Here’s How To Save On Gas Money. Whether You Spend It On Christmas Presents Or Beer Is Up To You.
If you save big bucks on gas this month, you can send Christmas-wrapped thank-you gifts my way.
Do good. Win big for the charity of your choice.
In a flurry of heavy headlines that constantly inundate our feeds, acts of good connect us back to our faith in humanity. Witnessing just one person go out of their way to make the world a better place is a powerful healing salve against apathy. It reminds us all of what we are collectively capable of creating. This is the philosophy that Upworthy wholeheartedly believes in, hence why we’re always sharing uplifting stories of people giving kindness, generosity and support to their fellow humans.
That’s also why we’re partnering with P&G, the maker of some of our favorite household products like Tide, Always and Pampers, to bring you the 2023 Acts of Good Awards, and celebrate the individuals who are giving back and strengthening their communities.
Think of it like the Oscars of kindness. Half as formal but twice as feel-good.
Besides providing the world with brands we know and trust, P&G is a company doing good acts, whether it’s supporting hygiene education, helping struggling communities gain access to basic necessities or delivering essentials for families impacted by disasters.
Here are just a few of the ways P&G's Acts of Good make meaningful impact:
Between May 12 - June 4, 2023, in partnership with P&G, Upworthy will be accepting nominations that shine a light on individuals who go above and beyond to help others in their community through their own #ActsOfGood. Be it the superstar volunteer or the person who rallies the neighborhood to support the local food bank. Odds are you probably know someone who is a perfect candidate. You might even be one yourself!
Based off a simple criteria—elevated effort, unique impact and how those actions reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to strengthen communities and inspire positivity and inclusion—three winners will be selected to receive a $1,000 donation to the non-profit organization of their choice.
Plus their good work will be celebrated on Upworthy’s social media. We know that #ActsOfGood are their own reward, but it’s even better when that kindness gets amplified.
Care to submit yourself or someone you know? Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the form for a chance to win and do even more good.
Samantha Frye, the newest owner of Rosalie's restaurant, is proving there's more than one way to invest in your future.
Eighteen year old Samantha Frye has traded college life for entrepreneurship, and she has no regrets.
Frye began working at Rosalie's Restaurant in Strasburg, Ohio at 16 as a dishwasher, working up the ranks as a kitchen prep, server, then line cook. All while working a second job, sometimes third job.After graduating high school, Frye started college at Ohio State with plans of studying business or environmental engineering. But when she came back to work a shift at Rosalie’s for winter break, an opportunity arose—the owners had planned to sell the restaurant.
"I was thinking that maybe [buying] was something I wanted to do," she told News 5 Cleveland. "I had savings because I was saving for college, so I had quite a bit of money saved away. And I was like, I could possibly do this."
Frye acted on that gut feeling, and used her college funds to buy Rosalie’s. Now she spends every day at her new business, either in the kitchen, on the floor or in the office meeting with sales reps.
This Ohio diner is under new ownership: an 18-year-old who started out as a dishwasher and is carrying on a legacy of the past. https://t.co/7VShD0O6n0— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 13, 2023
Though Fyre's mother, Brandi Beitzel, confessed to USA Today that she wasn’t initially “on board” with her daughter abandoning college plans, over time she became very “proud” of her for forging her own path, and applauded her “drive and ambition.”
That sentiment is echoed both by Rosalie’s regulars and staff, who are amazing at the young woman’s drive and confidence.
“I just really think she's a great example of a young lady that is following her dreams and doing what she loves,” said Leanna Gardner, an employee.
It’s no secret that there are significantly less students attending college—down by about a million since the start of the pandemic. And while there are no doubt potential long term collective consequences to that, with exorbitantly high student loan rates, it’s easy to see why young adults would avoid massive debt for careers that don’t require a college degree.
Luckily, there are more efforts to make college an affordable option being made nationwide, like offering a free two years worth of college to graduating students.
