RV Lifestyle – Make One Little Change

In response to my plea for help with a subject for this post, it was recommended to address: “When it comes to the RV Lifestyle, what is one little change I can accomplish right now to make life better with my partner on the road?”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about one particular behavior/thought pattern that I  don’t like in myself.  But in the heat of a moment, my reaction can be so swift that I sometimes don’t catch myself until I’ve done the damage.

Some of my partner’s behaviors are VERY irritating to me.  I get so tired of trying to hide what I’m feeling.  I don’t want just to spill what I feel which is very unkind (most the time I know at least to do that!)  Why is my partner the person who drives me the most insane? Is irritation the other side of love?  Is there a way for me to simply not FEEL irritated?

It’s so tempting to want to mold Stephen into what I think is a better model of himself.  Doesn’t he want to look, sound or talk better?  At those times I can convince myself that he would benefit so much from my adding a little polish!  But how would I feel if he was trying to improve me so he wouldn’t have to be irritated by my flaws?  Right.  Horrible.  Isn’t my behavior an indirect way of shaming him for being himself? 

I struggle with these feelings of annoyance, aggravation, irritation – it has many names – even though I’m keeping them to myself (mostly).  I know enough to know that I’m in the mode of judgment and have to laugh at myself.  Who made me Queen of what’s the right way to be?? Who’s always there when I have these feelings?  Those are the questions I want to take with me to the mirror where I can turn that scrutinizing laser beam on myself.  And, let’s face it, when it comes to the RV lifestyle and our relationships, we’d better be up to this kind of thoughtful self-reflection if we want a harmonious experience with our partner.  

So, when I’m at my best, I can stop that train before it runs over me.  Let’s admit it though, for a minute, feeling better than someone else is alluring.  But the feeling is short-lived, and I soon realize how much distance I’ve created between us.  Not only expressing but also feeling annoyance can kill a relationship.  I want to baste myself with feelings of connection, not superiority!  Connection is good for the long haul, and I’ll achieve it by not taking the easy path.

Here’s where I can get it right if I can step back and take a breath.  Stephen’s quirks are not responsible for my irritation.  As Brene Brown says, “ask what story I’m making up in my mind.”  Whoa, that’s a train stopper.  Also, am I not being annoying myself by being annoyed?

We’ve gotten far enough in our relationship that when my irritation slips out of my mouth, it’s nipped in the bud by my partner reminding me just how bad it feels.  Remember my post about being pecked?  Read more here.

Why is it so hard to remember we are allies, not enemies?

But the purpose of this post is to find a way to remind me to not even go near the edge of that cliff.  What is one small thing I can change in myself that will create less of this divisiveness in our relationship and my own internal life? 

So here it is.  My one small thing I can and will do when I’m hit with a sudden urge to “improve” on what I’ve found irritating.  After taking a deep breath and getting out of my “I know what’s best” mode, I can ask with sincerity, “Would you like some feedback about ________?

This behavioral change only works if we respect and trust that we’re both working our self-improvement programs and we ask the question with a great deal of kindness.

Here are some wise words I found in a Psychology Today Post.

“Whether you’re irritated by your partner’s appearance, habits, ways of doing things, or specific eccentricities, you are not alone.

Feeling annoyed at times is a normal part of being in a relationship.

However, being chronically annoyed is painful and damaging. You can avoid that fate by enlisting your secret powers of empathy, tolerance, gratitude, adoration, and calm, summed up in the following five ways of being in your relationship. Indeed, with practice, you’ll reap the rewards of feeling less annoyed and even more adoring overall.” 

The five ways are lengthy, but I encourage you to read through them here if you want to go into more depth.

I’ve learned some new ways I can be with this flaw in myself.  What do you do when you find yourself getting irritated more often than you wish in the RV lifestyle?

RV Relationship Resolutions

Everyone is doing it – writing their New Years Resolutions.  I thought I would do mine a little bit different this year and resolve to enhance the quality of my intimate RV relationship.  Did you know that people who make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t?  

Nothing, and I mean nothing, adds to the experience I’m having as an RVer more than the quality of my relationship with my partner.  So, it makes sense to highlight and focus on our relationship as we start a new year of RVing.  Not surprisingly, the warmth you feel on a daily basis in your relationship strongly correlates with the amount of positive feeling you have about your shared life.

I’m going to start out with my number one resolution for the coming year.

 

#1  Be kinder to my partner!

