My Life With F Words: Fear and Faith

by Kim on October 16, 2011 · 42 comments

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you… This turning towards what you deeply love saves you. – Rumi

I’ve been feeling very anxious lately.

I thought my anxiety was due to the fact that it was time to tackle our last major hurdle: Determining where our dogs will live while we travel.  We’d been holding out hope that Brian’s parents would take them in, but it’s clearly a huge ask, and we just didn’t know what their answer would be.

 Our babies.  Look!  They’re holding hands!

So I thought my anxiety was due to the upcoming conversation Brian was going to have with his parents.  But that conversation has come and gone, and they said yes (!!!)*, yet my anxiety remains.

*(Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap they said yes!!!!!!  Thank you God, The Universe, Buddha and St. Joseph.  And thank you Mike and Terry for being the most amazingly supportive parents/in-laws).

I’ve written before that I am certain beyond a doubt that this is the path that I should be on, and I really am certain.  But even though I know that this is right, I still face days of crippling fear and doubt.

There are many times when I wonder what sane person would give up their home, all of their possessions, a steady income, health insurance and creature comforts just to follow the undeniable call of their inner voice.  It sounds crazy.  I mean, what if I’m wrong?

I constantly toggle between calming clarity and crushing doubt.  On my good days, I’m keenly aware of the magic of the universe and can see the miracles that are visible to those that follow their own truth.   But on my bad days, I’m overcome with the feeling that I’m a speeding train whose track runs right off the cliff.  I look into the future and see the tanned faces of my co-workers, retired in Hawaii, while I bag groceries at Wal-Mart as my arthritic old hands shake.

The other day I got an email from another future long-term traveler named Sarah.  Her blog, SarahSomewhere is insightful and honest so go read it, you won’t be sorry! Anyway, she told me a bit about her own quest for a fulfilling, meaningful, creative existence, at the expense of security and predictability. Those are her words, but they perfectly describe my own feelings about what Brian and I are doing.  See, I told you she was insightful.

Sarah also said that: Each day is like an emotional lottery- will I hit the fear jackpot or the faith jackpot today? Will I feel comfortable, guided and directed by the creative force of the universe, or will my head be taking me through a blow by blow account of the soon to be released horror film entitled “The Demise of Sarah- Where It All Went Wrong!”

I read her email and then I laughed out loud because yes! yes! yes!  For the love of God, yes! that is exactly how I feel.  

It’s the fear or faith lottery- and feeling like this is a normal part of the process.  Sarah’s email reminded me of that.  (Thanks, Sarah)

My anxiety is still hanging around, an unwelcomed guest.  Now that we’ve sold our house and all of our stuff and secured a home for our dogs, the only thing left to do is wait and work and fill our bank account up.  

The starting line is within sight, and all of my emotions are elevated: joy, excitement, fear, stress, doubt.  

But even on the days when I hit the fear jackpot instead of the faith jackpot, even when I am 99% freaking out, if I get quiet enough I can always find that calm hum inside that says: forget all that and move forward.   I’ve lived my whole adult life watered down, avoiding fear and uncertainty, choosing a sure bet over a meaningful risk.  Now, I’m pursuing the life that I’ve always wanted to live.  Fear is just a part of that package.   

Here is what I have learned from my experience so far: All matters of faith require a big leap, expect to be afraid.  

But faith is stronger than fear, just like light is stronger than darkness.  So throw open the door and walk through anyway.  



{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate October 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Lovely post! I’ve gone through a similar journey recently, uprooted my whole life in the US and moved to the UK to get married. Truly terrifying, but ultimately rewarding. And isn’t having supportive in-laws *fabulous?* Mine are hosting us until we can get our own place and I simply could not be more grateful. I’m also incredibly glad that you were able to take your puppies with you; I had to leave my kitties behind.

So glad you’re documenting your journey and sharing it with us! Keep it up!



Kim October 16, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Hi Kate, thanks for your comment. I could not be more grateful to my in-laws, I honestly do not know what we would do without them. They are seriously making it possible for us by watching our babies.


