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« 10.5 Awesome Things For Slow Travelers to Drag With Them | Main | Lemon Cake and That Damn Gummy Bear Song »

Further The Sky

We all try to do our best. Most days anyway. Most days the best Bob and I do is pretty respectable. Still, we wonder - is it enough? We don't know. And it's petrifying.

We didn't take off for a year just to travel with the kids. As big as that would have been - it seems easy compared to what we're trying to do here. We want to re-create our lives from the bottom up. We want to redefine the way we live. We want to figure out a way to earn a living working together, anywhere we happen to be. So many people want the same thing, and many people figure it out successfully. We're not exceptional, or singular. We've just thrown in semi-constant travel to foreign countries at the same time. You know - to keep it exciting. At times I can't believe our audacity. 

We try to keep the faith: If we continue to do good work, and be open to opportunities, and be brave enough to keep reaching farther out of our comfort zone, and challenging ourselves, we will find our path.

This week had been a slow, simmering panic for both of us. The minute either one of us loses our nerve anywhere, even for a moment, it feels dangerous. That's a lot of pressure to put on two ordinary people.

This morning Eleanor was sensing that Bob and I were stumbling, and I was trying to let her know that everything is fine - no matter what. I explained that it's like if you lived at the bottom of a mountain, and there, you had everything you need. But, you really wanted to climb the mountain, and it was a very hard climb. So you start and you climb and you get cold and have to hang on really tight and be super-brave, and you might not make it. But if you don't make it, you have everything essential back home at the base of the mountain. You won't be homeless or hungry if you don't make it. You just won't be, well, on top of the mountain. 

That cliched analogy sounds both harmless and devastating to me at this moment.

I quit writing this wincingly-honest and whiny blog and ate lunch, listening to the new Gabe Dixon album I just downloaded on itunes. Here are the lyrics from a song called Further The Sky:

The bigger the dream, The rougher the ride
The truer the love, The deeper the ache
The blinder the faith, The tougher the go

The higher you reach, The further the sky
The more miles you walk, The longer the road
The steeper you climb, The harder you stand to fall
The stronger you get, The heavier the load

See. It's universal. It only feels lonely.


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Reader Comments (19)


Aug 23, 2009 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterBriz

You guys can always be chicken ranchers with us. It would be fun. You can collect the most famous chicken recipes from your travels and write the (insert super secret name of the farm here) cookbook. Chicken from around the world. You are all in my prayers every night.

Aug 23, 2009 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDora

I don't know how anyone these days makes a living writing, but this blog is proof that both of you have the talent.

Aug 23, 2009 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

You are to be commended for your honest and brave endeavor with your family...I believe you represent so many of us who would like to do the very same thing but are so afraid to go out on that limb...Your analogy was just right for your daughter and I'm constantly inspired by your approach and openness to what lies in your're very inspiring!!!!! Keep the faith and keep on truckin'...

Aug 23, 2009 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterKim Peacock

"The sun will come up, tomorrow!" [quote from Annie]

Just earlier for you than for me. You are going to do it! Not sure what - but sounds like most of it is good.

Aug 23, 2009 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMargery

Just spent the evening catching up with your blogs and videos. No matter what you do in the future this summer appears to have been sensational for you and the kids. I moved to Pasadena this summer, not quite as adventurous as Eastern Europe. You are both my heroes and have nothing to prove to anyone. Your hearts will tell you what to do.

