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life style design – or redesign?

February 1, 2010

Long before Tim Ferris (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog) and his gang of happy followers started writing about their escapades and escapes- there were legions of us quietly, unconsciously, just doing our thing- all over the world. Maybe it was part of my genetics as my mom and dad, in the 60’s were part of the first wave of globalizers who ditched suburbia and the 9 – 5 lifestyle by moving overseas- a downright revolutionary concept at the time.  In their case, two weeks after getting married they were living in a bustling neighborhood in Latin America with nothing but a small single engine airplane, a Doberman pinscher called ‘Uncle Sam’, and the promise of a job for my dad involving island hopping with his plane selling…. salt to the locals.

Jump ahead 25 years or so, and it doesn’t seem surprising that immediately upon graduating from university I packed a bag, found a home for my horse, and moved to Spain without a concern in the world. I lived there happily, working under the table for the Spanish Military (the irony of working illegally for the Spanish government was lost on me until years later).

That was 1992, and I imagine Tim Ferris must have been running his own version of  a lemonade stand at the time, some sort of neighborhood franchise I suspect . I say this with reverence and respect for someone who seems to have taken an old idea, (escaping the 9 – 5 grind, freedom, mobility, a life of adventure and interest) added a few flourishes and probably some improvements, named it, packaged it, marketed it, and sold it to the masses, freeing himself to make money work for him, and starting nothing less than a social movement in the process!

After Spain, there was living in Slovakia, followed by law school, a couple spells in London, Africa, Asia…. the list of places and adventures gets lost as time goes by, and life and responsibilities take their place in the memory fields of my brain.

But what about now? Here I am, a lawyer living in a small mid-western town for the past 8 years. Property owner, responsible for two cats and a horse, people rely on me, things demand my attention, family wants me around, parents want grandchildren, my 401K sends reminders each month that one day I’ll be OLD, the daily routine fills me with a sense of being busy- between clients, being a volunteer, working out, riding my horse, maintaining friendships, spending time with family, caring for my properties, and all the details of running a life- its easy enough to ignore the sense of dis-ease that has crept intothe daily practice of living. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job, I love my friends, I love my horse, I love my family. It’s all very good, very safe, and very secure. And perhaps therein lies the conundrum.

Sometimes I miss the life I had. Sure it involved a few stresses- out smarting customs isn’t as exciting as it sounds after a while- but there was something life affirming and exhilarating about a state of mind that allowed me to pick up and follow my heart on a whim. Move to Spain? Sure! Hitch hike to Paris? Hell yes! Fight off baboons during a trip down the Orange River where days earlier we’d lost all our fresh water supplies? Whatever it takes! Party with George Clooney at Charlie’s Pub in Bratislava… again? Well, that really was a no brainer.

2010 brings with it a few new missions, and an over-riding sense of purpose. This is a year of transformation or at least of waking up, the year I give my all to have it all. Somewhere between my former life of nomadic world wandering and my current life of self-imposed, playing it safe, mid-western groundedness (quirky, funny, and wonderfully odd as that is) lies the perfect lifestyle re-design. I don’t have worked out all the hows or the whats. I just know that a big part of the answer is YES.

If you had full creative license to have your dream life, what would you do? Maybe you’ve already figured it out and can share some inspiration. Whatever your thoughts, please write and let me know!

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2010 11:52 am

    Watch out, T.F.- L.V.’s out to take over the world! Great writing! Nice job . . . I know this has been a long time coming. Congratulations, Lucinda!

  2. Nikki Kellerman permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:15 pm

    Thank you Lucinda! It sounds like we are on the same journey of self discovery. Well written and inspirational…

  3. Julie Beaumont permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:52 pm

    Lucinda! Loved the blog. I have added you to my favorites!! We need to get together soon so I can hear more about the Spanish military. Oh yes, and George Clooney!

    At any rate if I had full creative license to live out my dream life, if would be full of traveling and helping others in need. I would love to be in a position to retire from my simpler life and spend my time helping others who are in need of food, shelter and a hope for tomorrow. For now, I can only help at a distance and pray for those in need.

  4. February 2, 2010 4:29 pm

    Very cool. I did not know you were so worldly. You can’t be but where you are. Nice blog, though, well said, well written.

