Enough about you, let’s talk about me

by Kim on April 10, 2014 · 56 comments

Here is what I am discovering: When you talk about yourself for a living you meet kindred souls. The same is true when you write about yourself for a living (I have met so many of you through this blog), but when you talk about yourself you stand face to face with the audience and the connection is immediate and undeniable.

Giving a presentation

Already, only 6 presentations in, I’ve noticed that when I’m approached afterwards by someone with a certain twinkle in her eye or a grin on her face I know, even before she (or he) says a word, that we see the world in a similar way.

When Brian and I tell people that we have been homeless for two years and are, for the moment, living out of a tent they either think that we are crazy or they are jealous. You can imagine which group we end up having beers with afterwards.

My point is, when we are traveling internationally and meet other Americans they are travelers too. They tend to understand what drives us and why we are out exploring the world. Now that we are back in the states there are less people who get it and more who ask us how we are surviving. They want details. What about retirement? (Our goal is to build lives we don’t want to retire from) What about health insurance? (We buy it like anyone who is self-employed). What about money? (We don’t need much because we don’t have much).

This is the American Way. It is completely acceptable to work yourself to death in a job you hate so that you can buy expensive things, accumulate debt and spend your nights sleepless and wide-eyed with stress but less acceptable to trade in that life for less stuff, less stress, less money but more freedom.

A man came up to me after our presentation last night, he was probably in his late 70’s, and he asked about our travels and our job giving these presentations all over the country. Then he asked what we planned to do when we grew up. The question made me pause because, well, I am grown up. So I explained that our 9-5 jobs and cubicles made us feel profoundly unfulfilled and that now we are happier than we have ever been. I held my breath anticipating his response but instead he said, “You’re living, aren’t you?” And it was the way he said living, like it was something to be done and not just something that happens, that made me know he understood.

So I nodded my head and said simply, yes.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea April 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

Ahhhhh and he got it! You are LIVING! I am so in the middle of this right now, getting back to LIVING alongside my life. Really needed this post today..thank you! Peace…

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:34 am

I am glad that the post reached you at the right time.

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Audrey April 10, 2014 at 10:08 am

As a long term follower, please know that you have been an inspiration in our own quest to “live.” I can’t wait to meet you at the Chicago event. Too bad you wrote that ditty about getting the beers…..now my husband and I want to hold you to it! :)

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:40 am

Hey, you can totally hold us to it! One of the best parts of this gig is meeting those of you that read this blog. It’s been SO FUN.

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Audrey April 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Alright! We’re penciling you in. We’ll be leaving for our RTW in September & it would be an honor to celebrate with you & Brian. See you in August!!!

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Kim April 13, 2014 at 8:32 am

Sounds great! Just email me a week or so before the event so I can make sure to plan for it afterwards. Looking forward to meeting you!

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Rhonda April 10, 2014 at 10:12 am

This resonated with me so much Kim! Not just because we are like-minded already, but because I was recently trying to explain to my sister in law that we looked at things differently and are wanting to make a life for ourselves that we don’t want to “retire from” to then start living the life we want. She and her husband are wonderful people, but on the very different (and very traditional) path of work like crazy, give up time together, etc so that in 10 years they can retire. Although I don’t judge anyone’s choices, it makes me a little sad. Then, just last night we went to see The Minimalists (theminimalists.com ) speak at the Mission about simplifying life by removing all the “stuff” and distractions that cost more than just money, and keep us from spending our time and energy and money on what we’re really passionate about. We were thrilled that it was a full house with standing room only, hoping just a little bit of our thinking rubs off on those out there constantly consuming more in an attempt to be happy and, instead, as your older gentleman said, just really live.
Rhonda recently posted..Countdown to Overland Expo 2014!

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:41 am

Wow, those guys really know how to draw a crowd! You know, there are a million ways to live life and I think it’s important that we all live according to what makes us happiest and makes us feel most alive. Brian and I are doing that, and you and Jim are doing that. What more can you really ask out of life?

