RV Living Changes You for the Better

 

RV Living Changes You

RV Harmony is not only about our relationship with our traveling partners but with ourselves.  I’ve learned a lot from this lifestyle, and I was curious whether others had the same experience.  So, once again I polled the Facebook groups for some help with this question.  I was more than delighted to learn that indeed, significant personal growth is an outcome of the RV lifestyle.  RV living changes you.

The question I put to the groups was this:  “I’m interested in the ways you’ve grown since being an RVer.  Has your character been changed in some way? I know I’ve become much more patient. Please elaborate on how RVing has changed you.”

I thought there would be a lot of commonality in how people experience their expansion.  There was some, but responding RVers reported experiencing growth across a whole range of character traits.

Here are a few responses that touched me:

One person wrote:

“We are more free in so many ways. But most of all It’s allowed us to fill our soul with giving back. When we worked full time, we never had the time to give back to people in need. Not just money, but time. As I write this, we are heading down to TX to volunteer our time in the cleanup efforts. Our motto now is “Live Simply. Give More. Expect Less.” And that’s what we’ve been able to do since we went full time. I don’t know if I can say “RVing has changed me” because I have always been one to want to give back. But RVing has allowed me the time and freedom to live a deliberate and full life that I chose. Without the distraction of stuff, or so many other things that held us back in the traditional “normal” American life.”

Julie Bennett replied:

 “I love how RVing has opened our eyes and minds to the many different ways people live and the different views and opinions around the country – each state can be like going to another country! It has definitely made me more understanding of other people and their ideas and opinions; even if I don’t agree with them; so I guess increased tolerance, compassion and understanding is one way I’ve changed.”

Another person said:

 “I’ve become a much better problem-solver. And I freak out a lot less. When something happens – and something is always happening – we work as a team to evaluate, trouble-shoot, and (usually) solve. I am working to be “go with the flow” and more flexible. I’m getting better. I also trust our rig a lot more now that we have gotten to know it for five months (we bought it used and moved in to travel full time right away).

What follows is a list of other qualities that fellow RVers attribute directly to the experience of embracing the lifestyle:

  • Better at not planning – flying by the seat of my pants
  • Happy with what I have and doing without
  • More Adventurous
  • Have learned to slow down and enjoy life
  • I’m more social and now enjoy meeting new people
  • I’ve learned to live in the moment
  • Laughing at myself
  • More grateful
  • Learned to trust serendipity/go with the flow
  • Appreciation for downsizing/loving minimalism
  • Enhanced ability to enjoy the simple life
  • Experience more closeness with my husband
  • Embracing solitude
  • Becoming more adaptable
  • Grown in my ability to be flexible/respond to the moment
  • I can self-soothe in a stressful situation
  • How to budget
  • More creative
  • Connecting with nature
  • Have become a better problem solver
  • The value of teamwork
  • More optimistic
  • Growing self confidence  
  • What a great list.  I relate to every single comment. 

What is it about RVing that stretches us beyond our comfortable selves? 

Almost every day there is some challenge to be met; be it finding a route to our destination, coping with repairs, learning to live together in a small space – on and on the list goes.  BUT, at the same time, the rewards are tremendous.  Time for reflection, charting our own course in life, and don’t forget the sunrises and sunsets!

Could you say as RVers we are living life more intensely?That’s how it feels to me.  What do you think?

RV Relationships – How’s your clutter tolerance?

What to do About Clutter?

When you live on the road, almost every aspect of your life impacts your RV relationships.  Clutter can be a minor irritant or, a major battle.

Can I assume that many RVers chose this lifestyle as a way to break away from lives of material saturation?  Did you break away from a conventional lifestyle because materialistic values no longer motivated you?  I love it that RV life requires us to remain mindful of how much “weight/baggage” we carry around!

So, we’ve all downsized to simplify our relationship to stuff and live a more minimal lifestyle as we travel.  Then how is it that we still find ourselves coping on a daily basis with our possessions?

One way I’ve chosen to think about it is: any clutter that piles up in our small space keeps me mindful of wanting to live as free of the limitations stuff imposes as possible. 

 

“Out of clutter, find simplicity, from discord find Harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”

Albert Einstein

I asked people to comment on various Facebook groups as to how they handled untidiness in their small space.  In the responses, often, one person in a couple was more minimalistic than the other.  That would bring up the need for negotiation.  (If you’re interested, I write more about negotiating here.)  Compromise with our partners (someone called it campromise which I thought was pretty clever) came up over and over again.

