Cubicle to Traveling in a School Bus: 5 Lessons From The Couple Who Sold it All To Live Their Dreams
Hey there, Brave Ones! Welcome (or welcome back if you’re a regular) to my pocket of the Internet where brave is the new fearless and inspirational content is served straight up with a side of sassy older sister vibes. Usually my blogs are all about courage, making those big life decisions, and how to feel more confident, but today I wanted to share something a little bit different.
From Cubicle Job to Traveling in a School Bus: 5 Lessons From The Couple Who Sold it All To Live Their Dreams
Inspirational title, huh? Worked on that one for a while.
Here’s the deal, this blog is going to share my story –the ups, the downs, the ins, and the outs of how we went from climbing the corporate ladder to throwing (or donating) it all away to live in a school bus and starting my business, The Art of Bravery. I wish I could write a cute little 500-word blog with bullet points on how we got where we are and figuratively tie it our story up in some neat little bow, but that’s not how this works.
Our story has just as many ugly moments as it does beautiful ones, but I have a sneaky feeling yours does, too. That’s what makes us human and, truthfully, the shadows are what make photos beautiful. Too much light leaves us looking over-exposed and under-developed.
It’s my hope that after reading, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry (maybe), and you’ll be encouraged to know that if 2 people 6’5” and 6’7” can figure out how overcome their obstacles, nay-sayers, and self-imposed limitations to live in a 264 sq. ft. school bus, you can figure out how to live a life where you don’t settle, too.
Throughout this blog there are a series of 5 Life Lessons peppered Where’s Waldo style among the paragraphs, lessons that will give you some practical life advice if you’re trapped in a life cycle of settling, self-doubt, or not knowing how to make your dreams happen.
Be sure to keep an eye out so you don’t miss them! Cool? Cool.
My story begins in 1990 when I was born. Yep, we’re going waaaay back, but only for a second I promise. My parents are 7’0 and 6’2’, so from the moment I arrived on this planet, everyone knew 2 things to be true.
This chick is going to be TALL…and she’s going to play basketball.
Well, let’s just say I dropped the ball (get it) on the whole basketball thing. I flat-out cannot play. I might be 6’5”, but to this day I’ve played in 1 competitive basketball game and am 99% sure I didn’t score (pretty sure I blacked out that last 1% of the game because the last thing I remember was taking my jersey off, giving it to my dad, and aggressively saying “thanks but no thanks” to ever playing again).
Why do I share this with you?
Well, for 2 reasons.
- At a very young age, I realized that if you don’t do things people want you to do (for me playing basketball) you face a lot of disappointment -from friends, family, random people at the gas station. Lesson I took away from this: Do what other people want you to do because you want to make others happy (Not saying this is my current thought by the way..more on how this develops, so keep reading!).
- Instead of basketball, I chose volleyball, which got me a scholarship to Duke University and meeting the absolute love of my life – Kyle. Lesson I learned from this: When God closes a door, He always opens a BIG freaking window…you just have to find it.
But back to the disappointment thing for a second – Have you ever people pleased to make others happy? Said “yes” when you really wanted to say “Um, no way”? I was that kid – the one who performed, perfected, people pleased, and pretended to be fine my entire life.
And up until 2015, I’d done a pretty good job of it –people pleasing and pretending to be perfect, that is. Kyle, my now husband, too.
- We got the corporate jobs.
- I had ESPN, Nike, Duke, Disney, and a bunch of other accolades on my resume.
- I’d gotten fantastic grades, had a great volleyball career, and checked off all of the “success boxes”. (Not bragging, but I’d want a kid like me one day.)
But here’s the secret I told no one (except for Kyle) about: I was miserable.
I had a beautiful apartment in Atlanta, GA, a brand new car, a promotion, more stuff than I knew what to do with, and a nice little 9-5.
I was dying inside.
Here’s a Lesson #1 for all of you souls brave (or crazy idk) enough to keep reading – there are warning signs in life that you’re on a 1-way train to rock bottom.
That disconnected feeling? That lack of joy? That feeling like no one knows the real you? That pit in your stomach on Sunday night just thinking about walking into your job? That mindless Netflix and Dove chocolates bingeing? That sensation when you wake up one morning and feel like an elephant of regret and unhappiness is sitting on your chest because life is passing you by faster than you can stockpile money in your 401K?
And I had all of them but refused to listen….until the first 6 months of 2015 took my fancy little unhappy life and shook it like a snow globe.
Lesson #2: If you keep ignoring the warning signs that you aren’t using your gifts, are settling in life, need to course correct, or are numbing yourself out in an attempt to hide the fact that your life could be so much more, God will step in and rattle your perfectly crafted life prison faster than you can say shake and bake.
He’s got bigger plans for you and if you aren’t listening, He has to get your attention some way some how.
That’s exactly what happened to me. In the first 6 months of that year, I lost more family members than I care to talk about, I put myself in the hospital overdoing it at the gym (a story for another day, but I LITERALLY ran my body into the ground in an attempt to be “perfect”), Kyle broke his leg, our income got cut in half due to job loss, and all we could do was sit back and watch as what felt like a flame thrower took out any semblance of normalcy. Not to say God did any of those things, but there were so many instances where things felt out of control, and my “perfect” little world I’d crafted got turned upside down.
Remember when I said our story was ugly? This was it.
