(re)discovering myself

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Bonkers and Osito, hanging out next to me at the dinette – the love I feel for them is just overpowering sometimes. They truly are my kids.

You may have noticed that I sometimes post a lot more than at other times. Sometimes a blog post feels like it’s forcing its way outside of me, and other times, it feels like it can take forever to get one completed. It’s those ones that I sometimes even wonder “is it worth it to hit the Publish button?” So yes, my writing can go in spurts, both on the blog and otherwise.

My very wise friend, Dan, said to me last week that life can sometimes be like working on a puzzle. You can be going along, really well, finding one piece after another that fits in, and then all of a sudden, you can hit a point where nothing happens. Or you question why you are doing something, and get really frustrated when you can’t find that next piece. You might have little sections of the puzzle done, but the whole thing just isn’t falling into place. He’s always coming up with good sayings and then thinks to himself, “I should write this down” so this time, I’ve done it for him. (In fact, I told him that day, I just might have to use his analogy.) So there you go, Dan, your words are in print. 

At the time of our conversation, I was feeling quite down after having returned home from a trip to Vegas. Just a quick trip, but it made me feel alive again – there were lots of people there! And a CVS and a Walgreens! (And yes, I thought it was pretty sad that seeing those two stores made me feel like I was in *city life* again.)  Anyway, I digress.

I’d like to share a video with you of one of my favorite youtube channels. Brittany is a nomad and a minimalist (much more so than I could ever be, as sometimes she lives out of a backpack), but this was one of her more raw type of videos and it just really spoke to me, especially as I contemplate making more changes in my life.

My friend Dan is very wise, especially as we have only met in person once and that was during my cross-country road trip when me and all of my furballs crashed his place for two nights. He told me he thinks I’m basically two people.  And he is so right.

There is a part of me that really wants to get out and see things and experience new things and places. A part of me that constantly needs to be working toward something, a new goal, or a new plan. It’s what gets me up and keeps me feeling “up” when otherwise I might feel down or feel like I’m just treading water in place. And then there is this other part of me that needs to feel structure or feel *safe* and feel like there is enough money to do things. The part that worries about not being able to take care of my furballs or that if I do make a choice and it doesn’t work out, then I’ve screwed myself financially.

I take contentment in so many things – seeing my furballs all hanging out on the bed in my RV with the space heater blasting away, knowing they all feel comfortable enough to snooze. Dressing my little Osito in her sweater for the day when she first wakes up, so that in case the temps fall in the RV while I am at work, she can still stay warm and snuggly.

But then, there is this part of me that thinks, “there is still a lot out there for me to see and learn, and do.” It’s not FOMO (fear of missing out) but a curiosity, I think. The two are different. That’s the part of me that listens to this video of a popular RVer blogger, Becky Schade, (from Interstellar Orchard) when she was interviewed a couple years ago, and draws so much inspiration from it. She’s younger than me and wise beyond her years, and yes, I may have shared it before, but in my mind, it bears re-sharing again.

This *safe* part of me is the one that was so scared to make this last big change in my life. It’s the part that listened to all the concerns of others and let those concerns creep into my own mind. That’s the part that misses the fact that last year I had off between Christmas and New Year’s, and made so much more money. That’s the part that still occasionally asks “what the HELL are you doing, living on so little, being so far from home, having to work on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day?!” That’s the part that doesn’t even feel like it’s the holidays time of year since I’ve done no shopping at all (just sending money to the nieces and nephews, and even those amounts are pitifully small but they are all I can handle right now.) That’s the part that looks back and says (along with so many who hear my story), you left HARVARD LAW to come and scoop poop?

And yes, that is the first time I’ve mentioned publicly on this blog where I used to work. Some of you already knew that, but I’ve now taken a big breath and decided to put it out there. I know all the images the big red H conjurs up with every mention of its name. I know. But I don’t regret leaving. And no, the place was not perfect. Far from it. And no, I didn’t go to school there either (that’s a usual question I get asked.) In fact, I got rejected from there pretty instantaneously upon having applied. So I always found it a bit ironic that I was then deemed good enough to teach their students how to find things. But I digress, and I’m going to jump off of that soapbox now before I start to aggravate myself.