Aug 23, 2009 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gotthelf

I really enjoyed this post and it made me think about something I often ponder.....If anything were different nothing would be the same! I think you have already redefined your life by the mind blowing changes you have thrown into your path. Your future will be totally different than the one you would have had without this adventure and although we can't know if you will live your life at the top of the mountain, you will (at the very least) have totally remodeled your base camp! Way to go and thanks for sharing the tough spots. Lots of love, Maggie

Aug 23, 2009 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaggie Baird

What mountain? I mean, it doesn't have to be a 'specific' mountain you have to climb and reach the top of, you just have to find the one that's 'right' for you and you'll feel comfortable on. Isn't that what you're out to find? You are looking for a path for your life and family, and that path you are already on. So in a way you've already climbed that mountain - it may just feel cold and lonely sometimes up there, because you're so far away from the base. But the base is your comfort zone you can always return to (and it seems they are right here cheering you on!), up high on that mountain is where you'll huddle together when it gets cold - the four of you wonderful, brave humans - and you'll see that the next morning, the sun will shine and warm your hides and some nice stranger is bringing you hot tea and giving you a smile and you will know again that you are on the right path. It's just sometimes rocky, but rocks can be moved out of the way and you are never alone in doing so.

That said, living in a foreign country isn't easy. And living in multiple ones, without maybe having enough time to adjust to the cultural changes that you are already going through just by not being in America, doesn't make it any easier. It seems to me what you are experiencing is 'culture shock' (and maybe that meat market lady has helped speed up that process just a little???).

So 'b r e a t h e' if you can, breathe through this and allow it, accept that it's a perfectly normal feeling to have and millions of people have gone through this before you. It WILL go away, you WILL find your way, you do have each other - so never forget to laugh about all the little 'weird' things you experience. And do reach out to strangers - there are so many people everywhere in the world that want nothing more than help you cheer up at this very moment! Call Marie! She's waiting for your call ;-) And she said she has wonderful friends in Krakow. This might be the time to reach out to the 'locals' that present themselves to you with that cup of hot tea to feel warmer again ;-)


Aug 24, 2009 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBabette

I love you!

Aug 24, 2009 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Keep the faith, you are truly an inspiration.......and very exciting and interesting writers. Enjoying the blogs immensely.

Aug 24, 2009 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterPamela Sinn Hargan

Aug 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBabette

Dear Brenna and Bob,
Somehow, the "oh shit" factor gets multiplied in the presence of children. I have uncomfortably intimate knowledge of this particular law of physics. Heck, the "oh shit" factor starts to sky rocket the minute you add another person, any person, to your equation. The fast-paced molecular dance, the one where you try to make the all the atoms align's maddening for those of us with our feet well-planted on (semi-toxic) terra-firma. But, you guys launched yourselves into adventure...a hero's journey, of sorts. Adventures (and mountain climbs and physics labs and whatever other ill-wrought metaphor you'd like to throw in here) are NEVER one big happy. They aren't supposed to be. How can you learn a damn thing if everything is easy? No. You don't get to hear the climactic swells of a poorly paid string section until you lull the beast, knit the shroud, slay the dragon, and feed Yoda a twinkie. Them's the rules. So, since you're already mid-journey, best to identify your roles and your weapons, put on your helmet (and then assist your children in putting on theirs) and get to kicking some ass. In truth, I expect, you are already doing just that. (It's just that, I drank a lot of coffee, which gives me license to ramble).

Keep the details coming. More please. More detail. The grittier the better. Fuck platitudes and scenic expanses. We want the micro-view, the spits and spats, the grease stains, the vomit on the sidewalk, the wisp of hair growing from an old woman's chin, the tender exchanges in quiet church yards. We need you to be stronger than us, meaner than us, rawer than us, and somehow, manage to remain gracious. Mara and I have discussed's why we can't seem to get ourselves to keep blogging...because writing is cruel and deft and requires you to be split wide open and, yet, somehow be able to don your pearls, teeter on your high heels, and smile sweetly while you serve tea.

But, you can do it. If anyone can, it's you. And Brenna, don't forget, you're the funny one. Bob's the insightful one. And both of you are self-sufficient enough you could pull rabbits out of your asses if you tried. These are your weapons. And if you get to beat down rude Polish shop-keepers with slightly bewildered bunnies, please do let us know all about it!

Big hugs to you. No more coffee for me.

