life, liberty, and the pursuit

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!

A few centuries ago, the United States of America was built up by courageous people who sold everything and made long, dangerous journeys to the other side of the world for a shot at living life on their own terms.

Today, thanks to their courage and determination, along with that of the brave men and women of our armed forces who leave everything behind to defend our freedom and independence across the globe, we get to live in a country where the opportunities are nearly endless. I am truly grateful to call this country home, especially having seen the limitations and hardships people must endure in many parts of the world.

But are we still the “land of the free, and the home of the brave”? I’m not so sure.

Everywhere I look today, people are worried about their retirement plans, their insurance benefits, their “job security”, complaining that our employers and our government aren’t doing enough to take care of us.

Our ancestors didn’t risk it all to get “good jobs” and a 401(k) plan – they did it to make a LIFE. They sought the opposite of security, which is freedom, and so should we.

I think it’s time we all stop worrying and start living. Stop blaming others and start taking responsibility for our life. It’s time to challenge our fears and embrace liberty. Stop clamoring for security and start pursuing happiness.

This 4th of July, as you enjoy the cookouts and fireworks, make your Declaration of Independence. Decide what you really want out of life, then make a pact with yourself to realize your dreams. Take charge, take risks, and let passion be your guide instead of fear.

Do something awesome. I know you have it in you!

It won’t be easy, of course, but there are lots of people who can help you when you’re ready to take the next step. All you have to do is make up your mind to begin.

Are you ready for your Independence Day? How can I help?

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Is Too Much Safety Putting Kids at Risk?

by Marc on June 14, 2010

Shortly after we returned from our trip, I saw this car commercial in which a safety-conscious mom loaded her kid up with protective gear – helmet, goggles, shoulder pads, hockey gloves, etc – before handing him a tennis racket and sending him off to practice.

Safety

“It’s OK to be over-protective”, said the announcer. But he’s wrong. Too much safety actually puts kids at risk.

I know it was meant to be a humorous exaggeration – but there’s very real trend of parents becoming so obsessed with safety that some experts fear we’re raising a generation of bubble-wrapped kids, unprepared for the risks and challenges of adult life.

Abby SunderlandAt the opposite end of the risk & safety spectrum are the parents of Abby Sunderland, the 16-year old girl accomplished sailor who was rescued from the Indian Ocean last weekend, after a storm foiled her attempt to become the youngest person yet to sail around the world alone.

Many have accused Abby’s parents of being terribly irresponsible for letting her risk attempting such a dangerous feat, but I’m in awe of the Sunderland family and how they have raised kids so capable and courageous in pursuit of their dreams. (Abby’s brother Zac completed his solo sail around the world last year at age 17)

Most of us take for granted that a 16-year-old is nowhere near ready to face the challenges and responsibilities of adult life – and the vast majority really aren’t.

Maybe that’s only because we’re so concerned with their safety we don’t give them the opportunity to develop the necessary skills and confidence. If we trust our kids to take more risks, will we end up with more teenagers setting world records and fewer twenty-somethings still living at home?

As a parent, I understand the desire to protect children from harm, but I’m also worried about the risk of teaching kids to “play it safe” instead of pursuing their passions and making a difference in the world?

You Can Be Safe and Sorry

Will kids raised to fear and avoid risk grow up to be adults who choose “safe” careers instead of meaningful vocations? Adults who cling to miserable jobs they can barely tolerate rather than risk having to find another one? Afraid to try new things because of the risk of failure?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Thanks to many advances in technology over the last century, the world has never been a safer place to explore, yet people are more afraid of leaving their comfort zones than ever. Why is that? Have sensationalized media reports and insurance peddlers made us so oversensitized to danger that we see it even where it doesn’t exist?

Traveling has helped me put safety back in perspective, and I hope it’s done the same for my daughters. In other words, I hope they’ll grow up like Abby Sunderland (but maybe with slightly less dangerous passions!)

Another traveling dad recently said it best, as his family nears the end of their world tour:

If the only thing my kids get out of this year is the instinct to choose passion over safety, then it will have been worth everything we’ve spent, and everything we sold, to make the year happen.

Is it our duty as parents to protect kids from risk, or to help them learn to deal with it effectively through experience – even if it may result in some physical or emotional harm?

Will avoiding risk now make it harder for them to take necessary risks as adults? In our desire to keep kids safe, are we stunting their growth?

These aren’t rhetorical questions – I struggle with them every day, and I’d love to know what you think.

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How To Give Up TV Without Missing It

June 9, 2010

Unplugging your cable or satellite can help you save money for a world-hopping adventure, and it will make you more productive, too! But you don’t actually have to give up your favorite shows. With a computer and a decent internet connection, you can ditch the monthly cable bill without missing out on the stuff [...]

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Meet Plan Go: Get Help Planning Your World Travel Adventure!

May 31, 2010

Join us on September 14th as part of a nationwide conversation about career breaks, extended world travel, and living your dreams. Meet Plan Go is a free event happening in cities all over North America, and we are happy to be your hosts in Dallas!

“Wow, I wish I could do something like that!”
It’s the [...]

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Warning: Side Effects of World Travel

May 27, 2010

Sure, extended world travel is awesome, but before I go on trying to inspire people to sell everything and hit the road, maybe I should warn about a few of the side effects of such an adventure.
We experienced all of the following symptoms at one time or another during our round-the-world trip, and are still [...]

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What Exactly is The Real World?

May 19, 2010

Your answer to that question says a lot about your chances for realizing your dreams or living the life you want. If you think of the stuff you hate about your life as reality, then you can’t really be expected to change it, right? Are you stacking the deck against yourself without even realizing it?

We [...]

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A Rebuilding Year

March 15, 2010

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back for almost 9 months now – time passes so much more quickly when you’ve got bills to pay and schedules to keep!
We’ve really missed sharing our experiences here and will have lots more to talk about on this blog soon – but for now, here’s an update on [...]

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The Best School Fundraiser

December 8, 2009

During the first three months of our travels not a day went by without hearing some version of, “Why aren’t you kids in school?”  I held back the snarky answers and we joke about it now, but I do think about those whose answer is, “Because there isn’t one.”
YOU can change that!  Fellow travel bloggers [...]

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Signspotting

November 16, 2009

For a little levity, I thought I’d post a recap of some of the funny signs we’ve seen while on the road. Finding these little gems is one of the many joys of world travel:
Potty Humor:

bathroom – or hidden lair of an obscure superhero in Peru?

apparently this Bangkok toilet is for emergency use only.

I couldn’t [...]

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Cruising: Travel’s “Dirty Little Secret”?

November 6, 2009

This is part 1 of a series I’ve been inspired to write on the environmental impact of cruise travel. I feel this issue is too important (and complex) to cover in just one short post. So bear with me..

Oh, and while it’s no secret that I’m a fan of cruising, I’ll do my best to [...]

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