Living the Dream!
Nine days and it feels like nine months. Why is it life slows down, waaaay down, when you are not going through everyday routines? Weeks would whiz by when we were stationary. I figure we’ve gained at least another ten years by living the RV life!
Grand Island Nebraska was a place to stay overnight for free at the Elks Club. It was so accommodating that we stayed an extra night! Stephen helped with an outreach program where they provide food to local veterans, and we took care of some errands.
The highlight though was visiting the Stuhr museum dedicated to the pioneer life for the area. I wrote more here about my connection to the Pioneers.
Also, we shot a short video while learning some history.
After a short day of travel, we woke up in Pender, Nebraska – quintessential small town USA and home of the Blue Ox Tow Bar. This place is just what you want in a company whose product you bought. They provided a beautiful free RV park with full hookups for their customers. We were very pleased with their concern for our satisfaction, and they bent over backward to take care of our needs.
While in Pender, we tried to go to their little Heritage Museum. It wasn’t open, so we did a little noodling around on google. Pender, it turns out, is situated on the Omaha Indian Reservation and there has been a string of court cases over the years to solve the dispute. And guess what? The Native Americans won! I don’t know why that makes me so happy. Probably because it’s so rare.
Stephen and I wondered a lot about what life is like in such a small town. These kinds of curiosities wouldn’t come up if we weren’t operating in the slow lane and staying off the interstates. Made me think about finding the most interesting person in these little towns and doing an interview. Wouldn’t that be fun!
Being that this is a blog about relationships a bout RV life, I would be remiss in not reporting another – what should I call these moments? Fights? Misunderstandings? Heated exchanges? Probably many other terms would apply as well.
Driving down the highway, we’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s new book “Rising Strong.” She gave us some new tools for getting through these moments. Read more here about this insightful book.
This quote stuck with me and came in handy when we were in the thick of it.
“What is the most generous assumption I can make about what we are
fighting about while still acknowledging my own needs and pain?”
Over and over in her book, she says “get curious about what is going on.” Until we were in the heat of the feelings, I didn’t know how hard this would be. It’s so difficult to see and hear another person when your own emotions are inflamed. So, of course, words flew back and forth for a few moments.
The very best piece of advice we got from her book was this: “Ask yourself. What story are you telling yourself about what is going on?”
The other illuminating piece of information was this. “Men are most vulnerable when they think their competency is called into question.” That hit the nail on the head at this moment.
Here’s what happened….
I bought a propane campfire for our trip, and the first time Stephen tried to light it at Clayton Lake in New Mexico, it wouldn’t work. The next chance we had to see to it was in Grand Island, Nebraska. He took it to a propane dealer, and they started it right up. Yeah!
So we go to try it out in Pender and, once again, he couldn’t get it lit. My frustration at the situation is rising so, as it turned out, the way I went about voicing my frustration was, shall we say, inelegant or, a phrase I just learned and like a lot, it was suboptimal. I think my words were like “Obviously, they did something and you weren’t paying attention to what they did.”
Whoa, them was fighting words to Stephen. He immediately started accusing me of calling him stupid in so many words. Was I? I still don’t know if that was in my voice quality or body communication. Back and forth and back and forth we went, both feeling misunderstood and seeing as we are together 24/7 because we live the RV life, it wasn’t pretty. Until the breakthrough.
Because of Brene Brown’s suggestion to pay attention to what story we are telling ourselves, we both realized our stories about what was going on were more important to us than the words that were actually said!
Knowing that his sense of competency is a vulnerability for Stephen will hopefully make a difference in my approach in the future. Because I see him as competent, and that very characteristic is what’s making these travels possible, I tend to forget that his family history, and some of our history together as well, make him sensitive to this issue. Being the gentle, kind soul that he is, he hasn’t done much pushing back when I tread where I shouldn’t. So, even though these times are painful, a part of me applauds the strides he is making in standing up to me and letting me know what is not okay.
So onwards we go. We spent just one night on the mighty Missouri River in a very nice city campground in Sioux City, Iowa. We intended to spend the night at another free Elks Club but they didn’t offer the right kind of electricity hookup. It was hot hot hot and RV living in the summer requires air conditioning. City campground was only $14. Not bad.
We’re now sitting on a lake out in the middle of Iowa cornfields in the shade of a huge maple tree. The lake was created when the glaciers were moving through this area. Twin Lakes is the first lake we’ve encountered that wasn’t man made. Being from Minnesota, I never even knew about man made lakes till I moved west. There is a difference in the way a “real” lake feels. Can’t wait to experience the land of 10,000 lakes in a few days.
Just arrived at the Grotto in West Bend, Iowa. Haven’t been here since I was seven. I’m beginning my walk down memory lane here as I get ready to enter Minnesota and the culture that informed my life. I hope to discover ways it still affects me unconsciously. Go to the source!