Aug 24, 2009 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterTamara

No disrespect to your previous poster but I think you are both pretty darn funny and insightful, as are the kids! Your journey has only just begun in so many ways. When things get scary, just whip out that bat video and laugh your butt off watching it which is what I plan to do when life gets too serious. I have a file on videos that make me laugh so hard I almost pee no matter how many times I watch them. Yours has joined the file. That's what life is all about. When the scary and unexpected hits you, find a way to laugh at it. You guys rock, you'll find your path through all of this. I am sure of it. If not, you've garnered enough admirers and supporters with this blog that we can all join together to do some kind of brainstorming session with you when you return.

Aug 24, 2009 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterLima

I think that the people who visit this blog are among the most interesting, intelligent people in the world.
Thanks for sharing yourselves.

Aug 25, 2009 at 2:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterbrenna

Love and respect!

Aug 25, 2009 at 7:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRupert

After reading this the other night, I meant to go listen to the song. Then got caught up in other things. Today I've returned and am listening to Further the Sky while reading the comments. Did you know that having a very specific soundtrack to accompany a reading changes everything? Try it. Amazing! Thank you for turning me on to this song. It's my new favorite today.

Clearly, reading here, you are far from alone. And what you said in your comment is so true about the interesting people reading here. I keep thinking, when I read your posts followed by such insightful, supportive comments, that one day you should have a huge party and all your blog followers have to come and we will sit around and have long, insightful conversations that start with you telling us of adventures you didn't have time to blog about. It's my own little fantasy for this Tuesday. But we're in a smaller world than we used to be. It could happen...

Aug 25, 2009 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMelody

Remember what your grandmother told you before Owen was born............"Women have had babies under covered wagons and all went well........remember child, you are not part Williams for nothing!!" I will go on to say that yes it is rough, , but you come from a long line of strong women........your great great grandmother who hid her children, livestock and barrels of cornmeal and molasses from Yankie solders and faced them down with a shotgun and survived to raise 4 children by herself, when at the age of 26 her husband was killed in the Civil War. Your great grandmother (granny)whoes first born child died at the age of 4 with diptheria, who had no time to greve for that child because her husband (grandpap) was on the verge of death also. Your grandmother who is the strongest woman alive that I know of and has a faith that continues to astound me. Then there is me, your mom , who is pretty damned good in the bravery department and has told you many is everything. You know you always have a home with me....all of you. Child, you are not part Williams for nothing. All those women are your genetic heratage from your mother and grandmother. You can do this, if you were not ment to do this it would not be happening. All of you are going to be more enriched in every way after this adventure is over.If you have to abort the adventure what! Look what you gained!!!!!
Remember.....Ilove you!!

Aug 29, 2009 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterMOM

Lots of love to each of you! xxoo Catt

Sep 3, 2009 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterCat

Change is never easy, but you can't move to a better place without it. Change is necessary for us to move ahead. Everything wonderful and mystical and magical and intoxicating in life is every-changing; the ocean, fire, the moon, the sands beneath our feet, our children, our parents, our lives.

Just remember a few things when the going gets rough;
1) remember the frustrations you used to feel when Bob was working 16 hours a day and the family never got to see one another?
2) Bob, remember staring at the computer for hours on end while the sun just SHINED THROUGH outside ... and you missed it all?
3) Do you remember when it took all you could do to get through one day just to get up and do the exact same thing all over again?

You have escaped this life that we all think is so vital. You have broken the mold of what is "expected" and you and your family will be forever better for it. The bond that you will create between your family is worth the trip alone. Then ... factor the amazing lessons you are teaching your children about what matters and what life is really about. Then ... factor in the life experience that you are providing your kids. Their world if forever changed - forever better - forever broader - forever more infinite. You have provided them with a life the rest of us only dream about.

Here's to YOU! And if the going gets too rough ... We ALWAYS have a place in Decatur, GA for ya'!
I LOVE you all SOO!!! NEVER Doubt what you are doing! It might seem crazy, but isn't that exactly what you are looking for?

Sep 9, 2009 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

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