The Dream 2.0

by Kim on September 25, 2017 · 17 comments

It’s hard to believe that Brian and I came back from our trip around the world nearly two and a half years ago. In some ways it feels as though we have been back forever, that our years of exploring were just a dream. So much has changed since we boarded that one-way flight to Ecuador. Aside from the inevitable march of time (we are closer to 40 than 30 now, ohmygod), we are also parents. We live in Ohio. Our life is utterly different from the life we had in Oregon, and while I will always love those years, I feel so much more whole now, so sure of myself and the decisions I have made. Maybe that’s just a byproduct of growing older, though I suspect it is also a byproduct of following one’s dreams.

Long, long ago when I was still back in Oregon and dreaming of changing my life I wrote a blog post called “Why I’m Quitting My Job to Travel.” Even back then, perched on the edge of an open-ended trip around the world, I knew the kind of life I wanted to come home to one day. I wrote:

Brian, who knows me better than anyone, says that I will never be content. But I don’t know if he’s right. I can almost envision a life in which I would be content. First of all, it is a life in which I am a writer. Second of all, it is a life in which I am around nature, living in the mountains where I can easily hike or run in the forest. Third of all, it is a life in which I have close connections to people. When it gets down to it that is all I really want.”

If you’ve read The Yellow Envelope you know that the book ended when our trip did. After that, we landed in Cincinnati, close to our families and the towns we grew up in but farther away from the lifestyle that fills us up. We were excited to give Cincinnati a try (and, after a period of adjustment, we really have loved it here), but while living in Cincinnati has given us many gifts (precious time with family), it’s stripped us of the life that feels most like us: outdoors, in the mountains and close to nature.

We’ve considered so many options in the 2.5 years we’ve been back home. We entertained the idea of traveling internationally again. We thought about moving back to Oregon (or Colorado, or Mexico) and of course we considered staying in Cincinnati because leaving family is hard. About a year ago, feeling nature-starved and antsy, we went so far as to buy a little Shasta camper and I wrote a book proposal about living in it for a year with our daughter. But when the time came it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to shove my life into a backpack again. I didn’t want to be nomadic. I wanted a community and a home. I wanted the same things I wanted when I was writing that blog post, spelling out a life that would make me content: A writing life, a home in the mountains, family, community.

The amazing little camper that did not become our home.

And so, we’re leaping towards a new dream.

Last week we bought a house in a small mountain town of 3,000 people (!!) just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. The place is perfect for us, and the second we walked into the house we knew it was ours. It has porches on all four sides, an outdoor fire pit with a view of the mountains, and over an acre of land, some of it wooded and fenced and some of it perfect for planting a garden. It has hardwood floors and a big brick fireplace. Our neighbors tell us that the neighborhood is home to deer, black bear and a family of wild turkeys. And, it’s just a six-hour drive to our families back in Ohio. This house feels like a bit of a miracle, a dream of a place. And somehow it is ours.

(If you’re wondering how we’re able to do this (I KNOW you’re wondering), Brian’s job has allowed him to work remotely full-time, enabling us to live where we want.)

Keys!

The view of our house from the fire pit.

Yep, I think I can get used to drinking my morning coffee here.

Even before our daughter was born it was our dream to raise her outdoors and close to nature. Now, we get to give her that childhood. I love knowing that our girl will spend her early years romping through the forest, camping, kayaking, climbing, floating on rivers and swimming in lakes.

The view from a hike that’s 10 minutes from our home.

I have so many dreams of what it will be like to live in this house, in these beautiful mountains, to wake up each day in a place I feel inspired and awed. The house itself is a writer’s paradise, with lots of porches and windows, and I can’t wait to see what will be created here. I’ve started working on my next book (which includes a big adventure. I’m still me after all) and this November I’m hosting my first writer’s retreat in Asheville (it’s a beta-retreat, but if you want to be notified about my first real retreat, which I hope to host next spring, sign up here.)

It’s been seven years since I wrote that original blog post and while Brian is right, I might not ever be completely content (I’m learning to live with and even love this part of myself- I crave change and adventure, and that’s okay) I do feel more content than I have ever been. This next version of the dream has been seven years in the making. We move this weekend. I’m excited to see what unfolds for us and, yes, to start planning for what comes next.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley September 25, 2017 at 11:15 am

Congrats on the new house and move! Asheville seems like an awesome place, and seems to fit you guys perfectly.

I know what you mean about that restlessness, the itch. I want to travel all the time, but I also crave some sense of connectedness and community. We live in the Denver area, while family and friends are back in Maryland. I love the outdoors here and it feeds my desire for adventure and outside time, but I see pictures of family events and friends’ kids growing up and I definitely feel a sense of loss in missing those things. It’s hard to choose. It seems like you may have hit a happy medium. Good luck!
Ashley recently posted..Backpacking to Lake Como [Colorado]

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Kim September 26, 2017 at 4:44 am

I so feel you on this. When I lived in Oregon, even though I adored the state, there was always an emptiness (maybe you could say a bit of loneliness) inside because we were so far away from family. Since we’ve been back in Cincinnati I haven’t had that feeling for a second. I’m hoping that Asheville will be a happy medium, a place close enough that we will still be home all of the time. We won’t miss holidays, family camp-outs, birthdays, etc. but also a place were we really want to live, where we feel alive and healthy. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Trish September 25, 2017 at 11:18 am

