“If the essence of my being has caused a smile to have appeared upon your face or a touch of joy within your heart. Then in living - I have made my mark.” - Thomas L. Odem

This is a picture of my husband and me. Kissing. With Lake Atitlan and San Pedro volcano in the background.

And I'm posting it on my blog for thousands of people to see. Along with all the other crazy stories I've contributed.

With every post I write, I'm sharing our life, exposing our family, and taking a risk. A risk that my words and stories and personal experiences might be misunderstood, misconstrued or misread. A risk that we might be ridiculed, derided or judged - viewed as 'weird', 'whacko' or 'irresponsible'.

As much as I share with you - the thrills and adventures and heartaches and defeats - it will never be the whole picture. Even if you read everything I've written, and pasted together what you thought was a really good idea of who we are, it could never be complete.

This blog can never entirely portray who we are and what we are about. Because the molecules of moments which make up a person and a family can only be fully grasped by those who live and breath them.

It's an interesting age we live in. As humans, life continues as it has for thousands of years - we're born, we grow, we marry, have children, then die. But now we share these experiences on Facebook, Twitter or our blog. No longer are these very personal experiences kept within the confines of close knit family and friends. They're exposed for the world to bestow their not-so humble opinions about how you should be dealing with the chapters of your life.

Recently I've been reading about tragic happenings in the lives of a few 'family travel' bloggers. It affects me to read about these devastating occurrences. But what is even more frightening, is the negative response these women receive, as they wear their heart on their blog page, and then face the critics who by the very nature of the medium, can't possibly know the whole story.

This is a possibility I've created for myself, in choosing to keep this blog. I'm opening my life up to public inspection. And in this moment (after spending the last few hours reading one of the aforementioned blogs), I'm not sure how I feel about it.

We all have a different outlook toward life. Some go and others stay. Some school and others unschool. Some have houses and others have none. (Sounds like Dr. Seuss.)

Despite our differences, our philosophies, our world-views - can't we all just get along? Can't we at least acknowledge, when we feel tempted to judge, that we don't know the whole story?

People grieve differently. They rejoice differently. They live differently. That doesn't make the way you do it wrong. But it doesn't give you the right to pass judgement on the way they're doing things. That's up to them to decide.

Your judgement doesn't define them, it only defines you as a person who needs to judge others.

Just to set the record straight, I enjoy sharing our life. And we hope that what I share inspires those who connect with it. But what I share is only a part of our story. And the same is true for all those who share themselves online.

When the opportunity arises to place judgement on another, remember that you haven't carried their baggage, or peddled their bike, or walked in their shoes. You don't know the full meaning of what it's like to be them. And until you do, it's best to keep your mouth closed and your heart and mind open.

That's all I have to say about it for now. I think I should go to bed now.



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37 Responses

  1. Lacey M.

    I think that everyone should live their life in a way that is full-filling and makes them happy. I also think that it takes courage to do that!(I get so tired of having to defend myself to so many people over my choice to home school my children.) I wish we could all be happy for one another….even if we don’t share the same passions, opinions, lifestyles, etc. I happen to think that the way that you have chosen to raise your family is amazing. And I am happy for you, that you have found a way to have a happy life. And being happy for others is so much easier than judging them. I wish more people would try it. 🙂 I really enjoyed this post.

    • Rachel

      You are right Lacey, it is much easier to be happy than to judge, and it feels so much better too.

  2. Carol

    Beautifully put, Rachel. I, too, have been feeling for others who are hurting and suffering tonight, and when others feel like they need to heap disapproval on the pile, sometimes it is just too much!

    Love you and prayers for you and your friends who are hurting…

  3. Living Outside of the Box

    As always, you just say things so succinctly and perfectly. “keep your mouth closed and your heart and mind open”! There is no beauty in any other action! Reading about some trials others go through tears my heart open, and I am astonished that anyone could criticize anyone else in these situations.

    • Rachel

      It’s hard to believe but I think our criticism comes when we don’t understand, but think that we do.


    beautiful. i think of you often as i read your blog, I know you believe with your whole being and know your life is perfect and the way for your family and I think you have chosen a damn good one! but I have read some of the comments left for you and my heart sunk, no matter how strong you are they hurt. you are right, no one knows, this is just a glimpse of the amazing woman you are and the beautiful family you have. Your choices were not dreamed up last night, they were made from a lifetime of choices and experiences and love and desires and you are so brave to take your life and make it exactly what you want. I too wish everyone could love and accept and inspire. much love, Chelsea

    • Rachel

      Thank you Chelsea. I know the same applies to you and your family. Hope you are all doing as well as can be. All my love!

  5. Lisa

    This is so true. It’s like the story of the five blind mice and the elephant. I really appreciate when people post the good and the bad, giving a realistic view of what life is like. I don’t know Lauren or what has happened to her family, but I wish them the best.

    • Rachel

      Sharing the good and the bad does give a realistic view, but it can never give the WHOLE view – that’s where we have to be careful, I guess.

  6. Chris

    I always enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable so that others may have/find more courage, understanding and a different perspective. I sincerely appreciate reading what you put out there.

    Thank you.

  7. Paul

    Just remember there are more of us that are on your side and will defend you, than there are that will criticize. If you were not doing this, my life would be that much poorer. I am sure your (and other’s) blogs inspire so many to dream and move towards making them happen.

    Please don’t stop.

