personal story

Blog Series: Returning Home and Marriage

Hi! Here's a link to the previous posts in this series:

Returning Home and Family and Returning Home and My Peeps.

Next up...

Reconnecting with My Husband Keith

I saved the most intricate for last. What happens in a marriage when you go from traveling on motorcycles to living in one house and working? It’s a bit like riding on a pot-hole infested road, trying mightily to avoid hitting one!

A few months in, we exploded and faced what had been happening to us. You know the story of the frog in the boiling pot? That’s how it felt. Slowly, probably since our last month in South America, we had been sliding back into our old pre-travel habit of living parallel lives.

Internally, we were coping with our separate experiences of homecoming and there was a gigantic difference at the core. Keith longed to continue traveling while I was elated to be home. We had been inextricably tied to each other while we traveled. We had to agree on darn near everything we did — where we slept, where we ate, where we traveled. Once we hit US soil, that ever-present knot that connected us began to loosen. On one hand, it was awesome to have my freedom again! On the other hand, our relationship started eroding and we didn’t pay attention to it, until frustrations with coming home, and with each other, overtook us.  We both exploded.

Let’s fast-forward past the explosion, to what we learned as a result of it. From my perspective, we realized that we weren’t having those deep, interesting conversations anymore. Almost all we talked about were the items on the eternal list of to do’s. We didn’t share our fears of restarting our income flow, figuring out where we were going to live, feeling like we didn’t belong anywhere, and not in any way, shape, or form wanting to be mooches as we stayed with friends and family for (what ended up being) four months.

We separately did our best to cope with it all. I relied on girlfriends, wine, yoga, walking. He relied on going for motorcycle rides and getting out among people. I started my new business. He went back to work, in a different job, for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. I wanted our home to be beautiful and clean. He wanted his garage in order.

Here’s where we came together. We agreed that we wanted to do better. We wanted to reconnect with each other more in the way we did on the road. We had had a taste of it. We knew what it felt like to have a truly intimate connection. We’re starting with making time for real conversations, opening ourselves to new ideas of what we enjoy doing together, with touching each other more, with real kisses. It's the beginning of accepting more change in our lives.

Before we returned home, we knew our travels had changed us. What we didn't know is that we couldn't possibly understand how travel had changed us until we started living at home rather than on the road. It stands to reason that since we changed individually, our marriage would change. We're learning, we're committed, and after eight months back in the U.S., we're still exploring ourselves with love.


Conclusion for All My Relationship Reconnecting Posts

Inner Change = Outer Change

When we change, all of our relationships change. It’s inevitable if we’re being true to ourselves. Coming back from an epic adventure makes the changes more apparent than in a normal time of life.

I wonder, what would it look like to once in a while press pause and look through a different lens at the important relationships in our lives? We could ask ourselves, how have our relationships changed over time in the “frog in a boiling pot” kind of way? How are we showing up as our true selves in our relationships?

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

P.S. If you're making some changes in your life, consider hiring me as your coach to support you! Plus, if you're curious, learn about our motorcycle adventure at SouthonaBike.com.

Blog Series: Returning Home and Family

“How does it feel to return home?” After traveling in Latin America on our motorcycles for nearly two years, my husband and I hear some version of that question often. Appreciating that we’re still in the homecoming process, I’m going to take a crack at describing what it looks like and how it feels in this blog series exploring my relationships, house, and work.

This is the first post in a blog series about returning home and relationships.

The Case Family

Missing my family and friends was the #1 challenge during the trip. I was anxious to reconnect with everyone as quickly as possible! I yearned for those genuine conversations with another human being who knew me, rather than the strangers we met along the way (even though they were amazing people!). Knowing a bit of a person’s history, brings a sense of connection that’s missing from the passing curiosity of meeting a new person. When we know each other, we can appreciate the meaning behind the stories we share, like reading an ongoing book rather than starting over at chapter one. I liked meeting new people, don’t get me wrong but I was out of whack. My life was 100% meeting new people and 0% being with people I know, like, or love. I felt a sense of frantic, desperateness for real connection with my peeps.

