SPOILER ALERT: We don’t know.
Many people have been asking us what we are doing when the trip is over. These questions started around month 7 and at the time our response was, simply, we don’t have to know. However, as we are now almost in month 10, the question isn’t going away and we are beginning to admit that we should probably tackle it.
It should be noted that we are extremely lucky to have decisions like these to make. It means we are living outside of & challenging the norm. It’s where we want to be and we don’t take a second of that for granted. We feel lucky to be faced with difficult and charged decisions, for which there is no guidebook.
Together we share some identical desires, some similar, some slightly varying. We don’t completely disagree, phew, but it’s still hard to make decisions as a team. So what do we do with those feelings, emotions and logistics? Since our path and desires are not completely clear and we are having a hard time getting organized, we decided to write this and subsequent pieces and share it with the masses. It’s an exercise in exposing our process with a few goals in mind: share our process with others, hear from others about their process, have our “a-ha” moment, take the 12,000 ideas we have, for the short and long term, and “try them on for size” to see how important or weighted each idea might be. We are also using our house situation to nudge us in a certain direction and are grateful to have that as a tool.
The best we can do right now is tell you the data that we know and the dreams that we have as we are trying to answer the questions which we casually refer to as “stay in the van” or “end up back in the/a house”. As our travels have progressed many people have asked us if we have found where we want to live. The answer is no and that is likely because finding a new place to live was never the goal. The goal was to get on the road and be open to where that led. Turns out that it has lead us here, to this point, to this blog, to some big decisions, none of which include finding a new place to live. Rather, it may be more about living in a few different places, perhaps. Boulder ticks a lot of boxes, it just may not tick the boxes 12 months a year. Hmmm…lots to chew on.
While we were in the Florida panhandle before Christmas, we had the good fortune of crossing paths with our insta-friend turned real friend (a few years back), Jenn Blazejewski. During one of our indulgent meals we started to tell Jenn about this limbo land in which we currently exist, explaining our options regarding the house, etc. She and her smarty-pants Tuck Business School brain introduced us to a concept used in business called BATNA: Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement. In laymen’s terms (we think) it’s an MBA’s way of measuring your odds and, either way you slice it (“stay in van” vs “get back in house”), our calculated number is high, i.e. favorable. In true Roaming Robos fashion, roll the dice and ask yourself “What’s the best that can happen”. With that in mind, here’s what we know:
House Data: The house in Boulder, CO is rented until June 1. The current renters want to stay. Financially we want to make a few more bucks/month, which infers we have a clear financial plan or picture. No, not true. At this very moment we don’t (see paragraph below). How do we know we want to make more? Great question. It just seems like we should and we both agree on that. It’s that simple. So we are officially rolling the dice to see if we can rent it for more after June 1, 2017. Waiting to hear back on that.
Finances: With the house rented and some consulting income we could afford to do this van life again for a year, but could we do it for longer? Regardless of our desires, does it work with our long-term finances and goals? GREAT questions. Enter a financial advisor. Yup, we called in the experts to help us get a grip on the long term reality of our life. If we continue to be nomads, making some income but not an income typical of two people approaching 40 (gulp!), are we going to be scrambling in 10, 20, 30 years? As we write we are waiting to hear back. Told you we didn’t know much right now.
Pace: We set out on this 14-month adventure (again at some point it is dictated by the length of the house rental) we planned on doing what we have referred to as a “hot lap around North America”. When the end of May comes we will have done just that. (As we write we are dying to get back west!!! It’s almost time). If we stay in the van we won’t do another lap. That we agree on. We don’t know what else it means but it won’t be a “hot lap”.
Things We Miss (excluding humans): Pamela misses regular access to Pure Barre. All three of us miss one couch where we can make frequent family piles, a position we love, deeply. Community, but that may be a bit much at this moment as it refers to humans. This is a win for social media as it allows us to be connected and for that we are grateful beyond measure, truly. There’s more to this topic but it hasn’t bubbled to the surface at this very moment.
Career Desires: We are purposely talking about desires and not needs here. Again, waiting on the financial guy to get back to us.
Pamela: I love being a physical therapist, but I love doing it part time. I’m best when I’m part time. I’m engaged, not burnt out. Part time allows me to be passionate and up-to-date on research. I’m 11 years in to my career and, while my peers may scoff at my revelation, it’s my truth. This could possibly come in the form of travel positions where I would work full time, but for a short time frame, then have time off. I’m sitting with that option as we weigh out other influences. Jon has a goal of massage therapy school which pairs nicely with physical therapy and may also help dictate where to spend some time. Hawaii??
So if I don’t want to be a physical therapist full time, what do I want to do? Can I just run and ride my bike? Hmmm… where is that financial guy with the numbers?! 😉 While we have been on the road I’ve been helping Jon with the social media for Boco Gear and I’ve really enjoyed it. I like working on things together with Jon (reminiscent of the days at Skratch). He helps me realize that I can learn things and have some semi-professional skills outside of healthcare. I also need to do something with my love of Pure Barre. Noooo idea what that means but I’m such a believer, fan, supporter, enabler and it’s hard to deny the pull I have to be a bigger part of that brand. What would I do? No clue. Just trying to honor what my heart & body tells me it likes to do and with this same mindset it’s why I consider a future in wellness as it relates to physical therapy and other.
As for Boulder itself, it checks a lot of boxes for me. Most notably, aside from the sunshine, I have a tremendous community of friends who don’t all have kids. I’m not anti-children and I love my friends who have kids, but to be at our age and have a core group of friends who share a similar pace to their life means a lot to me and I know it’s a rare find. (I have a feeling that might upset people and that was not my intention. It is simply where I am at and it’s not meant to be taken personally by anyone other than me…because it’s my truth…cool?). That being said, it’s a big world out there and we don’t have to be in Boulder 365. Perhaps there is room for Boulder/other.
Jon: Where to begin… There are so many ideas floating around that at times I feel overwhelmed. During the course of the trip, I’ve had a chance to brainstorm and think of many things; however, learning to play a musical instrument has yet to occur. Soon, I promise Pamela. Some of the ideas have been bubbling up for a while and maybe now is the time to act on them. Here is my list of ideas in no particular order
- Go to Massage School
- Create and execute a gravel race on the east coast
- Continue consulting for brands I like and enjoy working with in the Outdoor and Cycling industry
- Continue working with friends who do cool shit
- Start a van build out operation
- Work on creating a few specific products for Sprinter Vans and the Van Life community
- Build a tiny home community (Although Pamela says small, not tiny)
- Own a Drive In Movie Theater (yes…you read that right)
The list is varied for sure, but the one thing that they almost all have in common is the lack of being in one place. The exceptions to that are the drive-In and the tiny house community. The van building stuff I envision to be mobile or regional which could be cool. The goal is not open a true shop but offer help to those who want to build their own van but without a true sense of where to begin. The van life products are in design phase and I hope to have something in the coming months to reveal.
Ultimately I’m not being drawn back to Boulder to stay full time, as there are just too many things to still see and do in life. If I can do a 7-8 month Massage Therapy course in a place like Hawaii…count me in! The goal of getting a massage therapy certification isn’t so I can be employed someplace for 40+ hours a week, it is so I can do something I’ve always wanted to do and parlay that into some of the other work I do, such as helping to execute cycling trip, working on people in need, etc.
So that’s where we are. The biggest part of this is that we are officially rolling the dice on the house rental. Now we wait and see as we also wait for some long-term financial planning goals to reveal themselves…and continue to daydream/get overwhelmed (in a good way). As we post we have concerns about healthcare (namely Obamacare/ACA repeal) and being self-employed, but that’s a topic for another time.