It’s been said that “kindness makes the heart grow fonder.”  And, it’s also been said that “familiarity breeds contempt.”  Don’t these two statements contradict each other?  Indeed, all we have to do is look around us, and we see humans who are in close relationships treating each other far worse than they would a stranger or a casual friend. 

I know I’m most likely to show my worst side to Stephen and I guess it’s because I feel safe to do so.  Worst side for me equals judgmental.  It’s the part of me I like the least and would just as soon ban forever.  Probably not going to happen as I’m just a flawed human being but, for sure I can resolve to be more aware of this in my character and change my behavior.  No one wants a partner who diminishes them, and no one wants to be that type of person.

 

 

Fortunately, we are hardwired for kindness.  A recent segment on one of our favorite shows, “CBS Sunday Morning,” pointed to research that shows how being kind releases oxytocin into our system.  If that’s true, then I can increase the amount of kindness I demonstrate to my partner and, it will automatically cause an uptick in my being less judgmental!  Acts of kindness towards our partner reduce the emotional distance between us and deepen our bonds.  Nice way to create change, I think.  How does it work?

Here are some key points about oxytocin and kindness.

Kindness is Contagious – As I said before, we’re hardwired for kindness.  On a biochemical level, Oxytocin is the brain’s natural version of morphine. When we’re kind, it makes us feel good.  Why is this so?  Spiritually we are connecting with a deep and profound part of ourselves that recognizes that love is our core being.

Also, when we feel happy, we act differently. Our happiness causes a ripple effect in the people around us.  Because our evolutionary ancestors had to learn to cooperate to survive, being kind to each other was a necessity and, it is now etched into our genes.

Kindness Is Good for the Heart – Kindness creates a “warm and fuzzy” feeling which causes a hormonal chain reaction.  The release of Oxytocin releases a cascade of chemical reactions that dilate the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure which is very good for the functions of our heart.  Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels.

It’s kind of like a circle.  First, we show a kindness to our partner, which changes our chemistry and we feel happy.  Our partner not only receives this kindness but they also register our happiness, and they then feel closer to us.  When that registers in their brain and body, they experience an uptick in their oxytocin level.  This high level of connection to each other reverberates throughout your day.  If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that hugging causes this same chain reaction.  Here it is if you haven’t read “All About Hugging.”

So, that’s a very big resolution I’m committing to and, it’s one I am going to pour my heart and soul into.  Why?  Because I know I will feel better about myself and it will enhance our adventures and the life that we share.  I think in order to be a kinder gentler soul,  I will also have to pay attention to what triggers any mean-spiritedness toward my partner.  Stay tuned for that!

#2 Increase my gratitude

I’ve been working on increasing gratitude in my RV relationship all through 2017.  I’ve found that living in an RV has seriously increased my awareness of what my partner does for us and our life on an ongoing basis.  Must I bring up the black tank to make my point?  Also, he does all the driving and all the stress that entails.  These big things keep me constantly grateful for what he does for us without grumbling.  I’m not only grateful but in awe!  This year I’ll increase my ability to feel gratitude towards some of the finer points in our life.

#3  Show more interest in what he’s interested in

I have a lot of room for improvement on this score.  I’m just basically not interested in crossword puzzles, the game show Jeopardy, History and numerous other subjects that Stephen is deeply interested in.  I know it pleases him to no end when I truly listen and show interest in what excites him.  I can do better on this score.

I think that’s enough change to wrap my head around for New Year Resolutions and make a commitment to doing better.  What about you?  What do you want to succeed at in your relationship in 2018?

 

 

 

 

 

 

(images behind quotes are from my macrofitti collection of images from photographing graffiti in Detroit this summer.  Cartoon, as always, by Stephen Densford.)

RV Living – Christmas and Minimalism

 

Christmas and minimalism.  Do they go together?  How do we accomplish a minimalist Christmas?  To me, minimalism means skipping the stressful scenes of shopping, finding parking in overcrowded shopping malls, and all that.  Paying less attention to stuff allows for more time to enjoy the season!  Because I’m less burdened with tasks to accomplish, I’m much more observant of life around me and the way the season quickens the pulse.