And as Frye is proving by example—not going to college is certainly not a death sentence for one’s future. There are many ways to plant seeds for success. Honestly, college or no college, no matter which path is taken, there will likely be more uncertainty than there are guarantees. Perhaps the best bet then is trust those pings of intuition.
"You don't need college to make a decent living, and I think that's what a lot of people think nowadays," Frye attests. "Follow your instinct, honestly. If it feels right, just do it."
What will you create on your social media break? Share it at #MyVisionMySight.
If you’ve always lived in a world with social media, it can be tough to truly understand how it affects your life. One of the best ways to grasp its impact is to take a break to see what life is like without being tethered to your phone and distracted by a constant stream of notifications.
Knowing when to disconnect is becoming increasingly important as younger people are becoming aware of the adverse effects screen time can have on their eyes. According to Eyesafe Nielsen, adults are now spending 13-plus hours a day on their digital devices, a 35% increase from 2019.1. Many of us now spend more time staring at screens on a given day than we do sleeping which can impact our eye health.
Normally, you blink around 15 times per minute, however, focusing your eyes on computer screens or other digital displays have been shown to reduce your blink rate by up to 60%.2 Reduced blinking can destabilize your eyes’ tear film, causing dry, tired eyes and blurred vision.3
ACUVUEhas been encouraging people to take time off social media and use their newfound time to see their vision, whether that's becoming a makeup influencer, focusing on athletics or embracing their unique talents.
Upworthy caught up with influencer, YouTube star and contact lens wearer Amber Alexander to talk about how she balances her social media use. Recently, she took a social media break while visiting her sister.
“I was able to slow down time and take in each moment,” she told Upworthy. “Being on social media 24/7 always puts me in a very overwhelmed and anxious state of mind, so it was so refreshing to put my phone down and see life from a clearer perspective. Every moment felt more meaningful.”
“As soon as I put my phone away, I was able to really connect with my family and cherish our time together. I saw how my peace of mind improved when I took a break from social media,” she continued.
Alexander understands how social media can have a huge effect on her self-esteem and productivity.
“Scrolling through social media often leads people to compare their own lives, achievements, and physical appearance to people they see online,” she told Upworthy. “It is unrealistic and discouraging to see so many attractive, successful people online 24/7. Also, being on social media takes up so much time from our day that could be used socializing with real people, going outside, and working towards meaningful goals.”
ACUVUE is challenging young people to take social media breaks to pursue their purposes, visions, missions, and dreams through its Where Vision Meets Sight campaign. But the campaign from ACUVUE is about a lot more than just personal development. They’d like you to inspire others by sharing what you’ve done during your social media break by using #MyVisionMySight.
Get inspired and learn more on ACUVUE’s Where Vision Meets Sight page.
1COVID-19: Screen Time spikes to over 13 hours per day according to Eyesafe Nielsen estimates, published 3/28/20, https://eyesafe.com/covid-19-screen-time-spike-to-....
The life-sized Mr. Quackers was almost too much joy for Charlie to handle.
The first thing you need to know about Charlie the golden retriever is that he loves Mr. Quackers.
Mr. Quackers is Charlie's stuffed yellow duck. Charlie carries him around everywhere, he loves him so.
I always so happ to see my lil bro 😋 #dogsoftiktok #petsoftiktok #dogs #goldenretriever
Anyone who's had a dog with a favorite stuffy knows that it's a bit like a child with a favorite stuffy. As long as the stuffy is there, all is well. If stuffy goes missing, all hell breaks loose. Nobody take the stuffy away. Nobody lose the stuffy. Nobody mess with the stuffy.
Where they go, their stuffy goes.
Where Charlie goes, Mr. Quackers goes.
That's just the way it is.
@charliethegolden18 Happens every..single..time 😂🙈 #dogsoftiktok#petsoftiktok#dogs#goldenretriever♬ Quirky - Oleg Kirilkov
The attachment is real. Watch what happens when Charlie's buddy Buddy tries to mess with Mr. Quackers.
