I know I’ve always felt this way but for the past few years it’s been followed by an inner “so what’s wrong with me that I can’t just snap out of it?” I’m not the type to confide in friends, I’m usually the listener. I’m the cheerleader, the advice giver, the pep-talker. Whatever was crushing my spirit needed to just go away. I was determined to continue trudging through life forcing myself to believe that something was wrong with me for being unhappy. I can change ME, it’s the ONLY thing I can change. So dammit, why are none of my changes working?
Only it wasn’t me. The more I shared my experiences with friends and counselors, the more I realized that I was in an unhealthy situation. I was stubborn. It took a lot of convincing for me to believe that I couldn’t “fix this” with a positive attitude. What I needed to change about myself was the company I was keeping.
So this week I am celebrating 6 months of running my own life.
I have never been so happy and free and joyous in my entire life. Every time I turn around we’re being blessed in so many ways. The bills are all paid and we have plenty of food. And shoes. You have no idea how many shoes it takes to have six daughters. The house isn’t filled with anger, stress or fear. My 18 yr old daughter has moved back in. We all play games, watch movies, we read stories, we do messy art projects, we make crazy snacks, we go away for weekend trips and we have friends over all the time. Our home is a sanctuary of happiness. We have enough bedrooms. Life is so awesome. We have so much to look forward to.
Transitions are powerful. I’m glad my kids are witnessing different ways to deal with the stress. I’m glad they’re able to talk openly about the changes in our life. I’m glad they will one day be able to compare life before the change and life afterward.
I’m glad I have kept a personal journal my entire life. Even though a few years worth were destroyed in 2005, I managed to preserve enough so that I can reread them and see exactly where I’ve been. It’s amazing how much of that I had blocked out over the years. Rereading it has been therapeutic. I can’t say there’s much I regret. All the years I spent trying to make things work were necessary. I failed. It’s time to find something I’m good at. So far, “being me” is much easier than being married.
I’m not sure exactly what the future holds, but I know it will have loud music, tons of books, brightly colored clothing, far too many knee high socks and long skirts, travel with friends, good fresh gluten free foods, tons of love and smiles and happiness, more hoop practice, more silliness, more art, more laughter and more laundry.
Here are pictures from our trip to the Life is Good Conference
Here’s pictures from our hiking trip to Boulder Cave:
Here are a few shots from Seattle, I had some time off of work and spent the day on a photowalk
Here are some pictures from my sister’s visit:
Here are some random pictures from our summer, enjoying life and freedom <3
And finally, the important thing to remember in life is this:
I learned so much from life by watching my mother. When she and my father divorced, she was very considerate about not saying nasty things about him. I might never have noticed her behavior, except that he didn’t reciprocate and I lost a lot of respect for him as a kid. There was something mean and nasty about the names he called her and the way he spat out the words “your fucking mother” that never sat well with me. We only saw him once or twice a month and it seemed, for a while, that he was angry every time. She wasn’t perfect, no one is. But I always felt like she was on my side and I hope my daughters feel the same. They might not understand the depth of what’s gone on in their lives right now. So much of what we went through was “just the way things are” for so long. Hopefully they will see a more peaceful and loving way of living and relating as time goes on.
Life is awesome. It always has been. Now, I choose to participate in the awesomeness instead of watching from the sidelines, waiting for permission.
(cross-published at LisaRussell.org as my “back-to-blogging” celebration begins)
I have written
I will write
I am a writer
I choose my words carefully, they reflect my most pressing truth, so far as I can tell, at the moment they are written.
I am not responsible for your interpretation.
If something I’ve written upsets you, I welcome a rational discussion on the matter.
If I’m writing about my opinion, my emotions, my plans and goals for the future; know that they may change at any given moment and I may or may not write about it. This doesn’t make me inconsistent, it doesn’t make me a liar. It might make you confused, but your thoughts and opinions don’t change who I am. Indeed, they simply represent YOUR perceptions.
I don’t write simply to report my thoughts to anyone, so no single piece of my writing, published or unpublished, including this one, can be used to represent me outside of the entire body of my work.
