MAMARONECK, NEW YORK – Mark Ford, whom I used to work with, expressed an important truth about life in his blog once:

In the mid-1970s, my wife and I were living in a humble three-room house without indoor plumbing in N’Djamena, Chad. I was sitting on our front porch watching the rain spill off the roof and onto our little garden when I had this thought:

“One day, you will live in a big, fancy house back in the States. But you will never live in a house that can give you more pleasure than this one.”

My round-the-world trip – with Kate… our three kids… all the countries and hotel rooms – was a two-year “intensive” on this one idea.

We got detained by the Egyptian military at a remote checkpoint. We spent the evening under arrest in a room with nothing but two broken, disconnected toilets in it…

We slept on filthy mattresses in a rundown love hotel in Hong Kong, to the sound of amorous couples and headboards banging against the walls…

We played cards on our suitcase in some eastern European train station in the dead of night when the train we were waiting for came seven hours late…

And yet, like Mark, when I look back on these times, they were among the most satisfying times of my life.

Why? Because I was proud of what we were doing… and we were doing it together, as a family.

Nothing else mattered. Not comfort. Not money. Not possessions. Not even a roof over our heads.

We had a hard mission to complete: To travel around the world, live out of a suitcase for two years, and introduce the kids to the different cultures of the world.

We were doing it together. And we were totally fulfilled.

I’ve never been on a successful sports team, but I imagine this is a taste of what it feels like. The French have a word for this: camaraderie.

This insight discredited almost every other “life strategy” I’d ever tried.

It was such a revelation to me – that you can feel camaraderie with your wife and kids – that it motivated me to start telling our story publicly with emails, photographs, and social media posts.

Indoor Fun

Greetings from Mamaroneck, New York…

We’re staying busy at Grandpa’s apartment. And having lots of fun, too, mostly indoors…

We’re painting, learning music, watching Netflix, talking about science, playing games, etc.

Here’s Miles playing chess with Grandpa. Miles is the chess master of the family.


Miles (11) and Grandpa play a game of chess

Last week, I mentioned we learned from Grandpa how to paint the human head. Our art practice has included other objects, too. How do you like my painting of Kate’s boot? It’s the first time I’ve painted anything since I was in elementary school… 


Tom’s latest art project: painting Kate’s boot

We intersperse the fun with work, though. Here, Grandpa is trading options on shipping stocks while the boys read library books on one of the blow-up mattresses, and Penny delivers lunch.


Penny (9) brings lunch to Grandpa as he trades options

And one part of homeschooling that many parents may not consider is that we can teach the kids personal responsibility throughout the day, no matter what we’re studying.

The kids have to do their fair share of housework. Especially with six people living in one apartment… the floors and countertops get filthy quickly. We have to be cleaning constantly.

Here’s Dusty cleaning the bathroom.


Dusty (13) wipes down the mirrors in Grandpa’s bathroom

Is It Narcissism?

Now, back to my Postcards journey…

A reader wrote in one day, saying my Postcards are “narcissistic.”

I write about my life… and about finance… and I take a lot of pictures of my family. I post it all online. Is that narcissism?

I don’t know. But every day, I ask myself why I feel the need to tell strangers about my life and share photographs of my family.

“Is it because I love myself?” I wonder. “Or is it because my soul has a ravenous hunger for fame and validation that must be fed?”

This is what I’d prefer the answer to be…

I feel like something inspired me… some of which I learned from others (Bill)… some of which I learned from experience (our trip). And then, I felt the tremendous urge to create something (pictures and words) out of it.

And, paradoxically, because I’d lost all my self-esteem through depression and divorce (I told that story here), I found the courage to begin sharing these pictures and words with others.

So I started writing emails to my family and friends and posting on social media. (It served the additional three purposes of letting them know we were safe, helping me organize my thoughts each day, and memorializing our trip in a nice way for my family to look back on in the future.)

And some of them wrote back to me and told me to keep going… that they were being entertained… that they wanted to keep getting my updates.

I started to feel pride in what I was creating. And it emboldened me to share with a bigger and bigger audience. Slowly at first. Then more.

Each time, the people I sent my “stuff” to validated me and encouraged me, which emboldened me even more. Then Bill’s publisher asked me if she could send them to her audience in return for a little money…

And here I am, telling folks about our life every day.

Narcissism? I’ll leave it to you to decide. I don’t like that word, though.

I heard it all the time when I lived in South Florida, before our trip. And no one ever seemed to be able to pin down for me exactly what it meant… except that no one wanted to be around it.

– Tom Dyson

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


Readers respond to Tom’s Postcard from Monday and applaud Tom’s children from creating and designing do-it-yourself Halloween costumes… 

Reader comment: Love your daily blog. It is quite the contrast to the omnipotent insanity of the markets these days, and I pass it on to my wife and our daughter and son every day. Keep up the good work in raising a beautiful family and securing their future; you are an amazing human. 

Reader comment: Wow. What a beautiful costume! This is the first time I have ever responded to anything online like this. Anyone criticizing it just doesn’t know they really are yet. Penny’s outfit is so beautiful because it is so creative. As soon as I saw it, that is exactly what I said to myself. Wow. How beautiful. I am so grateful, actually, that she chose to be here at this time. What a beautiful family to be a part of. 

Good for you, Penny! Hooray for Penny! Sending lots of love and hugs your way. 

Reader comment: I laughed and felt sorry for the kids that were making fun of Dusty’s, Miles’, and Penny’s costumes. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to buy a costume. Making one, however, requires an idea, designing it, and some craftsmanship to create it. All of those are valuable skills in life and work. 

I grew up in a large family and we lived in the biggest house in a small town. Money for costumes was not an issue but we routinely made our own. We were clowns, hobos, cowboys, pirates, princesses, and various other characters. Part of the fun of Halloween was planning and creating our costumes in the days beforehand. Keep thinking for yourself and adding skills!

Tom’s note: Thanks for writing in! As always, please keep your questions and comments coming at [email protected]. I’ll answer as many as I can in a future Friday mailbag edition.