Ain’t nobody touching my Mr. Quackers 😋 #dogsoftiktok #petsoftiktok #dogs #goldenretriever
"There, see it!" Oh, Charlie. His love for Mr. Quackers is unrivaled, which is why his owner decided to pull an incredible pet prank and dress up as Mr. Quackers himself.
When your husband finds a costume that looks identical to your dogs favorite duck toy 😂 #dogsoftiktok #petsoftiktok #dogs #goldenretriever
The things we do for our dogs, indeed.
And when Charlie got to meet the life-sized Mr. Quackers? So. Much. Joy.
Dressed up as our dogs favorite duck toy. Full video on FB & YouTube. Link in bio. #dogsoftiktok #petsoftiktok #dogs #goldenretriever
Charlie practically wagged his tail right off his body. And he never let go of the original Mr. Quackers the whole time—at least on TikTok.
The extended video on YouTube shows Charlie dropping Mr. Quackers and trying to get a hold of Huge Mr. Quackers by the neck. Not in an aggressive way—more like in a "Hey, lemme carry you around like I do Mr. Quackers!" kind of way.
And then the slow discovery that Huge Mr. Quackers smells an awful lot like his hooman … just too precious.
Animals can bring such joy to our lives, especially when we take the time to play with them. Thanks, Charlie's parents, for sharing this moment of adorable delight with us all.
Follow more of Charlie and Mr. Quackers' adventures on TikTok and YouTube.
This article originally appeared on 03.30.22
This might be the greatest game show moment ever.
On November 19, 1999, a man named John Carpenter made game show history and quite possibly gave us all the greatest game show moment of all time.
Carpenter was a contestant on the very first season of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” shot in America. Hosted by the late Regis Philbin, the quiz show featured three "lifeline" options to help them with difficult questions, the most popular being able to “Phone-a-Friend.”
Carpenter had impressively not used a single lifeline for any of his questions. That is, until question 15. The million-dollar question, to be exact.
Philbin asked which U.S. President had appeared on the TV series "Laugh-In." The four options were Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.
That’s when Carpenter chose to call his father.
As soon as his dad answered the phone, Carpenter, all smiles, said:
“I don’t really need your help. I just wanted to let you know that I’m gonna win the million dollars."
Cue uproarious audience applause and laughter.
RIP to Regis Philbin. One of the best TV hosts ever. This is my favorite moment in game show history pic.twitter.com/9WA1OyejVh— Steve Perrault (@Steve_Perrault) July 25, 2020
Looking back, you can see the exact moment Carpenter realizes he’s won the whole damn thing—and it’s before the answers were even shown. He would go on to (correctly) choose Nixon, becoming the first ever top-prize winner in the entire “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” franchise worldwide.
And even now, a little over two decades later, it’s still such a boss move. Game shows might not have the same widespread appeal that they once did, but it's iconic moments like Carpenter’s phone call that still make them so fun to watch today.
When life is one big dad joke.
There are many traditional staples of fatherhood—love, support, protection, security, providing an example—but there is, of course, that other not-so-warm-and-fuzzy feeling that dads can provoke in their kids at any given moment … sheer, utter embarrassment.
Usually in a father’s humiliation tool belt is the infamous dad joke. These corny puns have been around since 2003, and let’s face it, they’ll never leave. Of course, no dad needs one to make your eyes roll. They can do that most of the time simply by being themselves.
For his well-known #Hashtags segment, Jimmy Fallon asked his “Tonight Show” audience to share “funny, weird, or embarrassing” stories about their dads. Fallon, a father himself, is no stranger to the cringeworthy power of a dad joke. In a 2020 interview with TODAY, Fallon admitted, “I’m starting to get the eye rolls now where Daddy’s not the funniest person in the world.”
