Life after full time travel – the ups and downs of settling into Raleigh, North Carolina

Any change of direction brings a period of adjustment.

That change comes holding hands with chaos as you tackle a list of endless tasks and a mile of roadblocks.

I didn’t think setting back into life in Raleigh, North Carolina – this time with the intention of “this is permanent” – would be a challenge. Finally, after 14 years of dreaming, we got our Green Cards and can lay our roots.

 Raleigh, North Carolina
Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina

Despite being happy and joyful and hopeful, you will still go through a turbulent period of change when you feel like everything is stirring up and crashing down.

Take my expert advice from 22 years of international nomadic travel: You can’t escape from it.

You are simply moving from the old to the new; the tremble is what shakes the old layer off.

Patience Grasshopper

If you’re like me, you see the big picture of your dream. You’ve made your decision, you know the solutions to the problems, and you just want them all implemented NOW.

What do you mean I can’t just snap my fingers and have it all here NOW?

What do you mean you just couldn’t ring the doorbell and have that thing I want to make my new life great be here  NOW?

I get overwhelmed and then frustrated. The walls feel like they are crashing in on me and I start to spin out of control.

NOW only has room for so much

The past few months have been a lesson in patience and trying to find ease amongst the chaos.

word for the year ease

When you get to this space it’s important you breathe deep and slow.

Slip back into our place of power and ask yourself,

“What is the most important thing to do now? What is the ONE thing that will make everything else easier?

Attending to just that one thing first is okay. The rest will sort itself out after.

I came to that realization after my 4-year-old tantrum one morning over a failed Amazon delivery because they attempted to deliver a package but couldn’t even ring the doorbell to let me know it was here.

It hit me – Oh I am stuck in the midst of the chaos. I know what to do with this!

Finish the rant and then move out of it one step at a time. Leave overwhelm at the door and do the best you can with your small steps. You will find your place soon enough.

So here we are.

We moved back to Raleigh in the beginning of October 2019 and it’s now the end of January. The chaos is over.

State Capitol Building in Raleigh

I am settled enough and have cleared away many pressing obligations. I now have the space, and motivation to write about it.

I hope it helps you for when you go through the chaos.

Oh and the “coincidence” is not lost on me, that the last major shakeup and chaos of our lives was in 2009 – the end of a decade.

By mid 2010, the start of the new decade things had started to turn around for us and a new and better chapter and decade arrived.

The cycles are real. Knowing this has been the inspiration I’ve needed to keep crawling forward.

You can read more on that topic of chaos here.

Video: Life after full time RV travel

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Setting up our home

Our new rental home in Raleigh

We were so fortunate with the rental we found, which is our first house since 2002 and the girls first ever.  Apartments be gone.

It’s in the most beautiful neighborhood with pine trees everywhere and feels like our home is planted in the middle of the forest -my dream.

Our backyard in the woods
life after travel

Actually this house ticks off almost all of our dream house boxes:

  • near a lake
  • guest room
  • office (which was the living room)
  • light and airy
  • beautiful backyard with a small deck overlooking the trees
  • front patio with rocking chairs. Our Southern dream.

It pays to write down your goals! You can manifest it.

It’s the first time we have bothered to put photos up on our wall and decorate it intentionally to suit our positive happy high energy vibe –  think light, lots of colors and loads of memories.

home mix tiles

We had some furniture in storage so didn’t walk in empty and then we used Modsy to help design our office and spare bedroom.

I was impressed how I could get beautiful spaces designed by someone who knows what they are doing at a reasonable price. ($100) I could then easily shop for furniture.

It saved me so much time and stress and I am really happy.

modsy office design

I also discovered Etsy, where I found pieces for my meditation space.

cool home meditation space

It’s my favorite room in the house.

I wanted a space for meditation, but also something peaceful and joyful that would entice the girls to sit and meditate or journal. my heart bursts when they actually use it.

Healing from the wounds of travel

Grinnell Glacier Trail

I’m not going to lie – full time travel is rough on the body and mind. In hindsight, given my usual fragile state, it was probably best not to put so much pressure on my body.

