A rainstorm, a cleansing

I have written a lot about grieving and how ive carried it for years, deep down in a dark and quiet place because it was not possible to share such a thing openly. I had a husband. I had children. Nobody knew him. I was alone. I buried it and went on.

Until I came home. I have written so much about this. You have patiently gone along with me as I rebuild my camper and my life. This blog is as sacred as the confessional. I start from the bottom and work upwards.

Today it rained. It rained as it needed to rain and the water cleansed the smoke from the wildfires in California and some say Canada. Lightning strikes hitting the ground were impressive. I sat in the vehicle I was driving and waited for the deluge to stop because I couldn’t see. I listened to the pounding rain on the roof of my car and watched the rivulets of water streaming down the windows. Rivers of water. All I had cried through the years and now since I’d come back.

In the aftermath of the storm there is peace. The world is different for the change but it finds peace.

So will I.

I am not dead. I am still here. Still blessed with good health and children I love and a home and a job and the ability to do work I love through writing or Tarot reading . My life is not over. It is filled with possibility.

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Getting it together in this gypsy’s life

I’ve gone from friend’s home to car to camper.  The camper is a metaphor.  And I get it.   Get the camper together, and my life will follow.   When you get rid of the extras, you zero in on the necessities. Okay.    Cut the excess baggage. Oh wait—-!  I found out that applies to ME too–my body.  I gained weight the last few months and I was so disappointed because I’d  lost like 200 pounds.  The good news is that I didn’t gain back anywhere near 200 lbs.  No, I need to lose about 50 lbs.   So while I’m working on the camper, I’m also working on myself.   The answer for me?   (Click on the graphic for the app for either Apple or Android!)   It’s an interval program.  It comes with a personal trainer (okay, it’s not a real person but you get your choice between a man, a woman, a unicorn (the one I chose!) or a drill sergeant, and someone else I think.  You can play your own music and hey. It’s only 30 minutes a day three days a week).   I HIGHLY recommend it.   You’re never too old to get off the couch!  You may not run fast, ever, but you and me are still running faster than the one on the couch!

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And about eating–oh my god.  Carbs don’t treat me well.  I blow up like a balloon when I eat too many carbs, with edema.  So I went back on a high protein diet and it was amazing.  My ankles and feet quit swelling up after three days of being on it.  I donate plasma and they kept telling me that my protein was low.  Don’t know why it took me so long to get it.

Now for the disclaimer—this works well for ME.   I know my body and I know what works.  It may not work well for YOU.  You will have to find your own way, little Padawan.   

I applied for two jobs that pay three times what my current one does. Self confidence!

selfconfidence

Ever since I bought this camper, and found out I CAN fix things, and I don’t NEED anyone else’s help unless I ask for it, I have been EMPOWERED in a way that is hard to describe.  So many people seek to take over under the guise of helping a person, when maybe what we ought to be doing is leaving someone alone to let them accomplish!   When we “overhelp,” we are actually taking away that person’s power, and telling them that we don’t believe in them!   Little kids are so independent. That’s good!   We all need to learn to ask for help at times, but you know what?  Most of the time we do just fine on our own if we are allowed to.

See how fixing up an old camper has extended to other parts of my life?  It’s really incredible to me.   I have gotten rid of things, and now I’m getting rid of excess weight.  I have fixed things in the camper, and that has been fixing things that were broken in me–my self confidence, my faith in myself and my abilities.

For example,

I fixed  bad spot in the ceiling of the camper last night.  I had bought some peel and stick laminate that looked almost EXACTLY like the brown paneling in the camper.   I got the idea that a rotten spot in the ceiling that was dribbling down fine powdery rotten wood pieces on my head through the torn paneling could be fixed temporarily (I’m not rich you know), with cardboard and that peel and stick laminate.  I know how it SHOULD be done.  All the rotten wood should be removed and insulation put up in there, and a piece of paneling purchased and stapled in place with an air staple gun.   I get it.  I don’t have any of those things.   Winter is coming.  I’m getting rotten wood powder and pieces on my floor and my head every time I walk under it.  Necessity is the mother of invention.

