Tower of Babel, Carrots, and Other Random Thoughts

So the other day my friend, Kaye, posted on her blog about a cool tablet she found. You can read her post here. First, I am BEYOND excited that she is writing fiction again. I can’t even describe how my JOY it gives me. I can’t imagine how she feels. Well, check that, maybe I can, a little bit.

But back to the tablet. I read her post, jumped for joy for her, then went to reMarkable’s website (which is here), and started researching a bit. It seems really cool. In fact, it seems like a great fit for RV life since it would greatly reduce paper because I could also use it for my journal.

What really excited me about it that day is that what is not common knowledge, until now, is that I have been fictioning again. Yes, I made up a word. This tablet would be perfect.

I talked to Daniel about it. He agreed it’s a great idea. I set some criteria for myself to justify buying the tablet. A day or so later Daniel told me to buy it now, not to wait for later. So, I did. I will get mine in November. Yay!

So, like Kaye, I’m eating the carrot first.

In the random thought category, one thing I am learning about living in less than 200 square feet is that things might get cluttered and dirty quickly, but also I can clean the entire camper in about 30 minutes. That, my friends, is pretty cool!

We are still struggling a bit with clutter, but we’ve only been full time for about 6 weeks. We definitely need to do another purge soon. (See comments about the reMarkable tablet-will get rid of all my journal notebooks.)

Another RV lesson is that tee shirts, hoodies, leggings, and sports bras are about all a woman needs in her closet. For real. If I have to dress up, I ain’t going. The exceptions being weddings and funerals.

Now to the Tower of Babel.

I’m doing a Bible study from Proverbs 31’s First 5 app entitled The Answers to Life’s Deepest Longings. Today’s study was on, you guessed it, the tower of Babel. Something I had not noticed or not paid attention to before in Genesis 11:4 is that part of the reason for the tower was so the people could make a name for themselves. They wanted to be known. They wanted the spotlight on them. Ouch! I started thinking about social media and how it’s definitely a place where we can get sucked into building our own towers of “Look at ME!” Then I discovered that was in our study guide as well.

I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with social media. Not because I don’t like it. I think it does serve a purpose. And, I also think it’s fine to build a brand or a business. I have nothing against network marketing. I mean, that’s what Kaye did with the reMarkable tablet-she brought it to my attention-I bought one. She’s not an affiliate, but that’s how network marketing works, right?

My personal struggle with it, is where is the line? I think it’s in the motive. Kaye shared a product that she loves, that works in her life, that brings back to her the joy of something that she does well and that honors God.

I need to examine my own motives. I think social media can be an absolute blessing and has the potential to absolutely wreck me.

Settling in to RV Life

Now that we’re a month into our full time RV life. We are starting to settle in to living in a very small travel trailer. We’re learning to deal with not having separate rooms, except for the bathroom, and not having a bed available all the time since we have a Murphy bed. Adjusting to constantly having a little bit of clutter is taking me a little more time. I would love to have a tiny bit more storage space, but we don’t. So we deal with it. I think we will cull more things as time goes and we realize what we don’t truly need.

The Instant Pot may become a casualty to space. I’ve used it on two occasions here at the campground. I don’t know that I will use it when we start boondocking. We’ll see. I’m honestly not sure that using it twice warrants keeping it even at the campground where electricity is not an issue. I love my Instant Pot, but when you live in less than 200 square feet it’s not really practical to keep unnecessary items you only use 2-3 times per month.

We’re still trying to find a rhythm to our days. We’ve started staying up later, until around 11 pm, and sleeping until we wake up, typically around 7:30 am. This morning I did set my alarm and got up at 6:30. I just wanted a little bit more morning.

Trying to navigate being self-employed and learning to freelance are sticking points as well. Maybe not really sticking points, but pain points, let’s say. We’re both working on things. Wheels turn slowly, however

I did set up our Patreon page. I hope that grows organically. It’s not super formal, just a place people who want to support us can. In return there are a few photos and bits of information available in the Patreon posts that I’m not sharing anywhere else.