The trickiest factor in coordinating get-togethers was that we didn’t have a home base or a set schedule. After arriving in LA with our motorcycles on February 23rd, we bounced around until moving into a home of our own just before the 4th of July. (I’ll talk more about that in the “house” part of this series.)

Reconnecting with Family

Visiting both our families was awesome and strange. We kind of didn’t know what to do with each other. My mom and I saw each other for the first time when she picked me up at the Boise airport. Our eyes met, I noticed an odd look in her eye. There was a bit of an awkward pause then she said something like, “It’s so strange to see you in person!” We went through some version of that experience in nearly every reconnection scenario.

We gathered for family dinners and did out best to catch-up on the seemingly little things that went unsaid in the months of online conversations. It felt like our epic adventure was an elephant in the room. Keith and I didn’t know how to talk about our trip, hadn’t condensed the photos enough to share. Our families didn’t know where to begin with questions. They had mostly seen our Facebook posts and read our blogs so they didn’t know what they didn’t know. That’s not the scenario I expected.

The Matteson Family

In my coming home fantasy, I dreamed of juicy, long conversations snuggled in a warm, comfortable, living room with the familiar smells of my families’ homes. We’d have a cup of morning coffee or a glass of evening red wine and seriously catch up on everything that we didn’t feel compelled to say online. The reality was that most of them didn’t have time for this kind of connection. They had lives to live, jobs to do, routines to tend to, kids to run around. Our love for each other is absolutely not in question. Scheduling was the tricky part.

The other expectation I brought to these family gatherings was my new belief in Latin American style family values. I’ll give you of sense of what I mean. We stayed in an Airbnb in Quito, Ecuador with Felipe & Mila for a month. At first, we were complete strangers, but they quickly introduced us to their friends at a local restaurant, and invited us up for meals. We soon met both of their parents over dinner and drinks. One Saturday we were welcomed into the larger family. They invited us to go along to a family gathering at property owned Mila’s family, out in the country. I learned that they do this regularly, at least once a month. Plus, Felipe has lunch with his parents a couple times a week, and they live next door to Mila’s parents. I was surprised to hear they spent so much time with family. I admired them. They had real relationships with their families. I could feel their comfort with each other. They didn’t wait for holidays to get together, being with family was an everyday part of their lives.

I dreamed of having that kind of relationship with our families when we returned home. I count Keith and I fortunate to have such kind, loving, supportive families and, I want more of them. Yes, I appreciate that they didn’t have my Latin American family values transformation but I still want more of them!

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

P.S. I'm happy to share that the coaching aspect of my business is growing. If you, or someone you know, would like support in crossing the gap from where you are now in life to where you want to be, I'd love to help. Let's schedule a complimentary session and talk about it.

Traveler to Solopreneur

Hey there!

My husband and I are back from our nearly 2-year motorcycle adventure through South America! We're appreciating and adjusting to the comforts of home in Newport, on the stunning Central Oregon Coast. I’m writing to tell you about my next adventure from traveler to solopreneur.

While traveling, I pondered how I wanted to make a living when we returned home. I analyzed (in a myriad of forms!) how to infuse my business experience and education, with the topic that lights me up, that lives on my book shelves.

I'm a geek when it comes to learning about how we develop as human beings! How do we create lives we love? Why do we settle for a mediocre life rather than taking the risk to live our individual versions of an extraordinary life? Why don’t we do what we really, really want to do?! I love learning, teaching, and having juicy conversations about personal development.

Voila! I had my answer to, "What do you do?"

I help people in a state of flux, who yearn to figure out what’s next and are struggling to decide what they want to do and how to do it.

How, you may ask, am I going to do that? I’ll teach workshops, facilitate and speak to groups, and work with people one-on-one.

Presentation at the Tour Tech Motorcycle Rally in Plains, WA.

So far I’ve taught a workshop called Reshape Your Life in Boise, am scheduled to teach Conversing with Your Creative Self at the Sitka Center (class full), given an hour-long presentation called How Riding Teaches Us About Truly Living (great for non-motorcycle riders, too!), and coached lots of people (take a look at the kind words some have shared).

Now that we’re home, it’s time rev up the momentum! I'm talking with places about offering workshops and starting the second phase of a a rigorous coach certification program. As part of my professional development, I'll be working with practice clients. Perhaps you or someone you know would like to work with me.

Here's the big picture of what you can expect from working together one-on-one:

  • Fulfill your goals
  • Develop new skills and perspectives 
  • Change your self-defeating habits
  • Overcome your obstacles
Contact me to receive one complimentary session.

Here's a link to the video.

Traveling on my motorcycle for nearly 2-years taught me so many lessons. Above all, the experience taught me to be fully me, to appreciate and be kind to myself, and to do what brings me tingles of excitement. Perhaps I'll give myself the title of CTO, Chief Tingles Officer!

To see more of what I’m up to, head to jalenecase.com + subscribe to my blog Knowing Ourselves to hear about future workshops, groups, presentations, and whatever else I dream up to offer on this exciting new adventure.

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

What's Next

We’ve been asked versions of “What’s next? and “What’s it like coming home after being on the road for so long?” from lots of people. I’m ready to take a crack at sharing some answers!

Here’s the current status: After traveling for 562 days on our motorcycles, we returned to the U.S. on February 23rd. We’re still traveling as we visit family and friends, and doing our best at taking our time to consciously re-shape our lives.

What’s it like coming home after being on the road for so long?

 My moto, waiting to be put back together again in the U.S. Customs warehouse in LA.

My moto, waiting to be put back together again in the U.S. Customs warehouse in LA.

We’re having strange experience after strange experience. The first one happened when we boarded the shuttle bus to take us from the LA airport to our hotel nearby. It was early evening and dark, the shuttle bus was full and loud, it seemed like every person on the bus was talking — and here’s the weird part — we understood them! We realized that for 19 months, the conversations surrounding us were simply white noise. We got used to ignoring everyone. We only paid close attention to what someone was saying in Spanish if we really needed to understand it. Later, when we arrived in the privacy of our hotel room, we talked about what an ass the guy behind us was being to the woman with him (presumably his wife), and that we wanted to turn off the volume on everyone.

Here's one of the next things I noticed. I felt like buying new stuff, and yet when I was shopping, I was repelled by the whole experience. Everything in the store seemed to be shouting, "Buy more, more, more!" I didn’t want to replace my holey underwear (4 pairs were such tough troopers the whole trip) or my hot pink lightweight, long-sleeved Icebreaker shirt (you know the one, you’ve seen it in many of my photos), or my secure, can’t-be-cut-with-knife, purse with the broken zipper (quite worthless when one’s purse gapes open all the time).

I’m slowly muddling through this process, surrendering to the need to replace unfixable stuff. However, I still needed that slightly broken stuff because we continued traveling for about a month in the U.S. We visited friends and family in the southwest as we gradually adjusted to our new “home” culture.

I arrived near our hometown on March 27th. Here’s my journal entry:  “Holy shit, we’re home. No, we’re not home as in living in our home but we’re home as in being in the area we called home. It feels like a loop has been closed. I’m ready to trade my moto riding clothes for my fun, “old” clothes.”

And speaking of clothes…I thought I would hyperventilate when I started going through my clothes in storage! Since we’re still not living in one place, I had to select some (not all of them!) to take with me. My heart raced in anticipation. I climbed on and leaned over into all the boxes marked “Jalene’s Clothes.” I made piles of possibilities, oooo’d and ahhhhh’d when I found something I loved and had forgotten all about. I took them all to our friend’s house in which we were staying, tried them all on, laid out good combos, washed the mothball smell out of the chosen bunch, and returned the unlucky ones back to storage. I love having more clothing choices. Superficial? I think not. My moto rider, Tomboy look is fun and so is my creative, professional, spunky look. What I wear on the outside influences how I feel on the inside and how I’m showing up in the world. Does that make sense?