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Patti April 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Love, love, love this… and what’s so awesome about it is that it can be the 70-year-old or the 30-year-old who’s asking the question because it happens to all of us – just at different points in our lives. I loved our 9 – 5 life, it was a good life, no regrets whatsoever. But now we’re on a completely different track and that’s okay too. It has to be about what works for each of us… as you say, what fulfills us. I have a friend who recently asked me, “So what would you do next, wouldn’t you want something to do?” I don’t think she could wrap her head around my definition of retirement, which is to begin the next chapter of “living!”
Patti recently posted..It’s Like Airline Miles, Only Better ~

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

I agree, it totally has to be about what works for each of us. I’m not knocking the 9-5 life. Some people love it but I wasn’t one of them.

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Charlie April 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm

That’s it completely, you’re living! Your adventure from the 9 to 5 to freedom has been so inspiring, it’s great that you get to share it with people and meet kindred souls. Some people will just never understand those who live life differently to the norm, but no matter, you always meet others who get it. Wish I could make it to one of your talks!
Charlie recently posted..Travel expectations

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

Hi Charlie, yes, we are living according to what living means to us– that’s what matters!

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Kaisa April 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Love the part with “what about retirement…?” We get asked this a lot also, as if saving for retirement is the purpose of life… Next time I will answer the same way – we will have a life we dont want to retire from!

Thanks for a great blog!

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:44 am

Thanks Kaisa. Yep, that is our goal: when you have a life you don’t want to retire from nothing feels like work.

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) April 10, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Can I just say how much I HATE it when people ask me what I’m going to do when I “grow up”? As if simply because I’ve chosen a different path from them means that I’m childish and irresponsible? I’d say working hard for years in order to do something like this and then managing our savings for as long as we have shows a good deal of maturity and forward thinking, but obviously most people don’t feel that way. I’m so glad that the old gentleman wound up being a kindred spirit and not a downer like I thought he was going to be!

I also think it’s pretty interesting that during our travels, we’ve met TONS of people who have told us how much they wish they had done something similar when they were younger (or who had done it and were glad for it!). But we’ve never met a single person who has told us that they did something radical when they could and then regretted it. Not one person. I think it really comes back to that old chestnut about more regretting the things we have not done than the ones we have. Whenever I am feeling lazy, it’s a good reminder! :)

Glad to hear that talks seem to be going well and that you’re meeting plenty of interesting, kind people on the road! The people you meet along the way really are one of the best parts of traveling.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Loop De Loop in Thakhek, Part 2

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

I totally agree that the people you meet along the way are the best parts of traveling- I’m finding it’s true even here in the U.S. Nice people are everywhere and it’s just too bad that all of the bad people make the headlines. I still think the good people are winning out.

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Adrian Mendoza April 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm

I always believe that your happiness must be one of your priorities. If you are happy on what you are doing just continue it. Life is short indeed, so it is very important to enjoy life. Like they say, live your life to the fullest.
Adrian Mendoza recently posted..How to Save Up to 80% Off Your Next Hotel

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

Agreed!

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Jade April 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Yes to living! It makes me go crazy thinking of all the people I know who are merely surviving, or earning, not really living. It’s not about necessarily leaving everything to travel and work remotely but it’s finding your passion and the things that make you happy and making sure those things are central to your life. Blogs like yours really are inspiring people to do that. :)
Jade recently posted..Comment on Discovering the Underwater World by Journey Count

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:47 am

I completely agree- it’s about finding the thing that makes YOU most alive, whatever it is, and spending more time doing that. Thanks Jade :)

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Beverley - Pack Your Passport April 11, 2014 at 2:55 am

Oh, Kim, I LOVE this. Being from the UK, I guess the tradition here IS to work in a job you hate so you can ‘keep up with the Jones” but then there are also a lot of people here who totally understand that you don’t want, what most people I guess would call, a ‘traditional life’.

When I left everything to go and live on the other side of the world most people were SO encouraging. There were only a few people who were, like, ‘Seriously, why are you throwing all this away for a dream fo living in Australia?’

Errrrm, because it’s MY dream? I want to do something different so that I can look back in years to come and know that I was being true to myself and not just following everyone else along a path that maybe wasn’t right for me.

And now, looking back, I know that following along that path definitely wouldn’t have been right for me.

This is what I feel like you guys are doing; you’ve acknowledged that you want to live an extraordinary life by your own rules and, even though sometimes it might be hard and you will have setbacks, you’re doing your own thing and, like your man said at your talk the other night; LIVING.

