by Carmel on August 5, 2014 · 14 comments


Waiting for us as we arrived to my mom’s house

I’m unbelievably behind on everything blog and travel-life related work. We’ve been back in Seattle for a week now. A week! I’ve barely read any of my favorite blogs. I’ve done just enough to keep up our Facebook page, but beyond that, it’s like our lives of the past 11 months has almost vanished from our memory.

It sounds weird, but my most common response to “what’s it like to be home?” has been, “um, normal.” Strangely normal. Somewhat eerily normal. Not bad, I just have to pinch myself to remember that Shawn and I have literally been around the world. In some ways, it feels like the weeks before we left, although there is a distinct lack of nerves and stress because we don’t have a huge trip to prepare for anymore. Ok, we’re not completely stress-free – we are running on the fumes of our bank account. Thank goodness for the kindness of our families, we’re able to still have shelter, eat and occasionally go out.

So, what have we been doing? Mostly cleaning out the bins we left behind in my mom’s garage and seeing what few things we have left. As I mentioned on our Facebook page last week, somehow after all that purging, we still have things to donate and trash. We’ve been organizing the piles of mail, taking care of financial stuff, figuring out how to make our living situation work for us and my mom, and of course visiting with friends and family.


My favorite visit – seeing my soon-to-be 90 year-old grandma this weekend


We were lucky to get back to Seattle in time to meet up with Candace from The Great Affair again

So, what haven’t we been doing? I’ve unintentionally been avoiding all writing. Besides not writing for the blog, I also haven’t been keeping my journals. I haven’t been eating well. I haven’t been doing yoga. Basically, I haven’t been doing a very good job taking care of myself.

Leading up to our return, I anticipated these kinds of challenges. Self care was at the top of the list. For 10 1/2 months, Shawn and I lived in a bubble of sorts. It was just the two of us – which was hard at first, but also meant we got to focus as much attention on ourselves as we liked. I tend to be the type to focus on others and give away more energy than I give myself, but eventually, I got used to it. Then I came to depend on it. Now that we’re back? Well, let’s just say it’s hard to shake a 33-year-old habit.

Like any change, it will take some adjustment. The big part of our travel is over, but that doesn’t mean I will lose the lessons I learned on the road. I don’t feel too sad that it’s over yet, but then again, I don’t have to find a job until October. The biggest challenge for me now is to not get ahead of myself. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that I can only take this process one step at a time. It’s hard for an impatient person like me, but I’m learning to let go and trust that it will all work out. For now, I’ll just enjoy the comforts of being home, the happy reunions, and the simple joys of domesticity.


A post-dinner-making martini with fresh rosemary from my mom’s garden

We still have stories to tell from the road! Stay tuned for the continuation of our 11-week adventure in España and our upcoming trip to Canada this fall.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Emy August 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I am so overly excited to see you in just a matter of days, (11 to be exact). Can’t wait to see your pretty face & celebrate Shawn’s big day!


Carmel August 11, 2014 at 8:14 am

5 days now!


Rika | Cubicle Throwdown August 5, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I didn’t realize you guys were home!! I feel like you just left. Very excited to hear all about your upcoming trip to the great white north (my homeland!)
Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted…How to Become a PADI Scuba Diving InstructorMy Profile


Carmel August 11, 2014 at 8:15 am

Well, since we’re a little behind on our travel stories, it may have thrown you off that we’re home. I think you wrote a list of places to visit in Vancouver once upon a time. I need to go find that…


Sarah Somewhere August 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Another huge transition will take some adjusting for sure! I do hope you will keep writing about this stage of the journey as it continues into the next phase. I’m just as excited to follow your adventures now as I have ever been. Your grandmother is gorgeous xxx enjoy xxx
Sarah Somewhere recently posted…The day Mexico lostMy Profile


Carmel August 11, 2014 at 8:16 am

This could really be some of the biggest transitions of our lives coming up. Travel was amazing but I think the internal journey I had was more interesting. At least to me!

Yeah, grandma is the sweetest.