I suffer from a variety of food intolerances, which has only seemed to have gotten worse over the years, and many difficult-to-describe feelings of “unwell” that regularly course through my body.

Despite all of this, I usually have high levels of energy, don’t experience tiredness or lethargy much, and can still knock out a series of burpees without keeling over and dying.

But, once we returned to Raleigh, I suffered from an exhaustion I never knew was possible.

I felt like my energy was completely suppressed by unseen demons.

Waking was a struggle, thinking was a struggle, moving was a struggle. Craig wasn’t doing any better.

Apart from the exhaustion, there was also this awful hideous red, itchy and scaly rash that had been surrounding my eyes for months that I could not find a cause or a solution to.

That’s the story of my life over the past few years – not being able to find the cause of many of my health issues, and constantly second guessing food, chemicals, yada yada yada.

travel makes you stronger getting sick
The beginnings of Tick Bite Fever in Cape Town, South Africa

Thanks to healing my sister was receiving over in Tulum for dengue fever, I was guided to a similar local healer, Dr Puja, who, through her alternative healing methods, discovered my body had several parasites (thanks travel) including a brain one, and tick borne bacteria.

I had always wondered the potential long term health effect the tick bite fever I contracted in Africa in 2004. (I never told Dr. Puja that either.)

So, yep, the critters had been living in my body causing hell for 16 years – unexplained symptoms now resolved.

And so we went through 6 weeks of healing trying to move them out of my body. Which meant as they died off within me, I felt everyone of those weird symptoms I had experienced for 16 years.

At the same time, Dr. Puja told me my adrenals were out of control and good thing I came in when I did as I was about to fall off a cliff. And my liver was tired. So very tired.

Craig has experienced the same with a mold infection, parasites and battling with exhaustion and sleeplessness.

So after three months of healing with Dr. Puja, energy healing with Dr. Liz in the same building, plenty of tears and breakdowns, and a 9 day liver rescue cleanse from Medical Medium, the exhaustion is gone, the red eyes have disappeared, I’ve lost weight and feeling better than I have in a very long time.

Although after a few days of fun in New York with friends, I’ve taken a giant leap backward!!!

Partying with travel blogging friends in NYC last week

I still have a long way to go as the tick borne bacteria still has not disappeared and may take months, especially considering how long they have been nestled into a home they LOVE a LOT.

I have a DNA test in the process to uncover any other issues and will continue to live by the principles of the liver rescue cleanse, as I feel my liver needs a lot of attention. At least I now know what to do.

Now I can sit down and create content with focus and quite quickly again like I used to. For the past three months it was taking me an hour just to write a paragraph, sometimes a sentence.

So be prepared for at least one post a month now rather than every few weeks.

I’m so looking forward to a vibrant and new 2020.

My life will never again involve full time travel. That romance is over.

Part of life is learning what it is you like and what you don’t like.

I do not like having a mobile home.

I like the security and comfort of my own space. I like having my memories up on my walls. I like having a community I can be a part of. I like having a vibrantly healthy body. I like having more control over my diet. And I like us having separation from each other.

Oh, and I am now vegan – partly for the planet, and partly for my health. I was vegetarian for 6 years and always felt better when I was.

Parasites and meat go too well together so I’m out of that nastiness.

Food has never tasted so delicious. I’m probably about 95% vegan though as gluten free restricts me when traveling, so if I have no other option, I’ll eat grass fed or wild only.

Homeschooling

homeschooling travel online school
Her first ever project!!

A new approach to homeschooling was necessary.

Given my exhausted state I knew I could no longer take care of homeschooling the girls. I didn’t want to and I knew it wasn’t best for them. I couldn’t empower them enough to be ready for their future.

What if they wanted to go to college?

I don’t necessarily believe college is the ultimate, nor something they will even want to do, but I couldn’t NOT give them what they needed to pursue it if that was what they wanted.

And I could see Kalyra needed to learn more. She’s a natural student who loves more structured learning and achieving. I wasn’t giving her that opportunity, so boredom was settling in.

