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The night before we left Boston to spend a year on Rødøy, we got cold feet. Sitting among 6 giant duffle bags, we asked ourselves, “Why are we doing this?”

We had a good life and had no need to escape anything. Instead of staying on that path, I resigned from my job and we set off to live on a small island north of the Arctic Circle for a year, with nothing planned beyond the year. It was crazy.

That night, we proceeded to work out all the necessary steps to reverse course. Despite the last minute doubts, we stuck to the plan. And it turned out to be the best thing our family has ever done.

6 months after we came back from our year off, the children are happy and well adjusted socially and intellectually. Kristin is teaching part-time at a private school in nearby Cambridge, and she loves her job. The app I started writing, Voice Dream Reader, has acquired a passionate customer-base around the globe, reaching top 10 grossing educations apps at one point or another in 48 countries. That doesn’t make us rich, but we live comfortably while my work gives me profound satisfaction: I feel closely connected to my customers and I’m making a small but positive difference in their lives.

I’ve changed. I think. It’s difficult to tell because I’m hardly a neutral observer of myself. When I talked to companies about jobs after I came back, I smiled and nodded but my heart just wasn’t in it. Meanwhile, I kept going back to work on my app even when sales had not taken off, stubbornly tolerating being unemployed far longer than the old me would have. Perhaps, the knowledge that we could live happily with less gave me strength. At the same time, I’m a lot less stressed about things, and I sometimes find the level of stress around me incomprehensible. I’d like to think that I became a better person.

But even if we did not end up at a better place after the year, we would still do it again without hesitation. Because we had an amazing year that is a treasure of experience and memory. For that we’re deeply grateful to Rødøy and everyone there. For the rest of our lives, in good times and bad, this year will be a reference point for what life could be.

Here are the photographic highlights from our year living on Rødøy, and below are some representative blog posts:

Island Scenery



  1. Winston,

    I’m glad you’re feet warned up. I enjoyed your Rødøy adventure!

    March 10, 2013
  2. Hi Winston, Ellen and I certainly enjoyed following your family’s year in Norway.
    Hope to see you in Bethel again someday.

    March 11, 2013
  3. Carol Lidington #

    Thanks for the update, Winston! So glad your family made a smooth transition back to life in the States, and that the lessons and memories of your year in Norway linger on.

    March 11, 2013
  4. Hello, Winston! Glad to hear from you and happy to know that you all are O.K. I was sure about! I miss your family:-(
    The year was great not only for you:-) but for many people who followed…
    Thanks a lot for inviting me to joint you on Facebook. But I had no account there…
    Best wishes for all family!
    The life is the joyful dance!!!

    March 11, 2013
  5. #

    I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey. Now you’re on NPR and have learned a hundred ways to cook/smoke cod. Worth the risk I would say.

    March 11, 2013
  6. Linda B #

    Winston: you and Kristin have always been amazing and interesting individuals, but I really did find your year on Rodoy an extra fascinating adventure to follow. To have the additional bonus of creating a product that is incredibly useful to society (a rarity in itself!) from your passion to learn and create is well deserved. I’m looking forward to catching up with you guys soon. 🙂

    March 12, 2013
    • “an extra fascinating adventure to follow” I’m not alone with such idea:-)

      March 12, 2013
  7. Gary Powell #

    Lovely post Winston, always thought the website needed a coda, and that’s a great way to end it.

    March 12, 2013
  8. Winston, I hope you keep your story and this site in the net? even if you’ll write a book…

    March 13, 2013
  9. Thank you every for your kinds words and wishes. I was my privilege to share this experience with you!

    May 20, 2013
  10. Richard #

    Congratulations Winston … You have enjoyed an experience early enough in life to have a profoundly positive impact on your life, your family, your friends and those of us who have been fortunate enough to share in your experience. All the best!

    June 3, 2013

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