First weekend trip with Manda and RVLyfe update

We started out the weekend by replicating much of our first date in the RV. We baked Vegan Sweet Potatoes.

We loaded up and headed to Lafayette, IN to work on the old place. My friend Travis whom I met on Facebook Marketplace, of all places, offered for us to park the rig in his backyard. He owns a gorgeous property!

Campsite setup!
Luke going for a morning walk

I found that the replacement for the bus, a Ford F250 with a 6.2L V8 to be more than adequate for pulling the ~8,000Lbs trailer. We averaged 8MPG with mostly highway driving. Compared to the overtaxed 5.4L Triton on the aerodynamic brick of the E350 bus, it was a confidence inspiring experience.

Saturday night we headed to Logansport, IN to see family in celebration of my mother’s and brother’s birthday. A cookout and bonfire out in the country. We finished out the night stargazing.

Kevin swinging. Happy Birthday!
Hanging out in the “introvert trailer.” Family time is excellent, with some quiet time
Manda and I on the swingset.
There was no setup. We merely connected power and slid out the slides
Taking a ride with Silverbell to pick up birthday presents

RVLyfe, minimalism, anxiety, and agoraphobia

I find that while the novelty has worn off, I remain excited to experience independence and exploration. There is and always will be more minimalism and organization to achieve. After all, everything I own resides in this rig.

Something my daughter said still reverberates in my head, that I’m “running away from my problems.” She is nine years old. Let’s explore that a bit as it’s been bothering me. Maybe she will read this one day.

I could see that within a society which idealizes home ownership, consumerism, “settling down” and judging personal happiness on the quest of acquiring material goods – that my chosen path may seem unusual.

There could be other reasons, such as living in Lafayette for the better half of five years, most of that time spent while I was with Elaine. Lafayette may represent “home” for her.

Regardless of the reason, I have to say that, instead, I’m running head-on into my problems. Do you have any idea how terrifying this life I have chosen can be to someone who has agoraphobia and anxiety?

A few years ago I couldn’t drive a block away to the store by myself.  If I got stopped at a red light, I started panicking, turned around and drove home as quickly as I could. I felt trapped and in extreme danger.

A few years before that, I stopped eating solid food for fear of choking. I was so hyped up that I’d gag and end up choking. This went on for a few months until I became so miserable that I wanted to choke on food and die. DIY exposure therapy, I began eating again once the pain of remaining the same became more than the pain of change.

I remember going to the Chinese Buffet, preparing an enormous plate of food that I can muster, and screamed to myself, “You are going to choke and die on this.” It became more comfortable, and more natural until I had sufficient exposure to normalize eating again.

Last December, when my life fell apart, I was at a rather dark place. Up until that point in my life, I spent my life in the pursuit of being a people pleaser. I was co-dependent and changed myself to appease others. I stayed in relationships far past their sell-by date in fear of not being able to exist alone. I was a fraud.

I have no greater fear than vomiting and this catalyst for change is much like vomiting for me. One time I consumed a large bag of spoiled pistachios. I became ill, yet through some extreme meditation, I managed to hold it in for a few days. I was more than miserable, the contents of my stomach were poison.

But I’ll never forget the moment that I chose that enough was enough. I went to the bathroom in terror, yet with the sheer determination that if vomiting would kill me, I invited it. I then proceeded to projectile vomit everywhere, all over everything. The feeling of relief was so thick that it was spiritual. I felt like I was born again.

Through sheer determination, I began driving alone. I started traveling. I severed connections to the possessions that I found the illusion of comfort in, distractions. Escapes from my problems. I cut everything and everyone out of my life that tried forcing an identity upon me. I let go.

At that critical juncture of my life, where I could choose to keep holding it in like I did for so many years, meditations to distract me from my problems. Relationships, possessions, hobbies, time wasters. I chose instead to engage in the terrifying thing that I could imagine: An independent lifestyle of travel, as a minimalist.

#RVLyfe for me isn’t a hashtag Instagram curated life. It’s the willful exposure to discomfort, challenge for continued growth and achievement. I often go to bed emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, but with a humbling feeling of accomplishment and growth.

As for Manda? I’ve accepted that for myself; life is more fulfilling spent with a partner. We have more than adequate communication, problem-solving skills. We share more intimacy and vulnerability than I’ve ever experienced before in a relationship. There will undoubtedly come times in which we will need to support each other when we are weak.

But I think that we both have had our fill of emotionally unavailable, co-dependent relationships to not slip into toxicity. It’s easy, yet challenging enough to continue inspiring growth for the both of us, just as it should be.

I look forward to our trip to Myrtle Beach this summer. It’s going to be a growing experience for both of us, punctuated with the sound of the ocean to fall asleep to.

