Changes

To say life changed in the past two months and five days since my last post is beyond understatement. From changes in our personal plans to global upheaval in a fight against a novel virus, nothing seems the same.

The third week of February one of our three dogs had to be humanely euthanized. We’re not talking about details. That’s enough to know.

Another of our dogs required extensive veterinary care which took a great deal of money and time to complete. He is almost completely healed.

We cancelled our Elkhart trip in February due to a predicted snowstorm in that area. We also finally admitted to each other that van life might not be the best RV life option for us, so we started exploring Class C RVs that would give a little more room for the two of us and our two dogs.

Then the novel coronavirus hit our area.

Our retirement savings took a huge hit just like everyone else’s. We began to realize that might be the most minor of changes in our lives for the next few months.

But we decided not to give up on our dream of RV life. We prayed, soul-searched, talked. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried a lot over the past couple of months at the sorrow and fear and inability to know what to do and when to do it.

We took to heart the thought that it’s the RV lifestyle we truly want. The vehicle is less important. With that mindset we decided to go the least expensive route to get us on the road.

Truck and travel trailer.

We’ve narrowed our choices by shopping online. We had toured a few travel trailers during our RV search you know, when we could still go out to shop in person. We’ve done enough research to know we want and what we think we’ll need.

Late last fall we had thought to leave our jobs maybe at the end of March. Now it’s looking to be a bit later. We both work in healthcare, so the timing stinks. But, honestly, now may be as good a time as any to get out of healthcare. Praying about that too.

Regardless of when we leave our jobs, when we buy our truck and trailer, when we sell our house, we are moving forward with our dream and the vision God has given us. Neither of us knows what this is going to look like, but we know who does, and we trust Him.

Freedom Update

A couple of months ago I shared that Daniel and I plan to significantly downsize, sell our home, and buy an RV to live in full time in a few years. We are both super excited about this plan. We’ve moved up the date to 7/25/22, but hope to be able to make the move before then.

We’ve done some RV shopping, changed our minds a couple of times, but our current first choice is the 2019 Jayco Alante 31V. It’s a smallish gas powered class A. I’m posting some pictures from the Dunlap Family RV website. We met a salesman there who we really liked, so plan to buy from him when the time comes.

We’re so excited about this adventure. Three years seems like such a long time, although we both know it isn’t.

What we’re focused on right now is how to make a little money while on the road and going through all our belongings to downsize. Both of these take serious consideration.

Part of my plan for money on the road is to take my writing more seriously than I ever have. I’m writing every day, at least a couple hundred words. I’m dedicated to my dream of writing.

The downsizing, y’all. Wow!! Where did all this stuff come from? LOL There’s just so much!!

I’ll update on our freedom plan next week.

Have a great weekend.

When a Dream is Just Crazy

Have you ever had a dream that is just so crazy it scares you? But you can’t get it out of your mind. You research it. How do other people make it work? Is it even really feasible? You keep it a secret because it’s JUST CRAZY.

But finally, one day you just can’t stand it. You’re about to burst. So you tell your spouse. You hold your breath, bracing for laughter, or a shake of the head as the spouse says, “Yeah, that would be great, if only…”

Only, your spouse doesn’t laugh.

Your spouse doesn’t shake his head.

He says, “That would be so cool. Let’s figure out a way to do it.”

What?

So now what?

Gulp. Big deep gulp. Can this be for real? It has to be a God thing because this dream is too crazy for the spouse to agree.

This has been my past couple of days. What is the dream? Full time RVing. Yep, you read that right. I want to sell our stuff, buy an RV, and live on the road. Crazy, right? But I’ve been thinking about it for years. It just won’t go away.

Now to the research. Lots and lots and lots and lots of research. Number one issue will be making a living while learning to be nomads.

Do you have a crazy dream that you’ve hesitated to share with anyone? How do you approach it? Do you research and try to find a way, or just daydream about it?

Things I Learned During the #LeapAheadWritingMarathon

In February I joined my friend, Kaye Dacus, in a writing marathon. Kaye set up the marathon to focus more on developing commitment to writing rather than setting a word count goal alone. With great enthusiasm, I joined in the fun.

Along the way I (re) learned some things about myself and my approach to writing.

  1. My heart’s deep desire is to write. I’d let that passion dim over the years due to fear.
  2. I LOVE children’s literature and want to write it. I started out writing for kids, but turned to writing for adults years ago. I can’t even remember why. But this month, I returned to my roots.
  3. The more I write in my personal journal, the more I write other things.
  4. Although I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, AKA pantser, I need to develop and use some way to create a story skeleton. Not a detailed outline. That might choke me to death. But a bare bones, one or two sentences about each story beat guide to keep me at least in the same story world throughout the process.
  5. Even though I’m an introvert of the highest order, I need my friends. My writing friends, especially, help me stay grounded, and keep me inspired.
  6. Social media derails me. Shortly after the start of the #LeapAheadWritingMarathon I began to limit my social media time. Wow, what a difference, not only in my productivity, but in my emotional state.
  7. Finally, I learned that I can be committed to writing and be afraid at the same time, and my head won’t spontaneously ignite.

Today March blew in with gusto, and Kaye started another writing marathon for our private little group of writing friends. I’m so stoked!! My goals for March may seem weird, but hang with me.

