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Quitting Our Jobs and Following Our Dreams

Posted by on Apr 21, 2011 | 45 Comments

Well, it’s official.  Shelly and I have submitted our resignations; we’re officially quitting our teaching jobs to follow our dreams of becoming nomadic running hobos.  :-)

Actually, we’re not quite hobos.  We’ll be traveling the country to conduct various barefoot and minimalist shoe running events (clinics/workshops/group runs) and participating in a variety of races.  We’re partnering with our friends at Merrell for this adventure, so the majority of the races will be Merrell-sponsored and the clinics/workshops/group runs will be organized through Merrell retailers.

While the decision to leave our teaching jobs was incredibly difficult, we simply could not pass up this opportunity.  Shelly and I have been on a journey of self-improvement for a few years now, and various events came together to make this opportunity possible. We get a lot of questions regarding why we decided to do this.  Here are the major reasons:

1. We wanted to do what we love. We both love teaching.  We also love running and travel.  This adventure gives us the opportunity to do all three.

2. We wanted to spend more quality time together as a couple. Even though we work at the same school, it is difficult to make time to spend together.  This gives us the opportunity to seek out new adventures and share the experience.

3. We wanted to spend more quality time with our children. Right now, our lives are based around the hustle and bustle of work.  Most of our time with our kids is spent battling them to get ready for school/daycare or bedtime.  We get a yearly taste of uninterrupted time with them during the summer, and decided we wanted more of that.  It will also give us the chance to test our “roadschooling” skills.  :-)

4. Teaching as a profession is going downhill, at least in the present. We both love working with kids.  That love has kept us in the profession for many years.  However, the constant eroding of pay, benefits, retirement, respect, and overall security has made teaching a less-than-stellar profession.  We can still get the experience of teaching by doing what we love in a much more positive environment.  We’ll both miss the kids; they’re definitely the best part of teaching.  It is ultimately what has kept us in our jobs for as long as we’ve been here.  Unfortunately, the profession has changed enough to the point where it is nearly impossible to reach all kids.  I’ve been getting a growing sense that we’re doing more harm than good in some cases, and losing access to the resources that would allow us to change course.  That, combined with the financial reality of the situation, made the decision easier.  Relying on our own entrepreneurial skills has brought us much more short and long-term security than placing our fate in the hands of the State of Michigan (yes, that is a jab at the bastards running our state.)

5.  Life is too short to not follow your dreams. Over the last few years, we’ve had a few reminders that life is way too short to spend time doing something that isn’t bringing you joy.  We assessed what we liked to do and what we did not like to do.  We eliminated that which we did not like and replicated that which we do like.  The result is this adventure.

There are a lot of other reasons, but these are our primary motives.

Is this change scary?  Surprisingly, no.  We’re excited about the prospect of getting to meet so many of our online friends. We’re also excited about the opportunity to see a good portion of our country.  Mostly, we’re excited about doing something WE really want to do, even if it seems absolutely crazy to most.

By far the worst part will be moving away from friends and family.  This would always be an issue when people move away.  On the positive side, we’ll be back in Michigan at least once and probably more since we’ll be mobile.

We’ll be documenting the running elements of our adventures here at BRU.  We’ll also be documenting the non-running stuff on our other blog Robillard Adventures.  Shelly will also document her perspective on her own blog.  Our specific race schedule is more or less set, though some events are tentative.  Our clinic/workshop/group run schedule is still being determined.  We will conduct these events between the races we’ll attend.  If you live in an area we’ll be passing through, ask your local Merrell retailer about hosting an event.  They can contact me or their Merrell tech rep for more information.

Shelly and I are really looking forward to the opportunity to meet many of you… try to make it out to the events!

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45 Comments

  1. Brandon Mulnix
    April 23, 2011

    Jason,

    You will locally be missed a bunch. I am so excited for the adventures we will share this summer, but hope it isn’t the end. The random meeting at Cannonsburg where some chick in Crazy shoes, and her even nuttier barefoot husband has changed the way I view running. Your encouragement and teachings have helped turn my family into a healthier and more active one.
    Looking around today at a local training run and seeing no one with minimalist shoes/or barefoot besides myself means only one thing, you have a lot of work to do. Running injuries in my past plagued my joy for running. Now the freedom of being injury free as I train for my greatest running adventure means your teaching works.