So happy for you guys :)
Beverley – Pack Your Passport recently posted..This Is What Happens When You Move To London

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:48 am

Thanks Beverley. Yes, we want to live by our own rules and this blog helps give me (us) the courage to keep at it. I feel so proud of this great community that I am a part of and that you (and the others that leave their thoughts here) are a part of too.

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Oliver April 11, 2014 at 7:25 am

Absolutely wonderful encounter with that old man!! I love his “socratesque” approach of “teaching through questions”. There is so much beauty and profoundness in this “mundane wisdom” absolutely incredible! Dunno why, but in my imagination he resembles a bit that green little fellow on your dashboard… :)
Oliver recently posted..Wander & Travel ~ Hilaire Belloc

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

Haha, I hadn’t thought of it that way but I suppose he was sort of Buddha-esque.

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Ali April 11, 2014 at 9:07 am

I LOVE this, Kim! I love meeting people I have that sort of instant connection with. It is harder to meet people who get it when we’ve chosen different paths. And Andy and I aren’t nearly as far from the traditional route as you and Brian are.

The part about working a 9-5 job you hate so you have enough money to buy tons of things to distract yourself from the fact that you’re unhappy…NOT the life I want at all. I imagine most people don’t want that life but they also don’t take the time to figure out what it is they do want.
Ali recently posted..Should We Expect People in Other Countries to Speak English?

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:50 am

Agreed. And I think it is really hard for most of us to figure out what we do want. It takes a lot of trial and error- a lot of doing the wrong thing, the thing that makes us unhappy, before we can see clearly the things that do make us happy.

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adelicia April 11, 2014 at 9:50 am

This is such a fantastic post! I like that you describe it as The American Way, although it gets pitched to us as “The American Dream”. It is certainly not my dream, but we’re conditioned that this is what we must do, what life is, and most cannot conceive of another way of being (although now that I am planning my RTW life I did wonder about health insurance :) ).
adelicia recently posted..Solo in Lima… was I loco?

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:51 am

Have you seen that TERRIBLE Cadillac commercial??? The one with the guys who’s like, Europeans have more vacation time but we work so we can have an expensive, stupid car.” OMG that commercial makes me want to SCREAM. I think it pretty much sums up what’s wrong with American society.

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Lindsay April 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm

omg THAT COMMERCIAL! It’s sickening.
Lindsay recently posted..Life, Presently

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Kim April 13, 2014 at 8:34 am

NO KIDDING!!!!

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Sarah Somewhere April 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

Damn straight!!! I wouldn’t exchange my worst day on the road for my best day at my old job (and there have been some dooseys!). I too love that moment when someone’s eyes are opened to the possibility of having less (stuff, income, status) to have more (freedom, time, fulfillment). This journey is such a trip (pun absolutely intended, in more ways than I ever imagined. So glad to be following along with yours xxx
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..The Paramotor Blues (and mangoes)

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:52 am

Sarah, I wouldn’t either and I agree that there sure have been some dooseys. XO

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Lauren @Roamingtheworld April 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

Yes. Gave me goosebumps with the man’s response. Living, that’s what life is all about!
I’m dealing with an inner struggle of wanting to create a “nest” and do what I love in one of the most expensive regions in the USA. I don’t want the 9-5 because I don’t want to be a captive bird and yet I keep thinking it’s what I “should” or “have to do” bc I haven’t found other sources to generate income…
I’ve traveled, I’ve lived as an expat… I want freedom.
Lauren @Roamingtheworld recently posted..When converting to self-hosting doesn’t go to plan

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

Lauren, I totally get this. I am a true homebody and miss having a “nest” too. I don’t have an answer to that either. Sometimes I say to Brian, “I want it all!” Because I do. And I’m okay with that. I want it all and I’m willing to work until I have it. Though my “all” consists of freedom, travel, and earning enough income doing what I love to live where I want, travel when I want, and have my own small “nest.” It’s possible.

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Tara April 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

There is a quote from Oscar Wilde which suits this perfectly: ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.’
Love it.

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

I love that too. Thanks for sharing it.