Here’s what I had to fix: (this was from before I bought it–water damage sustained when a tree fell on the camper):

step 1

 

That’s all rotten wood and paneling.  I scooped all that out and stuck a piece of foam insulation up there.  Then I got out the cardboard and duct tape–miracle worker.  If it was good enough to fix airplane wings it’s good enough for me. I covered the hole left over (stuffed with foam insulation mind you), with the cardboard and duct taped it into place.

step 2

Then….I WHIPPED OUT THE LAMINATE.   Why did I capitalize that?  I have zero idea. It was pretty exciting though.

So I had to measure to see how much laminate I would have to cut.  And there is an annoying white border on the edges of peel and stick laminate that I had to trim off because I am totally faking it till I make it here.

What you need

Isn’t it great!!!   It’s a total lie, just like my makeup, but because I’m a woman and good at covering up blemishes, it sure looks terrific!    I measured, peeled and stuck and oh my god it went on the paneling SO EASILY.   Here’s the finished product.  The hole is sealed up and fully insulated so unlike before, no cold air can get in.  That was the main concern for me because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get the paneling to fix it before winter sets in.    Here’s how it turned out!!  So exciting!

Finished product

Not bad, eh?   It’s not perfect, but it’s a darned sight better than that gaping hole!   I woke up this morning and it felt so good not to have to stare at that broken paneling by the vent on the ceiling anymore.  It is fixed till I can get it fixed!

This is the first home I’ve owned.  It is not what I envisioned.  I thought my first home would be a “real house,” with a big lawn and a place I could have a dog and a basement office.  It turns out my first home is better than I envisioned, because I am putting my whole heart and soul into the place, and making it my own.  In the meantime, my whole life is improving because of that camper, and I am getting outside of myself at the same time and the whole thing is making my life better.   I have some thoughts to share on mourning  and letting go as connected to the last article about my friend Jerry that I wrote.   

I have thoughts.  So many thoughts.   But these thoughts will be for future posts.  This post is the foundation.   Fixing up that camper is an extension of the work going on within me.  I will be living in this camper for at least a year.  I wonder what my life will be like at the end of this year?   How will I be better?  How will others benefit as a result of my personal renovation?   How will my life be better?  Better job?

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Thoughts from the Red Mug coffee shop

As I sit here in the Red Mug Coffee shop having a latte with an extra shot I am going through jitters over what I have planned for today. I am tearing out the walls of my camper and throwing out the old rotten insulation and putting in new foam insulation so I don’t freeze to death this winter. Because the old insulation got wet due to a tree falling on the camper before I got it, there is mold inside the camper so I have been Lysoling the bare walls as I strip the old stuff out. The Lysol works by the way. Spray and wait then wipe down. Repeat till all the mold is gone. Make sure your windows are open so it can air out well.

Why have I got the jitters? I am still nervous that I can’t fix things myself. I am faced with the fact that women are not encouraged to fix things, that construction and remodeling and fixing are a man’s realm so it’s almost like we learn helplessness unless we have forward thinking fathers who teach us to fix stuff. As I said before, my dad was not forward thinking so I am virginal in this realm. If I die this winter it will be by my own ineptitude. I have sought advice over and over as to how to correctly install foam insulation and paneling and now all that remains is to actually do the thing.

In America women are told they can do anything but they are also restrained by lesser pay and opportunity as if to be reminded who is really in charge. A recent Pew Research study found that women in majority male workplaces report higher rates of gender discrimination.

This sense of “needing a man” for certain things is pervasive in a way to me that I did not realize about myself. I did not know how much I accepted or subscribed to the notions that there is “women’s work” and there is “men’s work,” and you don’t cross the lines unless you want to be perceived as unmarriageable. I grew up a Generation Xer and was taught girls should be quiet and agreeable and talk about his interests and wait to be asked to dance and wait for his phone call and basically be all about him. Thank God the world is evolving and relationships are coming to be seen as a shared responsibility with roles not so sharply defined. I can be feminine and fix things. I can be a voluptuous woman and sweat like a man.

This was a surprising thing to discover about myself, how conservative I’d held male and female roles even though I consider myself to be a progressive person. There is no black and white. Plenty of women do men’s work well. Just look at World War II.