We continue to have strange and “first time since we’ve been back” experiences. It’s an adventure for sure.

Here we are now, celebrating Easter with Keith's family in Tacoma, WA.

What’s next?

We’re still in the process of deciding where we want to live. Most likely it will be in Oregon, within a day’s ride of our family located in Boise and Tacoma. It depends on where Keith’s work takes us. My work is no longer dependent on our location.

While we were traveling, I tapped into my mind and heart to decide what I wanted to do next. I knew that I wanted to combine my 35 years of work experience with my master’s degree in education and a lifetime of fascination with personal development. My choice to be a solopreneur, aka business of one, is feeling more than anything, like me. The best way I can think of describing it to you, is to share what I wrote on my website:

I help women who want to get their spine-tingling ideas done and are struggling with doing what it takes to make them happen. What does that look like?

It looks like kick-ass women who want to make a difference, want to grow personally and professionally, and dare to be all in.

It looks like us working together to develop your leadership styleenergize you with self-care rituals, and accomplish your ideas that excite (and scare!) the hell out of you.

We start where you are now and work together to fulfill your desires in the areas that are most important to you. Is this you?

This backyard image reminds me of the dynamic new growth of spring, and our inner wisdom, always nearby, patiently waiting for us.

I'll be teaching, facilitating, and coaching with individuals and groups. Plus, I'm embarking on my certification as a professional coach and am in need of practice clients for the next six months. So far I have witnessed and led coaching sessions in which people make choices for actions that are life-changing. Seriously. I am in awe of coaching.

I would greatly appreciate you thinking about those friends and family members you believe could benefit from my services. My practice clients will be given a significantly reduced rate during my training and the first session is complimentary. Please send me their contact information or, give them mine: 541-272-2337, jalenecase@gmail.com.

So now, (in true solopreneur spirit!) I have a question for you. What’s next for you and how can I help you get there?

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

 

www.jalenecase.com | 541-272-2337 | jalenecase@gmail.com

Reaching Our Goal

After 508 days and 35,595 miles of riding our motorcycles...we reached our goal! We arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, the afternoon of New Year's Eve 2016. Holy moly...we made it!

I wanted to share  what I noticed with you using a stunning Patagonia backdrop, but there were two problems with that idea. First, there's a lot of wind down here, which is not good for recording a video. Second, it took me some time to wrap my head around it all. A week has passed and I'm ready to give it a whirl.


Here are a couple photos from the entry to Ushuaia.

We just arrived on 12/31/16 with our traveling buddy Florian (from Germany) and Stephan (from Italy) who we met that morning.

We were really happy to be there!

Here are a few photos from the very end of the road.

Beyond here, there are only tiny islands before Antarctica. 

The GPS says that we're at the "end of the road." Wow.

Our friend Florian posing -- he's so cute -- plus, you can read the whole sign.

In the spirit of celebration!

Jalene

P.S. My friend Sandra wisely shared that what I'm noticing about this trip will be unfolding for quite a while to come. I'm sure she's right. Accomplishing big goals in our lives have a ripple effect.

The Dips

During a particularly deep "dip in our trip," I made this 2-minute video to share about it. (Pardon the occasional wind noise.) Little did I know, it was going to get a little deeper before I made my way out of it.

Here are the links to the books I mentioned in the video: 

The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future by Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers

The vast simplicity of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is one of my favorite spots.

Back to that dip I was talking about. It continued until we took a longer break in Santiago, and I dug deeper into my basic needs to understand why I was so off-kilter. 

