An Adventure to Renew Our Vows

I’m excited to share this story with you today. Tiffiney and I connected online a while back thanks to similarities in our backgrounds and interests, but recently I’ve become captivated by her family’s story. I followed their journey from California to Spain and Mexico and Greece before their recent return to Northern California. Besides inspiring me with her adventurous spirit and love of life, she’s inspiring many others through her new Mama Said project (see below). 

An Adventure to Renew our Vows

Nomadic Family Travel Inspiration

Not so long ago, my life looked like the American dream.

I had a cute little house downtown, a job I loved at the local community college, a significant other, two healthy children, three cars, a camper, a garage full of recreational gear, and a social calendar packed with fun social gatherings.

There was just one small problem.

My husband and I hated each other, and I felt trapped.

I felt ungrateful for complaining about my life—especially when there are literally thousands of people in the world suffering unspeakable tragedies like the Syrian refugee crisis and homelessness. But despite the first world nature of my problems, they were crippling. There is no lonelier feeling than being in a relationship that is broken and no one knows how to fix.

There’s not one moment I can pinpoint where everything went wrong.

Rather there were many small hurts that somehow became an insurmountable and dangerous glacier in the middle of our marriage. If you’ve ever been married, you know that it wasn’t one person or the other, but rather something we had both created and grown to accept. While we weren’t paying attention (or maybe we were absorbing ourselves in raising our children and paying our mortgage), we’d grown completely apathetic toward one another.

Then what seemed like overnight, we reached that critical breaking point. Something had to give one way or the other—we could no longer ignore our sad state of affairs. Angry words were yelled, egos swelled, and we brought divorce right into our living room.

Nomadic Family Travel Inspiration

Siblings–forced to be best friends because you can’t always count on others to play with when traveling.

But the look of devastation on our four-year-old’s face, when his dad told him he was moving out, made us ashamed of ourselves. The blame and anger softened to heartbreak.

And that’s when I had the devastating realization, both of us were making sacrifices for a lifestyle that we had unconsciously created, and didn’t reflect either one of our values.  We were slaves to a lifestyle that sparked joy for neither of us.

Before we met, we were both avid travelers. Our paths crossed while we were both living in the Spanish Pyrenees, he was working as a ski instructor, and I serving as an English teacher in a small Catalonian village above Barcelona. Both driven by adventure and the thrill of the unknown, we connected immediately over our sense of adventure and possibility.

If we were born adventurers, why then did we decide after getting married, to come set up the scripted “American Dream” complete with monthly bills and a mortgage?

But on this day that stands out in my memory so clearly, the afternoon sun streaming through the kitchen window, a pile of dirty dishes cluttering the sink, and a sobbing little boy, I was hit with a bolt of clarity. We could choose to completely redesign our lives around our family and our values.

Nomadic Family Travel Inspiration

I realized I could choose to focus on my husband’s shortcomings or I could cherish the way only he can make our two babes laugh — the sweetest melody my heart has ever heard — and remember the simple truth that we love each other. I could choose to align my actions every day with my the deepest values—which were adventure, exploration and connection with myself and nature. I could no longer go through the motions and live the life that was expected of me. I had to live the life my heart longed to live.

The scariest part was—I actually had no idea what that looked like, but I knew I could no longer ignore the pull to find out.

Nomadic Family Travel Inspiration

Father/Daughter share a simple moment together making pancakes in the bus. A slower schedule allows to enjoy even the most mundane tasks.

It took a mere six months for us to dismantle the life we’d created in California. We sold our house, all of our possessions and bought one way tickets to Spain. We talked of buying a sailboat to chase sunsets and never-ending adventures. But of course a life like that doesn’t come cheap, so we opted to go for a more cost effective version of our dream and bought a Volkswagen Westfalia. It’s been 18 months since we walked out on the life that was slowly strangling us.

Nomadic Family Travel Inspiration

Travel forced my kids to give up their most prized possessions. This wasn’t as easy as other traveling families had claimed it was. There were some tears, but they did become incredibly grateful for the ones that remained. Skateboards were a great to explore the cities and have a routine activity that grounded them everywhere we went and offered a familiar comfort.