Erica October 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Finding a home for my puppy was probably one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve had to do in my life. We’ve had him for 10 years (and have no clue how old he is since I plucked him from off the street) and don’t know how much time we have left with our furkid. It gets better once you are on the road or on a plane!


Kim October 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Ah, I totally understand. Our dogs are 12 and 9… they are old and gray and we don’t know how long they will be alive. The only thing that makes me not crumble with sadness is knowing that they will be happy and have a wonderful home and probably forget all about us.


Sarah Chamberlain October 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Now I know why I have resisted getting a pet! But good on you for ticking off another goal on your “Things To Do Before Taking On The World” list. One step closer… There is a quote I love that I read in a book of Buddhist offerings-“usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.” Love it.


Kim October 16, 2011 at 7:21 pm

You were smart not to get a pet! We got our dogs long before we knew that this is the path our life would take. But they have added so much joy to our lives so it has totally be worth it. Love that quote, by the way.


Aurora October 17, 2011 at 3:50 am

Kim —
I read your post and I could vividly feel those emotions — i remember them so well….
but now that i am here and i am traveling and seeing…. it all feels so right.

sure — i have those scary moments, but then there are all sorts of other great moments — like earlier today when I got a half hour massage for half an hour and now I am sitting in a korean donut shop (?) emailing friends!

i think that we have to go through those scary times to _really_ appreciate the journey!

Cheers — Aurora


Kim October 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Hi Aurora! It is such a relief to hear that the feelings will go away and things will feel right. I think you are right about going through scary times to appreciate the journey. I’m glad to hear you are loving it.


Kristin October 17, 2011 at 8:44 am

Hi Kim – I’m with you and totally understand…dealing with uncertainty and the big ambiguity of the future is a roller coaster ride. Completely agree with the other posts – you are on a journey right now, just in the prep work and letting go of so much that you once believed in.

Since I know you love Rumi, here’s one of my favorite poems that I think relates to your situation. Enjoy!


A chickpea in a pot leaps from the flame,
out from the boiling water,
Crying, “Why do you set fire to me?
You chose me, bought me, brought me home for this?”
The cook hits it with her spoon into the pot.
“No! Boil nicely, don’t jump away from the one who makes the fire.
I don’t boil you out of hatred.
Through boiling you may grow flavorful, nourishing,
and united with vital human spirit.
I don’t inflict this suffering out of spite.
Once green and fresh, you drank rain in the garden;
you drank for the sake of this fire.


Kim October 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Hi Kristin, I just love that last line “you drank for the sake of this fire.” It gives me tingles.


Rhonda October 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

First of all, GREAT news that you found a place for you babies while you’re traveling, what a huge relief!
Secondly, always remember “everything you want is on the other side of fear”. Having already done my first RTW and preparing for my next, I can assure you that the second you actually depart you are going to feel an unimaginable relief that you have done it, you are truly on your way to something amazing.
And, if that isn’t enough, tomorrow night at Meet, Plan, Go we’ll all be there supporting and validating this fantastical life you are creating for yourselves. Hang in there. The worst is over!


Kim October 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Thanks Rhonda! It is an ENORMOUS relief that we know our dogs will be loved and taken care of. It has been a huge stressor but I didn’t want to write about it and pressure Brian’s parents in any way, so it’s nice that I can write about it now.

I’m excited for Meet, Plan, Go but starting to get nervous wondering what I am doing there… since we haven’t actually traveled yet! But it will be great to meet everyone and share wisdom.


Rhonda October 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Since I didn’t attend last year I am not sure how it all works but we’re looking forward to a fun, inspirational evening.


