Jumping back in the box

Dear reader,

Before you read this post I need you to promise not to laugh at me. I know that you could have told me what I’m about to say years ago, but I didn’t get it until yesterday morning. I know… I know… But still, I need you to promise you won’t laugh at me.  I really do.

So – raise your right hand and repeat after me: I (fill in your name) do hereby solemnly swear that I won’t laugh at Nancy no matter how utterly ridiculous this post is.  Amen.

I had an epiphany moment yesterday morning. It was one of those moments when the heavens opened up and I was bathed in a ray of clear white light and suddenly – just like that – everything was made clear. (Well, maybe not everything, but if I’m going with clichés, I might as well take them and run.)

For the past few months I’ve had this internal struggle going on. I wanted to go back and live in a tiny little house in Boise, Idaho and write a book and write blog posts and live happily ever after, but there was this Little Niggling Voice in the back of my mind who wouldn’t let me do it.

A real traveler wouldn’t want to settle down in Boise,” it said.

“You’re right,” I replied, “and since I want to do it, then I must not be a real traveler.”

Somehow I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that I could stay in one place for a while. After 27 years of continual travel, I… I don’t know… I wouldn’t be true to myself? I wouldn’t be true to who I was? I would somehow betray myself by settling down?

As hard as I tried to shut the little voice up, it just kept popping up.

Little Niggling Voice (LNV): You can’t settle down and be in one place. You’ll become boring.

Me: Maybe boring is OK.

LNV: No it’s not.

Me: Yes, it is.

LNV: You’ve worked too hard to get out of that box to go back in.

Me: You’re right, I have. I can’t go back in.

LNV: Yes you can.

Me: No I can’t. I can’t live in the box.

LNV: You can.

Me: I can’t.

Somehow I couldn’t allow myself to settle down. Boise wasn’t exciting enough. It wasn’t exotic enough. It wasn’t good enough. I deserved better.

Me: There’s no place I would rather live than Boise. There’s no place better.

LNV: Yes there is.

Me: Where?

LNV: Lots of places.

Me: Like where?

LNV: Lots of places.

Me: Boise is a great place.

LNV: You can’t settle down. You keep saying it’s OK to jump out of the box and live your dreams.

Me: I did live my dream. I lived all 17,300 miles of it. Now I can go back to Boise

LNV: No you can’t.

Me: Yes I can.

LNV: No you can’t.

The conversation has gone on for the past few months. I wanted to move to Boise and settle down, but I couldn’t accept it. That might work for others, but not for me.

Until yesterday.

I was wandering around and it suddenly hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. The bricks fell down and smashed my head wide open and I realized my story has never been about the cycling. It’s never been about the travel.

It’s been about pursuing your passion and following your dreams. It’s been about chasing rainbows and finding your pot of gold at the end and shaking hands with the leprechaun. It’s been about the idea that it’s okay to leap out of the box and grab life by the horns and live it on your own terms. You don’t have to live the way anybody expects you to live – you can live the way you want to live!

LNV: But that doesn’t pertain to you.

Me: Yes it does.

LNV: No it doesn’t.

Me (yelling and shouting and stamping my feet): It does too pertain to me! I can live life the way I want to also! I jumped out of the box and rode my bike to the ends of the world with my children – that’s about as far out of the box as you can get.

LNV: You’re right. That’s pretty far out. That’s way out.

Me: I’m glad we agree on something. But it also means that I can jump back in the box if I want to! I don’t have to stay out if I don’t want to – I can chase my rainbow and find my pot of gold in that box if I want. If I want to settle down in Boise and live happily ever after, I can. Right there in my own little box nestled next to my own little leprechaun.

LNV: You’re right.

Me: I know.

That was it – my EUREKA moment. My epiphany. The moment of clarity I’ve been chasing all these months. I can stay out of the box if I want; but I can jump back in too. It’s all about pursuing your passion and living your dreams. And I can do it too.

I don’t care if I’m a real traveler or not. I don’t care if I never set foot on another airplane or take another pedal stroke or pack up another pannier. I can live life on my own terms and do what makes me happy. I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of me. I can jump right back in that box if I darn well please and build my nest and live my happily ever after.

And you know what?  That’s okay!!

LNV: You’re right.

Me: I know. It feels great.

LNV: Good night. Sleep well.

Me: I will. Thank you.

