money and plans

I’ve been thinking about how little I spent money-wise in Nepal. True, I only paid for accommodation one night, and rarely paid for food. But still… a nice apartment rental in Kathmandu would cost $300/month which includes utilities, and food is super cheap. I can’t believe how much cheaper it would be to live there versus living here and paying $50 for a few simple groceries, or $400 for gas. Also we won’t have the preschool fees, the gas fees, the electric bill, or the wifi bill.

I am on the hunt for a good first travel nurse position starting now. So far my recruiters don’t have anything that’s day shift or at a large facility. I think it might take a month-ish to find something… and the start date may end up being later in January or toward February. In the meantime, I could maybe go back to Nepal for another three weeks. I certainly didn’t get my fill and I’m no longer afraid of going with my daughter, or intimidated by long flights. I have a friend who will even take us ‘light trekking’, with a porter to carry M whenever she gets tired.  Staying there would be way cheaper than staying at home. I have already picked up a holiday shift next week and plan to do overtime and make the extra money for airfare and living off of until I get paid again.

It’s so scary not knowing exactly where I’ll be and when yet, but that’s the price I pay for the flexibility to go where my soul calls me to go. I have to figure out where my mom will be during this time (with me?) and get a job lined up for when I come back. If I bust my butt from now until my last week at this job, I can make decent extra money.

Staying home and settling into the routine we had before is just not an option now. My grandparents are gone and the time has come for me to spread my wings and see what the world has for me. Going back to Nepal over the holidays would be excellent for me, and hopefully my mom and M as well. Come back, work a contract, go back? Hit up Michigan with a per diem position, go back? We’ll see. Right now I’m planning my life literally a month at a time.

Now, gotta get my passport renewed!

just let her run free in fairy land

I go back and forth about preschool on a daily basis. Lately it’s been more back than forth, but this morning M’s little friends came running to greet her and enfold her in their little tribe, and I felt good about the community she has there. Of course, she asked me why she has to go school at all on the drive there. Also, the other day when I picked her up the teacher scolded her for opening the cafeteria door on her own when we left. Apparently there’s a weird school rule that the kids aren’t allowed to open doors because someone got their finger pinched. I prefer her to open and close her own doors, mostly because she can and also how else is she supposed to learn how to not pinch her or someone else’s fingers in the door?? Also, that whole rule about not feeding her at school, because she’s supposed to be independent and feed herself? So much for independence when it comes to the doors. No wonder she feels confused and irritated with school.

Last week I got a gift card for participating in a research study at work, so I took my sister and niece to the Renaissance Festival. I have always loved going, and this year M’s inner festie just came out in full force. She completely threw herself into the spirit of things, donning her fairy wings and watching performances, dancing to music, and interacting with the grown-up fairies, pirates, etc all day! I’m pretty sure she was convinced she’d found her people.

Hugging spiderman and listening to a spontaneous music jam that broke out on the path…

By the end of the day we were both feeling free and light. I loved watching her play with the fairy houses for hours (ok maybe a half hour would’ve been enough for me) and then start building her own fairy houses all over the place. I could see her expressing herself freely through music and dance and creativity and looking around and seeing so many other adults and children doing the same. She didn’t have to worry about getting dirty or holding still or being quiet. And I honestly just wish this was our life the majority of the time!

Obsessed with fairy houses and getting dusted with fairy dust nearby…

I wish I could afford a season pass and attend every weekend. I would love to dress us both up and make festival friends and have that be our “thing” every fall. Maybe in a few years? For now, I am taking the memories of us dancing with court ladies and fairies and pirates in the woods to the beat of the drums, covered in glitter and dirt, and as happy and free as sprites with us and let it guide me toward the way of life we are pursuing.

Dancing with court ladies and fairies in the grove, and running through the village at closing time…

blog posts on Across the Never Sky

Some people asked me for either an email list or facebook page to notify them when I post to my travel blog, so I made one: Feel free to hit like and then maybe I won’t even have to post links to it here. I just wrote a new blog post there called Ten Reasons I’m Leaving My Regular Life for Full-Time Travel. But if you’re a reader of this more personal blog then you already know the reasons.

I’m still trying to decide where to put my nursing posts, or if I should just tweet them. (No patient information, obvy.) Still deciding, but to keep things simple I may just do away with the nursing blog I never post at anymore and do my “travel nurse” blogging on the travel site.

