A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

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Four Steps to Setting Thoughtful Intentions

Two weeks ago while digging through an old file, I found our plans to hit the road full time. We were two years out from launching when we wrote down…

Two weeks ago while digging through an old file, I found our plans to hit the road full time. We were two years out from launching when we wrote down that list and timeline. At the time, I remember thinking how impossible the plan seemed to execute. It was 2009, the height of the recession. We were in the middle of a real estate mess, we feared losing Brent’s clients if we packed up and left town, and our overall financial picture was bleak. Hitting the road was risky and we were far from an ideal starting place but it happened not just for one year but for four and it changed our lives in more ways than we could have imagined. And it all started with a dream, an intention, that made it onto a piece of paper. 

We’ve starting planning for “Hit the Road 2.0”. This time around we’d like to avoid hanging out in campgrounds for weeks at a time waiting for freelance checks to come in the mail. Although we have some really great memories from those times, it’s more fun to travel full time when filling your gas tank isn’t stressful. Since being settled, we’ve been quietly and steadily working toward creating more (mostly) passive income (through real estate and it’s not as hard or ambitious as it might sound) that will allow us to get back on the road with less stress and more freedom once The Bigs are launched into the world. This plan also started with a dream followed by few scribbles on a piece of paper. The funny thing is by nature, I’ve always leaned towards skepticism but looking back on my life I’m starting to see the power of thoughtful intentions and prayer. I’m fully leaning into it this year and fighting back fears that I may end up having an existential crisis disappointed.

This past week, Brent and I spent a good 3-4 hours writing down goals/intentions for the new year. We wanted to make sure we are doing first things first and spending our time in a way that reflects our true values. It stinks the look back at a day or week and especially a year and realize that you didn’t spend your time doing the things with the people you love most. That is why is it key to set thoughtful intentions. Time shows no mercy. Use it wisely!

Four Steps to Creating Thoughtful Intentions/Goals 

1. Reflect and Brainstorm

The first thing Brent and I did was brainstorm things we wanted to accomplish. It helps to reflect on the past and the present. What did we do well last year? What were our regrets? How have our circumstances changed? (This is Thing 1’s last year with us so that played a big role in our planning.) Where are we at physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, financially, etc? 

We intentionally chose to focus on things we want to do rather of things we want to avoid. For instance consider the New Year classic, “get fit” rather than “lose weight”. This sets a more positive tone for the year and we reason that when we are filling our lives with “positive” activities there is naturally less room for “negative” activities. Furthermore, if we’ve done all the important things for the day then does it really matter if we spend a little too much time on our phones in the evening!

2. Categorize

Next we looked at our list of intentions/goals and created broad categories like “Family”. We organized the things we wanted to accomplish into these categories. For instance, we put “Climb Pikes Peak into the “Health” category. Coming up with categories sparked new intentions that we didn’t think of in our brainstorming session. 

3. Prioritize the Categories

After creating the categories we prioritized them. We approached the list as if we were building a house. The categories that we believe are the most essential to our version of a fulfilling life were set first, like a foundation. From there we discussed what would be most beneficial for each succeeding category. For instance, we initially had family before marriage but then decided it was actually in our kids’ best interest to invest in our marriage first. If we did that it would be easier to invest in our family as a whole. We talked about how investing in our marriage was investing in our family. The same with health. We decided that by taking care of ourselves we would be taking care of each other. Being healthy makes us better partners and better parents so up the list it went. We discussed each category at length and why it should go where. Prioritizing the categories not only gave a clearer picture for the year but created some great conversation between us. It also brought up some differences and vulnerabilities that we had to work through. Hard but time well spent. Here are the categories we came up with in the order we prioritized them.

Faith
Health
Marriage
Family
Friends
Personal/Creative
Financial
Real Estate
Business
Other

Categories will obviously change from person to person and should reflect your core values and vision for your life.

4. Prioritize Intentions/Goals

Last we repeated step 3 with the intentions/goals themselves and prioritized them within each category. Since we did our list as a couple there were sections under each category for each individual. For instance, under  “Health” Brent has ‘Mountain Bike or Run 2x Week’ and I have ‘10+ Min of Yoga Every Day’. Under “Family” we have a section for each child with things we want to do with or for them. Our travel goals are listed under family as well. Before finishing up, we read over the list a number of times together, tweaking as needed. We may and probably should make more changes as the year progresses and needs and circumstances shift but we now have a good starting point or a map to refer to when we feel lost or overwhelmed. When that happens we can look at our list and say, “This is what’s REALLY important” and take steps in that direction. 

Do you set intentions or goals for yourself and your family? 

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Smiling at Stone Mountain – Thing 3 – Week 8

My mommy is behind on my posts. I guess between taking care of me and my big brothers she doesn’t have a lot of free time. We’ve been traveling a…

My mommy is behind on my posts. I guess between taking care of me and my big brothers she doesn’t have a lot of free time.

We’ve been traveling a lot lately.

