by Licia Berry
December 23, 2010 my family celebrated our 7-year “New Life” anniversary; it had been seven years since we left all we knew in our outer life and began a journey to reclaim what we had forgotten in our inner life. Reflecting on those seven years and where we are as a family, I see that my fears that when we stopped traveling and settled that we’d forget what we learned on our odyssey were unfounded. It is the daily practice of being in each other’s presence and being PRESENT that assures me; yes, we are all changing and shifting, which is appropriate. But the core is still there. The love, the respect, the balance of work and play, and inner and outer life are intact.
“SO WHY DID YOU ALL DO THIS?”
This is a pretty frequent question that we were asked as we met people on the road. Inevitably, folks would see our kids running around during “school hours”, or see us around the RV, expecting a retired couple. We are apparently not the “norm” for motor home travel. We loved it when folks asked us this question, because then we had an open invitation to tell them our story!
We had a beautiful home in Asheville North Carolina, a highly desirable mountain town dubbed the “Paris of the South”. We lived in a 1916 farmhouse on 2 acres of rolling land with historic oaks and heirloom rose gardens. Peter had just received a promotion in his work for Toshiba, and I had an energy work practice in downtown Asheville. The kids were attending the best public school in town, Isaac Dickson Elementary, where I was the PTO president for two years and Peter was an active volunteer. We grew organic fruits and vegetables on our land, and had a delightful community of friends. From the outside, our life looked really good, and in many ways it was.
But on the inside, there were subtle messages that something was out of balance. Pete was very caught up in the status of his job, chasing down a dream of success that never quite seemed to materialize. He was encouraged to give up everything for his job, and we were losing him. We loved our home and land, but it took so much work to maintain it. We spent every available dollar on repairs and renovations. We spent every available moment working on the gardens or the house or the yard, and when we didn’t we felt guilty like we really should be! We were losing touch with each other and growing apart. We had dreamed of having family time together at this home place, but what we created was that there was always something that needed to be done, so we did not get to hang out much together unless we were all working! Our sweet children expressed their disappointment in different ways, but Pete and I were so caught up in the maintenance of the “dream” that we kept pushing along.
Around September of 2003, I began getting more urgent signals that a change was coming. In my healing/consulting work, I am accustomed to receiving intuitive messages. I had been getting messages of the imbalance in our lives for a few years, but did not want to listen to them! Now, I felt the imbalance more acutely, so I started to listen. The message was simple…”Let Go.” But let go of what?
In October of 2003, I attended a Greg Levoy workshop (of “Callings” fame), where the axe-falling question was asked, “If you are standing at a crossroads, what is written on the two signs?” This question was such a gift to me, because I saw the vision so clearly; it seared into my brain and my heart fell. I was standing at a point in my life where I felt I had to choose between my deep, true life and spiritual path or my precious husband, Peter.
I made the choice to plunge forward and shared with Pete that night what I had seen; it was a very hard thing to do. I shared my concerns and the truth that was brought to light and he was blown away. What a blessing that he was able to see that I wasn’t attacking him, but sharing my grief that we were moving apart in our relationship.
After some serious soul searching and late night/early morning conversations together, we decided that there was indeed something that needed to change. We realized that we needed to re-examine our priorities and look at where we had gotten off track. Our utter devotion early in our relationship was to each other and to our family; we had such a profound awareness that love was all that mattered, and that the details of life were the gravy. What happened to our lives that we had forgotten this simple truth? It was here that we realized what we needed to do. We needed to radically change our lives and make up for some lost family/love time!
SO, over a few weeks of intense surrender, we saw where we needed to release our attachments and our fears. My beautiful office downtown was the first casualty. Oh, so painful to let that go! But the bliss and clarity that came after I did this was too much to ignore. Peter got the message soon after to let go of his job with Toshiba, as well. His ego put up a fight for all of about 5 minutes, then deeper sense took over. We kept breathing and releasing, breathing and releasing, and we were exquisitely guided as to what old aspect of our lives to let go of. We felt as if giant, compassionate hands were holding us up and leading us in the direction we needed to go to save our family. Then, we realized that it wasn’t just about changing our work. In the still of one very powerful morning, we were told to let go of our home.