  5. February 3, 2010 2:33 am

    WooHoo!! Love it all. Write on Sista….

    My Dream life are dots on the map where I meet people when I just show up.

    Like the man I see running for the bus tonight, missing it, picking him up and listening to his lifes adventures.

    The dog I was able to scoop up off the road after someone hit him and drove off.

    The college girl I met at the coffee shop who needed to hear “I understand, that makes sense”, then watching her walk away with a deep sigh and a kick in her step.

    My dream, Alive and Very Well.

  6. February 3, 2010 8:23 pm

    hey lucinda – i really liked your blog post! interesting about your folks moving abroad 2 weeks after they were married…mine did too! they met @ levi’s in san francisco in 1970, dated for a year, got married and promptly moved to southeast asia. i was born in hong kong. we went on family vacations all over the world with the hong kong group / mainly english friends…while certainly *stuck* in suburbia, later growing up in new canaan, ct – frequent travel was part of our family life. consider it quite a privilege to be born with the *travel bug*…attended a friend’s wedding this fall in venice, italy…what a magical place…but it can tough to be deprived of the adventure bug when it bites and the wallet (or circumstance) says NO ;-\

    my folks still meet up with some of their old friends from hong kong days – every other year a group of about 20 of them connect for a walking trip. this summer it’s destination: scotland. i’d love to be able to globe-trot with friends someday – enjoy an even more flexible lifestyle – explore parts of the world i haven’t been to yet – but everybody i know is either too busy working, with responsibilities as you highlight, or broke (welcome to L.A. 😉 solution for the tide-down: traveling locally. cheaper. long weekends. my next vacation is 2 months away. a driving trip to arizona…which i will bring my to-be newest family member: a puppy… for wine tasting (yes! there are wineries in arizona!).

    world travel for me in 2010? probably not – no stays @ villa antinori for me this year or romping around beaches on ios late-night, trying to find my clothes – BUT camping and hiking trips are a lot of fun, super cheap but better than a kick in the head (as my bro used to say). not quite what you’re talking about as a pick up and go LIFESTYLE *re-design* option – the world isn’t as safe and friendly as it used to be for global hitch-hiking, unfortunately…BUT…global-working phones, the internet and credit cards have made the world a smaller place…and more user-friendly for pick-up-and-go urges…as a city-mouse/country-mouse hybrid – i want the mountains/outdoors AND the concrete/culture…on a budget especially…a lot of ‘adventure’ in life i’m finding these days can be found in WHO you’re with NOT necessarily WHERE you go!

    working for myself in the entertainment industry, i ditched the 9-5 a while ago — enjoy my varied, never boring, creative work immensely + living in L.A. there’s a wonderful cross-section of different cultures to *satisfy* the “other culture” curiosity in the short-term…when i get homesick for hong kong…i go for dim sum in china town. and the movies are often my 2 hour “escape” these days. UP IN THE AIR. check it out if you’ve not yet. jason reitman’s work is pure gold. since the 2nd home in provence isn’t quite an option yet (ideal: split time equally in L.A., Colorado, France as home-bases – working creatively, punctuated by “world travel” as often as possible), i am grateful to have close friends dotted all over the world to offer excuse for a visit when the finances are flowing more steadily…and a mountain cabin in the rockies to visit when home-y escape calls…which, of course, has internet…nearest grocery is 45 min. away…so…all that remote? no…but when i really need to unplug, a tent, 4-wheel drive + camping + out of cell-range is my answer…with enough food for a long weekend – pen, paper and a guitar. heaven.

    thx for the food for thought…looking forward to warm weather more than ever now…campin’ here i come!

    • February 3, 2010 9:10 pm

      Hi Catharine- Thank you for the great response. You make such good sense, and some great points. I think you’re already doing a lot of what I’m talking about, which is that you’ve attained freedom and independence and earn a living doing what you want to be doing. I have no doubt that with all your creative talent and technical skills, you could do what you do wherever you wanted to do it. There is no right way, no wrong way to live a life. I think you’re really doing some great things, AND have had some amazing experiences along the way.

