Daring adventureIt was February 2012 when we pulled into Panajachel, Guatemala and rented our first house, intending to stay for only a few weeks.

Those weeks turned into months, which turned into a year, which developed into purchasing land and starting Mayan Eco Homestead.

Where once we had only 321 things, during the last 17 months we've collected stuff (a LOT of it), and gotten comfortable and thoroughly enjoyed the luxuries of 'not traveling'. We own a stove, and a fridge, and a washer, and several kitchen appliances and a KING SIZE bed.

We love baking bread, making yogurt, growing a garden, raising animals, dehydrating fruit and having space to keep all our 'stuff'.

And during the several times we've taken trips, either to the beach, or the water park or to Mexico for visa runs, I've wondered... could I go back to doing this?

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Could I go back to the uncertainty of not knowing where to find a bathroom when you need one, or where to buy your next meal? Could I go back to cramped quarters and minimized belongings (and leave behind my Crock Pot)?

Could I deal with the unknown once more, facing the open road, wondering where we'll lay our heads that night and whether they'll have hot water?

Sometimes I've really wondered...

When we set out to hike Tajamulco (the highest mountain in Central America), I was excited to be 'out' again, and eager for new adventures. But despite having planned a 10 day trip, after facing cold and heat and cramped spaces and the uncertainties of travel, we headed home (to Pana). Why sleep somewhere strange and new when your bed is so close and comfy? (Unless of course it's someplace fancy and 'far-flung'. Then it's worth it, right?)

Yes, we've gotten soft.

We're luxuriating in our luxuries. It just so much... easier that way.

Why risk? Why stretch? Why get out of your comfort zone? Why sacrifice and suffer? Is it really worth it? Really?

You might wonder what I'm going to say, but I'm here to remind myself (and you) that:

YES! It is worth it! Here's why.

Staying home makes you comfortable, and if you're comfortable, you're not growing

At least not as much as you could be. Anthony Robbins (I recommend this program) once said that most people have the same experience over and over again for 10 years, while other people have ten years worth of experience in one year. Who do you think grows the most, and develops themselves as a capable human being?

Life is not lived unless we are growing. Growth doesn't happen unless we're stretched, tried, uncomfortable.

It is easier to 'stay at home' (i.e. play it safe or whatever that means for us, it's not literal), than to dare adventure -- whether that adventure is travel, a new business endeavor or having children.

Growth is what we want. And growth doesn't happen when we constantly seek security (which is an illusion).

Our times of greatest growth have come when we've sacrificed, suffered and risked the most to pursue something important to us. Unfortunately, our last 17 months in Guatemala has been a time of comfortable, 'low-growth' for Greg and me, and we're feeling it's affects -- on our energy levels, motivation and passion for life. Life's not the 'daring adventure' it once was... and it's time to change that!

Staying home limits opportunities

One of our very favorite quotes says:

Boldness has genius

What does this mean exactly? It means that once you are committed to doing something you really want to do, despite not being able to see how you can do it, that's the moment that 'Providence moves' and a whole stream of opportunities presents themselves that weren't previously available while you were 'playing it safe'.

Until you're ready to risk, to leap, to step into the darkness, the opportunities and circumstances you need to accomplish your big dreams simply won't be there! They come after you've already committed to 'risking it all'. They come after you've told security to take a hike and you've embarked on your daring adventure.

It's the only way.

Staying home doesn't prevent what you're afraid of from happening

So you're afraid to embark, to step out because:

  • you won't have enough money
  • your friends/spouse/family will think you're crazy
  • you'll fail and fall on your face
  • you're not smart/strong/bold enough
  • or whatever reason (excuse) you might have

Guess what? Staying home won't guarantee those things will never happen. You might still run out of money, or do something 'crazy' or fail or not feel smart/strong/bold enough.

But guess what? 'Staying home' does guarantee one thing. It means you'll live your life wondering 'what if'. It means you could get to the end and ask yourself (like Ivan Ilyich), 'what if my whole life has been wrong?' That's a much worse fate than even facing your 'worst case' fears (I speak from experience.)

