Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My People

Until a few months ago, I didn't know a single person who was living the lifestyle I dream of. When I mentioned to family or friends what I was hoping to do, they were supportive, but none of them had ever done anything more than camp for short periods of time.

Now, though, I can chat with hundreds of full-time RVers at any time of the day or night. And if everyone else is busy or asleep, I can still be inspired by and learn from them.

In my search for others who were living the life I dream of, I first looked where I always look -- books. On amazon.com I found a couple of books that looked promising and immediately ordered them.

While waiting for them to arrive, I googled "full-time RVing blogs" and similar terms; they yielded several blogs that I bookmarked and began reading.

Two of the bloggers mentioned a couple of different Facebook groups they are members of, so I immediately logged onto Facebook and requested to join those groups. Each group accepted me, and I now had blogs and Facebook groups to read.

When the books arrived, I read those and discovered a few more great blogs and another Facebook group.

Within the course of a few days and by following leads given both on Facebook and the first blogs I'd found, I had surrounded myself with hundreds of people who had the same dream I have and who acted on it.

Over the last few months, I've gradually added to and deleted from my list of blogs and groups as I figure out which ones best fit what I am looking for and which ones have the "atmosphere" I'm looking for.

I left one group, for example, because its most vocal members were often snippy and snide. Another group was less about the RV lifestyle and more about homeschooling while RVing. One of the blogs I stopped following focused primarily on photography, and another was filled more often with survivalist and anti-government talk than conversation about life in an RV.

I've whittled my Facebook groups down to four and the blogs down to five.

That may seem like an awful lot of reading, but I skim the Facebook posts very quickly, looking for topics that are of particular interest to me, and I only read a small fraction of what is posted overall. The writers of the blogs I follow post once or, at most, twice a week, and their posts are never very long. On the average, I spend about 20 minutes a day reading about the RV lifestyle.

This has proven to be time very well spent. I keep track of information about the reputations (quality and reliability) of various makes of RVs, and I've learned all kinds of great information that has led me to better narrow the parameters of my own RV search.

I've also created a few "documents" and cut-and-paste useful information from posts and blogs into those documents for future reference.

Being part of these Facebook groups and reading about other people's experiences on their blogs has been inspirational, eye-opening, informative, and entertaining. It's also fueled my own desire to purchase an RV and begin traveling as I can.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded, positive but realistic individuals can be immensely helpful. If you haven't yet found those people for yourself, I encourage you to search for blogs and Facebook groups of people who are doing what you dream of doing.

Go find "your people"!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Changing My Ways

I have a close relative who hates having a birthday. She always has. Even when she turned 30 -- over 30 years ago -- she greeted her special day not with smiles and happy anticipation of the year to come but with a crankily snarled "Don't even mention that number".

I never understood that.

Until this past Spring.  When I turned 50-something. I won't even mention the number.

When I realized in early May that I wasn't looking forward to my birthday, I began contemplating why I was not only dreading the day but even feeling downright depressed about it.

It didn't take me long to figure it out.

First, I'm aging. There, I've said it. No matter what the upbeat Facebook memes declare about the glories of the senior years, my "best years" are no doubt behind me.  My knees ache, my shoulder hurts, the wrinkles grow more pronounced every day, and don't even get me started on the state of my upper arms.

Another reason is that I felt as though I've lost the last almost-8 years. I was alive and productive, yes. But I was in a fog or depressed or just putting one foot in front of the other. I wasn't living fully and or with any sincere enthusiasm. It's nobody's fault, Heaven knows, but it saddens me to think that such a large chunk of my life was spent merely going through the motions.

Try as I might, I couldn't stop time. My birthday came and went. But the dissatisfaction with the state of my existence didn't lessen when May 22 passed into the history books.

It lasted a few more weeks until one morning when I was on my 45-minute cardio walk, a once-familiar but now almost-forgotten emotion gripped me:  determination. 

The intensity of the sudden commitment to change the status quo literally caused me to stop where I was. Which was pretty ironic, given that I decided right then to stop going through the motions and start making things, positive things, happen.

It felt pretty heady, actually.

I went home and spent hours, that day and the next, taking stock of where I was, every single thing I spent time on, and how I felt physically and emotionally. A whole-life check-up, if you will.

The results weren't pretty.

I came to the conclusion that I had been doing far too many things for the wrong reasons. I'd been doing things because this or that expert said I should. Trying one thing and then shifting direction when someone else said I should be doing something else. Not living true to myself.


For years.

But no more. Gripped with my new-found sense of determination to change my life and to live authentically, I pulled out a single large piece of unlined paper. At the top, I wrote, "What do I really want? What do I want to accomplish?"

Answering those questions was easy.

The next part was not only easy, it was also fun.

I chucked everything. All the advice and admonishments of experts. All the hoops I was clumsily trying to jump through. All the shoulds and musts.

And on that large piece of paper, I wrote what I instinctively knew was right for me to do.

That large piece of paper now hangs on the bulletin board above the desk in my home office. A photo of it is the wallpaper on my iPhone. I look at it every day, and I ponder it every Saturday before I plan the coming week.

Changes have been made.

I deleted my electronic to-do app. Almost three years of using an electronic planner because that's the "efficient" thing to do was gone with a few taps on my phone screen.

I've stopped mindlessly watching television.

I've stopped reading books just to read them. If they aren't well-written or don't contribute positively to my life, back to the library or off my kindle app they go.

I've stopped reaching out to individuals -- friends and family -- who have made it crystal clear that relationship with me isn't important to them.

I won't be blogging every Monday with a "52 Lists Challenge" post or (nearly) every Friday as part of the Five Minute Friday community.

But I haven't just discarded things. I'm revamping some things, adding others.

I'm back in a paper planner. That's ----------------------------------------->
a stock photo (courtesy erincondren.com) -- isn't it gorgeous?!

I'm getting up at least an hour earlier and walking first thing every morning.

I'm participating every Monday evening in a Fight Back With Joy women's study at my church. Oh, and I changed church membership to the church in which I was baptized, confirmed, and raised.

I'm committed to blogging once a week. Not just to write, but because I finally have clarity about what I want my blog to be and do. Oh, I may write more often, but only if it feels right, not out of a sense of obligation. Not to check another item off the far-too-long to-do list. So you can check in every Tuesday for a new post.

I've cleaned out my closet -- again -- and gotten rid of everything that I don't actually  love to wear. So, yes, you may see me in those denim capris and asymmetrical coral top more frequently, but I'm more than okay with that. 

More changes are coming, as circumstances and finances allow. 

I can't wait to see what happens!