These women are my inspiration as I begin the process of stripping the old and useless and rotten out of my camper and in the process strip the same old and useless ideas whose time has expired out of me. These points which I talked about in the previous entry are continuing to be a springboard for me to grow and expand. My camper and I are getting better together.

The night before camper day!

Ok. I’m still living in my car. After the initial shame and guilt and shock of it which I went into here, I find that there is no shame in sleeping in my car any longer. It is not a marker of failure. It is simply a different kind of shelter. I don’t know how that mind shift happened but my perceptions are different. I am no longer focused inwardly or selfishly. I am focused outwardly.

I’m so excited. It’s the night before I get my tiny home. I have been planning for two weeks how I’d fix it up and make it mine, but today I felt quiet, and peaceful and I went to the beach on Wisconsin Point. I was alone out there. I love being alone out there. There are just the gulls, the wind blowing off of the lake, and the sound of the waves breaking on the sand. There are lake-smooth round rocks of every color, black, red, white quartz, (and Lake Superior agates if you are really lucky), black and red rocks, all tossed and rolled by the world’s largest rock tumbler, my wonderful lake. I saw a bald eagle fly overhead yesterday. I sit on a driftwood log and let the wind play through my long hair; the sound of the wind and the waves breaking on the beach, and all of the kinks in my nerves get smoothed out; the anxiety breaks up and disappears, and all becomes right in my world.

I speak to The One Who is Greater Than Me who is known by many names and many religions. Wakan Tanka or Tunkashila to the Lakota people who I spent six years with teaching in the public school on the rez. I speak to Spirit often. I feel that there is something larger than me. I cherish that.

What a circuitous route I have taken coming home. I travelled the world and many states, and went through so much growth and expansion spiritually and mentally. Home is meant to be a rest for me, but it seems Whoever is In Charge thinks that I need to keep growing, hence living in the car the last little while. Hence being pushed into a different lifestyle with the tiny camper–but now I wonder when it went from being pushed into the camper to becoming a conscious choice to live this way and not bow down to the rents and landlords and feel as so many do that they have no choice but to conform and pay up.

Not everyone can buy a camper. Here I got blessed. There are tons of used campers for sale for any price really because in this country, everyone camps and fishes. I got lucky with mine being so inexpensive. It was a Gift.

It took losing a lot to uncover the important things and the real friends who are few but true. We know life isn’t about “who dies with the most toys.” We yearn for more and we seek more –hence explorers and pastors abound. Some of us travel to find ourselves. Like that book “Wild” about the woman who up and hiked the Pacific Coast Trail to come back to who she was, the woman her mother thought she was. Or the Eat Pray Love lady.

My journey was outward and now it is inward. It is in contemplation of the lake and birds and wind, and the space between extravagance and poverty.

This is what I am thinking as I spend the last night in my car. Tomorrow will be the start of a different and simpler kind of life.

I have more to unload. I still need to lighten up. More on that later.

Good night dear readers. Have you felt the call to simplify or have you been unceremoniously pushed into the worst that could happen only to discover that maybe the worst thing is turning out to be the best?

2 days before camper: Gratitude

(If you are new to this series start here).

1 August.

Bank account: 230.00. All of it must go in addition to my check on Friday, to camper and lot rent.

Savings versus renting: 700.00. Camper has paid for itself already. No security deposit needed. I saved the cost of my camper.

I am laying in my car about to sleep. I am excited. In two days I will have my camper. I think about how I will decorate it.

I have figured out a way to sleep in my car that doesn’t have me sore in the mornings. I lay down the back seat and cover the flat space with a thick blanket. I lay with my legs through the hole into the trunk. It is the first time I have lain normally in a week. I had been sleeping in the drivers seat. I am listening to the rain on the roof and I think of homeless people who don’t have a car and I pray for them that they are somewhere dry. A shelter maybe. I feel gratitude for my paid off car.

I feel gratitude for my sons who I love and who love me.

I am grateful for foodshelves. I have two boxes of food that will last me till midmonth when I get paid again.

I feel gratitude for my mother who is also having to move house and is looking for a new home.