      • February 5, 2010 10:23 pm

        Thx Lucinda – I think this open forum format for exploring ideas is a great place to bounce the ball off the walls and around the room. Best of luck with the new blogsite + many thanks for the great food for thought!

  7. July 10, 2010 6:20 pm

    Inspiring post, from a unique perspective. It’s interesting to hear about your cycle of life, and how the decisions and experiences you’ve had are moulding your ambitions in this next stage. It’s five months since you wrote this; it has me wondering… where are you at, now?

    • July 14, 2010 6:26 pm

      Hi Ant, Thanks so much for your comment and for visiting the site. You’ve arrived with perfect timing, just as I returned home from a way to short 10 day jaunt to L.A. and Yosemite. (a good mix to two uniquely beautiful places). And in time to remind me how quickly time flies, and how URGENT it is to act and live fully every moment- even when it’s hard!

      Since this post you read, I’ve changed my blog to http://www.singlewithluggage.com- or at least started the process. My writing waxes and wanes- mostly waning lately- which contributes greatly to an ongoing sense of frustration. I won’t bother with excuses about ‘why’ and instead will use your well time comment to redirect myself and recommit to the exciting and sometimes painful process of change.

      I have managed a trip to Thailand with the drummer I mentioned in one of my posts. An amazing trip! I plan to head to Argentina for another short trip of about 4 weeks this fall. Or at least to somewhere in Latin America- I might head to Colombia instead. This trip will be sola.

      I continue to peal away the layers of ‘normalcy’ almost without a care. My desire to be traveling and exploring and pushing my boundaries continues to grow, to the point that I’m in a nearly constant state of dissatisfaction when things move slowly because my path is unclear. Ironically, even as I pull away from life here, it pulls back. Today I was just asked to consider taking on the roll of managing attorney at my firm.

      This is what’s happened in the past five months. Not nearly enough, especially in regard to progress with my blogging. You’ve inspired ME to get myself in gear and committed. Thank you!

      I would be very interested in knowing about your life, and am heading to your blog for some investigation into just that subject. How do you manage to travel as you do, and does it continue to provide you with inspiration along the way?

      Many thanks for your visit and comment!

      • July 21, 2010 6:09 pm

        LA. Yosemite. Thailand. Soon to be Argentina, and Colombia. Plus the offer of a new job. Sounds like a lot has been going on, I’d be very proud of the past five months!

        For me, the inspiration of travel has changed over time. Before I set out in June 2007, there was a clear division in my life. Work. Travel. (Naturally I am about a lot more than those two!)

        Travelling for a prolonged period of time simply makes travel — and the range of emotions that go with it — a lifestyle. I’ve travelled for a long time due to a few factors:

        Asia, being so cheap and so utterly captivating.
        My girlfriend: Who I met on this journey, and like me, she’s English. We’ve never been on ‘home’ soil together and I guess there’s an underlying fear to jinx it. In many ways I picture my old life, and hers, imploding on each other.
        Working Holiday Visa’s: In Australia and New Zealand have made it incredibly easy to stay on the ‘other side of the world’.

        However, I’ve known for some time this period of my life will come to a close. There is a big movement online to become a digital nomad and shed your conformist lifestyle.

        However, for someone who’s been away from this style of life for so long, returning to a society which can carry me, inspire me, and develop me as an individual is actually quite an attractive possibility.

        It’s about balance.

        I often think of an encounter I had on a train in southern France. I was sunburned, and hurled my backpack into the train car just before it disembarked. I composed myself, took a deep breath and walked through the alley.

        “Oi mate! You’re English!” Surprised to hear this Manchester accent, I looked eagerly around, and spotted a scally of a man grinning from ear to ear. He appeared to be in his early forties, and full of confidence. I took a seat, shook his hand and confessed to having overdone it on the sunbathing in Nice.

        I soon learned his story: He sold drugs for six months in England. Then travelled the world for six months on the profits. Normally I’d be shocked into silence, but for some reason, I found it all quite normal.

        Now, I hasten to add, I do not advocate the selling of drugs. But look at the lifestyle he’s created (for himself). A natural ebb and flow of work and life. He has goals, and uses his skills to achieve them.