Staying Home Can Be an Adventure in Itself

All the foregoing being said, there are times when 'staying home' can be an adventure. After months on the road, 'living' out of our truck and constantly on the move, being able to bake bread and make yogurt was a big adventure. That's how life is. There's times and seasons.

It's possible that the 'daring adventure' ahead may be to go home or stay home. It may be to relish in the richness of 'regular' life, to be willing to happily remain where you are, and to embrace all it has to offer. In that aspect, we HAVE grown over the past 17 months... we've learned to enjoy and appreciate the 'normal' day-to-day things.

We wouldn't be where we are without 'daring to adventure'

Our life, and specifically the last few years (since we took our first daring adventure to Costa Rica in 2007) has brought us to where we are because of being bold and taking risks.

As a result we've lived in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, India, Georgia, Alaska and Guatemala. We've traveled to Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. We've added to our family. We've started businesses. We've world-schooled our children. We've had decades of experience in a few short years.

We're more than we used to be -- become more, done more, seen more... and it's all because of daring to adventure.

Where could your life be if you dared more?

Maybe you've already dared great things and taken big risks. Maybe you've always sat on the sidelines, dreaming and hoping.

No matter who you are (ourselves included), there's always the 'next big adventure' waiting for us, if only we'll embrace it.

I think I'm ready... are you?

But how and where do I start?

Knowing how and where to begin is sometimes the hardest part.

Greg has created a short video offering one solution.

Watch it now!

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20 Responses

  1. MaryAnnKathryn

    Rachel,  You and your family are an inspiration regardless of where you are.  Traveling is fun and a great experience but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to have roots somewhere.
     Guatemala seems like it suits your family as a home-base.  I love to travel, but I also love “coming home”.   So don’t feel guilty about your crock-pot and stuff.  Your values have changed since you started on this journey.  In the beginning the big house, expensive cars, upscale lifestyle “defined” you.  They don’t anymore.  Your family defines you and  the stuff is fun and useful.  You are in a good place:  you can still take trips to other countries, experience new cultures, and have a place to come “home” to.   
    That being said, I’ve been away so I haven’t heard when the new baby is coming….

  2. RachelDenning

    MaryAnnKathryn Thanks! You are right, there are times and seasons and using things can be very fun and useful! We love travel, and of course want to keep doing it. But we’ve also learned to thoroughly enjoy the ‘normalities’ of life. 🙂

  3. TravelwitBender

    Great post. We are about to start our daring adventure in Perth for the next few months… I’m hoping it doesnt turn into years, but if it does – it will still be an adventure ! 😀

  4. sarah

    Great to hear an update 🙂 Ive been following your adventure for quite some time now. Such an inspirting family and parents you are. I will be moving to Costa Rica with my love this coming January. I have been to Central America (Guatamala) before but never costa rica. So this will be an adventure for us both. Reading your blog though def keeps me in high spirits than what we are doing even though we don’t have a direct plan will be an adventure and new oppertunities will come our way!

  5. mytreasuredcreations

    so glad to hear from you guys. We have put our house for sale. We will see where that takes us. What about you?? how is that baby growing?? Is  Guatemalan food being good to you and baby?? 🙂 Blessings, Tereza

  6. Paul Kurucz

    The journey within can be as much an adventure as the one without.  Creating place, space, and time for your family to grow personally and together can result in amazing things to happen. That said, creating a life in Guatemala where you have much more freedom than “up north” opens up wonderful possibilities, away from the influences of TV, shopping malls, peer pressure, a consumerist culture, etc.   
    We raised our unschooled children in the adventuring lifestyle. At first it was on the go for many years: Using Dubai as a base and exploring the world. Then we explored within by creating home, on Vancouver Island, growing in different ways during the years when children could benefit from more location stability. Now, with both nearly grown up, all of us are adventuring outward again. I am heading to Lake Atitlan next week for a month or two. My younger son to the Dominican Republic for a month with another unschooling family. The older one to Switzerland in January….
    The “life phases” approach to adventuring and types of growth has worked well for us. 