Goodbye, Bus

Dear Bus,

You provided me with a critical distraction during a hard part of my life. You enabled me to begin dreaming and setting my own goals. You introduced me to a life of travel and minimalism.

Bus, you helped me find myself and begin living for my own goals and dreams. You pulled my RV when I needed you to, even if you struggled with it. When I first met you, you were unhealthy and burning oil. I poured my love into you, you sprang back to life, excited for the adventure.

I sometimes think of the history your steel chassis holds. The untold stories of your life as a bus, hauling around the disabled. How you shook at highway speeds until I put new tires on you.

Bus, I love you. Thank you for being there, the laughs and the heartache.

But now it’s time for a new adventure. May your chassis hold the dreams and aspirations of changing someone else’s life, to enable them to realize their dreams. Or at least, help someone discover just a little bit more of themselves.

Goodbye, Bus.

Heartburn is a bitch

The #1 thing I’ve disliked the most about life, even over death: waking up at 2am with heartburn.

You get all snuggled in bed, you stretch and yawn, fall swiftly asleep.
Fuck you. Up at 2am heartburn.

You have a flight the next day that you need sleep for so you can manage your anxiety.
Fuck you. Up at 2am heartburn.

Something really exciting and positive is finally happening in your life that you’ve been waiting for!
Fuck you. Up at 2am heartburn.

You’ve had a shitty day and have to up your self-care game to focus on getting to sleep.
Fuck you. Up at 2am heartburn.

You ate way too many vegan tacos, god they were good!
Fuck you. Up at 2am heartburn.

You wake up with heartburn and blog about 2am heartburn, to distract yourself from 2am heartburn.
Fuck you. Up at 2am heartburn.

Change

It’s crazy to think of how much has changed this year.

Anxiety

Anxiety has pretty much been moot. I’ve traveled for five hours today and got a few hundred miles in. Sure, there were a few tense moments on the interstate hauling the RV around, but nothing major. I can’t believe how far I’ve come, even from last winter.

Social

I continue to build genuine connections with others based on who I honestly am. I’m no longer trying to appease people and morph myself into what is wanted from me. This has led to being rejected and rejecting social relationships. Saying no is a new thing for me and is very empowering.

I am left with deeper connections with those whom I bond with. I’ve had some game nights, cookouts, Mario Kart and bonfires with people who I care about. It’s nurturing for the soul.

Romantic Relationships

I’m right where I want to be. I’ve done much healing and find myself in a loving partnership with someone who speaks much of the same love languages. To love and feel loved is rather effortless for us. We are very much Quality Time and Acts of Service people, which is perfect for us.

We both fall on the INFJ spectrum and have a genderfluid relationship. Communication is excellent, conflict resolution is on par. I’m happily monogamous and find that we have both of our needs met. Nothing feels forced, and we maintain our agency.

Independence, personal social relationships, personal goals are essential to us. While we spend much time together, I feel as if we do an excellent job at encouraging each other to work towards our priorities, even if it doesn’t directly involve the other partner.

We are mindful that we are introverts and encourage each other to take time alone to decompress, but not so much that we have to create some absurd schedule. I’m looking forward to getting some traveling in with them this summer!

Feminism

I’ve reapproached this social community/headspace carefully and have decided to label myself as someone who supports feminism. I feel as if I have a greater understanding of the core ethos and found a sect of the community that shares much of the same values.

I’m finding myself becoming friends with some from the trans community, some from the body positivity movement. It’s been interesting keeping an open mind and acknowledging that each person has their methods of expression.

I’m finding that there’s a spectrum and I find myself more easily aligned with the queer community in whole. So far it seems that the focus is more on love and acceptance, instead of hate and power. To each their own, eh?

Ethics

I’ve come to terms that I’ve handled my previous relationship rather poorly and have forgiven myself. I tried to force something that just wasn’t working from the start; we were too different. I invested so much, so soon and went off the deep end. By the time I discovered that it was toxic, felt alone and miserable, I felt trapped due to sunk costs. Baggage Reclaim has an excellent article on this.

There’s a staggering difference between attachment and love. co-dependency and healthy independence. I was fresh out of a five-year relationship; I never lived alone. I was terrified. I clung to the first person who was available, as I always did so I wouldn’t be alone.

Something inside of me shattered around the beginning of the year. I became so intensely irritated of this bastard cycle I found myself in. Changing myself to appease people, feeling desperate for connection so I wouldn’t be alone. I’ve been doing this for so long, and it’s no wonder, I didn’t have normative family structure growing up.

Hurting people sucks. Especially those whom you considered friends or once thought you were in love with. On the one hand, I’m a victim of circumstance, on the other I’m responsible for my actions. I’ve swiftly cut ties with anyone whom I believed that I associated with under pretenses, this people pleasing person who changed himself to be liked.