    • Rachel

      Thanks Paul – I was feeling vulnerable while reading the criticism heaped on these other women, but I don’t think I’ll stop blogging. It’s something I enjoy, and I hope adds value to others lives. 🙂

  8. Michael Wolfe

    I too am experiencing the same things as I have blogged of our travels and our future plans. In the end, it’s really about our lives and how we choose to live them. Not everyone will understand or approve of what we do. We choose to live life different and that makes many people unconfortable. I am going to be creating a link to your blog in my next post and referencing some of the things you’ve said. You guys have been a real encouragement to us as we move to Honduras later this year. My latest blog, http://doinglifedifferent.blogspot.com/
    is about our plans and the emotions we experience as we prepare.
    PS Still can’t figure out how you guys spent 7 months in Mexico on a transmigrante visa. They only want to give us 1o days. Help!

    • Rachel

      What? 10 days. You better email me and I’ll forward it to my husband. They should give you 180 days, that’s a typical Mexican visa.

      And your right about how we choose to live our lives – everyone makes different choices, and that’s awesome! But not everyone has a blog about it, and sometimes sharing your choices for the world to see can be scary 🙂 But people like you are why I write – so I won’t be giving it up anytime soon. Email me.

  9. Catherine Forest

    What an amazing post. I totally share this same feeling about our blog and traveling/unschooling lifestyle. Thanks for writing this! And thank you for being brave enough to share your life for everyone to see… and yes, sometimes judge…

  10. Lisa Wood

    I too follow Chelsea and Lauren’s blog. Its amazing how truthful they both are and how inspirational they are.
    We do share a lot of personal stuff online, and it is scary how many things can be taken the wrong way.
    Not sure why people think its ok to judge others? Not sure why people want to hurt each other.
    We all live our life they way it suits us. We all need to learn to accept and love each other and offer support. We dont walk in each others shoes but we can give love, kindness and trust. That is all I have to offer other Travelling Mummas. My love, thoughts, prays and support in whatever way possible is given to Chelsea and Lauren xxx

    • Rachel

      We all have different opinions, and that’s okay, but I think you’re right about the hurting and judging. One of my favorite quotes is ‘Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create.’

  11. Lucia

    I certainly do think that blog readers do have a right to comment and express opinions on those things which are publically shared. It is interesting that when people want to say “wow you are so creative/thin/fantastic at mothering etc” it is acceptable, but when anyone expresses a caution or a “negative” opinion it is seen as wicked troll-like judgmentalism. People are, in my opinion, entitled to look at someone who has behaved as LF has behaved in the past and question whether she really should be off on her own with the children seeking only those who offer affirmation – especially as her behaviour in the past would be interpreted by many as indicating mental health problems (and she has admitted mental health issues – and why not as there is no shame in it). We shouldn’t judge people for not grieveing as we think they should, but it is wise to notice when people are behaving in an unusual way (and it is unusual for a mother of a murdered baby to be behaving the way she is) because it can indicate a problem. And there are 4 little girls utterly dependent on her – so many of the onlookers are concerned for the girls.

    • Rachel

      I think expressing opinions is fine, even if they are contrary. But it’s when we place judgement when there is no possible way to have all the information. I’ve read a lot of Lauren’s blog, and there is most definitely not enough information there for me to determine her mental health status. Being a blogger myself, I know there is SO MUCH MORE to any bloggers story than what is shared with the public. Basically, I know enough to know that I don’t know enough. I’ve been on the receiving end of misjudgement before, and if I were defined by those people’s view of me, I would be a pretty terrible human being indeed. But it simply came down to a lack of information. That’s all I’m saying.

  12. tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations

    I really like your statement that “my judgement only defines me as a person who needs to judge.” Whenever I judge, I find myself feeling jealous, envious, putting blame to justify the cirumstances, criticizing to explain the reason why… I hear my lack of compassion, love and understanding. I see the ugliness of my thoughts and my heart. I usually realize that I don’t know enough to think those thoughts. I end up praying for that person/ people and putting them in God’s hands. I think of how would Jesus see those people. Love and compassion always comes to mind. The pictures of Jesus meeting the woman caught in adultery, or raising the dead girl back to life come to mind. He didn’t judge, he didn’t put blame, he only extended compassion and help. I want to be like that.

    thank you for challenging us.

  13. Rich Polanco

    Great picture, even better post!

    We also chose to live life on the road, as a family. Very true that some things are hard to grasp unless one lives them.

    Godspeed on your travels 🙂


  14. Jen

    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing part of your life with us. Also love Chelsea and her blog…she always makes me get up to hug my 17 month old a little harder after her posts.

  15. Kathy

    I absolutely agree, and I felt so sad that Lauren was getting so much criticism. Empathy is what is needed.

  16. AB

    Keep it up, please. Love your posts and insights on the priorities of family.

  17. Amy @WorldschoolAdventures

    Thank you for writing this Rachel. You have so eloquently written what I have been feeling. We do not have the right to judge, we don’t know the whole stories and we never will because it is not happening to us.

  18. Kevin


    Thanks for keeping it real, that is the perspective that you share that I truly value. This is what shows me that in spite of the best planning, the real world has challenges that raise their ugly head and throw us a curve ball. It is how we respond that makes the difference and I love the attitude that your husband tries to keep on things. That said, I wish I knew the blogs that you are talking about so I could offer some words of encouragement/condolence.

    I type this as a recent single parent for the second time in a year. My wife is in the hospital again, having been at home for 1.5 days out of the past two and a half weeks. Her Leukemia is back and we do not know what the future holds for us and our 5 children. We had the crushing blow that we will need to rely on family to care for our children for 2-3 weeks while I am with her during her bone marrow transplant. I realize this will be harder for her as she is not able to see the children for a 1-2 month period of time. As for me, I would rather be stranded in Guatemala getting my busted up truck fixed for a month and a half than going through this trial. I think my wife would rather choose her current trial than the ones your family has gone through. She is saddened by the poverty she has seen in Guatemala.

    I have been thinking of you and your family and where you are now. Please keep up the blog so I can share your pictures and posting with my children as we go through our journey in life.




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