When I was in the eighth grade my dad retired (at age 37) from his job as a firefighter/EMT for our city's fire department. Prior to that, my parents had announced that our family was "going on an adventure." They sold our house in a down economy and my dad stopped working the steady job that he had worked for the last 17 years.
My dad became a full-time commercial fisherman. We packed most of our things into storage. I had one small moving box, for my most valuable possessions, that I would carry with me for the next two years. We stayed with my grandparents and house sat during the summers, when my dad fished out of our home town. During the winter we moved to a small town called Elfin Cove, it might be more accurately described as a fishing village. Our family of 5 increased the winter population by about fifteen percent. The only motorized vehicle on the boardwalk (there are no roads) was the gas powered cart that moved the weekly mail delivery from the float plane to the tiny post office.
I lovingly refer to this period as being "homeless". I know my mother cringes when I say this, as we always had a roof over our heads (even if the roof belonged to a boat) and food to eat. We had a fantastic adventure. We learned so many things about hard work and family. I wouldn't trade those two years for anything. My parents were a great example of so many things -- of following their passion, of taking risks, of loving the outdoors, of loving each other. I'm so grateful that they are my parents. We didn't always have everything we wanted, but we also never wanted for anything.
But some how, I got it in my mind that I needed to grow up and be responsible. I needed to go to college and get a job and be a "grown up." I needed to be able to take care of myself, make my own way. I spent 5 years getting my bachelors degree. Transferring to a less expensive school as a sophomore added a year to my education, but I think I was in the right place a the right time when I started my education at Boise State University. I worked hard, and before graduation I was offered a good job in my field. I was making a fantastic salary. I had a 401(k) and health insurance. I bought a new truck and moved into a two bedroom apartment further from campus and closer to work. I thought I had it all!
Shortly after graduation, my dad was raving about Robert T. Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and insisted that I read it. I did, somewhat reluctantly. I don't remember now much about the book, but I remember that it made me feel very defensive. I knew my dad was proud of me, my education, and my career path. He told me he was. He talked highly of me to his friends when I was in earshot. But here he was, insisting that I read this book that, as I remember it, trashed formal education and spoke highly of investing in real estate. I didn't get as much out of the book because I was defensive. It was unfortunate; I could have learned a lot from it.
Instead, this June, I'm scheduled to celebrate 15 years with my company. Fifteen years in the same position. And what do I have to show for it? A 401(k) and health insurance. A mortgage for a tiny house that our family of 6 is outgrowing. And four wonderful children who have spent most of their young lives in daycare. My baby will be 3, and my next oldest will start kindergarten in the fall. I don't want to spend another year doing the same thing I've always done. I want to spend this precious time with my family.
About a year ago, a good friend and mentor recommended that I read "The Jackrabbit Factor" by Leslie Householder. I was more than ready to receive its message, even though it was calling me out just as much as "Rich Dad, Poor Dad". Everything finally clicked, the example of my parents, the things things they've always taught me. My husband and I can support our family and still spend time with them. I'm grateful for them. I'm grateful for this book and for the mentor who introduced it to me. I'll be reading it again this month as I prepare to make goals for next year.
I'm ready for some risks and our family is ready for an adventure. We are excited for 2016!
If you are interested in access to a free audio copy of "The Jackrabbit Factor", let me know, and I'll send you instructions.