You never quite knew who I was, I didn’t know either. I’ve always had the best intentions and did the best that I could.

What I found to have the most positive impact on my self-worth is having rules and boundaries for myself that I hold myself accountable to. How you handle social relationships, finances, all of it. Try it out! It’s incredible how much you add to your self-love when you are respecting yourself.

Travel

Since Flordia, I’ve been in and out of the state and have accrued many thousands of miles and hours. I find myself increasingly comfortable traveling. I may have a trip coming up in May to fly to Dallas to lead some training. Nervous? Yes, of course. However, I do find myself excited!

I’m no longer in Lafayette as of today. Lafayette was always the place that people in Frankfort went to hang out. I was born there; I once lived a block away from that hospital. My grandfather died there.

Finally.

Family

By golly, my daughter is growing up fast! Ugh, she’ll be 10 this year. I’m finding that technology is having a rather drastic impact on raising children these days. I find myself continually battling screen-time and setting boundaries for her. YouTube alone has brought so much new culture to the masses.

9 pm bedtime? Expect to hear of the latest “3 am, a challenge” that was posted on YouTube. A quick trip to the store? There’s a 24-hour challenge to discuss.

I got her a phone to take home with her to more easily keep in touch. This led to much fighting between kiddo and mother on screentime and distraction when she is already struggling in school. Sigh.

I always thought when I was growing up that I’d never have much “back in my day” moments. With cell phones and technology continuing to rapidly infest our lives, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whatever happened to the “get off the internet, I need to use the phone” days? Now it’s all social media, Musically, hashtags and media. I can’t imagine what things will be like in a short few years.

Spirituality

I visited a psychic last weekend and found the experience to be rather interesting. I’ve previously had a perception that such an experience would be hokey snake oil. I’m finding myself more open to my spirituality in all forms and approached the experience with an open mind.

My objective assessment of the experience is that I believe that such an experience can be enlightening and helpful. My analytic mind goes to work and wants to put metrics around leading questions, perception management, and generalization.

On the other, I felt as if I had some genuine spiritual connection. One thing stood out to me; it was the way religion was explained, there are many ways to god, to enlightenment.

My partner performed a tarot card reading with me early on in our relationship. I found her method of approach interesting. We meditated for a bit, focused on channeling our energies. She led by writing her perceptions, what her guides were saying to her. Cards followed, in which her writing put them into context.

I found the experience to be healing and very enjoyable. I felt like we bonded and reached a deeper connection. I came to peace with specific experiences in the past, gained introspection as to why certain things happened, and things to look forward to in the future.

I think that when dealing with mysticism, there is always an element of interpretation. I think it’s lovely that such tools can be used to gain more in-depth introspection into ourselves. I remain open to the continued exploration into this side of myself, of course with an element of objectivity.

Overall

I find myself growing in love with myself, others, and my partner. It’s been painful, but I can say that I’m more independent. Anxiety continues to be a moot issue. Finally, I’m so incredibly excited to continue putting in the effort towards my goals!

Captain’s Log

Just checking in.. How is life?
Wow, it’s April! I’d say that I was enjoying the weather and such, but it’s been cold. We have warm days here and there but be sure to bring your jacket. I’m looking forward to warmer weather.

How is the RV lyyyfffeee?
It’s going! The newness has worn off which is a good thing. One of the more valuable lessons I’ve confirmed is that you really can’t prepare for the unknown. Thankfully a majority of the planning that went into the change went well! Space and storage is always a concern. I’ve gotten rid of so much, and I still feel as if there are things that don’t have utility or bring me joy. Pairing down clothing is one of the more significant challenges. You really have to stay on top of chores or your place will become hectic in short order.
I’ve mounted the Xbox to the back of the swiveling TV stand, added an outdoor motion activated solar light, hid the Apple TV and I have some electrical upgrades to stuff the NAS, Router into the bathroom closet storage, out of the way.

Challenges?
Finalizing moving out of the old place before I run out of time is a challenge. There are so many bad memories there, bad juju if you will. I really don’t need anything that is left in there, which further demotivates me. I have decided to keep the furniture, for now, it’s all pretty much new.

Prospects?
I might travel to Dallas in May for a bit, alone. Thankfully I’ll be there before the thick summer heat takes hold. Managing anxiety will be challenging, but manageable. I believe that the key is to stay excited about it. I made the trip on the way to California, twice, when I was a youngster.

Etc?
I’ve been less energetic. After hitting 26 days of doubling my daily move calorie consumption, I pretty much willfully succumbed to inactivity. It’s time to ramp back up again!