My family asks what I want for Christmas, and the question itself fatigues me.  My comfortable way to live as an RVer is, I don’t think about the materialistic world until there’s a need to fill.  Then, I take care of it without exerting much mental or physical energy.  Stuff has just become a nonissue in my life unless a need arises.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t judge those who express the season through materialism.  After all, I’m the beneficiary of the way neighborhoods dress up for the season!  I love the fact that those who are more connected to the materialistic world express the Light by decorating the outside of their stationery homes with beautiful displays reminding us how Light transforms the dark.  I love how the Holiday Season changes the world around me!

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world and, behold, everything is more beautiful.”

Norman Vincent Peale

We all know the Holiday Season now starts well before Thanksgiving.  And we also know that this is because business wants to capitalize on this time of year by making money.  That sounds bad, right?  But, when I think about it another way, I’m even grateful they start reminding us earlier and earlier that there’s Light in the world and in our hearts.  

I see people saying Merry Christmas at times when they would have just walked by each other in other seasons.  I see more kindness everywhere I look.  That includes what’s on Television.  Recently, CBS Sunday Morning shared a story of two four-year-olds who claim they are twins.  What makes this an interesting story is this fact: they are not the same color.  You won’t believe what the punch line of the story is though.  Watch it here.

Yes, it’s the season that the Light is more luminous in people’s hearts and all of what we see and hear is the grand expression of what the season brings out in human beings.

“You are radiant with light.”  Psalm 76:4

What is this Light I keep talking about?  Obviously Light, just in terms of the natural world, is the reason there’s life at all.  All plants grow towards that Light.  All of life is warmed by our nearby star, the Sun.  It’s the same in spiritual life.  Something in us as humans seeks the Light.  Yes, we have darkness in us as well.  But, it’s that Light that exists in our souls that keeps us struggling against that darkness.  And at Christmas, the world shines a little bit brighter.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

Carl Jung

The Light we humans have to share is Love.  I think it’s a much easier word to deal with than “God although the meanings are interchangeable.” Other words come to mind as well, like “peace,” “joy,” “devotion,” “compassion,” “forgiveness” and even “blessing.”  All these traits are part of the Light, as well as a sense of joy and “Light”- heartedness.

Spiritual Light connects us inwardly and outwardly with our loving nature. It’s what you see right now in the eyes of loved ones and strangers alike because of the Holiday Season.  It’s what gives us faith to continue to participate in this imperfect world. 

“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly,”

This quote brings to mind my post about playfulness.  In a partnership and as a gift to the world – lightheartedness is a blessing to share.  A Light heart is wise. The world is challenging, but the lighthearted are resilient.  Read more here.

Christmas and minimalism is not an easy topic to take on. The season is rich and complex.  But, we can make choices that remind us to stay focused on the very best aspects of this time of year.  So, I celebrate the Holiday Season in all its chaotic joy.  And, because I am a minimalist, I’m grateful to have more mental space to notice beauty and the possibility to bring healing and peace to our world with our Light, simply because I’m less busy with the ways of the world. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

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.

Full time RVing – Remember to play!

 

Camping is a playful act.  Remember camping out in the backyard for a moment.  Isn’t that the feeling we’re trying to recapture when we choose full time RVing?

My last post was about having a sense of humor. How is that different than playfulness?  Playful people, in my opinion, go beyond seeing the funny part of life, they actively create opportunities to have fun!

We got in our coach yesterday, ready to drive the leg from Denver to Colorado Springs, and the coach wouldn’t start!  Our first major breakdown in this over 6,000 mile odyssey.  What to do?  Fortunately, we had electricity where we were, so we called mobile repair.  Unfortunately, there was no water spigot, and we ran out of water.  Choice point.  Feel inconvenienced and annoyed, or, create a sense of playfulness. 

Playfulness and creativity are very close cousins.   Whenever an activity calls on your creativity, you are playful. How to use the toilet?  How do I make my coffee?   Pretty soon I’m in a whole new mindset, and I’m back to being a little girl playing “house.” Did you play this game with your friends?  I found my sense of humor about the situation.  Then I started to think, what else could I do to have even more fun?  Could I get out my paints and take advantage of this downtime?  You get the idea.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old,

we grow old because we stop playing.”  George Bernard Shaw

 

 

An essential definition of being playful is not taking things too seriously in life.

Digging even further, I looked at synonyms for playful.  Here is just a handful.  Energetic, lively, spirited, spunky, vivacious, lighthearted.

And here’s some antonyms of playful.  Grave, grim, serious, solemn.