Don’t worry Fallon! Clearly you’re not alone, because people replied with some truly hilarious comments. Dads might be silly, but we’ll gladly put up with it for the love they give us.
Enjoy 20 of the very best #DadStories. As usual, Fallon went first:
"Instead of buying a smoker my dad just grills in the garage with the door closed." – @jimmyfallon
"At my aunt’s wedding reception, my dad ran out from the bathroom when he heard You Should Be Dancing by the Bee Gees play, and proceeded to do John Travolta’s routine from Saturday Night Fever." – @MJ_Rose88
Kudos to the dads with these sick moves.Giphy
"My Dad will call me sometimes when he wants me to bring him food. He refers to me as 'GrubDash.'" – @FalPalAMF828
"My dad likes to play a very morbid game called 'guess who died', which consists of him gossiping about someone I probably haven't seen in 20+ years and can't remember at all, who died recently. Bonus points for guessing the cause of death." – @jon_jonz
"My dad used to drink his morning coffee with his dentures in his hand while reading the newspaper. When we asked him why, he said his teeth also wanted to read the newspaper." – @FallonHolic_
"When my dad took my sister to her first Jr. HS dance, she asked to be dropped off a block before the school. My dad proceeded to take her all the way up to the main entrance, got out of the car and loudly announced her arrival!" – @77BroncosFan
"Asked my dad if he knew who Taylor Swift was...he said, I don't care who he is!" – @JessyKrupa
That's Mr. Swift to you.Giphy
"My dad whistles really loud. He sticks his head out the window and whistles back to birds. But when the lady next door heard him, she called 911. The cops told her, 'Lady, he didn’t whistle at you. He only flirts with birds.'" – @tostianascripts
"When my dad would leave a message on my answering machine, he would end the message saying, 'This is dad signing off.'" – @RealRobFindor
"We were on vacation and the gift shops selling fudge called plain fudge 'chocolate no nuts.' A guy walked up to my dad with some samples and offered him some saying 'chocolate no nuts?' And my dad said 'what did you just call me?'" – @lauraceciliaOT
"My Dad laid a new floor in my brother's house. It was all finished so we couldn't understand why he was taking up the boards again. Turns out he had seen a spider run underneath and was worried it would be trapped." – @Sohnzie
"Whenever my dad would try to talk us into trying something new to eat he'd state, 'It's so good it'll put hair on your chest.' He had 3 daughters." – @Bookelew
OMG, DAD WHY?Giphy
"My mom once bought a 6 ft Santa statue at a yard sale without telling dad. When he got home and parked, we heard banging, crashing and swearing. We went to look and the Santa was laying face down on the curb. Dad thought someone was trying to jump him." – @dknessfalls
"My dad couldn’t decide if he wanted to be called 'grandpa' or 'papa' so he just told all of us to call him 'Coach.' He’s not a coach." – @iPopEditor
"My father went to the McDonalds drive thru and asked for a whopper. When they said 'they didn’t have whoppers', He just drove off without placing an order." – @Marisa_Rosie22
"One day we went out to eat at Pizza Hut and sat in front of an empty table with some pizza left on it. My dad, being the penny pincher he is, grabbed some and started eating it. A few minutes later the couple comes back from the bathroom asking 'where’s our pizza?'" – @Alex_Erickson3
"My dad let a bee land on his hand and watched it closely as it stung him because he 'wanted to see the process up close.'" – @TrippyPsycholo1
Up close? No thanks.Giphy
"My dad once tried to tell a lady she had a Big Bug on her, but accidentally told her she had a Really Big Butt. She was not amused." – @Sallyjo25
"My dad thinks it's funny to introduce my mom as his 'first wife'....my parents have been married for 58 years and are in their late 80's." – @annMcD87
"My dad entered Canada by swimming across the Niagara from the US under the cover of night." – @albertduic
Dads can be mischievous.Giphy
This story originally appeared on 06.17.22
She has the perfect question to ask once your partner gets defensive.