I don’t fool myself into thinking that my truth is the ONLY truth. The decisions I make in my life are based on my core beliefs and yours are, too. I suggest you try not to fool yourself into believing that your truth is more important or valid than mine. Diversity is important.
If you don’t like it, don’t read it.
Better yet, if you don’t like it, you should probably examine why you’re having an emotional response and get to the bottom of your own dilemma rather than shooting the messenger.
Finally, the sun is up. I imagined it would feel like a boat ride, or being rocked to sleep but it was, in fact, more like hitching a ride on a lopsided tumbleweed. As if the bouncing and shaking weren’t enough of a distraction, there was a full moon and I hadn’t hung the curtains. It was sort of like sleeping outside that way, albeit cozy and warm in my own blankets, with my kids snuggled in beside me like my very own personal teddy bears.
And so it began, this road trip I’ve been dreaming of for so long. Let me back up just a little and say that it actually started last year when we bought the motorhome. Rather, my husband bought it to appease my gypsy nature. Over the past year, we’ve mapped and remapped, plotted and planned and decided and redecided and in the end, we really didn’t care where our first stop was. In fact, at one point, we just said “let’s just drive down to the coast of Oregon and park for 3 months.” I’m glad we dreamed bigger again after that, it hasn’t been easy
Except, it has. I mean… here we are. Unstoppable.
We’re oficially in Montana as I write this, just outside of Missoula. We were all excited about Missoula because the kids have been performing in plays with the Missoula Children’s Theatre since I was pregnant with Maddy in 2003. They travel around in little red pickup trucks, stopping at schools, theatres, community centers and libraries. The two MCT reps audition kids on a Friday, casting 40 or 50 for each performance and over the course of one week, they teach the kids every song in the musical. They bring sets and costumes and by the end of the week they put on a musical on stage, some are fairy tales, some are adapted from classical children’s literature. All are adorable, with catchy music and a ton of fun memories for the kids who perform.
We’re in the mountains now, but I remember very clearly an Amtrak ride in 1998, from Iowa to Seattle; I’d heard Montana being called “Big Sky country” before, but it wasn’t until that Amtrak ride that I understood why. I’m hoping the large window of the motorhome is as much of a theatre as the train car was. That sky is something I’ve wanted to share with my husband ever since I saw it first. I remember feeling as if maybe I was way too excited about it when I got off the train and kept telling him “Oh man, that sky was just…. Babe you should have seen the sky…. I mean, they call it Big Sky Country for a reason, right… that sky was just amazing.” Like I said, we’re in the mountains now, but I’m sure the subject will come up. I’ll try to let him say it first. I hope the kids notice, too.
So I think I mentioned before that I had a million lists and sticky notes, right? It was a lie. Really, I keep things in my head. The lists and sticky notes were figurative speech. I see them in my mind but I didn’t really write anything down. Except, I kept telling myself not to forget the iron. The one time I did sit down to mke a list, the only things on it were an iron, dish towels and hula hoops. Last time I ironed anything was in 2008, I think. I ironed the little girls’ party dresses when we visited my Dad for his wife’s birthday. (Step mom sounds so impersonal.. Dad’s wife sounds.. distant. Mom discounts my own mother…. Second mom, maybe? We just call her Vicki and to add a little extra love, the kids call my Dad “Papa Vicki”)
Still, I reminded myself a hundred times to bring that iron. In fact, I even have a blog post in draft called “Dont forget the iron.” As we were doing our final packout, a friend of my husband says “Did you bring the iron?” And I laughed like crazy and had to tell him the story of the blog-post-in-draft, because it was just too much of a coincidence. Well, here we are hundreds of miles from home and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot the iron. And I’m not the slightest bit concerned about it. If we’re wrinkly, we now have a legitimate reason. We’re camping, after all.
