Why? “Why are you leaving your house, selling your cars, abandoning family, friends, and idle comforts for a world map, suitcase, and a backpack?”

That’s the question we hear most often. Some people express envy, others curiosity, and a few are merely incredulous at our careless approach to life. “Because we can.” is the simplest answer to the question “Why?” but that’s not all there is to it.

Peter and I have a friend, Norman, who just turned 93. Three years ago he invited us to lunch on a summer afternoon with an ulterior motive. He had a story to tell.

It was a story about a decision he made in 1960. At that time Norm owned a successful ad agency in Los Angeles. (He was one of the original Mad Men of that era.) His wife was an equally successful fashion designer for a noted sportswear brand. They lived the high life and had the trappings to prove it: a house with a coveted view, fancy cars, a nice boat, the right connections.

Yet they felt that something was missing in their lives.

So, they decided to make a radical change. Norm sold the business to his partner and his wife quit her job. They liquidated the house, cars, and boat. He ordered a 1960 Lancia Flaminia convertible in Italy and they flew over there to pick it up. For a solid year they drove around Europe – Monaco, Rome, Florence, Greece, Paris, London, and everywhere in between. Then they shipped the car home and wandered for another year in the Middle East and Asia until they’d spent all the money they’d put away.

Norm and his wife returned to California but life was never the same. Norm devoted himself to art. He opened a frame shop. He and his wife enjoyed more time together. Norman experimented with sculpture. He tried new techniques with paint and glass. Together they created beautiful artwork and prints that were purchased by collectors around the world.

Now aged 94, Norman is a teacher. He still holds twice-weekly classes in Life Drawing and Portraiture. He lives alone; his much-loved wife has been dead for twenty years. He struggles with painful health problems. He reads voraciously, consuming several books a week. But during his quiet moments, Norman said he drifts back in time to revisit that glorious adventure. It shaped his understanding of people, history, art, and culture. It opened him up to new opportunities and ideas. It changed the way he lived in a fundamental way.

When the story was told, Norm confessed that he invited us to lunch to convince us to go have an adventure that we’d never forget.

That lunch was four years ago but we never forgot the story. Now that Peter is retired and I have the opportunity to follow, we are going to take Norman’s advice. We’ll go to awaken from the dreamless sleep of life lived on autopilot. We’ll go make some memories to sustain us at the end of our time. We’ll go create a story to tell.

(We love you, Norman!)



  1. Mallory Cosme
    Mar 18, 2018 @ 03:25:45

    Well, this Thursday I read through a couple of your posts. I must say this is one of your better ones. x


  2. Illa Gronert
    Mar 17, 2018 @ 21:42:00

    I only wish that I had the ability to convey what I wanted to say in the manner that you have presented this information. Thanks.


  3. Peg Hamiton
    Mar 16, 2018 @ 18:16:24

    very good put up, i certainly love this website, carry on it


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    Mar 16, 2018 @ 14:28:52

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  5. Kip Carse
    Mar 16, 2018 @ 10:14:28

    I wish more people would write blogs like this that are actually helpful to read. With all the crap floating around on the web, it is rare to read a blog like yours instead.


  6. Evonne Mcdoulett
    Mar 15, 2018 @ 08:05:43

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  7. Katharyn Walton
    Mar 14, 2018 @ 16:16:58

    some stores have really bad customer service while others have topnotch custmer service,


  8. Stewart Mcglohon
    Mar 14, 2018 @ 14:20:35

    Hello this is a great post. I’m going to email this to my friends. I stumbled on this while browsing on bing I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing.


  9. Florencio Schmahl
    Mar 06, 2018 @ 23:11:58

    The miles in between you would not seem to be so great if you ended up greeted with warm feelings and verses on your special day.


  10. Nelida Mejia
    May 20, 2015 @ 05:49:22

    Hi Tracy,
    I loved following you on the year long adventure. The house and pet sitting seem like a great way to travel on a budget. When you sat for cats or dogs were you able to leave the pets for a few hours on certain days when you wanted to sightsee, etc. ? Were they left inside the home or in gated outside area? Were they safe until your return? This might seem like a silly question but I was wondering how much time was needed for their care and the safety of the home. As I know that sometimes dogs tend to be naughty when left alone. Thanks.


  11. Susan K
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 11:04:11

    A delightful story and Norman sounds like the best friend to have.


    • MrsMcNomad
      Jul 25, 2014 @ 10:16:01

      Thank you Susan. Yes, he is a very special guy.


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