Kim August 6, 2014 at 7:44 am

Welcome home you guys. It sounds like you are handling the adjustment very well. I remember how weird it was for me when I got back and it was like I’d never left. I had this fear that I wouldn’t be able to hold on to all of the lessons and memories from the road but I can see now that those lessons and memories will be with me forever. Enjoy that time with friends and family- your grandmother is beautiful!
Kim recently posted…Birthday book SALE! Life On Fire is only $3.99!My Profile


Carmel August 11, 2014 at 8:16 am

So far so good. It’s nice to have trailblazers, such as yourself, who I can count on to be honest about the journey and with whom I can talk about these feelings. It’s different than any other transition I’ve made.


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) August 7, 2014 at 8:06 am

I think even weirder than me being home is seeing that you and Shawn are back home since you guys were there when we left on our trip, we met with you out on the road, and now you’re back ! It’s crazy to think that I’ve watched the evolution of your journey back at the beginning of the planning and I just can’t believe so much time has passed. That is what does my head in more than anything else, I think.

I too was kind of surprised at how easily we slipped back into life here. Like, it doesn’t feel like lfie was on pause here while we were gone, but at the same time, it feels like home—like it always has and how it always will (I suspect). That said, I have definitely had moments where I come face-to-face with our old life, our old selves, and feel like I’m staring at an alien. Going through stuff we kept, I can’t believe how much money we used to spend on stupid stuff we no longer couldn’t care less about. Sorting through clothes I kept, I felt so overwhelmed because I don’t know how to function with a closet full of clothes rather than a small backpack… it feels so wasteful!

Anyway, during my trip, I kept worrying I hadn’t learned enough, hadn’t changed enough, that I would come home and undo all the work I had done (even if it wasn’t enough!). But now that I’ve been here for 6 weeks, I see that actually I HAVE changed in a deep, fundamental way that being at home can disrupt, but not erase. It’s a struggle at times for sure but I’m so glad we wrote our blog and took the pictures we did… whenever I find myself wondering whether it really happened, I just start reading my journal and our posts and know that will always be a part of me. I bet you wind up feeling the same way too!


Carmel August 11, 2014 at 8:19 am

Thank you for this very insightful response, Steph. Time is a very strange concept when you spend so much time saving for something like this, then doing it, and then you’re back. It is a strange feeling unlike any other I’ve had. It will be interesting to see what life back in Portland has been like for everyone. One of my best friends had a baby while we were gone and all the kids in our lives are like whole new people now. But in some ways, things are the same as they always were. I have been starting to meditate a little as we work through these big changes. I want to remember to take care of myself first and foremost so that I’m paying attention and can see the ways I’ve changed. Welcome back to you too! I’m sure there will be many emails as we both go through this big transition period.


Rhonda August 7, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Oh… I so remember what you’re feeling now. We, too, returned to normal…. I just no longer felt like WE fit into the scenario. As Kim and Steph mentioned, I think everyone fears a bit of the trip will be lost upon returning home, but now – several years later- we still feel as though we just returned, we still feel the need to live a different life than many of those around us, we still feel that we have way too much stuff and live in way too large of a home. I don’t think the lessons of the road can be unlearned. That year in time will always hold magic and wonder because YOU have changed. Welcome back to the west coast… will we be seeing you back in Portland soon? (p.s. we had dinner with Candace last night, meeting in person for the first time!)
Rhonda recently posted…Hiking MoabMy Profile


Carmel August 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

Thanks for that, Rhonda. It means a lot hearing something like that from someone who is a bit farther away from the whole thing. I *feel* like those lessons won’t be so easily undone, but it’s hard to say.

We’ll be back in Portland for a week next week, but it’s already crazy busy! We will be back in the fall, for sure, so maybe we can figure out a time then! I’m so excited you met Candace – she’s the greatest!


Rhonda August 11, 2014 at 11:30 am

I think you’ll find that you will have changed enough that you will always view things a bit differently than before. Look forward to finally meeting up and yes, Candace is wonderful. So lovely to have finally met her.
Rhonda recently posted…RED ROCK BURNOUT!My Profile


Amy August 20, 2014 at 6:10 am

Welcome home guys! I’m glad to hear that the transition has so far been fairly smooth and you’ve settled back in. I also felt that life back in the UK felt so comfortable, normal and familiar – it was easy to forget sometimes that I’d been away. Have fun catching up with everyone and moving onto the next chapter 🙂
Amy recently posted…How Much Did 15 Months of Travel Cost?My Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge