Five years ago this month, in January of 2011, we were packing up and saying goodbye to our 1900 sq. ft. typical suburban South FL home taking a leap into the unknown to travel full-time in a 256 sq. ft. RV we called the Eco Womb to live simply and simply follow the wind. We didn’t know anyone else who was full-time on the road, didn’t know a whole community even existed of nomadic families, and certainly didn’t know how our lives would unfold into a nationwide Tour and family-run non-profit. We just knew we were meant to hit the road. It felt like a calling, a crazy one at that, but a calling that we couldn’t ignore, to live outside the box in our box on wheels, to explore the country we had only been just reading about to our kids in books, and to make a life by living as fully as we could. We could have never imagined all the beautiful people we would meet, all the amazing places we would see, and all the conscious connections we would make in this vast time of change, community and awakening.
We had read about the Live Lightly Tour and the Janssen family’s travels, and as soon as their rig went up for sale, I told my husband that we HAD to buy that RV. We had a mortgage and he had a corporate 9-5 job and it all seemed crazy. Yet, it was such a calling that we couldn’t ignore, and the more we talked and the more we worked to make it happen, the more everything fell into place. Within four months, a couple side jobs, and a whole lot of work and heart, we had bought the Live Lightly. Another eight months later and all happening within a month of each other, we sold our house, hubby got permission from his current employer at the time to work remotely on the road, and we rewrapped the bus into the Eco womb, launched a tour, and moved into our home on wheels full-time. Yes, it seemed crazy to everyone we knew at the time, but it felt so very right to us.
We started off taking our small family business selling eco-friendly products to festivals and family events, and grew to love connecting with people so much that we turned our focus to education and expanded our Tour to include education programs that taught about sustainable living, alternative fuels, solar energy, zero waste, getting out and hiking with your family, eco-safe ways to create a nurturing home, and eating healthy, organic Non-GMO foods for our kids for our future. We changed our eco-friendly small business into a family-run non-profit and hubby let go of his corporate tied job to venture out on his own and start his own web design studio. Between the two we have been able to sustain ourselves, provide for our basic family needs, and live a life of travel.
It hasn’t at all been easy, and there have been a lot of bumps in the road and hard times along the way, but it’s been a beautiful adventure that we wouldn’t trade for the world! Those paths that diverged led us to amazing connections and brought us to the true understanding that it’s not the destination but the journey. Five years of journeying, and growing, and exploring, and adventuring that we are so grateful for on so many levels. Our family has grown closer, our non-profit has expanded, and we have roadschooled right along with our kids, learning about life and love and this amazing planet we get to call home. We’ve been to a total of 40 states so far, numerous national and state parks, coast to coast twice now, and from mountains to sea numerous times. We have hiked and biked countless trails, and have stayed on farms, on mountains, deep in the forest, surrounded by redwoods, in the vast desert, riverside, in quaint neighborhoods, in several feet of snow, off-grid and at busy campgrounds, on city street corners, and at the ocean’s edge. We even have spent months at a time with just our rig and our bikes and have learned to live without a car as we journeyed across the country. We have driven the Eco Womb through LA traffic to get to our national TV spot, up and over steep mountain elevations to get to hidden campgrounds and amazing hikes, and along the beach, because it's by far our favorite.
We had our precious baby, our fourth kiddo, on an alpaca farm parked in a pasture in the Eco Womb with our tipi set up beside us... our first home birth, our first road birth, our first Eco Womb birth! Seriously amazing. We have not only added a child to our fam in the past five years, but we also adopted a shelter puppy, and have expanded our family love by the dozen. We have traveled with our Village on wheels, a community of friends dubbed road family on the road, and have been able to tap into and discover beautiful conscious communities all over the country. The love tribe exists you guys, it really does! And, the more we are open to it the more it presents itself. We have shared meals, bartered services, worked for friends and food, and slowly over five years been able to build a business (Eco Womb Papa Bear’s Design Firm - Letterbox Studios) and our family non-profit, Eco Womb just enough to meet our needs and support our work on the road. It’s sometimes been a struggle, because the juggle between work and life and maintaining enough is certainly real, but life is beautiful in all of it’s stages and especially the light that comes out of the messy and difficult.
