It was an early morning in Moab and I was hiking in one of my favorite places. There is a stretch of the path that is wide open and still and quiet. I stopped here to pause and soak it in as I often do. As my mind quieted and I was immersed in the beauty of it all, I had such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude wash over me. This is what I was getting to do with my day. This is what my life has become. I have decided to stop and take the time to observe, to be slower in my life, and open myself for all the beauty that surrounds me. I pulled out some nuts and dried fruit from my pack and while sitting there munching on them, I looked down at the sand and saw what was in the above photo- the friggin' cutest little lizard tracks. The tracks of human shoes dominate the path, of course, but it takes real looking and time to notice the smaller stuff. It occurred to me at that moment how much happier I have become. How much more relaxed, content, and satisfied I felt in my life. I am not working very much and that weighs heavy on my mind sometimes. Fear of being old and falling apart, decaying in a nursing home. But something deep within me is telling me I need this time to just be. To listen to what calls me. I find myself being available to talk to so many people. To truly be present and listen. To look into their eyes and hear what they have to say. This is so important to me. All of us need to feel we matter. We need to feel we exist. I get to stop and truly be in nature and see and feel and hear its magnificence. I let me eyes float from flower to rock to sky to insect to tree. Appreciating the colors and textures and the amazingness of its form. I also have time to listen to my deep callings. To take the time to be quiet and listen to my body and my mind. I am the happiest I have been in a long time. And something else. I have an increasing amount of physical pain lately and I started seeing a chiropractor that also does a lot of different energy and soft tissue work. For years, the area around my diaphragm and stomach has been tight. My whole center is locked down. The body holds emotional pain and memories and it manifests in physical pain. I am in a place finally, I can handle the unraveling of what is in there. I am happy, relaxed, and centered and this will give me the strength to process and release what I have been holding onto. When we give ourselves time, to not be so busy and overwhelmed, we are actually giving ourselves an opportunity to live a deeper, happier, and more connected life. It is the best thing I have done for myself besides being a rock and roll mama.
When my son's former climbing coach, Matt, told me the above quote, a gazillion light-bulbs went off in my head and it has since played a huge role in my life. There are lots of things I want to accomplish and have accomplished, but there are just those that call to me. The ones that don't let me rest until they have been realized. For 5-6 years, probably longer, I have wanted to write a parenting book. I would start it and start it again and start it again and again and again and again, but I could never complete the task. As time past, my inner dialogue got pretty brutal and my self-concept was taking some hits. There was other stuff going on in my life, as well, but why could I not fucking write my god damn book? I mean I know writing a book isn't easy, but I was a single parent for 25 years and raised my kids REALLY WELL. That's hard!! So, I could write a book.
Whatever interferes with the task is the task. BAM!! Once I had that tool in my toolbox, I confronted my writing with it. This book has always been very important for me and I knew it was something I had to do. SO, what was interfering with me writing my book? Writing books take a lot of mental energy and space and I did not have that space. My mind and thoughts were being consumed by financial stress and worry. About what I was supposed to do for work now that my kids were raised. What job would be meaningful enough? What would set me up financially since I really don't have money for retirement? I didn't want to be a server anymore. It hurt my body and the stress was too much. I also had a very important, long-term friendship that went way toxic. That was really hard on me and couldn't imagine this person not being in my life, so I kept trying to make it better. My thoughts and beliefs became worse and worse. And then there is just life and family stuff that takes energy.
I needed to make space. Clear out shit and make room. I knew I had to change my life, so I could write my book and feel happier again. I have been living in my car for a year now, so I could remove the financial stress and pressure. To get off the hamster wheel and take time to invite something new and satisfying into my life. Take a break from the looping money worry that patterned its way into my mind. Living in my car has been the best friggin' thing ever. I also ended that very important, long-term friendship. It made me very sad, but it was harming me and I didn't need that anymore. I also got some counseling, started listening to motivational videos and reading, so I could change my toxic self-concept. I also created a way for myself to succeed in writing. I started AGAIN, but this time I only asked myself to write three sentences a day. For five months, I wrote everyday and through this, I began seeing myself as a writer. The final change was moving back to Moab. Boulder is too busy and noisy and I needed quiet to really put the chapters together in a cohesive way. Moab is peaceful and beautiful and opens me up. I can think and write here.
