Bio: Jody Temple White is an author, speaker and business owner. A living example of what she champions, Jody, her son Riley, 17, daughter Allison, 12, and husband John, got rid of their stuff, grabbed their backpacks and volunteered around the world for almost a year. Jody seeded the low budget, high adventure dream fifteen years ago and grew it into an uncharted odyssey that spanned six continents and over 24 countries leaping into service projects, learning about various cultures and a new way of living.
Other leaps Jody has taken include owning businesses, international adoption, divorce, single parenting, mothering a special needs child, blended family, foster parenting, and a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer.
Jody uses stories, humor and utter practicality to loosen her own grip, and ours, on excuses that make us willing to settle for lives and careers that don’t excite us, solutions that don’t inspire us, and dreams that don’t drive us.
Jody is co-founder of The Courage Vibe, a family adventure company that creates opportunities for us to Live Brave, Give Big, and Have Fun. The family presents to audiences together and individually. Together, they are doing
their part to reduce the chronic boredom, stifling conformity and shrinking optimism in today’s world.
Zephan: Hey everyone. This is Zephan Moses Blaxberg from the Year Of Purpose Podcast. Today I’m joined by Jody Temple White, and Jody is an author, speaker, and business owner. A living example of what she companions, Jody, her son Riley, daughter Alison. I’m sorry, what she champions, Jody, her son Riley, daughter Alison, and husband John, got rid of their stuff, grabbed their backpacks and volunteered around the world for almost a year. You might have heard Riley’s episode on the Year Of Purpose Podcast, as well. Jodie seeded the low budget, high adventure dream 15 years ago and grew it into an uncharted odyssey, that spans six continents, and over 24 countries, leaping into service projects, learning about various cultures, and a new way of living.
Jody is co-founder of the Courage Vibe, a family adventure company that creates opportunities for us to live brave, give big, and have fun. The family presents to audiences together and individually. Together, they are doing their part to reduce the chronic boredom, stifling conformity, and shrinking optimism in today’s world. Jody, how are you doing today?
Jody: I’m doing great. I’m doing great. It’s great to be here, thank you.
Zephan: Yeah. Thanks so much for being here. I think this rain is throwing off my reading a little bit, so I’m getting a little silly today, because the weather’s going goofy, but thanks for being here. It was so great to talk to Riley just a few days ago, and to kind of hear his story and how his adventure has unfolded since you guys did this trip. I’d love to hear a little bit from you, just as to before this trip started, what motivated you to take such a big leap. I know that when often times we take some radical change in our life, people can be judgmental, they can wonder if we’ve gone off our rockers. How did this kind of come about for you, and how was it received by other people when you made this decision?
Jody: Oh, wow. Great question. There was no catalyst that caused us to jump and leap into this. What we said is we were in a perfectly good rut with our life. Things were going well, the kids were in school, there were activities, it wasn’t anything catastrophic that happened that said “Oh, my gosh. We’ve got to get out of here and run away.” It was this kind of feeling way back when I first heard about another woman who did this, and there’s been lots of families who’ve done it, but I happened to meet one woman, and when I heard her trip, it was like the seed was planted, and I didn’t know how we were going to do it, but I knew that we would go on this trip. Fortunately, John and Riley and Alison all joined in that dream, and that vision, and so we saw and opportunity, the window was open, the timing was perfect, so we said “Okay, it’s time to do this now. It’s time to move from the what if to why not now, and take action,” and that’s what we did. It wasn’t anything huge.
It was just that need to say “We’re meant to do this,” and so we did it. What did our friends and family say? They called us crazy, they questioned us, they shared all of their fears with us about what could happen, and what might happen, and have we thought through this? I guess you get to a point when you go to take a leap like this that you have to trust in your own knowing, and what we soon realized is that their questions and their fears were their fears and not ours, and we needed to be clear that we had thought through what we needed to do, and how to be safe, and how we were going to do the trip.