One thing that we do need to find a solution for is our black holding tank. The black tank is where the toilet empties. We want a better solution than a traditional RV toilet and black tank. We bought a Thetford Porta-Potti, but have not installed it yet. Honestly, I’m holding out a bit because I kind of think I want a composting toilet. I’ve done so much research, but feel like I need to do more. It’s an important decision.

Over all, we are loving RV life and are excited about the future while enjoying each moment.

Murphy Bed Mod

As is typical for any RV, there are a couple of things we’ve had minor issues with. One was the Murphy bed. For whatever reason, Forest River chose to use one sort of ineffective latch to hold the bed up.

Top is the original latch. Bottom latch is the one I installed.

The top latch in this picture is the original one. It sometimes latches. Sometimes it doesn’t. Eventually, it doesn’t hold and the bed slams into the back of the loveseat. Not cool.

So we went to Lowe’s and bought new latches that I installed in about ten minutes. I put one on each side. We plan to get a couple more just to take some of the pressure of holding up the bed. It’s a bit heavy since we added a 3″ gel foam and a puffy topper.

Here you can see the Murphy bed in place behind the love seat.

The first two weeks we had to leave the bed down all the time. It wasn’t that big a deal, but we lose a lot of space with the bed down. I wanted to be able to use the love seat and have the two feet of extra floor space during the day.

Problem solved for about $10 and 10 minutes of time.

Living RV Life

August 7, 2020 we launched our RV life! We are excited, grateful, overwhelmed, exhausted, all the emotions all at once.

The overriding emotion, however, is a sense of humble gratitude that we have the opportunity to live our dream.

What is Mindfulness

If you’re anything like me you’re probably tired of hearing about mindfulness. It’s been such a buzzword the past few years. But given how 2020 is shaking out I’ve been exploring ways to regain not only physical health but some peace, some calm. It turns out a mindfulness practice fits very well with my physical health and fitness goals.

In April I started taking health and fitness uber seriously. I think the stress of quarantine made me realize that it was one of the few things I could control. And, I think like many of us, my thoughts were kind of like a tornado whirling around my brain those first weeks of lock down. I’m sure most of you can relate.

As I started working out and trying to get my eating habits in some semblance of order, I found myself naturally becoming more mindful. I just didn’t realize that’s what I was doing.

According to Mayo Clinic mindfulness is a meditation practice in which you bring your focus onto what you’re sensing, feeling, thinking in that moment, no judgement or self-censorship.

I kind of like the first definition at dictionary.com:

the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/mindfulness?s=t

The simplicity of that definition speaks to what I experienced and how I approach mindfulness in my life now. Awareness. A way to pay attention.

Life is so busy whether you’re going to a job, working from home, looking for a job, or just trying to figure out your next step. Mindfulness, bringing your awareness to that one moment, to really pinpoint what’s going through your mind, what’s around you, what you’re feeling, what can that do?

For me it gives me an awareness that there really are some things I can control in my life. There are some things that I can affect the outcome.

This week, take one minute and just sit with your thoughts. Just let them come, but be aware of what you’re thinking. Don’t worry about why you’re thinking or that you should change what you’re thinking. Just be aware of your thoughts. Then take one minute and look at the area where you’re sitting. Really look at it. What’s in the space. What does the it smell like? What’s the temperature? What are the colors? What do you hear?

Next week let’s look at some of the health benefits of mindfulness.

Getting Ready

Downsizing our entire lives is coming down to the wire. In some ways right now may be more overwhelming than when we first started a year and a half ago. But we’re getting there.

We decided to go with Bix Wireless for our internet solution. We received our modem yesterday. Set up took less than five minutes. They had already programmed the device and inserted the SIM card before they shipped it. The only tiny glitch was I didn’t know the network name so that took a couple of minutes to figure out. The thing I like about Bix is there’s no contract. So if we get out on the road and this solution doesn’t work as well as we need it to, we can cancel our service. Another thing that’s cool is they are based in Jamestown, Tennessee so we are supporting Tennessee business. Yay!!

