We had the good fortune of connecting with Kris & Shari (akaTheGirls) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kris & Shari, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Growing up, we’re all told to get good grades in school, go to college, get a good job and work hard so you can retire and enjoy the “golden years”. Well that’s crazy advice! Who wants to wait an entire lifetime to start enjoying it? We have gone from following the rules to living a life that most people say “I wish I could do that!”
Going to college was never on the radar for either of us, but working hard and having a strong work ethic has always been part of who we are. From holding down regular 9 to 5 jobs to staring and running successful small businesses, we have always given 110% of ourselves. Because of our drive and desire to get the job done, we never allowed for much of a work-life balance – it was all work with a little life thrown in. We would vow to take the weekends for ourselves but would always end up finishing a job or working with customers in other ways.
In 2019 that all changed. After several years of planning and purposefully working toward a goal, we quit our full time jobs and started focusing 110% on living. We sold most of the stuff we had accumulated over the years, put our house on the market, and in 2020 headed out to fulfill our dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. By 2021, we had sold the house, purchased our van, and began the process of becoming full time vanlifers with our dog Bayley in tow!
Transitioning from having roots in a place to being nomads has changed the way we look at the work-life balance. Having a balance is important, but we see it through different eyes now. We now see work as something that can be fun and enjoyable rather than a Monday thru Friday grind. Earning a living can be done anywhere, and on a schedule of your choosing. Finding a balance is always a very personal thing. For us, if we can work at something we enjoy, there isn’t a need to focus on making time to do fun things. Work and life blend together seamlessly and you find yourself enjoying each day whether you’re “working” or hanging out with friends. The age old question “what to you do for a living” has a different meaning now.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
This is hard question to answer as we have done so many things over the years to earn a living. We lived in Hawaii for 20 years where Shari owned and managed a 5 star SCUBA facility and Kris worked full time in the safety and security department at a high-end resort. We learned about building and remodeling by flipping houses, doing most of the work ourselves. This allowed us to transition into opening our own handyman business which we operated both in Hawaii and then in Washington state when we relocated. We have also worked in the manufacturing field, and most recently Kris held a management position in a fuel and oil distribution company.
Of all the things we have done to earn a living over the years, the thing we are most proud of is our willingness to learn new things. Neither of us is afraid to try something for the first time or to work hard and get our hands dirty. We both enjoy a challenge and welcome the opportunity to add something to our “I can do that” list. I think that attitude has played a big role in our recent life transitions. If we lived in fear of the unknown we wouldn’t be living in a van full time and exploring this beautiful country!
One of the most important lessons that we’ve learned along the way is to appreciate the people you meet and be open to learning from them. We are surrounded by, and are constantly meeting, amazing friends who are always adding great value to our lives. Have an open heart and mind and be welcoming to what others can bring into your life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We live in Washington state and haven’t spent a lot of time in the area. Our nomad lifestyle allows us the freedom to slow down and explore more, so we plan on hanging around and learning more about the city when we visit the area next. We also have several friends who live an hour away so we’ll definitely be spending more time on our next trip!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There isn’t one specific person or group that we could credit as having been instrumental in our making this life changing decision to become nomads. We have always had an adventurous spirit and have read many books and talked to many people over the years who have shared like minded goals. We have surrounded ourselves with people who have a love for adventure and who aren’t afraid to take risks to see their dreams become reality.