The Freedom to Work and Wander

The Freedom to Work and Wander

When you meet someone new, one of the first questions you’ll likely hear is: “What do you do?” From a young age, we’re supposed to believe that our work is our life—our raison d’être—or our purpose of being.

But I have a confession to make: My work does not define me—at least, not all of me.

I’m a content writer at Articulate, and I love what I do. Is it my passion? Absolutely. Do I have all of the hobbies that you’d expect from a stereotypical writer? If that means geeking out on storytelling podcasts, attending women’s book clubs, and exchanging short stories with friends in my free time—then yes, that’s me.

But here’s the thing: Being a writer is only part of my identity. It’s my dream—but it’s not my only dream.

I’m also passionate about outdoor adventures and traveling. I’m an avid hiker, rock climber, and backpacker. I feel most inspired when I’m slogging my way up a difficult crag route or sleeping under the stars in the backcountry.

In the past, I’ve felt like I had to choose between these conflicting sides of my personality and interests. My career and my travels were mutually exclusive. I could either be ambitious or adventurous. I could work, or I could wander—but I couldn’t do both.

For the first time in my professional life, I don’t feel like I have to choose between these things. At Articulate, all of my passions are supported—both inside and outside of work.

And it’s this type of culture that led to my most recent project: Vanna White.

A Career and a Camper Van

This past year, my partner and I bought a 2015 Ram Promaster van (salvage title and all!)—who we affectionately named “Vanna White.” Our goal was to gut the insides and build Vanna into a camper van—DIY style.

You see, Articulate is a 100% distributed company. If you have a strong Wi-Fi connection and a laptop, it’s possible to do your work from anywhere. Literally.

You can set up your office in your home, at a coffee shop—or even from a van stationed in some of the most beautiful parks across the country. Articulate is supportive as long as your work is getting done, and you’re available when you need to be.

It’s this level of freedom and flexibility that got me asking bigger questions, like: “What do I want my life to look like?” “How might I bring my office outdoors?” and “What if there was a way I could work and travel sustainably?”

My answer to these questions was threefold. I decided I wanted to:

  1. Buy a van.
  2. Convert it into a camper van.
  3. Work and travel in the van across the Pacific Northwest.

I’m thrilled to say that my partner and I have finally made it to Step 3. It took seven months (and hundreds of YouTube videos) to transform Vanna White from an empty shell of a cargo van into a comfortable and functional mobile home and office.

There’s now a full-sized bed, an induction stove, and a sink with running water. We have solar panels and electricity. We even built two bench seats with a slide-out table where I can set up my workstation and enjoy my morning cup of coffee.

It’s only been a few months since Vanna’s been up and running. But so far, my partner and I have taken Vanna from Portland to Los Angeles and back. We’ve climbed in Alabama Hills, Smith Rock, and Joshua Tree. Most recently, we’ve returned from trips to Goat Rocks Wilderness, the Puget Sound region, and Maupin, Oregon, where we went whitewater rafting.

Getting to work and explore the country from a van we built ourselves is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and adventure. At most companies, it would be an impractical and impossible dream.

But I’ve found that Articulate isn’t like most companies. It isn’t even like most remote companies.

Yes, I save time on would-be commutes. And yes, I have the rare freedom to choose where I work. But even beyond that, what impresses me most about Articulate is the way I’m treated as a whole person—not just an employee.

My manager genuinely wants me to do the things that I love and give me creative energy. Our biweekly, one-on-one meetings aren’t just about how I’m performing and feeling at work—they’re also about how I’m doing and feeling in life, in general.

“Work is part of your life. Not your entire life.”
—Mike Enders, My Boss

That’s because Articulate’s culture is built on the fundamental truth that a happy and healthy business starts with happy and healthy people. Personal development and professional development are understood as connected. Articulate challenges and supports you to be the best at your job—but they also challenge and support you to be the best version of yourself, period.

For me, that means I no longer have to hide or compartmentalize my rogue passions and wildest ambitions. I can write from the comfort of my van, and I can go on adventures. I’m not expected to wait for some undefined “tomorrow” to start living my life to its fullest.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Benjamin Franklin: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

At Articulate, I intend to do both.