We’ve been watching America: The Story of Us (I got it for free from the History Channel) and I keep feeling like a bit of a pioneer. I have a tendency to overpack and we have limited space, so I wanted to be sure I didn’t bring too much. The families who migrated to the western US had to leave things on the side of the trail in order to relieve their oxen. In another documentary, it broke my heart to see beautiful antique furniture (no doubt brought over from Europe, heirlooms maybe), cast aside along the edges of the trail. I wonder if the women wept. I imagine pioneer men promising to build a new hutch and pioneer women allowing themselves to be comforted by that pomise, knowing full well that their husbands weren’t artisans of craftsmen and that they’d be busy building lincoln-log cabins and rustic furniture first. Traveling makes me imagine, I guess. The journey that took them six months is taking us just a few days.
It’s been an adventure so far, and this is just the beginning. Whenever Brandon gets too tired to drive, the kids and I will do laundry and explore for a little while. I don’t know where we’ll be, I don’t know what time it will be, but (dare I say it?) BRING IT ON. (The fun, that is)
And, incidentally, donations or something. This is costing a fortune. Click the “donate” button below to get to my paypal and I’ll owe you a favor (backlinks, anyone? Make me an offer I can’t refuse)
OK, part of “leaving for this trip” involved having our Internet service at the house turned off because… well… “wireless” has its limits and we planned to be outside those limits. Unfortunately, when I called the company, I had a different departure date in mind and we ended up spending the final weeks at our house without service.
It was actually a good thing because I would have spent a lot of time obsessively re-planning, re-organizing, recalculating, remapping and researching. In reality, I was so busy getting the house packed up and dealing with the un-freaking-believable amount of obstacles that were being hurled at us from everywhere. Did I say obstacles? I meant to say opportunities. Let’s go with that…
I don’t believe that God “tests” us. It’s just not logical to me. I do believe that shit hits the fan when you least expect it, though. That’s logical, in my mind at least. Who would EVER expect shit to hit a fan, right? By default, you ALWAYS least expect it. Plus we played, without electronic distractions for the most part. Watching the kids give each other lawnmower rides, run in the sprinklers, play in the mud, catch tadpoles and things like that are just plain fun.
For every catastrophe that came our way this week, an equally awesome stroke of luck rescued us. For every down there was a bigger and better up. Life is good and it keeps getting better
If I had been posting status updates on Facebook, it would have looked something like this; (something like this because in reality I couldn’t delete the drunk ones without feeling like an alcoholic
1- $2500 for repairs, just what we expected. As soon as the written estimate is here we’ll proceed.
2- Evie (3) says “I’m hurting in my nose. It’s all because of this stupid pain.” Luckily once she blew it, she was fine <3.
3- OMFG… $9000 for repairs and tires? WTF? That’s a LOT more than we planned for.
4- We’re at Costco and my husband says “Jeez, do we really need $30 worth of toilet paper on this trip?” No.. honey… because we’re not going to be wiping or anything.
5- OMG we just found the most adorable Greyhound bus conversion. it has bunk beds and TONS of basement storage, I love it. it needs a makeover and I know *just* what I want to do. It costs less than the repair bill for the motorhome ANDDDDD – it’s a diesel, which is exactly what I wanted, so we can convert it to run on veggie oil. YAYYY, so much cuter than The Beaver, this bus has vintage charm, personality AND bunk beds
6- Thank goodness for friends in the Automotive repair industry. Water pump on the Suburban is fixed. Parts at wholesale and barter for labor. Life is good.
7- “Mom, are we going to a land where people are naked?”
8- Seriously- The Suburban needs a radiator, too. OK. So we’ll get it a radiator. Anything else?
9- I’m regretting the recent times when I’ve said “Bring it on…” I didn’t really mean it, OK. Back off, now.
10- OK, now that The Beaver isn’t going to cost so much to repair, it’s no longer “cheaper” to buy the Greyhound. Bummer, it was really badass. But hey… The Beaver is fine, really… let’s just GO already. Did I mention that I love the rounded ceilings in those old busses? One day we will have a bus conversion. But today, The Beaver rocks. let’s just GO.
