That One Time Last Summer I Almost Bought a Camper + What It Taught Me

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Last May, my longtime friend Katie and I almost bought a camper. It was $1500 bucks and had a retro blue strip down the side. It was pretty much a done deal. 

We were having a few cocktails at a local bar and a bit tipsy, both literally and figuratively. We were coming down from the high of spending the night in a tiny little cabin in the middle of nowhere Joshua Tree. We spent about eight hours in the car trying to get to this little cabin where we spent a total of fifteen hours there due to a miscalculation of timing and Friday Memorial Day weekend traffic.

But it's about the journey, not the destination right? We made the most of it fixing the world one conversation at a time and turning up the tunes as our voices echoed for the surrounding cars to hear. 

We were being adventurers and heading into unknown territory where showers didn't exist and neither did WIFI. A place we had to head outside to an outhouse to do our business.

And boy were we happy. 

On the return, we were buzzing from that feeling you get when you step outside of your normal and live from a place that feels the truest to who you are and we started talking about how fun it would be to co-own a camper or a van or something like that. 

Neither one of us necessarily want to van life it indefinitely but both of us want the freedom that comes with the open road. So, we came up with the idea of sharing custody of a small camper if we could find the right one. 

We had it all figured out. Since she lives in Seattle, I'd drive it up at the start of their three-month-long summer and then because summer's for me are basically endless in San Diego, I'd basically get it the rest of the time. It was perfect. The perfect shared custody of the cutest little camper.

As luck would have it we found one on Craigslist that was intriguing after said few cocktails and it just so happened to be the right price and down the street at a nearby campground. So we took the last sips of our bourbon and took the boldness it gave us and decided to walk to meet the current owners. We were giddy with excitement and laughing "Are we really going to do this?!

I felt like a rebel. I felt like I was throwing caution to the wind and living life to the fullest. I felt like a girl who was recently diagnosed with cancer trying to really live her best life. 

And I feel like these are the memories you never regret, even if they aren't the most thought out ones and involve one too many cocktails and emptying a small chunk of your savings. You just never forget "that one time you bought a camper with a retro blue stripe down the side with one of your best friends.' These are the stories you tell your children. 

Until maybe you wake up from your foggy night of Kentucky goodness and find yourself slowly putting the pieces together from the night before. And then you start to remember and jump out of bed running to the window to peek and see if you really did buy the cute camper with the turquoise blue stripe down the side.

But I really feel like it's just one of those memories, on your deathbed, you just never regret. So I was okay with it.

As we approached the camper my gut began to fire as I noticed a window missing. I shook it off and thought, well, I can fix that. Not too mention, I REALLY want to repurpose a van or camper. I mean, very badly on the bucket list kind of want.

 The current owner wasn't quite there yet so we, being the incredibly nosy and tipsy ladies we were, we peeked through the windows. 

I turned to Katie and said in a low whisper, "Well, I see why it's only $1500." We laughed as we assessed the horrific scene inside. We slowly backed away picking up our pace before the current owners found their way back to what looked like a crime scene. Or a small rager led by rats left to their own devices. 

My bourbon buzz started to wear off a bit and I looked at Katie, "Maybe we tuck this dream in our back pocket. Just for a little bit longer." She nodded and we ran back to the bar to drown our disappointment in more bourbon. 

What this whole experience made me realize more than ever though is how much adventure and travel and having the freedom to go where I want, when I want is vital for my sense of self and my happiness.

And I just keep quieting that part of myself with all the should's. But why? For what? 

When I was little I remember dreaming of traveling all over the world meeting people and listening to their stories and writing about them. I don't think I've told any one of this before. 

Recently though, on a day trip to Salvation Mountain, I saw a mile marker for Yuma, Arizona and it was only sixty miles away. And all I wanted to do was just keep driving. And with that it hit me. Why not? I have nothing keeping me here.

Why not start a life more on the road and less living in the should's?

Why am I still so stuck on thinking I have to live my life a certain way? When will I truly accept that I'm called to something different?

While driving up to Seattle in February, I slowly made my way up the 101 stopping whenever I felt pulled. I found myself fantasizing about the life I dreamt of as a child, about going down the road less traveled so to speak. I mean, there has to be something to it right? With the growing popularity of 'vanlife' and simple, minimalistic living? 

All I know is lately, I've been wrestling with some big questions about my life and what my heart really wants.

I've got stories to tell and people to meet and so many miles of open road. Maybe this was the way it was always suppose to be?

I'm not so sure if the 'vanlife' is 100% what I'm looking for. Or maybe it is? All I know is that I do think about it often. I think about selling all my things, packing up Rocky, my small miter saw and just leaving.

A traveling woodworker and her Pitbull named Rocky. 

I'm a conundrum though. A mix of massive wanderlust, free spirit and complete homebody. I like having a place to come back to. A home base. The false sense of safety of my things. 

But I think it's safe to say that a camper van may be in my future and a long, open road full of possibility, memories and lifelong dreams. 

For now, I've got my car and my puppy and an open road heading east. And something in side of me that says it's finally time. 

I'm not sure where it's taking me but I'll know it when I see it.

