Observations about myself

South Fork, Colorado.

This morning I had a bit of time in meditation and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the things that bring me comfort.

I’m a person who tends to avoid pain and discomfort. I enjoy being warm, comfortable, well fed etc. Over the last week it’s been a struggle to maintain those basics. We were boondocking for 9 days in new mexico for the balloon fiesta. In addition to that, I was trying to keep work moving.

  • This morning I’m grateful for power to run the heaters to keep the rig warm.
  • I’m grateful for running water to wash our clothes so I can continue to wear clean clothes
  • I’m grateful for coffee, and the ease at which I can make it in the morning
  • I’m grateful for the resources I don’t have to gather.
  • I’m grateful for satellite internet providing me the connectivity I need to remove the stress of having to maintain a connectedness.
  • I’m grateful for sewer.
  • I’m grateful for being able to wash a dish without thinking about how much water I’m using.
  • I’m grateful for the water heater and being able to take a shower without filling the tanks.
  • I’m grateful for being in one place for long enough that I can place orders and have things get to me.
  • I’m grateful for the fact that I don’t have to think about moving the rig for at least another few weeks.
  • I’m grateful for this beautiful place I’m in right now.

I’ve realized lately I’ve been very pessimistic. Maybe I always have been, but especially lately I’ve not been able to see the good in most things. This has caused me to pause and adjust my perspective, and that is helping my mental health.

I’m so done.

That’s what I’ve been saying in my head for the past several months. And it’s not fair to do that. Not to me or my family. I chose to come out here. I chose to take this trip, but I feel so frustrated with the minutia of RV life, and specifically travel days that I can’t seem to escape it. It’s like I’m in a pressure vice and I can’t NOT feel the pain.

Travel days are especially the hardest for me. Something about loading the entire rig up only to get to a place and unload it now feels like the definition of futility. We’re just going to repeat this process again and again. It’s really hard NOT to engage that script in my head. Really hard not to feel this way.

The payoff is no longer worth the cost. Or so it feels.

Existential Angst

I actually don’t know when the last time I haven’t felt an existential angst was. For example, I know that after about a year on the road, we had to make the decision to keep going and not settle. That was 2019…in 2020, during the pandemic, the future was uncertain (for everyone obviously). There’s always an undertone of obligation to see family, which I suppose exists with most people. But now it hits different.

The buck stops with me

When the dust settles with the busy-ness of life, I reflect on the business and I find that instead of being proud for running the business for the last 8 years, I’m instead disappointed with it’s lack of performance and growth. When I chose to leave and travel, I had to choose NOT to grow the business as it takes more energy and thought from me. Then Jael left…good riddance…and we continued on, then Nathan left, now it’s just me and Josh and Meagan.

Owning the business has been good to me, but it’s also been a tremendous source of stress and sometimes, dread. The buck stops with me. There’s no one I can pass the responsibility off to. Notices come in the mail, I don’t understand them, so I have to spend all day looking up what they mean. The IRS sends me a notice that I owe thousands of dollars that I then have to look back through my books to clarify and correct. All that takes mental and emotional energy.

Meanwhile, clients depend on me to think creatively and strategically for them. They offload their brainpower for marketing to me, and they pay me for it. But I can’t offload that to anyone else…the buck stops with me.

I look at our revenue and it’s basically flat. We don’t make more money than we spend year over year, the money comes in, and the money goes out. I can’t enjoy the benefits of the business because I have to immediately give the money to Josh, or myself or the government.

We’ve lost 100k.

When we bought our first house, it was $85,000. It was a stretch for us at the time, we didn’t have the money, so we were financing 100% of it. Then we worked hard to finish the basement and cashflow it all. We sold the house for $125k. We took all that money and rolled it into the next house we bought, for 189k. Our mortgage barely changed. We lived in that house for about 5 years and when we solid it we thought the market was in a great place. We sold it for 236k. We had about 75,000 in the bank so that we could come back in a year and buy a house.

We didn’t invest that money, we didn’t spend that money, we just let it sit in a bank account. We didn’t know how long we would be traveling or if we would need it, so we let it sit. We added $25k to it, so now we have $100k in savings. But the market has lost it’s mind.

