Sunday, September 24, 2017
This life is doable with most disabilities, but it is not without repurcussions when one makes mistakes. Watch this video to find out what I mean and why, at 40 degrees, I literally had symptoms of hypothermia. Gotta love TBI.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Robert says it best in this video, “Learn how to be a mechanic, or travel with someone who is.” I am blessed to travel with a GREAT mechanic that helps me keep Fancy Free in tip-top shape. From preventative maintenance to improv fabrication, “we” do it all in this video. Enjoy the great tips and come learn with me. KOKO!
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
I recently switched to a butane stove and explain all the reasons why in this video. Jim in Denver discusses 4 different solar ovens. And the ribs were delicious! Thanks Jim!
Monday, September 18, 2017
I’ve gone and done it. I’ve finally succumbed to shooting a scary video. And yes, it’s kind of tongue-in-cheek, but not really. I really have been alone, on scary roads, running from scary weather, observing scary people, and there’s been scary insects and a fall. Check it all out in this video - you’ll know what I mean. KOKO!
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Bob Wells invited his viewers, all 84,000 of them, to camp with him in Leadville, CO. This is Part TWO of my interviews with almost everyone that was in camp - INCLUDING BOB! Plus I have a surprise question for Robert. “Are we in a relationship?” I bet his answer will surprise you. KOKO! And as always, See you down the road my wonderful viewers.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Bob Wells invited his viewers, all 84,000 of them, to camp with him in Leadville, CO. This is Part One of my interviews with almost everyone that was in camp - including Bob! JiminDenver (CRVL forum) is in this one as well as some of the other wonderful people I am camped with. Enjoy! Life is good. KOKO!
And watch for my upcoming DIY video on Jim’s Solar Cooking! YUM!
Sunday, September 10, 2017
This was my first full day in Camp Bob. Bob Wells invited his viewers, all 84,000 of them, to camp with him in Leadville, CO. This gives you an overview of our camp as well as a preview of my upcoming interviews with almost everyone that is here right now - including Bob! Life is good. KOKO!
Saturday, September 9, 2017
MY APOLOGY FOR THE WONKY COLORS IN SOME OF THE CLIPS.
I couldn’t get in touch with my friends! All 3 of them were camping together but their phones went silent around noon the same day, and there was no interaction or activity from them with anyone - by phone or online. They weren’t returning calls, texts, emails, etc., and I knew something was wrong. So, I packed up and drove 230 miles to find out what was wrong.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
While I was staying in Gillette, my wonderful viewers responded beautifully to my request for meetups - from TX, MO, WY and Germany! Meet 5 people I got to spend time with these past 2 months! I love my viewers! Life is really, really good. KOKO!
Monday, September 4, 2017
Happy Labor Day! I hope you had a great, safe, wonderful weekend.
You may think I've gone a little whacky with this video, but I am accomplishing monthly goals. In this video I share with you what all I did to meet last month's goal of getting rid of 30 things in 30 days. It completely improved my life! And I announce what I'm doing for September ... I'm going POO-LESS! Any ideas for October? KOKO!
Sunday, September 3, 2017
September 1, was my launch date for my maiden voyage into traveling by myself. And I promptly got stranded in the middle of nowhere! With no phone signal! And Nonni was locked inside the van! I ended up riding in a truck with a man I didn’t know, and spending the night at the home of complete strangers. AND ... I lived to tell about it. KOKO!
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
For awhile now I've considered making Tuesdays a "TBI TUESDAY" day. But I didn't intend on waking up this morning only to not be able to figure out where my purse was! Scary stuff!
Thursday, August 24, 2017
It has been devastating to realize I can't do the projects I had planned. I did not realize my cognitive abilities had declined to that point, but I refuse to give up! KOKO!
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
I know I'm a day late, but WOW Oh WOW was that an AWEmazing experience! Here's my short 2 minute video. I also share with you bloopers at the end. What a fun, fun, wonderful day!
Sunday, August 20, 2017
What a fun day! It started off with me sneaking up on some deer during my morning walk. Listen for when the momma snorts a warning to her white-spotted fawn! Then we ate heater burritos for lunch and Mary Jayne showed up with a ton of fresh produce from her organic garden. Life is really, really good.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
A day in the life ... I can't make this stuff up!! Seriously!! A day that started with a beautiful sunrise and coffee in the campground with my friend Linda ended up being a day fraught with surprises - a fire and attacked by swarming flying ants. Oh, and all I wanted to do was set up my new tent. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. LOL. KOKO!