I think our friends, they wondered, and they were nervous for us. Understandably, our family was, but in the end, they supported us, and encouraged us on it. Fortunately, it was a fabulous experience, and now I see my friends and family doing not year long trips, but definitely opening up to trying new things, and try new ways of travel. They ask us for opinions, like “How do we do this? How did you do it?” That tells me that it was their own fears, and we moved through it for ourselves. Does that make sense?
Zephan: Yeah, and so I’m curious, how have they changed in their interactions with you, after seeing you guys come back, hearing about the trip, seeing how it’s changed your kids in such an amazing way, and how has their reaction changed from all of that?
Jody: They’ve definitely—I’m just thinking about some of their reactions. Nothing is unexpected anymore. If we say we’re going to do something, they just smile and say “Okay. If anybody can do it, you guys can.” I guess we don’t surprise them too much anymore, because they pretty much kind of expect us to be not quite following the normal path, and so what that does for them is because anytime somebody else kind of paves a new path, it frees up the people who are watching to also follow a path or follow their own path, and so that’s what we’ve been seeing, is that it kind of frees up everybody to be able to step off the normal path maybe that’s not working for them, and go down their own path. That’s kind of, I think what I’ve seen them do.
I’ve seen our friends and family be a little more courageous, be a little more trusting of where they’re headed, and it’s not just because of us, but I think any time you see somebody doing something different, it shifts your own perspective about what’s possible for you, so I’ve seen that in my friends and family.
Zephan: Absolutely. I mean, I think that’s been a big part of all of the things that I’ve been able to accomplish in the last couple of years has been really looking at other people that have done it, and saying “Wow.” There’s nothing necessarily special about this one person, but they’re showing that it’s possible, right? They’re now showing that really anybody could do this if they want to, and so I’ve kind of always had the mentality now of, if it’s something that you really want, you’ll find a way to make it happen. For me, that was a huge shift in seeing other people make things possible. I’d seen other people write books around me that became best sellers, practically overnight.
I mean, it’s a year or two worth of writing the book, but I’ve seen them really put in the effort and the struggle, which is why I’m super excited to be launching my book. It’s been a long struggle, and watching other people making it possible, I think the more people that can show you what’s possible, the better off the world’s going to be, and the more risk takers we’re definitely going to have. Wouldn’t you agree?
Jody: Absolutely, and writing a book is a huge, monumental task, and so congratulations on that, because that is a big job to do that, but definitely. When you see other people do stuff, it seeds your own like “Huh. That’s interesting. How would that look for me to do that?” We have that question a lot from people, who, when they hear that we’ve done the trip, they go “Gosh, I could never do that. I could never get rid of all my stuff, and live out of a backpack and never know where I’m going to stay the next night.” My response to that is “Well, you don’t have to do it that way, but do it your own way.” We’re not trying to call everybody to go to a one year travel around the world, but “Maybe for you, it’s a couple of weeks,” or “Maybe for you, it’s exploring some place different than what you normally do.” Maybe it’s going to a different location, or trying a different activity, but yeah, it’s just like find what works for you, but every time you do that, doors open up, right?
Jody: Every time you—after writing this book, new doors are opening up for you, because you took that leap and you did the work to do it, and you followed the mentors probably before you, of people who’ve helped you, and now doors are going to open up in ways that you never expected, and that’s what happens any time we take a leap, or any time we do something outside of our comfort zone or norm, and while it’s scary, and maybe hard, it’s pretty amazing what happens that you never even thought possible.
Zephan: Yeah. I mean, I’ve gotten to this point and maybe you’ve noticed this, too, where a bit of the law of attraction has taken place, where it’s not just like I go to sleep and say “Oh, man. It’d be really great to have a check in my mailbox for $1000 tomorrow,” but it’s gotten to a point where I say “I haven’t booked any work for the next month, and it’s not because I’ve been lazy. I just haven’t had any referrals come in. It’s been kind of slow. It would be really nice if the world could help me out a little bit, because I’m stressed, I’m frustrated,” and I mean, I’ve had times where I feel that way, and as long as I just kind of say “I’m hoping the world will take care of me,” literally I’ve had the next day, stuff happens. I hired a coach recently and he’s been amazing. I’ve been working with him for about a month or two now, and I had to pay him a few thousand dollars.
