This is a really overdue blog post. The whole transition of unschooler-to-public-schooler actually started almost 2 years ago. So excuse me while I quite possibly make this the longest blog post I’ve ever written (or in case it takes you two years to read it). Because I’m sure many of you can understand, there’s a lot that goes into a story like this. Continue reading “8 Years Unschooling to the First Day of Public High School”
The Guiding Word in the Sisterhood for September is Self-Acceptance and it’s got my wheels turning hard-core.
I’ve been doing a lot of new inner discovery, noticing things about myself that make me laugh at how obvious it all is and making squirm at the same time.
Why squirm? Because for me Self-Acceptance is bringing up one very old story, one very old bullshit trigger: Can I? Am I allowed?
We all have our identities, subtle or not. We see ourselves as a set of traits, characteristics, things we’ve built into our personality or things others have defined for us. Identities can be as obvious as “entrepreneur” or “parent” or “partner”, the roles we play in our life and the lives of others. They can be based around the things we’re passionate about – “artist” or “hippie”. Or they can be as subtle as “the person who makes people laugh”, “the person who loves colorful things”, or even “a responsible person”.
These identities allow us to navigate this world, to give and receive, to learn and grow. But what happens when we want to act outside of our identities? When “the responsible one” suddenly realizes a deep aching to let go of those responsibilities and travel the world instead? When the parent suddenly realizes their deeper need for art that doesn’t include coloring books or interruptions?
I can’t tell you how many women I know – myself include – who pause or stop short of their/our whole dream for fear that it’s “not allowed”, too far outside their current identity, too scary to imagine how the world might respond (as if the world isn’t so wrapped up in its own bullshit to even notice).
But in doing so, we fail to accept ourselves fully – the constantly evolving self, the hidden self, the hungry self.
Often it’s fear of what others will think, that they will reject this person we are becoming (or wanting to become), that causes us hesitation or paralyzation. But in fearing rejection we guarantee rejection – of ourselves, by ourselves.
And then we wonder why we hurt, why we shrink, why we stagnate and suffer.
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain
Self-acceptance means accepting that we will constantly change.
It means accepting that our needs will change. That our ideas will change. That our ideas of Who We Are will change. And that constant evolution means never feeling done either.
It also means accepting that our world will change as we do. And that those in it will change as well.
And it means that in order to feel loved and accepted by the people in our lives, we must first BE our whole true selves – otherwise WE aren’t there to be love and accepted. Instead, we’re cast off in the corner before we even have a chance to experience the difference.
So yes, we will change. And our world will change. And it might mean people who aligned with one version of you might begin to fall away. And it might very well seem uncomfortable.
But as you become more aligned with you, and the world comes to know you as a person who evolves and embraces that evolution, and the right things and people for the real you start to fall into place, how can you feel anything but joy in that?
Life has been taking me on a ride. Not the roller coaster variety where the twists and turns leave you nauseated and thrown around, clenching and screaming, wobbly legged and spinning when it’s over. So that’s good. 😉
This is more of a balloon ride. Lifting off the earth, and back down again, but in a soft and fluid motion. Because this is what it’s like when you move with the nature of the world. When you surrender.
I’ve had more peaks and valleys than I can count. More scenes to see that I can recall. There have been times when I thought for sure this one or that was It. It would be the one that popped our balloon or took us over the mountain or settled us back to the ground but each and every time the clouds would smile crookedly and the wind would chuckle and twist us ’round to a new direction, a whole new scene.
This has been Life teaching me surrender.
Teaching me to loosen up my grasp and just allow myself to float, allow the dips and swings to realign me and shake me from my sentry post and just let go. Show me that there is no such thing as gravity when I’m not in a death grip with the thing trying to catapult me to the ground.
Soft and gentle. This is Surrender.
It takes my second guessing and my worry and my deeply seeded desire to navigate the winds, and it wraps a sense of peace around me. So that everything is still there, snugly wrapped as well; I’m just warmer and cushioned from the harshness of the wind.
Three years of being a stay-at-home dad and six weeks of looking for a position (that felt more like 47), Justin took a job.
He’ll be a foreman again, dusting off his tools that we’ve so carefully lugged from state to state, and building with his hands once more. He’s leading crews and relishing in that sense of pride that comes when your employer is as excited to have found you as you are to have found him. (I mean, they even share a love for the Packers! Annie, can you believe the luck?!)