Two more days til our family road trip to the East Coast!

school blues

I’m starting to feel better about M not going back to her school after winter break. She is not excited about going… in fact, this morning she told me several times that she didn’t want to go, she was too tired, it wasn’t fun, etc. When I picked her up and asked her several times what she did at school today, she quietly replied, “What the teachers told me to.”

Ouch. That statement just hits me right in the gut. It’s a new school year, and instead of the very family-like classroom of 14 students and two teachers they now have 22 kids and three teachers (one is for the ISD children). It’s chaotic and I imagine that instead of playing and exploring together like last year, they are mostly enforcing rules there right now. I went in to pick up M after lunch but the message I had given hadn’t been delivered to the lead teacher, and they’d taken her back to the class for quiet time. I went into the class and stood there for a few minutes… neither of the two teachers in there noticed me. I went to M’s cot across the room and sat by her, and told her we were going, and only then did another kid tell a teacher that a grown up had entered the room! No wonder she doesn’t want to go now… she’s just a number, an object on a conveyor belt, in that situation.

Maybe it seems like I’m being too harsh on the teachers, but the fact of the matter is that the lead teacher is wonderful and nurturing and yet completely stuck in a system that does not support that kind of environment. Too many children, not enough teachers, too little space. Children do not get to develop autonomy, nor do they benefit from close relationships and connections with the teachers. Instead of cooperating because they feel respected and connected, they behave poorly because they don’t feel seen or heard.

Instead of leaving M happy and excited to play with her friends and teachers, I walked away feeling guilty that I took her there at all. It’s not ok, for our family anyway, to institutionalize her like that if she doesn’t want it. So… I think her last day of school there may be less bittersweet than I thought.

work, mess, work, mess…

Sometimes it just feels that I’m stuck in an endless cycle… go to work, come home and clean up a mess, and repeat, ad nauseum til the end of time. It seriously doesn’t end. The crumbs and dried cheese and dirty floors and cat poop… what would it be like to come home to a clean environment? I just have no idea. I know that this is life and it shouldn’t bother me so much, but it does. I really does. I hate it. I wish I lived in a hotel room and a maid came every day. I wish I was in a pristine, spartan environment. I would feel so much better. I used to love going to my aunt’s house as a kid because she is OCD (maybe I take after her) and has a spotless house all the time. She never had to work full-time (then) so maybe that’s how she did it.

Also, I just worked 5 out of 6 days. Maybe that doesn’t sound so crazy to those who work Mon-Fri jobs, but I’m there from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm… just answering demands all day. Constant demands. Messes, crises, other people’s shit… and then come home to a nasty house, a kid who is wound up from missing me and eating junk food, and I just feel like… how is this my life? There has to be more to life than this, there just has to be.

But maybe there isn’t more to it. Maybe I should just be grateful that we’re healthy and I have a job and I can go grocery shopping. I mean, maybe it’s stupid to think that there could be more to it than that? Like, the occasional vacation and the occasional good day, that should maybe be enough? Why can I not just be satisfied that we aren’t destitute or starving?

travel life: it’s official!

I’ve been contending with one large hurdle to traveling: child care. Not only is it difficult to find on short notice, but with full-time day cares only open until 6pm Mon-Fri, I have to also rely on private nannies or babysitters. The costs of daycare plus babysitters easily eats up all of the difference between my permanent staff salary and the extra travel nurse money.

Today my mother agreed to travel with us as long as I can get M in some kind of childcare part of the day on week days. This is so huge! Not only is the financial burden substantially lifted, but the stress of needing childcare right away, or god forbid having a babysitter call in and having no child care, is gone!

My income will go from $2900 per month take home to something like $6,250 per month. From that I will have to deduct either company housing or whatever housing we find, even at the highest end of $2000 per month I’m still left with $4,250 with which to pay my home mortgage and taxes ($596), sewer bill ($54), health insurance (somewhere around $150),  student loans ($165), phone bill ($65), and car insurance ($190). Then assume $400 for groceries, and a lot less for gas since I won’t be in the boonies ($150) and keep the $80 in for M’s swimming lessons. Utilities, cable, and wifi are included in provided housing. I’m left with $2400. Assuming housing is less than that, we don’t spend that much on groceries and gas, and I find cheaper car insurance, it would hopefully be more.