Does this mean the struggle is over? Absolutely not – we’ve still got a lot of details to hammer out and figure out how all the pieces will fit into the puzzle. What it does mean is that I’m okay with staying in Boise if that’s how the pieces fit. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out logistics – but that’s the easy part. Making the decision is the tough part, and that’s now behind me.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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28 Responses to Jumping back in the box

  1. Powell Berger June 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Great post! No laughing…just a lot of nodding. I’m guessing you’ll find a way to make Boise as unconventional and out-of-the-box as your travels and your bike trip. That’s what we do, us out-of-the-box people. It just takes the LNV to kick us back into focus from time to time!

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  2. Amy @LivinOnTheRoad June 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    It’s always fun to try something different. If you’ve been travelling for most of 27 years, then staying in one place will be just another thing to experience.

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  3. Rain June 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I took the oath and did not laugh. I am so happy for you! You will rock Boise just like you rocked the Road. And I suspect it will be far outside the box, still. Remember, most folks’ boxes are VERY small…even in Boise ;-). Wishing you all the best settling in!

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  4. Emily June 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    Thanks Nancy. This is a great post! True to yourself? That means you’re always in the right place :)

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  5. Nancy June 14, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    I didn’t write it in the post, but I figured out that MY 9 – 5 was life on the road – so really I’m jumping out of THAT box into what most people would consider THE box. It was just that the post was already so long… Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out. Thanks all!

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  6. Gillian @OneGiantStep June 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Awesome post Nancy!! It’s true, as ‘travelers’ we all eschew the ‘regular’ life but really, REALLY, it’s about living the life that makes us happy! And always, always, always it’s the making the decision that’s the hard part. I can’t wait to hear about life in Boise!

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  7. Lisa Wood June 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Wow – thats amazing that you feel happy with the decision you are about to make. I can so relate to your decison to jump out of the box and to jump back in again!
    We are about to start our journey of travelling Australia in our Motorhome. The other night I said that I could never live in a house ever again. Maybe a flat or apartment but not a house. I do not want the responsibility of cleaning a big house :) But I am not sure if I would like to travel for 12 months or longer.

    Its amazing what our inner voice can tell us :) Good on you for listening.

    Cheers
    Lisa

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  8. Traveling Ted June 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    I am not laughing one bit. This was an amazing post about the internal struggle that we all have whether we are travelers or not. The old cliché rings true: the grass is always greener; however it can be equally green on both sides if we make peace with ourselves.

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  9. Melanie Gow June 15, 2011 at 1:44 am #

    Dear Nancy,

    We are looking forward to featuring you this Month, and we just wanted to say we thank, for you staying in Boise will be an adventure as it is not something you have done for so long you can’t remember it, and you are a very different person to the one you were last time you were of fixed abode .. we here at BL see this as much of an adventure for you. All Good Wishes ..

    warm regards,

    Melanie Gow, editor

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  10. Shane June 15, 2011 at 3:01 am #

    If living outside the box is about challenging yourself and grabbing life by the horns…..After so long on the road I can’t think of a bigger challenge and adventure than trying to live in one place:)

    Good luck and have fun…

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  11. Heidi June 15, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    Dreams come in all different shapes and sizes and can change over the course of a lifetime. It’s ok to pursue all of them even if they’re not the same as before. I often have to remind myself too that I don’t need to pick one thing and stick to it for the rest of my life “be a type”. Now THAT’S a box…

    Thanks, once again, for the insight – always gets me thinking…:)

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  12. Thomas Arbs June 15, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    Nancy, I think you put one of the more important parts into that last comment. You have proven a real traveler so much and so far it really does require courage of sorts for you to jump out of that other 9-5 life into the Boise, Idaho life.

    It will be another grand new adventure worth trying, and be it only for a while.

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  13. Eva Gill June 15, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Nancy~ you know how to leave the box. It will never be a trap for you in the way it is for many people, so you have no need to fear it. Settling into it is not “ever after,” only “for now,” until your heart tells you it is otherwise. Enjoy the ride.

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  14. Harry & Ivana June 15, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Good for you.

    I hate that LNV, it is bothering me a lot lately as well. But I think that having a LNV at all is the true sign of being able to think about the box, and thinking is the first step of getting out of it.

    That said, I am sure we will finally bump into each other on some faraway country road ;-)

    Cheers from ash-covered Patagonia

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  15. Peg Kerr June 15, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    You know, this reminds me of the internal struggle I had after I published two novels and then got permanently stopped by writers block on my third. Eventually I stopped trying to write fiction for publication. I was tormented by the thought, was I a writer anymore? When does my ‘writer’ sell by date expire?

    It occurred to me that there were writers who had only written one book–Harper Lee is a good example. Or Ralph Ellison. Did I think of them as ‘no longer writers’? No, of course I don’t. They will always be writers in my mind, just as you are always a traveler.

