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We’re hitting the road again and this time we’ll be crossing the SouthWest with our quarter-dozen children ranging from 7 months to 7 years.  The trip is planned out: David has a tour booked all across our route and we know where we need to be each day to stay on track.  We’ll look for state and national parks to camp in, farms and wineries to stay at, and hope for plenty of boondocking opportunities.

I’m not half caught up reporting on our adventures from our trip earlier this year, and I hope to keep up better this time.  We learned a lot from our first trip and hope that we’ve managed to better organize time and possessions this go-round.

I hope my stories can shed some light on how it is possible to live unconventionally despite the peer pressure, and I hope you, too, are pursuing your dreams instead of your neighbor’s 🙂

Benny the Brave in the desert

I am finding it impossible to report on our doings at all, and the other day I realized why.  I was marking down an appointment towards the end of January in my calendar, and as I looked down at the month of January, I saw that we had been in Albequerque on the 3rd.

Albequerque!  Then Flagstaff, Arizona.  The Grand Canyon. Phoenix. Los Angeles. Santa Cruz Mountains. San Francisco. San Jose. Sausalito. Nevada City. Tomorrow Sacramento.

It seems like ages ago we were in Albequerque, but it’s only been weeks.  When we travel, we have so many new experiences, and see so many new and remarkable sights, that we’re fooled into thinking it’s been a year.  Our minds aren’t used to so many different things happening in such quick succession.

So, a lot is happening.  And every single day, whether we’re spending the day at the Grand Canyon or a city park, we are feeding, clothing, unclothing, reclothing, preparing food for, feeding, pottying, diapering, handwashing the dishes for, handwashing the laundry for, tooth brushing, hairbrushing, reading to, soothing, feeding, shopping for, storing the leftovers from, cleaning up after, singing lullabyes to, and feeding the seven year old, two year old, and nine month old.
There are no breaks.  We’re lucky to get ourselves fed, dressed, and brushed.  We’re lucky to get a few hours sleep between coaxing the last one to sleep and rising with the first one to wake.

And a walk down the block takes twenty times as long as it does for a couple without kids so all of our trips are day-long.  And at least some portion of each trip will involve the kicking and screaming of one who doesn’t want to stay off the wall, out of the glass shop, or generally head in the same direction as the rest of us, so a lot of the time we spend doing the other things is also spent exercising amazing patience and deep depths of unconditional love.

And every trip requires the packing of diapers for two, wipes and a wet bag, water for all, snacks for three, spare coats/gloves/pants/hats/shoes.  And this packing must occur while feeding, pottying, diapering, handwashing the dishes for, handwashing the laundry for, tooth brushing, hairbrushing, reading to, soothing, feeding, shopping for, storing the leftovers from, cleaning up after, singing lullabyes to, and feeding the seven year old, two year old, and nine month old.

Did I mention that we are also executing a musical tour, finding time to rehearse, sending out press releases, and scheduling other bands; while simultaneously running an internet business, answering daily customer communications, taking orders, mailing products, and hosting a busy Facebook page?

I have such dreams and plans.  There is much I want to create and accomplish.

But, new plan.  Survive right now.

Take pictures when possible and blog later.

In the meantime, will you join me on a new Facebook page for our travels?  I’d love to develop Free Range Dreams into a community of people encouraging and supporting each other, sharing resources and stories, each becoming stronger by being surrounded by other dreamers who are working towards dreams . . . but as per the above, I’m going to stick with the real small and impress myself by just posting daily photos and updates on my family and our status re: exploring this great wide country!

Free Range Dreams on Facebook

People Art

I’ve always had a tough time resisting buying little, cool, one-of-a-kind things that are full of grace and character, and are usually handmade.  It is a cheaper shopping habit than most, but it still owns a bit more of the consumer attitude than I’d like to think I’m victim to.

It took selling or giving away 90% of our possessions, short-selling our house and beautiful yard, and packing up for a year of travel, but I have experienced the most pleasant shift in my shopping habits.