11- We just drove The Beaver down to Wapato to visit the new mechanic, the one that’s like 75% cheaper than the original one. I went a little nuts when I realized that I was washing my hands in the middle of an intersection. Moments like that are special. We were actually driving down the freeway; a taste of what’s to come I can taste it…. I can smell it… freedom is near
12- Dear Jamie, Last week I was at your house and you were telling me about how you had to have your water pump replaced on The Suburban and we shared a moment because I’d just had mine done, too. But then you mentioned that your transmission went out as well, so I blame you. We must have contracted some sort of “Green-Suburban-owner’s-Virus” because now the Suburban only drives in third gear. Kinda don’t want to bother the mechanic since he’s working his butt off to get our motorhome rolling by Friday. Just had to let you know. We should warn the other Green Suburban Owners, just in case.
13- “Mom, are the princesses at Disneyland like walking cartoons or are they like people dressed up? Like… can we stick our hand through them?”
14- OMG we just got the coolest solar panel setup for the motorhome. I can’t wait to blog about this awesome company, Goal Zero. Check out their humanitarian efforts at http://www.tifie.org
15- Ok, don’t tell my husband but I have no clue what a volt is, or a watt or how a cell works. He’s explained it to me ten thousand times. For some reason, terms like “direct current” and “alternating current” just….. don’t stick in my brain. I’m sure he wouldn’t be insulted to read that. His eyes tend to glaze over when I’m talking about search engine optimization and social marketing campaigns or even the differences between ppc and ppi ads and things like that. But here’s something that Does stick: With that solar panel, we don’t need a generator. So we can park without hookups and still use electricity, but it will be CLEAN energy, now he wants to build a windmill on top of the motorhome so that whenever we drive forward, we’re charging our batteries. I love the way he thinks sometimes, as long as he’s not trying to explain it to me
16- “Mom, is it true that tapioca has eyeballs in it?”
17- OK- I MUST admit my guilty-music-pleasure before I explode. Ready? I think I fell in love with Kenny Rogers when I was like 4 years old. I’ve cranked up this song SO MANY TIMES this week, I love it. ”…Come sail awayyyyyyy with me…”
17.5- before you go thinking I’m all “Mrs 70′s love song dork” (as if I’m not) my other favorite song this week is this one. So there…
18- Is it unreasonable to expect nail polish to be shiny when the bottle doesn’t indicate that it’s not? I got the cutest shade of purple called “Dream On” by Sinful Colors. The glass bottle that it’s in makes it look shiny but when it dried, it was matte. Is this evidence of me being old and outdated, or shouldn’t the bottle SAY that it’s matte? Who would want matte polish? <pouting> It looks like primer. I’m wearing it anyway because I don’t care THAT much, I just wanted some color.
19- WHEW- it took like 2 hours, but there isn’t a single trace of The Jonas Brothers, Jojo, Selena Gomez or Vanessa Hudgins in my iTunes. Couldn’t bring myself to remove Hannah Montana’s The Climb, though. Because the kids love it, of course <3 And Seussical the Musical- that was mine to begin with
20- Grace (5) has a friend over, Gregory (7). I walked into my room to change and discovered like 5 kids sitting on my bed listening to music. I said “out please, I need to change my clothes and Gregory says “But we’re listening to Metallica.”…. I’ll just change later
21- mmmmm chocolate covered blueberries. I have never dipped a blueberry in chocolate before, I think I’m going to melt into my chair, you’ll find me in a puddle… a chocolate puddle with blueberries floating on top. This is heaven… What else have I been missing out on all my life?
22- the cool thing about having a husband who smokes is that I can roast a marshmallow on the couch using his lighter. Dropping a flaming marshmallow on my leg was just… a bonus, right?
23- OK… I spent like 3 hours yesterday plucking out my leg hair with tweezers. I’m just saying… feel my leg now…. seriously, feel it….
24- This one would be a link to Tiffani’s “Creepy ass children’s books” post. or was it crazy? crazy ass…. Yeah- anyway. it’s just one of the reasons I love her. I thought the SAME THING about this book and it “disappeared” from our bookshelves shortly thereafter. I think it was only successful because of that shiny spot.
25- This one was very very very long and rambling and totally inappropriate for Facebook. Thanks, Chocovine> have you tried the chocolate wine from Holland yet?