Mommy Thing 3 Week 8

I’ve started to like my baby carrier. Mommy has been looking for a new one because this one isn’t super comfortable. Boy, you should see how much time she spends “researching”. No wonder she’s behind on my posts. I can’t even imagine what goes into research when she buys a car.

Chilling Thing 3 Week 8

Sometimes I take naps next to my mommy when she writes. It’s easier to fall asleep when I can look at her.

Family Selfie Stone Mountain GA

We took family selfie at Stone Mountain Georgia.

Selfie Thing 2 3 GA

Another selfie!

Thing 3 Week 8

I smile a lot but I can also be very serious.

Thing 2 Baby Nomad Stone Mountain GA

Brent Thing 3 Stone Mountain GAThing 1 Thing 3 Stone Mountain GA

Everybody took turns holding me at my first campfire at Stone Mountain.

Thing 3 Carseat TN

I’m dreaming about the places I’ll go when I get out of this thing!

Thing 3 Smile Chattanooga TN

Kisses from daddy at an ice cream shop in Chattanooga, TN.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Playing in Portland

When we got to Portland I posted on Facebook asking for advice on things to do. Almost every reply involved food! So we headed to downtown in search of the…

When we got to Portland I posted on Facebook asking for advice on things to do.

Almost every reply involved food!

Walking Portland OR

So we headed to downtown in search of the food trucks.

Powells Bookstore Portland OR

But first we had to stop at Powell’s. Priorities!

Line at Voodoo Doughnuts Portland OR

After grabbing lunch at a food truck we headed to Voodoo Doughnuts but none of us were willing to wait in that line.

Brothers Salt and Straw Ice Cream OR

That’s okay because after dinner we went to Salt and Straw to get our sugar fix with some handmade ice cream.

Farmers Market Damascus OR

We would have loved to eat our way through Portland but we live on a budget so a trip to a farmers market was in order.

Sunset Camping Portland Oregon

And a night eating in really isn’t so bad when you are with the one you love.

Airplain OMSI Brent OR

Airplane Omsi OR

There is more to Portland than food. There is science!

OMSI Museum Portland OR

The boys had a fun afternoon exploring the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, OMSI.

Jenn Rola Portland OR

While the boys went to OMSI, I caught up with my friend Rola. Rola and I used to hang out with our babies almost 12 years ago. It had been that long since we had seen each other.
Friends at Voodoo Doughnuts ORFortunately, it hadn’t been quite that  long since we hung out with some special friends, Greg and Michelle, and their kids.

It is such a joy to hang out with old friends when it feel like it was just yesterday you hung out even though it has been a few years.

It’s also fun to finally get to try Voodoo Doughnuts in the company of good friends without having to wait in line all day.

Doughnut Case Voodoo OR

Por Que No Portland Walking OR

While we were out and about why not go  to Por Qué No?Por Que No Portland OR

Portlandia loves its bikes.
Families Por Que No Portland ORAnd we love our Mexican food. Por Qué No did not disappoint.

Nims and Russingers Portland OR

We finished the night laughing and goofy off with Greg and Michelle at their house.

Family Portland OR

Fun times playing in Portland.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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A Crazy 24 Hours

It was a driving day with our final destination a mere 4 hours away. However 4 turned into 12 because… You can’t pass up climbing a tree that looks like…

It was a driving day with our final destination a mere 4 hours away.

However 4 turned into 12 because…

You can’t pass up climbing a tree that looks like it’s from Endor.

Nor could we pass up a quick stop at the Hoh Rain Forest, a part of Olympic National Park and one of the largest temperate rainforests in North America. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know there were any rain forests North America.

family hoh rainforest wa

sun rays hoh rainforest wa

brothers hoh rainforest wa

Or  a stop at Ruby Beach where we stacked rocks and had dinner.

Brother Love Ruby Beach WA Dinner at Ruby Beach WA Stacking Rocks Ruby Beach WA Rock Piles Ruby Beach WA Rock Climbing Ruby Beach WA Brothers Ruby Beach WA

Finally around 10 pm the real adventure began when we arrived at our campground. We try really hard to not get into places after dark because once the sun sets there seems to be holes, poles, fences, guard rails, zombies, you name it, appearing out of nowhere.

We took a turn too tight and the wheels of the trailer got stuck in a ditch that appeared out of nowhere. Thankfully there wasn’t any major damage to the trailer, just a small crack, and a dent on the bed of the truck. However, to prevent further damage we decided to call a tow truck to pull us out backwards.  It was 2 am before the trailer was out and we got to bed.

As if that wasn’t adventure enough. The next day we needed to decide if we were going to buy our season passes to go back to Breckenridge for the upcoming winter. We had mixed feelings. On one hand we really wanted to go but on the other we weren’t sure if we should spend the money.

As it turned out the decision was made for us when I decided to take a pregnancy test that afternoon “just in case” because I was a few days late.

And…

=

Two pink lines.