 

Some people are just naturally playful.  Stephen will break out into silly faces or dance at the drop of a hat.  He has lots of fun with word plays too.  He amazes me at how much fun he’s having in life!  I need a sense of safety and relaxation, and then my playfulness reveals itself.  With Stephen, my trust is high. I’m confident I won’t be humiliated in some way by opening myself up and being playful.

RVing has helped me build this trust because at the same time as we’re having new experiences together, we’re becoming better partners in life.  That spells trust which leads to playfulness.  Few things breed intimacy as much as playfulness.

So consider yourself fortunate.  You’ve chosen to live in a way that naturally enhances your sense of play.  Were you ever in a marital rut?  When we repeat daily routines, over and over, we lose our sense of wonder, excitement, and joy.   Did that happen to you?

I bet wonder, excitement, and joy are all qualities you wanted to introduce into your life when you adopted full time rving.  This lifestyle is made to order for bringing them back into your relationship.  A change of scenery, sleeping in, exploring a new place, these things change you.  And, they change your conversations with each other.  Your life is fresher, livelier.  Read more here.

Yes, we are experiencing some adversity right now. As I said before in my post How’s Your Sense of Humor, stuff happens.  I know I want to be a more playful person.  So, when a stressful situation presents itself now, I ask, “How can I make this more fun?  Sometimes it even works!

The only reason to pursue this state of fun is to feel more alive.  And isn’t that why we all chose to go full time RVing?  What fun can you have today?  Go make some funny faces in the mirror and see what happens. What do you and your partner do when you play?  I’d really like to know.

Since Niagara Falls (which was amazing), I celebrated my birthday by photographing grafitti in Detroit.  Then we had to get a part replaced in Elkhart, Indiana.  Then, it was a quick run to Denver to see one grandson.  Now sitting in Colorado Springs to enjoy another grandsons football game.  It’s the last one we will see before he goes off to play at a college next year.  Can’t wait to see him play.

 

 

Full-Time RVers – How’s Your Sense of Humor?

 

 

Finding Humor

We are about 4,000 miles into our 6,000-mile round trip to Nova Scotia and back from New Mexico.  I can now say, with great authority, as  full-time RVers, living this lifestyle demands and develops a sense of humor

Here are the things that have happened to our rig during this journey. 

 

 

At certain times, rain pours in through a crack on the top of the window near the passenger seat. 

  1. Driving area needs to be re-floored because of this leak.
  2. Leak in back closet in bedroom – probably need new roof. 
  3. Slide out keeps blowing fuses.
  4. Step is persnickety about going in and out.
  5. Cabinet hinge broke and now has to be bungeed closed.
  6. Bookcase keeps jumping away from the wall and needs an L bracket.
  7. Ladder and rear of coach damaged because of driver error backing up.
  8. Coach tilting to the right – airbags problem?
  9. Floor needs to come up because of soft spot under the refrigerator.
  10. Hydraulic fluid reservoir for the levelers fell off.
  11. Brake system for the tow car had to be replaced.
  12. Sewer line on gray water tank broke from vibration (Stephen fixed this).

Now, what would be your go-to emotions about all this adversity?  Anger?  Frustration?  Well, we did indeed feel each of those deeply for a few moments.  Not funny situations, right? But we try hard to morph those emotions into things to smile about.  Our life together on the road has proven to me that a sense of humor is a great coping mechanism!

Here is the essence of what I love about this lifestyle.  Yes, stuff happens.  Stuff happens a lot!  But, even while adversity occurs, the other side of the balance scale is getting filled up with great memories. 

I’m a pretty serious person, and for most of our life together I’ve been a little judgmental about how Stephen can just jump right into being amused by it all. Because of RVing, I’m learning to lighten up and be light-hearted.

When I look at the obstacles that come up almost daily when RVing through the frame of humor, I find the strength to put my shoulder to the wheel and carry on.  The challenges are cut down to a handleable size from the big monsters I originally thought them out to be. 

Here is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi.  I didn’t even know he thought he was a funny guy!

“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”

I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating, my worldview has changed significantly since becoming a full-time RVer.  Stephen’s wellbeing has become as important to me as my own.  I write about this in more detail here

Now, the desire to create the life I want to live is my motivation.  Stephen and I are now even more inextricably tied together.  When he’s stressed, my first thought is how to help him relieve that stress.  I know by lessening the number of stress hormones in our bodies, we increase infection-fighting antibodies.  Laughter eases our physical tension and causes our muscles to relax!   

