Ditching the American Dream

Through the Start Experiment, I discovered a blogger named Rachel Rowell.  I was first curious about her because she’s from Wilmington, NC (one of my old stomping grounds) and we had a real life friend in common on Facebook. (EmilyMorris Birch. I think it’s so cool when I meet someone on FB and we have real friends in common.  I love living in a small world.)  
Back to Rachel. So here’s a little of her story: she and her husband decided to sell everything, move their family into a camper and travel.  They are living debt free and simply. She is blogging about their adventures on TheLight Life Blog.  You should check it out.
I am not a simple girl.  I like stuff.  I like clothes and shoes and designer handbags. I get emails from kate spade.com.  I own a pair of Manolo Blahnik boots. (No, I didn’t pay retail.  I got them for a steal at an estate sale. But once they were mine, I cried tears of joy over them.  Jason awkwardly backed out of the room.) I dream of big cities. Paris and New York. Glitz and Glamour. 
So why does this family’s story draw me in. Why do I find myself a little jealous at the thought of selling everything and doing something that goes against the norm? This story has caused me to daydream about moving out of the city to a place off a country road and living a simple life that’s slow and beautiful. 

Jason and I are at a crossroads.  Down one path is the modern American dream.  A busy life full to overflowing with good things and finding myself never more than five minutes from a Walmart. This life is full of convenience and opportunities.  The other path leads to a place of slow and simple pleasures.  It includes becoming a one and a half car family and forfeiting the chance to ever make a “quick trip to Walmart.” The second path seems riskier because it’s not normal. It’s not safe or well traveled and it doesn’t add up on paper.

Maybe it’s because my life isn’t in the place I thought it would be by now.  We still aren’t debt free. Our family of four lives on an income that is well below the national average. The more I look at our circumstances, the more it makes sense to live simply. To sell everything. To travel down a path where success is defined by the strength of our marriage and the happiness of our children.
So in the words of Robert Frost:
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


  1. Rachel Rowell says

    Oh my goodness this is good stuff. I of course am a bit partial to the road less traveled. ;) Praying that you and your family will find your own path…it is there, amidst all the conveniences or not…you will find peace. Many blessings to you!

  2. David Mike says

    When you live life “Death by a thousand cuts” (quote from Dave Ramsey) you take the road most traveled and I think it leads straight to Walmart! Stay off the path. Great post, perfect picture of the American dream that becomes a nightmare.

  3. says

    Great post! This is something I think many of us struggle with, me included! I’ve often thought how great it would be to sell it all. But I realized it didn’t have to be an either/or situation. I decided to define my own “American Dream” instead of following someone else’s Dream. For the last year, I have been streamlining or downsizing the amount of stuff I have. First, I tried living without TV for 6 months. I did this to save money (no cable bill) and to see if I could do it. And to my surprise, I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, I still don’t have TV. I realized there were very few shows I actually liked, so now I utilize netflix streaming to watch them($8/mo vs. $60+/mo for cable). And I have a lot more time to do other things. As I slowly downsize my life, I realize not only am I saving money, but I am a lot happier for it!

  4. says

    Great post indeed! Start streamlining. Sell things to pay off debt. Once you are out of debt that burden is gone and you are so much more free. We don’t need all that stuff to be happy. Opposite, I think it makes us unhappy because we have this idea that at a certain age or point in our lives we should be at a certain stage. So we accumulate hoping that it will be what we need. Personally I think living a simpler life is just what we need as adults, we have enough on our plates. But everyone’s dream is different and unique. We can’t compare to others. It takes some strength to not allow others to influence us. Be brave, go for it, and make your life a life that works for you.

  5. says

    I never thought I would be a girl who craves simplicity, but I am. That’s a great Idea to drop one thing at a time and decide if it needs to be added back…..Thanks

  6. Diana Stone says

    I love this. We’ve been made (unwillingly) to take the road less traveled many times in our marriage and it always leads to something beautiful. Not that the American Dream isn’t something fun as well, but it always seems to never be within reach to anyone… :)

  7. says

    Oh Diana, Thank you for stopping by and I’m honored you took the time to comment…I know your “road less traveled” has been full of pain but the beauty you can still see is hope-giving. You are in my prayers, sweet mama.

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