He’ll be on overtime and coming home fulfilled and tired. And our life will be transitioning to find that sweet spot where his dreams are nurtured right alongside mine, right alongside Zeb’s (who is dreaming of jujitsu), because we’re not quite sure how we’ll get the errands run and the dinner made and the work done with all of us suddenly going and no one full-time at the helm of this ship.
But more so, I’m not quite sure how it’ll be, being Floridians for awhile.
Freeport, Florida, in the panhandle.
This will be our home for the foreseeable future. Not forever, I don’t think, but for awhile.
When we drove up we knew it as home. It breathed us in and we breathed it in, and we heard our exhales say hello to one another and our roots start reaching down.
There is an eager and kind old man who laughs from behind the wheel of his golf cart and shares with openness the pros and cons of this special little RV spot that will be our own. And we like that in our landlords.
There a lazy, sprawling river with fingers inching in every direction and kayaks waiting by the shore. There’s talk of crocodiles but only with reassurances that they’re friendly. 😉
There are trees. Big and loping ones. The kind that look as though they may lumber around at night, and cast ghostly shadows with their robes and play tricks on where you left your bike.
There’s a place for my furry kid to run and play freely, and for my hairy kid to swim and watch TV with friends. We’re not too sure who our neighbors will be or if there will be young blood to ride bikes with, but a jujitsu class might solve that problem.
There’s space and time and stillness to delve into my work and my self-care and find a rhythm to our days that doesn’t include a twice-monthly uprooting and relocating.
There’s a calm that is longed for after such a grand adventure as ours has been.
But more than anything, there’s a door opening, asking me to step through.
And it feels right. It feels welcoming and safe.
And none of that means my heart is not aching. For all changes have their melancholy, I’m remembering, even the longed for ones. And I’m doing again as Anatole said I’d do, as I’ve always done: I’m dying a little to my old life to step into this place between lives….between our life on the road and our Someday Home, full of chickens and gardens and yurts for gathering.
This is where Life is showing me – slowly and gently – what it will be like to step through that bigger door that’s coming down the road.
And there’s always a sadness to these things for me, when I throw my arms around the neck of that one I’ve loved, will always love, not knowing if time and fate will bring us together again. Not knowing if age or circumstance will take away my friend and if this will be my last goodbye.
I’ve never been bad at goodbyes but they are getting harder, especially when the goodbye seems like it’s to a part of myself. Maybe it is only the jaded view of years gone by that have changed me. I’m no longer so certain it will all pan out and that I won’t hurt a little when Life sticks its finger in the soup and changes the flavor of our expectations.
Cuz this For Now Home might only be for the summer, or it could be for a year or more. It is only meant to be a long-term place to stop our wheels, but it could someday mean a bricks-and-sticks house. Cuz Life could always throw in a dash of this and a dollop of that and I may or may not find myself a long term Floridian, growing up right next door to where my mama followed her first love out and had her second baby while her heart got broken by a soldier. (Life likes to take our stories full circle like that and lace together those crazy coinciding details we tend to call “coincidences”.)
And it all carries that vibe of coincidence. Where things fit together and you have a funny sense of déjà vu over somewhere you’ve never been and your heart is aching while your world is being thrown open with one major life event after another.
February and March 2013. I’ll be talking about these months with my grandchildren, or the neighbor kids who care to humor me, around a fire or a porch swing someday. I’ll be telling the story of how our world pivoted, and I’ll likely be stretching the details to captivate the antsier listeners. I can see it now, only I can’t hear the end of the story, the direction of the pivot just yet.
I can only hear that dual inhale and exhale, and that warm blanket that Life has wrapped around my shoulders to keep me from the coldness of the worry and heartache of goodbyes that likes to nip at the back of my neck these days, while it whispers Welcome Home. For now.
I wrote this last week, while I was deep in the process of surrendering to it all. It sounds a little forlorn because it was. It’s funny how much changes in a span of a week, how much excitement and readiness comes in when we give space to process the funk that rises up first (funk is so pushy!).
Now? Now I’m freaking excited!
My husband’s first day at his new job was today, and he text me how much fun he’s having and how over-the-moon he is and how amazed his crew and his boss are at his mad skillz, and it’s hard to feel unsure with excitement like that.
And in two weeks we’ll be moving to our For Now Home and I’ve got plans for a container garden (my own veggies again!) and talking to the RV resort about a community garden, and new curtains, something I’ve been putting off because I didn’t know how long we’d be in this RV.