That $100,000 is like starting over. All it gets us now in the housing market is to offset the amount that the market has increased since we’ve been out of it. To buy the house we sold, it would be $325,000. In fact, it sold this year for $300,000.

That hurts. That’s real money. Real money that, as I mentioned before, I can’t just get back. Making that much money with the company would be SO hard as it currently is.

And I don’t even have healthcare. I have to buy it from the marketplace. So it’s a good thing nobody in my family is sick.

We look at settling, and then look at housing prices and it’s overwhelming. To go back to the price point we left we’re looking at a smaller, shittier house. So we need to go higher, which would lock us into a higher mortgage and we’d be house poor. So I need to make more money. Everything has gotten so. goddamn. expensive.

Maybe I should get a job.

It’s hard not to think this. It’s hard not to think this is the better way to go. All my energy is spent keeping the business alive. I wake up with it and go to sleep with it. I’m either writing proposals or plans for marketing and continually trying to implement things to launch people’s books into the world, and I’m exhausted.

Maybe I should get a job…usher Josh off to seek other employment, keep the clients I can serve in my free time, and just find a job making more than what I make now but where someone else is worried about. money coming in…and pays benefits. This honestly seems like the most hopeful option to me at the moment.

The truth is, I’m burnt out, frustrated and angry. And then I have to load up the rv and travel 400 miles across the country. Another thing I can’t get away from. Another thing I can’t control. There’s always a check-out time. There’s always a point where you have to move. And now we’re in a place where getting back into a house would be a struggle. I was tempted not to write this, or delete it because it’s too negative, but this is how I feel. This is what’s going on inside me. Maybe it’s not true, but it IS inside.

You can’t get the time back.

In 2018, this life was so magical and special. I never saw it getting old or ending. Everything about it was fun. I didn’t mind setting up or tearing down because in contrast to the misery I was leaving, it was a welcome change. Now this is old hat, it’s nothing spectacular. National parks are all the same, it’s hard to appreciate the beauty that’s outside your door because it has been there every day for the last 5 years. But when I consider what we’ve gotten…is it worth it?

Most people work all year for 2 weeks of vacation. They don’t even take them all at once, they split it up…so they’ll take 1 week in the summer and do something special. A trip to the beach, a trip to disney world, a trip to the mountains or skiing. They save all year for these trips. They spend one magical week in the mountains and come back and tell their friends about how cool the vibe of Glacier or Sedona, or Aspen is.

It’s not uncommon for us to go to these places back to back in 3 weeks, or 3 days even. As a family, we’ve been to almost all of the national parks. We’ve driven to Alaska, seen almost every. wildlife in the country. Bears, Mountain Goats, Big Horn Sheep, Antelope, Bison, Golden Eagles…the list goes on and on and on. We’ve shared a stream with otters. These memories are magical. And it didn’t come at a cost of community. We have friends out here. Good friends. Friends who will help us at the shortest notice. Honestly, even acquaintances help each other in this community. It’s a truly beautiful life.

My kids have an understanding of the geography and geology of every state and how varied our country is. They’ve seen the most beautiful parts of the US, and also some of the ugliest parts of the US. They’ve spent time in places that are majority latinex, smelled the wafting scent of weed in legal states, and been to places overtly celebrating pride month. This type of cultural exposure is priceless. Most people don’t experience it until they go to college and meet people from different backgrounds and realize that the certainty they held about their own beliefs and backgrounds isn’t quite as solid when it bumps up against real people. It’s hard to hate from up close.

Is that worth 100k over 5 years? $20k a year? Yeah, I think so. I think it’s worth it. If for no other reason than that we pressed pause on the busy, packed chaos that tends to be life with kids. Where we pass each other as trains in the night, never really finding out what’s going on in each others lives. We rush through the week, thick with obligation, and slide into the weekend, complete with a packed schedule of games and get togethers, church and birthday parties…then we come home and prepare to go back into the week and do it again. That’s not been our rhythm. Our rhythm is one of exploration and enjoyment of the area we’re in. The only thing that rushes us is the fact that we’re only in this area for a time, then we move on. So if we’re going to see something, we need to do it now. The hike needs to happen in the next couple of days, or we miss it.

So I’ve got some stuff to figure out…I’ve got to make some progress on some things that stress me, and work on how I handle those things so I’m not miserable. And this is a life lesson, something that will benefit me moving forward.