I have to go. I've got stories to tell. 

My Ted Talk

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Sometimes, when I'm in the shower, I like to pretend I am giving a Ted Talk. It’s one of those secret dreams of mine I haven’t shared with anyone.

Yes, one day I want to give a Ted Talk and I often practice in the shower. It goes a little something like this. 

I’m introduced and eloquently float out and take my spot center stage. I stand before an audience of hundreds waiting for me to speak. To bare my soul, share my truth and change their lives in some way.

Then maybe all the pain I've experienced in mine will finally have meaning. 

I pause and scan the audience as the nerves settle in my belly. And then I begin. Words flow gracefully from my lips as I deliberately and meticulously speak. 

Line after line, I stand before the audience with grace and ease and pure poetry escapes from my mouth and I feel alive. As if I am finally living in full alignment with my purpose.

And this is what I would say:

When I was a little girl I was desperate to be accepted and loved by everyone. 

I learned early on that if I said and did the right things, molding myself to every person in my life, I would always feel a sense of ease and acceptance. 

I would always feel, loved. 

But that really wasn't the case. 

As I grew older, trying to create that sense of peace started to be become like draping individual chains over my shoulders. Eventually the stories and facade became too heavy. I hit a wall and could no longer continue carrying that weight around. 

This was about the time I stumbled across my first personal development book. It was a few months after I turned twenty and I had just made my very first big life decision all on my own. And I was scared as hell to go down this new path. 

I had made the decision to drop out of college. 

This decision proceeded a massive nervous breakdown in the middle of a raging frat party. My friends found me sobbing uncontrollably, wrapped in a tiny ball sitting on a bed in the basement. They couldn't console me. I was unconsolable. In shock.

They took me home and called my mom. It was 2 am. The next weekend I was driving back to Seattle to tell my family I was leaving school and in that one decision, I felt one of the weights release and fall to the ground. 

This decision changed the course of my life. It sparked something deep within me that would take years to turn into a full fledge fire. 

You see, it was the first moment I realize that I am not going to be for everyone and neither would my decisions and I had to be okay with that. It sparked the courage to finally explore what  I really wanted and ask some really big questions. 

Years later I stand before you with one message and one message only. I truly hope you take it in. 

Under no circumstances, whatsoever, are you going to be for everyone either. And that is okay. 

It's easy to get caught up in what other's think of our lives and it's really easy to paint a pretty picture that we have it all figured out and that our lives are picture perfect.

We do this because we are all longing for the same thing; to be loved and accepted. 

But here is the thing, no matter how hard you try, I promise you, there will always be someone who is just itching to find your flaws. To point out your mistakes, bring you down to 'reality,' burst your bubble and keep you feeling small. 

Certain individuals will look your life and criticize and judge no matter how perfect you paint it.

So drop the act. Lighten up your load a little. 

There are always going to be people who have so many opinions about YOUR life because they are too afraid to step back and address the areas they are unhappy with in their own.  

Caring too much what family and friends, acquaintances, and strangers think is a paralyzing behavior. It will prevent you from serving your purpose and doing those things that your heart desires. 

I've realized that when I get caught up in thinking about what I should say and do with each and every person in my life I’m actually deeply neglecting my own needs, wants and desires. I'm completely out of alignment and in some place in my life I am not giving myself the love I deserve but rather, judging myself in some way. 

As cliché as it may sound, it took a year of dealing with a rare cancer diagnoses to get some real clarity into the trajectory of my life and accept this one very crucial and important thing; I will not, under any circumstance whatsoever, be for everyone.

I may not even be for people in my very own family and I'm learning to be okay with this too. 

Every single day I have to fight the urge to crawl back under the covers where it is safe and warm. Where people can't see me. Where I can play as small and feel as safe as I want to. 

Why? All because I'm scared of what other's think? 

I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress and I still find myself grasping for acceptance and the idea that to be loved, I have to say and do everything in accordance with everyone else.

 I still fall short of my best self every single day.

However, I often think about those who conquered great things in their lives didn't do so by playing small or spending too much time caring about how they looked to others. If they had, they would have never done the thing that helped the person that changed the lives. Now would they?

And in the great words of Oprah, this is what I know to for sure:

You will not, under any circumstance whatsoever, be for everyone.

You will not, under any circumstance whatsoever, be accepted by all.

And you will absolutely, under no circumstance whatsoever, be able to make everyone happy.

And you will absolutely, under no circumstance whatsoever, be able to fit a square peg in a round hole. So stop trying.

So please, I ask this of you with so much love in my heart, just be you. Every single beautiful part of you. 

If we continue living our lives for everyone else, we will never truly know what we are capable of creating. Your purpose is in no way shape or forms the same as any other person's in this lifetime. When you step back and look at it that way, maybe you can find the strength to act in accordance with your own self, your own desires, your own needs. 

I want to leave you with just one more thing before I go.

Before you open your mouth to speak to anyone, pause for just a moment and ask yourself this, "Is what I am about to say imparting my own judgments onto them? If so, don't say it.  

When I have nothing more to say I turn off the water and dry myself off. 

Then I go back to my life and leave my dream in the shower for another day.