I’m sure you know the whole story by now, but if not, let me catch you up. In May, we bought a 20ft 1966 Airstream Globetrotter to renovate and have been working on it since. I quit my job back in June and my wife quit in early August so we could go full time to have it ready for a trip starting in September. You’ve probably seen some of the updates along the way, but let me do a full run down of where we stand today.

The good news – the interior of the Airstream is pretty much complete! It will be one of those projects that we can work on forever, but at least we have it to a final enough state to use. It’s been a hell of a project, and if you’re thinking about renovating an Airstream yourself, call me first!! It’s very challenging and requires a combination of mechanical, plumbing, electrical, cabinetry, painting, bug removal, window cleaning, polishing, carpentry, begging friends and relatives to help, and having some experts on call! But besides that, it was easy :).

The bad news – the exterior has a lot of work remaining. They estimate 8 hrs per each linear foot to complete the polishing, but I’m probably only 30 hrs in. I’ve completed most of the clean up, but I have a lot of buffing ahead of me. I’ll add a picture of the exterior on the bottom as I’m not as proud of it yet.

A huge thanks to everyone who has helped and supported us along the way… especially to my wife who deals with my crazy whims and supports my decisions; even if they’re sometimes bad! My parents and mother in law were hugely instrumental and helping us. Without their help (expertise, craftsmanship, sewing, organizing, setting up) we wouldn’t have made it. Also, a big thanks to my cousins Mike and Maggie who spent a couple of days with us and Jocelyn’s Uncle and Aunt who have supported us and allowed us to store stuff at their house again!

In an upcoming post, I’ll give some more details on our travel plans. We’re pretty much ready to start, but we’re working through our house decision (sale vs lease). The Dallas market is incredibly hot for leases, so we’ll probably go that direction. After we get that figured out, we’ll head to Kentucky to hang out with our niece/nephew and then move up to see other friends in the upper Midwest and on to the Northeast, hopefully to catch the leaves changing and meet up with more friends!

The pictures are pretty much in chronological order, but hopefully you can tell what’s old and what’s new :). Enjoy!

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Airstream Renovation Update

August 10, 2016 — 1 Comment

If you’ve been following along at all on Facebook, you’ve probably seen some of the latest updates on the Airstream. If not, here’s the summary:

Holy crap, this is hard work!

Okay, now I feel better. I’ve been working on the Airstream and home renovation full time since I quit my job back in June, so going on two months now. Much like what happened when we purchased our first two houses and said we’d make some updates, we’ve now turned it into a full gut job. The bad news is we still have a long way to go… but the good news is we’re at least starting to build back up now!

Also, Jocelyn quit her job last week so she’s full time on it which helps a ton. Let’s start with the outside.

I’ve replaced all of the window gaskets and cleaned all of the hardware. I’ve also taken a first pass on nearly 60% of the buffing… but I still have three more “passes” even after I finish this one. This will probably be the one thing I won’t complete before the end of August (when we want to leave). It’s getting shinier, but the pictures are always deceiving as it’s not that good in person.

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The inside is a whole other animal. Our renovation took the Airstream down to the internal shell and included the nastiest job yet – removing the vinyl covering to expose the inside aluminum. It’s turning out great, but I’ve cursed Jocelyn many times as she wanted to do it (in the end, she’s probably right).

I’m also replacing all of the plumbing, we’re redoing all of the cabinets with new paint, adding new flooring, countertops and fixtures. We’re pretty much redoing the entire inside. It will look great, but we have a lot of work left.

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As I mentioned earlier, the best part is Jocelyn is now off work so she can help too! It’s pretty nasty working with all of the chemicals, so here she is masked:

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She’s also getting all of the colors picked out for cushions, curtains, etc. I think it’ll look pretty good, and here’s the palette:

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We hope to put the floors in next week along with starting the bathroom. Once we get the floors installed, it will go pretty fast because all of the couches, chairs and counters will go on top of it… and it’s already assembled. Hopefully, we’ll be able to leave by the end of August or first week of September… so I better get back to work now!

I’ve been dropping hints lately about our next adventure. We’ve been planning it for a while now, so what looks like a random succession of events, has actually been somewhat planned.

