Shake It Off

After bragging in my last post that life had gone pretty much as planned for six whole days (I should have known better) things promptly fell apart!  We arrived without incident in Lake George, New York and the plan was to be there for a week.  We were both looking forward to staying put for a bit and getting some things done.  I will let Brent give you the details if he wants but the next day he was on a plane to Orlando and I was stuck in a deserted campground with no way out and literally backed up to a swamp!

Over the next few days things went from back to worse. 

It rained every day, the toilet backed up, Ohio State got pounded (insert sobbing noises here) and I broke my left heel.  Well, I suppose you can’t really break a heel (can you?) but fifteen months ago I got plantar fasciitis in my right heel and now, out of nowhere, the left one started hurting.  Needless to say, I had a huge pity party (which nobody came to because, as I’ve already said, the campground was deserted.)  It was probably better for all of you that I was 1,000 miles away!

Anyway, Brent was gone for a week and on the last day before he returned I came upon an elderly couple on my walk on the far side of the campground. I’m sure they thought I was a total lunatic as I practically came running at them arms outstretched just to have someone to talk to!  But 30 minutes later I did manage to let them get on with their lives (after making them promise to send me a Christmas card along with pictures of their dog!)

Anyway, that’s all behind us now and last night we boondocked at an orchard in New Hampshire and today landed near Portland, Maine.  We are going to try again to stay put for a week and I’m hoping for better things this time.

I have to tell a funny story real quick.  Yesterday as we were leaving the orchard we did our mental checklist, as always, to make sure everything was shut, put away, etc.  I always forget to pull up our one remaining blind and then we get a mile down the road and it starts banging against the window.  But this time we just heard a thud as we drove off.  I looked back but didn’t see anything.  Ten minutes later Brent is trying to brake and he’s like, “What in the world is under my foot?”

He reaches down and pulls a can of tomato paste out from underneath his foot.

Yes, one of the drawers of our pantry had opened, the can had apparently leaped off the shelf and unbeknownst to us, had rolled the entire length of the camper and got under Brent’s foot before either of us noticed it.  We laughed about it but it was a little scary that, of all places, it had lodged there.

TP’s mugshot. Does he look guilty or is it just me?

This was especially funny to me because, as an organizer, my car was always full of things that I was taking to Goodwill for my clients. I’ve teased more than one person that if I died in a car accident, it wouldn’t be from the impact of hitting another car but would be from a skillet flying loose from the back seat and hitting me in the head.  Maybe I shouldn’t be in a moving vehicle at all, which begs the question of a cross country road trip.

We all know the mantra “It’s all good” right?  Well, I’ve come up with a new one… “It’s all good, until it isn’t!” 🙂

Seriously, Brent and I had a big discussion today about how we can be whiny and miserable about the parts of this that are difficult or we can just realize that daily life here can and will be a challenge, just like it was back home.  Since I tend to be a bit of a pessimist, (not only is the glass half empty but it might be dirty and have a small crack as well!) the upshot of our conversation was that I’m going to try to get through an entire day without complaining. Yes, it does sound impossible, (but kind of Biblical) doesn’t it?  I will let you know how it goes.

A New York State of Mind

Don’t faint!  We’ve actually had six days in a row of life going pretty much according to plan.

We saw Ohio State win in Bloomington, spent two days with Brent’s mom near Columbus and now are in New York. 

We are staying for a few days at a beautiful campground on Lake Chautauqua.

The tentative plan  is to travel the east coast for a month and then either fly or drive to Florida where we will both spend a week, Brent for business and me for fun.  I’ve haven’t done a girls’ trip for more than ten years so am excited to be doing a tennis clinic with three friends at Amelia Island.

The next step (I think) is to attach the Jeep to Fred in some way. We’ve already decided that even though it will be a pain to haul our Jeep, it’s even more painful to not have a vehicle so at some point we will add that to the mix.  Then, in mid-October we hope to head south toward Houston.  I have a sister, Anne, in Austin so I’m looking forward to both helping in Texas and seeing her and her family.

