How my dog inspired me to quit my job, pack my car, and take a road trip across America to reclaim my life.

Have you ever felt like running away? I mean truly running away; quitting your job, checking out, going off the grid, saying goodbye to your family and friends, leaving town, the grocery store, the gas station, the lady who cuts your hair, the boy who cuts your grass, the stack of unpaid bills. Has your life ever gotten to the point where you felt like your robotic obedience to the norm is steering you off a cliff? Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am doing what I am meant to do?”  Or has it come down to –

Off the Leash-Jean Ellen WhatleySo what happens when you step off? What happens when so many bad things have been thrown your way, you just can’t clear the hurdles anymore? 

What happens when you awaken to a longing in your heart so deep and so powerful, to ignore it would be like leaving a baby in the road?

What would it take to change your life? What are you willing to risk to walk away from it all, to simply say, “I can’t do this anymore.”


I did it. Last summer I risked everything; my reputation, my family’s shoestring existence, my safety, even my sanity. I risked it all to do something radical. I wigged out. I split. I took off. The spark of an idea became an obsession, calling me out, daring me to do something I had never done before.

I blew off my soul-killing, 60-hour-a-week job, took every last dime to my name, with not enough money to even get back home, loaded up my dog and a lot more baggage than I realized, and hit the road. I needed to attend to the things I longed for. Do you ever feel that way, like there’s some empty space inside you, desperately hoping you’ll figure out how to fill it ? Sometimes we know what it is,  sometimes we don’t. I just knew I had to go.

Nobody wants to be a test dummy for heartache and misfortune.

I began to listen to my inner voice. It was nagging me like a fever in the night, challenging me to not defer my dreams because of the heap of grief I still had to climb over. How many times have we ignored our inner voice ? I know I have and I paid the price. So, if you’ll indulge me, for just a second, I want to tell you something.

Lean into the madness.

When something calls you out, daring you to do something drastic to change your life, follow that sound. I will tell you, straight up, it’s hard. But an unattended inner voice is like an unruly child, sent to her room, silenced, but resentful. It is scary to grab her by the hand and bring her out, and trust me, there are always consequences.

But your inner voice will guide you to good places if you let it. You just need to be still enough to hear it. It’s like a clock in the hall, counting off every second of our lives. It’s always there, that reminder. It is the ever-present cadence of our days and nights, seldom heard, covered up by the noise of our daily duties, until those sacred moments, when the house is still and we hear its rhythm; strong, steady, true.

Quiet your house. If I could sit down in front of you, right now, take both of your hands in mine and look you straight in the eye, this is what I would say to you, “Quiet your house.”

And come with me.

Jean Whatley and Libby - Grand Canyon

“I hate it when she won’t let me chase squirrels.” Grand Canyon National Park

Come with me on this journey. I’ll shove the junk to the floorboard and let you ride shotgun on the most enlightening, life affirming, and unworldly trip I have ever been on. Come on.

The dog won’t bite and there’s plenty of room. I suspect, we’ll make good traveling companions, you and I. We’re much alike. At least that’s what my journey so far has taught me; we are so much more alike than we are different.

So, come on, let’s go. Boy, do I have some stories for you! Some are tragic, some shocking, many, hilarious. You won’t believe the people you’ll meet. You won’t believe the things I saw, the things that happened. I promise. Come with me. Allow me to share this trip with you. We’ll talk about our fears, our losses, learning to forgive and the astounding bliss of simply being present.

We’ll kick up some transcendental gravel, I guarantee. But maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the road, whether it’s the pizza boy in Toledo, the musicians on the California highway or the thundering silence of the Utah desert, maybe some of these voices will echo inside your soul, making my journey all the more purposeful and richer beyond measure. 

I invite you. Come with me. Off the Leash.