Friday, August 18, 2017
Friday, August 4, 2017
It has been almost 6 months since I last published a blog post. YouTube has consumed me. And, not writing has been killing me. So, I will continue my efforts as a creator on YouTube, but I will also allow for more time to write. Balance, ever elusive, always beckons.
I have wanted for some time to get back to writing and give a voice to that which I feel called to do. It is not always easy to follow inner guidance. Sometimes it is downright scary. My friend, David Howard, recently published an article that addresses that feeling and need precisely. It is titled, “Reveal Yourself” and references “Divine Discontent”. You can read it (here).
Another event that happened earlier this week prompted me to write an open letter. Can you guess to whom it is addressed?
I love you, but I choose to no longer chase after you or mourn your loss of affection. I know that missing you will come in waves, waxing and waning periodically over time, and I suspect the longing for you will often be gut wrenching, but I will shed no more tears.
I have tried for as long as I can remember to have a relationship with you – to gain your love, your trust, your confidence, your friendship. All of my efforts have proven to be futile.
You continue to judge me and put me down – directly and overtly, as well as passively and with subtlety. Most people don’t see this mean, stubborn streak in you. To them you are a loving, nonjudgmental, stalwart person, and an outstanding citizen of the community. To me, you are toxic and hurtful, leaving gaping wounds in your wake without so much as a blink or second thought.
Admittedly, I have made colossal mistakes in my life and I have done some very dumb things – all of which are blatant and easy to trace. I can’t count the number of people I have hurt, nor can I recall the multitude I have let down in one way or another. I try now to live each day in a way that I hope makes up for some of that. But that was then. And this is now. You don’t know me; the real me; the evolving me. And that is on you. I have tried to be close to you – repeatedly, over many years. And I am done.
Today was the last day you punch my vulnerabilities. Today was the last day I cry because you are not able to give me love.
I may cry in the future, but it will be because I love you, miss you and mourn losing you. It will not be because I let you in to hurt me again. As scary and sad as it is, I am going on without you. I will also continue to grow without you. My life is awe-mazing and is only going to get better. Should you ever wish to be a part of it, you will need to honor that, and me, and be awe-mazing too.
Thank you for the lessons you have taught me. I wish for you nothing but the best as well as profound, true happiness. KOKO!
With great love,
Debra, Debbie Sue, Debr
Did you guess family? Well, then you guessed correctly. It was written to most of my family, to be accurate.
My tumultuous relationship with my mother goes way back – my entire life, really. She was abusive plus she married many, many abusive men. My stepfather, John W., who she married late in life, was not one of them. He was a wonderful man and I loved him very much. Rest in peace, Dad. I miss you.
I don’t have a clue about my birth father. He committed suicide when I was 9 months old. There is some evidence my mother killed my father. In fact, she was arrested but never tried. The charges were dismissed based on the coroner’s report. On record, it is suicide – by multiple abdominal stab wounds.
When I took off on 10/8/15 to live in a van fulltime, I made the extraordinary promise to my mother that I would call her every day. We were in one of our “close” periods. I was actually enjoying it, and continued that practice for several months. She didn’t bother to tell anyone though, opting instead to tell others that she rarely heard from me. I found that out only after I called my sister one day, saddened because Mother had asked me to quit calling her every day. It was, in Mother’s words, too overwhelming. I get that. I’m a loner too. So next I tried weekly calls – every Saturday. I did that for about 2 months.
That didn’t work for her either. “Maybe call every now and then. When one of us has something to say.”
I can quote it because I wrote it in my journal. I waited nine weeks for her to call. She never did. Finally I called her, and she began with the usual drama in her fake shaky cry voice, “Oh, Debbie. It’s so good to hear from you. I was beginning to get SO worried.” And she ended the call with the following, as is also her norm (paraphrased), “Stay in touch. Call more often. It’s embarrassing for me to not be able to tell people where you are. I need to hear from you. Okay?”
As for staying in touch with my other family members, I started out sending my entire tribe group texts every time I changed camps. That was very difficult for me to manage. Some wanted to be included only if I sent texts or pics, no videos, and others preferred that I email only. The varied requests were more than I could accommodate. It was more than I could track. My non-family tribe members got it and never missed a beat. They did whatever it took for us to stay in touch and to make it easy on me. I rarely, if ever, hear from my family – at least the ones that are recipients of my open letter. They expect me to be the one that stays in touch with them. Period. That has been true my entire life.