So, now, I’ve gone ahead and made such a big change, and while I feel a bit disappointed in that it doesn’t seem to be THE place for me to be in this world, I do know that I CAN do something a lot of people are afraid to do. A lot of people are afraid to step outside of what is the *normal* or *expected* way of life. But now I’m wondering, where exactly should I be right now, and what should I be doing? It’s that part of me that envies those I know in my life who are willing to jump in and do something adventurous. The part that looks to what my younger brother did when he would make these huge life changes, and the part that sees what my brother and sister in law are doing with traveling the world (and you can read about it by reading their blog, It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast HouseAnd  yet, even then that fearful, compare-yourself-to-others voice makes itself be heard – “but they know so much more about cars, which you don’t….”

As my friend Dan has recognized in me, I am desperately trying to find my place in this world. And as he always reminds me, I need to take a breath. It will eventually come to me, or happen.

So, in Brittany’s words – “what is it that you think you can’t do? What would be too good to be true?” Please drop me a line below and share your thoughts.  For me, right now, I think it’s to workamp starting next summer, and to always be in a place that is warm and doesn’t get snow. So it would entail moving with the seasons (or to someplace like southern California) and to do that, I need a different camper. And believe me, I go back and forth in my mind over those scenarios over and over and over again, as to which is better for me to do. Over and over, ad nauseum.

I hope you will all have a great holiday week and stay safe if you are traveling somewhere.  And as always, thanks for reading.

P.S. Yes, this is one of those posts that required me to inhale and take a VERY deep breath before hitting that Publish button. Also one that needed to be written.

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29 thoughts on “(re)discovering myself

  1. Well…what would be too good to be true for me? Traveling in an RV full time. On the other hand I’m house sitting right now, overlooking Lake Michigan and life is pretty sweet the way it is. So we shall see.

    Have a good Christmas, no matter how simple, it’s not the stuff that counts, and you already know that. I’ll be away from my family for the holidays this year, so I’ll think of you and hope you are having a peaceful time. I imagine it won’t be fun working New Years Eve and New Years…on the other hand, it might not be terrible either!

    • How do you like house sitting? A lot of people have suggested that to me too as a way to go, but I have all these pets, so it might be interesting to try and get a gig! Do you use the caretakers’ gazette?

      Yes, it’s definitely not the stuff that is important to me anymore. I loved talking to different members of my family last night – I felt like I was with them for a little while, especially my niece who told me all about stuff she is involved in. 🙂

      I will think about you too, Dawn, and I hope you will have a good Christmas too! Keep on taking those beautiful pictures of yours and those walks. I love your blog posts.

  2. Please be well and pat the furry ones for me. You are doing good and I so much admire you. Keep following your heart. (“The heart does… as the heart does.” — Delenn from Babylon 5)

    • Thank you, Karl. I like that quote too! I will gladly hug all of them. I woke up this morning and they were all in the bedroom area of the RV with me, and Max was smack on top of me, purring away. (As only the King of His Domain would do.)

      You have no idea how much it helps to have your support and to hear such words of encouragement. Thank you.

  3. Terri,

    I agree that this does not appear to be a lifestyle that is working for you.I can understand working with animals when retired,but these are your peak earning years.Since you have a law degree,you are smart and talented in several areas.You are missing city life which I can definitely understand.I could not live in the Moab area.It is never too late to come up with a different plan or return to Boston.Your friend,Dan,is correct when he says life is a puzzle.Also what works at one stage of life,does not at another.I know you will find your path and where you belong.

    Margie

    • Margie, thank you for saying that. And Moab is actually pretty liberal compared to where I am at! (if you can imagine…. lol).

      I don’t think I will return to Boston – too expensive to live there, and I really do hate the weather. Very cold and miserable in winter (normally, not this winter, of course, right after I have moved), and super hot and humid in the summer.

      I appreciate your vote of confidence, thank you. I think I will find my path, I just need to have some patience. 🙂

  4. Well, I am not feeling very secure right now. I retired from a job that I had been at for 27 plus years to sever all ties and travel to find the area and home that God wants us to be at. It is quite the leap of faith for me as I love stability, or what I perceive as stability. I am excited to find our new life but am afraid too.

    Obviously, I do not know you, but I think you know inside what you want, but more importantly need emotionally and financially. It is one more leap of faith 🙂

    Do you miss your family enough to want to return home? My husband and I have no family ties where we currently live, so leaving the area does not bother either of us. If we did have strong ties, there would be no way either of us would even consider leaving.

