Back in December of last year, I wrote a post about being bored as Hell and needing to make changes to my life. The gist? We've been in San Diego for almost five years. I've more or less been drifting along, just enjoying our weird lifestyle. But it started to get a little stale. The novelty of being poor hobos wore off and the realities of living in a an expensive, crowded city started setting in. After experiencing the strongest, longest bout of depression I've experienced in years (which I wrote about earlier), I knew I needed to change shit up.
Shelly and I kicked around a lot of ideas. We knew we wanted to move away from the city. The traffic and people and noise were just getting to be too much of a constant stressor. As I had discussed in the "Sell the Kids" post, we had identified a few areas where we would consider moving. We also considered staying in SoCal, but moving to the mountains. We have a lot of good friends in the area, and the weather's usually phenomenal. This indecision caused us to spend a lot of time contemplating options. We were basically stuck in a cycle of indecision.
Then something unexpected happened.
We had been planning a trip back to Michigan, our home state, to visit friends and family. And reminisce about our past lives. We decided to drive to capture some nostalgia from our RV travel days (we spent two years on the road crisscrossing the US) because our kids were mostly too young to remember much. That trip tuned out to be fabulous because it immediately ignited the passion for adventure that had been missing for years. Specifically, it was the drive through Southern Utah's canyon country and the Colorado Rockies that did it. Even now, weeks later, the thought gives me goosebumps.
It reminded us that a) we LOVED that part of the country, and b) we had plans to settle somewhere like that before we got sidetracked with the San Diego area (and jiu jitsu.) Other shit added to the reignition of the passion. Seeing our friends reminded us that we don't have to live in proximity to our friends in SoCal. The quiet seclusion of rural Michigan reminded us of how much we crave silence. The wide-open spaces reminded us of how much we love the freedom that comes with a sparse population density. Finally, shooting some handguns with our friend Christian reminded me how much I miss my days as a hunter. There were a thousand more things that stoked that fire, too.
While in Michigan, Shelly and I had a lot of long talks about the goals we had before the RV travel opportunity materialized, and how much we wanted to make that happen. The more we discussed it, the more we realized that dream was simply impossible in SoCal. The cost of living in general, and the cost of real estate in particular, would mean we'd have to work incredibly long hours to afford even a sliver of the life we really wanted.
Long ago, we learned the folly of the Faustian bargain of working all the time to afford the stuff you no longer have time to enjoy. And we want to continue giving our kids a steady diet of new experiences. We've lived in an ultra-religious conservative area. We've lived in a predominantly agnostic ultra-liberal area. We've lived in lily-white suburbs. We've lived in a place where they're an ethnic minority. We've experienced a materialistic lifestyle; we've lived in abject poverty. We've lived in places with long, brutal winters and we've lived in places with long, sweltering summers. Now it's time to give them a rural experience.
By the time we left Michigan, we had a plan in place. The real clincher, though, came as I was driving over the westbound Loveland Pass on I-70 in Colorado. Everyone was sleeping and the traffic was light. Just as I crossed the summit, the light from the sunrise flooded the mountain peaks ahead. I'm not a religious person, or even spiritual for that matter. But that felt like some kind of sign. Just like that, the decision was made. We're moving to Colorado.
Of course, there are a ton of logistics involved. Without going into unnecessary details, we set up an eighteen month timeline. There's shit that I need to do before moving, which includes:
- Pay off all our debt. Before we hit the road in the RV, we were well on our way towards eliminating all our debt via Dave Ramsey's "debt snowball" methodology. We got away from it because a) we don't currently make much money, and b) we kinda got caught up in the California culture of being okay with ridiculous amounts of debt. However, the loss of freedom that comes with debt is simply unacceptable to me. So we're gonna pay that shit off.
- Learn a trade. I want some new career options, and I miss working with my hands. Most of my jobs since college have been decidedly white collar, so I need a change. Specifically, I need to get away from the pressure of being "always on" as a writer. Or putting up with regulation bullshit as a teacher. Over the next eighteen months, I'm learning some combination of the three - gunsmithing, plumbing, or electrical. When we move, this will offer more opportunities for jobs and/or apprenticeships.
- Launch a business. Shelly and I have been kicking around a business idea for years, but the logistics and the red tape of SoCal have made it difficult to launch. At heart, we're both decidedly entrepreneurial. We both have great, complimentary business skills and we love working together. Barefoot Running University has been exceptionally successful from a profit margin standpoint, but we want to move beyond the confines of that particular brand. To accomplish this goal, I've gotten a part-time job as a school security officer at a local school district. I'll post more on this in the future.
- Earn my brown belt in jiu jitsu. This is more of a personal goal than anything else, and a motivation trick to keep training. When I get extremely motivated to plan adventures (like moving), activities tend to fall by the wayside. The belt itself is meaningless, but it gives me a framework to learn specific skills and ideas, which will guide my training.
- Re-immerse myself in firearms and hunting. For the first twenty or so years of my life, I was immersed in hunting culture. My father was an avid and skilled outdoorsman, and I love feeling the connection to him whenever I'm in the wilderness or shooting. To accomplish this goal, I plan on applying to local gun store and ranges, which will also lead to the "learn gunsmithing" goal. You know, two birds...
- Take the Man Camp (officially renamed from "San Diego Man Camp" to the more location-independent "Das Man Camp") outside Facebook. I originally created this group with the intent on doing what amounts to life coaching, then I spent some time interacting with life coaches. <BARF!> I could not do what they do because it violates my personal ethics. So after some aimlessness as a mere Facebook group, I've decided to refocus Das Man Camp as a recreational group centered around developing better skills in general and leadership in particular. I'll be posting more about this in the future, too.
So these are the things I've been working on since returning from Michigan. It's been a Hell of a rush... it's been a long time since I felt this powerful motivation to make shit happen. I've been incredibly busy with building the foundation for all this shit, but it's the kind of busy that energizes me on a primal level. It's time to make shit happen.