I think it was like $3,600 and I’m thinking that night “I know that it’s worth it to work with him,” but my thinking is, I have no clue where this $3,000 is going to come from. I’m not broke, but I don’t exactly just go out spending $3,000 every day, and the next day, I landed a $3,000 video contract that came in through a referral, and so I think that it’s really amazing when you open yourself up to the possibilities of what could happen when you put yourself out there, and maybe throw caution to the wind a little bit. It’s been an amazing adventure, and I’m sure you’ve kind of run into this quite a bit, too, but I don’t want to get too far into this, because just in case people missed Riley’s episode which, A, you guys all need to go back and listen to. If you did, I was hoping Jody, you could just share with us a little bit about kind of what this adventure was, how long it was, where you went, and a little bit of how you did it?
Jody: Absolutely. We left in 2012, actually November 15th, 2012. We had one way tickets to Australia for our family, and so my husband and I, and then Riley was 16 at the time. He was in his junior year of high school, and Alison was 11, so she was in 5th grade. We bought one way tickets to Australia, had two nights lodging booked, and the rest of the trip was wide open. Our idea was that we wanted to visit the world, as many places as we could, in a timely fashion, but we were going to let the adventure unfold as we went. We had some ideas of where we wanted to go. We each picked four countries that we wanted to visit, but we left the itinerary open, because we wanted to be open to what we call “magic and miracles,” which is meeting people, finding out where we should go, and meeting locals and volunteering as much as possible. We landed in Australia and that led to a nine month adventure to 24 countries.
We hit six continents, we did over 25-26 service projects in many of the places we went to, and basically, it was a low budget, high adventure trip. We stayed in hostels, we did home stays, we did AirBnb, and the whole goal was to learn about the cultures, to learn about ourselves, and to learn about the world, and then give back in any way we can. Some of our volunteer stuff included working with animal shelters, we did beach cleanups, we did after school programs, we helped at orphanages, and disability homes that have disabled adults and kids. It was kind of a mix of a whole bunch of things, and it was basically, we would go some place and we would ask “Where can we help? What can we do?” We were always directed to a local organization or family, or somebody that needed help and we were just willing to help in whatever way we can.
What that did is it opened up the door again to meeting really amazing people, and courageous people who are such an amazing example of seeing a need, and stepping in and creating a solution. Much like what you’ve done with your gym. I mean, you saw a need, and you stepped up and you said “Let’s find a solution.” We met people like that around the world, and they were so inspiring, and so—for me sometimes, I can make the excuse of “Well, I’m not qualified. I’ve never done that before. I don’t have my letters behind my name to be able to do it,” but these folks said “It doesn’t matter. We’re going to do it because this needs to be done,” and that was inspiring to me, and to the family.
We had this fabulous adventure and learned how to get along as a family in a way that we probably wouldn’t have been able to do here at our own home, going through the motions every day, because we were forced to be in situations that caused us to communicate. It caused us to communicate in ways that we’ve never had to communicate before. Understand what was going on in the world, and have those conversations about what does that mean, how do we want to be, all of those things, so as a family, it was just an amazing experience, and to watch the kids learn by experience was also a fun thing to watch.
Zephan: Yeah, definitely, and you guys are, I mean, at the time of recording this we are what, about almost exactly three years from the day that you guys left on this trip?
Jody: Yes, actually, and this Sunday is our three year anniversary, and what we’re doing this Sunday is we have what we call the “angel vibe tribe,” and I know this will after, but we have it kind of ongoing, so in honor of that, we’re collecting socks and warm clothes and we’re making sandwiches this Sunday, so a small group of us are going to go out into downtown Portland kind of give out some warm clothes, because the weather has turned definitely here in Portland, so we’re calling it the socks and sandwiches event. It’s a fun thing, we’ve done it several times. It just is a nice way to connect with people who are in need, so that’s what we’re doing in honor of our three year anniversary, this coming Sunday.