Notice that number is significantly higher than the -$90 I currently come out with. Also notice that there is no energy bill as everything will be turned off at home while we’re gone, no trash bill, no minimum credit card payments because I’m going to have them paid off from some investments I have, no car payment because same, and less gas because I plan to use public transportation/bicycle/walking as much as possible and save the car for work if it’s too far or just sight-seeing. Also, am shopping around for a lower car insurance rate. And finally, I just switched from sprint to google fi for my phone, which saves me $100 per month.

Basically, I’ll be then paying for part-time child care, saving for in-between contracts ($800 per month x 3 months will give me $2400 for time off), $500 max for child care, some money for my mom as a thank you, and $1000 left over for incidentals, public transportation, fun stuff, and to create a savings, pay down debt, and invest. I intend to have three months worth of savings (about $7200) as an emergency fund before I begin paying off my mortgage and student loans. Once we’re debt free half will go towards investments, the other half towards all the home improvements I want to do on my lake house.

Just think, I’m not even breaking even right now and none of that would be possible if we stayed here. Plus, we’ll be on VACATION four whole days per week! My California and New York nursing licenses are submitted, my recruiters are informed of my preferences and start date… just gotta let the current boss know an exact last day. WELP.

I’m thinking just after Thanksgiving to get going. That will give me two contracts before summer officially starts and we’ll plan on returning home to Michigan then. In Michigan I will have to work a local contract, which will be an income more like I have right now. We will have much cheaper child care, however and won’t have to save that $800 for in between contracts.

day after blues

Wow. It hit me hard this time. I’d been up all night pretty much on the red eye flight, and came home to a messy house and a whole lot of exhaustion. I’m glad my mom is here, otherwise the loneliness would be overwhelming.

I remember my therapist of many years telling me to act “as if”. Meaning, act as if everything is fine. What would you do with your day? Would you get up at 8am and make coffee? Go for a walk or a swim? And then you do that. Basically, be an actor in your own life. It’s good advice, and it really works. Pretty soon you don’t feel like an actor, you feel it really IS your life.

I didn’t do that today. I slept until about 3:30pm. I dream about my grandma, and wake up crying. I’m overwhelmingly sad. I am longing for something… and I think it’s that feeling I had at Muir Beach, total freedom and lightness of being. I felt alive, brimming with life. Purpose didn’t matter… I was a part of the world, the earth, and needed no other purpose.

I don’t know what I’m doing here, in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest, with not a single friend. I feel guilt for adopting my daughter sometimes, because another family may have been able to give her lots of siblings, a community, people surrounding her. We are totally isolated. It was a selfish thing for me, to adopt, because I wanted to be a mom and I wanted her. But if she feels as lonely and unhappy as I do, then that’s on me.

So I’m trying to drag myself up and out of depression, clean the house, do things with my daughter. But I feel less than alive, and unsure of my place in the world in the life I currently live. My days feel so purposeless, stuck in a cycle of work to pay the bills, pay childcare and gas and car insurance so I can work. I’m tired and bored and would do anything to have a group of moms and kids, a large family, a community of people with which to interact every day, just to feel a part of something.

ready, get set, work…

So, it’s time to start working toward my goal of leaving “suburbia” (I live in a rural area but it’s still the suburban lifestyle) behind and taking my dream on the road. And by working, I mean… working. A lot. In fact, I received a call from the local hospital (I currently work at a regional center an hour away from home) asking me to interview for a PRN position in their SICU. First of all, they don’t really have a SICU, but that’s what they’re calling it. Anywho, ideally they want the per diem nurse to be able to float to critical care. In any case, it pays up to $50 an hour, I make my own schedule, and only have to work two 8 hour shifts per month to keep the position. Since M will be in school 5 days a week in the fall, that won’t be difficult. My goal is to pay off all debt except the mortgage and student loans (meaning credit card and car loan). Since my mom will pay me rent to cover my mortgage and student loans can be differed, I’ll be set at that point to funnel all my money into our travel savings.

I’ve already been saving a ton this month and last in childcare. I spent over $1000 per month in child care in May and in June spent only $240. Private babysitters are NOT the way to go I guess. The day care she is in this summer at her school is $30 per day. Big difference. I was able to fund our trip to Niagara with that difference, and catch up on credit card debt I racked up while spending all that money on child care.