26- washing the dishes is so much more fun when Evie helps
27- I’m handing out plates with breakfast on them and Grace (5) tells me “If this egg sucks I’m going to be devastated.” Luckily, it didn’t suck.
28- Paramore’s ‘All I Wanted Was You… this would be a video link, not that I’ve seen the video, but the song …. love that girl
29- OK…. it’s ok…. nothing to freak out about. So what if we’re not leaving on time. What’s “on time” anyway? We’re flexible, right? The date we said we were leaving was a random date we made up before we knew all of the facts that are presenting themselves to us as we speak. It’s OK… we’re still going…. it’s not like we have some kind of appointment we’re going to miss. We’re still going… it’s not like we’re going to be late for something, right? We’re good. It’s all good. Relax…
So when we leave July 1stish, we need to be completely packed away. We’re having a friend stay in our house to tend the gardens and take care of the dogs and when we return, we’ll either be A- heading out on the road again indefinitely, or B- moving to another part of the state (Central WA is not my favorite place)
SO- basically, I have like 27 days to get rid of like everything. I really don’t want to store anything. I need to finish scanning all of our irreplaceable family photos. I already found a good, loving home for all of my house plants. I want to say goodbye to the insane amount of books I’ve collected over the years. At the same time, I don’t want to say goodbye to some of them
We’ll be condensing all of our belongings into one bedroom and someone else will be moving into the house. I’m hoping at the end of this summer trip that everyone in my family decides they’re eager to get back on the road indefinitely, but we’ve also discussed the possibility of moving to a different part of the state at the end of the summer.
Honestly, I don’t want to come back, ever. Maybe to visit. So my goal with “getting rid of everything” is to make it so that I have no ties to whatever remains. The “stuff” I love is easy to get rid of when I’m deciding to send it to someone who I know will love it, too.
The kids are being awesome about filling their rubbermaid boxes. Each kid is getting one for clothes and one for toys. So far this hasn’t been a cause of struggle, if it becomes one, we’ll deal with it when the time comes.
Eh, the play-on-words in this title could definitely lead to something more exciting, but mostly I just wanted to talk about the facebook friends lists.
If you’re not using friends lists, you’re doing a disservice to yourself. With my friends lists, I can easily see “Everyone I know in Las Vegas” or “All my friends who hula hoop” or “mom bloggers” or “Marketing reps” or “People who support my work” or “Other Freelance moms” or “Past clients” or “Present clients” Heck, I haven’t yet but I should make one for “Future clients,” huh!
The value of this is huge, for me it means I can target messages to groups of people who are interested, I can send articles out to the population of my friends who would appreciate it, I can send a note saying “I’ll be in Vegas next week” to solicit lunch dates.
Most of my lists are geographically centered. I’m trying to build a life of travel, so every time I add a new friend, I try to find out where they live, so I can group them appropriately.
Here’s How to Make A friends List:
If you click on profile, to view your own Facebook page (instead of your news feed) you’ll notice on the top of the left column that it says “Friends (1367)” Actually yours might not say 1367, what are the odds? Mine says 1367 because that’s how many people I have. Yours will have a different number, but the number is irrelevant… just click on the word Friends on that line.
OK- it will bring up a screen that shows you a list of all your friends and at the top of the list, on the right side, click the button that says “Edit friends”
OK then at the top you want to “create list” and just choose everyone you think should be included.
Later, when you request friendship with someone, you’ll get to choose “Add to list” before they even decide to accept or decline your request.
When you go to send notes, share links or photos, click the “sort by list” (I think that’s what it says?) and you’ll be able to pick and choose according to which list they’re on. Every friend can appear in more than one list, so if you have a list of “Friends from high school” you can still have them sorted by their state by making a statewide list
For more advice managing facebook, please check out a company I work with called Business Resource Alliance. We teach businesses how to manage their online presence.