    • I totally get that fear you are feeling. Believe me, I do.

      My family is very spread out. Mom is in upstate NY, where there isn’t much of an economy and we are at that point in our lives where we need to live independently, plus she just married this summer (at 76!!) And my siblings and I are all completely spread out – Arizona (soon to be traveling again), Michigan, Boston area, and NYC. I have been thinking to maybe at one point do some workamping near my sis in Michigan so I can see my nieces and nephews a bit more but i think for the first summer, I need to be with a large workamping contingent, someplace like a Yellowstone, etc. That way I can meet more people and build a community.

      I like that — one more leap of faith. And I think you are right. I’m going to think about it a lot like that – there is a lot of time at work when I’m cleaning up cages where I have some time with my own thoughts. (Also helps the time pass.)

      Have a great Christmas, and I know you and your husband will find your place. Just give yourself time to adjust – 27 years with one place is a long time.

  5. Terri,

    First of all, a very Merry Christmas to you and your fur balls.

    It always amazes me how you can so clearly express your feelings. Most of us have feelings like yours from time to time, but we usually choose to keep them inside and pretend that everything is just wonderful.

    Two quotes came to mind when I was reading your blog:

    Hellen Keller said, “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

    Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

    Keep these two quotes in mind and go live your dream in 2016. I have no doubt that you can make it happen, Terri.

    • Jerry, after I read your comment, I went onto youtube and looked for Steve Jobs’ commencement speech, and I loved it. Need to listen to it often, going forward. And I love the Hellen Keller quote, too, thank you. I need to write them on my whiteboard and look at them every day.

      Thanks for saying that about my writing. I used to do the same, just keep it all inside. I have found it helps to get it out. If I can help someone else who might be feeling the same, then it’s worth it. And Merry Christmas to you in warm, sunny Florida!

  6. Hi Terri:
    Merry Christmas to you from the Belfon clan.

    An inspiring post. I love the videos too. Thank you for sharing with us all.

    I don’t think the name of your blog is an accident. It’s a constant reminder to keep chasing your dreams my sister. Live your life to the fullest without regrets. Stay focused and keep moving forward!

    • Aw, Kelvin, merry Christmas to all of you! Even though I know it’s early with both of us, something tells me that at this time there might be a ton of chaos right now at your house with presents being unwrapped! 🙂

      I’m glad you found it inspiring. That means a lot to me. And no, I thought about the blog name for quite a while. I wanted something that could I could grow with over time. Dreams are constantly evolving, aren’t they? 🙂 Please give Camilla a huge for me.

  7. Terri I think you put into words what we all struggle with but think that we are the only one….I admire you so much for doing what you did. I am at a crossroads right now also. If you want to explore nc feel free to come and stay with me. My fur balls would love to meet you. 🙂

    • Kristen, if I can help you with whatever you are going through, please message me on facebook and we can definitely talk. Thank you for saying you admire me, I don’t think I am very special, but I appreciate that. I guess because it’s just different. You also took a big step several years back, deciding to move from Boston and your mom, and that was very brave too. Thanks for the offer on NC, I’m really missing the warmth of places like NC right now.

      • Terri,

        You said, “I’m really missing the warmth of places like NC right now.” I guess it’s all relative, but I don’t think of NC as being warm in the winter. At least, not in the mountains.

        I leave the NC mountains and stay in Florida all winter. It was 86 degrees here on Christmas Day and it will be in the low 80s today. Like you, I don’t like cold weather.

        Terri, I think you’re a southern girl at heart. You just somehow got stuck in the north, and as you have found out, that’s not a fit for you. It’s not just the weather; it’s also your personality.

        The only thing that would keep you from being a true southern girl is that I’m guessing you don’t like grits, but I bet you could learn to like grits if you stayed it the south very long.

        Since your plans are to be in Texas next winter, it looks like you are well on your way living where you belong — in the south (at least, in the winter).

      • LOL, nope, I have tried grits and not liked them, but then again, maybe they weren’t made right? Or flavored just right? Oh, and I know the mountains of NC can be cold, I am now thinking that is probably the case anywhere with higher elevations. And yes, I plan on applying to work where Becky did this past fall, with Amazon. She confirmed that they will have that facility again as an option, but just wasn’t sure when they will open the application process. Needless to say, I’ll be one of the first to apply. 🙂 And yes, I can’t wait for warmth again. I will never complain about being too hot again, especially since my pipes froze a few days ago. Never again!!!