Zephan: That’s awesome, and so was this something that came out of kind of how you guys transformed? Was this an idea that you were doing before you went on your trip, or did this come after the trip?
Jody: Kind of the formalness of it came after the trip, but we’ve always been involved in different volunteer activities, so that is something that we’ve always had in our life, but the formality of the angel vibe tribe is after the trip, because again, as I mentioned earlier in the call, it’s not about taking the trip for nine months and going elsewhere to give back and give big in ways, because there’s lots of ways you can do it right here wherever you’re at. You just need to be aware of it and be willing to step in and say “How can I help?” We wanted to definitely bring it back here and keep living that volunteer, how can we give back lifestyle.
Zephan: That’s amazing, and I know that travel, for me, has kind of changed my view on giving back to others. I mean, I’ve always volunteered with my youth group locally, but I know that travel, when you meet other people, you get to live with other people, I was fortunate to spend Thanksgiving with a family that wasn’t mine last year when I was on the road, and it really makes you realize how lucky you are. When you take away things that you’re used to, you know, I have a nice comfy memory foam bed at my house, and many times I had to sleep on couches and sometimes sleep out of the car, or take naps in the car when I could get them, and I’m sure you experienced this a little bit. Hostels are not five star hotels. You might be paying 10 or 20 dollars for a night, and you’re getting a mattress that’s been there for 20 years. I think that it really is a humbling experience.
One of the questions that I have about all of this, and I know that we live in a culture where we’re kind of changing this idea, but I tell people this. I asked my grandfather in an interview, because I wanted to have his life story on camera, and I said “If you don’t get the chance to talk to my grandchildren, and impart your wisdom, what is the one thing that you would want to tell them?” He says “Get a job, hold it for 40 years, and retire.”
I’m like “No. That’s like the last thing I wanted to hear you say,” but I guess my question to you is, we have definitely been raised in a society where we’re taught almost that we should get one job, hone one skill, become very good at it, maybe work our way up the corporate ladder, and so for you to take a break from working in the traditional way for nine months to go travel like this, I guess my question is, what did you guys do financial wise to prepare? How were you careful while on the trip? And then, how did things change for you, as far as working and making a living after the trip?
Jody: The finance piece—as I mentioned we did low budget, high adventures. Our goal was to stay for everything, all in, $50 per person, per day. That was our high side of what we wanted to spend, and so we stayed well under that, that includes food, transportation, hotel or hostel, any activities we did, all the extra stuff on the road from laundry to what have you. We actually did that, we stayed really tight on our budget. Now, in some cases, like when you’re in Asia, hitting $200 a day is living like a king or queen, so in those times when we were in Asia, we were well under our budget, but then when we transitioned over to Europe, of course, trying to stay under $200 a day for a family of four, with lodging, was pretty hard. We ended up averaging out—and John is the person who knows this, because he’s the finance guy on this—we definitely beat our $75,000 for us for the nine months total, all in, with airfare, all the transportation and everything. It was a really inexpensive—
Zephan: Well, yeah, for everyone listening, keep in mind, it’s four people, right?
Jody: Four people. Oh, definitely.
Zephan: It’s not just one person on a trip, because that would get me very far.
Jody: Totally. Yes, four of us. Divide that by four, and in all honesty, we could have even done it for less, because every time you move, as you know, the expense goes up, because you have to pay for all the transportation and getting settled back into a new place. We could have even done it for less than that, but our goal was to really go around and hit some of the spots that we were looking towards. How did we fund it? It was all self-funded. My husband has a business, a financial practice, that provides residual income. That is how we funded the trip, is based on his residual income. If anybody’s out there, and wants to fund something, getting residual income as a young person, as early as possible. Build up something that develops a residual income, because it does free you up later to do what you want to do.