Rhonda October 19, 2011 at 10:51 am

Hey Kim,
Nice to finally meet you in person last night. I thought the turnout was great and we saw many newbies to the idea of an extended trip making notes and getting jazzed about the idea which is great!
Jim & I were saying on the way home that it would be fun to get together with you & Brian for a beer and hear about your plans more in depth and travel in general. Let us know if you’re like to get together.
I spoke with Sean Keener today and he said that they were going to start doing monthly casual meetings over beer to keep everyone jazzed about travel so we may see you then as well.
have a good day


Kim October 19, 2011 at 11:54 am

Rhonda, that would be great! We would love to get together with you guys and talk travel. Shoot me an email and let me know when you are availabe.


Ashley October 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Excellent description of exactly how we feel! We leave for our trip in two weeks, and the back and forth between these emotions is constant, but we have more faith than fear at this point. Looking forward to following your adventure.


Kim October 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Ashley, I can only imagine the emotional roller coaster at two weeks out. Hang in there, I’m sure it will all be BEYOND worth it in the end.


Shtina October 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Hi Kim – Thanks, that is such an awesome post. I think your anxiety is completely natural. I feel like we’re taught to want that safe job, steady income, health insurance, nice house, etc. and it is so great to see someone following her dream. Like you said, some people eventually figure out what they “most want to do” but aren’t willing to make that huge leap. What you are doing is scary and that’s okay to be uncomfortable! It will all be worth it once you hit the road. 🙂 I guess the key at this point is patient trust.

PS: I’m also rereading The Alchemist and there are a lot of parallels there with your anxiety and struggles before setting off.


Kim October 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Patient trust: yes, yes, yes! I wrote in a previous post about my mom and how she can’t quite grasp what we are doing. The other day on the phone I told her “It is worth it.” And she said, “you don’t know that yet.” But, I do know, because even though we haven’t left yet, just living like this, intentionally and working towards my dream, even this is worth it. I can only hope it keeps getting better.

PS, when I read the Alchemist, the author letter at the beginning of the book literally made me gasp. I felt like he was writing TO ME. Amazing.


Mike October 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I had similar problems with the pets. But now i’ve decided I can’t be so long away from my four-legged son. So now he has an international chip, and he has his luggage ready to go. But planning is the new thing for me and spontaneity is out the window. I have to find the proper docs for traveling with Nero, my doggie, and make the required visits to the local vet. And have to be particular with the accommodations I find because not every hostel/hotel accept cute little beasts. But i’m sure you’re kids won’t be in bad hands. Wish my parents would take care of mine. Bad parents! bad!


Kim October 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

Hi Mike, I love hearing about people that are taking their dogs on the road. It is definitely a possibility for us in the future, if/when we discover that we’d like to settle down in new places for months and months at a time. For now, since we just can’t imagine what the road will hold, I think the best place for our babies is with their grandparents.

We are VERY, VERY lucky that Brian’s parents are taking our dogs (mine said, no, so I know how you feel!).


Heather Stearns October 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Hi Kim,

I was inspired when I read your post because my husband and I adopted a long-term travel lifestyle in April 2011. In the planning process we had to figure out where our six-year-old dog daughter would stay for the 3 months we were in Berlin, Germany. Luckily my husband’s best friend agreed to keep her. Now we’re getting ready for our next anti-vacation and want to take her with us so we’re in full creativity mode.

It’s refreshing to read about your experience while you’re transitioning into this lifestyle because I gave up my secure job and became a contractor for this freedom. Like with anything, there are fleeting moments of frustration, doubt, and fear but they ALWAYS work themselves out. For every hiccup there is a new discovery, taste, and experience. I wouldn’t change a second! Bravo for following your heart and going forward with conviction! You won’t regret it and you are manifesting one of my favorite quotes by Basil King: “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” Here’s to following your bliss!


Kim October 23, 2011 at 9:42 am

Thank you so much Heather! No matter how many times I hear of someone like you, who has already made the leap, I always get a sense of joy. I love hearing about how it works out and how the moments of freaking out and “what the hell am I doing” are few and far between the many moments of awesomeness and new experience.


Kristin M October 23, 2011 at 8:45 am

Every time I read your blog, you hit the nail on the head with exactly how I’m feeling about the dreams and big ideas I have for my life. 🙂 Will definitely be checking out Sarah’s site. She sounds like a smart lady!