Both girls needed some outside teachers, mentors and structural discipline. It’s not always best for it to come just from parents, I think it’s important for kids to take instructions from other adults, although parents should be the dominant one.

The challenge was finding a flexible solution that still allowed us the freedom to travel when we want.

I have a post coming that will go through our decision making and all the other bits of information you need to know.

Basically, after a lot of research and discussion we chose a private online school, Laurel Springs. Right now we are all really happy with it and the girls are loving what they are learning and the projects they are doing.

We are open to change and should the girls decide they want to, we’ll consider traditional school. Right now it’s a hell no for them.

Here is our in-depth post on this new homeschooling choice to fit our travel lifestyle

Girls’ interests and friends

soccer interests girls
Practicing soccer at home

This new stage of our life is about the girls: helping them pursue their passions and interests and form long term friendships in our home.

As they are homeschooling, this is more challenging and we have to be super focused to get them out of the house often.

We do this by taking walks, exploring Raleigh, bike riding and heading to our local tennis courts.

The girls have also started tennis lessons. Savannah is taking hip hop dance classes, and Kalyra is doing acting classes. And Savannah is interested in playing soccer in the spring – women’s soccer is hugely popular in North Carolina.

Last weekend, Kalyra acted in her first stage production: A Reader’s Theater of Amazing Grace for MLK weekend. She loved it and was brilliant and we are so proud of her for fearlessly stepping out of her comfort zone to do this.

She was terrified but did it anyway and now she’s ready for more.

Kalyra at her acting perfromance

We’re finding it a bit of a challenge to form new friendships. Our neighborhood is kid quiet, many other kids are settled into their traditional school circles, and we can’t find any homeschool groups that really resonate with us.

We’re not extreme – one end or the other –  homeschoolers. It’s not a this-is-the-only-way-belief for us, but more this is what is best for our lifestyle that is more important and valuable to all of us. That’s a hard tribe to find. (Although we respect all people’s reasons, beliefs and passions.)

We’re working on it and doing our best to reach out to people they meet in their classes to hang out. People are so busy and probably not as open as we are to hanging out with strangers.

They do have friends in Raleigh, but they don’t live near us so it’s hard to see them often.

This is our biggest challenge and the part where I have to breathe the deepest, and trust it will come.

Settling in takes time. We’ve done it scores of times before, we’ll do it again. We’ll find our tribe.

Exploring Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh

I couldn’t love a place more than Raleigh. The more I explore, the deeper I fall for our home. It has everything (except our cherished Aussie family and friends.)

And maybe a beach, but at least Wrightsville Beach is only just over an hours drive away.

Wrightsville beach
Taking my sister to Wrightsville Beach

We’re discovering even more incredible restaurants, cafes, breweries and bars. We can’t wait for the warmer weather to arrive and with it, loads of festivals, vibrantly alive trees, and music experiences.

Cotton House Brewery and Lucky Tree Cafe
Drinks at our favorite bar, Brewery Bhvana

Now we have settled, we can start working on launching our new project: Our “This is Raleigh” website showcasing everything that’s great about this place. For now you can join us on Instagram and Facebook now!

And getting back into our local sports teams and attending live games has been super fun. So far we’ve been to a University of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball game, a Carolina Hurricanes ice hockey game, and a Tar Heel women’s soccer game.

Friends and Family Visit

Show my sister Jen around Lake Johnson

Having my sister, Jen, visit and our friends Megan, Jake, Inga and Ivan visit brought us plenty of rays of sunshine.

We traveled with Megan and her family for nearly 6 months in West USA and the kids are best friends.

We had a blast hanging out again and taking them out in Raleigh, while Jen had a blast hanging out with the kids’ and teaching them how to dance.

this is raleigh nc
This is Raleigh

It had been 4 years since we’d seen my sister, Jen. Now she lives in Tulum that won’t happen again.

We were stoked when she surprised visited us, sending me a text wondering if I was busy and could come pick her up from the airport.

