Get inspired to go after your dreams!
By Jessica Solloway
What started as friendly banter between strangers on Twitter, turned into a web travel show phenomenon MidLife Road Trip follows along as Rick (the southern gentleman) and Sandi (the cookie enthusiast) pursue once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and adventures on their bucket lists. From conquering fears to attempting daredevil escapades, the MLRT cast/crew inspires others to live out their dreams in every episode.
Q: How did the Midlife Road Trip Show come about? Did it stem from an actual “midlife crisis?”
Rick: When I was 43 years old, I was hospitalized with a very serious case of pancreatitis. I had ignored the symptoms so long that my body had become septic. The doctors told my wife and me that there was a very real chance that I might not make it. I remember thinking that I’m too young to die and that there’s too much I still wanted to experience in this life – places to go, things to do, people to meet. I became determined to live the rest of my life without regrets and to make a difference to others. My midlife crisis had officially begun and I thought that a road trip was the perfect therapy.
Sandi: It was serendipity. Meeting people, who would never otherwise have met connected in a series of 140 characters. The common denominator was a sense of humor. I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed as hard as I do when I’m on we’re on a road trip. It’s as though we have always known each other. Nothing I’ve ever done before was as organic. It just happened and before we knew it we were literally “on the road.”
Q: Why is midlife so perfect for adventures? Do you feel more carefree now?
Rick: I honestly don’t think I would have been able to enjoy these adventures nearly as much at an earlier time in my life. I was too afraid to take a risk. I was afraid to be anybody other than the person other people needed me to be – a husband, a father, a son, a business owner. I was afraid to be myself and I would have felt guilty for doing something crazy like skydiving. But now, having stared death in the face, I’m not afraid anymore. I realize that life goes on without me and that if I don’t start being myself, then all the people I love will have never known the real me. That’s not fair to them or to me. I think it was Shakespeare (or some other famous dead person) who said “to thine own self be true.” It took me until midlife to fully understand what that means. As long as you have people in your life that you love and care about, you will never be truly “carefree.” Midlife for me has been more like halftime at a football game. You evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, set your goals and start that 2nd half with the determination that you’re going to control it.
Sandi: I live in a house of four generations. I am sandwiched in between my aging parents and my daughter and granddaughters. Going on the Midlife Road Trip fuels me so that when I am at home caring for my parents and the kids I have the energy and the mindset to do so. It allows me to be carefree a week at a time. My family is 100% over the moon excited about my trips. I’m not sure whether they are excited to hear all the stories I come home with or that they just are glad to be rid of me for the week!
What are some of the most exciting bucket list adventures? Did you try anything you never imagined you would do?
Rick: Skydiving has definitely been the most exhilarating and exciting bucket list item I’ve checked off so far. I also found it to be an incredible spiritual experience, something I didn’t expect. I also never imagined that I could interview people on camera. I love people, but I am an introvert with A.D.D. and low self-esteem. I’m also self-conscious about my southern accent. This whole Midlife Road Trip experience is helping me stretch and grow and accept who I am.
Sandi: Before the Midlife Road Trip I was afraid to fly and terrified every time I got on a plane. Because we all live in different cities, we meet on location. I had no choice but to hop on a plane or miss out. I wasn’t about to miss a moment and so I fly now without the paralyzing anxiety I used to have. My favorite thing I did recently was going to Rancho La Puerta, in Baja California, Mexico. While it wasn’t the adrenalin rush of skydiving, it was one of the most amazing spiritual experiences I’ve had. In my 53 years, I have never been without a television or a radio. I was able to relax. I ate fresh vegetables and exercised daily. I hiked. Sometimes you just have to sit still and enjoy the moment. It centered me. While some people like to throw themselves out of airplanes, I prefer to throw myself under a hot stone massage!
Q: What advice do you have for others who hope to be more adventurous, but are hesitant?
Rick: There’s something about midlife when your hair starts graying, your bones start aching and your “you know” starts “you-knowing”, that makes you start thinking about your own mortality. Don’t wait until you’re lying on your death bed and say “I wish I had ___.” Do it now! Live without regrets! We once asked our fans on our Facebook Fan page, “Which matters most: money or experiences?” The consensus was: experiences. Money ebbs and flows with the economy, but experiences and memories last forever.
Sandi: I don’t want a single regret. Meeting people and taking that road less travelled was a dream of my Dad’s. He and my Mom started it and he became ill and now he can’t finish. So, they live vicariously through my travels. It’s his encouragement to get out there, do it and don’t look back attitude that keeps me going on the road. My Grandmother was always old and always looked like a grandmother. I want my grandkids to remember me as the “Grandma that could and did!”
Jessica Solloway is a freelance writer and producer based in Washington, DC. From wedding planning to work, dating to dieting (and everything in between), she enjoys writing about lifestyle topics women want to know about. Jessica received her degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.