My heart is so full of excitement for Ricki Lake (you can follow THAT adventure on Instagram this week!) and all the magic that is happening in Justin and all the potential of what’s to come. Yes, there are still uncertainties and I’m sure more funk will rise up. But I’m ready for that shit. Bring it on! ♥
We all have what we think are reasons to fear change. It’s annoying, overwhelming, frustrating, unnecessary, time-consuming, and so on.
But I’m going to challenge you to DIG deeper than the circumstance, deeper than your reactions to the circumstance.
I’m going to challenge you to DIG into the real reasons any of us are afraid of change, whether it’s frustration over Facebook changes or overwhelm over a change in career or fear of a change within ourselves or our lives.
Change via Zoe Pittman
(Heck, how many of you are afraid right now of changing your perspective on this topic? Maybe you’re feeling flustered or confused, tight in your stomach or shoulders, aggravated, offended or worried. That’s all about fear, baby.)
All human actions are motivated at their deepest level by two emotions–fear or love. In truth there are only two emotions–only two words in the language of the soul…. Fear wraps our bodies in clothing, love allows us to stand naked. Fear clings to and clutches all that we have, love gives all that we have away. Fear holds close, love holds dear. Fear grasps, love lets go. Fear rankles, love soothes. Fear attacks, love amends.
– Neale Donald Walsch
Change is the only constant in life right? So anytime we’re fighting with reality we get to ask ourselves some deeper questions. Like what am I really afraid of here?
What Your Fear of Change Really Means
Beneath the situation, the things you can see or describe, beneath your reactions….are the fears that are being triggered. Remember, no “thing” in life can rub a sore spot that doesn’t already exist inside us.
Which one of these is you?
- “Change makes me anxious.”
A big, BIG reason we fear change is because we feel more comfortable where we are, rather than moving forward. But all of life moves forward and changes.And so if we’re afraid of doing what comes naturally and organic to our nature, it’s often because of fear that change is not safe. We know what things are now. We don’t know what lies ahead.
And so it doesn’t matter if it’s a little change, like your favorite restaurant closing or a big change, like marriage, walking into the unknown rubs against a fear that we are inherently not safe.
Ask yourself: Why do I feel unsafe?
- “Change frustrates or overwhelms me.”
We’re human. We make mistakes. And we have weaknesses. But we’ve been taught from a very young age that this is a bad thing. So we begin to learn that we are not “good enough”…or some variation, such as smart enough, capable enough, strong enough.
When changes rubs against this idea we’ve learned we say things like “I can’t possibly figure out all these new changes!” or “I can’t handle this in my life.” Change freaks us out because it threatens to expose our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities.
Ask yourself: What makes me think I’m not enough?
- “It’s just too much.”
Too much of one thing really means not enough of another. This other “not enough” is all about scarcity on a deep core level.
I usually hear it in regards to time: “I don’t have time to manage all this.” Sometimes it’s about money: “I can’t afford to redo everything!” Maybe even: “I don’t have the energy for this.”
The thing about scarcity is it’s really about us and our (in)ability to create more, which goes back to that “good enough” thing I mentioned up there. It’s also about the feeling that you’re needs won’t be met, that if someone else gets something there won’t be anything left for you, that you’ll be left hurting or alone. (And that takes us to #4.)
Ask yourself: Why do I think I can’t have or create more?
- “What about me and what I want?”
This one is sneaky and sometimes hard to see. Maybe it surfaces as the “Why me? Everyone is out to get me!” reaction we have when things change without our approval.But it’s also that anxiety we feel as we try to figure something out and feel like we’ll be the last one to get it (or that we’ll never get it). Or the panic we feel if life or love gets tough, because we’re afraid it won’t work out.
You see, under this idea that people are intentionally hurting you or will hurt you is really the idea that you are or will be alone, unloved, unseen, unheard, not cared for or taken seriously, ignored, unimportant or unappreciated.
Ask yourself: How long have I felt alone?
- Or maybe it’s something else entirely…
Have you caught yourself wrapped up in reacting badly about something, complaining about change that you know really doesn’t matter?
Well, then it’s likely it’s not about what’s changing at all. It’s likely the change you’re resisting is really just a scapegoat for something else.
Ask yourself: What am I really avoiding or distracting myself from by spending my energy fighting with this?
How do I know this? Oh, only because I’ve experienced each one of these at some time in my life. And I’ve talked to or coached countless others who have discovered the same about their own fear of change.