So, when my birthday rolled around this year it was not surprising that my mother called 2 days after my birthday – long after I had gone to bed – and left a voice mail chastising me for not staying in touch better. I guess the underlying message was that I had somehow caused her to miss my birthday. It’s interesting to note that not once in her message did she actually ever say “happy birthday.” She just rattled off all the reasons why she had missed it. Over the years I have come to not expect much for my birthday. In fact, my mother missed my 16th birthday completely. The next year she gave me a cake for my 17th birthday that read, “Sweet sixteen.” In all fairness, I wasn’t living with her at the time so I guess it is conceivable that she lost track. I moved out 2 months before my 16th birthday in order to finish high school, and I was the first in my family to do so. I went on to earn a degree in Biology, but that’s another story.
As for the rest of my family? Well, I guess there could be a myriad of reasons for them cutting me out of their lives. And, as I said in my letter, I have doled out plenty of hurt and agony in years past, but now, especially at this stage in my life, their rejection makes no sense to me.
With my niece, it has always been her way or the highway, and I’ve always enjoyed different roads – so to speak. I don’t really know why, and may never know, but at this time she no longer answers calls, texts or emails. Unfortunately, it means I also lost her children, my great nieces and nephews. That makes me very sad.
Ironically, she’s a Christian and will have her ass planted on a pew most every Sunday, while I’m considered a heathen and will probably be on public lands, out in nature, giving thanks for all that is instead of being in a building following a religion. That, and ALL she does for the family (which is a lot, just ask her) while I’m out “roaming the country” makes her the right one – or at least the righteous one. Evidently.
And in sideways fairness to her, it really must truly be exhausting to be the only responsible, mature, accomplished do-er in the entire family. She honestly has some claim to that. And that leads me to the other side of this … the shift, the transformation.
It would not be authentic to not voice my frustrations, hurt and even the anger that comes up at times, but feelings can always, ALWAYS, be transformed to love. I’m not talking about denial, being disingenuous or faking it. And I am especially not discounting being true to one’s self or self care. I’m talking about transforming caustic emotions to true love and appreciation – for yourself, others (ALL others), the universe and spiritual expansion. Sometimes, most of the time (but not always), the transformation process takes time. The one I am in the middle of and sharing with you here is no exception.
My niece is wonderful. I love her. I would guess that she is as hurt and confused by me as I am her. She has three beautiful children and is an extraordinary wife and mother. She works hard and gives her all – to many, all around her. She is just not able to include me in all of that – for whatever reason. And, it is not her responsibility to make me feel loved. That is between me and God, Allness, Oneness. It is an inside job.
So, in this article, if it seems I am speaking from duality, I suppose that is correct. Because I’m in the throngs of it. But I will not leave my emotions, my heart, my beliefs about my family members in this state. I will continue to process it until there is only love. Love never fails. Love is all there is.
I had the traditional life – a house, career, cars, toys, savings, retirement. It doesn’t take long to lose it all. Trust me on that. Now I live in a van because I have a traumatic brain injury and am on disability. I can’t afford housing. Plus, traveling via a RV was always on my retirement goal sheet – just not this way. This is my only option since I don’t want to live in assisted living. I can’t live with others because of the noise (TV, kids, video games, music, multiple conversations, etc.). I know. I’ve tried … several times, many places. It didn’t work. I was having seizure after seizure, and my health was rapidly declining, exponentially. So, I lived out of a tent until my disability kicked in. Then I bought a used van. My cognitive skills continue to shift, but so far my symptoms are manageable in the quiet and peace of my van, while out in nature. I get that not everyone agrees with my decision, but many do.
In fact, I had many wonderful people that contributed to a Go Fund Me campaign so that I could get solar on my van and remodel the inside. What a huge blessing! For me, it was life-saving, and kept me out of assisted living. Which, for me, right now, would feel like a death sentence. What my contributors did for me in van modifications was no less life-changing and life-enhancing than a wheelchair lift would have been for someone else with a different disability. Thank you all again!
To my knowledge, none of the family members that my letter is addressed to, contributed anything to my campaign. In fact, I’m quite certain they instead rolled their eyes, laughed at me, and judged me. I know this because my nephew told me that my great nephew made a special trip to his house one evening to show him the campaign on the internet. He exclaimed, “Have you seen this!?!” As my nephew told me the story, he shook his head and laughed. He was standing right there in front of me so I can only imagine the conversations that took place at the time. Plus I have a long history of similar events to base my assumptions on. They not only didn’t contribute, they evidently did not even morally support me.
