I was going to title this post a terrible week and I actually starting typing “terrible” and stopped, because terrible is a ridiculous overstatement. I am sitting in a beautiful place, with people I care about. I have my health, my husband, and enough food on the table and I am living this really cool adventure. I mean really, how terrible could things be? As my kids say, “first world problems.” And for those of you who would give anything to trade places with us, let me apologize in advance. I fully realize that my one year ago self would have felt the exact same way as you probably do. When I was in my home,waiting for it to sell, I would have given anything to have the kind of week I have had this week. The irony of that does not escape me. But as grateful as I am to be doing this, I still have bad days. Not many, and certainly I have had very few bad weeks. They do happen though, and since I want to portray as balanced a picture as I can I’m going to write about it. (None of this applies to me, my life is a never ending sunshine parade of happy awesomeness. I have no idea what she’s always whining about. I try not to listen, lest it harsh my groove. – Lee)
There’s no pretty pictures in this one, no fun activities (except dinner with Howard and Linda last night ) and really that’s the crux of the problem. Being full-time and working from the road is an interesting dichotomy. Linda put it beautifully last night when she said I still have a foot in both worlds. It’s a bit of a split personality because you are in beautiful “vacation-like” settings but you’re not on vacation. So sometimes the beauty around you can get completely displaced by other things. It doesn’t have to be work that does this, either. Family issues, money issues, health issues, can all have the same effect, but hopefully those types of things don’t happen with the same frequency as work problems. Most of the time my work is great. I truly am grateful to have a steady income and the flexibility to work and live this lifestyle, but it was a stressful week and this was coupled with not doing any fun things.
Basically my life working on the road falls into 4 major categories and 3 of the 4 are just fine. I’ve boiled it down to the following scenarios;
- Work is good and there’s lot’s of fun stuff to do – so that’s the best of the best.
- Work is good but nothing much to do – that’s still fine, sometimes you just need to chill.
- Work is stressful but there’s cool stuff to do – that’s when I really appreciate the lifestyle in comparison to my old life. Having a bad day? Take a walk on the beach, have cocktails with friends, take a nature walk, watch the hummingbirds for awhile. These are all great stress relievers and really helpful in putting work in perspective as to its relative importance in your life.
- Work is stressful and there’s nothing fun to do. (I would have stopped the list at #3. Nothing good happens after #3. – Lee)
So the last one is where it gets interesting, because obviously there is always something to do. Nature is still out there, and the things I listed in my third category haven’t changed, but they aren’t having the impact they should. So I have to wonder “Why?”. Why do I have a day, or in this case, several strung together where the surroundings don’t elevate me from the work stress? Why do some days I sit here at my desk working and look outside with wonder and other days I see the same view and either ignore it, feel cooped up, or resentful that I am not out in it? It’s a good question, and frankly one I have not totally figured out. Obviously mood has quite a bit to do with it. Sometimes you’re just in a bad mood and nothing can make you happy. But mainly I think for me it’s the newness of our surroundings that can elevate category 4 into a category 3.
Before I explain that last statement, I’d like to point out that we had a very nice impromptu dinner with Howard and Linda last night, and we spoke quite a bit about this. They’ve been doing this for 10 years and getting their perspective is very helpful. Plus, just having people you admire validate that you’re not a crazy person is wonderful, so thanks guys, for spending part of our night letting me talk this through. (I was there, and I can assure you that at no point did anyone even suggest that she is not a crazy person. – Lee) So, on to the explanation. When we get to a new place, I rarely have bad days. I am so transfixed and excited by the newness of our surroundings that almost every day is a 1-3. But after a few weeks, the newness wears off and if this corresponds with a bad work week number 4 happens.
I don’t have bad work weeks much. I really like my job and feel good about what I do, but it happens. Also, when I was living in a sticks and bricks the bad work weeks almost always results in number 4 versus number 3 because it was hard for me to find things to transport me out of it. So this lifestyle has had a major, positive impact on my life which is maybe why when a number 4 week happens it can be so jarring. I know I am happier than I have ever been, but I question how much of that is due to the newness of the constantly changing surroundings. And if that’s the case, is that necessarily a bad thing? This is where my small town upbringing gets in the way. I love the way I was raised and the ethics it instilled in me, but in some respects it can be very limiting. The small town mindset (for lack of a better way to explain it) is suspicious of the adventure. Suspicious of the newness, and the feelings it evokes. I have known people in my life who have an adventuresome spirit and always wistfully thought, “I would never have the courage to do that”. But surprise, here I am being the adventurer. Mostly I am embracing it despite the terror it sometimes evokes, yet a part of me, the small town girl part, is waiting for it all to go horribly wrong. She’s a real pain in the ass, by the way. (I concur. – Lee) I appreciate what she’s done for me in my life, but I’ve outgrown her in so many respects. There’s a whole wide world out there and I want to see some of it before I go. And I’m happy, really happy, in a way I’ve never been before. But the bad days let in the doubt, and that can start a tough downward spiral to fight my way out of.
So let’s look at it head on. Write about it, talk about it, say the thing out loud to lessen it’s power. That’s what Howard, Linda, and Lee let me do last night and I felt so much better afterwards. Maybe it is the newness that appeals to me. As Linda said, the newness leads to growth and life enrichment. And yes, I know as time goes on there will be less new. We will need to stop in places for longer stretches so Lee can work. We will go back over territory we have already covered. We will get road weary and just decide to stay for a while in a place. That’s all part of the life too. Every day can’t be Eagles and Waterfalls although that would be great, wouldn’t it? There will be rainy days and boring days and category 4 weeks. The real question is: am I spending more time in categories 1-3? The answer thus far is a resounding YES! If that changes, we can reevaluate, but for now that small town girl needs to shut the hell up so I can get on with my adventure. (I concur. – Lee)
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