    Your trail ahead may look challenging, but we want you to know that you will always have a crew to back you!

    Hobby Joga’s Forever!

  2. Aaron
    April 23, 2011

    So, the kids are going to be “road scholars.” HA!! C’mon, I can’t believe nobody beat me to it first.

    Seriously though, I commend you and your family on your choice. And for having the guts to break free and do what you love. I think it’s going to work out great.

    My wife and I have been Merrell fans for years, and I really like the direction they are going with the Trail Gloves. It seems like they started from the ground up with proper running education, rather than just throwing out a lame “minimalist” shoe with a disclaimer about taking it slow.

    I hope to attend one of your events somewhere.

    Aaron

  3. Justin
    April 22, 2011

    I’ve only just started following BRU, but I’m very happy for you Jason (and for Shelly). Many people never wind up doing what they truly love or finding a way to support themselves through it. Congratulations!

    Thanks for sharing the inspiration.

    • Jason
      April 22, 2011

      Thanks Justin!

  4. Patton Gleason
    April 22, 2011

    Jason,

    Congrats to you and your family. It will be the best decision you guys ever made and as close to an American dream as there will ever be. We left a very comfortable job last year to take a leap on the things we were so very passionate about. It was a decision that was years in the making, and one of the best I have ever made in my life.

    There are no guarantees and the data is generally not in favor of entrepreneurs. With that said, I’ll take the odds. If it doesn’t work out, it will certainly not be for a lack of effort. Our journey was also one that was very important to teach our kids. It is incredibly gratifying for them to see this process, the good and the bad. This is education at its finest. I wish you the very best of luck to you and your family. Enjoy it and we’ll certainly be following the journey.

    Cheers,

    Patton

    • Jason
      April 22, 2011

      Patton- that is the exact thing we’re hoping our kids get… a chance to see the pros and cons of an alternative lifestyle. Best of luck to you, too!

  5. Bryon Powell
    April 22, 2011

    Jason,
    Having made a similar leap two years ago, I’m so excited for you and Shelly. Dreaming is exciting, but living one’s dream is where it’s at. Congrats on lining up a deal with Merrell. Removing a big chunk of uncertainty will make living the dream even more enjoyable.

    Happy trails and best of luck,
    Bryon

    • Jason
      April 22, 2011

      Bryon- you’re one of our inspirations! Thank you!

  6. Richard
    April 22, 2011

    Best of luck to you, Jason. I don’t see Tokyo on your schedule, though. Please tell me that this is an oversight on your part and you will be joining me for beer and a bit of running here…

    • Jason
      April 22, 2011

      TD- I’m still hoping to make it there one of these days. Does Merrell have a presence in Japan? :-)

  7. Justin
    April 21, 2011

    I’ve only just started following BRU recently, but congratulations Jason. It is a very rare thing to be able to do something you love and make a living at it.

    Thanks for passing along the inspiration. Maybe at some point you guys can manage to get around to Portland Oregon.

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Justin- Portland is one of the areas we considered for permanent relocation. Well, maybe more towards the mountains. Still, I plan on going through the area on our way to the Seattle event in July. Know of any good trails in the area?

  8. Jamie Farley
    April 21, 2011

    Jason,
    Not sure if you remember or not but we met at Woodstock last year..I recognized you from the google group and had just run my first half marathon. Anyway, just want to say congrats..and I am super jealous! See you at Woodstock!

    Farley

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Jamie- we’ll be there this year! We really should plan some sort of meetup or something…

      • Jamie Farley
        April 25, 2011

        Sounds good. Are you running any of the events at woodstock? I will probably just do the half marathon again. I am attempting my first full marathon at the Grand Island Trail Marathon in the U.P. at the end of July.

  9. Tony
    April 21, 2011

    Jason,

    I hope my first post won’t come across too negative. I’m thrilled you are following your dreams, and sympathize/empathize that as a teacher you’re feeling undervalued. Having visited this site frequently, I bought your book as, having gotten injured from over-running in Vibrams (though only over an 18-month period)I decided to dial it back another step and perfect my truly barefoot running rather than get back into foot coffins. I love the book and have been enjoying a few miles here and there on my country roads with nothing on my feet. I’m hoping to ramp that up as the weather gets steadily warmer.