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  16. Houston June 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I’m happy for you that you made that realization. I came to a very similar realization while riding the Atacama. Most everyone has trouble believing that long term travel is a lot of work and at the end it’s worth everything to have time to settle down with the people you love.

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  17. Sheilia Scott June 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Great article. I have to say, however, that *your*LNV is a lot more “agreeable” ultimately than mine. Mine just finally shrugs, mutters “…for the now” and lapses into grumpy silence. (“for the now”) :-)

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  18. Justin June 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    It’s about the adventure and there are all kinds of adventures. Blogging is an adventure. Writing. Kids. There are so many great things in life. It’s pretty cool that you are able to let yourself let some other good stuff come on in. Can’t wait to see how your new adventures play out!

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  19. Deborah June 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Thoughtful post. I don’t think your new “box” is the same one you left…and many of the details of the building of it are up to you! When our children were small, my husband took a certain kind of a job in a certain kind of town…and when his apparently boundless horizons were found to be outside the bars of what had become a “gilded cage”… we changed “boxes”. Our new box is not one that restricts, but rather a stretchy relativistic one whose dimensions and shape are limited only by imagination and energy. We looked a long time for it…and I think we’ll probably take it with us from now on…it turns out to not be attached to place…

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  20. Becky June 16, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    The decision to stay is just as difficult to make as the decision to go in the first place. Planting roots for a while isn’t a bad thing, it is just a different thing. And maybe a lesson on how to plant roots is what you kids need – they have learned to travel more than most, should they not also learn to stay too (at least for a few years). Just a thought, but I totally understand your struggle.

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  21. Yvette June 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    You made me smile, is that ok? :D

    Your post reminds me of how a few months ago I went to Everest Base Camp which was a dream so far-flung I never believed I would make it there, and I decided what makes me tick isn’t that I’m the strongest or the smartest or any of those things but rather that I’m very good at accomplishing my dreams. Even if they’re as varied as being an astronomer or going to Africa or getting published or whatever other varied thing it is. Sure you have to work hard, but I think you do for most great things in life.

    I do think people often mix up their urge to travel with their dreams because (nerd alert) while the Venn Diagrams certainly overlap to a huge degree they’re not exactly the same thing. People who like to dream about travel are not imagining the layover from hell one has to prepare for, and if you only address the travel dreams and come home to the same ol’ thing travel is only a temporary solution in many ways. And it’s not completely healthy psychologically to always wish you’re somewhere else, y’know?

    At least that’s my philosophy on all this, your mileage may vary.

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  22. jjj June 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    a lot of “I”s in this post for a married woman with children

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  23. Nancy June 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    I think the box changes throughout life – the key is to always reevaluate and figure out what the box is and what the hamster wheel is. Sometimes it’s hard to know!

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  24. Peter Ratcliffe June 19, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Don’t fear whatever box you make for youself, nor fear building a new one in the future. The walls of any box are imaginary limits you make for yourself, so make sure any box you are in has windows you see the world clearly through and doors you can walk through so the box never feels like a cage.

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  25. Deborah June 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Just a note about jjj’s comment…Nancy’s sons are 13, the age of my youngest child. That is…almost grown. They’ll be out of the nest in a few short years, and Nancy and John, like me and my husband, can pull back a little on the day to day parenting…and decide how to spend the few years between now and the time that the kids leave the nest in a way that will keep family bonds strong while “letting go” the details more and more, and at the same time, allowing N & J to spend more time doing other things things that don’t necessarily involve their kids, things that are of value to N & J personally. My husband and I say to each other, “The golden years are NOW”. If I “sacrifice” my SELF for my children, I’m teaching them to be hollow in their turn…to “pass on” nothing of value…because there’s nothing there. How can one love one’s children if one doesn’t love one’s self? It can’t be done. So, here’s to “I”!

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  26. Wendy June 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Okay, Nancy, I solemnly took the oath not to laugh at your post… But, is it okay if I smiled just a little bit and chuckled just an itty bitt bit, too? :-)

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  27. Gene Royal June 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    CONGRATULATIONS! I have been watching and waiting for this. I hope that “Doing what I want to do!” (Stamp my foot!) is WWJD. I just reread Sheldon’s In HIs Steps (On my kindle which you inspired me to buy – that’s a whole ‘nuther story). I always told my 5 kids and 16 grandkids that was the first book to read after the Bible. I’ve replaced it for this desperate world with Safely home by Randy Alcorn. $8.51 on Kindle. However, after reading Safely home twice I had to go back and read In His Steps – free on Kindle.

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