Ok, perhaps over the past year or so you’ve noticed that I haven’t ACTUALLY gone anywhere except an East coast funeral. That’s not exactly a vacation, is it? Lack of travel can drive a gypsy nuts. Seriously. I’m not made to sit still. I blogged last week that I was getting a divorce, even. But so far all that’s transpired is that my husband is committed himself to making SURE I get to go places. He’s taken me out to dinner and at that time, he didn’t even know it was such a big deal to me. It’s working, so far we’ve taken a day trip and an overnight (the first EVER since we had kids). Plus he’s taken me out to eat a few times. I guess we’re falling in love again.
Next month, I will be traveling ALONE and I am so darned excited, my head could explode. I’m going to be speaking at the Life Rocks Conference in North Conway, New Hampshire. It was a difficult decision, to go without the kids, but I’m really looking forward to allowing myself to become immersed in the environment, with no responsibilities and the freedom to explore. My plane flies in and out of Boston and I’ve always wanted to explore Boston. I can’t wait. I’m so so so excited
Although, not as I had previously discussed. This may come as a surprise, but my husband and I are getting a divorce. I’m grateful for the time we spent together, but our life paths are increasingly incompatible. I wish him the best of luck and love. I’m looking forward to being myself for a while, instead of someone’s wife. After 17 years of marriage, I’m not entirely sure who I am, I just know she needs to be free. I haven’t announced it on my normal blog yet. I don’t want to accidentally say anything that might hurt him.
Anyway, this means a lot of new things for me, all of which I am excited about. Sharing custody means I get a break more often, right? It means I get to move out of this house and into my own, with a decent kitchen, bathroom and porch. It means that my decisions, my clothing, my language and my Facebook status are a reflection of no one but myself. It means I’m free, like a gypsy should be.
I had the absolute most wonderful week. First, I stumbled upon an artist who’s so absolutely inspiring in so many ways. Kat O’Sullivan is an etsy artist who’s sold over 2500 gypsy coats since she started in 2006. Each has a price tag between $200 and $300. OK, so as a wannabe artisan, I find that very cool. However, when I poked around her website, I saw that she’s lived a VERY colorful and inspired life. Most ironic, was her resume, which was written in 2006. I wonder if it was the impetus for her launching the etsy business. She’s got quite a following, each of her coats is one-of-a-kind and her fans know each one by name. Their names are things like “Storm the Castle” and “Seven Years in Tibet” and “Queen Bitch.” She also sells arm warmers. All of her products are made from recycled sweaters. Visit Katwise on Etsy to see more of her work. If you want to check out her personal website, I guarantee it will be a treat. She has the most phenomenal bus she’s painted and if you make it as far as her Facebook page you’ll be amazed with the paint job on her house. She’s totally amazing. Here’s just one of her coats:
But finding Kat wasn’t my only amazing gypsy-soul experience this week. I love this next story.
So here I am, minding my own business speaking to a group of local business owners about why they should have a blog on their website, when a woman (a radiant glowing woman with a twinkle in her eye) comes to thank me. We chatted for a minute and she says “Are you an Aquarious?” I said “Nope, December 7th” and she brightens up, looks deeply into me eyes and gushes “You’re a gypsy” I’m sure it took me a minute to scrape my jaw off of the ground, I said “OHMIGODTHATSME” you have no idea, I’m gypsymom.com, Gypsy has been my screenname online for so very long, I am SO a gypsy, and then I started blobbering all my favorite gypsy-ish things. It turns out she’s an evolutionary astrologer. I’d never thought much about these things before, but as soon as she said that, I KNEW I needed to hang out with her a little more. I did some computer work for her in exchange for an astrology reading. I know it sounds silly (It did to me, anyhow) but it was awesome. She confirmed a lot of what I already knew about myself. She gave me some huge insights into my own thinking and process that I hadn’t thought of before (consciously) and I’ve come away so… excited to be me. If this makes any sense to say, the best I can describe it is that I have a different relationship with my identity now.
I AM a gypsy, a storyteller. I’d decided a few weeks ago to write a screenplay and I’ve been plugging away at it for the last few weeks and in the reading, I became filled with confirmation that my story needs to be told. I felt this, now I damn well know it.