It is so hard for me to not want to just act, head off to Nepal this fall and not look back. But I think it will all be so much better if I don’t have debt to worry about and some cash to live off of for a bit. So, this year is about muscling through, working more, and keeping my eyes on the prize. It’s going to be miserable, but then we will be free!

Check out some of my heroes:
Enlightened Globetrekker: World traveler who found herself unexpectedly a single mom. She tried to settle down in suburbia but became miserable. When her daughter  River was 5, she took her to Mexico to live a simple life and never came back! They now live in the Marshall Islands and lead travel expeditions.

Ditching Suburbia: This family decided they had become ships passing in the night and that formal schooling had taken over their children’s lives to the detriment of the family as a whole. They took the kids out of school, sold their house, and now roam the continent in an RV.



We all like to wax poetic about time. Parents do this even more than non-parents. “Oh how the time flies.” “It seems like yesterday when she was two.” “Where is my baby going?” “The days are long but the years are short.”

What I’m learning this summer is that time is not only the one thing we do not have enough of, but it is also the biggest gift that we can give to ourselves. In the average North American life, we are rushing from the moment we wake up until the moment we finally fall asleep, especially with children. Hurry up, wake up, get ready for school, we’re going to be late! Hurry up, get in the car, we have to go run these errands. Mommy can’t play with you right now, I have to get ready for work or I’ll be late. Hurry up, get back in the car, it’s time to go home, I need to clean the house. Hurry up and get your pajamas on, it’s getting late and we have to get to sleep before it gets too late because we have to get up early tomorrow. Etc and on and on.

Summer has been different. The main difference is that on my days off M doesn’t go to school. She doesn’t have to be anywhere by 8:30am. I love her teachers and the community and friends she has there. I love the fun things they do there and all of the memorable experiences she has… but I’m not entirely convinced that it’s worth the hassle that trickles through to the rest of our lives. Even when I do work, she goes to the daycare room and doesn’t have to be there at any particular time. Usually she gets there around 9 or 9:30, according to my mom. She can sleep as long as her body needs to sleep, and therefore I don’t feel like we need to go to bed at a particular time. We go to sleep when we’re tired.

In summer the sky is bright until 10pm. This means that often at 9pm we are still swimming in the still-warm lake water. At 9:30pm we are often out in the grass catching fireflies. At 10pm we are reading books together or having a ticklefest to get out the last of our energy. We wake up when we wake up. We don’t have to rush to get dressed, and so there’s no pressure behind it. Most of the time I just throw a light summer dress or romper on her, and she’s off. We keep a pair of shoes in the car.

Sometimes we go swimming. Sometimes I make dinner and sometimes we just forage in the fridge. We watch the garden grow, we build bonfires, we take walks, and sometimes we sit in the air conditioning on tablets. It’s totally fine because there’s no set of rules or schedules dictating our time. It’s not like I have to say no to screen time because there is plenty of time to do everything, including screens.

Our only scheduled, must get-to activity is swimming lessons. M has a huge smile on her face the entire time she’s in the pool. You’ve never seen such a happy kid at a lesson. She’s now met the goal of her current swim level (swim 5 feet independently and go underwater frequently and comfortably). She dives under for rings and is working on flipping from front swimming to back floating in one move. She jumps in from the edge and swims back to the edge, and gets out without a ladder or step. She is awesome.

On Sunday we’re off on a camping trip with my sister. I’m looking forward to watching M and my niece run free and unencumbered through nature from my place at the bonfire. Summer is good. Life should always be this good.

I was afraid that the fun days of summer would make me less motivated to leave this all for a travel lifestyle. It’s been the opposite… why should we slog through the winter, the drudgery of school/work/house arrest, when we could live like this always?

first world problems

I make too much money, pre-taxes, to get into the co-op townhouse neighborhood where my sister lives. The decision was handed down to me by their board and they are not budging. There are other townhouse co-ops in the area, but I’m taking it as a sign. A sign to go ahead with my travel nurse contract/live in cheap countries/come back in summers for another contract plan. (I should get a better, shorter name for this plan.)

So many signs are coming at me. Not least of which is my intense desire to do it. I wanted to see if they’d put me on a waiting list for the co-op, my only acceptable plan for staying on here in my home state. If I couldn’t get on it, it was going to mean it wasn’t meant to be or I was meant to be doing something else. My conversion to unschooling beliefs, and my job offer of teaching in Nepal, are all signs pointing me away.

So, one option is out. At least the field of choices is narrowing.