  8. When I get too wrapped up in worries, which I’m good at, I stop and think of deep geologic time (I have a minor in geology), and then I relax. It usually all works out because we make it do so, one day at a time. Somehow those who are reflective enough to ponder what they want and need seem to end up there eventually, though the path is often not very clear. I like having a clear path to something, but it rarely unfolds that way, and looking back, I would never have guessed things would transpire like they did. Love your blog as it keeps me thinking of things that are important.

    • I’m so glad it does that for you, Chinle. You have already helped me more than you know, just being an ear and a supportive mentor and friend who I’ve not met in person yet, but it doesn’t matter. It feels like we already have.

      You’re right, one day at a time. I try to remind myself to always take small steps every day, to change my reality if it’s not what I want it to be. And looking back, god, my path has been anything but clear! You put it into words so well, thank you.

  9. There is great strength in vulnerability, Terri. I think I know what parts of this post were hardest to publish, but those who know and care about you already knew those things, and would have been having similar thoughts. Looking ahead to next year, this is a great time of year for an inventory of skills, passions, interests and experiences, with an open-minded approach to ways to combine income streams to support the life you want to live. Not that you haven’t been doing this for years now, but now the focus and situation are different from the ones that lead you away from Boston and HLL.

    I’m reminded of that period when I decided to give up the practice of law 20+ years ago. I had the key in hand, but it was very, very hard to use it to unfasten the golden handcuffs. You’ve already done the hardest thing. Literally, nothing else you’ll do going forward will be as hard as the transition(s) you made this year.

    I’m also reminded of a conversation David and I had in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a waiter. He had detached from a high powered career, and changed his life. During much of the year, he lived in a small house somewhere else (Vermont?) where he focused on his passions: writing and music. He also did some house-sitting or dog-walking, temp work, etc. And then for the tourist season, he went to Bar Harbor and waited tables at a high-end restaurant, saving up his tip money to support him through the year. The point isn’t that you should do what this guy did. It’s that he found a combination of things that allowed him to do a mix of things that he enjoyed, that expressed the different parts of his personality, and that generated the income he needed. It worked for him. I think you will find the right mix, too.

    • I think I will find the right mix too. I now get excited at the thought of writing and trying to figure out where I will be this coming year. I also like being around people a lot too, so I’ve realized that part of my personality. David, thank you for being *with* me through all of this. I didn’t realize then how lucky I was when we shared that office together, and that I had made a friend for life. {hugs}

      • Thanks, Terri. I’m also very much looking to find the right “mix” in 2016. It’s great to be on this path to an authentic and sustainable way of living with other like-minded people.

  10. Meadowlark Lemon, the famous Harlem Globetrotters star died today at the age of 83 (he was famous way before your time, Terri).

    But this famous quote of his lives on. I think we should all keep it in mind.

    “I want you to always remember that life’s most meaningless statistic is the half time score, and as far as I’m concerned it’s always half-time.”

  11. Hi Terri,

    I recently found your blog & have appreciated your openness & candor about your life. I totally feel where you are coming from. I recently embarked on my full-time vagabond life after having to put it on hold for 2 1/2 years. It has been wonderful, challenging, not what i had hoped for or expected (both good & bad), but the thing is, it is MY CHOICE!! It’s not the life one should live as dictated by the masses – and i wouldn’t trade it for anything!! No choice is perfect, but i truly believe that if it is YOUR choice & made from the wise words of that inner voice, then it’s never “wrong”.

    My choosing this life came after 15 years of feeling lost from chasing the middle class “American Dream” of job, house, etc. But then i lost a job that made me miserable & all of a sudden i was free! All that time i realized i needed to just cut the rope but couldn’t without a net to catch me (another job lined up), but what a gift it turned out to be to have someone else cut it for me. It was a hard & very low couple of months before i found myself again & that wise inner voice cried out to be heard & this time i listened. I had found a quote then that really resonnated with me: “Things fall apart so that other things can fall together.” Sometimes we have to let go so that the right things can fall together. Kind of like your puzzle. But it doesn’t happen over night & lots of other things often get in the way.

