Ever since I saw the movie, Chef, I’ve been thinking about what adventure I will take when I retire. I still haven’t decided. But this book from the GypsyNesters and all of their adventures has me thinking. David and Veronica James and I have been tweeting each other forever and when they announced their new book, I just had to get more background on the book.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Actually, we have to credit the readers of our website, GypsyNester.com, for that. As we transformed our lives by traveling the world, we rediscovered ourselves as a couple after the kids had grown, and encountered all kinds of adventures and misadventures along the way, we began writing about it. Mostly to keep family and friends abreast of our antics. When we started getting comments and emails from folks that we weren’t related to, we were surprised. We were even more surprised when people started asking for a book. Going Gypsy isn’t a how-to guide, and we fully understand that there’s no need to be as crazy as we are. The book tells a story, one we hope will inspire folks to find meaning in the post-kid trimester of their lives.
Did you doing any planning or life adjustments before you knew you were going to be an empty nester?
Actually, the thing that really jolted us was when we Googled “empty nest” and a giant ad for an Alzheimer’s patch popped up! We knew a big change was coming, but we don’t think anyone can really be ready for the drastic change that occurs when that last kid moves out. Our planning took on a life of its own once we decided to sell the house and take off. At that point logistics took over, getting everything squared away, but we basically had no idea what we were doing. We had a motto, the plan is no plans, and we were only half joking. We learned to deal with tasks and problems as they arose. Soon we noticed a freedom to our method, almost exactly the opposite of our mindset as parents, where we tried to foresee and plan for almost every possible situation.
You really gave up your home, too? How hard was that? Originally we were thinking that our undertaking would be short term, a kind of victory lap after years of raising kids, and then we would settle back down somewhere. That made the change a little less shocking we suppose, so that by the time we decided to stick with our new gypsy lifestyle we had already adjusted to the idea of no permanent home.
What has it done for your relationship with your spouse? Your friends?
It has been a huge plus for our relationship. We found that while traveling we were able to reconnect and return to that fun-loving couple that fell in love all those years ago. By exploring places that neither of us had ever seen before, we experienced new things together and grew closer than ever. It also played a big part in developing a new adult-to-adult relationship with our children. We learned to let go and adjusted to the fact that we will always be their parents, but we don’t always need to be parenting (or meddling as our kids see it – Veronica, the recovering helicopter mom, found that out the hard way). Reconnecting with friends was a big part of why we made the initial decision to go gypsy in the first place. We had been living for eight years on the somewhat secluded Caribbean island of St. Croix and, from that point of view, we saw our last child leaving for college as an opportunity to return to the mainland and catch up with family and friends. Our loved ones are scattered all across the country, but as nomads we are able to see them frequently in the course of our travels.
What advice do you have for people who are having a hard time being an empty nester?
Try new things! It doesn’t have to be travel; there are all sorts of opportunities, cooking classes, dance lessons, take a college course, or volunteer together, so long as it is something new to both of you. The new experiences become yours together, as a couple, and you’ll be amazed at how much you have to talk about! See more about Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All