MAMARONECK, NEW YORK – Here’s the backstory…

I had a piece of gum in my head.

And I kept mashing it and mashing it and mashing it. Over and over again.

The gum was a series of painful thoughts that I just couldn’t banish from my head. To the point where I couldn’t think about anything else.

I couldn’t parent. I couldn’t contribute at work. I couldn’t be creative. I couldn’t make decisions. At its worst, I couldn’t read or watch TV.

When people engaged with me, I seemed distant. I was exhausted the whole time. I had such bad insomnia that I developed a tremor in my fingers.

At one point, I hadn’t slept in a week. My hands were shaking like rattles. My friends took me to a psychiatrist… (More below.)

On the Road

Greetings from my dad’s one-bedroom apartment in New York…

Nearly three years ago, Kate and I gave away all our things, handed in the keys to our apartments, and hit the road.

We’ve been traveling like this ever since, living out of a suitcase and homeschooling our kids.

Right now, we’re having a great time in New York, spending six weeks with Grandpa before we move on to our next adventure.

Here we are…


Things get tight in the kitchen in a one-bedroom apartment

But this story didn’t start when we first hit the road. It started with my mental illness…

Chronic Rumination

The psychiatrist called it “chronic rumination.” It’s painful, but it’s not the worst part.

The worst part is you start believing the thoughts will never go away. That you’ll be in this prison forever. That you’ll be stuck mashing that awful gum.

It’s a resignation to suffering. A tiredness. An acceptance of permanent mental discomfort. That’s the depression.

The moment you wake up is the worst part of the day. Because you remember who you are and the prison you’re in.

“Another awful day pushing this bloody rock up the hill,” you think. You long for the day to end so you can turn off the thoughts, stop the brainmashing, and go to sleep.

Except you can’t sleep. Now you have to spend all night mashing the gum.

I felt so lonely at night. I’d long for the morning to come so I could go out. And thus, the cycle went on…

That’s when I started fantasizing about death. “The eternal bliss of suicide,” I called it.

I tried everything to make the pain go away. I took Prozac. I took sleeping pills. I went to therapy. I meditated. I exercised. I went to church and prayed. I read a hundred self-help books. I even went to AA meetings.

This went on for months. But nothing helped. I was so confused.

Hobo Rehab

Finally, I said “enough.”

I packed a small bag. I left my home, my work, and my kids. And I went traveling overseas. To have a change of scenery. To get my head straight. To ride some trains.

“Hobo rehab,” I called it.

I surfed in South Africa. I climbed mountains in Scotland. I rode lots of trains.

Then, Kate invited me to travel with her. We took our kids across America first, to see the national parks. Then we set out to explore the world…

That was nearly three years ago. Since then, we’ve made a complete circumnavigation of the planet. And we’ve visited more than 30 countries on five continents.


The graffiti-covered van we rented to see the national parks

Not only has my depression gone, but I’m having the adventure of a lifetime. I’ve never felt so close to my children. My passion for life has returned. I’m writing again.

And after being divorced for seven years, Kate and I got remarried!

– Tom Dyson

Like what you’re reading? Send your thoughts to [email protected].


In Friday’s mailbag edition, Tom explained why he and his family accept invitations, despite one reader calling them “moochers.” Today, more readers defend Tom and his Postcards

Reader comment: When you write about yourself and your family… you give the most precious gift you can to your readers. There is nothing which bonds you to them better than the sharing of yourself. In a world where no one trusts, your readers have overwhelmingly trusted you because you are being REAL, AUTHENTIC, and GENUINE.

Your readers should take a lesson from what you are doing. There is virtually no one else in the world today who is doing what you are doing. And… they trust you.

Reader comment: I have three kids, six years apart, but all are grown now. I enjoy seeing/reading your blogs. I cannot imagine doing what you are, but love seeing your family doing it. I just hope your kids aren’t too young to remember all the good parts. Happy trails!

Reader comment: Do your best not to let the “trolls” bother you with their sour negativity. You have such a large, loyal following, myself included. I hope we are the ones who count. I love hearing all about the family and your adventures, thoughts, plans, etc. Obviously, lots of other people do as well.

It’s so nice to share your family. In my opinion, you are doing something extraordinary and wonderful for your kids. Yes, they’ll miss out on some of the more standard things in life, but they are getting so much more. And how wonderful that you and Kate get to enjoy your kids in a way that unfortunately few parents experience, especially these days.

Reader comment: It is so great to see pictures of your dad and family connecting. Priceless in today’s arena. Thanks for explaining more of the markets and why silver and gold are precious.

Tom’s note: As always, thanks for your kind messages. We read every one, even if we don’t respond right away. Please keep them coming at [email protected], and I’ll answer as many I can in future Friday mailbag editions.