If you know that you have a triple of 1000 to 2000 to 4000 a month coming in on a consistent basis, it kind of eases up a lot of concerns. That’s how we funded it, and then getting back was actually, that was the hardest part of the trip. Leaving and saying goodbye to family and friends was tough, but the adventure awaited so it was not a difficult thing, and we had a great time on the trip. Coming home, though, is kind of the overlooked piece for a lot of times. I don’t know if you have the problem, or had that issue when you came back from kind of being on the move, and enjoying the freedom of “What’s going to happen today?’, but when we got home, we kind of all went into a bit of a, I want to say a cave a little bit, because we were kind of shell shocked in a way, because we weren’t moving as much.
We landed back, we rented a small condo, and we just kind of hunkered down like “Okay, what just happened?” Getting cash flow and things, and flowing back to the level that we needed, it was definitely a piece that was not as much fun. I mean, we would have all preferred to be back on the road, but we knew at that time that Riley had come home to finish his final year in high school, so that was where we needed to be. That’s what we needed to learn, right? We needed to learn to come back and be where we are again, and then what’s next. When we created the Courage Vibe, we did not have a business plan to it. The Courage Vibe was really a vehicle to inform family and friends and followers of where we were, who we were meeting, and what we were doing, to inspire them, to connect them to organizations around the world.
That was the goal. We didn’t really have a monetization plan on it, and we were letting that kind of evolve, in all honesty, because we didn’t know who we were going to be when we got back. So much changes, as you know. Your perspective changes, your ideas about how you want to spend your days, and what you want to do, all of that changes, and so we did not want to lock ourselves into it and go down that path. Getting home was a little bit, it was definitely the trickier and hardest part of the trip.
Zephan: Yeah. I mean, I definitely had trouble twice, actually. On the spiritual retreat I took in August, that kind of sparked my adventures. We were only gone for four days in Boston. It was a retreat with about 20-25 or so people, but we had done so much inner work that I never forget, we got dropped off at the airport to head home, and I’m working my way through security, and I felt so, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen in the movies, they do this effect sometimes where someone’s just kind of standing there and everyone’s moving around them. I felt like everything was just flying by me, and so I remember specifically sitting down at a table in the food court, because I had a couple of hours until my plane went off, and I just had to put my head down, because I didn’t know how to be around people anymore. At least just for a little bit.
I didn’t know how to be in this world that wasn’t surrounded by the friends that I created over the last four days. Then, a similar thing happened again for me, actually, the last leg of my big trip in November and December of last year, I remember we’re driving home, and it’s me and my cousin, we’re on this 3000 mile road trip, we’re passing through Washington DC, it’s about 40 minutes outside of our house, and we’re driving through DC and he says “Oh, there’s a spy museum. We should go.” I’m like “No, vacation over.” He’s like “No, no. I’ll buy tickets on my phone right here. It’s fine. We’ll go.” I’m like “No. We’re going home.”
We walk in the house, and I just put everything down, and I sat on my bed and looked around my room and my room just didn’t look like my room anymore, because we had just stayed in so many homes of strangers for the past 3000 miles of this trip. It felt so odd to me. I mean, obviously you get used to it and you work your way back into it, so for everyone listening, this is not like a permanent, lasting effect, but it definitely makes you look at things differently.
Jody: It’s definitely something to consider if you are doing any kind of, I mean, like you said, on a four day, you had it happen with four days, and obviously with your two month. It’s just something that I think gets overlooked sometimes with people. We kind of come back and we race in thinking everything’s going to be the same, and I think allowing space for that transition is a really important piece, because so much planning goes on in the front end, and why you’re in it, but then, the backend kind of gets overlooked. That is something that definitely I’ve talked to a lot of people about is making sure that that transition home, regardless of how long you’ve been gone, you give yourself space, because if not, you could end up, like you said, sitting kind of going “Oh, my gosh.” Not that that won’t happen, even if you are aware of it, but at least you know that it’s not going to be a permanent thing. It’s just, this is me transitioning to a new way of living, awarenesses.
Zephan: Yeah, exactly. Well, let’s round things off here, because this has been an awesome discussion, but I’d love to share with everyone, what is the Courage Vibe, and maybe just jump into that real quick.