The first major step was on May 1st – when we purchased our 1966 Airstream Globetrotter. It’s a major fixer upper, as I’ve learned over the last few months, but I’m currently working hard to get it fixed up. Seriously, I’m working like 10-12 hours a day on the dang thing.

1966 Airstream Globetrotter

The next step was to quit my job so I could work on all of the projects around the house and Airstream. My last day was June 14th and we’ve been working hard since remodeling our house and landscaping the front – here’s the before and after:

The top picture is original house - bottom is our modern landscaping

The top picture is original house – bottom is our modern landscaping

Next, was for my wife to leave her job. As I mentioned in a previous post, her last day is August 4th! It wasn’t an easy decision as she has been very successful in her career… but work will always be waiting when we get back.

So here we are now, eyeing our next adventure. As you might know, we traveled the world in 2013. It was an amazing (and exhausting) nine months full of new experiences, but it also made us realize how much cool stuff we have in the US. That is what prompted our 2016-2017 adventure, The Great American Road Trip.

We’re not exactly sure how long we’ll be gone or where we’re going yet, but that’s one of the things we loved about our first big trip. There’s nothing better than having the freedom to discover new places and explore based on the advice of strangers you meet along the way. We hope to start in about a month – depending on how fast we can get the Airstream and house ready. That’s another decision not finalized yet – if we will sell or rent the house. Anyone looking for a new house in Dallas???

The original goal was to get to Alaska before winter and spend at least one month exploring. However, since we still need to sort out the house situation and fix up the Airstream, it’s not likely we’ll be able to spend enough time in Alaska before winter. That would mean we couldn’t do Alaska until late Spring – 2017. Oy, that’s a long time away!

The alternative plan is to head up to the Northeast and explore during the fall, which we hear is quite beautiful. We could then swing back Southeast, South and Southwest… working hard to avoid winter and start working our way through California. This would set us up for a late spring drive up through Canada and finally to Alaska – to top it all off. We could also do the National Park road trip as outlined on the Washington Post:

National Park Road Trip

Along the way, we’ll explore parks and landmarks, meet up with friends (who has a driveway big enough for our Airstream??) and enjoy life. We’ll revert to a previous life when we weren’t controlled by the days of the week or work deliverables, but by our desire to explore further. Just like when we traveled the first time, we’ll have more time than money, and act accordingly. In the last two years since we went back to work, we had more money than time, and also acted accordingly!

We’ll need to watch our spending pretty closely again, as we won’t have regular incomes. Instead, just as we did for the first trip, we’ll rely on our savings and money from our investments. It’s always a scary feeling when you go from DINKs (dual income no kids) to NINKs (no income no kids), but we’ve worked hard in the last 10 year to pay off our debt, save money and invest in real estate and the stock market. We’re also confident we can get jobs again when needed.

I’ll try to post next week on the Airstream progress, but you can also like my BREAKFREE Facebook page where I post much more often. If you have any can’t miss destinations across the US and Canada, be sure to let us know! Otherwise, we’ll see you on the road…

Imagine how great it would be… you have your own personal jet that flies you anywhere you’d like. You can get tickets to the toughest venues, and most of your stress comes from deciding which summer house to visit (Hamptons or Aspen). Imagine…

No, WAIT, stop imagining that!

It’s our imaginations that are making us broke! We imagine living a life we can’t afford, but then we actually buy things that we can’t afford. That’s why people are house poor, or car poor or going out to eat poor. They want to see themselves in this lifestyle.

Note: this thought originated from the father of Economics, Adam Smith – so don’t blame me if you don’t like it!

In one of my favorite books, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, the author Arthur Herman presents many ideas of great philosophers from the Scottish enlightenment, and I think this is one of the most powerful passages in the book. In fact, I’ve reread it three nights in a row because it struck such a powerful chord with me. Here goes:

And here imagination turns out to be the driving wheel of that system as well. Our imagination, the inner picture of ourselves being as rich and comfortable as the Duke of Argyll or Bill Gages, spurs on our efforts, focusing and directing our energies toward a single purpose. “It is this deception”, (Adam) Smith adds, which rouses and keeps in continual motion the industry of mankind. it is this which first prompted them to cultivate the ground, to build houses, to found cities and commonwealths…”

This “deception”, as Smith called it, is major driver of our career ambitions as well. We want to leave a lasting mark on society and one of the easiest ways to do it is by becoming rich and famous. Or it might be the reason so many people willingly throw their current lives away in hopes of “making it to the top”.

