The Ties That Bind

Man oh man, what a week I’ve had. To put this in perspective, I’m 36 weeks pregnant and my entire summer of emotional drama pales in comparison to what has transpired over the last 10 days. I feel like a wet noodle. I’m actually surprised and utterly shocked that the decision to sell our home has left me totally conflicted in my feelings. I’m, personally, somewhat sad, but I’m the only one. Everyone else in this family is jumping for joy, they are so excited, and of course, this makes me happy. I didn’t think I had any real ties to this house, but it has been our home for 11 years and the only place more than half the kids even remember. I guess I do have an emotional bond with this place, or at least with the idea of this place. I mean, I’d have to be a feelings zombie not to. The kids have built forts and made creeks and made permanent snowboarding jumps, bike jumps, sled jumps — you name it, they’ve built it. Everywhere I turn there is a memory, the deck that Dan and Kenny slaved over years ago, the bedroom Kady painted, the floors we all laid, the rooms we built, the trees the kids climb to get on the roof, paintball, lizard hunting, etc. Every hole in the wall has a story, every bedroom has housed different kids over the years, homecoming pictures, prom pictures, holidays, etc. And, the most haunting thought — in October, I’ll have brought 7 babies home from the hospital to this house.

I also struggle with the idea that perhaps having a home is extremely important in nurturing a young child’s security. Their own home, their own bed, their own space … are we doing the right thing? And what about all our traditions? They all center around having a home, like hiking up into the National Forest to cut down our Christmas Tree. Even silly traditions like the fact that for 2 weeks after Christmas we don’t even leave the house, we play Call of Duty for hours on end, watch movies and eat junk food. Family game nights will be all but a thing of the past as we don’t have room for all this “stuff” in the RV. But really, I think that’s why we are pursuing this life. Replacing family game nights with family GAME nights — Kick the Can, Ghost in the Graveyard, and star gazing, etc. Being together in action, being together in actual living…Simplicity and Fun — two things greatly missing from the American Dream of this decade.

For us, the American Dream boils down to living in true happiness and teaching our children the meaning of life. Happiness dwells in all our souls. The key to finding it and maintaining it is to keep your mind focused on those times when you feel at peace. For me, it is released in freedom. It’s here that I can find happiness again and again. The meaning of life must be found within ourselves. “Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something molded.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery. People today are lacking the experience of being alive. The world is full of people who no longer listen to themselves, but instead listen to the louder chant of “More! More! More!”. They are insensitive to the innocent beauty of the world around them, they wear blinders and have become numb to raw emotion. To understand the sheer lack of consciousness amongst people today, you need only look at the young. Children are our greatest testament to life. Everyday is a renewal for them. Everyday a brand new start. They experience the rapture of being alive, they notice everything and feel everything in its truest form. I desperately want to pass on to our children the idea, the notion that life is nothing short of a series of voluntary actions. Regardless of what any of us encounter in life, whatever we are preparing for is what we will get. I am not raising victims of circumstance, but rather heroes of destiny. Eager, happy participation in all of lifes joys and trials is what we should all aspire to. A priest in Indianapolis put me on the path to understanding how to be joyous even in struggles when he spoke of carrying our crosses with hope and faith that the cross is merely a road to a better place. Sure life is not all rainbows and lollipops, but if we merely endure our strifes as a dead end road and anticipate the worst – we will encounter the worst. But if we hold our heads high, experience the pain and anticipate the relief at the end of the tunnel, we not only glorify God, but we emerge better, stronger, happier people.

Perhaps the most powerful quote I ever read was from Joseph Campbell, “We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.”

Could we do all this from our house? Perhaps. But from there we would need to be consciously seeking the adventure, whereas from the road we are living adventure. We wake up excited to start the day, it’s as though we are reigniting the flame of our childhood. We are free. We are authentic to our true selves, we are not submitting to the slavery that society is dictating. Teaching by example is a direct byproduct of our lives. The experience of being beautifully alive is easily buried in the “real world’ as there are so many distractions. TV, Computers, Playstation, Wii, Cell Phones, Politics, Jobs, money, errands, sports, etc. become our focal point. But from the road, while we may occasionally find WiFi, and hop onto Facebook or catch the latest news, for the most part we are uninformed nomads immersed in living. It’s amazing!! When you come to the realization that your life is exactly what you make it, that you are either to be commended or to be blamed, that’s when you become empowered. And my purpose in life is to empower my children. I will not raise adults who are in a cubicle coma 5 days/week. I will not raise adults who proclaim TGIF and who await their 2 weeks of vacation in the same anticipation as they do Christmas.

My purpose in life is as a mother. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way: “[T]o know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. That is to have succeeded.” I want to enable my children to breathe easier. Being free of others expectations allows you to breathe easier. Being free from excessive financial obligations allows you to breathe easier. Being completely free to live your life according to your own rules allows you to breathe oh so much easier. And to breathe easier is to change the world. This is our gift to our children.