Her 4 week stay turned into 6 weeks and we had such a great time with her visiting Wilmington, attending basketball and hockey matches, going out to dinner, introducing her to our friends and endlessly laughing and crying together as we healed!

It was perfect for the girls to have their Aunty hang out with them.

Holiday Season

Christmas time in Raleigh

Holiday season was the best with my sister, Jen visiting. It’s been awhile since we’ve experienced it with family so we made it extra special,

The girls said this Christmas was the best they ever had. We really did have a blast hanging out, eating delicious vegan food, playing games and singing karaoke.

Our friend Hitesh came over for Thanksgiving and it was just us for Christmas.

Plus, the weather was warm!

I’m not usually a Christmas person, but I did enjoy this one, even the gift giving which is not something we typically go goo goo gah gah over.

Green Cards

christmas gift ideas for kids

We are excited that we are finally able to switch over from our 01 visa to our green card,which we were approved for 18 months ago.

Things were delayed so much in the immigration department that we could only put our transfer application in November. It came at the right time, otherwise we would have had to go through the excruciating process of producing another 500 page document to extend our current 01 visa.

Now were are in limbo land waiting and can’t leave the country until our approval for travel comes through. We are hoping that it’s  is only a predicted four months away. We won’t get the green card for about another 12 months!!

And then we can start a normal life, where we can buy a house and many other things we can’t do without permanent status.

Then it’s party time. Big party time. Because this was the greatest mission of our lives.

Are we keeping Goldie (RV) and the Beast (Ford F250)?

rv road trip and lessons

Nope. We’re not sorry to see them go at all!

But, thanks to a life of travel, we don’t suffer from attachment issues and very good at letting things go.

It was a fun and important part of our life but it’s over and we don’t want to do it again. So no point holding onto it.

Our next big task is fixing, cleaning and selling Goldie (our RV). Yes. We haven’t done that yet. We just didn’t have the bandwidth to do it. Now we do.

Then we’ll sell The Beast (Ford F-250). We love our truck, but we don’t need her anymore. It’s an awful city car and drives me crazy trying to park and maneuver her. Plus, she’s bad for the environment and we are becoming even more conscious to take care of her.

Capitol Reef NP
With our Ford F 250 truck in Utah

And we want a mini-van back. We love having a people mover, especially for all our loved ones who come visit, and taking excursions with the girls friends.

We’ll have a post coming soon talking more about RV travel. Let us know your questions in the comments so we can answer them!

Work Challenges and Projects

y travel blog projects participate travel

In the middle of all the chaos, came a bomb to our travel blog.

Google changed its algorithms and we were slaughtered – down about 40%. Not just in traffic, but also in income, which is affected a lot by traffic. And it was mostly our passive income, which is what I consider my retirement.

Nothing is ever secure guys and life is about learning to manage the instability of it. You must become the eye of the hurricane. Change is the only certainty.

It was the  wake up we needed and was no real surprise since it felt like we practically took a year off with our RV trip across the county.

It was so intense, with so many challenges, that we really couldn’t get any work done. We mentioned in this post, it was one reason we returned early.

Every cause has an effect and we felt it. But we see the gaps and problems and we are working on fixing them.

Having such low energy did not help me cope with this major setback. I was so very down thinking about how much of our lives are impacted and held back due to corporate greed.

The big guys are doing everything right now to squash out the little guys. Google is making it harder for blogs to be seen so corporates will pay them more money to be seen. Social media algorithms are again favoring the billionaires.

It’s important you support small business: including local business and bloggers.

It’s a huge focus of mine this year. I do not want my life to be dominated only by the boring corporate voice. It’s depressing how much control a few big corps have over our lives, and how little the disregard us all.

I can’t even begin to tell you how traumatic this was for me coming into the middle of my exhaustion.

We’ve passionately given everything to this travel blog for the past 10 years. We had the enthusiasm and energy to build it and had finally gotten to a place where we could ease off a bit, work on other passion projects, and maybe jump on the couch of an evening and watch Netflix.

I felt trapped as my energy wouldn’t give me any grace to get off the couch.

How could I start over again and revive the blog with that new energy that comes with birthing a dream?