I was well on the way after graduating college. I wanted to be a big, powerful CEO of a global company. In the first few years after I graduated, I worked tirelessly in this pursuit and small rewards starting coming. A promotion here and a raise there made me feel like I was on track to becoming what I wanted. But then, only five to seven years in, I found my career ambition waning, and I wanted out.

My deception was possibly identified as I realized what it would take to make it to the top. I realized I wanted to live my life now instead of sacrificing current time to chase bigger dreams that would only take me further away from what I wanted now – a lifestyle where I could enjoy my time and time with friends and family, and make a difference to others.

In the beginning, my imagination fed my ambition which in turn, fed my consumerism. I went $50,000 in debt two years out of school, and I felt like I was working just to pay for my crap and continue living the concept of the company store – even if it was through my own choosing.

I get it, we need jobs and we need careers. There are families to feed and babies to clothe. Also, some people really need the career pursuit to feel successful in life. But don’t make bad financial decisions that continue you down a path you don’t want to go. Don’t let a picture of success painted by society or the movies deter your way of life. Think about what’s most important to you and ask yourself if you’re working towards it, or if your deception is pushing you in the wrong direction.

As you might know, I quit my job a month ago and my wife is quitting soon as well. We hope to set off in a month or so for another adventure. We couldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for making sacrifices and saving and investing hardcore over the last 10 years. Maybe our imagination to travel with complete freedom will one day make us broke, but we’re willing to take the risk!

Somewhere along the line, we’ve all been tricked. We’ve been tricked into thinking only certain types of people with well developed skills and a professionally vetted plan can become entrepreneurs. We think we need a license to entrepreneu (I made that word up) before we can become entrepreneurs.

Actually, it’s not even that we’re tricked, it’s that we’re trained to think like this. School doesn’t teach us how to become entrepreneurs, but instead how to be good employees. As I mentioned in the five things I never learned in school, we’re not taught how to assess ourselves, take action, question authority or even manage money. These are things most entrepreneurs do well. We’re taught to wait for the next assignment to be given to us, so we’re always dependent on being told what to do.

When we traveled the world in 2013, we realized most people in developing countries were entrepreneurs. This wasn’t because they attended Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” seminar, it’s because there weren’t other jobs! They couldn’t log on to Monster.com and apply to 50 different openings for a financial analyst. No, they just needed to be able to eat, so they found a way to make some money.

They’d set up little stalls in the market selling their goods, or save up enough money to buy a car and give tours of their city. They’d figure out how to get by, even if it was only by selling a few camel-skin purses a day. This has been going on for tens of thousands of years – ever since humans coexisted. In my mind, there are only a few basic requirements to become an entrepreneur:
1. Be a human
2. Ability to interact with people
3. Know the local language (optional)
Some people get by with only the first requirement! We all interact with people and know how to carry a conversation. This is the very basic requirement for entrepreneurism.

So why does entrepreneurism seem so hard to most of us in the US?

I think a lot of it has to do with what we see on television or the interwebs. We see news stories on guys like Zuckerberg or Larry Paige who invented freaking Facebook or Google! We try to compare ourselves with people like that, and of course our ideas aren’t going to look grand enough. We think we can’t start being an entrepreneur until we have a brilliant and original idea.

When I interviewed my entrepreneur friend Chris, he talked about how every app idea has about ten people working on it (yes, that even includes your awesome app idea). He said about 6 of those people have moved just beyond the idea phase to talk to some people about getting it started. Two have started the design and are building it out. The last two have already brought it to market and are working their butts off day and night to make it succeed.

A brilliant idea isn’t what makes an entrepreneur successful, so don’t let that hold you up. We’re seeing new companies pop up in old industries every day, and just when we think a market is tapped out, we see a new company come in and succeed. Look at the beer market. Ten years ago it was monopolized by about four companies and we were all forced to think Bud Light was a good beer. Now, there are new craft beer companies popping up everywhere, and it’s not like they’ve reinvented beer!