So I guess it should not have been a big surprise for me to learn this week that my mother has been critically ill and in the hospital for 2 weeks after a major, emergency surgery. Actually, the only way I found out was that my step-sister texted me, thinking I knew. My sisters or even my brother-in-law did not contact me. Actually, he hasn’t talked to me since I sent them a laptop. His last words to me were, “What am I supposed to do with it?” My sister has always wanted a computer and she recently was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I explained that my hope was that she could use it for as long as possible. Sensing his tone, I told him he was also welcome to gift it to someone else if he preferred. I never heard anything back – not a thank you, nothing, and since then they also no longer return my calls, emails or texts. What the heck?
Remember that duality I am in the middle of? It applies to my sisters and my brother in law too. He, like many others in my family, is earning his angel wings. I would be remiss if I did not mention that. He and his wife (my oldest sister) took care of our physically disabled sister while she lived with them, and now that she is in a nursing home, he visits her every single day. As I mentioned, his wife (my oldest sister) has Alzheimer’s, and he takes great care of her. He is a good man, a godly man. And for whatever reason, I’m no longer a part of their lives. It hurts. I’m angry. And it is still my job to own and transform my own feelings. That responsibility is mine and no one else’s.
When I got the news about my mother’s critical condition, I texted my nephew, expressing my disappointment that no one contacted me. I probably could have worded it a little better, but this was the result.
Me: “I am trying my best to accept being cut out of the family by most others, but seriously …. YOU could not have told me that mother was in the hospital or had surgery? I have been calling and finally [my step-sister] let me know what was going on. Wow!”
Him: “Because I work too much I’m a little disconnected also, I haven’t been to see her and I didn’t know that You didn’t know or care for that matter”
I’ll leave it there. As is the case with anyone else I’ve mentioned. I love my nephew very much, and I believe he loves me. He is awesome, hard-working, and fun. There’s just no room or time for me. Evidently. I need to accept that there never has been, and most likely, never will be.
That concludes what I want to say about the family members that I am addressing my open letter to on my mother’s side of the family.
I have also lost family members on my father’s side of the family. What’s really sad is that I didn’t even find them until a few years ago. Actually, they found me. It was glorious to meet them and to know I had family on my father’s side. Shortly afterward, my diagnosis took a turn for the worst. I was told that I “might” see 2016, but I probably wouldn’t know it. Then the calcification, the scar tissue that had been growing, slowed or stabilized. The reality today is that it could start growing or building again at anytime. I won’t know right away if that happens or not because like many cancer patients that choose to forego chemo and radiation, I no longer go in quarterly for testing. The last neurosurgeon that my Trustee and I visited confirmed what the others had said, “There is nothing [more] that can be done for her.”
So, with my Trustee’s blessing, I hit the road on 10/8/15 to do as much of my bucket list as is possible. I get that not everyone agrees with our decision, but I am convinced that being out in nature and living in the peace and quiet of my van has prolonged my life.
Because of that, some family members on my father’s side reportedly felt duped. Their words, not mine.
I can’t help but wonder if that also means they are disappointed I didn’t die. Whatever.
I hear my harshness, even the bitterness in the words I write. I really do believe in love and Oneness. Really, I do. And I refuse to allow negativity to linger in my life. All is well, always, and this too shall pass and be transformed. But not by the time I publish this article.
The flip side, the duality regarding these family members is that they are some of the most loving, accepting, genuinely good and honest people I have ever met. That and to have experienced their unconditional love, even for just a little while, makes the loss hurt more. The wound is deeper and may last longer. They’ve cut me out of their lives as quickly as they came into it, and I don’t know that I’ll ever figure it out. I thought I finally had family I could truly be a part of. I loved them with all my heart – and will get there again – even if I never see them again.
Perhaps they have stopped all communications because I borrowed $500 from one of them and was supposed to pay it back (with interest) when I got my tax return. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a tax return! I made an error on my filing and the IRS kept the money to cover it. It was a good thing that there was money to apply toward what I owed, but it meant that my cousin had to wait for me to pay him back. I immediately began making regular monthly payments to him out of my disability check. I repaid every penny, plus adjusted interest, but maybe that wasn’t good enough. I don’t know. That was the last time I was able to attempt something like a tax return on my own. I can’t do more than basic math now. I have a brain injury, but I guess that one mistake was a heinous crime. (Yes, more sarcasm. I’m working on it.)
