Saturday, September 3, 2016

So Very Zen

We chose the fulltime RV lifestyle for the ability to travel, to change our scenery and explore cool places easily. Unfortunately, that is not how the last year has worked out, due to various factors not within our control.

However, in the past month, we have enjoyed some small travels. We slow tripped it home from our summer home in CDA, stopping at a fruit ranch for a few days and a mountain pass for a couple days as well. This week, we are back at the pass. The view out our windows has changed, the nearby activities just a bit different. Although these are not necessarily exciting and new locations, we both feel energized by these small travels. This is why we got the Airstream. This was what we intended to do. This was the whole point. 

As Brandon put it once, this past year we have experienced all of the challenges of life in a small traveling home and none of the benefits. Maybe now we will get to experience some of the benefits. Maybe. Knock on wood. Throw salt over your shoulder. Stroke a rabbits foot. I do feel superstitious after this past year, like just when we got hopeful another setback or obstacle popped up.

So I won't be hopeful for the future. Instead, I will simply appreciate the present. Today, I am looking out my "living room" window at mountains shrouded in clouds, the cottonwood leaves wavering in the gentle wind. Tomorrow I will pick berries with my family and my children will be covered in berry juice and dirt. Maybe we will have a campfire in the cool fall evening. The next day I will ride my bike with good friends from the top of one ski area to another. Right this moment, life is good. God is teaching me to be in the moment. I know, so cliche, but also so hard.

Dreams, Failure, and In Between

Many dreams are difficult, and one knows it from the onset. People dream of completing the PCT in one go. It's not impossible, many achieve it. When they return from their journey, they tell of oozing blisters and a monotony of one step forward followed by another that nearly broke them mentally. But as they tell these stories, it's with the gleam of victory. There is nothing like overcoming adversity and it has a life-changing power. You cannot achieve the same spirit vicariously from the comfort of your couch viewing a reality show. You are not alive. You are just breathing and existing.

Some dreams fail, or are so miserable that they should be deemed a failure. Our current dream, of living full time in an Airstream, might be one of those miserable undertakings. It has been sooooo hard. Many people would say this failed dream was predictable, that they tried to warn us. But we are in the middle of the challenges now, so we can't see clearly. We are sitting on the trail with bloody feet, trying to adhere duct tape to our heels and toes and arches. We are sitting on the trail crying because we have hit yet another obstacle, that seems to be a message: "you shouldn't have done this." 

I'm not someone who gives up, and I'm not even sure that's a positive trait. Sometimes, in my life, it would've been wise to "give up". It wouldn't even have been giving up; it would have been admitting I made a poor choice and starting over. I spent three years hating my college, for example. I didn't choose to transfer to a different college partly out of apathy but mainly because I wanted to make my choice right. I did somewhat enjoy my senior year. Does that make it a good decision to stick with it? Or, would it have been wiser to transfer in my freshman year and have three years of a great experience?

So this is where we are right now, decision time. Our original plan when we moved into the AS was to stay in it for two years before breaking ground on our new home. Yet, this past year was not the travel year we had hoped and now Brandon's neck injury has us wondering if we ought to stick it out one more year. I really don't want to. I am ready for a home and a little more space. Why does this feel like giving up when it was the plan from the start? 

The thing about failure is that you often look back on your mistakes fondly. To live full time in a travel trailer with two kids in a rainy environment might have been a mistake, but we've made many beautiful memories along the way. And, I have a feeling that when we tell of it, it will be with that gleam of victory, that sense that we did something a little amazing, that we were alive, and that we made it through together. 

Still though, I'm ready to be at the "looking back" point. Sitting with friends around a dining room table, drinking a glass of wine as we tell of our trials, and thinking "oh man, I'm sooo glad to be done with that dream." 😂

Friday, September 2, 2016


Did you know that a life can unravel from one moment, one decision? We had a home in the mountains, a beautiful and fun toddler, a relatively happy marriage, and time to spend playing in the mountains: hiking, running, skiing, biking.