Entrepreneurism is possible, you just have to want it enough. And yes, this is coming from an unemployed guy who spends all day fixing up his Airstream!! However, I intend my next paid for venture to come from my own work, so let’s do this together, and I’ll keep you updated as I move down that path.

Also, feel free to print off the awesome certificate below so you can have your license to entrepreneur!!!

 

Entrepreneur License

Let’s see how a video update works as I’ve bee too busy to actually work from my computer!!

Here are some me before and after pictures of the airstream!

It’s time to start the projects! We bought this 1966 20ft Airstream Globetrotter about a month ago, so it’s time to get going. We’re starting by gutting the interior before we start rebuilding.

 

The time has come to venture on. I hit five years at my job a few weeks ago, and in one more week I’ll be unemployed. If you’ve read any of my posts lately, you’ll likely not be surprised:

My Cage
Anxiety Attacked
My wife and I are cheating on each other

What made the decision final was the realization that my job isn’t getting me closer to the person who I want to be. In fact, in the last few months, it was taking me the other direction as the stress turned me into a curmudgeon at work and a crankpot at home.

Oh yeah, there’s also the fact that since we came back from our round the world trip 2.5 years ago, my mind hasn’t been able to fully focus on work. I can’t remember who the quote come from, but it sums up my experience nicely: “It is better to never give freedom in the first place, than to give freedom and later take it away.”

In the next few months, I hope to embark on some new paths that will define the next part of my life. I’m not sure exactly what it will be yet, but I have quite a few things I want to pursue as I figure it out. I’m excited that my wife is letting me do this, and thrilled we’ll be able to explore together.

However, before I get there, let’s have a serious discussion because I don’t want you think this was one of those rash “I quits” where I flip off the boss and have no plans of what is next! This has been a long time coming, and I don’t want to be responsible for any of you crazies who this might inspire!! So, let’s talk about seven things I loved about work:

1. Feelings of accomplishments

Work is very important for many people to receive their sense of purpose, as you see with some retired people who are lost after work. Pope John Paul II put it this way:

“Work is a good thing for man – a good thing for his humanity – because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being. Work expresses his dignity and increases it: It provides him with the wherewithal to have a family, and it links him with his neighbor. Not to mention also contributing to the wealth of his neighbors.”

2. The opportunity to lead

I worked hard and was fortunate to be put into a leadership position with over 60 people in my organization. The role over the last two years helped me develop my leadership skills, and learn to lead organizations. It was very challenging, but I learned a lot.

3. Personal development

I grew up as a small-towner in Oklahoma and didn’t have much exposure to the business world. My last two jobs have helped me develop into a much more well rounded person. I’ve learned how to work with different people, different cultures and different countries.

4. Professional development

As mentioned in the second point, I’ve moved up the chain thanks to all my great experiences and mentors along the way. I learned how to succeed in the corporate world which will definitely benefit me the rest of my life.

5. New friends

My friend base is much expanded thanks to work. It’s amazing how you can connect with people, especially when you’re in very challenging situations together and work to accomplish something great.

6. New experiences

Incredible travel opportunities, interesting projects and great people. I half joke that one of my highest career accomplishments up to this point is “Lifetime Platinum” as a Starwood hotel member. This basically means I’ve stayed over 500 nights at just that hotel chain which is ridiculous, but I’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of really great vacations as well.

7. Money

The reason I can quit is because of the money I’ve made the last 10+ years of my career (and my wife’s, of course). I don’t want to be a starving artist, desperately working to keep food on the table while I tried to pursue my passion. Instead, I chose to work really hard and succeed as much as I can at work so later I could pursue what I wanted. I’m not done working, but I’m able to spend some time on things I want to do now.

Work is important and money is important, and they make up a huge part of our lives. However, there are many other things I want to pursue that I can’t while in my current career, so I’m moving on. You’ll hear more in the next few weeks!

My Cage

May 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

Look at my cage, isn’t it grand?
I can nearly see across the entire land.
The sun shines in, and I can see some trees,
But my cage is glassed off, so no worry of bees.

It keeps me dry when it starts to rain;
it’s surely the invention of a really smart brain.
A beautiful spring day does not distract me,
because my cage is a constant seventy three.

If I stay here enough, I get well fed.
I get money for a car, and a really nice bed.
My cage protects me from uncertainties of life,
From scary people, unpredictability or strife.
Within my cage, I’m allowed to be me;
well, at least the me they want me to be.