I still drool over amazing items, but I don’t have to resist them anymore.  Because I have no way to get them and no where to put them, they have lost their irresistible control over me.
Not only am I physically free of the burdens of ownership, I appear to be emotionally free, as well.  I am content.  At peace.

So now when I see amazing examples of artistic functionality, I think excitedly, “When we have a house, I want to have something like that for the kitchen/by the door/in the hall . . .”

And that simple decision fills me with all the satisfaction I used to get from purchasing the things.  Turns out it was never the things themselves that made me happy, but the decision to love that item, to make it (spiritually) mine and claim it for the aesthetic chambers of my heart.

So now I gain incredible delight from beautifully crafted things whether I leave them in the bargain basket of the antique shop, whether I find them in other people’s homes, or whether they sit in a shop window with a four-digit price tag.

In letting go of all the stuff, I have allowed myself to own the whole world, if I want it.  My arms are opened wide!



Beautiful Fruit Orchard

For years now, I’ve been wanting to move to the country where neighbors are just out of sight, there is no traffic, and there is open space for the soul!

At this point in my travels I’ve had a revelation.  I love the idea of growing my own food, but there are things I would rather spend my time doing.  There are things I want to paint, and things I want to write.  There are online communities I want to create and foster and imbue with life and energy. there are projects uncountable I want to undertake with my kids, and travels to avail myself of with my husband.

At this moment I want a home that will be most fulfilling for childrearing and for my children themselves.  I want cozy and beautiful but not time intensive. I want busy but not hectic.  I want every one of us to be pursuing our passions.  I want us not tied up with house and yard maintenance, farming or cooking or cleaning.  All of those things are good, but when they come at the expense of what you are meant to be doing, the joy of them will rot and life becomes a drudgery.

I want to live close enough to town that we don’t have to drive to get there.  And I want it to be a town I LOVE.

I want dance classes and flute lessons for Ada.  I want lots of friends–the wonderful, forever, deep-down kind of friends, not mere acquaintances and nice neighbors.  And I want my kids to be able to walk to their friends’ houses, and the library, and beautiful parks or creeks, or woods.

I want local farms to buy from or trade with, and for my kids to spend time on.

I want stunning scenery as a backdrop to my life.

I want the kind of culture that is full of theatre troops and homeschool entrepreneurships. Surprising people with varied experiences and conclusions, and new ideas and great, glowing projects that rip across your day or your life with the tremendous energy of their ingenuity.  I want diversity and trades, and people to apprentice with.

I’m not describing country life…

I want alternative design and alternative energy. I want sustainability and self-sufficiency. I want the time, money and energy not spent on a mortgage and utilities to be available for crafting and art, for trading with or buying from local artisans, for soul food, and theatre and classes, bright ideas and daring endeavors!

Don’t let anyone say wanting is not a valuable pasttime.  It proves the world contains beautiful possibilities and it fuels the human intellect.  It is both the reason for and the result of our imaginations. Don’t forget to ask yourself what you want.

Dedicated to Amanda, who is invited to join me anytime.  Remember when we had this written on our dormroom wall?

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

7 year old discovering petrified wood in Arizona

In Arizona, Ada and I were thrilled to find both Kokopelli and petrified wood.  If you don’t have time for the Petrified Forest, don’t worry.  The stuff is everywhere and how cool is it that trees from the Triassic Period were preserved all this time by Nature for us to marvel at or study (depending on your inclination) today and tomorrow, too?

These trees must have been submerged in water or mud before they deteriorated.  The individual cells deteriorated anyway, leaving hollow husks that filled with mineral rich water and when the water evaporated, the minerals hardened in the tree-cells so that now we have rocks that are also trees.  I can hardly stand it, it’s so cool!

By the way, the brown color of the tree cells is replaced with whatever color is the predominant color of the mineral that took it’s place.  Iron is red, for example. Calcium is white.  Some of the trees contain veritable rainbows–shocking color revealed at the slice like a geode!

petrified tree stumps

colors in petrified wood

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