We have stayed true to our calling and have been able to live sustainably, go zero waste as a family, run on waste vegetable oil for fuel this whole time, use solar, hike and bike across the country, and support sustainable farms and businesses by only eating organic and Non-GMO. Our biggest expense is actually food, but we look at it as preventative health care and trust that we can thrive based on our food and lifestyle choices. Also, by lowering our living expenses and using alternative fuel to travel, we can opt to spend more on food and natural remedies that otherwise might have to be balanced by other budgetary needs. Running a non-profit on the road, we have taught elementary aged kids about recycling, college kids about alternative fuels, and all ages about how to take that one more step toward living sustainably. Because it really is about one step at a time. We didn’t start out this way, and it took us years to get to this point and we are still growing and trying to do better with each day. That’s why we love what we do, we get to connect with families and create change by being true to our values, looking at what we can do better to help our environment, ourselves, and our future, and share those steps with other families yearning to do the same.
Along the way, we have toured with some pretty amazing people and have marched against food injustices and corporate control and for safe food and protecting an organic future for our children. We have done over 75 events nationwide, and worked in several states on GMO labeling education, and the right to know what is in our foods. We have marched in MOMS Across America
Fourth of July parades, March Against Monsanto marches, March for Food Freedom on World Food Day, the Oregon Right to Know Tour
, and the original Right2Know Tour from NYC to Washington, DC back in 2011. We have also drummed for healing cancer with Drum Strong
, supported the Big Latch On breastfeeding event with Hike it Baby
, set up film screenings of GMO OMG
, and participated in National Hike Days to get families out into nature with their kiddos.
Wrapping up five years has taken me awhile to get to this month because we have been as busy as ever behind the scenes, preparing for a big “BE the Change” Tour this year, building up Papa Bear’s business, fundraising, and a big transition for our family (soon to be revealed). We officially celebrated 5 years on the road on January 15, 2016, and we have been easing in to what this next five years will be. Going through old photos alone could take me another year, hahaha! And, recounting soooooooooo many memories and places and events, well, it’s a lot, and too many to write here. But, oh has it made my heart swell with joy to know how full we are in heart, home, and community. Because when we left for a life on the road we weren’t sure if that meant we were leaving these things behind. We seriously just felt a calling and took a huge leap of faith into the unknown. What we discovered is that all of those things (and more) are within us always. Our journey to discover our calling, connecting with families to create change, and live a life of freedom and growth, we found while on the road. We found community all over and now have friends we consider family across the country, our home is wherever we park it, and our hearts are forever expanded because of the conscious connections we have made and awakening that has taken place within our bodies, minds, and souls. We are healthier physically, heart-filled emotionally, and have grown leaps and bounds spiritually as we have journeyed across the miles and into the depths of our calling. We have strengthened our marriage, our family bonds, and our outlook on a mindful family rhythm. We try to live as intentionally as possible, and when we have those rough days we have learned that many times it is just our perspective.
We love our life on the road and when we have been asked for our next five year plan, we are confident in saying the path will reveal itself. Because one thing we have definitely learned in the past five years is that the universe will lead the way, and we must lean into trust always. As a family, we plan on visiting the last eight remaining states on our map of the lower 48 this year, and then maybe venture to Alaska and Hawaii next year to complete our Tour of all 50 states. After that who knows?!?! We have talked about international travel, heading to Mexico and Central and South America. Seriously, the kids love their well worn world atlas and have huge dreams that we support wholeheartedly. We have also talked about down the road building a tree house, an earth ship, a homestead, an animal rescue sanctuary, or continuing to see the world. Like I said, the path will reveal itself in good time. And, we will follow our hearts always as a family. Until then, we will enjoy the here and now, and try our best to breathe in the moments and love up the experiences. Much, much peace and love to all who have made these past five years the absolute best, our Sponsors, supporters, and friends and family. Those who have supported us and encouraged us and believed in us when others did not. You are a part of this sacred journey we are all on and you are loved. Here’s to the next five years and the next after that, a flow of conscious living, a uniting of the world village, support for a sustainable future, reconnecting with nature, and love, always love. Because at the root of it all is love, and at the brink of hope for a brighter future is love. So, go out and live fully, follow your passions, see the world, connect with your tribe, and love it up!