If I make a conscious decision to bring lightness to any difficulty we’re facing and help diffuse our stress, I’m aware of my power to create a happy and loving environment for traveling.  My sense of humor is my most valued friend when we hit life’s speed bumps.

Stephen has a talent for the comical, and now that I fully appreciate this ability, I enjoy so many funny moments every day.  All we have in life is the present.  What I make of my life is transformed by choosing a humorous outlook.  Even at the most challenging moments.  By choosing laughter, I choose happiness.   Happy life or unhappy life – the choice seems like a no-brainer.  Read more about choosing happiness here.

Each day I consciously work on developing my sense of humor muscle.  What is so surprising is that as I do, my brain is automatically starting to see the funny side of life.  My thoughts are entertaining!  Another bonus that reinforces my changing behavior is making Stephen laugh when he finds me witty!  I love that!

So, ask yourself, what does it mean to have a humorous perspective on life as full-time RVErs?  What are some ways you can add humor to your road life and lighten up your travels?

After visiting friends in Vermont we went back to the Boston area for a couple days of being tourists.  We thoroughly enjoyed a day of boating around the harbor.  Then, we headed to Newport Rhode Island where we have friends and have visited before.  What a swanky place.  So happy to see the ocean again!  I knew we would be leaving the ocean for the final time so tried to soak it up as much as possible.  A highlight was visiting a museum of illustrators like Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish.  We’re on to Niagara Falls next!

 

RV Life – Are You Guilty Of Pecking?

 

Pecking – Little Deaths

This may be my most important blog yet about our intimate relationships as we live the RV Life!  Years ago Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey.   These words stood out from everything else she said.

 

 

“Do not let yourself be surrounded by people who will

peck you to death like a duck.”

 

I remember thinking,  “I’m guilty of making comments that imply Stephen is somehow inferior in his way of thinking.  Or, for that matter, being.  I immediately started self-regulating to diminish this behavior in myself.  The other day I was thinking about this.  The image of a bonsai tree come to mind.  You prune it every day, wiring the limbs to create a pleasing form, as you slowly guide the tree into your own idea of beauty.  Seems like a creative act, doesn’t it?

Recently, we were with another RV couple.  I kept hearing one of the partners making subtle digs.  I could see the pain these pecks inflicted.  When I heard them, I thought, “Oh no, I’m still guilty of this.” When I heard this diminishing of a loved one come out of the mouth of someone else, I knew I could, and should, do better.  I’m reminded again of what I learned from Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong.” I quote, “Men are most vulnerable when they think their competency is called into question.”  Read more about how this book has positively impacted our relationship here.

 

As a result, I asked Stephen later if he’d noticed the pecking, and he said “yes.”  Then I asked if he’s aware I still peck at him, and he said “yes” again.  He also said, “It makes me want to snipe back.”  Oh no, I thought.  I don’t want this in our relationship.  So we came up with a signal. What could be said that would not cause further antagonism between us?   What would facilitate us moving towards each other rather than away?  Our signal is,  in as calm a voice as can be mustered, the words “I feel pecked at.”

Oh, this relationship stuff can be hard.

 

 

The interview of Maya Angelou by Oprah Winfrey delivers the feeling of what it’s like to be pecked.  She’s mostly referring to people out in the world.  However, her advice can certainly apply to the intimate relationships we enjoy in the RV life.

Maya:  Some people don’t have the nerve to just reach up and grab your throat, so they just take little pieces of you with their rude comments. 

Oprah:  They try to demean you.

Maya:  Reduce your humanity through what Jules Feiffer called little murders.  The minute I hear someone trying to demean me, I know that person means to have my life.  And I will not give it to them.” 

Read the whole interview here.

Sadly, this behavior is often seen in couples.  Acknowledging our partners boundaries is an important component of intimacy.  Unfortunately, intimacy can breed contempt!  So what does it mean to be respectful?  For me, it’s stretching the ability to acknowledge that my partner sees the world differently.  When I embrace and enter his world, I grow.  When I embrace and enter his world, we grow closer.  Diminishing my partner because he doesn’t see the world through my filters says more about me than it does about him.

Have you ever been to a duck pond and seen how ducks will just peck and peck at each other until pretty soon someone has no feathers?

In conclusion, I’m saddened when I see couples caught in this behavior.  I see the wounds each little dig makes.  Pretty soon – no feathers and bleeding to death!  But, there’s hope!