    So the fact that you’re giving up your day jobs to start a barefoot running clinic sponsored by a shoe company sounds like a complete sell-out to the man. I’ll be upfront and say I don’t like Merrell to begin with; their trail shoes have come apart at the heels in the middle of trail runs for me (two pairs in a row, a fault that was widespread at the time but which the company wouldn’t recognize, and a fault that caused a pretty serious injury one time) and after dialing down to light-weight Inov-8s in recent years, I’d never go back.

    But I’d feel the same way even if you were being sponsored by Inov-8. You can’t run a barefoot running clinic sponsored by a shoe company: it’s a complete contradiction in terms. The shoe company is there to get people to buy shoes, while you’ve spent the majority of your time encouraging people NOT to buy shoes. Which is it to be?

    I recognize that you support the concept of minimalist shoes as well but similarly, you can’t be expected to post impartial reviews of minimalist shoes when one company is paying your bills. It’s understandable when semi-pro runners lock in with a brand and promote and work with them (Scott Jurek with Brooks comes to mind), but for you to allow Merrell to sponsor your workshops and races and presumably pay your wages not only removes your independence but goes against your barefoot philosophy.

    Good luck anyway. I hope it doesn’t end in tears.

    Tony

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      No worries, Tony, I get a lot of cognitive dissonance responses to our plans. All of these are issues Shelly and I have talked about at length.

      We’d be giving up the day jobs even if we weren’t doing the Merrell gig. We went through a lot of effort to rid ourselves of debt and simplify our lives so we’d have the freedom to live on very little.

      I understand your feelings about Merrell; I had a bad experience with Dominos pizza. Still boycott them a decade later. &%$# the ‘Noid. Capitalism demands this behavior, it is a sign of health.

      You’re not the only one that has expressed concern about the decision to teach about barefoot running via a shoe company, which is understandable. As I’ve mentioned before, my goal isn’t to convert the masses to barefoot running. My goal is to teach people good running form. My goal is to change how the general public thinks about running. Barefoot just happens to be my favorite teaching tool. Merrell sees value in what I can teach. I see their commitment to educating about good form, which aligns with my goals. A strategic partnership will ultimately help A LOT more people than either of us working independently. People may be uncomfortable with the relationship, and that’s okay. An outside-the-box solution is usually what leads to true innovation, and I choose to embrace that.

      As far as reviews, this is the reason I’m having the other BRU writers review shoes these days. This is also the reason I spend so much time telling people to actually TRY shoes themselves, don’t rely on reviews. We’re all experiments of one. As such, it is our responsibility to find our own path.

      Good call ditching the Vibrams. Learn good form first. Give your body time to properly adapt. Only then should you strap on the VFFs. This rule applies for all minimalist shoes.

      As far as hoping it doesn’t end in tears… I appreciate that but the excitement of change is a major motivator for us. There’s a chance it could end horribly. With great risks come great rewards. We all have our own private Mount Everest to climb (credit- Hugh MacLeod.) I’m not going to change the running world sitting in my livingroom watching reruns of Jersey Shore. ;-)

      -Jason

      • Tony
        April 23, 2011

        Thank you Jason for such a thoughtful and friendly reply. You’re obviously good peoples. It doesn’t change my “cognitive dissonance” about a shoe company launching a “barefoot” shoe and buying up the Barefoot University founder, but I’ll leave it there for now. I greatly admire your decision to quit the day job and take your kids on the road for at least a year. And your book is great. Good luck.

        Tony

  10. ZoeB
    April 21, 2011

    This is really inspirational! I love the idea of being completely free from any kind of schedule, but then, I’m a bit of a hippy child.

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Zoe, that’s why I wanted you to write for BRU. Birds of a feather…

      ;-)

  11. Scott
    April 21, 2011

    Wow! You guys have way more guts than me. I’m envious for sure. Jason, your book has made such a huge difference in my life over the past year. I never dreamed I would be able to reprogram my running form and run so many races within a year of my transition. Before barefoot and minimalist running, I couldn’t make it past the 5K distance (too much knee pain!). In the past 8 months, I’ve run a trail marathon, two road half marathons, a 12 mile trail race, a 10 mile trail race, a 7 mile trail race, a 10K road race, and a 7K trail race.