It’s just Truth that underneath our own negative reactions are our own negative beliefs or fears. It’s fact that things cannot cause our reactions, only offer us opportunities to react. How we react, however, is totally up to us.
What Have You Found Beneath
Your Own Fear of Change?
[This is Part 2 or a 3 Part series.]
If any of the 11 signs of personal growth described in my first post resonated with you, or if you agree that we’re undergoing something major and world-shifting and if you’re feeling ready to take one step forward, I’d invite you to start by bringing your awareness to and absorbing these five principles.
I can almost guarantee you that without understanding and fully embracing these principles, your own journey will be slower, punctuated by more pain and self-doubt and peppered with more challenges.
Trust me, I would know.
But embracing these principles of life and personal growth can lift the heaviness of where we are from our shoulders and create an environment of peace and even excitement in our lives. It can shift us from overwhelm or apathy to clarity, acceptance and motivation.
Here they are, pretty much in the order of importance.
1. You are not wrong, broken, bad, or crazy.
It’s so tempting to use those words to describe ourselves. After all, conventional wisdom tells us if we’re feeling happy one moment and sad the next, if we can’t stop crying, or if we suddenly desire something more than what we’re accustomed to that we’re either bi-polar, depressed or experiencing a mid-life crisis.
I say screw them.
You are not wrong, broken, bad or crazy. You are human. You are diverse, sometimes messy and constantly evolving. You experience life deeply and it moves you in sometimes uncomfortable, but always opportunistic, ways.
All of this is good! And don’t for one minute think it’s not, for all of this is exactly what has been experienced by the great movers and shakers of the world, the creatives, the philosopher’s, the leaders and the world changers. They just didn’t had the burden of judgment or expectation like we do today.
2. Everyone does the best they can with the tools they have.
If you or someone else is not doing their personal best or the best you think is possible, it means you/they either lack the necessary tools or something else is getting in your/their way.
Understanding this gives us the ability to view ourselves and others with compassion and patience. It also begs to ask what we can do to help.
Life isn’t a sprint for everyone. We’re all going to move at our own pace. Treating yourself and others with gentle compassion and trust is the only way to ensure we’ll all keep growing. Judgment, guilt, fear, impatience…they are surefire ways to shut growth down.
Along with this principle is the fact that we are all looking and moving toward a greater good when we are fully authentic and feeling whole. We all ultimately and truly want what is best for everyone, even if we don’t know or are confused on how to get it.
If you’re struggling with personal growth, keep this one in mind and seek out new tools or self-awareness to get yourself unstuck.
3. There is no such thing as a lost opportunity.
Life is cyclical. Things always come back around.
If you feel as though you (or someone else) missed an opportunity, or maybe you just don’t feel ready for it, you can rest assured it will make its way back to you.
Be careful pushing things aside for later though; sometimes it’s harder to accomplish the second time than if you embrace the opportunity the first time around.
Instead, I’d recommend trusting that there are no mistakes and that the timing is perfect, even if not from our limited perspective.
4. The bigger your game, the bigger the obstacles.
Who here has ever been onto something really, really juicy and suddenly been blindsided by a string of bad luck, innumerable challenges or some serious self-sabotaging? (*raising hand*)
It can feel like everything is going wrong. It can feel like the cards are stacked against you. And you can begin to question what you’re doing – is it the right thing to do or am I the right person for the job?
Often times this looks like chaos, until we can be still and clearly see what it is: It’s not life or fate conspiring against us. It’s not bad luck. It’s just our own junk finally demanding face time.
Every time you’re about to experience a serious breakthrough, everything that does not serve you or will not serve you in the future, every old story you’ve told yourself, every fear that has held you back, every personal challenge you’ve ever had and never dealt with will suddenly surface.
Because they have no place in what you’re trying to create and in order to move forward into your future, you’ll have to spend some time with each of the things that has been holding you back.
Without giving them their face time, you won’t be able to leave them behind and without leaving them behind, you won’t move forward.
You can think of it a little like life testing your resolve. Or you can think of it as a spring cleaning of your soul to prepare you for the summer of your life.
Whatever image resonates with you, get ready to bring you’re A-game. Cuz it’s on.
5. This Too Shall Pass – If You Allow It
I don’t only mean if you allow it to pass, although not holding onto discord, drama or pain out of comfort or fear of change is important too.
