"I had my own business as a civil engineer and I got really disgusted by it. It seemed like I was just making money for all these people who were raping the Earth to build whatever they wanted to build. I decided I just didn’t want to be a part of that anymore. I ended up selling my business for one dollar. I went down the street to buy a hotdog and I had to actually barter for the hotdog because they cost more than a dollar. Then, I just started following my passions in astronomy and music. I also got very involved in environmental groups. Another big decision I made was to live in the woods for three and a half years. I built a wigwam and lived off the grid. I was grieving the loss of my wife at the time and it was a very healing experience. I became much more nature-centered. One of the biggest things I learned from selling my business and living in the woods was how to look inside myself and really see what I want to do; not what people tell me to do, or what society tells me, but what I want."
"I made this huge decision to go to Colombia right after high school. My first semester of college, I worked like a dog and saved up a lot of money and then moved to Colombia. I worked at a boys’ orphanage there for six months. The experience made me realize what I wanted to do with my life; social service work."
"You have to make decisions of discipline and sacrifice."
What’s something you have sacrificed?
"My time…for my passion, which is videography."
How has videography impacted you the most?
"It impacts me in that I get to help influence and empower others. I tell other peoples’ stories, just like you. You’re learning a lot from me, but you’re also learning a lot from yourself, such as the courage that makes someone open up and the connection that we just shared. There’s something special in that—learning that everyone has a story."
"I quit my last band a year and a half ago. They were a metal band. Since then, I started completely drifting away from metal and doing stuff like indie rock. I think emotionally you are what you listen to. If you’re listening to metal or hard rock all the time, you’re going to have those aggressive, angry tendencies in your head and I think that’s a negative thing. But indie rock and psychedelic rock is so much more free and good-spirited, which influences the rest of your life."
"I have three children and that was a huge decision. I am a bird of the sky. So, I will fly away and go wherever. Like I could be in India right now. But my children keep me grounded."
Man: “The biggest decision we made was to not to have kids. I wasn’t ready to have children until I was 50 and I felt I was too old to have a child then.”
Woman: “I thought we would end up getting divorced if we had kids. I would have ended up being the only childcare person and I really love my career. I wouldn’t have been able to share it.”
How has not having children impacted you?
Man: “I think it’s a joy to have children and watch them grow up and see yourself in them. On the other hand, it’s a great responsibility and very tiring. You have to give things up. We’ve been able to travel and enjoy the freedom of just doing whatever we want. Whereas with a child, you’re limited.”
"I decided to spend 3 months with a couple of my friends backpacking in Africa. I had a little bit of money saved up to travel, but beyond that, I just had my backpack and a couple days worth of clothes."
What did you learn from that trip?
"We have so much and there is not a whole lot you need. When you go to a store there, you have this or that. When you go to a store here, you have hundreds. Do you see how big the chip aisle is in Stop and Shop? There’s every kind of chip, every flavor. It’s just too much. I love the whole simplification of existence when you’re traveling with a backpack. Whatever you bring, you have to carry."
"The biggest decision I made was to divorce my first husband. I knew I married the wrong person. We were just completely incompatible. I felt like he didn’t let me grow, which is part of the reason why I left the marriage. I think I really would have been stuck and I would not have become the person I am today. But, I made the right choice the second time."
"The biggest decision I made was to move to Switzerland to take a job at the Université de Genève. I knew that the culture was going to be different—that I would have no understanding of how the banks work and all the plugs were going to be wrong. But, knowing that going over, I’d say that there was far more culture shock when I returned to the States. In 8 years abroad, the States had changed considerably, which I wasn’t anticipating.”
"The divorce was my biggest crossroad. People who know me think of me as a feminist or an incredibly liberated woman. I am liberated since I’m not married anymore. But it wasn’t always that way. When I was married, I was taken care of in a sense. My husband was a professor and we lived a university life. Money was no problem. Life seemed kind of straight and narrow. My husband was pretty controlling. I was totally wrapped up in the family. I was like the perfect wife, always putting the needs of others before my own and that seemed the way it should be. It was almost like a Victorian, premodern concept of womanhood. I was dogmatic in the belief that I was creating some sort of paradise for my kids because it seemed to me like the ideal family situation. I was living in a dream house, in a dollhouse; with the dogs, and the cats, and the boa constrictor snake, and the nice house, and having everyone over, and cooking and the kids taking piano lessons. As a child, I didn’t have my own family. I more or less grew up in an orphanage. So my home situation seemed like everything I dreamed of. But, I wasn’t looking at reality. I had a certain blindness of what was right in front of me.
I was just waiting for my youngest daughter to get into kindergarten and then everything changed. The divorce was precipitated by the fact that my husband became mentally ill. I was hoping that with psychiatric help, my husband would get better. One of the psychiatrists saw both of us and said, ‘You know, the problem is with you.You never talk about yourself. You tell me these ghastly stories about physical abuse that happens to you and you never cry. All you’re thinking about is how can you make him better and how you can save your family.’ And that was a real wake-up call. That was the beginning of me becoming a new person. I changed enormously. I became a more independent person and true to myself.
I got my PhD despite living below the poverty line with four children and then got my first job teaching in Oregon. I remember the first time I went to a party by myself after the divorce. I just didn’t know how I’d do it. I wanted to put a paper bag over my head. And then guess what, I had such a good time! I could be myself because my husband, who wasn’t a sociable person, wasn’t there. And wow! I never knew I was so social! After that, I became a tango dancer for fourteen years. I danced tango every Saturday night until 3 or 4 in the morning. What a different life I have!”