Are you questioning the “Can’ts” in your life?

One of the hardest things to deal with since our return from that incredible trip around the world? Accepted norms.

The other day I mentioned to someone that we’d like to do a long-term trip again. The person has been incredibly supportive of our trip from the moment we hit the road.

They saw what it meant to us. They’ve commented on how it transformed us.


It was why I didn’t even hesitate to share my excitement about what the next part of that dream might look like for us.

“We’d love to do it again, ” I’d burst out. “Not right away but definitely in a few years.”

I could barely get the words out before her response landed like a lead balloon on my dreams: “But you can’t take the kids out of high school.”

I didn’t respond.

“High School is a whole different thing than primary school,” she continued. “You can’t do that.”

She changed the topic then. Our conversation on that topic, in her mind, was closed thanks to her unequivocally stated fact of what I can and can’t do.

I didn’t try to change her mind.

That’s not my job.

But the  fact is I CAN take them out of high school.  In fact, I CAN decide to educate them in another country or not at all. They’re my children and the decisions I’ll make for my family lie squarely on the shoulders of Ish and I, and eventually the boys themselves.

The lessons continue

My responsibility to my children, as I see it,  isn’t to push them along the path that we’ve been told is the only path available. They will not self-destruct if they finish high school a year later, if they find their calling without traditional education lines or if they stretch it out til they’re 90.
I don’t want my kids to have a high school diploma, a university degree or a big house in a good neighbourhood unless they want those things for themselves.
I want them to live; not just to breathe and exist.
I want them to get up in the morning excited to learn. I’ve seen that happen in a classroom.
I’ve also seen it happen outside of one.
I feel that one of the biggest services I can offer my kids is to show them:

* that life is worth living for the moments and experiences that happen along the way.

* that education doesn’t only come from books and teachers who themselves may not have experienced anything of life because they too accepted the path full of “Can’ts.”

*that it’s the journey not the destination, especially since the destination involves a coffin.

camel boys

Will you follow the footprints or leave your own?

What is the point of a poorly lived life?

What’s the sense in doing everything exactly as the system dictates it,  if in the end you’re left wondering where the happiness went?

I know that there will be many of you reading this who will be uncomfortable with these ideas.

We’ve all been raised to think that things happen in a sequential order: schooling from K- 12, university training, great job.
I think our generation has already begun to unravel these “norms” but there is still a ways to go.

It’s what I believe to be true but I’m not trying to convince you.
And although you may start to think of me as a crazy “Neo in the Matrix” without the stunted speech and cool jacket, here’s my truth:

It’s all a construct waiting to be torn away if you’re willing.

The idea that life is a series of steps that must be followed one after the other or that if you somehow divert from the path you are doomed to an unhappy life.

That success lies on Bay St. or Wall Street.

That if you make more money you’ll be happier.

That you’ve failed as a parent if your kid doesn’t get the top marks at school, or do every after school activity or have a birthday party.

It’s all a construct.

I’m not the first to think so. Recently, I was introduced to the work of late philosopher Allan Hart.

I think we may have been separated at birth.

This. All of this.


And so I’m asking you: Are you questioning the Can’ts in your life? Shouldn’t you be?

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{ 15 comments… add one }

Nancy December 13, 2013, 3:40 PM

Great post! First, I’ve been following along your journey as a globe trotting mama and I wish I had the courage you have to get out there and live. I wouldn’t even know where to start though I share many of your beliefs. I have felt, for as long as I can remember, that I’m “supposed” to do things in a certain order. I have for the most part. And when I haven’t, I have created great memories but then later thought that maybe I shouldn’t have veered from “the path”. I want so much to give my children the belief and confidence that there is more if they just look for it and go out and grab it, but my fear holds me back. You are an inspiration. Thank you for continuing to address these issues on your blog.


Heather December 13, 2013, 7:13 PM

Thanks Nancy! I’m so glad the post resonated with you. I feel so strongly about it. You can do it. Baby steps works too. Thanks so much for reading.


Nancy December 13, 2013, 3:41 PM

…there was not second point, apparently. LOL! Sorry.


Heather December 13, 2013, 7:13 PM

Ha! Love it. No apology necessary. ;)


Cindy W December 13, 2013, 7:36 PM

I am in love with this post and the idea of the journey. Now if only I could convince my DH to look at things similarly. Maybe the video produced by Matt and Trey will help. As always, thank you!!!


Fives OnTheFly December 13, 2013, 9:09 PM

We’ve literally had a similar “Neo” revelation over the past year and a half as we have gone from having a house and full-time jobs, to an extended road trip followed by an extended rental, to now traveling indefinitely full time. It definitely is liberating to work through all of our own reasons why we can’t possibly travel, or possibly do so with young children (7, 5, and 3), or possibly do so while eating only a plant-based diet. We often find that others have plenty of opinions about why what we are doing cannot or should not be done, but we are at the point where we can just politely smile now that we have run through the train station wall (in the Harry Potter sense). Of course nothing is guaranteed, and we know that our lives could drastically change at any moment. However, this also helps to keep us grounded and try to appreciate every moment as fully as we can. As you have discovered as well, Zion can be anywhere if you can see things for what they are.


Heather December 16, 2013, 1:03 PM

So good to hear I’m not alone! That fish out of water feeling is a tough one to shake. Love the analogy to running through the train station wall. That’s it exactly, isn’t it? No judgment on either side, just a path less taken. Thanks so much for your comment and safe travels.


Kara Williams December 16, 2013, 9:10 AM

Beautifully written. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since entering the “travel blogging” world a few years ago, it’s that raising kids – on the road or at home – can take SO many different forms. I very much appreciate your insight and perspectives!


Heather December 16, 2013, 1:00 PM

Thanks Kara. I agree. I think we all have to be careful not to think that there is one right way to do anything. I prefer the questions I get about why I’m choosing to do one thing over another, and the discussions they lead to, so much more than the condemnation that simply rests on “Because that’s what has always been done.”


Mireya Quiton December 18, 2013, 1:17 PM

How well put! My husband and i love traveling and since we have kids we realized how much easier it actually is to go away camping every time you feel like it, rather than staying home during the weekends. We have twin boys, they are four now, they are a handful but it is such great fun whenever we travel, they get all our attention, and we get such quality time together! It is inexpensive, fun, much more sustainable than conventional holidaying (economically and environmentally) and can get you so close to the action you are looking for.. you can camp near the most beautiful beaches, under the stars, in the middle of wonderful forests, even cities: there is a great campsite in Florence which has a view of the city that would make most of the 5 star hotels around flush, and you can just walk your way into the city.. Sadly we don’t know many people how’d even give it shot! So glad i found your Blog! xx


Taina Del Valle January 10, 2014, 3:58 PM

Heather, I really appreciated what you said. My husband and I are musicians so we do some travelling. In 2010 we took my son out of school for two months to go to Spain (with a dip in Sicily), where we studied flamenco. It was so amazing that we went back again a year and half later. Those trips, and many others we have been on since, have transformed my son life and understanding of the world forever. I don’t regret even a minute that he missed school, and I would do it again if the trip and the timing fit (and now we have two kids!).


Cliff Hsia March 4, 2014, 12:24 AM

Heather, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this…I think once you go abroad for an extended period of time with your kids, you can never really completely shake the travel bug. With kids, it feels like the window of opportunity for travel closes faster and faster as they get older and older. So I commend you for being true to what you believe and raising your kids to be the same.


Heather March 6, 2014, 7:27 AM

Thanks Cliff. Appreciate your kind words.


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