What I really mean, though, is that you must allow yourself to be in this uncomfortable place for it to finally and fully come to pass. Resisting where you are or what you feel just postpones the process, and since life is cyclical (as described above), it will come back around.
This is the paradox of personal growth: Only by embracing What Is (the reality, the emotions, the everything) exactly as it is – with radical acceptance and without expectations of change – can it finally let us go.
You’ve got to be with it to be without it.
Sit with the sadness, the anger, the memories, the questions. Call them out and acknowledge them fully. Spend some time swimming in it. Without pointing fingers (at yourself or anyone else), just dwell in your experience. Allow it all to bubble out until there is finally nothing left to bubble and it detaches itself from you and you can experience the weightlessness left in its place.
By allowing it, it detaches itself from you and you from it. Then it becomes something that simply is, that has no power over you, and you can look at it with gratitude or compassion but no longer with pain or discomfort.
Included in this principle is a message of patience. As much as we’d like to, we simply cannot rush the process.
Deep breath. You’ll soon be glad you couldn’t.
Join the conversation:
Which of these principles is hardest for you to absorb?
Part Three: 8 Ways to Make Personal Growth Happen
I can feel it already. 2010 changed my life. But 2011 is going to rock my world.
Two words have begun to hang over my head: Abundance and Gratitude. And I can feel them both churning and stirring up the mental dust.
In preparation for the mind-altering, life-inspiring, beautiful madness to commence, I’m starting the New Year with a new viewpoint.
I hereby give myself full, unapologetic permission to….
- Only take and keep the photos I love.
- Feel shy or walk away.
- Slow the hell down.
- Love me how no one else can.
- Be selfish with my self-care.
- Surround myself with inspiration and beauty.
- Say goodbye to my wedding dress.
- Say hello to clothes that make me feel amazing.
- Have a piece of life that belongs only to me.
- Fearlessly live up to my full potential.
- Take an entire month off from blogging.
Yes, an entire month. January, actually.
It will mark my longest hiatus from blogging since I started almost four years ago. It will be strange and probably disjointed for me. And I’m looking forward to it. 🙂
It comes with a reason, of course. We have less than five weeks to wrap up our business here in Las Vegas, purchase and prepare a new rig and hit the road again by February 1st. We will be slammed with things to do and people to see and moments to relish while we can.
But that’s not all, because my time off from blogging is not really time away from my blog at all.
Coinciding with the relaunch of our travels, The Organic Sister will be “relaunching” in February!
I’m going to be spending the month revamping this little space of mine, adding some new awesomeness, and aligning every part of it with what feels true and authentic and beautiful to me.
I can’t wait to show you what’s in my head! 😀
Until next time, I’ll leave you with some things to think about…
What are you giving yourself permission for?
What will you be creating in the New Year?
And are you living according to your own organic nature?
It’s strange how quickly life can change. Wednesday will be two months that we’ve been on the road and I think we’re finally starting to settle into it. I think.
It’s not without its challenges, but such is life. And even during the worst moments, I can’t imagine anywhere else I want to be. Seeing as how I’ve never experienced such a deep sense of belonging, it seems ironic that I’d find it in a continual string of places I technically don’t belong.
These places on the map are not my home. And yet I feel at home.
Have you ever had the impending feeling of excitement? Like a kid waiting for the car to pull into Disneyland. You’re bubbling inside, ready to jump and whoop but your seatbelt is keeping you to a slight jitter in your seat instead.
That was me through most of April. I felt it approaching but the time wasn’t quite right to start jumping up and down. So I allowed it to jitter just beneath my skin.
About two weeks ago, it finally started spilling out. Inspiration. And it’s been steaming from my ears ever since.
I’ve been writing and creating and photographing and building. And it just keeps coming. Ideas and things toward which I feel an undeniable pull.
I’ve felt this pull before: with massage school, with my dreads, with this RV, and many other more personal moments that have forever changed and shaped the path my life is taking. Choices that are challenging and amazing and completely beyond my realm of understanding. And yet they always seem to work.
See, the thing is, I think this may be it. I think we may have found a place for us to be. And it’s not a spot on the map. It is the map.
And the only way we’ll know for sure that we’re heading in the right direction is if we can make a living while we make this life. And that’s what all this inspiration has been about: making a living out here on the road.
I have so many things to share in the coming months, things I’m working on and things I haven’t yet begun. A new website (!), an e-course, coaching, mobile services, maybe even an Etsy shop. One of these you’ll be seeing within a few days. 🙂
Yes, it’s a lot. And if you continue to not see me online much, you can know that I’m jumping up and down inside, whooping quietly to myself and enjoying every ride this amusement park has to offer.