There are so many things that are still new.  Today Brent put together our giant Berkey water filter.  It was expensive but in the long run seemed cheaper and easier than continuing to buy cases of bottled water.

Last night a huge storm blew through with winds at 70 mph.  Certainly not hurricane strength but enough to make me nervous.  I’m realizing how much I took for granted when I lived in a house that doesn’t have wheels!

Tomorrow we hope to “boondock” at a winery in the middle of New York as we continue to head east.  I’m surprised that we have gone more than 800 miles so far in the first week.  We are headed to Maine and then down the coast but are still fleshing out what that will look like.  The internet is so helpful in the planning phase but also can be overwhelming with so many choices available.  Of course, there is an “app” for everything, but my favorite so far is the one that tells you how far away the next rest area is!

When investigating which motorhome to buy (more on that in a few days) a big advantage of the class C  is that supposedly you can be in the back moving around and doing things but in reality it’s hard to walk, let alone pee or make a meal when rumbling down the road at 70 mph!

That said, I do think that, all in all, we are starting to settle into our new lives.

P.S.  A quick shout out to the awesome Ohio State fans who sat behind us at the OSU game.  Meeting new people has been the best part of this adventure so far!

Third Time’s a Charm

I know that you are supposed to grow through adversity but personally I think it’s overrated. 

I’ve even had people tell me to my face that they wouldn’t trade their cancer for anything.  (My mom was one of those.)  I can’t decide if I’m totally selfish or more honest than most but I can already tell you if I get cancer I would give it back if I could.

The last few weeks are a case in point.  Plan A was to go out west and be all the way to Wyoming by the eclipse.  (Brent ended up watching it in Orlando and I was in Nashville.) After Plan A imploded, Plan B was to go out east and support our daughter Marta who is going through a rough time.  (She ended up moving to Nashville and living with us for the last week at our house.)  Plan C was to go to Houston to help the hurricane victims.  While we still hope to do plan C, it’s almost too early in the process to provide support.  We have contacted the Red Cross and are getting some training but it’s our understanding that we need to wait until the waters recede before we could be much help.  And, I know, how much good can two people in an RV do, but people could charge their cell phones and maybe we could pass out food and water?

I kind of have the starfish mentality when it comes to helping out.

You know that story, right?  A boy and his dad are walking on the beach and they come upon a ton of stranded starfish and the little boy starts throwing them back into the water one by one and the dad says, “Son, why are you doing this?  You can’t help them all.”  And the little boy picks up another one and says, “I know but what I’m doing matters to that one.”

Well, I’m probably not telling the story perfectly but you get what I’m saying.  If we can bless one or two families, wouldn’t that be enough?  No, we can’t change their lives but we can show them that we care.

I’ve been selling most of our stuff for the past few weeks and every once in a while, I give something away for free. 

I gave a lady 7 nice patio chairs and she spontaneously hugged me and that was more satisfying than all the money we got from the things we sold.

Because I’m a “doer” by nature, I’m always wanting to do “big” things, but recently with all the changes in plans and my kids being redirected here and there, I’m seeing that sometimes it’s more important to just be available. The doing will come eventually.

By the way, plan D is to leave tomorrow, and head to Bloomington for the IU/Buckeyes game (O-H anybody?), then head to Columbus to visit Brent’s mom and then we will see what happens next.  I can’t decide if living this way is exciting or terrifying and I guess the truth is a little bit of both.

God has just impressed on me this past week that this year is a gift and I need to be ready (and willing) to give back.

Failure to Launch: Back in Nashville Already?

We are exactly 16 days into our big, new adventurous life and are in the exciting town of (drumroll, please!) NASHVILLE!

Now, if we didn’t live in Nashville, it is a great city to visit but we were hoping to be halfway to Wyoming by now. 

It’s a long story and I don’t want to implicate any of our children (um, Jon!) but let’s just say that we are unexpectedly ending our lease, selling almost everything and putting what we can’t possibly live without into a 5×10 storage unit.  We aren’t sure how long this will take but hope to be on the road again before the end of the month.