Arguments start to take off when one partner begins to get defensive. So, therapist Lauren Consul shared her relationship-saving tip to "stop an argument in its tracks" when one partner goes into self-preservation mode.
Lauren Consul is a couples and sex therapist who’s developed a following of nearly 160,000 people on TikTok and has received over 5.4 million likes. She is an infidelity expert and hosts retreats to help people "survive and thrive" after one partner has strayed.
"The next time you and your partner are talking, and your partner becomes defensive, I want you to do this: Pause, and say, 'I want to understand what happened there. What did you hear me say?'" Consul says in her TikTok video with over 42,000 views.
"This question is key because it does one of two things," she continued. "First, it can allow for clarification. A lot of times when we've become defensive, we've interpreted something our partner has said incorrectly. We've run it through a filter, we've told ourselves a story about it, it's triggered something... So we're not actually hearing what our partner says, and it allows for clarification."
#communicationtools #communicationtools #defensiveness #couplesargument #learnontiktok #cyclebreaker #couplestherapist #relationshiptherapist #marriagecounseling #mytherapistsays #therapytol #tiktoktherapist
"The second thing: If your partner did interpret what you said correctly, it gives you an opportunity to slow things down and understand what is happening for them and address the underlying issue, rather than get caught in a spiral of defensiveness," she continued.
Consul's advice for stopping arguments before they explode is helpful because it clears up any potential misunderstandings. The key is to remember the tactic in the heat of the moment to prevent things from getting out of hand.
This article originally appeared on 3.16.23
It's amazing what a little creativity and willingness to step outside the box can do.
Whenever people share money-saving life hacks like living on a cruise ship or exploring the country via the #vanlife, I see comments like, "That might work for a single person or a couple, but what if you have kids?"
When our kids were 12, 8 and 4, we packed up all of our earthly belongings and spent a year living around the U.S. And no, we didn't live in a van or RV. (Nothing wrong with that life, it just wasn't for us.) We traveled from coast to coast, seeing and experiencing the vast array of gorgeous landscapes and fascinating sites America has to offer, and the best part is we did it for less than what we would have spent staying home.
Was it easy to plan and execute? Not exactly. But was it worth it? Absolutely, hands down, 100%.
Here's how we did it and what we learned.
We were renting a beautiful house in the Chicago suburbs when the owner decided she wanted to sell it. We couldn't afford to buy it, so we had no choice but to move. My husband and I both worked from home and homeschooled our kids (pre-pandemic—that scenario is much more common now), so we were really free to live anywhere.
A friend of mine had been telling me about an extremely affordable house they'd rented in the Outer Banks in the fall while waiting for their permanent home to get finished. I had no idea tourist hot spots were so cheap off-peak, but once I started looking into it, I was gobsmacked.
Seriously, in major tourist areas like Cape Cod and Myrtle Beach, houses rent for upwards of 90% less than their peak summer prices from fall through spring. Owners don't want their homes to sit empty and are willing to rent them for dirt cheap.
As I started researching more, I found that the nightly cost of most vacation rentals is a lot cheaper when you rent for an entire month (though not as cheap as those East Coast off-season rentals). And since vacation rentals generally include utilities, they are even cheaper when comparing them to regular housing costs.
So I posed the question: What if we moved out of our house and just…didn't move into another house? What if, instead of paying rent or a mortgage, we put our stuff into storage, packed what we wanted to have with us in our car and rented vacation rentals a month or so at a time? We could work and school from anywhere. But could we really make that work?
I started sketching out scenarios and crunching numbers.
Our kids got used to monthly long car rides. They were not always this happy about it.
Photo by Annie Reneau
We were paying $1,800/month for rent for our house in the burbs, plus $200 to $300 dollars in utilities. That was the top of what we could afford, so we needed to keep monthly housing costs below that.