I lost it yesterday. We were trying to pack up the weekend leftovers and searching out the remnants of our keepers. I couldn’t find something and when I asked my husband if he’d seen it he said something that felt an awful lot like an accusation. I went to playful whack him, but it came out a whole lot more angrier than that. I think I shocked myself as much as I shocked him.
That’s when I realized I’m bordering on losing it. I went upstairs, laid down on the floor and took a four hour nap. When I woke up I went out to the RV and slept all night.
I’ve spent the entire morning in a very hot, very long bath trying to figure out where all the emotion came from. And I realized the estate sale was what I was holding in my mind as the last Big Thing to do before we leave. I was holding it all together to get through it, essentially putting off my own processing and acclimation and emotions until they now feel like they’re pouring out.
I feel a bit like I’m detoxing. My allergies have been horrendous, my head pounding and my body hurting. And my mind is so discombobulated I can hardly think straight. And when I look around there is still more to do than I imagined.
I’ve spent the last two nights sleeping in the RV. The first night was tough; I felt both safer and less safe. Safer because the area feels cozy, almost womb-like and I could hear any potential danger. Less safe because it felt we were so close to the outside world with only a few inches separating us from said potential danger.
Why I’ve even felt so concerned with “potential danger” is still unknown. I assume it goes back to that perceived sense of security we gain from a home. But on the other hand, living in a home with wheels means feeling unsafe is less likely – if we perceive danger, we can simply move on.
Zeb had a few rough days before and during the sale. I needed more help than he was able to manage and I had to remind myself that this isn’t his job. Since then he’s been able to balance helping out with enough downtime to still process and adjust.
Justin is still working on Benny’s veggie oil conversion with Sara’s husband, Matt and it’s taking much longer than anticipated. They are still waiting on parts to ship and we may not even be ready to roll out by Monday. Justin is also taking care of anything big, so that I can relax a bit today (it’s a pretty good man that sees my outburst as a cry for help).
I’m know there is a lesson in all this about “expectations” and “letting go”. Again. Because that seems to be the lesson of my life, doesn’t it? I need to take a really deep breath and stay in this moment. I need to let go of the expectation of things going a certain way or happening by a certain date. I need to chill and realize we’re not in a hurry. If I can’t do it now, how will I do it on the road?
It’s well past midnight and in a few short hours I’ll have been up nearly 24 hours, most of those spent working hard on the house in preparation for the sale tomorrow (er, today). My eyes are itching, my nose running and my throat congested from the dust we’ve stirred up, and while I should be sleeping I can’t because my husband convinced me I’d be needing some caffeine to keep me going. So, although I’m physically exhausted, I just can’t fall asleep.
We were suppose to sleep in the RV tonight for the first time, but we’re not. Instead we’re sleeping on our soon-to-be-sold mattress, bare of any sheets and with whatever blankets we hadn’t already placed in Benny’s care, too tired to retrieve. And if I’m honest with myself I must admit I’m a bit nervous to do otherwise. It’s not the RV I’m nervous about – it’s more the giant step of making it official. I’m not sure what it is about this bed, in this room, in this house that is holding onto me. But there is a small part of me that is nervous to say goodbye. So I suppose I’m hanging on a bit longer, at least until this mattress is gone and my options are whittled down to the floor.
This is it. Our things are slowing making their way out our doors and soon so shall we. We’ll leave behind the garden we worked so hard on, the dogs we love (they have been rehomed to family, so at least we’ll see them again), our home for the last five years. I’ll take one last photo of the door marked with my child’s measurements before we close it behind us for good.
I guess it’s natural for a bit of fear. Or apprehension? I’m honestly not sure anymore what this is I’m feeling. I’m so excited for the adventure and opportunities before us, but unsure what to expect.
Traveling full-time for an undetermined amount of time brings with it a certain lack of stability. Can we find a way to feel at peace on the road? Might it not be possible to feel a security that comes from within…or at least from the people we choose to travel with? These are the things I wonder at 2am.
I hope so. I hope that *we* become each others security, rather than the false sense we derive from the “sticks and stuff” we surround ourselves with.