I could leave whenever I’m ready,
but my productivity must remain steady.
If I want to be at the top in the end,
These rules I must not bend.

Wait, what is it all worth,
this system I was thrown into at birth?
Why would I lead a life so controlled,
for a distant freedom, only when I’m old?

My life worth living is not in a cage,
In fact, within me, I feel some rage.
I own my life, but I am not free;
I’m stuck in this cage, built by me.

Anxiety Attacked

April 24, 2016 — 5 Comments

Let me just start by saying I’m not the kind of guy who would have an anxiety attack. You know those quotes about how if you keep calm when the rest of the civilization is losing its minds, you’ll rule the world? I plan on ruling that world.

In fact, just last week one of my co-workers said I was like a swan, even if my feet were paddling like crazy below water, I was calm above. Or, maybe she said a duck, but either way, you get the point.

I’m able to leave a stressful day at work behind me as soon as I drive home or hang up from my last call. If that doesn’t take care of it, my regimented routine of dog walks with Lucy after work will get it. If all else fails, my regular yoga sessions will kick it. I punch anxiety in the face… until it punched me.

Two weeks ago my wife was out of town for work so I was managing the homestead. Although I don’t like when she’s gone, it’s not too challenging because I really only have to worry about the dog. She’s usually at home bored, but I try to make up for it by giving her an extra walk in the morning.

Unfortunately, my mornings have started earlier even though the evenings and nights are filled with more work calls. It’s fine though… remember the routine I mentioned above? It still worked, and hey, who doesn’t have a little stress in their life?

Tuesday night was different because my wife wasn’t around to listen to me vent, and I found my mind racing like a speeding bullet when I was trying to fall asleep. It was also pretty warm in the house because I’m too cheap to turn on the air conditioner, so that didn’t help. But usually I can fall asleep after a few minutes of purposeful mediation and breathing. This time was different.

My mind continued to race as the sleepless minutes dragged into sleepless hours. Work was still at the top of my mind as I was thinking through some pretty heavy things. Dang, I just couldn’t fall asleep. And then it even got more strange as I felt a little light headed.

The clock ticked away to 3:30am, and I sat up to take a drink. So weird – why do I feel like I’m hardly even breathing? Wait, never mind, I have work stuff to think about… but how can I think about work when I may not be around tomorrow! Holy crap, am I dying? I’m light headed, and I feel like I’m not even breathing right. What the heck is going on, I must be sick.

I got up and walked around a bit but the feeling didn’t go away and it seemed like it was getting worse. It was like I was here but I wasn’t… who had taken control of my mind? Maybe I should call 911? No one is here with me but my dog Lucy, and if I die no one would get here for a couple of days, and by that time she’d start gnawing on my arm because she’d be so hungry. Poor Lucy. Who’s going to take care of her when I’m not around and what about my wife? Oh man, let me pick up my phone just in case… maybe I should even dial 911 so it’s already on the screen and I can hit dial as I fall to the floor, dying of this.. uhh.. shortness of breath and light headedness? Or, maybe I’m having a heart attack – that seems much more plausible!

This actually happened. To me. The guy who wouldn’t think of letting anxiety attack him. I went and laid with my dog on her bed and hugged her a bit, letting her breathing and heart beat retrain mine. I finally calmed down a bit, knowing that I’m still alive and it’s my mind steering this ship directly into an iceberg. But Lucy took the wheel and steered it away. This actually happened. To me. You know… the guy who blah blah blah.

I briefly mentioned it to Jocelyn the next day but wanted mostly to not think of it again. She was too stressed and this wouldn’t help her. Also, it was just too weird and made me seem like a pretty big pansy. It couldn’t have been an anxiety attack anyway… until I read the description of an anxiety attack.

A panic (anxiety) attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying

I checked the boxes on the test and realized that’s what happened. It was a pretty sobering moment.

Anxiety attacked me and I was doing everything I could to prevent it by following my de-stressing rituals. I thought I could manage through any situation, but now some tough times at work proved me wrong. I can’t imagine if I had other issues with family or money on top of it. We aren’t as tough in this life as we like to think. Well, at least I’m not.