We measure children every year to see how tall they have gotten. We take photos on birthdays to show the progression of life and its milestones along the way.
Likewise, I feel like it’s important to always look back on how far you have come rather than focus on what more you need to accomplish.
I have been a full-time RVer now for almost 2 years come May 2023. Out of those beginnings sprung this very magazine. An outlet for wisdom, tips, community, and laughs. My journey also gave birth to one ebook and another book along the way. Inventions, projects, speaking engagements, and a true desire to help people travel solo.
Some of you may know my origin story, but for those who don’t here is a recap.
A tumor is what got me to realize that time was finite and that the different life that I had dreamed about needed to happen sooner rather than later. After my kids left home to spread their wings, I felt like it was finally time to spread mine. I quickly moved to southern Missouri to a tourist town to work as a graphic designer. I was not impressed. Not with the town, the people, the company I worked for…none of it. At that same time a friend of mine, of nearly 20 years, was going through a divorce. A messy one. We came to an agreement, and I moved to central Missouri to assist her with bills and to catch up on precious time we had missed. The arrangement soon showed its true colors and I realized that my presence there was more one-sided. Yet I stayed. I kept trying to reconnect to no avail.
After finding my second tumor, I came home from my biopsy to find an eviction letter in my mailbox…from my friend! It was the final straw! I sold what I could, shoved the rest into storage, and bought a small camper out of someone’s backyard, and was gone. Gone to the Tetons in the great state of Wyoming for my very first workcamping gig.
The amount of learning I had to do in that first year was astronomical. Not only did I have to learn how to tow and unhook and set up a camper, but I had to learn how to earn a living on the road. Learn, or rather unlearn how not to depend on the 9 to 5. Coming “home” took on an entirely different meaning.
Most full-timers have gotten their feet wet a bit by becoming weekend warriors and taking long trips to try out this life before retirement. I did not have that luxury. Not the practice run. Not a steady income. Nothing. I just took off and never looked back.
In doing so, I have had to learn the hard way, which in my case is the only way I truly learn. So what did I learn or even unlearn?
I learned to remodel everything. From painting a full mural, not once, but twice on the outside and all the many projects inside. I had to learn and be mindful of weights, placement, balance and how to upcycle to the max!
I learned that every week, month or even day that I said “I can’t do this” …I actually did it. Sometimes not well and most times I had to redo it…but I did it. Every busted knuckle and mismeasured board came with its own set of curse words and tears. And yet I bandaged the scraps and learned to measure more times than needed and got it fixed.
That I don’t need a 9 to 5 job or a career. My identity is not tied up or held hostage by a profession any longer. Which gives me the freedom to create when I want and what I want. To not be dictated by some hierarchy but to be a part of something. Something worthwhile.
I learned that life is so much better without Netflix and Hulu and your life measured in inches and dpi’s. Seeing the actual world, not just on a screen but smelling it, feeling the breeze, even so much as noticing the difference in the way water taste in various locations amazes me. In my travels, I have come to know that Wyoming is too cold for me. Beautiful in all her splendor but the wind there is like standing in front of an open freezer. I am never warm there. That the Grand Canyon has a smell. It smells like wet rocks and pine trees.
I learned that I am NOT a dessert dweller! I have to have trees and water in my life and though I respect the beauty it holds; it is not for me. My happy place is near or on water. It’s where I learned to meditate for the first time. It’s what washes my day away and everything negative that has stuck with me from the day. Clean slate.
I learned to hike and kayak. Being outdoors in nature is so healing for me. Kayaking allowed me to be free on the water and hiking gave me the exercise I desperately need without feeling like it was a chore. To trek to places I could not see. Down paths that opened up to magical views were so spectacular.
I learned that I can live bigger, bolder, and brighter with less money, less effort, and way less stress. I have narrowed my expenses down to about $700 a month and I tend to not make much more than that. Just enough for what I need. If I need more, I make more. But nothing in excess.
I learned the true meaning of gratefulness. Whether it’s having that first real shower after having to bath out of a cup of cold water for days, or that first blast of heat that comes from your heater after being without electricity and freezing at night. I have learned the true meaning of gratitude. Grateful for the next gig and the hourly pay. Grateful for the people I meet. Grateful for the camper that I continue to bandage together every day.
I grew up with family nearby, a family of my own, and in a tribal community. But I learned on the road that there is another kind of family. Another kind of tribe comes when you share a certain goal, life passion or purpose. Sometimes these connections are way stronger than DNA and last a lifetime.
I learned what freedom really is. To be free. Live free. Choose what path I want and do it. To not be constrained by schedules, timelines, or people. Just be my own travel guide and go.
I learned that I am fiercely protective now of my peace. My slice of heaven. My complete comfort zone. I relish my “me-time” and fight to keep it sacred at all costs. If a place or a person threatens to steal my peace, I can quickly move along down the road and not ever be “stuck” again.
These lessons have shaped me. Molded me. Broke me. And forged me into a completely new person. With each zip code I pass through I become something and someone new. More like a child with eyes wide open for new wonders. Excited and nervous to get out there and dig in the dirt for diamonds or go hiking where there could be bears. To take those pictures of that 100th tree and kayak that lake and see historical structures and places that still stand and the stories they still tell.
May that be my wish for all of us out there. Be wild with a whole lot of gypsy!