I’m sure there will be fallout over this post. Which means that I may lose even more people in my life, but my days are numbered. I suppose all of our days are, but my knowing and acceptance of it is imminent. That makes “the end” seem up close and personal instead of something I will have to face “one day.” I’m tired of not following my heart. I don’t have it in me to play it safe anymore. As David wrote in his article mentioned above, I must listen to spirit and do what I feel led to do.
I will grieve each and every loss that occurs in my life because I love them. It wouldn’t hurt or matter if I didn’t, but my path is narrow and I have to choose carefully where to spend my energies. I literally don’t know when my last minute of cognitive functioning might be. It gives new meaning to “here today, gone tomorrow” or “the lights are on, but nobody is home.” That moment may come at anytime.
Living in the moment and focusing my energies on what I feel spiritually led to do (and say) are areas of growth in my life that are gifts of my brain injuries. Yes, plural, multiple brain injuries. I’ve never really shared that out loud. The first that I am aware of occurred at age 5 when my then step-father purposefully tripped me so he could see me tumble down the stairs. Who knows what they were told in the ER. I remember a nurse bending over me as she kindly, gently told me to “be more careful from now on”. My head was wrapped in bandages for a very long time and it was longer yet before I could see out of my swollen, bruised left eye. An eye I would once again severely damage many years later after my third brain injury. I currently also have a gap between my two front teeth as a result of that childhood “fall.”
That was a very long time ago. Clearly I have a tumultuous history that goes way back prior to the culmination of current events.
So you see dear family members. You know who you are. I’ve waited a lifetime to have a relationship with you, to win your love, and your approval. Now it’s time for me to move on and build a life where it no longer matters nor is needed. I have overcome a lot, and yet this may be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I will miss you beyond belief – even though really you’re already gone. It hurts to give up on hope of a relationship with you. It hurts that you gave up on me.
I have wonderful, AWEmazing friends that I consider my tribe, my family. They include me in their lives – they send me texts, pics, snaps, and tag me in social media. I know when they are going on vacation, how they are feeling and what their children are up to. They travel miles to see me, and they call me. There’s a concept. I truly appreciate the few family members I have that also fall in this realm. I love you all. I am grateful. And I am blessed.
So this last insult was just that – the last one. I bid you adieu. I have a brain injury – several as a matter of fact. I live in a van and am on disability. And I am complete.
To others that may have a brain injury, or who have suffered trauma or abuse in your life…
Don’t you dare give up. And don’t stay in the negative. Build a life of love, peace and joy with a foundation of appreciation. Write a gratitude list every day. Start with 3 things if you have to and build up to listing 10. Start with listing oxygen, or blinking or swallowing if you have to. Yes, swallowing made my list many days when my brain wasn’t even cooperating enough for me to do that without choking.
There is always, always, always something to be grateful for. Give TBI and trauma THAT voice.
Life really is good, always. KOKO! NMW!
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Thursday, February 16, 2017
I am in the middle of a van build out (more about that later) which means I have not been in the comforts of my own home for two weeks now (and counting). AND, my belongings are in at least 5 different places. Ugh. All of which is not good for me.
What is good for me however is that I am staying with friends and being taken very good care of, and all is well - beautiful in fact. AND, within all of that, stresses can run high.
I love the way Spirit shows up in our lives when we need it the most. I share this with you today in case it can help you too.
Tuesday I read the following by Abraham Hicks.
Wednesday I read the following by Rev. David Howard about dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed and transforming that to being Whelmed by God instead.
This morning I read the following by Daily Word about finding Comfort.
I find comfort and good everywhere. I am so grateful for my friends that are staying in touch with me through this - the phone calls, emails and texts - and for the friends and family I will soon get to see, and for the knowledge that God is Good and everywhere present. I created the meme below and turned around to see my loving dogs (1st pic above).
Life is good, always, nmw. Have a beautiful day, beautiful peeps. KOKO!
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Two days before Christmas I panicked. Again.
Every now and then fear strangles me. How tight the hold is a matter of degrees. Sometimes it just creeps up my spine, threatening to attack. At other times it rises in my throat threatening to drown me. I am getting better at recognizing those types of fear, and can usually use pull spiritual tools out of my bag to help get me centered again: Stop, breathe, connect, pray, meditate. Repeat.
But every now and then, fear sneaks up on me and shows up as panic before I recognize it for what it is. And, as I mentioned in my first sentence, it recently happened, again.
It’s not easy living on disability when you were rich once, divorced, and then rebuilt a good life for yourself with a good income and money to spare. Well, hell, I’m sure it’s not easy living on disability for anyone! But every now and then I get it in my head that I **NEED** more money. Need, need, need. And none of it is true.
