Love the Spin Reinvented
This site used to be my own personal blog where I discussed my fumbling attempts at parenting, making a living, gardening and homesteading, understanding the world, and going to heaven. I guess my writing is still loosely about these things from a more expanded point of view (if the “home” in “homesteading” is defined more as “home planet” in a space movie, gardening becomes entirely figurative, and heaven becomes entirely literal and immediate).
Now it is has evolved to more of a family travel blog that includes our experiences traveling with kids and teens, “road schooling,” and all of the soul-expanding, hilarious and perplexing experiences and mishaps that go with all that.
Since the kids are now old enough to share their own perspective, and since Mom can’t even begin to remember the stuff we’ve done as well as they do, LoveTheSpin.com now has six contributors:
Valerie and David, the Parents (any general first-person reference not attributed to anyone is Valerie)
Ben (15) and Sophie (13), the Teenagers
Noah (10) and Lucy (8), the Kids
The Wrong Shoe
In 2012, we had arrived. After almost 20 years of constant chaos, stress and trial, the American Dream was ours—we bought the great historic house in the great historic town, had two great jobs, two great boys, two great girls, two indifferent cats, and one semi-great dog (my least favorite child). This is what I had worked my whole life for—normalcy.
But I couldn’t settle into it.
I tried to tell myself it was like a new pair of shoes that just needed to be broken in, but over the next year or two, the image of Cinderella’s insistent stepsister attempting to cram her unwieldy foot into a dainty slipper continually came to mind.
Sometimes, the more graphic version in “into the Woods” seemed more appropriate—I needed a cleaver to make this fit.
I had always envisioned myself as Cinderella, rising from the ashes. Not the stepsister, violently cursing the wrong shape of my foot.
And the family joined me in my cursing. Normalcy didn’t end the feeling of exhaustion, chronic stress and chaos. Our family was running all in different directions, disconnected from each other—irritated, agitated, rushing. We were striving yet resisting. Everything seemed wrong, and we were so discontent and disappointed with ourselves, each other, and our lives.
We woke every morning feeling like it was Groundhog Day. We fell into bed every night feeling inadequate and frazzled. As a possibly important side note, my mental and physical health took a drastic turn for the worse over the first year I moved back to Utah from California, which over the past 6 years has led my doctors and counselors to discuss things like chronic fatigue, S.A.D., and most recently, possible altitude sensitivity, but there are too many factors in play to isolate the cause.
Regardless, here was our Golden Era, and we were merely surviving.
I know I’m not special. Most everyone I know feels this way. It’s just the world we live in, the demands are constant. Every billboard, Facebook post, letter home from the school, self-help book and sermon is telling us there is something wrong—with us, with the world, with our family. And everyone has a fix. But no one seems to be interested in selling us better shoes that fit our the unwieldy, beautifully flawed, God-given human feet—gifts to walk us through this life lesson.
No, the shoe is perfect—it’s the foot that’s the problem.
So we went to work addressing these faulty feet—why it was so hard for us to settle down? What was wrong with us? Were we too accustomed to the previous chaos—we couldn’t adjust to life without crisis? We’re we ungrateful, sinful, flighty—or curious and adventurous? Was it a midlife crisis, physical/mental illness—or innate wanderlust?
The answer is probably yes to all of these things. But really, who cares why a shoe doesn’t fit. In the shoe store, we approach things a bit more logically—we move onto another pair rather than contemplating an amputation.
The Wild Experiment
After it became catastrophically clear that we needed to find another way, we decided we needed to find the right pair of shoes. For now, we’ve exchanged that tiny little glass slipper for hiking boots, flip-flops, and most often, no shoes at all.
Even before we left home, the environment in the house relaxed, and things started to change. Instead of wanting everything and everybody to be different, I started looking at everything and everybody with interest and curiosity instead of judgment, asking “What is this? Who are you? Instead of “It should be this way. You should be this type of person.” I started approaching life as a student instead of a judge–wanting to understanding life and the very different people in my family, letting go of the disparity from what I thought I wanted life and them to be like. I saw beautiful things. I felt grateful. I felt something big happening, something moving us toward a more peaceful way.
I wanted to keep noticing, and seeing how things were instead of deciding how things should be. I decided we should try hitting the road—try on different places, different cultures, different ideas, (different weather and altitudes) and spend a lot more time together in the moment with as few distractions as possible.
So that is the experiment. Have a home-based work/school life that allows us to travel as much as possible and be open to seeing how things and people are, rather than always comparing what we see to our own bias, judgment and expectation.
The kids and I record our experiences here almost daily as part of their road schooling to help process what we’re discovering. Whether you’re amused, curious, or horrified about such a wild experiment—or you are are stumbling along in their your own pair of wrong shoes, maybe you’ll like joining us here as we awkwardly try on pair after pair.
If you’re wondering about the logistical details, here is more information on that in the FAQ.
If you want to skip between various authors or topics, find your interest in the links below. Or just head over to the travelogue where everything is mixed in together.