At first, I was not happy about this turn of events, but after a few hours realized this is better in the long run.  So, I’m trying to make the best of it and there certainly is a lot to do.  And… as I just sold our t.v. and recliner this morning, we are pretty much at the point of no return anyway!

There’s probably a lesson tucked into this about patience and giving up control and a half-dozen other things I suck at but for now I’m calling it a win that I haven’t overdosed on Hershey bars and wine coolers. Baby steps…

Competitive Much?

If any of my children were asked “Is your mom competitive?” the answer would be a resounding “Yes” but yet I try not to see myself that way.

You know how there are things about yourself that you know deep down but that you really don’t want to admit? 

I don’t know exactly when this became an issue for me but when I started playing tennis at age 40 that didn’t help.  I wasn’t competitive as a kid but then as the oldest child I pretty much set the standard so maybe I have been this way since birth!  My tennis friends would certainly call me competitive … possibly bordering on psychotic!  But that’s another story…

Since we are talking about challenges I will get a few more off my chest.  When we first told our children our plans, everyone was at least passably encouraging except Marta, who I had to tell by phone because she lives in Providence, R.I.

“Oh my gosh…you and dad are going to kill each other,” were her exact words.

While I vigorously denied this, I must admit that a tiny part of me (like 65%) was afraid she might be right. 

Not that we lived in a huge house before but going from 1,200 square feet to 300 is quite the plunge.

Two Weeks Later…

I will say this…we are 13 days in and neither of us has any stab wounds yet!  I’m not going to pretend though that it isn’t an adjustment.  I still walk 3-4 miles per day so we have that hour apart but basically, we are together the rest of the time.  We seem to have a system worked out where one of us will be outside for awhile reading or working on our computer and then the other will go out so we aren’t together 24/7 but it’s still way more than normal.

The second (related) adjustment is that we had a king-sized bed in Nashville and now have what is known in RV language as a “short queen.”  As Brent is tall he could tell you better than I how cramped we are but the adjustment for me is that we are touching all night long.  Ewwwwww! I say this tongue in cheek but when you are used to having lots of room it’s new territory for us both.

Another obvious challenge was paring down our stuff but that conversation deserves its own post.

I will admit though that, just like with my organizing clients, there were certain collections that were hard to “edit.”  (For example, I still ended up bringing four tennis skirts because I couldn’t pick a favorite.  What can I say?  I’m a work in progress.)  Even worse, although it pains me to admit it, Brent “won” this battle (competition?) as he was very logical about what he brought.  His belongings probably totaled 50 pounds while mine were more in the 150 range.

I must go now because I need to spend the rest of the day looking for an area where I’m “winning.” Don’t hold your breath…

When the Nest is Empty: Hello…I Must Be Going

While there have definitely been some difficult moments in parenting our six kids over the past 27 years, by far the hardest part has been having them leave the nest one by one. 

It’s not that I wasn’t mentally ready because I had watched them become adults and was so proud of them, but my heart was not prepared for the good-byes.

Two of our girls were on the east coast and a son was in Knoxville so the only times we have been able to be together recently were for my youngest son Jordan’s wedding at the end of March and my dad’s funeral at the end of December.

That means because of distance and schedules I get together with all our kids maybe two or three times a year and I just wasn’t ready for that kind of separation.

So saying good-bye this week to the three kids who live in the Nashville area was brutal. We had established a habit of weekly Sunday dinners and I will miss those so much.  I was also blessed to have some close friends and they (my peeps from Bible study and tennis) are crucial to my wellbeing!

That said, I was still excited about the possibility of new friendships on the road and God didn’t disappoint.  Only two days into the journey we met some wonderful people at our campground in Kentucky.  (Yes, we decided several hours before we left on Tuesday that we would head to KY for a week to figure out how to make this RV thing work before visiting my daughter who just moved to IN from MA.  But we aren’t near Lexington so Secretariat is on hold for now!)