Like cream rising to the surface of fresh milk, letting go of everything I know to take this trip has allowed my needs to rise above my wants. By letting go of my house, job, friends, family, exercise routine, relaxation rituals, stores I like to shop in, restaurants I like to eat in, closet full of clothes and shoes, jewelry...you get the idea...I've had a chance to distinguish between my needs and wants in a new way.

Here's where I am now. I've let everything go. We're still traveling so I can't put my whole life back together again but, I can make choices about my basic needs. That's where I'm focused. I'm identifying my "minimum requirements for self care" (a term used by Jennifer Louden) so I feel like myself, comfortable in my own skin. Louden's writing prompts have helped me to get at the topic from some new angles.

For example, some of what I've learned is that time alone on the bike isn't enough for me. It was easy to get time to myself at home but on the road, I have to let Keith know that I need a few hours to myself with no interruptions. This is hugely important for my sanity and I wasn't giving it to myself! Another example is what I've started calling stretch projects, in which I challenge my mind or body or heart. The time I spent creating my ebook, Journaling Whys & Hows, fed my need to share about a topic that's super-important to me and to be visually creative. As a "thank you" for reading my blog, I'm giving it to you for free! Use the promo code thankyou.

I'm pretty sure I've made it through the dip in our trip. I've learned more about my basic needs, am in the midst of a 2-week (or more!) break in Santiago, Chile at an awesome hostel with other motorcycle riders, and Keith and I are laying out the next to last leg of our trip, which will take us to our goal of Ushuaia, Argentina. We haven't quite figured out the last leg involving how or when we go home, yet.

Whew. Who knew there would be so much to learn when we left our house 443 days ago!

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

What do failure and extraordinary have in common?

Peru's Colca Canyon wowed Keith and me. The canyon is known for its Condors, and as soon as we spotted our first ones, with their graceful, delicate gliding style, we wanted to stay longer in the expansive grandeur of the canyon. But, we couldn’t. For the first time in a year, we were on a schedule. We had tickets to Machu Picchu on a specific date the following week so, we set out to make the most of our time in the area.

With two different visions of how we wanted to explore the canyon, we decided to go our separate ways. Keith took off on a ride to the canyon bottom, and I hiked down to an oasis spot called Sangalle. Let’s just say, it wasn’t quite what I expected. Click on the video below and come along with me.

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

Living With More Heart

Sunrise on Lake Titicaca.

Hola!

We're 13 months into our adventure and I'd like to share with you how traveling is opening my heart in a new way.

I’ve been practicing a couple of new-to-me concepts, which are changing how I understand the people and places we’re visiting, and what I believe is possible for the future.

From our hotel balcony, I’ll share a bit of what I’m experiencing, and in the background you’ll hear sounds from the shores of Lake Titicaca and the small town of Copacabana, Bolivia. It's a touristy town near the border with Peru so don't be surprised if you hear a very recognizable song in the end :)

If your curious about the book, here's a link to it: Untethered Soul 

From my heart to yours, I send you love.

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

 

Stuck

We arrived in Quito Ecuador on May 9th with a plan to stay for two weeks to do maintenance on the motorcycles, have our teeth cleaned, our riding boots re-soled, and pick up two packages that had been sent from the US to our friend’s mailing address in Quito. A straight-forward To Do List, right? Today is June 24th (46 days later!) and one of the packages, containing important stuff from home, STILL hasn’t been released from Customs.

Being stuck sucks. Waiting, uncertainty, and disappointment have led to feelings of boredom, anger, helplessness, depression, confusion, frustration, and (thankfully!) gratefulness for the people who try to help us.

I’m finally gaining some deeper perspective and want to share with you.

The thing is, this big adventure, this epic trip of a lifetime turns out to be a lot like “real” life. Shit happens and we have to deal with it. And in fact, dealing with it is tougher on the road because we have fewer resources. However, through darkness come opportunities for deeper learning. This, too, is like “real” life but it feels condensed out here, like a gourmet balsamic sauce simmered down for rich flavor.

