew what we were working toward. We knew – with crystal clarity – exactly what our goal was. And then, in the blink of an eye, we had nothing.

Should we keep going? Bike through Africa or Asia? After all, there was tremendous pressure for us to keep our wheels turning.

Or should we listen to that voice inside that told us it was time to change gears?

The next couple months were a blur. A blur of confusion as we tried to find our path and a place to live, figure out what to do about school for our sons, sort out all the conflicting emotions we felt, and think about what the future looked like for us. I likened it to sticking my brain in the blender turned on high. Brain puree.

Then one day I had one of those EUREKA moments. I remember the moment precisely. I was talking with a friend and realized, suddenly, that my message had never been about biking the length of the Americas. It never was about the travel. My message – what I had tried to convey through 1018 daily blog posts – was that we all need to pursue our passions and follow our dreams. Wherever they lead.

And that meant me too.

The important thing is that we run after our dreams. We need to chase rainbows and find our pot of gold at the end and shake hands with the leprechaun living there. It’s okay to leap out of the box and grab life by the horns and live it on our own terms. We don’t have to live the way anybody expects us to live – we can live the way we want to live!

And if that meant living in a small house in Boise, Idaho, surrounded by my beads, then that was perfectly okay. It’s my life to live, and I can live it the way I want.

It’s all about waking up every morning and knowing that what we do with the next 24 hours is what WE choose to do – not what somebody else chooses for us. It’s about making conscious choices and living deliberately.

If we live that way, we’ll always be content. We’ll live a life without regrets.

Photo by akshay moon

16 thoughts on “Wanting to Be Stationary”

  1. Melanie Murrish

    Love this Nancy, so honest. It reminded me of planning my wedding (on a much smaller scale of course). We got married in Italy and people came from all over the world, it was fab…….and then it was over. It was quite overwhelming for me.

  2. Wow, Nancy. What a beautiful post and realization. I read your bio and couldn’t help making a connection to you. My husband and I left public school teaching to pursue our passions and have never looked back. Some days we have those Eureka moments, but many of our days are just happy days of healthier habits. Freeing up our time and focusing on what WE wanted – rather that what others expected of us or what we felt we “had” to do – has led to a life we love. So happy that you are living life each day too!

  3. My first comment here because this article is really great! Not that the others were/are not but this one actually pretty fits my overall feeling.. so thanks for this article and catch your dreams!

  4. “The important thing is that we run after our dreams.”
    Thank you. I needed that at this very moment.

  5. Great post, filled with honesty. Even though it takes a great deal of courage to pursue a dream–it usually takes even more courage when the time comes to stop chasing that dream and follow a new path. Not everyone is able to take on that challenge so I commend you for that and then the willingness to write about it! Plus I think so many people are drawn to the travel part of any adventure because it offers such a striking departure and escape from their own lives–but then when you attempt something different it can seem like a betrayal because they can’t even imagine returning from that kind of life. No worries…you have to be true to yourself. Good luck on your next adventure!

  6. mahavir nautiyal

    Chasing dreams is fine but it becomes a put on and a burden if it is just to win accolades and approval from people or find an appreciative mention in news papers and magazines. A blank comes after the race is over and we feel exhausted. I have liked the blog because the writer realized the sombre truth. Nancy has made a profound statement when she writes, ” It is all about waking up every morning and knowing that what we do with the next 24 hours is what WE choose to do – not what somebody else chooses for us. It is about making conscious choices and living deliberately “.

  7. Nancy – it’s great to see the reality of ‘chasing your dreams’ actually written down. There are a lot of bloggers who simply write about the cool stuff and ignore the rest. I like seeing a level argument!

    – Razwana

  8. Loved this Nancy! Isn’t it interesting that the very people who are inspired by you following your dreams might put pressure on you to continue doing something after it’s no longer your dream? Having seen the amazing beadwork you create, I can understand why you would want to spread out and have them all on hand whenever the fancy takes you! Thanks for encouraging so many others to live their dreams!

  9. Nancy, thank you tons for sharing your inspiration and thoughts… truth resonated from every which way when you were talking about your realization… your words plucked my heart strings and made me realize how important following your passions is… even if that leads you in an initially unrecognizable direction – thanks again!

  10. Tracey – What a beautiful article. You have done what I am only just starting to figure out how to do…but I am determined to do it! Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. JS

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think it is a dream for a lot of us to travel and live care-free. But as you realized, ultimately, it’s passion that propels us to the ultimate happiness. You and your family made a remarkable journey together, and it’s amazing that your able to share this story with so many others. And some of the benefits of taking the journey together with your family, include strong family bonds and a fresh perspective. It’s inspiring. I don’t know what form of writing you’re passionate about, but whatever it is, you’ll have a fountain full of creative ideas from your 3 years of cycling/travel to pull from. Can I ask what inspired you and your family to take on this cycling journey? Were there initial goals that you had in mind and then later realized that maybe they were the intent of the journey after all? Awesome story.

  12. I think it’s almost with anything.. after awhile it gets old.

    And in your case you were actually moving towards a dream that did have an end by it’s very nature.

    Years ago my cousin agonized over if he should sell the doctor’s practice he had established right out of med school.. and follow his dream to live in Alaska.

    He told me later it was something I said that gave him the courage to finally jump.

    I told him “Do, it.. and when it’s not fun anymore, come home or do something else.”

    Fifteen years later the rascal is still in Alaska with the bears and eagles for neighbors.

    ~ darlene :)

  13. This is a great post, thanks so much for sharing your journey in this.

    It made me think of this quote – “the man who ceases to dream, ceases to live”

    Thanks for inspiring people to dream big and to chase those dreams!

  14. This is nice to ready. I’ve been traveling with my wife for some time and we haven’t tired of it, but we know eventually we will settle down again for a period. I wonder after we settle down how long it will last; if “settling down” to long term travelers only means temporarily stopping.

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