Nearly two years ago I made a commitment to myself – I would not make decisions based on fear or ego. It was a commitment that ultimately changed my life. That took a far fetched dream of motorcycling to Alaska (with my furry best friend of course) from wild idea to even wilder reality. That then lead to the expanded goal (after meeting the original one) to continue riding and camping our way across North America. And finally, sadly, excitedly, perfectly has brought this adventure to a close.
Several weeks ago I realized I was simply trying to power through the last bit of the trip. That I was no longer connecting with people on the road or really noticing with fresh eyes what I was seeing. I was just putting my head down and getting it done. And while there’s certainly a necessity to do that at times, it became obvious change was on the horizon.
And when I think about the legacy I aim to leave in life, I realized I don’t want motorcycle adventurer to be the whole of it. A part for sure, but not my entire identity. To go from never motorcycling to riding across the country for more than a year has taken all of my energy and focus. It’s not something I regret. In fact I’m rather proud of it. But it’s also meant sacrificing friendships, saying no to other projects and growing only in a very narrow and specific manner. Being the “girl with the van” or the “girl on the motorcycle” “the girl who makes art” or any other one-line description is a seductive and tempting prospect. These quick and easy identity markers are especially alluring in this day and age of social media. Of 140 character updates and 15-second attention spans. It’s tidy and fun to be able to quickly explain yourself. At times it can be great. It allows us to connect and know each other in mere moments. And there’s real value in that.
But just as it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of jobs and livelihoods we don’t enjoy, it’s even easier to get sucked into a lifestyle that once challenged us, but slowly begins to stagnate to a point where it’s only benefit is to soothe the ego and provide a facade of adventure. To me adventure is anything that challenges you to embrace discomfort and face fear in order to grow and improve. And with that definition, sometimes the most adventurous thing you can do is end one life adventure and boldly begin the next.
Truth be told, I’ve known for weeks this was the right decision, but fear is a powerful and wily beast and it very nearly convinced me otherwise. Until I remembered my own words from the Adventure Rider Radio interview. Sitting in a stranger-turned-friend’s bathroom, I had hopped on the call. Chatted about the adventure and explained I wasn’t trying to set any records. I didn’t plan to go the furthest or fastest. I wasn’t trying to check off border crossings just because. The value was in the experience, not the distance covered or nights logged. And experiences we’ve had. Richer than I ever could’ve imagined starting out.
The easy and comfortable thing would be to continue motorcycling about forevermore. The terrifying and challenging thing is to embrace change and launch the next chapter. Based on the aforementioned commitment, it becomes obvious what I must do.
And so, with equal parts anxious apprehension and absolute contentment I’m here to tell you, Baylor the Dog and I are off the road. Serendipitously, while traveling through North Georgia, we discovered a delightful, work-in-progress cabin. A lovely retreat where we can walk to the water, wander in the woods and work on the next big thing.
From this home base I’ll be doing my best to build a legacy worth being proud of (just like my Grandpa Bub taught me). Rich with learning, growth, sharing and connection. With that in mind, here’s what you can expect –
- A new post every Monday and Thursday. Stories from the road I never had time to share, favorite quotes, books or gear, new adventure stories, interviews and anything in between.
- The Operation Moto Dog Short Film – Sneak Peek viewing at the Overland Expo East, Public Debut Spring 2017
- The Operation Moto Dog Book – Publication Summer 2017
- Presentations & Speaking Events – Nationwide, Schedule TBD – Do you have a community or school we should visit? Please email me at email@example.com.
I use to look for the absolutes. Search out the black and white. I thought it had to be one or the other. Certainly it couldn’t be both. But it turns out most of life happens in the grey in between. It’s not good or bad, but good and bad. Fun and challenging. Scary and lovely. Connected and lonely. Beautiful and messy and real. Life.
As I write this Baylor is laying at my feet. Happily sprawled on a cushy new dog bed, snoring and snoozing the evening away. I can’t know exactly how he feels about being off the road, but I imagine it’s a lot like what I’m feeling. Relief at the ease of sleeping in the same place every night, longing for the excitement of the unexpected, appreciation for the comforts of home, wistfulness for the wacky challenges of life on the road. Contentment and wanderlust. Happiness and longing. Joy and worry. In a word, it’s bittersweet.
We’re given this idea that we should only move on when things are terrible. The couple that stays together until they can’t stand the sight of one another. The employee who remains at the job until the very thought of going into the office enrages him. But what if we embraced bittersweet? Not as a sign that we shouldn’t change, but as a sign we’re moving on just in the nick of time. Before we lose all the sweet, are left downright bitter.
I think it could lead to some pretty awesome things. Like, say, a cabin in the woods, with your favorite fur ball friend. It’s not what I expected starting this adventure, but then again, nothing has gone as I planned. It’s been more stressful and more fun. More challenging and far more fulfilling. All around more.
And for those of you who like facts and figures, well, I’m afraid I don’t have too many of those. My speedometer went out nearly a year ago and it never seemed that important to replace it. I can only guess we’ve traveled somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Visiting about 35 US states and 5 Canadian provinces (though between the van life & OMD Baylor and I have actually been to every US state and 8 provinces). We lived on the road for more than a year and went from little camping experience to more than 350 nights under the stars. Most of all, though, we learned the true value of community. I never would’ve made it without you. All of the readers, riders, fans and strangers-turned-friends who sent support, said hello, offered us a place to stay, a warm meal and kind word. You changed my life. Thank you.
Now it’s my hope that I can pass some of that goodness on by bringing lessons from the road to students, communities and readers around the world. It’s time to inspire the next round of adventurers. Time to embrace change and accept discomfort. And of course, always, to Choose Happy & Seek Adventure.
Until Thursday, I’ll leave you with this from Bruce Lee,
“A goal is not always meant to be reached sometimes it just gives you direction towards greater things.”
And this Winston Churchill,
“Now this is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”