Big thanks to Katie (who is my awesome web developer and created my beautiful website) for sharing this awesome guest blog post!
“I feel equally divided between
to put down deep roots
and create sanctuary
in a little house
with a garden
and the longing to
sell most of my possessions
and begin exploring the world
my heart as sanctuary
and my mind as garden.”
— Victoria Morehead
This beautiful poem, written by a friend, encapsulates exactly how I feel about the pull between home and travel. I love having a home. I adore the sanctuary I’ve built with my husband and two fantastic cat babies (editor’s note – and now beautiful baby daughter!). I have strong roots here. I have a garden and art supplies for endless inner journeys. I feel connected to my community. Home feels safe, secure, peaceful. I love the idea of always having a place for myself and my family to have a consistent, secure role in a community – to enjoy that kind of security.
On the other hand, the nomadic life has tugged at me, too. Speeding along on the back of a moped in Ho Chi Minh city, I had a flash of seeing how I might love the nomadic life, too. Up until that point I’d considered the path of giving up roots and worldly possessions as a sacrifice. In that moment I came around to seeing minimalism as a luxury, a luxury that buys freedom.
When I thought I had to choose between the two lifestyles, it drove me crazy. How could I give up either one? I need to travel, and have expansive experiences. I love taking risks, though leaving my wonderful home life never felt like the right kind of risk. What could I do to reconcile the two dreams?
Asking Better Questions
“When you run out of questions you don’t just run out of answers, you run out of hope.” – Thirteen, from House, M.D.
I spent a good number of years thinking of this conflict in black and white – thinking that I could either be a nomad or have solid roots. If there were any middle ground, I unthinkingly assumed I knew the recipe: that my husband would need to travel the world with me as a nomad himself, that we afford travel by selling or renting our house. When he didn’t want to do this – despite the fortune that we both actually happen to be location independent – it felt tragic. I felt like I was being asked to give up my dreams. I felt trapped.
It was all too easy to assume that I was stuck, when really, I was making too many assumptions. And like many things have been in my life, when I started asking the right questions and opening up to new possibilities, the pieces fell into place.
Creating My Global Life
When I worked with Cate, she introduced me to the concept of a global life. The idea instantly clicked with me – it was much more about getting really, really clear about what it is that I actually want – what it would take for me to feel like a global citizen – and satisfying that.
I love strategies that take this approach. Tim Ferriss influenced my idea of wealth by challenging whether I really want a sports car, or the experience driving down the 101 with my guy, wind blowing in my hair. Hands down, it’s the experience that’s far more gratifying. Danielle LaPorte does the same in the Desire Map, by asking how I want to feel – not what I want to accomplish. Hands down, it’s more gratifying to go straight to the positive feeling, than to assume a particular action – for instance, creating a successful startup – is necessarily going to lead to that feeling.
The strategies that lead to greater awareness ultimately lead to more satisfaction for me. It turned out that creating my global life was similar.
What is it that I really crave in my global life? For me, it’s largely:
+ New physical experiences – trying new foods, finding new outdoor adventures
+ Connecting with people outside my culture – understanding new world views, new music, art, and dance
+ Feeling like I’ve gotten to experience a solid sampling of the cultures on our planet. I want to feel like I enjoyed as much as I could of the world
+ Feeling connected enough with other world cultures to feel like an active participant of the world, an active world citizen – not just an American
and – oh yes! –
+ Physically getting on a plane and traveling. 🙂
I dug deeper into the nuts and bolts of what this global life personally means for me, and laid out a plan – one that feels solid, and big enough to provide a lifetime of expanding my global awareness – without requiring that I leave my roots.
For me personally, a large portion of my global life is about spending more time around non-European people, cultures, and events. So much of that is available right here in my hometown. A lot of my need for travel is based in a need for more international connectedness – and that’s satisfied by some surprising local things, ranging from exploring the history of European dominance at an anti-racism workshop, to just having a good conversation with the owner of an Indian market.
My global life includes learning new languages and exploring sociology – in order to learn how to think differently. It includes serving internationally, by expanding my work to international clients, and giving to international charities. Finally, it includes planning trips as if I’m going to take them. So much of what I love about travel is the feeling of making the unknown known, of making somewhere completely new, that’s scary in its unknownness, into a new, safe home away from home. Just planning a trip – I feel it as I plan my own upcoming trip – helps to make that connection, and connect with the humanity of a new place in the world. Traveling helps me set up little bits of home and roots around the globe.
Finally, a key component of my global life is travel. While I learned that I really do prefer to keep my home and my roots for most of the year, I still crave the physical adventure of planes, airports, and everything new! One big month-long trip per year seems so far to be about the right amount for me. A key component here of making this happen, and work for everyone – for myself, my husband, my clients – was communication. With great communication, I found that I was pleasantly surprised at how well all the pieces fit and my goals worked out!
If there’s any one wisdom I’d like to share about creating a global life, it’s what I’ve learned from Cate: that creating a global life is not at all about settling; it’s actively the opposite. It’s about letting go of what I think I know about the solution to a problem, and digging deeper to get to a much better solution.