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Scott- cool! Very nice progress. Thank you for the kind words.

  12. Evan
    April 21, 2011

    Inspiring, Jason! Congratulations. Come to Alaska sometime! We’ve still got a load of thickly shod heel-strikers up here.

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Evan, it’s one of the places I’d like to visit. unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’d get up there before the spring or summer of 2012. We have an aversion to the cold. :-)

  13. Bob
    April 21, 2011

    Wishing you and Shelly all the best in your new journey. You have been a big inspiration to both myself and my wife, to follow your bliss (c/w a little humour)and not be concerned about what other people think. I hope to catch up with you sometime this summer on your travels, and if not we will be reading your adventures with envy from north of the border.
    Cheers

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Thanks Bob!

  14. Cory
    April 21, 2011

    I had put off buying your book simply due to my schedule. As an educator myself, I was waiting for summer. Now, however, I want to support your decision – even though it’s more symbolic than substantial.

    You have inspired me in many of your posts. I wish you all the best.

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Thanks Cory! I appreciate the support.

  15. KittyK
    April 21, 2011

    I am so excited for you guys. You are going to have so much fun. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures. Won’t be able to catch up with you on your adventures, but who know’s maybe this may be a yearly or on-going event (??) if so I will try and catch up with you next time.

    Have a great time…

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      We still haven’t ruled out a quick swing up to Vancouver to check out those trails you and Lat keep talking about…

      • kittyk
        April 21, 2011

        Umm… how about “Seek the Peek” mountain run on Grouse Mountain. It’s July 16th, which is the week before the Seattle Urban Oyster. So you are in the right part of the country. It might be good as Merrell are Grouse Grind’s official shoe sponsors. So it would tie in with the whole Merrell thing

        Just sayin’…:)

        • Jason
          April 21, 2011

          Kate, I’ll look into it. That could be PERFECT as far as scheduling goes…

          • Kittyk
            April 22, 2011

            If your legs are still tired from the WS, then there is a team relay option for “Seak the Peek”. We could try to drag Lat in from the Island (I know his legs will be tired as he has a big race the w/end before). Maybe Shelly would like to do a stage – alternatively I am sure I can find someone.

  16. Ash
    April 21, 2011

    Congratulations on this new endeavor, Jason! You articulate those reasons wonderfully well, with reasons 1, 2, and 3 resonating particularly intensely with me. I’ll look forward to following the progress of your journey here.

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Thanks Ash!

  17. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    April 21, 2011

    Sincere congratulations from MGBG my friend. I hope to one day announce something similar on my blog. You’ve inspired so many of us (myself included) to follow their dreams. I know you’ve given my some of the tools to begin the journey.

    End of hallmark card.

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Glad we could be an inspiration, CP. Keep up the excellent writing and you’ll have the means to that end a lot sooner than we did. ;-)

  18. Art
    April 21, 2011

    Amen! Especially on #5…hence my farm adventure this summer. Bummer that you won’t be at the North Country Trail Run, though. Maybe I will have to try and catch you at the Woodstock races — does Jesse need another crew member?

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Art, we’ll be in GR for the Naked Foot 5k on the same day as NCT, though we will probably try to make it up after the festivities here. Not sure about Jesse’s crew, we really haven’t planned it yet 9par for the course.) :-) I’m sure we can use as much help as possible, though!

      Still going with the beer brewing plans?

  19. Kevin
    April 21, 2011

    Wow, a heartfelt congratulations and best of luck to you! I’m envious.

  20. Dave
    April 21, 2011

    Are you coming down to AA for the Burns Park Race May 1st for IBRD?

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Dave- no, I won’t be able to make it to the run. I’ll probably be volunteering at the Trail Marathon. At least I’ll be in the area! :-)

      • Dave
        April 21, 2011

        Oh okay that’s a bummer. Have fun!

  21. Brandon
    April 21, 2011

    Congrats Jason! You give hope to all the bloggers out there that one day they can take their hobby/dreams to the next level. Now if only I can find someone to sponsor my journey into being a middle of the pack runner, hah

    • Jason
      April 21, 2011

      Brandon- Tim Ferriss’ “The Four Hour Work Week” was our original inspiration… a road map of sorts. I highly recommend it!