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Tyrhone April 12, 2014 at 7:08 am

I can tell you it is not just an American affliction, I do think you guys have mastered it somewhat (Americans always seem to get there first :), but it is the same all over the world. Once you begin this life though it all becomes so obvious, how much time and life we waste.

I sometimes find it frustrating, especially with people I care about, because I can imagine them reaching 50, 60, 70 and then having the realization that life is short.
Tyrhone recently posted..How to kite a paramotor wing (video)

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Kim April 12, 2014 at 10:55 am

Yep, I’d say we Americans have mastered it quite well though I do think it is changing with the generations and I think that that is a very good thing!

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Sam April 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

You’ve just articulated my feelings about retirement exactly. I also have that goal of trying to build a life that I don’t want (or need) to retire from! I’m not there yet, and it could take a while to get there, but I’m reassured by your words (and many others posting here) that living life on my own terms is what truly living is all about!
Sam recently posted..The redwoods are calling…

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Kim April 13, 2014 at 8:32 am

Sam, I’m not there yet either but working every day to get closer. It doesn’t come easy but I think it will be worth it :)

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Karyn @ Not Done Travelling April 13, 2014 at 5:03 am

When the student is ready, the teacher will come.

You are probably way too humble to consider yourself a teacher to anybody, but you have people learning from you, don’t you. :) The ones who are ready to get it will get it.
Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..The Chain Of Introductions

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Kim April 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

I do think that’s true: We hear what we want to hear when we are ready to hear it.

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Tracey April 15, 2014 at 7:25 am

Kim you and Brian are really living! What a great experience, to travel your home country and be in a position where kindred spirits come to you because of your presentations (it feels pretty awesome I bet). I have been following your blog for about 2 years, maybe more, as my family and I worked to be rid of our jobs and stuff to travel South America. We are still in Canada with one week left before we leave on our adventure!! Some people (most) think we are crazy for choosing travel and freedom over the American dream although I have had some kindred spirits cross my path to, thankfully. Your blog was a life saver for me, or maybe a dream awakener, both. I think you nad Brian are bringing the experience I had on your blog face to face with your presentations, awakening dreams all across the US! If I didn’t have a date with destiny I would be driving to catch one of your presentations right now. Good luck with this leg of your journey, I so hope the weather gets warmer for you guys:)
Tracey recently posted..Making decisions… like your life depends on it

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Kim April 19, 2014 at 8:20 am

TRACEY!!!!! You’re about to hit the road!!!!!!! Ahhhhh!!!! Please know I am wishing you and your family all of the best. Please let me know how it is going as you begin your travels in South America. I am thinking of you!

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Phil @ VacayBuddy April 15, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Those last few lines gave me goosebumps! There are two groups of people: dreams and doers. The doers truly get to appreciate living.

They say one of the biggest regrets most have in life, is the failure or hesitation to take risks and pursue DREAMS.
Phil @ VacayBuddy recently posted..Top Activities in Roatan

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Kim April 19, 2014 at 8:23 am

Phil, I believe that and I did not want to have the same regrets.

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Louisa April 16, 2014 at 11:30 am

It takes bravery too, to decide that you don’t want to live the current life you’re living and make the changes. I like that you’re doing the presentations – great lateral thinking to generate funds!!!
Louisa recently posted..The Ultimate Disappointment

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Kim April 19, 2014 at 8:25 am

I agree that it takes bravery… but bravery doesn’t mean that you aren’t afraid, just that you go on despite the fear.

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Rob April 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Well done for creating the life you dreamed of. It takes guts and determination. Your story is inspiring to so many and gives fellow dreamers like me hope that it’s achievable. Ta muchly!
Rob recently posted..Borders, Bribes and Belize

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Kim April 19, 2014 at 8:26 am

Thank you Rob. It is achievable… you can do it!

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Hamish Healys April 18, 2014 at 2:58 am

If freedom to travel makes you happy, I say … why not?

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Kim April 19, 2014 at 8:26 am

Me too!

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Beau April 26, 2014 at 11:36 pm

A great post! Very inspiring to everyone who wants to “live”
Beau recently posted..The Kimberly, a remote untouched paradise.

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Kim April 28, 2014 at 6:20 am

Thank you Beau.

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Adena Harford May 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm

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