But I get ahead of myself.
My dogs are senior furbabies, 11 and 14. I fear that I will not be able to take care of them if they need something. We live on about $700/month and there is nothing left over for emergencies. All my retirement, all my savings, all my investments, are long since gone to medical bills and lapse of employment between health crises. I repeat – there is nothing left over for emergencies. I have no “stash”, no emergency fund, no spare money – usually not even a dime – no matter how hard I try.
I live in van. I have no vices. I eat sparingly. I use water and heat sparingly. I don’t have an “entertainment” fund. There are no more corners to cut. So, every now and then I panic. I start thinking that “i” am the source for all my needs (and my furbabies), instead of remembering that the great “I am” is the source. And when that happens, I tend to do stupid things.
Like try to get a job.
I can’t even help a friend out with his social media needs from the comforts of my van. Yep, that was one job I recently tried. Nope, couldn’t do it. I used to be a high-functioning, high-level, Legislative Liaison for the State of Texas. Now I can’t even work 20 hours a week online with the simplest of tasks. That reality is/was devastating. Jobs don’t get much cushier than that, but I thought maybe I can do something! Wash dishes, clean RVs, stock shelves – something, ANYTHING!!
Which leads me to PANIC #1
So, two days before Christmas I packed me and the furbabies up and headed back to Quartzsite – the winter job mecca for nomads. It worked out great because I got to see my friends Glenn and Colvin while there, and enjoyed a nice Christmas, but the job hunting was a disaster. I was offered 2 jobs and had 2 other people tell me they will call me when they have an opening. From that perspective I suppose the trip was a success, but the thing is – I couldn’t do the jobs. When it came down to it, there wasn’t any sense in wasting there time or mine. I had to decline. Here’s why...
Two of the jobs required a health certificate. I would have had to drive 45 miles, one-way, just to get that little piece of paper. I’m doing much better since my last seizure at Thanksgiving, but I don’t have it in me to make that drive. Plus there were hoops to go through to get the certificate, then there were more instructions beyond that … once you get the certificate, do this, then that, etc., etc., etc. I got lost even in what I was supposed to do just to get a certificate so I could then actually work, and my heart sunk a little. The jobs offered were at food carts. I remained hopeful in spite of the whole health certificate thing, and hung around each of them for awhile to get a feel for what my tasks would be. It wasn’t long before I realized I would not be able to take orders or run the cash register reliably during slow times, let alone during the rush of mealtimes. People ordering chicken would end up with buffalo, or something like that, and the cooks would have run me out of town with a cleaver because there were shortcuts to writing the orders and there is no way I would have been able to remember all the codes. I was grief struck to realize I can no longer even work at a food cart, temporary or otherwise. It was devastating actually.
One of the other jobs was going to be at an RV Parts & Tools tent. They took my name and number and would call in a couple of weeks when things got busier. They weren’t just saying that, I was genuinely next in line for the next available position. I thought surely I could work at their cash register. People walk up with their purchases, you ring them up and bag their goods. No biggie, right? Well, the 2nd time they had me come back in to talk about the job, I stood there watching. That place was a zoo! The cashiers would be ringing someone up, someone else would ask a question, one of the managers or owners would hand them something or tell them something, and the whole time they had to keep ringing customers up! AND they were adding purchase amounts in their head! No calculator, no automated cash register! Are you kidding me?!? I used to teach middle school science, but now I can’t even do basic math. My heart sunk a little farther.
I went to about 50 vendors. Of the 4 jobs I was offered, there was one I could do. I think. It was at a tent that sold women’s clothing. It was a very quiet tent, no loud music, and not a lot of traffic. Maybe not a very good combination for the owner, but a great combination for me! I was thrilled when she took my name and number! Then she said she would hire me on the spot if she had an opening, but had just hired her last girl for the season that morning. She wanted to know if I was available next year. I walked back to my van, shut the door, and cried.
In all of this I also had to accept that if I had tried to push myself, it not only would have not been helpful to my prospective employers, it would have most probably, inevitably even, resulted in another health crisis for me. Every time I have a seizure it takes me longer to recover and I don’t seem to quite get back to the same functioning level I was at prior to that. Acceptance is not always easy, at least for me.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to work again, but I just can’t seem to be able to give up that hope. To live on such a meager income is not only scary, some months it’s impossible, and it’s just not the quality of life I want. Plus I really, really, really want to be self-sustaining and independent. But for now, it is clear to me, there’s not much I can do … at least reliably and consistently … for now.
