Nicole and her kiddos

During this extended self-isolation experience I’ve especially enjoyed one of my favorites, Househunters International.  A fan for years, I even watch repeats of episodes filmed in places I either love or really, really want to visit.  Because the episodes are short, I often watch them during lunch, to get a true break during the workday.

So this week I was watching an episode in Scotland, a place that holds special interest because my paternal great grandfather was born in Glasgow.  The house hunter, American Nicole Ratliff, was an engaging single mom who, with her twin 9-year-olds, was moving there from Mexico to attend the University of St. Andrews.  Interesting, but I was admittedly focused on my yummy avocado toast lunch (topped with leftover grilled sweet potatoes and asparagus, and a fried egg!)—until something grabbed my attention.  I rewound to make sure I’d heard correctly. Yes, Nicole mentioned that at age seven she was diagnosed with spina bifida.  My niece has spina bifida. Hers is a more severe case that was diagnosed prenatally, and she uses a wheelchair.  Nicole walks with a cane, and the stairs in the homes she viewed were a visible challenge for her, but on her limited budget the best she could hope for was a bedroom/bathroom on the ground floor.

I was curious about this woman’s story.  Turns out she became an expat to give her children the experience of living in different places, learning different cultures, and becoming, like her, lifelong learners.  She was pursuing a second master’s degree in social anthropology. But wait, there’s more—her twins also have disabilities (autism and ADD/oppositional defiance disorder).  Nicole left her government job to travel with her kids “to show that because you have a disability, does not mean you should not be able to travel and see the world.” They have a Facebook blog, and as I read it I discovered that they are Roamers!  Currently self-isolating in St. Andrews after having lived in Columbia and Mexico, they are living roaming lives, worldschooling, exploring, and inspiring many people, especially single parents and people with disabilities.  

Phil and I don’t have disabilities.  We don’t have money problems. We’re healthy, we’re white Americans, we’re privileged. And we’re self-isolating here in central Texas, longing for the day when we can resume travel and plan in earnest for our roaming days. But in the meantime, I plan to devote some time every day to gratitude, and to celebrate people like Nicole and her kids, who inspire us all.

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