Though we’ve had many adventures since this drastic shift, my husband and I still struggle. But we’ve realized that happiness (especially within a marriage) is a choice you make every day. And that we have to make one another’s happiness a priority. And while happiness is a daily practice, that is some days are easier than others, I’m grateful for my husband who is willing to support my desire to chase my curiosity, to do the work with me and show up to our marriage armed with truth, love and most importantly an attitude of gratitude.

Nomadic Family Travel Inspiration

We were offered a rare opportunity to housesit an incredible house on the island of Paros, simply because we were in a position to go quickly. We spent two months caring for some chickens and a lovely pup named Tufa for a woman who had a family emergency back in California. This was a big eye-opener for me, that when we align our actions with our values–the universe responds. This was a really magical time.

I don’t really know what all the future holds, but I know that my power, whether in my marriage or in my life, comes from aligning my daily actions with my deepest truths. This one simple principle has changed everything for me, and enabled me to find adventures hidden inside every single day.

Nomadic Family Travel Inspiration

Tiffiney Lozano is a wild-hearted California mom based in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where shes committed to finding adventures in the everyday. She writes about seeing the world with child-like wonder and curiosity and learning to say yes to the things that make her happy- creating, exploring and dancing. She also writes satire about parenting, because raising humans is ridiculous, and she has to be funny, or she wants to give up.

Giveaway!

(Winners have been chosen!) Enter to win a copy of the beautiful book Mama Said by leaving a comment below. Tell us what the biggest surprise of motherhood was for you. One winner will receive a paperback copy of the book (winner of the paperback must be in the U.S.); the other winner will receive an electronic copy. Winners will be chosen randomly next week.

Mama Said book, courtesy Tiffiney Lozano

This beautifully illustrated text takes readers through the range of human emotions that come along with nurturing a tiny human. The stories invite mothers to join their hearts in the sacred sisterhood of creation and go beyond the personal choices of how one mothers, and instead unearth the universal themes of love, fear, humanity and humor all mothers experience.

27 Comments

  • Andi says:

    My biggest surprise is the amount of love I feel for my son, which even though seems impossible, grows more and more each day!

    • Jenna says:

      A friend of mine once said that a mother’s heart grows more and more, so even when it seems like there can’t be more love, it grows beyond our expectations.

  • Honestly? I hate the baby stage! Once they are potty trained and off the boob, that’s when I love them the most 🙂 And having 10 and 15 years between my kids is exhausting, it’s like running a marathon and realizing that you ended up back on the starting line.

    • Jenna says:

      I bet! But how fun to be able to see how kids can start so little and end up as teens. And I sometimes grow nostalgic for the baby stage when I see a mom with a baby, but I love the ages of my kids. They are 8 and 5 and so, so fun.

  • ellen says:

    Beautiful. One day at a time. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so grateful to have met you all on your journey! ❤️❤️❤️

  • Janet Rudholm says:

    I had no idea just how my daughters would grab my heart and teach me so much! And that I was made for this!

    • Jenna says:

      Yep, I remember worrying about being a mother but quickly realized that we are made for it. Much of it comes naturally.

  • Great story and so true! Biggest surprise of motherhood? Letting go of “controlling” the blessings of children and trusting God. The beauty and joy of a large family is an amazing adventure to watch unravel.

    • Jenna says:

      It is so hard to let go of controlling but so important to help kids build their self-esteem, I think.

  • Andi says:

    I am not a mother but I was really touched by this story because I can relate to her feelings. Quitting good jobs with great pay, selling a house in a rising market and buying an RV was not just something we wanted to do, but needed to do for the sake of our happiness. My only concern between long moments of joy is how to extend it past the year we have the money for.

    • Jenna says:

      I would love to hear more about your journey! I have enjoyed following along the last few months.

  • Tamara says:

    What a truly beautiful story. Good for them for having the courage to try something different to save their marriage and their family.