Kim October 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

Hi Kristin, there are so many of us out there feeling this way. A friend said the other day “start a revolution, follow your dreams.” And I though, yes! Imagine what the world would look like if everyone did what they were driven to do deep down inside.

PS, pretty sure you will love Sarah’s site!


Carmel October 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Heading off on vacation this last week, I had some very similar feelings. I thought, “you know, if we weren’t saving so much money each month, we could be taking more vacations and going to some cool places WITHOUT losing our little comfort zone”. And as we were leaving the city heading off to upstate to visit the in-laws, I was thinking about how hard it was to have to cram all that experience into 2 measly days. I barely had time to skim the surface of what there was to see. Yeah, we could be making huge mistakes and end up working well into when we *should* be retiring, but I have to know. And there’s no guarantee that taking the safe road will result in early retirement and a life of leisure post-62.

I’m bookmarking this one for about a year and a half from now. 🙂


Kim October 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm

So true. We make the choice to live now because who knows what the future holds. Maybe I won’t be able to retire BUT maybe I’ll find the kind of life that I never want to retire from anyway. 🙂


Carmel October 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm

There’s another good point!


Natalia May 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Hi Kim,

I’ve just discovered your blog and I am so happy that I did! I love reading your posts. I see myself in so much of your writing, it kinda gives me shivers! I hope that one day I will have the courage to listen to that stirring inside and act on that nagging feeling. Looking forward to following you both on your amazing journey.


Kim May 12, 2012 at 10:01 am

Natalia! Oh, but you DO have the courage. Everything you need is inside of you. Listen to the nag. But also, if you don’t, it is sure to grow louder.

It took me years to build up the courage to do what I am doing now. I think, in parts, it happens in its own time. But you are on your way because you feel the stir and the nag. It lives in you, so there is no way for you to ignore it now. AH, I just want to give you a gigantic hug because I am pretty sure I know exactly how you feel right now. You’ve got a wild ride ahead of you, but it will be wonderful.


Jen January 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Just ran across your blog and got sucked in… We are fellow Portlanders planning to hit the road this spring for exactly the same reasons you list. Faith over fear gets us through our “what if” talks (sounds like many of us worry about bagging groceries when we are 65!).

“We make the choice to live now because who knows what the future holds” – that comment especially spoke to us. Looking forward to keeping up with your adventures, and perhaps our paths will cross on the road or back in Portland someday!


Kim January 14, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Hi Jen, it would be wonderful if our paths crossed, either in Portland or somewhere else in the world.

I can say now, eight months into the trip, that I don’t worry about bagging groceries anymore. I still worry about things, of course, but my fears have shifted a bit. At the moment I worry about having to go home before I want to go home and I worry about getting stuck in a cubicle again. Actually, bagging groceries sounds better than a cubicle! And even if I DO end up bagging groceries as an old lady I will forever know that this trip was worth it. Onward.


Claire October 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

This is an old post, but I’m so glad to read it today. I’ve literally JUST put in my 5 weeks notice at work and am currently feeling all the feelings. I’ve never been more sure of myself, but I’ve also never been more afraid in my life! It’s terrifying and exhilarating. Thank you so much for this post, it makes me feel a lot better (and normal).
Claire recently posted..Changes, Departures, and Destinations


Kim November 9, 2013 at 7:30 am

Oh Claire, don’t I know that feeling!!! Prepare for the terrifying and exhilarating feelings to continue. You’re in for a wild ride but it will be worth the emotional roller coaster.


Melinda February 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Hi Kim,
Once again, you have just expressed, oh so eloquently, everything that is running through my head! (I have recently left my full-time job, at age 57, to build a business around long-distance walking in France.)
I sometimes wonder whether living life in a state of mild panic is actually better than living it in a state of dull emptiness but then it has its moments where it all comes together 🙂
It’s good to know I’m not the only one feeling this way!


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