We also received our Thetford Porta Potti from Amazon. We decided to go with this for our RV bathroom and remove the typical RV toilet. We will be able to utilize the black tank as overflow for our gray tank enabling us to stay out longer once we start bookdocking next year. Also, Daniel won’t have to deal with the black tank, just the cassette from the Porta Potti. Still probably not fun, but not quite as yucky. Hopefully.

We still have a lot to do. But RV life is getting so close and we probably couldn’t be more excited.

Internet for Nomads

Y’all…seriously. It should not be this much of a challenge to find a solution for internet while RVing full time. So much info out there.

We joined the Mobile Internet Resource Center to help research this and get advice. Such a great website run by helpful and super knowledgeable people. But, holy cow, it’s overwhelming! I’m not a network or connectivity expert, but I can hold my own for most everyday applications.

At this point I may have to take up drinking. A lot.

Just kidding.

Back to the research. At this point we’re strongly leaning toward Bix Wireless. But who knows where we’ll ultimately end up.

Downsizing: Five Tips

After spending the last year downsizing in our preparation for full time RV life I’ve learned 5 tips that can make the process easier. These tips will work whether you are downsizing your entire life, as we are, or decluttering an overstuffed room

There are also many helpful blog articles and YouTube videos out there if you want to dig deeper into downsizing and purging belongings.

Number One: Start Small

When we first started talking about getting rid of most of our stuff and hitting the road in an RV I looked around the living room and panicked. Overwhelm doesn’t even start to cover the emotion. But what’s that saying? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That’s how you start downsizing as well. Start with one drawer. Just one. Don’t look beyond that drawer. Once you complete that drawer stop for the day. Celebrate that success. Then choose the next drawer. After a couple of drawers then tackle a whole cabinet. Move from there to a closet, then a room. Maybe tackle a season. For example, can you go through all your fall décor? Do you really need three fall wreaths? Four Christmas trees?

Number Two: Start With Non-Sentimental Items

When you start downsizing don’t start with your grandmother’s china. Just don’t. Start with something very benign. When we started with our first drawer it was the kitchen junk drawer. Easy-peasy. It took me over a month to tackle anything remotely sentimental. Understand that purging those sentimental things will exhaust you. Not just emotionally. A couple of hours of going through sentimental things is enough to wring you out physically as well. Be gentle with yourself. You’ll be grateful if you don’t start with those things. And don’t save them all for last either. Intersperse those tough decisions in between some pretty easy ones.

Number Three: No Maybes

When you start downsizing you’ll want three piles or bins. Only three. Sell. Donate. Trash. Notice there is no Maybe or Later pile. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Maybe becomes Keep. Then everything goes into Maybe. Don’t fall into that trap. In downsizing there is no maybe.

Number Four: You Aren’t Going to get Rich

You might sell some of your stuff. Understand you are not going to recoup your money. You are not going to finance your lifestyle. You are not going to get rich. You just aren’t. That necklace you paid $50 for might bring you a dollar. Maybe. And don’t think you’re going to have a garage sale and get rid of everything. You won’t recover your time. After selling a few things we decided to either donate or trash stuff. Honestly, the quickest way we found to get rid of stuff is to set it out on the curb with a sign saying “Free.” Goodwill is your friend. Just donate stuff. You’ll provide a job for someone and feel a lot better about yourself. If you are really determined to sell your stuff, try resale apps or Facebook Marketplace.

Number Five: Get It Out of the House ASAP

Once you have stuff boxed up get it out of the house ASAP. Those boxes sitting around start talking to you, whispering that they really aren’t junk, you really want to keep them. You don’t. Just let it all go. Get those boxes out of the house. Rip it like a Band Aid.

Bonus tip: set a due date for the downsizing/declutter to be completed. Schedule the tasks.

What tips would you add to this list? Have you ever downsized your entire home or life? How did it go? How long did it take you?