        That’s how I’d like my life to roll from later this year. (Again, NOT drugs!) I’d like to duck and dive between the thrill of normality, and unearth my own reasons to travel.

        The latter statement refers to another thing I’ve learned. Travelling for so long without rhyme or reason is an extremely hollow process. No one benefits.

        Sure, every now and then we can really benefit from unplugging, but there comes a tipping point between rejuvenation, and drifting.

        So, “How do you manage to travel as you do, and does it continue to provide you with inspiration along the way?” It does provide inspiration, but perhaps not in the direction of areas many could be imagining.

        I’ll be exploring your new blog as well. (Oh, and on the topic of blogging — I totally hear that. I have always struggled to find that balance).

      • July 21, 2010 6:10 pm

        LA. Yosemite. Thailand. Soon to be Argentina, and Colombia. Plus the offer of a new job. Sounds like a lot has been going on, I’d be very proud of the past five months!

        For me, the inspiration of travel has changed over time. Before I set out in June 2007, there was a clear division in my life. Work. Travel. (Naturally I am about a lot more than those two!)

        Travelling for a prolonged period of time simply makes travel — and the range of emotions that go with it — a lifestyle. I’ve travelled for a long time due to a few factors:

        Asia, being so cheap and so utterly captivating.

        My girlfriend: Who I met on this journey, and like me, she’s English. We’ve never been on ‘home’ soil together and I guess there’s an underlying fear to jinx it. In many ways I picture my old life, and hers, imploding on each other.

        Working Holiday Visa’s: In Australia and New Zealand have made it incredibly easy to stay on the ‘other side of the world’.

        However, I’ve known for some time this period of my life will come to a close. There is a big movement online to become a digital nomad and shed your conformist lifestyle.

        However, for someone who’s been away from this style of life for so long, returning to a society which can carry me, inspire me, and develop me as an individual is actually quite an attractive possibility.

        It’s about balance.

        I often think of an encounter I had on a train in southern France. I was sunburned, and hurled my backpack into the train car just before it disembarked. I composed myself, took a deep breath and walked through the alley.

        “Oi mate! You’re English!” Surprised to hear this Manchester accent, I looked eagerly around, and spotted a scally of a man grinning from ear to ear. He appeared to be in his early forties, and full of confidence. I took a seat, shook his hand and confessed to having overdone it on the sunbathing in Nice.

        I soon learned his story: He sold drugs for six months in England. Then travelled the world for six months on the profits. Normally I’d be shocked into silence, but for some reason, I found it all quite normal.

        Now, I hasten to add, I do not advocate the selling of drugs. But look at the lifestyle he’s created (for himself). A natural ebb and flow of work and life. He has goals, and uses his skills to achieve them.

        That’s how I’d like my life to roll from later this year. (Again, NOT drugs!) I’d like to duck and dive between the thrill of normality, and unearth my own reasons to travel.

        The latter statement refers to another thing I’ve learned. Travelling for so long without rhyme or reason is an extremely hollow process. No one benefits.

        Sure, every now and then we can really benefit from unplugging, but there comes a tipping point between rejuvenation, and drifting.

        So, “How do you manage to travel as you do, and does it continue to provide you with inspiration along the way?” It does provide inspiration, but perhaps not in the direction of areas many could be imagining.

        I’ll be exploring your new blog as well. (Oh, and on the topic of blogging — I totally hear that. I have always struggled to find that balance).

  8. July 17, 2010 12:38 pm

    Lucinda, I can’t believe I just found this… what a treasure! you are a beautiful writer. We definitely have creative license and the fear that comes along with making all of those decisions at times, don’t we?

    • July 17, 2010 1:54 pm

      Hey Steve! Thanks for finding the site and for your very nice comments. I’ve moved to another blog. http://www.singlewithluggage.com, although I have to admit it’s still in progress. The desire to grow and extend and push can be exhilarating, and at times down right hard. And frustrating. But the opportunities and ideas are endless- and taking full advantage of them definitely seems to require having likeminded people in your life. SO I really appreciate hearing from you!

      ATP – SO COOL. I am sure with you and Mark involved, it will take off. The site looks great. Hope you are well and happy and our paths cross soon.

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