I feel gratitude for the bald eagle who kept flying overhead closely to me that I saw today when I was standing in the Lake being buffeted by the waves.

I feel gratitude strangely, for having lost so much. If I had not lost so much the last couple of years I would not feel gratitude for what I have left. I am warm and dry and safe.

I am grateful for the love of friends.

I am grateful for the job I have. It pays what I need it to pay and I save carefully for what I need. Like my camper. It is better than no job at all and I like driving.

I am grateful for my health.

I am grateful I can donate plasma and help others while being able to also help myself. The extra cash helps.

To the world I have nothing. To see me you would feel sorry for me or even feel funny or horrified. Please don’t. I am reduced in my circumstances, but I have love and health and my spirituality and hope. I have an education. I will be a teacher again. I dont know how. I applied for subbing till I can get licensed for this state. It is a start. I have a beginning.

I won’t quit. All I lost can be replaced. I’m just not sure I need to replace any of it.

I have a lot more empathy for poor people. Poor people aren’t lazy. Most work like me at jobs that don’t pay enough for the cost of living. Some of us can’t get jobs for some reason. Maybe its health or age. I don’t know why I have not gotten a decent job in my field. I applied for government jobs and got turned down for all of them. I was qualified for all of them. I don’t know why I can’t seem to get hired. I have done and redone my resume more times than I can count. I have left off my Masters degree. I have put it back on. I have tailored my resume for each position. They don’t tell me why they don’t hire me. I never heard from any of them at all. I kept telling myself as I do now that if I don’t get this job it means that Spirit has something better. Inside on my bad days I wonder if I am a failure for not getting a single one of the 200 plus jobs I have applied for. I catch myself poor shaming myself. We have gotten very good as a nation at shaming poor people. We aren’t poor because we want to be. Sometimes things are out of our control. I try very hard to keep trying. To not give up. I am frustrated at being so skilled and not getting any opportunities. I keep applying. I keep working the job I have.

I am grateful for the waiting. It teaches me patience and gratitude.

I am grateful to be home. My lake. Any amount of difficulty is worth it to be home.

I have faith. Faith is built daily right now. It doesnt matter I don’t see anything happening. Just because I don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

I have nothing but I have everything. (See list above). I have the truly important things. I am grateful.

Freedom

Today is the first day of utter independence on anyone other than myself. I have a camper. In my last entry I was a little disgusted with the economic conditions that put me in a camper. I was a little scared about living full time in a camper particularly in the wintertime. The encouragement I received in the comments helped clarify my mixed thoughts and I realize now I have been handed what people say they want but find so difficult to have because they are chained to a mortgage or a job they hate or five thousand other reasons why they cannot live in a freer, more minimalist manner.

I have been planning how to fix up my camper and decorate it, and it definitely needs a few things.

1. A good coat of paint on the outside.

2. Foam blown insulation just to make sure I don’t turn into a frozen corpse this winter.

3. A couple panels replaced for cosmetic reasons.

4. A mini refrigerator.

I have unloaded a lot of things and my storage is not full, but I do have insurance in the form of some very nice furniture I got fairly inexpensively that I can sell if I need more money. I have a good enough job. So this is what I have done.

1. I created a budget that allows for some wiggle room but not much.

2. I donate plasma for a little savings and it makes me feel good to help people too.

3. I write on a weekly basis for a rat trap blog called the British Rat Trap Company. Most of the blog entries on there I have written. You guessed it. The owner sells Fenn traps from England. He is from England originally. It is great fun for me to write and a good little side income. It is different but part of a plan to do what I love and I love to write.

4. I made a short list of supplies I would need to fix my camper. I’m so glad the exterior is tight and waterproofed.

5. Today I went swimming in my lake to celebrate my new lifestyle. (Lake Superior if you are new to my blog). I spent 25 years longing for this place I call home, and now I am here. This is the best benefit of all. I can go to the lakeshore anytime for free. People spend thousands to come stay here for a summer and I can be here for free.

I realize I have also been given a great opportunity, a gift as you will as a writer, to share my adventures in my caravan with all of you so I will take you through my year to come living this way and hopefully see the blessings in what I call “tiny living.”