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32 Comments

    • This is so true! I wish everyone would listen to your advice. I have told this to my Son, we homeschooled him and took him all over the US when he was little and he loves to travel. When you learn how to make yourself happy, you can face anything.

      We spent 6 weeks on the road last year in our tiny Solar Powered RV. We had a blast, can’t wait until this year!

    • Will you be bringing any of your dogs with you? And will you ever breed dogs again? You have a special talent and we appreciate it every day in our beautiful golden doodle.

      • We have our pups in special homes that mimic our socialization abilities … families with active, fun, happy kids!! 🙂 We breed once every year. 🙂

  • I am speechless. You write as though you are 200 years old, yet you look as though you may be 25, I know this is not the case, but it doesn’t change either fact. This is the only blog I have ever felt compelled to share on facebook and I read blogs daily. I am absolutely enamored with your view of the world, with your view of your calling, your motherhood, your faith. God Bless your family ten fold, may you touch millions and millions of lives with your stark truth.

  • Sue,
    We love and will miss your incredible family. What I love more is how you both love and treasure your children. Your insight is incredible and I know God will keep all of you safe on this new incredible journey! Love you guys!

  • How do you find the time to be, not only phenomenal parents, but philosophers as well? This was the coolest blog I’ve read, I’ve printed it and posted it on our fridge for my husband to read when he comes home. Why are we so attached to an area, a house, things? The age old question.

  • I’ve tried to put myself in your shoes, not sure we could ever leave our house and we actually hate it. Comfort, security are nice feelings. I tend to cling to those.

  • Pingback: Zoe
  • My husband just sent me an article that linked to your blog–just wanted to ask where you took the picture that’s above this post, because we have one just like it from Arches National Park. We’re also a homeschooling family, with 8 kids, and we remember Glenwood Springs fondly because we started off one of our many megadriving vacations from there one year.

    God bless your journey and keep you safe wherever you go!

  • I think so…if you want to see it, shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you!

    Also, if you guys ever make it near Vero Beach, Florida, we’d love to meet you! Not too many large, Catholic, travel-loving families around…

  • Well, it sounds like karma to me…the Indian River lagoon is a great place to paddle, as is the ocean, and there’s a Walmart. We’re steps from the beach, with a heated pool, so if you’re driving around in the dead of winter and need a place to warm up, keep us in mind!

    God bless, and prayers for a safe and healthy delivery!

  • You are so inspiring. People talk about doing what you are doing, but few ever put that talk into action!
    I have 4 adult children; wish I’d have done something like this with them!
    I blogged about a one-year hike on a local canal towpath trail, and the experience was so awesome! Reading your blog makes me want to get back out there and experience nature again.

  • Just happened upon your blog! So happy I did what fortunate children to have
    parents like you two. Love so many parts of the blog,No Video games,no cell phones
    etc. You are all truly free! I will follow every blog from this day forward.

    Thank for sharing this wonderful experience with the world I know I Love You All.

    Marlene

  • Wow, I just read today about your family and the fun adventure you are having…makes me wanting to do what you are into with my only adult son, a 2 year old grandaughter, 2 babies (our dogs) and my husband… wishing to also give these opportunities of living free from all these world distractive atachments to my son and his daughter. GOD will make a way (provision that is) for us to do the same with what you are enjoying a real life!!

  • “I am not raising victims of circumstance, but rather heroes of destiny..” This brought tears 🙂 only momentarily though! As they were happy tears and your message is so refreshing and eye opening. My husband and I (married 4 years, no kiddos yet) have thought frequently, “We could do this.. right? Sell the house, buy a badass Airstream and hit the road! Yea!! ..” but the answer that inevitably follows is what you have decided doesn’t matter.. None of it (daily grinding, “normal” American life) is real, what IS real is Love, Closeness, Happiness.. all in its truest form, it comes in different packages for all people, we just happen to be nomads at heart, and adventure with the ones you love is the bow on top 😉 I admire you, you’re a phenomenal Mother and one amazing woman!!

  • LOVE it! I have toyed with doing something like this with my family! I only just started reading about you and your adventures… do you mind telling me how you afford this lifestyle… that is our real hang up on doing something like this…. you are probably making income from the blog and publishing/inteviews you are getting now, but how were you making a living in the beginning? Thank you. Thank you for making kids that will add to other peoples lives.

  • Just amazingly wonderfull is all l can say. Tell me something – how do you make ends meet? where do you get you daily bread from? you know income related activities.

  • I am simply amazed on reading this blog. I have taken a printout to let it read other. This is such a dream that my inner me always dreamt about. But I know it will always be a dream for me, from my part of world.
    I pray from my heart for you and family’s goodness !

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