Early on in our RV dwelling, one of our sticking points was Stephen leaving cupboard doors and microwave doors open and walking away.  At first, I would come unglued because of the chaotic feelings it unleashed in me.  I would loudly demand that he shut the cabinet doors.  Well, that didn’t work.  It just made him defiant. 

Later, after I explained in a calm voice how much it bothered me, he made more of an effort.  I appreciated that and said so.  It’s easy to make each other feel like a scolded child.  Remember the basics: treat each other with fairness, respect, and kindness. 

One blogger wrote, watch your wording and your tone.  There’s a world of difference between asking, “Can we throw this old thing away?” and asking in a neutral tone of voice, “Is this a keeper?”

 I liked another respondents awareness that she has to pick her battles.  I know what she means.  You can’t be nitpicking over every single thing that irritates you, or you won’t get any cooperation at all from your partner.

On a positive note, clutter tolerance also seems to bring out peoples creativity!  Some RVers allow for a certain amount of buildup in a designated space.  When that becomes full, it’s time to go through and remove what isn’t serving their lives. 

I’m always scanning our RV scrutinizing how to streamline our storage needs as well as making our living space more aesthetic.  No doubt about it, it’s an ongoing challenge.

I share one problem with another RVer: the shoes and detritus of everyday life that gather at the door.  We have a little shelf area for shoes, but they don’t always make it up onto it.  My motto for controlling my emotions about shoes out of place is “Always we begin again.” 

 

It’s hard for my partner to live with so many rules, and I have to remember we both are trying our best to maintain order.  Also, these baskets on this shelving are a place odds and ends gather.  Stephen needs tools at hand that I think should be in the storage area, but they usually end up here. (Audible sigh.)

Some RVers that responded counted on moving day to necessitate clear-outs.  Everything has to be put away, and order is restored as you roll down the highway!  Having everything shipshape adds to the elation felt when starting your newest adventure!  Others have a rule that if something new comes in, something old has to go out.  It’s as if your RV is always on a strict diet!

When I see disorder starting to take over in the coach I have to stop and think, “Is this the life I want, managing my stuff?”  Is the quality of my time spent here in my tiny home being compromised by this unconscious accumulation of small consumer goods?  Our stuff causes clutter and reminds us of our choice to live a simpler life. 

Having too many possessions gives me a feeling of being overwhelmed.  I like a tranquil environment and find serenity is created in my internal world when I reside in a place of calm and order.

Fortunately, we live so much of RV life outdoors.  Usually, all we have to do is go outside, and the natural world serves up big helpings of beauty and order.

Here are some other thoughts I share from another blogger that might help you cope with the differences you and your partner have for clutter tolerance if you have any.  Read more here.

 

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF

I think my need for minimalism is a little out of balance, so I work on my tolerance for chaos/clutter in my space each day.  Also, if I’m the one that wants to see stuff not left out on the counter, I can decide to please myself by putting it away.  I try to think of it as an art project.  I’m creating visual beauty – a sort of “still life” to please my eye.

INSPIRE BY EXAMPLE

I often introduce new methods for storage and order.  I can’t tell you how many baskets I’ve added that look nice with my RV decorating. They hide those pesky items that end up lying around like; pens, glasses and odd assortments of tiny things.  It’s amazing how many little things there are to manage – not just the big obvious ones.

Finally, we have the opportunity to learn that excess baggage burdens us with too much chaos, preventing the creation of order!  Each partnership has to decide how they want to live together in relationship to their stuff.

“Replace Clutter With Freedom” 

I think the bottom line here is, are you living the life that brings you the most satisfaction?  Or, is your untidiness creating friction that’s unnecessary and keeping you in a crazy loop with the material things of this world. 

Noticing our clutter and how it affects the quality of our RV relationships can bring us into a more examined, mindful life.  Self awareness contributes to the rich experience you and your partner are pursuing!

“Self-reflection is the first step to decluttering because it’s not about the stuff!”

Author unknown

Full-time RV Living – Navigating Major Life Changes

Arriving in Nova Scotia!

Major Life Changes

During the three and a half months Stephen and I were on the road in Canada enjoying full-time RV living; I relished every day.  I felt a sense of floating through life.  I enjoyed heightened awareness of what was in front of me, fully immersed in the moment. 

Then, abruptly, I would get a phone call that brought me back down to earth to handle a situation related to our property in New Mexico.