A storage unit for all of our furniture and belongings was just under $200/month. We figured that was a little less than what we paid monthly in utilities, so we'd just consider the storage unit cost as our utilities equivalent. That meant we needed to keep our vacation rental rent at $1,800/mo or below to keep our same cost of living.
What about gasoline costs, though? Driving around the country means a lot of gas money. And what about hotels and food?
Since we wouldn't be living in one spot, we'd put a pause on the kids' lessons and activities we normally would pay for (violin lessons, gymnastics, etc.). I figured what we saved in kids' activities would certainly cover gas costs, especially if we were only making a long drive around once a month. (We also figured that what the kids learned from a year of travel would be just as valuable as whatever they'd be missing in regular activities, so weren't worried about the disruption.)
Our future zoologist got plenty of animal encounters both in zoos and in the wild during our travels.
Photos by Annie Reneau
For overnight stops along the way, we'd try to plan routes that had people we knew and could stay a night with. Otherwise, we'd use Priceline for hotels. (If I were to do it again, I would use the points/miles travel hacking hobby I started last year for free hotel stays, but Priceline got us some good deals.)
We'd be living in fully-equipped homes, so we'd just cook like we normally do. We had a museum pass as homeschoolers that got us into all kinds of places around the country for free, and we're really good at finding free or cheap things to do anyway. So as long as we kept the monthly rent at or below $1,800 on average for the year, we'd basically come out even money-wise.
We kept an old-school road atlas in the car and highlighted our route as we drove.
Photo by Annie Reneau
We had a few "anchors" to guide our route as we planned. We had to leave when our lease was up at the end of April. We wanted to visit friends and family in California, we had a week-long family camp in Washington State in July, my husband had to be back in Chicago in August for a work thing, and we wanted to spend a chunk of the off-season on the East Coast. We worked backward from there.
We looked at rentals through Airbnb and VRBO and quickly found that everywhere is expensive in the summer. However, May is off-peak in Southern California (despite the gorgeous weather), and June is off-peak on the Oregon Coast (because of late school schedules and hit-or-miss weather), so we decided to start in California and make our way up the coast.
For May, we got a 2-bedroom condo right across the street from a beach in Dana Point, California, for $2,400.
For June, we rented a 3-bedroom house a block from the beach in Pacific Beach, Oregon, for $1,800.
View of Mt. Rainier from Crystal Mountain
Photo by Annie Reneau
By far, the most expensive place we stayed the whole trip was a not-terribly-impressive 2-bedroom condo in Seattle for three weeks in July (after our family camp) for $2,700. (Pretty much everywhere in the nation is ridiculously pricey in July. No getting around it.) So we were over our monthly budget to start off with, but that was okay because we knew we'd make it up the rest of the year.
In August, we stayed with my husband's parents in Chicago, so we had one essentially rent-free month.
September took us to a large 4-bedroom home in a quaint little Lake Michigan beach town—South Haven, Michigan—which had the softest sand I've ever felt. Our rent there was $1,300.
Our son playing in the snow outside our temporary Cape Cod home.
Photo by Annie Reneau
October through January we stayed in Barnstable, Massachusetts—a beautiful Cape Cod town—in what was our best deal of the whole trip—a stunningly idyllic 2,000 sq ft, 4-bedroom, 2-bath home for $1,500 a month. (Again, utilities included.) This house rented for $3,500 a week during the summer. Seriously, the off-season on the East Coast is bonkers.
February took us to Orlando, Florida, where we stayed in a 3-bedroom condo minutes from the big theme parks for $1,200 for the month.
We used some actual vacation time and money we'd stashed away selling off items before putting our stuff into storage and lived it up at Disney World and Universal Orlando during this month. Because our housing was covered and we had our own car and we could bring our own food, all we had to pay for were the park tickets. And because we weren't on a time crunch we could take advantage of far more days at the parks. (Park tickets get cheaper each day you add on, and become ridiculously cheap per person per day once you get past four or five days.) February is a perfect time to go to the parks if you wants pleasant temps and no crowds.