That was on November the 9th, 2003. The first person we told about selling our home bought it gleefully. It never went on the market. We were then told to let go of our possessions. We were given a vision of the four of us as a family, standing naked on the edge of a cliff, hand in hand. We were being asked to strip ourselves clean. We sold our possessions, opening our home for four weekends straight to friends and strangers who heard about our story. It got around Asheville pretty quickly that this family was making this crazy, radical change in their lives. The more we released, the clearer it became that we were to buy a motor home and travel the country together. The vision of where we were being led started to take some shape. We were going to learn how to be a family in a different way than we had before. On December 23rd, 6 weeks after we made the decision to release our home, we drove out of Asheville in our recently purchased RV, completely free. Talk about fast manifestation!
On the road, at first it was very disorienting. There was a lot of shock and decompression and release of old, toxic ideas that needed to happen. We began having what we called “Pyramid Meetings”, where we followed an internally guided structure of meditating, check-in and family discussion (“the Round Table”). We asked questions of our inner guidance and discussed as a family what we had each received. Our relationship eventually shifted into one of four equal decision-makers, each with input that was valued and heeded. We traveled across the southern United States, being guided in our family meditations where to point the immense nose of our RV. Do we go north today? West? Sometimes we would intuitively wind up in a place for one or two nights; other times we were guided to stay there for several months at a time. Sometimes we fell into volunteer positions as campground hosts or interpretive staff in national and state parks, where we got the opportunity to learn even more.
We relied on our inner guidance to tell us how long and where to travel and it has never failed us. We didn’t ever have a logical or rational understanding of where we were going, or where we would wind up settling…it was all laid out for us step by beautiful step. We just had to be willing to show up with no agenda! Letting go and trusting without the need to control the outcome has resulted in a magical and healing journey for us.
We learned that our home is in our hearts, and that our grounding came not from being rooted in any one physical location, but from our connection as a family and in ourselves. We re-learned how to be together, but in a stronger way, reclaiming the love for each other that we had started to forget. We protectively refused several invitations from well-meaning folks who thought that since we were living in a motor home we would travel to see them; our family was on the line, and we understood that we really needed to be very internal and honor the process of recovery we were experiencing together. In ALL situations and locations, we were guided as a family to look for the gifts in every interaction. We learned many, many lessons, but a really big one is that we truly make our life by our choice to be grateful for wherever we are and that we can learn something from every person we meet. We learned it is all about choice.
We are being guided to speak and hold workshops about what we did and are doing, encouraging other parents to not lose sight of holding their families spirits dear, and how to be a family in a new way that will support positive change happening on the planet. We speak and teach about what we learned, and I am writing a book about our experiences and adventures, encouraged by so many that we met on the road. Again, we are counting on Spirit to show us the way, as we have been shown over and over that if we let go and trust, we are absolutely supported.
And that brings us to now! We have settled in Tallahassee, Florida (through very mysterious and intuitive circumstances-another story)! We feel that this area of northern Florida is a very good energetic match for each of us. We feel that our physical journey prepared us for our life here; but the most significant travel happened in our hearts. We healed ourselves and mended the places in our family where the veneer of love was wearing thin. We learned to communicate in a different way, honoring each other as equal infinite Beings, each with gifts to bring to the world. All four have found deep satisfaction in creating our lives from the inside out, rather than looking for cues from the outer world/culture about what we are supposed to do with our precious time here on earth. This has been a major awakening and blessing for us. But biggest of all, we learned that there is nothing more important than LOVE!!!!
Blessings to you, the Berrys
Peter, Licia, Jess and Aidan
Licia is currently writing a book about the Berry’s Odyssey, and is available for speaking engagements. In addition, Licia and Peter offer workshops and retreats.