First, as my girls started school (they are 6 and 8) I started reading a lot (A LOT) about school food, and that led me to food in general and the modern American food system in particular. We've opted out as much as we can from corporate food because after all my research we just don't trust the system. Plus I don't want to eat something that is developed in a lab and then assembled in a factory, though that is the norm for our generation.
Meanwhile, all my food blogs got me interested in a homesteading, or let's say, homesteading-lite. We expanded our garden, joined a CSA and started cooking more from scratch. We really want chickens, but we don't have the infrastructure (privacy fence, coop, etc.), so it would be a bit of an expense up front. I've considered a beehive as well, but some neighbors just aren't into that.
At the same time, I became interested in minimalism and started reading some blogs about it (http://www.becomingminimalist.com/, http://zenhabits.net/, http://www.theminimalistmom.com/, etc.). It inspired me to start getting rid of some of the STUFF we have around the house that really doesn't mean anything to us, like books, clothes, some of the kids' older toys. There's still so much more we can do without. Minimalism brought me back to Buddhism, in which I've always had an interest, so I started reading a little by the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. Budhism and Minimalism go very well together, in fact. If you can overcome desire, you can rid your life of unnecessary baggage (things, people, stress).
OK, here's where it gets weird, but I promise to tie it all together at the end. I've also been reading lots of books about zombies and vampires (but not the romantic, Twilight kind). Some of the better ones have been Zone One by Colson Whitehead, The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan and The Passage by Justin Cronin. These are all about some manmade plague that wipes out most of humanity and leaves the survivors walled off in small villages basically fighting off the hoardes for eternity. Oh, and we're also watching The Walking Dead on AMC. Pretty bleak stuff, but for some reason it appeals to me right now.
Last but not least, we've just decided to quit screwing around and pay off our debts, and to do so I've been reading Dave Ramsey. He's very conservative for me politically, but what he says about finances makes a lot of sense and is doable for us. We don't owe a lot, and we can do it pretty painlessly in a year or less (except the house).
Thus, travel! Get it? No? Well, I may be stretching things, but I think all of the above interests stem from a desire to get out of the system, "outside the box" (I hate that phrase), out of what mainstream American society tells us is good, normal, worth striving for. I feel like we're in the zombie apocalypse right now - everyone just stumbling toward the "American Dream," which seems to consist of a giant house full of stuff, lots of electronic gadgets that you play with instead of talking to your loved ones, two huge SUVs, maybe a boat or a camper the size of a tour bus. Never mind paying for it, because you can just charge it! All of this STUFF is what we're supposed to want, supposed to work for. We get in a job and we just stay there, even if it's killing our souls. That sounds dramatic, but honestly, after working in the same job for the last, say, 10 years or maybe more, do you really feel like the same person you were when you were in college? How about high school? Didn't you defer some dreams because you needed to keep your income? Maybe you had kids and bought that house that's a little too big, and maybe you could have kept your previous car a few more years, but you wanted a new one. And when you redid your kitchen, you didn't really need new appliances, but you were redoing everything, so why not?
We finally stepped back and realized that we don't really care about any of that stuff, and we don't want our kids to care about it either. We want them to see that there are other people out there, other dreams, other possible futures. God Bless America and all that, but this isn't the only way to live your life, and I don't think it's the best way, either. I hope I'm not insulting anyone, but this has been a bit of a revelation for us, and we're excited. So we'll pay off our debt and start saving, and hopefully we'll have enough to go somewhere for a month next summer as a sort of test-drive. Then who knows! By the way, if anyone can think of a job I can do from "the road," please comment!
Don't be a zombie!