As I write this, I have one week of work left. One! It is scary and exciting and everything in between.
About a month ago, I handed in my resignation letter at the job I’ve had for near a decade. Immediately the question is… “What are you leaving for? Where is your new job?”
“Uhhhh… No new job. I’ll be living in a van with my husband and dog.”
I’ve gotten this question from every single person since that day, and every single person gets a look of horror when I answer. It slowly changes into faces of confusion, excitement, and sometimes a bit of jealousy when I explain that we will be traveling the country for the next year or so to fulfill my dream of visiting every National Park.
My new husband, Mike, and I have talked about this for quite awhile now. Over the years, I have fondly told him about visiting various National Parks as a child and doing the junior ranger programs. During our time together, he has done some incredible things (see his website and be amazed!) and I have always avidly encouraged him to pursue those dreams, even when it would make life for me, and us, a bit more difficult.
But follow my own dreams? That’s a lot harder. As I’ve talked to him about wanting to someday be a Park Ranger, it would also mean I would have to leave my current job and career path. I have worked at a YMCA Summer Camp for the last 10 years. While it’s no National Park, I was still spreading the love of nature to thousands of children… and more importantly, I already had that job. I was doing it well, we were comfortable… and I was safe. It is terrifying to think about the unknown.
However, my husband is not the guy to be all talk and no action. He’s helped me be brave, and has pushed me to become a better version of myself. There were other factors that led to this big leap, of course. We recently got married and have no children, except our perfect adventure pup, Luca – but he’s much more chill than most children I’ve met. I also finally felt skilled at my job, have an impressive resume, and a very strong network which all makes me comfortable that I would be able to find another job, even with an early “retirement” break.
Until that time comes though, I will be learning everything I can about our wonderful National Parks, talking to rangers, earning all my Junior Ranger badges (yes, the ones that are meant for children up to 12 years old), and living that nomad life with Mike and Luca.
So, it’s almost go time. One more week of work – and steady paychecks – until we take off for our first stop – Hawaii!