I can’t believe how synchronized our paths have been. We both quit our jobs, stored our stuff and set off on adventures traveling the world with our husbands. At some point we both ended up back in the US. We both had baby girls and both moved to small mountain towns (Nevada City is roughly 3,000 people in Northern California.) We moved here when our babe was 18 months because we wanted a more free range childhood for her. She hikes, she plays outside, she goes to the Yuba river weekly. I’m SO, so thrilled for you. One of these days I’d love to come check out North Carolina. Keep me posted on your writing retreats. I write a lot now but it’s mostly corporate copywriting because of the income. I haven’t done much w/ the blog since we came back because honestly I’m tired. I dream of reviving it – especially because we have been traveling a lot with our kiddo. I need to make it a priority. I hope you enjoy the deer, bears and other new neighbors as much as I do. Stay in touch – Trish

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Kim September 26, 2017 at 4:46 am

I think you would love western NC!!! And our door is always open to other travelers, lord knows I’ve been welcomed into many homes over the years. And, yes, it sounds like we are on very similar paths. Nevada City sounds like a dream. It makes me so happy knowing Juniper (my daughter) will grow up outside. Did you sign up for the writing retreats email (link is in the post)? That’s the best way to stay updated, though I’ll announce on the blog as well.

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Michelle Preston September 25, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I love this post. I can relate so much to your restless soul seeking contentment and never quite finding it. I hope this is the place where you will sit on that front veranda drinking a cup of coffee, knowing that you are completely and utterly content (and here’s hoping one day I find it too)

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Kim September 26, 2017 at 4:49 am

Hi Michelle, you know, I have recently come to a realization. I can be content and restless at the same time. I am totally allowed to be HAPPY and WANTING (in the past, I thought that if I was wanting for something it must mean I wasn’t happy in the present, but that’s just not true). I’m a wanderer and that will never go away. I need to be standing on the edge of something big, that feeling makes me feel alive. But I also need a home. As a friend said recently- roots and wings. Both are okay. Both can exist at the same time. I can be content while also knowing that a slight feeling of discontentment is what propels me to the next big thing— that feeling is a gift, actually.

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Patti September 25, 2017 at 3:47 pm

“Brian, who knows me better than anyone, says that I will never be content. But I don’t know if he’s right. I can almost envision a life in which I would be content…”

I think it’s not always about being content but rather embracing each chapter. I think I’ve always felt content in my life, but I’ve also always embraced change. About every 5 years I really need to change it up in some fashion. It’s not that I’m not content, it’s that I love change, the challenge and thrill of something new. A new chapter.

I’m loving your journey and our friendship as I watch you embrace each new chapter. Save a spot for us on that front porch!

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Kim September 26, 2017 at 4:50 am

Yes, exactly! See the comment I left to Michelle. I’m recently seeing that I can be both things at one time– content and discontent, if that makes sense. I just sort of needed to expand my horizon to see that.

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Les Petits Pas de Juls September 25, 2017 at 7:15 pm

Fabulous! Wishing you the best in yet another beautiful adventure of yours!
Happy hiking, writing and living the life you dreamt of!
Jul’
Les Petits Pas de Juls recently posted..Breathe in, Breathe out… You’re in the Alps again

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Kim September 26, 2017 at 4:51 am

Thanks!!! As always I’m going to say that I hope this means I’ll be writing on the blog more… we will see!

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Kristen September 25, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Congratulations! Watching you continue to follow your dreams is very inspiring. After my travel stint a couple years ago, I’ve found myself back in Portland and now know that my time is coming to leave the city for a small mountain town. I crave to be surrounded by nature, a small community, and a place where I can put down roots. It’s good to be reminded this is not an oddball dream!

Best wishes in this next chapter…

Kristen

Kristen

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Kim September 26, 2017 at 4:52 am

Oh no way, that is not an oddball dream at all. I have ALWAYS believed I would end up in a small mountain town, and now I have. It’s not the end of the story of course, but I am excited for this next chapter. Do you want to stay in Oregon? Because there are some pretty awesome small mountain towns around Asheville, just sayin’ 🙂

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John September 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

That is a beautiful part of the country. My in-laws just moved to Clyde so we have been exploring that area a good bit. Our plan is to eventually find a place of our own down there.
John recently posted..Day One: Niagara Falls

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Rebecca Rose Thering September 27, 2017 at 11:34 am

Wow, exciting news! Congratulations, Kim!

I’m thrilled for this next chapter; can’t wait to see what it brings you and your family. I’ve been enjoying the freshness of new surroundings and routines myself here in Flagstaff, AZ— where I’m serving on ACE’s Conservation Corps (via AmeriCorps) for six months. It’s amazing what a new place can do, isn’t it?

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Jessica September 28, 2017 at 10:51 am

Hi! Back when you were travelling, so was I and the wonder you experienced, was so familiar as I also left everything with no end point and nothing planned at all. I went through Iceland, England and France working on farms. The end of my trip led to Asheville! I lived there for 3 years and now live in Oregon 😊. Family is far, I feel that, too. Asheville and those mountains are truly magical. You will FEEL the earth beneath you and there was always a sense of being small when I sat on a quiet mountain. A special place, definitely. Please find skinny dip falls immediately! 😊 It drew me back so many times. Happy settling in!

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Ali September 30, 2017 at 1:29 am

Congrats! It sounds like you’ve found the perfect location to start a new home. And it’s so wonderful that you guys are really pursuing what’s important to you by being closer to nature. I hope the move is going well!
Ali recently posted..Solo Travel Sucks. Do It Anyway.

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