A Culture of Stuckness

In May 2020, I launched my first book, Unstuck, and soon after, created a book club where I interviewed one of my favorite authors, Ken Ilgunas, author of Walden on Wheels, Trespassing Across America, and This Land is Our Land.

I recently sat down to revisit the interview and take notes. It was painful to witness my lack of interview skills, and the amount of you knowsums, and but uhs, I used while speaking. Luckily, seasoned journalist, Jennifer Sheffield joined me, asked some great questions, and gave me a model for future interviews. 

Take note: Don’t let your inexperience discourage you from doing something new. While the interview was not as smooth as I would have liked, it generated a good conversation and a baseline from where to start.  

Below are notes and quotes from my conversation with Ken Ilgunas for the Unstuck Book Club. If you would like to view the entire interview, click HERE for a link.

What we discussed:

How People Get Stuck

Ken: “I think sometimes we are funneled into this culture of ‘stuckness’ because we haven’t been exposed enough to people who are unstuck.” 

It turns out that Ken, Jennifer, and I had all fell into that culture and eventually became stuck. Luckily, we all found ways to escape. I noted becoming stuck can happen more than once in your life, and Jennifer mentioned the importance of recognizing when you fall back into the funnel. I discussed fears that prevented me from moving forward into a new career, and Becky talked about how she has delayed publishing her book.

Ken also discussed how surprised high school and college students are when he tells them about his adventures. Many students have little to no awareness of a path besides the prescribed plan our culture advises. Even within the college plan, there seems to be a push to follow a particular path by choosing a major that provides a secure and prosperous future.

How People Get Unstuck

Ken described the intense drive he had to pay off his student debt. The drive to change his situation led him to take on some jobs in desperation. Ken once worked as a tour guide and cook at a remote truck stop in Coldfoot, Alaska, for $9/hr. Although it was less than glamourous, it led to some fantastic adventures and eventually a debt-free status. Jennifer shared how when she took the road less traveled, it was bumpy, but gave her exciting stories to write.  

Ken encourages listening to and trusting that inner voice clamoring for something and not ignoring a flash of inspiration and recognizing and taking opportunities you might not get again as life circumstances change.

Gap Years and Van Life

We talked about how gap years provide great experiences for young people but not as popular in the US as they are in Europe. I had never heard of a gap year until a camp in my community began offering one.

I shared a story I heard on the podcast Table 112. As a recent high school graduate, Caroline was looking for an alternative to the traditional 4 year college experience. She and her dad built a mobile dorm room in a van and now Caroline and her canine companion, Belle have hit the road. You can follow their adventures here

While Caroline is living the van life for adventure while taking classes online during a pandemic, Ken took up residence in a van to avoid further debt while attending graduate school long before #vanlife was a thing.

We all agreed that parental support is huge when deciding to take the road less traveled. I hope I remember this if my son comes to me in the future with a yearning for a life outside the box!

The World of Writing

As everyone in the zoom group was a writer, we spent some time talking about the craft and business of writing. Each sharing experiences in their niche of the writing world.

I hope you find some value in these notes and quotes. It was such a fun and enlightening experience for me. I’ll be posting notes and quotes from the second interview next week. Make sure to sign up to be notified when new blog posts are published at www.lorisanders.com.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about any of these topics. You can send me an email at hello@lorisanders.com. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.

You can find Ken on Facebook and Instagram.

You can find Jennifer on Instagram.

Until next time, be well.


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