The unhappiness in our daily lives is what initially prompted our life change and the maiden voyage of the Wandering Dolphin.
We felt like we were working too much and living too little. And I know this sounds like we’re just spoiled and maybe we don’t want to work, but that isn’t the case at all. We just felt as though we were spending our energy on the wrong things, things that didn’t matter to us.
When we sold our home and set off on the road to find a different life, it was with the idea that we would find out what made us happy and find a way to make a living off that happiness. The years away from Minnesota taught us many things, and one of the main takeaways is that we could be happy finding work/life balance.
When we came back to Minnesota, it was with the intention of helping family, visiting our loved ones, and figuring out what our next steps were. I wanted to continue writing and found that what I truly wanted was to use my skills at a nonprofit organization.
But when we first returned home, my focus was solely on finding a job to support us while Andy completed a few necessary projects. So, I picked up a job as an Office Manager for a small company. The idea was that this well-paying job would provide us with the income we needed, while not exhausting me creatively, so that I could continue to write and pursue my goals.
After a couple of months, I realized this was not going to be the case. Without going into too much detail, I found out that this job, though it paid well, was slowly sucking out my soul. I began to question my skills, talents, and confidence in a way I never had before. And I was more unhappy than I could ever remember, aside from what we call “the dark period” after we lost Fritz.
This wasn’t something I was prepared for — I certainly hadn’t seen it coming. I battled demons that I never intended on battling and went into a dark place that concerned some of those closest to me. I felt useless, hopeless, a failure.
And what made it even worse is that I knew what happiness could feel like — we’d tasted it in California.
It started to feel like everything we had given up to pursue our adventure had been a waste. Why had we sold our home and left our friends and family only to end up in such a negative situation?
Each day, I searched for a way out, a way to escape what was happening to me.
And months later, that escape finally came. I accepted a different position with a company that I hope will allow the parts of me that were damaged to once again flourish, so that I can continue to work towards my goal.
My last day as an Office Manager was last Wednesday, February 27. I walked out of the doors feeling like a prisoner finally set free.
I had decided to take four days off before starting my new job, so that I could fix myself up a little bit before heading into a new challenge.
And on my first night of freedom, we celebrated.
That night and the next day, Andy and I worked at repairing what had been damaged in our relationship over the past several months. My unhappiness had chipped away at us, but we knew it could be fixed with a little time and dedication.
We spent the day together on Thursday, disconnecting from the outside world as much as possible (no phones, no computers, etc.). We spent time just being together again. We went rock climbing, an activity that has always bonded us (it’s kind of necessary when you’re taking each other’s lives in your hands).
We had lunch together, a coffee date, and we spent the day realizing there was no longer a dark cloud hanging over us.
We hung out with our dogs, spending some quality family time.
And the next day, we continued the healing process.
Andy knows me well enough to know that I need to write about my emotions in order to heal. I’d told him that once I was out of that place, I’d need to write and get it all out so that I could move on. But when Friday rolled around, and the time came for me to write, I avoided it. I wanted to block out everything I had felt over the last months. I just wanted to lock it away in a closet and pretend it had never happened.
But Andy knew that wasn’t best for me; he knew it would come sneaking back out in the night if I didn’t face it. So he told me to take the morning to write about my feelings. At first, I wrote about the snow falling outside. I wrote about the fact that I didn’t want to write about it. And then I began to let it back in.
I settled in with a glass of wine and stared at the blinking cursor on my screen.
And it came pouring out. The weeks and months of feeling utterly defeated. I got angry, punching away at the keys on my computer. I got sad, crying until I could hardly see the screen. And then I found some sort of peace that hadn’t been there before.
When I came back to Andy, I read everything to him and told him that I knew this wasn’t everything that needed to be said, but it was a start, and I could begin to heal now.
We celebrated by going out on the lake with the dogs — he went skiing, and I went snowshoeing.
The snow was deep, but the dogs were troopers — especially little Teddy.
We went until we were both exhausted, and it felt rejuvenating with the snow falling around us.
We had big plans for the remainder of my time off, and we were happy we took this time alone to be together and make things right again.
The next morning, the sun was shining and the snow looked beautiful. I felt hope that hadn’t been there before.
We left home for a short road trip to Duluth, where we went on a brewery tour with a few of our friends.
Anita, Ali, and Jared all joined in for a beer tasting tour of the area. And on our first day, we visited some pretty tasty places.
Lake Superior was frozen over (something that doesn’t happen every year), so we went out on the lake to explore the impressively large ice chunks jutting out of the surface.
It was beautiful — the ice looked blue because of how the light was hitting it. Absolutely stunning. I have always wanted to visit Lake Superior in the winter, but summer has always been our season up there.
As tradition dictates, we hit up a fish place for some smoked lake trout.
We even headed over the border to Wisconsin to check out another brewery and listen to some live music.
The next day, the adventure continued with a trip to the Great Lakes Aquarium.
And, of course, more beer tasting.
We soon said our goodbyes and headed back home from Duluth, but not before Andy had a little fun in the snow.
After our fun weekend, we were happy to see the dogs again and reunite with our furry family.
It has been more than a week since I left that place, and I have started at the new job. Things are looking more promising than before, and I am thankful that Andy was there to support me through everything. As with many hardships, there are lessons learned, and we come out of the trials stronger than before.
We are working on figuring out the next steps for our little traveling family, and we hope that things are a little smoother in our future!