Kids watching Disney World fireworks. Disney magic is real.
Photo by Annie Reneau
By March we were tired. We had decided before Florida to take a break from traveling and spend time my husband's sister's family who were visiting Chicago from overseas in March. That turned out to be a wise decision, as a family emergency arose the week we got back that necessitated us staying in Chicago for a few months. So we officially ended our nomadic travels two months shy of a year.
So how did we fare financially? Adding up all the rent we paid and dividing it by 10 months came to $1,540/month, well under budget. Even if we don't count the month we stayed at my husband's parents for free, we still came in under budget at just over $1,700/month.
Our Honda Pilot packed with everything we took with us around the country.
Photo by Annie Reneau
I'd say 95% of our nomadic experience was positive, and it actually went far more smoothly than I thought it might. But there were some downsides, of course.
For one, having to pack and unpack the car every month got a bit old. We each had our own bin of clothing and personal belongings, and we had a school bin and a kitchen bin. It worked well, but it was still a lot to manage.
The kids missed having their friends around, of course, and so did we. We managed to meet people almost everywhere we went, but it's not the same as being with your own community of people. We missed having a home and a sense of steadiness. It was fabulous for a while, but not something we wanted to experience forever.
And as the person who did all the research and planning for our Big, Slow Trip Around the Country, there were times I wanted to pull my hair out trying to get it all timed out just right. I'm still not quite sure how I did it, to be honest, but it all worked out beautifully. I do know it took a lot of time and effort.
Totally worth it, though.
Sunset beachcombing at low tide on Cape Cod
Photo by Annie Reneau
First of all, the forced paring down of our belongings before putting stuff in storage was wonderful. We all have too much stuff, and having to decide what was worth paying to store was a useful exercise in and of itself.
As far as nomad life itself goes, the affordability of living/traveling in this way blew my mind. I would never have guessed we could slow travel for the same or less than the cost of staying home.
The kids had experiences we never would have been able to give them if we had tried to go all of these places just on vacations. We not only saw dozens of sunsets at the beach, but we saw firsthand the way the tides change throughout the month. We got to hike through incredible scenery at our own leisure, not trying to cram in as much as we could into a short vacation. We lived in small towns and big cities, enjoyed palm trees and pine trees and learned about all manner of wildlife.
And the learning! We studied colonial America and visited all the historical sites of the Revolutionary War during our stay in Massachusetts—a fascinating treat for my husband and I who were both born and raised on the West Coast. We stood on the North Bridge where "the shot heard round the world" was fired, which is the same bridge Henry David Thoreau and Louisa May Alcott would take boat rides under, which is within eyeshot of Ralph Waldo Emerson's family home, which Nathaniel Hawthorne also live in for a while. History hits differently when you can see where it actually happened.
Oregon Coast beaches are like glass.
Photo by Annie Reneau
We formed lifelong memories together as a family and met interesting people everywhere we went. While watching dolphins play in the surf at Dana Point, I connected with a mother who had lost her son in a surfing accident. On Cape Cod, I met a fellow homeschool mom whose husband worked as the caretaker for a very famous family's private island, and we got to go spend a day there. We also got to stay the night with friends around the country while we made our way from one place to another, and friends and family came to visit us in almost every place we stayed as well, so we didn't get too lonely.
It was also a surprisingly simple life, despite the complexities of planning it. We had what we could fit in our car and that was it. We didn't have to worry about yard work or home maintenance or decorating or anything like that. We got to live in homes that had everything ready for us, so other than just basic laundry and cleaning up after ourselves, there wasn't anything else to think about. We could just enjoy where we were while we were there.
But perhaps most importantly, we proved to ourselves and our kids that it's okay to step outside of the norm, that life doesn't have to look a certain way, and that with a little creativity, you can live a unique and extraordinary life if you want to, even if it's just for a while.