    Think of where you are now as your first step to things falling together. We have to try things out to see if they will fit. Take what you love & what speaks to you from this current experience & look for a next step that can incorporate those things with new things to try out. Wash & repeat. You may even come up with your own business idea that pulls everything together. The thing is, you have dared to chose & live your own life!! What a gift you gave yourself with that! You just have to figure out how the basics need to work & the rest will fall together. I found reading forums & other full-timing people’s blogs helpful & inspirational, but also overwhelming & distracting. What they all were doing sounded great, but it was also so different from who i was & how i chose to live that reading about their experiences clouded my perspectives of what i wanted my life to be. I had to stop reading some & let my life take its own shape. I do go back & visit some now & then & to get helpful tips on certain things that they know better than me!! I guess what i’m saying is let other people’s experiences be a starting guide but find YOUR path.

    And remember, whatever you chose today – be it job, home, or type of RV – can be changed tomorrow! You just have to start somewhere. I’m living in a teardrop trailer with my minivan on a very miniscule budget & i thought it would be no problem, but i have run into crazy cold weather in the SW & it has been challenging – my kitchen & bathroom are outdoors. Have i thought about a different set-up? Sure i have, but i need to give what i have a fair shot before i jump into something else. No such thing as the perfect RV set-up. There will always be something you wish you could change in different situations. With this cold winter & tech challenges I can’t do a lot of what i planned to do – like getting my business going. I will have to give up some things so that i can make other more important things work. But that’s OK, because from the very beginning i have known with every cell of my being that this is what i’m supposed to be doing with my life right now, so i am going to do everything i can to make it work. It sounds like you are doing the same & figuring out how to make it work for you.

    And give yourself a break girl!! You have made A LOT of huge changes in your life. You’re gonna be exhausted & overwhelmed with it all (& this crazy weather isn’t helping either!!). It doesn’t necessarily mean you are depressed or that your medication isn’t working or that something is wrong with you. Sometimes we need time to just BE, & let our minds, souls & body catch up with all the changes we’ve made. You may find that some of the things that were important to you before aren’t as important anymore – and hey, that’s OK!! Give yourself the time & unconditional, uncritical love to figure it out. All i can say is be open to all possibilities, try things out that never occurred to you before & let your creative juices flow. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
    ~ Thoreau

    Best wishes to you as you make your dreams come true – & they will!!!

    (BTW – from what i’ve read on your blog, my sister took a job many years ago where i believe you are & the whole experience of being in that area wasn’t a good fit for her either. She & I are animal lovers & have had many jobs working with all kinds if animals, but sometimes the fit of a place or area just isn’t right. Nothing wrong with that. Just find your place.). 😀

    • Jordan, I can’t tell you how much I truly appreciate your leaving such an amazing comment on my blog. I would love to email you personally, if that’s ok. I have been trying to think of things the way you mentioned – that this first move was one step closer to being where I am supposed to be.

      I can’t tell you how cool I think it is that you live full time in a teardrop. I have thought so much about doing that but with all the animals (especially the cats) I don’t think it would be fair to them. But yes, I have begun to think I know what is best for my animals and for me. I can listen to all the advice and thoughts of everyone as much as I want, but I know deep down what is best for us.

      I’m looking forward to getting caught up with your blog, by the way.

      • Terri,

        Please do feel free to e-mail me. I would love to connect with you. I find it so wonderful that so many of us are choosing to break out of the “norm” & live our lives in our own ways, with meaning & purpose. And yes, you do know what’s best for you & your furbabies! You have gone to extremes to make sure they are safe & loved.

        Better make yourself a big ‘o’ pot coffee to stay awake if you plan to catch up on my blog! There are just SO MANY posts! 😉

        Stay warm! I’m glad you have some furbabies to cuddle with!

  12. Thank you for following my blog! We seem to be living more than slightly parallel lives 🙂 Looking forward to reading back into your blog. Wishing you the best this coming year. I will share my favorite quote with you… “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” by Dr. Robert Schuller. I have always gone back to it when I reach a crossroad and am unsure which way to go.

    • Stacie, thank you so much for commenting on my blog and for reading it. I am very flattered that you have done so. I love that quote and will keep it in my mind as well. And yes, I look forward to going back into yours as well. I am so inspired at how you have lived in the Glampette. If I didn’t have four cats, I would be very happy in something like that.

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