I’m reminded of Brene Browns book Rising Strong and what I learned.  She said “Men are most vulnerable when they think their competency is being called into question.”  That’s really what is getting attacked when you peck at a person.  The validity of their thoughts.  Read more here of what we’ve learned from this book.

Finally, many years ago, the wife in a famous couple made this statement on TV. 

“My husband and I decided a long time ago we would only say things in front of other people that lifted each other up in the eyes of those around us. 

Wow.  We wanted to be that couple.  It’s a high mark to shoot for but worthy of the effort.  Still working on it.

Are you ever guilty of pecking at your mate?  This behavior can be changed!   Notice what you’re doing and the negative impact on your partner.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Since my last post, we’ve left Nova Scotia and enjoyed time along the Maine coast.  Ocean vistas have lifted us up around every corner of U.S. Highway 1.  We delighted in coastal towns with wonderful galleries that fed our need for Art as well.  We were sad to leave the ocean but we’re now visiting friends in woodsy Vermont and this too has it’s own pleasures.

 

RV Life – Harmony Happens!

Harmony Happens!

Well we finally hit a bump in our RV Life that was the most difficult one to put behind us. But what can you do when it is only the two of you out in the big wide world coping with challenges and overcoming them as a team?

I’ll just lay it out here. First of all, I was driving the toad from one place to the other and Stephen was driving the coach. He arrived at Walmart before me and proceeded to back into a light post in the parking lot! What was Stephen doing backing up when he couldn’t see what he was backing into!!?!! I’ve noticed him making assumptions about backing up without thoroughly checking out what was behind him. He could see in the backup camera which shows what is directly behind you, but he hit the light post on the corner by the ladder where he had no visibility.

I was so frustrated that he decided to back up without either me looking for him or getting out and seeing the lay of the land KNOWING there were blind spots.

Getting over being SO angry at the stupidity of it took a while. I couldn’t even talk for a few hours. What could I say that would not have been demeaning and blaming because those were the sentiments that were very definitely going on in my head.

“Well timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.” Martin Farquhar Tupper

While stewing in my juices, I just sat with those feelings. I know Stephen was backing up to make sure we were level so we could get a good nights sleep. I’d been having terrible nights when the bed was leaning one way or the other. He was trying to please me which made it even harder to stay mad at him!

Pretty soon I realized yes, he made a mistake. A STUPID mistake. Have I ever made a stupid mistake? Yup. So, gradually I let the anger go. What else could I do? The greatest thing to me about being an RVing couple is knowing how much you need each other. You need each other for companionship as well as the daily teamwork that RVing involves.

How Harmony Happens as we pursue RV Life

Furthermore, I’d promised myself that this would be a post about Harmony. Actually, even the beginning of this post is indirectly about it because harmony is always the goal. Being imperfect humans, we fall and get back up, fall and get back up. I acknowledged what I felt, felt it for a while, then came back to calm. Pretty much works every time.

The day after this mishap we were spending a couple of days at Spry Harbor Campground. We were in need of some down time, and it was peaceful and restful. The RV Life is challenging!  So, as a result, we took advantage of our nearness to the Taylor Head Provincial Park Beach and enjoyed a walk on the deserted ocean front.

 

RV Life – Harmony Happens!  Go to my channel

 

There is no one with whom I would rather have shared that time. Because we are both artists, we are very attuned to seeing the beauty and pointing out what we are seeing and experiencing with each other so that we may share the moment.

It’s times like these when I remind myself of all the qualities Stephen has that make our life together so amazing. Why, you might ask, am I sharing such personal information? Read here to learn the answer to that question.

Being in harmony with your partner is also an indication of being in harmony with your innermost self. Here is an excerpt from a blog that tells the harmony story in a most perceptive way.

“From my own experiences I know that a relationship is literally like a fairytale, you have the good forces and the bad ones combined into one single story. Often the dark forces get stronger and stronger and just before they are about to succeed, they get defeated by the power of love.”

How does the power of love show itself when you hit the rough patches?

I’m currently working on a new Youtube channel I’m calling RV Stories people and places.  I have videos I’m in the process of editing of stories I’m documenting while living the RV Life. I am interviewing locals and other RVers and learning about their lives.  I’ll let you know when this Youtube channel is active.  We’ll also share what we learn as we visit interesting museums.

I’m having a hard time expressing how much we love Nova Scotia and it’s people.  Here’s a map of our recent explorations.