Unfortunately, we met Susan and Joe and Karen and Scott (the women are sisters) on their last night in the campground but even as outgoing as I am I was totally amazed at the bond that can form over a campfire.  It’s just fun to hear peoples’ stories and get a glimpse into their lives.

I had heard that campers are friendly people and this has already proved to be true. But on a deeper level there is something in me that just wants…well, I’m not sure how to phrase it or even if I know what it is yet.   I just know that this morning, when both campers pulled out, I felt a loss that I can only guess I will continue to feel all year as we meet new people and then go our separate ways.  On the one hand, it makes me sad but on the other it just feels like I’m on the path I’m supposed to be on right now.

I found this quote by Mandy Hale that I think will be especially appropriate for this coming year.

“Some people pass through our lives for a season, to teach us lessons that never could have been learned if they had stayed.”

Home Is Where We Park It

We leave tomorrow and even though I’m 95% excited I will admit that the other 5% is pure terror! Home is where we park it is a cute hashtag but am I ready to live that way?

But then, while walking this morning, I realized I had the same feeling after each of our children was born and that has gone pretty well so far! And by the 5% terror with kids I mean wondering how I ever thought I would have the endurance to do this mothering thing over the long haul. But our twins are 27 and our “baby” is 21 and I have no regrets about parenting six, so I’m hoping that the RV adventure will fall right in line. LOL

People keep asking us where we are headed first and can I just be honest and tell you here that none of the planning has been easy. All we know for sure is that we don’t want to drive more than four hours a day until we get the hang of this.

Brent’s first idea was to drive to Kentucky and stop at Secretariat’s grave.

Huh? Have we ever watched a horse race in person? Nope. Do we raise or ride horses or was either of us born on a farm? Nope.  In the 32 years we have been married was I ever aware that this was such a high priority on your “bucket list?”  Nope.

So, I’m honestly not sure why this is important other than Brent is fascinated by this horse.  I’m not whining about though since he has been pretty amazing to go along with this idea in the first place.

Basically, if that’s our first stop, I’m good with that. But as of right this second, we don’t know where we are spending the night tomorrow. I just know we are headed “north.”

More from the road!

P.S.  I’m going through these old posts 7 months later and there are still days where we aren’t quite sure where we are headed next. Not sure if this is good or bad but it keeps life interesting!  One nice thing…a lack of planning just means that less of your plans fall through!

T-Minus One Week and Counting: The Adventure Begins

God willing and the creek don’t rise, in seven days my hubby and I will be off on what may prove to be the adventure of a lifetime as we pack up from Nashville and head out for an undetermined period in our new RV.

We are telling people we will be gone a year but, in reality, we may be home in two months and we may never come home again and I’m not placing any bets on which option wins.

I THINK I will like it and I’m definitely ready to do something new. Five years ago, I started an organizing business and I’ve had fun with it and met a ton of amazing people but I need a new challenge. Since I’ve only been camping twice in my life and have never even gone anywhere in an RV, I think this qualifies.

Of course, with the internet you can get a ton of information but it’s kind of like giving birth…there is talking about it and there is doing it and I’m aware that we are total “newbies” in this world. Still, Brent and I both have a pretty good sense of humor and usually tell ourselves “if it’s funny later, it’s funny now.” Why do I think that maxim will be tested more than once?

Anyway, we are kind of in that weird waiting period where you just need the thing to start.

Because I’m an organizer I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time buying organizing products for our 32- foot Winnebago Minnie Winnie (Fred) and setting “him” all up. Now everything is in and settled except food and last-minute clothes and I was actually feeling pretty good about myself until yesterday when I looked up an article called something like “35 things full-timers need in their RV” and we had four of them! But I’m determined not to overbuy and some of those things (an inflatable kayak) seemed superfluous anyway. We will see.  No matter what happens, it will be an adventure.

I will be back once we get on the road. And don’t worry, I will attach pictures of my perfectly organized RV soon. LOL

Thanks for stopping by!