Guess we wouldn’t going back to Breck. I’m adventurous but snowboarding while pregnant? No thanks.

To say we were surprised would be an understatement but as the news soaked in we got excited. We weren’t the only ones excited. My dad sent me this super sweet text.

Dad Text Message

And here I am 9 months later on his due date and still waiting for this little guy to arrive!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Montana through Instagram

Because this is our journey’s journal. and Because Instagram is just  fun. Love and Laughter, Jenn If you enjoyed this post you can follow one of three ways! 1. Sign…

Because this is our journey’s journal.

and

Because Instagram is just  fun.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow one of three ways! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook  Simple dimple!

Like food and fitness? Follow along as I film a workout in every state and explore finding a healthy balance on the road at Girl Heroes!

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Shrinking Shadows

(I wrote this a few days ago after a particularly rough night. I considered not posting as I’m feeling much better but decided it’s a part of the journey.) I…

(I wrote this a few days ago after a particularly rough night. I considered not posting as I’m feeling much better but decided it’s a part of the journey.)

I talk about all the wonderful moments of living in an RV. The beautiful places we see.  The curious people we meet. The quiet evenings filled with peace and love. The times with friends and family.

These are the moments that fuel my soul. The moments that make me feel like my lungs breath magic not oxygen.

But that isn’t the whole story.

Last night, I cried myself to sleep. Heaving sobs rocked my body for no apparent reason.

Depression.

While we travel many new roads, this one is not. Many years ago, it defined my life. Over time, therapy, a patient husband, amazing children, and a loving God swept that shadow away. Mostly. For the past 11 years, aside from 6 long dark months and an occasional gray day sprinkled in to remind me how far I’ve come – how good God is-  depression has been little more than a distant memory.

Now here I am living one of my lifelong dreams and the shadow is on my heels. The shadow with a voice that tells me of my failures, plays on my insecurities, growls my fears, and mocks my sadness.

I’m angry that this shadow has decided to come knocking now. Knocking while I’m living one of my dreams. But that’s life. It’s not a Thomas Kincade painting. (Thank God I’m so over snow.) There are no shortage of struggles even when life is surrounded by a white picket fence. Life is messy, complicated, often painful, and, yes, beautiful even admist struggles.

So I wait through the night knowing morning will come.

Light will shine over the sometimes dim forest of life and the shadows will shrink.

The light of God surrounds me. The light that comes with a walk through the woods or the view from a mountain top. The light found in my children’s smiles. The light that shines through my husband’s arms.  The light that follows sharing the truth.

Darkness may come but morning always follows.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Like food and fitness? Follow along as I film a workout in every state and explore finding a healthy balance on the road at Girl Heroes!

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Day 21: Porcupines and Passion

‎”When I got into hunting porcupines, I knew everything there was to know about porcupines. I was passionate.” – Tom from the campground chapel service We set up camp at…

‎”When I got into hunting porcupines, I knew everything there was to know about porcupines. I was passionate.” – Tom from the campground chapel service

We set up camp at Thousand Trails Verde Valley  last night.  Will we ever get in before dark?  While we were driving around blindly looking for a space, I spotted a group of javelinas. Meow Cow must have spotted them too because he got all funky on us, hissing and growling.  That ferocious feline.

It was a cloudy wet morning. After a lingering breakfast, went to the campground chapel service which was really more of a “Bible study”.  Travelers of all ages and walks, sharing their opinion on God and the Bible. The topic was “passion vs. duty”.  Tom was my favorite.  He told of of his passion for porcupine hunting and searching for gold.  How he threw himself into researching and pursuing his hobbies with commitment and passion.  His wish was to pursue God with the same passion.  While clearly simplistic and odd, there was something sweet and touching about his honesty.

Personally, I don’t see passion and duty as mutually exclusive nor do I see one as better than the other.  (Although passion is most certainly more fun.)  They work together.  Duty picks up when passion falters.   I experience this again and again.   Take fitness, for example.  Sometimes I workout because I crave the feeling of strength found through the cold iron of kettlebells, sweat, and time alone for my mind to wander.  Other times, I do it because it’s what I do, like flossing my teeth.  The same goes for marriage, parenting, writing, and my faith.  I try to cultivate and feed passion but try not to shun duty.  Mostly though, I try not to over think it too much because that makes me crazy and I have enough of that for 5 people already.

Anyway, I sat quietly the entire chapel taking it in and stumbling over the hymns.  I didn’t grow up singing hymns.

After two days of driving, we decided to rest the remainder of the day.  The boys met another fulltime RVing family and played with those kids the rest of the day.

I sat at the window and watched the desert landscape.  I’m a little sad and worried.  After the broken refrigerator and new tires, I’m starting to wonder if we should have saved up like we intended before we left.  Certainly, that would have been the dutiful thing to do.  However, passion took over and we took off, trusting that God will provide.  Clearly, I’m as simplistic as Tom.  Maybe, I should take up porcupine hunting.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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