Jody: Awesome. The Courage Vibe, as I mentioned, was created originally as just a website to let people know where we were and what we were doing. Since we’ve been home, though, we’ve been asked repeatedly to share our story and talk about travel, especially travel with teenagers or preteens and how we did it, how we managed to do it and come home still friends, and we hear that a lot. Like “I could never travel with my family and stay in a bunk room. We’d kill each other.” We’ve been asked a lot on how we did it, and eventually, what we’ve done is we’ve developed a family adventure company that we do provide opportunities for families to live brave, give big, and have fun. We have some courses on the site about taming travel tension, so whether you’re going to travel for a week or whether you’re going to travel for a year or longer, there’s some things that you can do to kind of help that tension of the pre-trip and on the trip, and then coming home, as I mentioned.
We’re going to be launching those courses after the first of the year, once the holidays have kind of settled down, and then, we’re really excited, actually, about another thing that we’ve created called “Courage Journeys.” Those are going to be experiential journeys for the family. Right now, we have five spots available to go with us, with our whole family, to the Dominican Republic in the Spring of 2018, in an affordable trip that will push families in ways, kind of push them out of their comfort zone in a way, think of Amazing Race type of activities, if you’re ever watching that and going “Oh, wow.”
We’re going to have some of those kind of things, but provide them opportunities in the Dominican Republic, to live brave, give big, and have fun. We’ll be with them, and we’ll be helping facilitate anything, we’ll be talking about “Hey, how can we get your family really connected?” What we know is by doing things together, and stepping outside of the comfort zone together as a family, that drives the family closer together because it forces them to really kind of look at “Okay, either we’re going to support each other through this, or how can we support each other?” It’s going to be a fun mix of living brave, giving big, having fun, with a little Amazing Race, lots of volunteering, lots of local stuff, and it’s not for the feint of heart for a family, but we’re looking for five families and we’re excited about it, because it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a life changing trip for a lot of families.
Zephan: Very cool, and now people are getting an opportunity to do this with a family that has been there, done that, really has the experience and knows what it’s like, what issues could come up, what conversations should be had between the family, so it’s really great to see you guys putting that together. What is the best place, websites, social media, for people to find out more about you, to follow the Courage Vibe, and to find out more about those trips?
Jody: Awesome. The website is TheCourageVibe.com, so that’s the best place to go, and you can find out about the trips, the classes, you can get on the list to be notified of when those launch, and all of that. That’s the best place to go, kind of for an overall picture of what we’ve done, see pictures of, hear more about our story, and all of that. Then, Facebook is kind of our primary place to post upcoming events like for example, the snack bags this weekend. Obviously this will air way after that, but to be notified of things that are coming up and events that are happening with us, so Facebook at The Courage Vibe is great. You can always email me.
If you have questions, if you’re getting ready to go on a trip with your family or you’re even just trying to figure out “How do I plan a trip where my trips will want to go with us?”, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I love talking with people, and I love sharing ideas, and hearing kind of what they’re struggling with, and if there’s some way I can help or connect them with a group in the place they’re going, I love doing that, as well. We have contacts pretty much in a lot of locations, and if we don’t have them, I know people who do. We love connecting.
Zephan: Perfect. Well, Jody, thank you so much for sharing your story, and Riley had an awesome story, so huge reminder to everyone listening in, if you didn’t get Riley’s story, he’s also on the podcast, as well, so to check that one out. Thank you for sharing this whole experience, and would love to stay in touch with you guys. I know I’m looking into doing a lot of international travel coming up here soon, so it’ll be great to catch up with you guys and maybe get some travel advice.
Jody: Totally. Please call. I would love to stay in touch and I would love to hear what you’re doing, and how all the stuff you’re working on is going, because you’ve got some great stuff in the works, and again, congrats on your book. Huge accomplishment.
Zephan: Yeah. Thanks so much. Well, Jody, we will talk to you very, very soon. I’m going to connect with you now online, and thanks for being here.
Jody: Perfect. Thank you. Have a great day.