  1. Take two days per week off writing. I can still study and plan, but no actual writing. (Journaling doesn’ count.)
  2. Add at least 3,000 words per week to my novel length WIP.
  3. Complete the rough draft of at least one article.
  4. Complete the rough draft of at least one short story.
  5. Set up some type of WIP and word count tracker. (Maybe Story Toolz?)
  6. Start researching markets for the short pieces. I plan to spend one of the non-writing days each week on this.

I can’t even begin to explain how GREAT it feels to the passion for my dream back. 😀

Confessions of a Wannabe

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer. For some periods of my life I actively pursued that dream. But, man oh man, fear is a dream killer of the highest order.

But finally, FINALLY, at this point in my life, I’m learning to pursue the dream afraid. You’ve heard the saying: Do it afraid. Yeah, here I am doing it afraid.

No shame in fear. But there is some shame in allowing fear to steal your entire life.

So I’m on a mission to develop as a professional writer. I’m writing something most days of the week. I’ve been blogging consistently twice a week for a couple of months. I returned to my first literary love-children’s fiction. I’m actively working on craft.

It’s scary just writing this and posting it in a public arena.

I’m determined to live without regrets from here on out.

So this is me.

I’m a writer.

If I Knew I Could Not Fail

What if I fly?

In working through a creative business planner and productivity workbook to try to get me on track for 2016, this question was in the first chapter: If I knew I could not fail, I would…

The exercise is to then answer that question honestly. It’s a great exercise. I can see how it could free many people to realize what they want to inspire them to go for it.

But to someone who has pushed down her dreams for years in order to tolerate the grind of the soul-eating day job, that question incites panic, maybe terror. In fact, I waited several days after I read the question to answer it. For so many years I’ve run in fear from my dreams. Nothing has worked to make them seem reachable or reasonable to me. I have always come back to the day to day grind of making a living.

For several days I grappled with the desire to work through the exercise versus the demons of practicality telling me to just let it go, that my dreams have passed me by. The voice telling me that at fifty one years of age I’m too old to dream is strong. Very, very strong.

Finally, after several days of prayer, I overcame that voice. What did I have to lose? More self esteem? Whatever. And just maybe, I have something to gain.

So here’s my list:

If I knew I could not fail, I would…
Write and publish stories
Weave beautiful chainmaille and sell it in a successful online store
Train and handle cadaver dogs

I feel nervous just typing out that list. But there it is.

You know what? None of those are out of the realm of possibility. I can attain any or all of them. Will I pursue all of them? I don’t know yet.

How do you answer that question? If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

What to Expect

I have dreams for this blog. I have goals for this blog. Some of the same dreams and goals I have for myself. To explore meaning. To dig deeper. To have fun.

Some posts will be serious. Some, not so much.

At least once a week I’ll focus on marriage, particularly marriages older than 10 years.

At least once a week I’ll focus on dogs.

Sometimes I’ll talk about food.

But it will all be an exploration in one way or another.

More soon…

Reflections on the First Day of NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo (AKA What the heck was I thinking) started November 1. I’ve signed up for the craziness before, but never really gave it my best shot. But this year is different. Not only do I have a different mind-set about, I have a story I like, and it just feels different.

So of course the few days leading up to NaNo kick-off some negativity started creeping into my thinking. But I silenced those negative voices with a first day word count of 4194. Yay me!

But what’s not so public is that a handful of local writer friends and I participate in our own little month-long marathon every October. I’ve always set some lofty goal that I’ve never reached. I decided to do something different for October 2014 marathon. I needed to get my mojo back after not writing for a couple of years.

My goal was to write something, anything, one sentence every single day of October. I needed writing to be a habit again, needed writing to become a need again.

I have written something every day since September 26, 2014. Again-Yay me!

My dream never left me, never died like I thought. It was there underneath all the negativity, underneath all the fear.

Out of the Mouth of my Very Smart Husband

Saturday Daniel took me to watch an agility trial after we got our hair cut and ate breakfast. He’s nice that way. Does stuff I enjoy just because I enjoy it. But that’s another post.

I’m not sure how long we were there watching the dogs and their handlers run agility courses, but it seemed like only a minute. Probably closer to two hours. I could have stayed all day. There’s nothing like watching dog and handler teams working together.

But what Daniel said to me on the way home stopped me and left me speechless. Which he will tell you seldom, if ever, happens.

He said, “You need to do that.”

I replied, “Do what?”

“Learn to work with dogs,” he explained.

“Well, I’m trying to learn,” I said.

He turned to look at me and uttered the words that made me speechless, the words I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since Saturday afternoon.

“No, I mean you need to work with dogs. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you that passionate about something. You were sitting up on the edge of your seat completely involved in what was going on.”

Wow.

He’s right. I love working with dogs. I would love to be able to do what those dog/handler teams do.

So I think I will.

Pondering the Future

Been thinking a lot about the future, what I want it to be and how I can work towards that vision. There are certain things I need to give up, certain old dreams that I never realized and now understand are no longer my dreams. But there are certain old dreams that linger and beg for attention.

Writing lingers, most of the time dormant, in the back of my mind. That’s one dream that just won’t let go of me. I’ve tried to shake it off. I’ve tried to ignore it. But I can’t. So I’ll pull that dream out once again, dust it off, feed it, and hope it grows.