However, I can still write (on good days), and I can make videos of my experiences out here on the road. Who knows, maybe my YouTube channel will grow enough to give me and the furbabies some emergency and medical funds to fall back on. We’ll see. I hope so.
And that leads me to PANIC #2
That same morning that I decided I just had to go to Quartzsite to get a job, my van got locked in drive gear. Well, I guess it didn’t exactly get locked, but if you watch the short video below, you’ll hear what it sounded like if I tried to take it out of gear. Yikes! What a horrible noise! It sounded like the engine was going to fall apart! In the meantime, Robert had decided to go with me to Quartzsite so we hooked up Robert’s trailer, drove to Q, dropped off the trailer at River Ranch (drydocking), and went straight to a mechanic. Robert went with me to help make the video. Thank you Robert!
When the engine noise first happened, fear blew up and ran all through me. I had visions of it being my transmission which meant that even with a job, I would have to stay in Quartzsite for months to save up and pay for it. By then it would be hot in Q and my furbabies would suffer, and…. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I caught myself and pulled myself out of that shame spiral and panic tailspin. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know at that point that gainful employment was beyond my reach!
Stop, breathe, connect, pray, meditate. Repeat.
It turns out that it wasn’t the transmission at all. It was TWO SCREWS in the steering column that had come loose. Two screws! That’s all! The cost? $37.50. That’s all! I am SO blessed. And I am very, very grateful.
New Year’s Eve, right after midnight …. Oops, I guess that makes it officially the New Year. Happy New Year everyone!
Anyway, my Nonnikins got violently sick. She was sick ALL night and all day Sunday, January 1. I got very worried and got absolutely no sleep. I made sure that I kept eyes on her at all times. There was no way I could sleep. I was present for her. Plus I had to let her in and out ALL night. Plus it was pouring rain. What a mess. Somewhere around 3AM, I panicked. If my Nonnikins needed vet care, I lamented that I have no money and wasn’t able to get a job to better provide for her and Bentley.
Stop, breathe, connect, pray, meditate. Repeat.
By Monday morning, she had stopped throwing up or I would have taken her straight to a vet no matter what. Through it all she was lethargic, but wasn’t in pain. On occasion she would drink a little water I rationed to her, but for the first time in her life, my Nonnikins wouldn’t eat. She didn’t even raise her head off her bed when I fed Bentley. But she was getting better.
Several of my friends in camp stopped by to check on her and give her well wishes (thanks everyone!), and we all agreed she was getting better. I decided to wait one more day before taking her to the vet. She continued improving and yesterday she even ate a little (again, rationed), and kept it down. She’s not 100%, but continues to improve. We are blessed, and I am so grateful.
I know my time with them is limited. After all, Nonni is 11 and Bentley is 14, but we dodged a bullet on this one and I still have hopes of better providing for them.
So there you go, a broken tranny and 3 panic attacks. And it’s only day 3 of 2017.
And it is a year I am very much looking forward to.
I’ve learned a lot out here after completing my first year of being a fulltime vandweller. I’ve learned how to:
be a fulltimer
survive a broken heart
mend a broken heart
let go of toxic ones
stay in touch with old friends
make new friends
be a better friend
pull out of panic attacks
walk in faith
I forget from time to time that I’ve learned these things, but I bet by the time 2017 comes to a close I’ll be even better at them. That’s my goal. And for now, evidently, that’s my job. Thanks for being here my wonderful readers.
Happy New Year!
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Thank you! See you down the road!