  7. Steve Cook

    Great to hear from you again 🙂  I’ve come to realize that in life there is no such thing as balance.  If we’re balanced we’re taking away from something that is important to us.  However, when we give more to something that is important to us, we’re taking away from other things that may be important and we need to come back once in awhile to get everything in line, perhaps with our families.  Then after spending more time emphasizing this we may need to get back in the business building or provision mode for a little while, recognizing when we’re getting to far so that we can come back to a norm again.  
    Anyway, I’m glad to see you posting again.  I hope to hear more.  I may be back in Guatemala in January or February, unfortunately not the one calling the shots with my time and where I go because I’m not driving the vehicle 🙂

  8. Marty Evarts

    I look forward to hearing about your continued travels. More specifically, though, I am interested about opportunities you are presented with to positively impact the lives of the people and families in those areas. Hopefully, you will share insight as to how you came across the opportunities, or recognized a particular need. Share the successes as well as the times when things could have gone better. I just thought I’d mention that I enjoy that perspective, not that you aren’t already doing that.
    Edrei will be near Antigua from the beginning of November to the 20th of December. I will be down December 10-20 to pick her up and do some traveling, but in talking to your mom, it sounds like you guys will be heading out before then. There’s no point in asking directions to your place if you won’t be around. If there is a chance, though, it would be great to see you guys.
    Take care,

  9. RachelDenning

    Marty Evarts Thanks, I appreciate the feedback… I’ll have to write something about ‘doing good in the world while you travel’.

    I would love to meet up with Edrei, and with you… but we may be further south than Antigua by then 🙁 If we’re not, let’s arrange something!

  10. RachelDenning

    @Steve Cook I agree… in order to accomplish something worthwhile we often have to devote a little more time and attention than usual.
    Wish we could see you when you come to Guatemala again!

  11. RachelDenning

    @Paul KuruczTotally agree… love this “The journey within can be as much an adventure as the one without.” And there are definitely phases, even for ‘traveling’ families. I personally love being away from the influences you mentioned… so refreshing, and it makes raising kids that much easier (at least I think so.)
    What a great lifestyle you have lived with your family. Kudos!

  12. RachelDenning

    mytreasuredcreations Hi Tereza! Congrats on putting the house up for sale! We’re doing well, baby is growing… Guatemalan food still the same 😉

  13. Sarita

    It’s great to see your blog come up in my e-mail again! I have been contemplating the dichotomy between comfort and adventure that I experience in my own life. My husband and I have definitely noticed the tendency to search for more and more comfort at the expense of adventure… as if it will bring us happiness. Yet adventure is what we really thrive on, and comfort only seems to foster boredom and the pursuit of greater and greater comfort. We’ve noticed even when traveling that if we keep a fast pace, we can spend one night in each place and feel perfectly fine to keep on the move. However, if we spend 2 nights, it can quickly turn into 3 or 4 and then it starts to feel harder to leave. All our things get spread out and we start feeling comfortable! 🙂 There are definitely benefits to slow travel though, especially with kids. We are still in Atlanta now, untangling ourselves from the 5 years of roots we put down. I do think it was valuable for us to have the experiences we’ve had here, but I look forward to the adventurous life again!

  14. MichaelWolfe1

    Rachel, I agree so much with what you wrote in this post. After we met with you guys in Feb this year on our way to Honduras, we have gotten comfortably settled in here. Of course the adjustment time of several moths was an adventure, but now that life is returning to “normal” just in a foreign country we are getting soft. In spite of starting two businesses, many water purification and well drilling projects and other charitable/missions things, I am finding a growing unrest in my soul. The desire for more adventure, more travel, more…..? My wife says I will never be satisfied in one place, and I think she may be right. It IS good to have a place to come back to though.
    On a separate note, could you send me Greg’s email again? I lost most of my contacts recently and I have a couple of questions I would like to ask him about a new farming project we are thinking of starting. Do you still have my address? Mike Wolfe

  15. Melinda

    No, not the Crock pot…that is truly sad, especially after all the effort to get it there.  🙁  Haha.  I’m glad you guys are re-kindling your traveling passions.  



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