We may be stuck due to a package but we're not forced to stay in the same place. This is Quilatoa Lake high in the Andes of Ecuador.

Being forced to slow down has opened me in unexpected ways. I’ll do my best to describe what I mean.

Through a podcast, I discovered the book Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It’s teaching me a new way of understanding who I am based on a different perspective about the two parts of our inner selves. Singer describes the observer (the true self), and the inner voice (the part created by outside influences). You know how it feels when you read something that resonates with you as true, and you can physically sense it in your body as you process the new material in your mind? It feels like that and it doesn’t stop there. I’m experimenting with what I’m learning to change how I re-center myself and meditate.

And, I’m learning how to reprogram my thoughts by using EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this method but it’s the first time I’ve truly worked with it. I figured after hearing about it a few times from different people, it’s time for me to pay attention. Since I’m a total newbie at it, I’ll share this definition from the internet to describe it: Tapping on ‘meridian points’ on the body, derived from acupuncture, can release ‘energy blockages’ that cause ‘negative emotions’. It seems like the perfect time to learn this technique.

I’ve found myself lost in thought about these two new-to-me concepts for big chunks of time because we’ve had ample unplanned time on our hands. I’ve also worked more on an ebook about the reasons and options for journaling, and discovered a writing group on Facebook, in which I’m receiving and giving feedback on projects.

During this time of feeling stuck, my friend Sandra asked if I would share what’s been challenging and what’s been great during our travels so far. (As of June 24th, we’ve been out here for 318 days.) Since I felt a bit on the gloomy side, I enthusiastically dove into the challenging stuff and effortlessly made a long list. Then, I tackled the great stuff list.

Chimborazo Volcano in Ecuador.

I noticed a few things after I finished the lists. First, it felt therapeutic to pour it all out onto the page. Second, I was surprised that although the “great” list was shorter, it felt bigger, more important, more life changing. Third, the two lists together could be titled What People Don’t Tell You About Long Term Travel Because You Wouldn’t Listen Anyway. If I had read these challenging items before we took off on this trip, I would have read them with my rosy colored glasses and plunged ahead anyway.  Thank goodness.

Despite this frustrating time of stuck-ness, I’m grateful to be out here. I know I’m expanding my understanding of myself, my relationships, other cultures, what I want and don’t want in my life, and more importantly, I appreciate that I don’t know how it will all play out. This time of being confined by one lousy package is no fun. I won’t lie. But now, I wonder how this extraordinarily uncomfortable 46 days of waiting will influence my life?

Being stuck shows up in all of our lives, stuck in routine or habit, creatively stuck, stuck in a way of thinking or feeling. During those times we realize that the only control we have is over our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. This quote I read recently from Caroline Myss sums it up, “My job is to let this world transform me.” 

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

Appearance vs. Being

Nine months ago, my husband and I hopped on our motorcycles and embarked on a radical adventure. Nine months without going to a full time job, which I did for 34 years. Nine months without a remotely regular routine. Nine months of not seeing the person I was accustomed to seeing in the mirror. Who is this new woman's face and why does she wear the same old clothes day after day? 

I had to wrestle with the concept of appearance for a few months before I appreciated its meaning to me. I share my experience in this 3-minute video as I consider the affect our appearance has on our lives.

After you watch the video, here are some questions for you to ponder about your appearance.

At what age did you become aware of your appearance?

Do you recall a scene or something that someone said to you about your appearance that changed the way you thought about it? If so, how might this still be influencing your appearance today?

Complete this sentence: If I could experiment with changing my appearance, I would...

Being comfortable with our own appearance means letting go of comparing our current selves to our younger selves, to the media's portrayal of women, to other women, to what we think we 'should' look like or what we wish we looked like. To be sure, appearance plays a role in our lives but it need not be the starring role, that goes to how we show up in our lives. 

In the spirit of learning,