Friday, April 29, 2011

Thank You

Current Location: Fairview, OR

Thank you, once again, for your kind words, support and suggestions. We have taken them all to heart and are working on our attitudes. And ultimately, we know we have nothing to complain about. We have our health, we have our home, and most importantly we have each other. With all the recent devestation and loss of life in the southeast, it seems so petty to find issue with any aspect of our life. We are extremely grateful for everything we have.

We are doing much better. We are still working to find peace in our current situation, but have also started planning what comes next. We are eager to continue on with the journey we started. We have agreed that it is too soon to give it up, nor do we want to give up. We haven't even given ourselves a chance to succeed, or fail for that matter.

Speaking of failure, that is one of the things that I found myself fearing. As we were talking through our feelings, I mentioned that I felt we had something to prove. Like so many of you, we had our share of naysayers. We also had a lot of people who were living vicariously through us and cheering us on. I guess I felt pressure to be successful for all of these people. And with the pressure to succeed, frequently the fear of failure joins in. But the only people we have anything to prove to is ourselves.

The other day I heard this quote by Samuel Beckett:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

And it hit me. There's really nothing to fear. When we started out, we really had no agenda other than to experience life. There's no right or wrong. The only failure we could have had is if we didn't try in the first place. From here on out, as long as we're true to ourselves, it can only be successful. If we try something and it doesn't feel right, then it's ok to admit that and try something different. One of the best things about this lifestyle is its flexibility. Sometimes it's hard to remember that a seasonal job is not a career. Renting an RV site is not a long-term investment.

I find it kind of funny now, but one of the things that freaked me out is that this park is about 70% long-term residents. And by long-term I mean years, some upwards of 20 years. Although a small section of the park is reserved for short-term guests, overall the park has more of a mobile home park vibe (although the managers are very strict about the appearance so it doesn't look like a trailer park). I felt sucked in, as if I were never going to be able to leave. Over the last few weeks, I've heard multiple times "I thought I was going to travel too, but I stopped here and never left.". All of a sudden, I feared that would be us. Was this our new life? This definitely wasn't what I signed up for!

It now seems somewhat ridiculous admitting to this. Of course this isn't our life. It's difficult to extricate ourselves from the illusion because we're not surrounded by other RVers. Our neighbors are all stationary who just happen to live in RVs. Most of them don't choose to be mobile though. Our coworkers are all in long-term jobs/careers (I will have one other workamper who will be joining the office staff in late May so maybe that will help). We seem to be the anomoly, even in a so-called RV park.

The feelings we've had lately are ones that we never would have ever imagined. This life is full of surprises. But we'll continue to learn, as we do from each and every experience. Although we don't always understand, we know that these are all necessary lessons that we must work through.

So we will continue at our snail's pace for now, but will be eagerly awaiting the day that we can put the pedal to the metal, or at least shift out of first gear!

In closing, I would like to remember all those who were impacted by the recent storms. Hopefully, the wild weather is done with for awhile, but it is yet another reminder that nothing in this life can be taken for granted. Live your life today, for there may be no tomorrow.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

LTD (Live The Dream)

Current Location: Fairview, OR

Yesterday, we drove out to Hood River during a warm and sunny afternoon. We didn't really have any agenda in mind, but just wanted to check out a new town. We knew that there were several micro breweries located here and had planned to have lunch at one of them. We chose Full Sail Brewery for no particular reason. They have a couple of limited edition beers on the menu, aptly named 'LTD', which are subtitled Live The Dream. Of course that immediately caught our eyes.

So what does 'living the dream' really mean? That has been a question on the forefront of our mind lately. As many of you have noticed, I've been absent for the last few weeks. Thank you to those who have worried about us. We are safe and healthy.

But I've been in a bit of a funk and guess I just haven't been motivated to write. I would like to blame it on the weather. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is an actual affliction and I have no doubt that it occurs frequently out here. So maybe that is partly to blame. But I think it is a combination of things.

It started with our California gig falling through. I think that affected us more than we care to admit. I know things happen, many times for reasons unknown, and you just have to accept them and move on. We've done that (or are still trying to) but it doesn't mean we can't still be disappointed. From there, we made the decision to stay in Portland through the summer. We had many reasons for this decision and all are still viable, but we find ourselves doubting that we made the right choice.

Our feelings about the area haven't changed, but we feel like we've fallen off course. This wasn't the life we envisioned when we dreamed of fulltiming. We're living in a park that we don't really care for. We're working jobs that are providing financially but are not all that fulfilling. Isn't that what we wanted to get away from when we started fulltiming?

Don't get me wrong. The park is ok. It's clean and safe. It's rated a 5W in Woodalls rating (not that that means that much). Our jobs are ok. We both like the people we work with. But it's all just ok. We don't want ok anymore. If we're really living the dream, then shouldn't we be achieving more?

One of our biggest challenges, as I see it, is that we need to find the balance between making a living and living our dream. I know there's a reason that there's not many pre-retirees fulltiming. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. But I have to believe it is possible. I also know that it will require sacrifices, such as the sacrifices we feel we are making this summer. What I find myself questioning is how many sacrifices will need to be made to make it successful and will it be worth it?

I guess what we're really struggling with is figuring out what our dream really looks like. We have the idealistic view, but what about the realistic view? I don't want to be someone who simply lives in an RV. I want to be an RVer. And believe me, I've seen firsthand that there is a difference!

We are unsure what our goal is or even if we need to have one. Are we looking to have as many different experiences as possible? Yes. Are we wanting to explore different areas of the country to find a new place to settle down? Possibly. Are we looking to become rich? No, but we need to be able to sustain ourselves and prepare ourselves for the future. Do we want to continue careers in our current professional careers? Not really, but we know that those jobs are lucrative and for that we feel like we shouldn't dismiss them.

I find it ironic that so many of the doubts I had fought off while making the decision to fulltime are resurfacing. Things like 'you need to work high paying jobs to save as much money for that elusive retirement period', 'you are a college educated person, why would you want to work a minimally-paying, non-challenging job when you have the skills to get a real job', 'if you're out of the workplace for too long, you won't be marketable any longer and it will be much harder to get a job', 'you're just going through a phase, snap out of it and come back to the mainstream!'. Why are these thoughts all coming back? Is this all telling me something?

Do all of you have continuous doubts? Do you find yourselves reevaluating your decisions constantly? I wish I were the type of person that could just relax and go with the flow, but I fear the planner and analyzer in me won't allow that. Does that mean that I'm not cut out for this lifestyle? Am I fooling myself in believing that we can live this lifestyle and be financially stable at the same time?

Thanks for allowing me to blabber, gripe and think out loud. I know our current situation is short-term. One of these days, the rain will stop and the sun will stay out for more than a day at a time. In 5 months, our work will be done here and we'll really be rolling down the road this time, hopefully with some extra money in our pocket. I realize that no one can give us all the answers and none of us has a crystal ball. I just appreciate you listening and am grateful for any advice, life experiences, suggestions, comments or rants you want to offer.

And I want to assure you that we will work ourselves out of this. Often when I find myself confused and wandering aimlessly, I tend to 'disappear'. I stop writing because I feel like I just talk in circles. Sometimes I stop reading because I'm jealous that you're all finding ways to make it work while I seemingly can't. But I will return. So again, thank you for your concern and thank you for your support.