Eleven Years Ago + One Big Year Ahead

NMRToday marks the 11 year anniversary of my brother’s fall from a tree which resulted in a severe brain injury. Yesterday I gave my notice at a job I’ve had for over six years in anticipation of converting to 24/7/365 van life starting in March. Coincidence? Probably not.

As Jon, Penny Love and I embark on our year long adventure of living in our tiny house on wheels, it seems fitting to reflect on how we got here. Previous posts have eluded to a few reasons for our decision, but I’ve yet to mention Nicholas’ accident. It does not define me, but it has shaped me greatly. It seems trite to say that “life is short”, but it is and we could each fall out of the proverbial tree tomorrow.

Eleven years and one day ago that brother of mine was a fierce adventurer, a non-conformist wanderer to the core. I miss him, at times more than others, but always. The brain injured version of my brother probably will not remember, despite being told many times, that Jon and I are on a year long adventure around North America. The current iteration of Nicholas is incredibly strong and determined, but he’s not the rule-breaker that he once was. Therefore, fed in part by a desire to honor the guy I grew up with, the Roaming Robos are going to start living life as a series of mini-retirements starting in March. It’s official! My work community knows and now everyone knows, which feels incredibly comforting and exciting.

If you do a bit of digging, you will quickly find that van life is a bit of a movement these days. Do more with less, take the road less traveled, slow down, live in the moment, breathe. If you had the pleasure of knowing my big brother before he got hurt, you would probably agree that the vibe I just described feels awfully familiar. The ironic thing is that as I write this I realize that, due to difficulty with memory and learning, the Nicholas of today is still the definition of living “in the moment”. However, the biggest difference is that his independence has been replaced with a great deal of dependence, and it’s that independence that I miss the most. So, fueled by love for the present and in honor of the past, the Robos are going to take a break from the norm and adopt an adventurous and non-conformist approach to life for a bit. Thank you, Nicholas and the “village”, as my mom put it, that surrounds you.

(photo credit to my dad, Peter Robbins)

8 thoughts on “Eleven Years Ago + One Big Year Ahead

  1. Remembering this day always. Good luck to you and Jon, PSR! I just signed up to follow you.
    xo, L & S


  2. iam going to miss you
    i almost did not believe you last night when you told me lol


  3. Pamela,
    Loved reading this…and filled me with so many emotions. Ironically, last night at dinner, Jon and I were telling the kids Nick stories…how he would show up 3 days after his expected arrival because he got “distracted” by another adventure, how he and Jon would spend hours analyzing how best to pack a backpack for a hike, spending hours packing and re-packing til it was perfect…or perfect enough for that moment. Like you, we miss Nick’s uniqueness of beating to his own drum and great love for adventure… every day. So psyched that you are taking this trip and honoring his spirit in the process. Have a blast and be well! xo Judy


  4. Good Luck guys! Sounds amazing and I couldn’t agree with you more, life is short and you gotta live in the moment. Hugs to you all, safe travels and I look forward to following you guys on your adventure.


  5. Pamela and Jon,
    Very very best wishes for your 2016 mobile tiny house adventure.

    Good for you both for not waiting for some life milestone to pass, like so many others do, before taking this trip.

    God speed, and be safe,


  6. […] Inactivity is very difficult for me for a multitude of reasons. At baseline I like to move my body. I’m a physical therapist; it’s in my nature to move and I firmly believe in the benefits of moving. PT’s have a hard time not moving. Additionally, if you’ve ever met my parents then you understand where I get it. At the age of 70, neither of them has ever nor will they ever sit still. It’s not a nervous energy or an obsession with exercise or calorie management; it’s simply a desire to move versus not. The other thing that I’ve come to learn about myself is that I have an inner ear dysfunction (endolymphatic hydrops-more on that later) that not only contributes to a heightened nervous system, but also tends to leave me a bit dizzy and off balance compared to other people my age. The best way to combat my funky balance center is to move and give lots of input to my system. I didn’t know about these hydrops until this past year, but all the pieces of the puzzle make sense. Oh and I’ve got a touch of, thankfully well controlled, anxiety. So add all for of those components together plus a deep desire to play outside, and this has made the past 14 days very trying. To me it’s healthy to move and be active, but with that desire comes a struggle when moving freely is not an option. My brother suffered a severe brain injury eleven years ago, which has taken away a great deal of his ability to move independently. Freedom of movement is not something I take for granted. (Read: Eleven Years Ago & One Big Year Ahead) […]


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