Lighter, freer … and living with my parents

I’m sitting in my comfy pajamas as the gray sky outside the window slowly lightens; my sweatshirt cozily hooding my head, and a wool blanket tucked around my legs. My mom is to my left enjoying her coffee, snuggled in her fuzzy bathrobe. Rodney sits to my right, equally cozy in front of the glittering Christmas tree. Nixin is just out of view, snapping together her advent puzzle. We moved in with my parents a couple weeks ago.

This is the third Christmas in a row that my small family (Rodney, Nixin, and I) will be living with my parents in their large home. Many people hear this and think that it’s a situation we resorted to, rather than created. It’s funny to me that the first impression that people have to this news is usually the polar opposite to how we perceive the situation. We don’t have to live with my parents, we choose to and actually very much enjoy it. We have also joined households in the past for economic and familial benefits with no clear goal or target in our sights. This most recent joining of the households, however, has a very different feel to it. This time, an enticing target rests on the horizon and there is an almost imperceptible current subtly pulling us towards an incredible and life-changing adventure. And every day I feel the pace of the current gently increasing.

August 2018 is when we take the final steps to embrace the major life shift we have been working towards. “Eight more months, eight more months!” we sing to ourselves when faced with an irritating situation or task that will be left behind when we board the plane to our next phase of life. It’s really, really going to happen. It’s really, really happening right now!

Yesterday, we officially moved out of our old place; it’s sparkling clean and ready for a new tenant. I remind myself that these aching muscles from determined scrubbing of property and endless hauling of “stuff” will soon be free from both. I have my fingers crossed that I will never clean any of our rental units again. And I am hoping with all my might that by spring, I will be the proud non-owner of several fine rental units. Oh how the tables have turned!! Not long ago, we aimed to become small-scale real estate magnates as part of a goal towards financial independence. Now, we are excited to shed our couple of properties and with them, the last of our debt and business responsibilities.  When we board the plane to Sweden in August, we plan to walk on with our backpacks, and leave zero encumbrances in our wake, either financial or physical. Our remaining ties to Alaska and the United States will be only of the highest value: our family and friends.

So now we’re living with my dear, generous parents. We’ve expunged approximately 90% of our belongings and I’m anxious to get rid of the remaining bits over the next eight months. It feels WONDERFUL!!!! It’s insane how much one small family accumulates in a short period of time. It’s insane how difficult it feels to let go of items once they are in your household. We are vowing to be more deliberate about possessions. It is so easy to accept and purchase more goods because they are useful, because they are beautiful, because they were gifts. But these things weigh us down, use up our precious moments of life, and eat up resources from the earth that can never be replaced. I’m nearly disgusted by our thoughtless accumulation of goods over the years … and ecstatic that our consumer trend line is plummeting in exchange for a freer, lighter existence.

For now, I will sign off because we are off to celebrate that we’ve cleaned a rental unit (fingers crossed) for the last time!!!!


Holey moley! It’s not just talk anymore!!

Recently, I’ve been feeling like I’m riding on a whirlwind. I imagine the blustery tornado from “The Wizard of Oz,” lifting up Dorothy’s house, twirling it around, and jettisoning the unsuspecting Dorothy off into another world. It’s a somewhat scary but spectacular world, brimming with self-discovery, new friends, and adventure. It’s not the perfect analogy, but it’s the visual that I’m relating to right now.

Rodney and I have talked and talked, planned and planned, and then talked some more about potential changes to our lifestyle. To be fair, we have made some decent headway and important progress in the last few years, namely in our finances and diet. But we have never taken steps that I would consider to be … dramatic.

Until now.

During our many discussions we always remind ourselves that the lifestyle of our dreams won’t just drop into our laps. It will require decisions and, most importantly, it will require action:

“The unexamined life is not worth living, but if all you’re doing is examining … you’re not living.”

Well, now we’re doing a lot more than just examining. Just this week:

  • we enrolled our daughter in home school
  • we made an appointment with our realtor to put our properties on the market
  • we started to give away our belongings


Whoa, again.

Taking some real action is definitely exhilarating, but it’s also a little … not quite frightening, but … maybe reality-inducing? We find ourselves saying “Oh man, we’re really doing this?!” and “It’s happening!!!”

And then it occurs to me … we’re graduating out of the “big talk” phase. If we truly want to live the life of our dreams, we need to majorly reconstruct our lifestyle and that will require big change. Big change requires much more than big talk.

Maybe we should plan a ceremony, or at least a celebration, because after years of mostly words, Rodney and Dianna Wehr have graduated from Big Talk to Big Action. (Congratulations to ourselves!!)


You just never know

“I’ve been thinking; selling the rental properties and not having those responsibilities to deal with while we travel would feel really, really good,” Rodney says to me a few days ago. I sit up a little taller and try not to shriek with joy.

“You are absolutely right,” I say in a voice so calm it surprises me. “We would never have to deal with emergency maintenance bills, nightmare tenants, the inevitably disappointing management help … selling would remove all that potential stress.”

I’ve wanted to sell the properties before we take off, but Rod has been hesitant. Whereas I’ve never much enjoyed being a landlord, Rodney grew up helping out with his parent’s property business and was pretty much raised on construction sites. Rod literally cut his teeth on a wrench (maybe that’s why he needed so much orthodontic work later in life? Ha!).  It’s kind of in his blood, and I think he almost feels like it’s just the right thing to do. We “should” own property because it worked out great for his parents. I completely understand, and do agree. I just don’t enjoy being a landlord. Anyway, regardless of our differing preferences, the little bit of real estate that we own is unquestionably a major component of our longterm investments for “retirement.” For all these reasons (and perhaps others), Rod has resisted my inclination to sell off our property and so I dropped the subject. Instead, we’ve been trying to figure out how to best manage the rentals from afar. Ugh. Headache. Sigh. Sigh again.

Buuuuut, low and behold (and fingers crossed), Rodney may be changing his mind?! The lure of a life without major responsibilities lurking around the corner may be drawing him in? Embrace that notion, my dear husband!!

Eeeeeeeeee!!! (that’s me, no longer containing my shriek of joy!)

We would get on the airplane with only our bodies and backpacks. No obligations or responsibilities back at home requiring our attention. Talk about absolute freedom!! We would have endless doors of opportunity in front of us, and we could walk through any one of them without us first having to consider our responsibilities as property owners. If we didn’t want to, we would never have to return to Alaska. We will definitely want to return, but we would never have to.

Is this just a passing thought for Rodney? Will the property management in his blood outweigh the call of absolute freedom? Apparently not. Several days have passed and Rodney’s enthusiasm to sell has increased, not waned.

We have decided. Absolute freedom wins. We will sell our properties.