You have to to what you do.

We found the space to breathe new life into it and are excited by the new direction the blog is moving into. Back to our original focus of service and connection.

We’ve spent the last couple of months creating content and training for our Participate Learning Project which we are focused on for the beginning of this year. It’s loads of fun and we’ve just finished days of filming and overcoming several hurdles and learning curves.

We are proud of what we are created and in awe of how the Universe is guiding you full circle to the miracles.

And now we have a full set up for an at home recording studio, we will be filming more videos at home that are focused on specific travel tips, answering community questions, and best of certain destinations!

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel here, so you don’t miss them!

Australian and World heartbreak

Baby koala at Australia Zoo, Queensland, Australia

Again, amidst all this chaos came the horrendous recent bushfires in Australia.

Watching and hearing the destruction, especially the insane number of animals killed din the first completely depressed me and had me crying every day.

I am heartbroken for my country. I am heartbroken for our world. It’s complete chaos and our leaders are more appalling than appalling.

I’ve never been more, “Stop the world, I want to get off” than I have for the past few months.

Now is the time for all of us to make changes and allow for a better world order to come through. We are so much better than what we currently have and are creating.

Step up. Do something different. Fight for the world and yourselves. Fight for our native flora and fauna that we are meant to be custodians of!

Fight for our children. They deserve more than this shitty world we are currently serving them

The next few years will be tough as we fight our way out of here and work for a new world order. NOW is the time.

We have the Age of Aquarius on our side right now. Use the cosmic power for the giant shift.

Co-Working Space

locality Raleigh
Locality co working space

I’m currently sitting in a beautiful space without a sound disturbing me having the most productive work days in years and years.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to work like this – except for the odd few days exception when I’ve been able to steal alone time at home.

Usually I’m up and down.

As a teacher I was up and down.

As a full time mother and homeschooler working from home, I am up and down every five minutes and get NOTHING done.

The distractions are endless. And when I can’t find focus I distract myself even more by the food in the cupboards and endless cups of coffee.

As a travel blogger, I don’t even do up and down, I’m just always up running here, running there, taking a photo with one hand, carrying a child in the other, with a ticket stub in my mouth.

No more.

For the first time, My planner actually has all my plans for the day checked off – no arrows pointing to the next day, “take care of it tomorrow, no time today” My life was a series of right facing arrows.

I am not a person who likes unfinished business and a mountain of things to be done.

It’s a dream to now get them done.

My co-working space is awesome and exactly what I dreamed of without knowing what it was.

The Locality is out the back of The Flourish Market, my favorite boutique store in Raleigh.

So now I am distracted by shopping rather than food. Speaking of which the best coffee in the city is 2 minute walk away and their gluten free mochi donuts are the best.

With my monthly membership, (two days a week in the office) I also get business training and social networking each month.

And it’s just a space for women. I’m excited to connect with like minded women in Raleigh and become a part of that community. It can feel lonely not having a tribe that gets you.

Travel from here on out

Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park, Montana

You can read more about our travels and plans in our 2020, the year ahead post.

We are ecstatic that travel for us will now mean short trips.

With all the different parts of our life to manage, it was impossible to do anything well when we threw full time travel into the mix.

Impossible and stressful and we had to do everything on the fly and we only had five minutes every so often to do 15 most pressing tasks.

Now we can have clear boundaries.

Travel for us will mean pre-organized schedules with everything booked in advance, so we can just show up and enjoy. We’ll be in apartments and hotels. It might be some time before we feel rested enough to return to camping.

We will have shot lists organized with scripts even pre-written and all the hashtags ready.

We’ll have folders arranged for saving photos and video in an organized fashion AND we’ll have a back up system in place. Now we have unlimited fiber fast WI-FI we can back everything up into the cloud.

We lost far too many photos and videos on our trip because of broken hard drives and never having the bandwidth to back anything up properly.

We have a few potential trips on the horizon. We’ll let you know when and where, but let’s just say they will be warm and involve beaches!

How have you settled into life after travel before? What were some of your challenges and solutions?