It was time for a change, we knew it. Not because we wanted to leave our current life. Not because we dreamed of better, really. No, we knew we had to make a change in order to fix a mistake we had made years back, to do the "responsible" thing. So we struck a compromise: we sold our beloved home and purchased an Airstream to live in full-time while we saved some money to build a home on a lot that we purchased at the peak of the market (yep, that was the mistake to be fixed). 

We dreamed that we would travel and live with less stuff. We were excited for adventure. Everyone else we knew, however, thought we were crazy and didn't hesitate to say so. Coworkers had bets for how long we would make it in our new lifestyle, ranging from 2 weeks to 3 months. Oh, and did I mention that at the time we made this decision we were expecting baby #2?

The Airstream life has been stressful and the opposite of freeing. It is hard to link our experience to any one factor because, frankly, this has been a rough year full of issues that would've been difficult even in a normal home lifestyle. 

April-June 2015 moving and more moving, organizing the storage unit, selling possessions
June 2015 one week trip
July 2015 doc orders no travel (baby)
Aug 2015 baby!!! House-sat for a friend
Sept 2015 back in the Airstream, prepping for trip
Oct-Nov big road trip!!!
Dec- two nearby trips
Jan- sick the entire month, plus returned to work after mat leave
Feb- unexpected family member death; memorial planning, estate dealings
March- one nearby trip, discovered leak
April-May displaced for repairs
June- prepping for trip, neck injury
July-August stayed in one spot (it was pretty!), no travel due to injury

During this time, we have fought way more than ever in our marriage. We have developed bad habits of criticism and harsh words. We have taken our stress out on our toddler and put unreasonable expectations on him. He has overhead way too many adult conversations about "what to do next". 

This isn't to say we haven't had good times, or that we won't have fond memories of this time. There will be some, for sure. But the good don't outweigh the bad, and we are tired. We don't have hope that the lifestyle will improve for us. Maybe this next year we won't get seriously ill, incur major injury and lose a loved one. Maybe we will actually be able to travel as we had planned. 

But what if not? What if it's another year of sitting in a confined space while it pours rain day after day, with the same exact view instead of a view that changes as we travel? What if it's another several months of being displaced (ie moving all of our stuff repeatedly) while our AS gets repaired? What if we are thwarted nearly every time we try to enjoy this lifestyle?

My deepest fear is that we sold our happiness with our home. It's not rational but it's real for me. The last time I can remember being happy is in that home. The last chunk of time I remember getting along well with my husband, the last time I felt comfort in my surroundings, the last time I felt at home. The last time life felt easy. What if we can't get it back??? What if it's gone?

I really wanted this dream to work. Wanting something to work isn't enough. I'm reminded of my baby girl trying to force the star shape into the circle hole; it just won't work, no matter how badly she wants it to and no matter her level of determination.

We are faced with some decisions, but again, they are complicated. If it were easy, I'd say we should start building next June, as planned. But now, with my husband's neck injury, we might have to wait one whole more year. If he is injured and cannot start the building process, do we just sell the AS and rent? Do we continue to try to fit the star in the circle and hope the AS lifestyle is finally what we dreamed of? Or, do we move forward with building even if it means paying other people to do the work?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Crazy decision

In April of 2015, we sold our home and moved into a 30 foot Flying Cloud Airstream. We made this choice for a few reasons: to save some money, to allow for me to work part time and stay home more with our children, and to travel in the process. There was a larger goal too of getting to a better spot financially (i.e. no debt and money saved to build a home).

We knew it wouldn't be easy, but if you knew us you'd say this is something we could achieve and maybe even enjoy. We are outdoorsy, love adventure and travel, and we can handle life with less stuff and fewer amenities.

Still, it has been a rough year, and actually for reasons different than we all anticipated. So, I am turning to writing, as I have in other rough patches of life, as a way to dispose of the negative and potentially shift into happier thoughts. This will not be a blog where I post only happy thoughts. Some of my posts will start and end on a dark note. You can expect honesty and my real, unfiltered thoughts. I'm a believer in process, and sometimes you have to stay in the dark for awhile. You cannot always just flip the switch and "be positive".

Hopefully these musings are helpful to someone else in a dark place. At minimum, I know they will be helpful to me.