“Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway”

I’ve always been attracted to the fantasy of travel, of living on the road, seeing exotic places – being a nomad. Even as a little girl, I would dress up like a gypsy and dream of going wherever the wind would take me.

 

When I turned 18 most of my friends went off to college or got jobs close to home. Not me, I wanted to see the world and sail the 7 seas, so I joined the Navy.  My father got it, his gift to me was a gorgeous Atlas, inscribed with “My daughter, use this Atlas to see where you are, look for the places you’re going to be, and someday with this book, you’ll tell me all that you saw ~ Dad”.

I missed home and would visit when I could, but was always ready for the next adventure.

 

Then, I grew up. I fell in love. I had babies and moved home. I was happy. I had family, good friends, and an amazing community. When my youngest finally let go of the boob and peed in the potty at 3, I began to fantasize again. Not too long after, the world was turned upside down, inside out, chewed me up and spit me out. After my father died, I went into; carpe diem, seize the day, life is short so just fucking do it already mode.

 

Two months later I asked my husband if he’d be willing to quit his state job, give up his pension and leave everything behind to live on the road.  This was not the first time I’ve come up with – in all seriousness – a RADICAL, CRAZY ASS, CRACK POT IDEA.   His passive aggressive agreeable nature has gotten us into trouble before.  So, of course, he said, “Whatever makes you happy honey.”

I don’t think he understood the gravity of his words until he came home that night and saw me anxiously checking the computer, he asked what I was doing…I said, “Well, I’m checking Ebay to see if I WON THE BID on this $30k RV.” Sixteen hours later we were the proud owners of a 32 ft purple RV, our kids college fund went to shit over night, and my husband got a crash course in speaking his mind.

Our departure date was set, we drove to Buffalo to pick up the PURPLE PEOPLE EATER, my husband quit his job, we rid our selves of cars, pets, furniture, house, years of accumulated crap, and put the rest in storage. The response from our friends and family varied from “please let us come!”, to a legit full-blown intervention with a power point presentation and all. The populous consensus was that we were insane. We packed up the RV, waved good-bye and hit the open road.

I’d like to say at that moment I felt pure excitement, complete freedom, jubilation and overwhelming joy…..in reality I was totally shitting my pants. What the hell was I thinking? My 11 year old was missing her formative years with her friends and going to storm out of the RV one day to take up residence on the sunset strip to a life of hooking and heroine, my 5 year old would become a recluse video gamer who only ate hot pockets, and my 3 year old would never learn to socialize and become a cat lady.  In 3 months we would run out of money, sell illegal fireworks on the side of the road and end up in a Mexican jail. For a solid 2 days I stewed in what-ifs, guilt, regret and pure panic. Then slowly, day by day, hour by hour, sweet moment by sweet moment, it started to dissipate….I began to lighten up. One day, not too long in to the journey, there was a moment I will never forget. The music was blasting (Up Around the Bend), the kids were dancing on the furniture, we were all singing at the top of our lungs….the road was completely open and we had no where to be and everywhere to go. I still get teary thinking of that moment, because there were hundreds more like it in the years that followed.…peaceful abandon, giddy adventure, unadulterated happiness. There were so many moments where the boundaries of time were so blurred, that a day seemed like a week, or a month like an hour.

We danced with Navajos, played in the clouds of the Grand Canyon, followed the trails of Sacagawea, floated down the rivers of the Midwest, hugged trees older than our civilization, explored historic monuments, national parks, and all of the NOOKS & CRANNIES in-between. We dove into the little pockets of sub-cultures in our country, listened , learned, saw, ate, and drank it all in.

I wish I could say I’m fearless and EPICALLY BRAVE, but in reality I’m really quite a pansy. I can be anxious, overly cautious, and a total scaredy cat. But, the thing is….that never stops me. I think I’m more afraid of letting society mold me and limit my vision. I’ve never been very good at conformity anyway, and stepping out of the daily program of society is the ultimate place to regain one’s “self”, learning to dance to the rhythm of my own individuality and those close to me. Who said, “Feel the fear and do it any way”, because I think of how different my life would be if I let that fear guide me.

I was also responsible for 3 more budding souls and I needed to decide what kind of role model I wanted to be for them. They saw me white knuckled going over the Rockies, but get back in the RV. They saw someone terrified to jump, but leap off a cliff.

I have VIVID PRICELESS MEMORIES, an amazing supportive husband that still stands behind my insanity, and 3 fierce amazing daughters growing up to be stout feminists and individualist lovers of life that have a deeper understanding of the world than most adults I know. They also know how to GO AFTER THEIR DREAMS.

Starting EPIC is a different story with a similar message.

Bottom line……. If you want the BIG PAYOFF you need to take BIG RISK.