Monday, January 2, 2017
BLM land, Ehrenberg, AZ
RTR, BLM land, Quartzsite, AZ
BLM land, Lake Havasu City, AZ
Retail with Permission, Graham, TX
Drydock, Denton, TX
Cedar Hill State Park, Cedar Hill, TX
Berry Springs County Park & Preserve, Georgetown, TX
Hord’s Creek Lake Reservoir, Coleman TX
Avalon Reservoir, Carlsbad, NM
Aguirre Spring Recreation Area, Las Cruces, NM
City of Rocks State Park, Deming, NM
Gila National Forest, Silver City, NM
Organ Pipe National Monument, Ajo, AZ
BLM Land, Ehrenberg, AZ
Residence, Santa Barbara, CA
BLM land, Jawbone Canyon, Mojave, CA
Retail with Permission, Bishop, CA
Sherwin Creek Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Sherwin Creek Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA
BLM land, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA
BLM land, Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, CA
Casino Parking Lot, Hoover Dam, NV
Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, AZ
Kaibab National Forest, Williams, AZ
Bismarck Lake Trail, Humphreys Peak, Snowbowl, AZ
Kaibab National Forest, Bellemont, AZ
Mesa Verde National Park, Mancos, CO
BLM land, Leadville, CO
Retail with Permission, Grants, NM
BLM land, Pahrump, NV
Kaibab National Forest, Bellemont, AZ
Lake DeSmet County Park, Buffalo, WY
Residence, Gillette, WY
Kaibab National Forest, Bellemont, AZ
BLM land, Sedona, AZ
BLM land, Pahrump NV
Deadhorse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ
BLM land, Ehrenberg, AZ
Drydock, Quartzsite, AZ
BLM land, Ehrenberg, AZ
WOW, that is a LOT of miles, 11,186, according to the maps! The only way I could have done that was by traveling with friends, and it was because I was traveling with friends that I did so many miles! No wonder my health declined toward the end of the year. I need to slow it WAY down in 2017, AND, I would not have wanted to miss any of it. It is a bit of a conundrum for sure. My friends and I will get together over the next couple of months to lay out 2017 travel and camping plans. Stay tuned!
THE REST OF THE STORY
One of my viewers on YouTube recently posted this comment/question. It’s a good one, and my answer helps me explain how travel will change for me in 2017.
First off, best wishes to you for a blessed and Happy New Year. I get that even simple walks can be scary, and I am proud of you for keeping on keeping on. KOKO!
And I get that my situation might be confusing. Let’s see if this helps. First, I want to be real clear that I have done NONE of this on my own. I would not be out here if it were not for the wonderful people in my life, Robert included. Yes, we have traveled together for awhile now while he gets his vehicle situation squared away, but we are really good FRIENDS, not companions. I live in my van. He lives in his trailer. He hopes to close on a van he found this week and we will end up traveling together a lot less, but this has definitely been a win-win situation for both of us. We have been planning a video where we interview each other about the experience. It should be a fun video that also answers some difficult and personal questions. I may throw this question of yours in the mix as well.
Before Robert, I traveled with a friend named Colvin. I have also traveled with Bob Wells, Kyndal and James Dimon, plus a couple of other friends. And I’ve camped with a myriad of people. This summer I hope to travel and camp with my friend Suanne. Right now I am camped with 5 friends, and of course my plans may change by the time RTR is over as I meet even more friends. So, while I may not always camp alone, I am doing it all in my van with my two dogs. I never mean to be disingenuous or misleading about anything.
Which leads me to the production and videography Robert does…. THANK YOU, ROBERT! The recent video where I ran out of propane is the first one I’ve done completely on my own. I shot that with my iPhone and was so proud of me! I am blessed by many friends in my life, and a good friend just gave me a tripod and a camera so I hope to be able to do many more on my own! THANK YOU ANON FRIEND! Robert has said he will teach me how to use the equipment, and will show me how to do the editing before we head different ways for the summer. I have no idea if I can learn it or not, and I certainly have no delusions about being able to maintain the caliber of editing and creativity Robert has done, but this YouTube channel is important to me and I sure am going to give it my best shot (pun intended).
Lastly, I just published a blog post that shows my routes and mileage for 2016. My total mileage for the year was approximately 11,186 miles. Of that, Robert and I rode together in my van (while pulling his trailer) for approximately 6,727 of those miles – primarily the miles were work related for him. For the remainder, I drove and camped completely by myself for a little over 3,000 miles, and for the remaining 1,462 miles I drove and camped with other friends, sans Robert.
Robert and I won’t be riding together once he finds a set of wheels he wants. I have my fingers crossed for him on the one he hopes to get this week – not because I don’t want to travel with him anymore, but because it is no fun being a nomad and being without wheels. This arrangement was never meant to be permanent, and we will always be friends. Hopefully we will camp and travel together often, and I can only hope that I will be blessed enough that we keep working together as much as possible too. We’ll just have to wait and see. After all, we’re nomads. There’s a saying out here, They come and they go. AND, it’s all good.
It seems to me that women often have to defend our existence as independent nomads. I rely a LOT on my friends, so I’m probably marginal, but I’ve seen it happen to strong, completely independent women too. Not once has anyone ever said to the guy in their camp, “Oh dude, you’re not doing the deal out here on your own. You’re traveling with her.” Now that’s funny right there.
KOKO my wonderful readers!
Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:
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Thank you! See you down the road!