I hate when you read stories about people who are at their lowest of low points and they just “decide to live a better life”. Really? Did you really just decide and change your life all at once? **Skeptical Camel Eyes** I mean good for you if that was the case, but I know it sure as heck didn’t happen for me like that.
Rant over, but I think this is a good time for…
Lesson #3 – Sometimes (ahem the majority of the times) when you want things in your life to change, the last thing you should do is make major life moves all at once. Tiny steps, people!
Think like a baby and go back to one foot in front of the other until you’re ready to walk.
Time back in.
In that really low moment, I wish I could say we just “decided” that life was too short to settle for unhappiness and mediocrity, but it didn’t really work like that. You know our lives now –living in a school bus, traveling, owning The Art of Bravery –but that was a 3 year journey with more ups, downs, and “what the heck are we doing with our lives” moments than I can count.
Here’s a quick timeline of what happened those 3 years:
- September 2015 – I semi-picked up the pieces of my life and realized I had to do something to get my life back on track. Here’s where I made my first BRAVE decision: I decided to attend a health + life coaching program simply to change my habits and learn to be healthy inside and out.
- October 2015 – Kyle makes his first BRAVE decision and decided to pursue health + fitness coaching as well. He reached out to some old Duke athletics contacts to connect him with people in the Atlanta area when WHOA he ended up getting a job in college football.
- April-ish 2016 – I’m halfway through my health + life coaching program and decide to start working with some practice clients. My business as Christiana Hill, Health Coach officially begins.
- June 2016 – I quit my 9-5 corporate job to jump full-time into my business. Brave move? Um no, incredibly dumb move. I have 0 paying clients and have to nanny part-time to pay the bills.
- August 2016 – I convince Kyle to check out a tiny house expo SIMPLY because I’m bored, heard the advertisement on the radio, and wanted something to do. Unexpectedly, we fall in love with tiny house living and decide that we must do it at some point in our lives, i.e. when we retire.
- February 2017 – My business is taking off and, although Kyle is liking his job in football, we feel this nudge to do something crazy…like build a tiny house now. Discussions begin on what that looks like.
- March 2017 – Our BRAVEST move to date. Kyle quits his job to help me with my business, and we move to Florida to find a tiny house (at the time we wanted a 5th wheel) to buy and renovate. We sell practically EVERYTHING we own because we finally realize that surrounding ourselves with stuff won’t make us any happier. The result? Moments of panic (I need that shirt from high school!) followed by bliss…minimalism is actually pretty rad.
- June 2017, Kyle and I purchased that big yellow school bus to transform into our tiny home and travel the country full-time. Want the full CRAZY story on how we bought the bus? Watch the video below!
- September 2017 – People ask how we got the courage to quit our jobs, buy our bus, and change our lives. I get frustrated that people think they have to change their lives ALL AT ONCE…so The Art of Bravery is born in order to help women make tiny, seemingly insignificant changes in the right direction to never settle in life.
I know, I know I glossed over the bus buying process. If you want that CRAZY story on how we bought the bus, watch this video! But if you want to hear the rest of the backstory and get more life lessons, jump to after the video and keep reading…
All of those events listed in those fancy bullet points were big decisions, decisions where we had to rise to the occasion. But here’s the deal, what you didn’t read about, what you didn’t see, were the little moments where we had to rise to every occasion.
Times when people made passive aggressive comments about our “bad choices” and we had to remain true to what we knew was right for us.
Times when we even doubted, questioned, or wavered on whether we WERE making bad choices, often resulting in feeling like we needed to go back to a “safe” life path.
Times when I broke down crying because as I felt myself growing braver, I felt certain relationships becoming strained and even going away.
Times when I wondered if I really was crazy, stupid, and selfish for living this life or if it really was meant for me.
By now if you’re still here reading, bless you…seriously, but here’s the part where I want to give you the last few life lessons I promised you.
Lesson #4 – Burn the candle at both ends. If you’re doubting yourself (like I was), frustrated with your lack of progress (like I was), troubled by what people are saying about you (like I was…man was I a wreck!), those things take time go work through. You can download my journaling prompts below to help you get started in working through some of the more personal development-y stuff, but in the mean time, start to take little brave moves in the right direction!
Burn the candle at the other end by getting out of your comfort zone in the tiniest of ways to push beyond your self-perceived limits. Maybe talk to a boss about your ideas at work, open up to a friend about a dream you have, or say hi to the cute barista at Starbucks. Not kidding, when I say small steps, I mean small steps.
Which leads me to Lesson #5, our final lesson of this ridiculously long blog article.
Lesson #5 – As you’re taking brave moves and burning the candle at the other end, listen to my boy Albert Einstein and realize that “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous”. You’re not floating out in the middle of an ocean alone on this life journey. God is guiding you and, if you listen/watch/observe, you’ll find a series of “coincidences” that are your “proof” you’re doing the right thing.
People will come in your life just when you need them. Finances will “magically” align at just the right moment. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities will arise when least expected. The caveat? You moved first, and your bravery is rewarded. Follow the breadcrumbs!
It’s my hope that even though this blog wasn’t some “10 Step Process to Quit Your Corporate Job and Buy A School Bus Tiny House”, you still found it useful. Maybe some other day I’ll share the building process and how we had to fill the rust holes in the floor with super glue and pennies, but for now I’m going to send you off Rascal Flatts style.
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to.
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small.
And you find the bravery to carry more than you think you can hold.
Took some liberty with that last line, but I think it works 😉
To being brave,