As I look around at all our things tagged and arranged, it’s impossible for me to not feel a bit detached from it. I’m in disbelief at what begins to look like “junk” – odds and ends and sometimes, even trash; we’ve thrown out boxes of trash. Broken, ripped, or simply objects without use. How did we have so much trash in our home, hiding beneath beds, or in attics and cupboards? It’s ridiculous! It’s utterly insane to see the shit we’ve piled into this house, things we didn’t know we had or have no idea where they came from. And we didn’t even feel like we had that much!
I’ll be happy when this is over, when our connections and communications are restored and we can breath easier (quite literally *cough*) for the next week and enjoy the company of friends and family and each other. It’s hard to stay connected when you can barely think, let alone talk or collaborate. All we’ve managed is to chug along, happy just to remember to eat.
But this phase is soon to be over…and that’s when the giant question mark begins. Is it any wonder I want to sleep in my queen size bed one last time; I need a bit of familiarity while our entire lives and relationships undergo this transformation.
When we first started discussing the decision to travel full-time and eventually settle outside of Vegas, we included Zeb. How could we not? He’s one-third of our family and his experience will be as life-changing as ours.
So, we sat down. We talked over our situation and our choices as best we could without overwhelming him or stressing out an easily-stressed soul. We told him every pro and con of full-time RVing we could think of, we gave him a timeline for being on the road but were honest that it could change, we discussed the potential challenges. And we asked what he thought.
He was hesitant, for sure. Thoughtful and questioning. But after some time, and a promise we’d make room for his Legos, he told us it would work for him.
And then he was excited…for about a week. That’s when his real transitioning began.
Zeb is an emotional, highly-sensitive child. He creates strong attachments to animals, friends and family, as well as things that hold special significance. For years he kept his school reports and certificates on his walls because it reminded him of *something* good from those difficult years. So it’s really no wonder that this transition – away from loved ones, best friends, his hometown, all that he knows, even his pets – would hit him hard.
All at once he was torn between sadness and anger. This isn’t to say he wasn’t simultaneously excited. But he realized how much he would miss his friends and family. He worried that he’d be bored. Truthfully, I think he was a bit afraid of such a Huge Unknown. In his ten years, he’s experienced some pretty difficult stuff and it’s left him leaning heavily toward the hesitant side of life. Now here we were, and he was feeling as if the security we’ve built for ourselves was being stripped away. It’s a big world out there and it’s already proven to sometimes be scary.
This went on for awhile. Some days – many days – I didn’t handle it well. Truthfully, my own excitement was building and I was feeling resentful for his raining over my parade. I didn’t want to be pulled into the emotional upset and away from the budding joy. Internally, I didn’t think I had the energy to handle it.
On those days I tried to rationalize with him, remind him how much fun we’d have, how many more friends we’ll see and make, how many things we’ll have the opportunity to do. I took lots of deep breaths and left the room countless times. It’s not that I didn’t understand him. It’s that I was too wrapped up in my own expectations to react to his needs.
He doesn’t need to be rationalized with or reminded that he had once agreed. He needs to mourn what we are leaving behind, so that he can be prepared to move ahead.
Zeb has always needed a slow transition. He’s slow to get out of bed, slow to stop one thing and start another. We work with this by giving him plenty of notice before we leave, before we eat, before company comes.
And this anger and sadness was the beginning phase of a very big transition. All he needed from me was a place to vent, some validation over what will surely suck and some patience. So I finally stopped rationalizing or talking him out of his emotions. I stopped trying to fix it. (Wait. I thought I learned this one already?)
I allowed myself to be his emotional punching bag.
He needed a safe place to let it all out. And with lots of deep breaths and quiet reminders to myself to keep my mouth shut, I became that place. Sometimes he yelled, other times he cried. Sometimes he questioned and voiced concern. Some days he talked excitedly and made plans. At one point he blamed us for ruining his life and called us names, hating us with conviction. And that’s about when I was suddenly able to see past my own expectations and look with compassion on my son who was grieving a loss in advance.
And as soon as I managed to stay present and compassionate during his storm, it passed. In a matter of an hour he went from total meltdown to cuddling in our arms. In the end he gave us a look that resembled a Thank You, a hug that said I Love You Too and he was off to conquer the day without the heavy emotional load dragging him down.
I’m not about to assume we’ve seen the end. He’s not that kind of kid. And he still has his moments of fear amid the moments of excitement, although they aren’t as explosive now. But if I can remember to breath and not take it personally, I know we’ll get through them, too.
There is plenty more to say on the subject of transitioning/moving/traveling with a highly-sensitive child. You could probably consider this Part One.