Even though our rental property produces a significant amount of  our income, it just doesn’t serve our larger goal of living free of the stressors that come with home ownership.  You know what I mean… maintenance. 

It’s funny because I don’t resent the maintenance of the motorhome at all.  Sure. problems come up that need solutions.   But, my coach is the vehicle (literally and figuratively) that provides me with a rich meaningful life.

We’ve been talking a lot about selling our furnished rental property.  The longer we travel on the road, enjoying the feeling of being untethered to a place, the more we crave freedom from these ties that bind. The first step to selling, of course, is emptying your house.  It would be a lot easier just to sell everything and have neither art studio space nor some storage.

Our home and casita have been vacation rentals for over three years now, but we have outbuildings and a giant art studio that we utilize when we need to be back in that location.  After much deliberation, we have come to accept the necessity of both a studio and a small amount of storage.

Storage space, it became clear, was a must for Stephen who is more of a saver than I am.  He’s been consistently purging since we started RVing, but now it’s time to get serious. I wrote an earlier post all about letting go.  You can read more here.

Theoretically, I considered myself emotionally prepared to sell our home of 25 years that we created as a place of comfort and beauty.  Boy, was I in for a surprise!  You don’t know how you are going to feel until you have dived in and are experiencing change.  So now I’m going to get up close and personal about this journey out of our comfort zone. 

I researched SKP parks that are an inexpensive way to provide for both studio space, storage, and full hook-ups!  We are currently at an SKP park in Southern New Mexico and put down earnest money on a lot to lease today.  Here’s a pictures of the lot we decided on.

We had only three days to contemplate taking this step.   I found myself in an internal wrestling match.  Did this mean I shouldn’t act? My mind was swinging like a pendulum between the pros and cons. 

It occurred to me in the middle of the night that I might not be the only person troubled by decision making. My usual approach to difficulties is research.  I found some online wisdom, which couldn’t have come at a better time. Plus, I needed a new subject for my next blog post, and here it was, right in front of me!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”Andre Gide

 I looked up the meaning of approach/avoidance conflict, and I think it’s worth giving you a synopsis of this documented phenomenon. I took this excerpt from the web page.  Go here to read more.

What Is Approach-Avoidance Conflict?

It occurs when an individual faces a decision to pursue or avoid something that has advantages and disadvantages. This form of conflict involves only one goal. The name comes from the advantages of the goal making the person want to approach the goal and the disadvantages making him or her want to avoid it.

Finding Equilibrium

This type of conflict is known to cause stress. People go back and forth trying to make a decision. They are trying to find their equilibrium point where they are about to accept both the advantages and disadvantages, no matter the final decision. As the person nears the goal, they feel a pull from the disadvantage side. This leads the person to avoid the goal. As the person starts to pull away, they feel the pull from the advantage side to approach the goal. The person eventually reaches their equilibrium point.

The attractiveness or repulsiveness of a goal increases as one gets closer to it! 

I was very much comforted when I read equilibrium will unfold if I just follow the process that is going on inside of me.  After three days of anguish and thinking I would lose my mind, I wished I had thought to research what I was going through even sooner.  I needed to resolve the ping-pong nature of my thoughts.

Here is the thing I’ve discovered from “following my bliss” in this instance.  It’s easy for me to dismiss measured decision making.  Left to my own devices, I just plow ahead when I have a goal.  I don’t take time for the process to unfold.

Stephen and I are very different in our approaches to living.  Yet, I don’t think we’ve ever faced any major life change with so much openness and honesty.  During these few days, we’ve both spoken openly about our fears, hopes, concerns, and anxieties. Pretty much every emotion you can think of came up during this decision making. We each allowed the other to express our feelings mostly without judgment or starting an argument. 

That’s a lot of emotion to pack into three days, and it was challenging.  No wonder that process is one I’ve often avoided in the past!

Now, we’ve put down earnest money and committed to this life change.  We aren’t 100% sure this is the right thing we’ve done. But, discussing all sides has given us a full spectrum view of the possible repercussions.  Therefore, we’ll be as ready to face challenges as possible. Mostly, we think this was our best move to get closer to our goal of maximum freedom. 

I guess we’ve reached equilibrium!  Wish us luck!

NEWS ALERT!  My daughter just expressed some interest in buying our property.  Now we are going through the approach/avoidance process all over again!  Moving forward is never a straight line.

What processes do you use to help you through major life changes?  I’d love to her them.