So, I figured out what was interfering with the task and did something about it. And now...I'm doing it. I am writing my book and it feels so friggin' awesome!!!
I can get cold in 75 degree weather. If there is a slight breeze and the sun momentarily slips behind the clouds, I am cold. In the winter, I can have the thermostat set at 72 degrees and still wear a coat and snowpants to bed under a pile of blankets. Not kidding. Being cold is the worst sort of discomfort and sensation for me besides its doubly evil brother cold and wet. I detest, loathe, dread, and get cranky as hell when I am cold. So, when I say it is a monumental feat to have successfully and comfortably slept in my car with the outside temperature at 8 degrees, it truly is monumental. Ask anyone who truly knows me.
I could have slept at a friend's. They have made it known that if it gets too cold to come to their house to sleep. I had to get some mail at their place and I also knew the night was going to be the coldest yet. I knew I would be tempted to take them up on their offer once I got there, but I wanted to see what I could handle, I purposely left a lot of my stuff at the climbing gym so I would have to go back and get it. Since my friend's house was a half hour away, I knew I would not drive all the way back once I left. I wanted the challenge. I wanted to know my limits. Would I be okay when it got really cold?
At 10:30, I boiled water for my Nalgene water bottle to use as my snuggle buddy for the night, got into my 13 pound, double flannel-lined canvas shell sleeping bag with a fuzzy blankie liner, pulled the double-folded wool blanket on top of if, draped a fuzzy blankie over my head and hunkered down for the challenge. And I was comfortable and warm all night except when I needed to get up and go to the bathroom in my pink thermos. While I was up, I took the container of green beans I had set on the dashboard and shook them. They made that scratchy scrapey sound green beans make when they are frozen. I was like, "Wow. It is mother fuckin' cold out." And then I crawled back into my sleeping bag and went happily back to sleep.
My family and friends think I am insane. Not because I live out of my car ( it's a climber thing), but because I am sleeping in my car during the winter. Me, the icicle. I also think at times that I am insane, but it is all a part of the trade off I mentioned in The Pink Thermos Post. But this particular night meant more and I wasn't sure what "that more" was when I went to sleep. But when I woke up and found out I successfully made it through an 8 degree night, it hit me. I am free. I don't have to go back to the stress, hopelessness, and anxiety I was experiencing before living in my car. Until I am ready. Until I have something else in motion that I want for myself. For a couple of years, I was in a really awful space and I wasn't sure how I was going to get out of it. Living in my car has allowed me to reset, recharge, and regain perspective. And I am so much happier than I have been in a long time. I like being happy and electric and curious again and I can continue this path as long as I need to until I am ready to live differently. But for now, it is a beautiful thing.
If I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I go in my pink thermos. You see, I live in my car. It is a choice I made almost a year ago because I needed a break from the hamster wheel of modern life- work, earn money, pay bills, take care of kids and the house, look at screens, exercise, eat, plan on what to eat, clean up after eating, hang out with friends, sleep and repeat.
So, now I am done raising my kids and no longer need to provide a home for them and I am also done doing what I have always done. But what next? I just didn't know. I had ideas, but they were so different than what I have been doing. I knew as long as I was stuck in this cycle, I wouldn't be able to empty my head long enough to figure out what I really wanted and my energy would be spent maintaining the life I have always lived. I then decided to get rid of the greatest expense and energy drain....housing. No more rent, energy, water, or internet bills and spending time on home maintenance. I was able to stop doing what I have always done and live minimally and have the time to explore what really mattered to me. Create space with no financial anxiety to invite something different in. Having more mental space has been incredible. I can breath again.
Do I sometimes miss having a place to be quiet and just veg out? Do I miss having a kitchen? Does it get hard to sleep in my car? (Well, to be honest, I haven't slept this solid in years.) And is it strange to squat over my pink thermos on the floor of the passenger side to go to the bathroom (when no one is around)? Yes, it is hard sometimes. But it is a trade-off. You have to give up something to get something different. I am releasing what no longer works and is no longer fitting for my life and exploring what does. You see, I want to really live my values and what is important to me. I want to really live. So many people spend their whole lives running on that hamster wheel and never truly live a life that matters to them. I don't want to do that. Life is short and goes by in a blink. And we only get one. So, for now, I'll use my pink thermos. I know it isn't forever and the trade-off is so worth it.