A Not So Good Week

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;

  1. Work is good and there’s lot’s of fun stuff to do – so that’s the best of the best.
  2.  Work is good but nothing much to do – that’s still fine, sometimes you just need to chill.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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16 thoughts on “A Not So Good Week

  1. I really admire how you are handling it all. Full time work (at an important job), life on the road, etc. Reflecting seems to be helping get through the #4s. I promise you, we won’t let Small Town Girl anywhere near Glacier!

  2. Can I tell you something? Seriously – YOU’VE GOT THIS! Just remember the word my sister uses when having a bad moment, day or week – BREATHE! Or to quote one of my fav characters of all time – Scarlet O’Hara “Tomorrow is another day!” Or a quote from a once popular song “Don’t worry – be happy!”
    What helps us, like nothing else can, appreciate the good things in life are the bad things in life.

  3. Thanks for the honest reflection, in 2 years on the road we’ve experienced much of what you describe, and I’m actually sitting here on a Saturday, working my corporate job and all I can say is that if I have to work a weekend at least it’s a weekend when the weather is not so good. My job fluctuates between stressful and easy, but then so does life, and this week I’m thankful that while work is stressful, the day to day life has been relatively stress free. We’ve got friends and family to visit in the area, had a fun dinner with Steve & Debbie earlier this week and are looking forward to another 3 weeks in the area. It took us a while to find a good balance and to realize that we’re never going to see everything in a local area, but it gives us a reason to come back and as we continue to find places where we can stay for longer periods of time, the stress just continues to decrease as we find fun things to do on the weekend.

    • Thanks Ruth…I was just saying at dinner with Howard and Linda at dinner Thursday night that of all the people I have gotten to know on the road , from a work perspective I relate the most to you. I hope you know how much you have helped me over the last year …and I appreciate the “your not crazy” validation more than I can say!!, We are finally headed your way! And we are absolutely meeting in person soon!

  4. Hi Tracy. . .we are still 20 months from full time and I can so identify with that “foot in both worlds” feeling. Such a trick learning to stay present in both. (and Shannon loves Lee’s asides!)

  5. My 1st year full-timer anniversary is tomorrow and I’ve been contemplating why its not felt like sunshine and lollypops every day all the time. Prior to full-timing, I worked as a project manager for a software company and was able to “work from anywhere,” so for a good chunk of each year, that’s exactly what I’d do (since I already had my RV at the time). I traveled all over the U.S. like a mad woman, squeezing in lots of tourist stuff in between some pretty long stressful weeks of work. When I realized that if I could eliminate the cost of the house (that I was rarely ever at), I could then eliminate the stressful job. So I became a full-time early retired RVer and, to my naive surprise, got a new lifestyle with a whole new set of pros and cons! I’m not sure I’ve settled into a happy routine yet, but right now I’m thinking I need a few short stints of doing something work-related per year to keep me feeling like a valued member of society. So far, that’s been volunteer gigs at NWRs, but if finances ever run low, I think I could also be quite happy managing short-term projects as a contractor. At least for me, most of the stress (and devalued self-worth) that came from my full-time job were driven from being a full-time employee (i.e. corporate politics). Perhaps that might be an avenue for you to explore one day if your current job/company ever become too unbearable? Thanks for a very honest & thought-provoking post!

    • Hi Winnie,

      Really appreciate your feedback since we are in such similar situations. I totally agree about feeling like a productive member of society although some people look at me like I have two heads when I say that. Definitely checking out your blog and thanks so much for the comments.

      Trace

  6. We know exactly what you’re saying. Though we gave up the “luxury” of steady income to chase our dreams, sometimes I just have to step outside the RV and remind myself where I am at times and how fortunate we really are. We too are “younger” full timers and we’ll probably never get to traditional retirement. If we can work at our current endeavors from now on and somehow fulfill our needs that way, that’ll be just fine with us. Best of luck!

  7. You may have a foot in both worlds but the greatest thing you have that most of us do not is that every week you get to put both feet in the world you love the most! 🙂
    We are sort of there already ourselves by downsizing over the past three years and living less than a mile from the beach while working full time. At any time in the morning or evening and definitely on the weekends we just bike our way to the beach to enjoy life.
    Sounds like you and your husband are doing that too so enjoy what you have, it will only get better!!!!

  8. I can really identify with your thoughts and feelings. My wife, Evin, and I have been RVing full-time since 2011. The events you describe will happen from time to time. Two weeks ago I lost Doodlebug, my Jack Russel terrier. She was my constant companion for the past 15 years and rode close to 500,000 miles on my lap and slept beside me most every night during that time. I find distraction and help with downward spirals in Nature and record it with my camera. You have a lot of great adventures ahead of you. Evin and I have spent special times with Howard and Linda, you are in good company—ENJOY!! You can see some of the ways I distract myself on our travel blog — PUPPY PATHS http://www.puppypaths.blogspot.com. Also, you may see some places you want to travel to while on your RVing journey.

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