  • Linda Burkhead says:

    Having just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary I can related to your plight to find harmony in your life.
    More than 35 years ago we packed up our belongings and moved to the Sierras from the SF bay area, it wasn’t a foreign country, but heaven to us.
    We never looked back.
    We also had the pleasure to meet your beautiful family on a camping trip.
    Keep following your dream.

    • Jenna says:

      I love the Sierras and sometimes wish we could leave the city and live in the mountains. So peaceful and beautiful there.

  • Chrissi says:

    WOW! I wish Tiffiney and her familiy all the best! So great that they are willing to change so much in their lives to save their marriage! For me, becoming a mom showed me how important it is to save our gorgouse planet so my little girl can enjoy it to the fullest, too!
    What really shocks me about beeing a mom though is with how little spleep I am still able to function:D 😀
    Anyway! Eventhough my marriage ist still great, we feel the pressure of sociaty telling us how we are suppose to live! We gave in a little bit and gave up some of our dreams. That made me so sad, that we too decided to travel fulltime with our daughter! I am so excited!

    • Jenna says:

      Wow! That’s exciting. And I love your message about the importance of saving our beautiful planet. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Katherine McPherson says:

    My biggest surprise has been that just because they turn 18, or move out, or get married, or have kids of their own, they still need their mama!

    • Jenna says:

      Ha ha 🙂 That’s sweet. I hope my boys keep that connection with me even when they grow up.

  • Kelly says:

    While not a mother, I can still relate to this honest, beautiful story. I feel like so many of us fall into the rut she describes and don’t realize it and then it spills out in unexplained anger and frustration. What a brave and inspirational step they all took. I’m now cheering them on from afar!

    • Jenna says:

      Yes to your comment about falling into that rut and it turning into resentment. It’s a reminder to live a meaningful, intentional life every day.

  • Mary Mack says:

    A brave and inspirational story. Tiffany and her husband made a courageous decision to leave the life that is expected of most Americans when they realized that it wasn’t working of their marriage and their family. I wish them lots of luck. I’ll look forward to reading more about their adventures

    • Jenna says:

      A good reminder to question the life that’s expected of us to see if it truly has what we are seeking as human beings

  • Cindy says:

    First, I loved this post – it’s inspiring (and scary!) to think about selling everything and hitting the road. Thanks for sharing this with your readers, Jenna.
    Second – I think the biggest surprise of motherhood has been the way it has morphed into wonderful new shapes as the years have passed. When my daughter was a baby, I didn’t think the mothering experience could ever be more powerful, but time has changed my mind. Now we are both women, she is a mother too, and our journey together feels deep & rich in a different way. I feel more vulnerable but that’s a good thing.

    • Jenna says:

      I heard another blogger (who traveled from N. America to S. America by bike–with her husband and kids!) ask, “What would you do if you were not afraid”? This reminds me of that question. it would be scary to sell most of our possessions and try a different life, but I often wonder if that’s exactly what we need.

  • Tiffiney says:

    Ladies thank you so much for each of your comments. I’ve only just today come and looked at them!

    It’s so wonderful to share your heart (it’s scary!) and then have people respond with such kindness.

    Being a mother and a wife is the hardest, most thankless thing I’ve ever done, and I often feel as if I am screwing it all up. Thankfully I’m stubborn and enthusiastic and I keep coming back, even after I’ve made a mess of things!

    For me there is no greater gift than connecting with other women and reassuring each other through the difficult parts–so thank you so much for your comments.

    I wrote another post about some of my takeaways after a year on the road, and how really everything I was searching for was in my backyard all along.

    What is that quote, about not needing new eyes to see things, but looking at them with new eyes??

    http://letslassothemoon.com/2016/05/31/biggest-take-aways-year-road/

    So often I think we can compare ourselves to others brave decisions and we didn’t see all the mis-steps in between. Let me tell you–there were lots of mis-steps in this story!

    Thank you Jenna for having me on your inviting and beautiful corner of the internet! And thank you to each of you for commenting. It means the world to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *