I broke down to my husband telling him I couldn’t go on like this. We were sitting in the loft staring out the window at a stormy horizon. “Like this” meant pretty much everything. I will say until my dying breath that it WAS NOT A CRISIS. It felt like being awake. And everything, I mean everything, was unrecognizable. I looked at my reflection in the window and wondered who was staring back. I felt sad that I had been pretending to be something for so many years, and worried that my husband must not know me at all. We were dreaming together, and realized, in order to make things right we would have to shake things up.
I wondered how we had gotten so far from where we started. Sitting there, watching the snow fall outside, we made a drastic plan: he would go back to work and I would leave my career. We didn’t have much to lose. Or, conversely, there was so much to save. It was a choice we made in the moment, but the process and the unravelling of “going on like this” led us to reassess our priorities and get back to our core values.
We needed to do something unimaginable to keep our family together. The plan started to fall into place. Eventually, I quit my job and we left our home for seven months to travel around the United States. In the beginning it seemed like an impossible dream. It took a growth mindset and willingness to try and fail and faith that the end result would be as it should be. The outcome was not defined, it was open ended, and that was scary. I am a rule follower who enjoys measurable outcomes. During our road trip we would be a traveling family of unemployed road scholars (that’s what my kids called themselves). It was radical and epic. Many people described it as crazy. There was no Plan B.
Gone all those months, we could not come back unchanged. It was sink or swim. Some days we packed lunches and headed out on the trail together. Other days we threw the boys out of the car at an Interstate rest stop to play while we sat in silence. The boys grew life stories together and laughed and found a bit of peace as brothers. My husband and I connected in ways that weren’t possible in our busy lives before. He drove us safely around the country. And I got to listen to all the stories I had missed. The unbeatable thing about a family road trip is there isn’t much place to get away from each other. It made us listen and interact. It required us to solve problems. There were less distractions and more paying attention to the people and places around us. Being upended showed us its never too late to grow and change.
We made hard choices in order to live fully and present in our lives. We had to be intentional about what we wanted things to look like. In the beginning we were going in a million different directions, and searching for balance. In the end, we were unified and together. We had to practice saying no. We had to learn to slow down and savor the moments. There were no rules for the type of life we hoped to have. Truth: There is no perfect way to turn your life upside down. For us it required a breakdown, a shake up, and a long drive around the United States to get us back home.
One year ago, we left on a road trip around the United States (read about it here). We were a family going in different directions, so, we loaded up in our car and took the time to really BE with each other. Turning our lives upside down helped us put our lives back together.