Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Knowing Who I Am Can Finance Travel...

How existential of me.  And really, if I were philosophizing on my true meaning - my true reason for existence - then I think it would take up an entire book and not a blog entry.

No, the idea is much simpler than that.

One of the ways I know to make money when I depart for my "epic journey of lateness" and explore the US in a motorhome (est.2015) is to write.  Yay! Writing. 

Easy enough.

But how do you make money at it?  I don't mean $25 here and there, I mean $1000/month. Or more.  Well, I understand I need to establish myself as a writer in a freelance world.  I need to have stories and an angle and a friend in the publishing business. 


I actually need to work at this.

So where to start?  What do I know?  Always write about what you know.  Easy.

But what do I know?  Really know?

And that's where the problem seems to exist for me.

Here's what I know...REALLY know:
How to persevere
How to raise a child
How to be a single mom
How to live (or not live) with someone who has a terrible addiction
How to juggle life - not always successfully
I know what it's like to be withdrawn, what it's like to hide.  I know what it's like to pretend you are someone else.
I know the experience of acting - from a chorus role to the lead in a musical - and everything behind the scenes.
How to have a successful marriage
How to have a successful and angst-free divorce
How to be honest

But beyond that - I'm not an expert in anything.  I have my passions, but I don't consider myself to be an expert in any field.  I can tell stories and have a sardonic wit.  I can see the humor in just about everything.  I am the first to laugh at myself.  And I find myself a little afraid of everything around me. 

Insecurity is a bitch.  If I were to look at myself on paper, without knowing it was me, I would be mightily impress with the strength of that woman.  But knowing it's me - I just know that I did what every other person in this world does - I put one foot in front of the other and move forward.  Sometimes through mud or windstorms, or blizzards, or floods.  Sometimes through the most beautiful of sunny days.

I am no different than anyone else.

Except I have a way to find my voice and the voice of others.  I have the talent to put that voice out there and allow my experiences to be heard. 

Is that voice publishable? 

Is there anything I can say that hasn't already been said? That someone wants to hear?

I have no idea. 

And I don't think I will really ever know the answer to that unless I start to write from the heart.  Not a blog - but something more marketable. An article. An opinion column. Something to sell to a small paper or two or twenty or more. 

Maybe a weekly piece would be enough to carry me forward as a writer and as a way to finance my adventure through space.  Maybe those stories on the road will become a future book (yes! even with pictures!), or at the very least, a small voice heard by a few souls who still read.

I understand that today is the day I need to figure it all out.  I can't wait until I'm on the road to test the waters.  The time is now...

The first step is always the most frightening. From my experience, the next few steps after that aren't so easy either...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why do I want to be a full-timer RV'er?

That seems to be the same question I hear over and over.  Why would you do this? Why would you be willing to set out - by yourself - and


Because if I were to die tomorrow, the only regret I would have is that I never got to travel as much as I wanted to - I never got to really know the different areas of this Nation.

I don't intend to die with regrets.

I'm passionate about visiting different areas...I want to see and touch history.  I want to experience the spirits of yesterday and yesteryear.  I want to see where my father's family came when they departed England back in the 1500's.  Why did they stay and why did some return to England?  It's as if I want to land on Plymouth Rock and walk the paths my ancestors walked as they found planted their roots in this new land.

For me - to see their homes, how they lived and how they died is almost like opening a secret book of tintypes that flip forward throughout the history of my predecessors.

I have this ability - call it what you may - I can touch something and feel its history. I can feel those who used or loved the item. I can stand in the room of an old Victorian and see the surrounding areas through the eyes of the original owner. It doesn't last long, but it is strong, visual and very emotional.  Same with items I touch. I'm a tactical empath. It's enough to draw me to the history of an area.  I love cemeteries.  I love antique stores. I love old towns. These are truly the heart beat of America with stories to to discover just under their surface.

I want to explore and play detective - whether real or imaginary - and find the secret lives of the people who lived there.  I want to see Maine and explore the North East.  I want to visit all the battle scarred areas - I want to understand Washington's Christmas Eve crossing of the Potomac.  I want to dissect the stories hidden behind the headstones.

My goal is not to winter in Arizona or somewhere in the desert when the wind starts to blow cold.  I welcome the cold.  I burst into guiddy smiles when the snow flies. But I understand it may be difficult to survive in Minnesota in January - so my route will need to be determined based upon my need for warmth and history.

I want to travel the Road Less Traveled, I want to understand what Jack Keouac experienced in his drive across the nation. I want to see the Atlantic the same way Daisy did in the Great Gatsby.

So there you have it.  I want travel because I love history and literature.  I want to see the Mississippi the way Twain wrote about her.  I will stay as long as I'm welcome and explore as best I can. If a part-time job pops up, I'll take it too!  Along the way, I will talk with people and connect with the ones who have lived there forever.

I can never remember a time in my life when I didn't want to travel.

What about you?

Why do you want to travel?

I believe there's a book (complete with pictures) detailing my adventures. I promise.  A real book...but until then...there will always be these blogs!

So What to you think? I truly look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Finding a way to get to the beginning

The idea of going from where I am to the life of a full-time RV'er is overwhelming. Most of it is fear wrapped up in the financial aspect of life on the road.

Money and survival has always scared me.

I've never been - in my mind - financially secure.  In my life I have experienced near-homelessness a few times.  I have been one of those people who has stood in line for foodbank-supplied groceries and holiday meal preparations. One Christmas I even found myself humbled at a handout center obtaining toys for my son so he would have something to unwrap under a charity-donated tree.  I have also been the proud owner of a house and have managed to recently buy a new car.

What it currently comes down to is this:  I don't have a stash of money hiding somewhere, no retirement to depend on and I'm not eligible for social security for another 10 years at the earliest. I am, with no RV, saying I'm going to start a full time vagabond life within the next few years.  The question is: HOW?

Slowly, I'm coming up with a plan.  I'm going to continue going through boxes and possessions and get rid of as much as I can.  That job will probably take about 18 months for me to emotionally let go.  It's not really the big things (I really don't have any) but it's the boxes of memories.  For example, I have over 600 record albums.  Do I play them? No. Are they preserved? No. They are records.  I bought them new. They are my connection to the 60's and 70's. I look at them and remember how cool they are.  I remember playing them to death. I remember stories and people and moments from long ago.

But do I need these records to maintain those memories?


So, slowly, I will allow myself to let go of them one at a time. I have more music than I ever listen to on my ipod and computer.

Same with books.  Though that might be more difficult.  I have a kindle, but the books I have on my shelves and in boxes are not housed electronically somewhere.  They are yellowed pages of long ago...of history and events not necessarily mine. Books are my friend.  Literature was my major. Stories are my adventures.  These will be harder to let go.

But I will continue to let things go, one by one.  This weekend I will revisit a tub o'legos and hot wheel track. I will touch the bike we bought 4 years ago and have only ridden 5 or 6 times.  These will hit craigslist within the week (though someone just told me those little lego people are worth a lot...maybe they will go on ebay!)

As for my 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment - I will renew my lease one more time this spring.  My son moves out next August and his room will become my staging area for downsizing.

Then, once THAT lease is up, I will probably move to a one bedroom/one bath apartment for a year.  During that time, with my cost of living slightly reduced, I can maybe put money aside and consider buying an inexpensive motorhome.

You can find them under $15K - did you know that?  Yep.  I've visited plenty of websites and blogs that have explained the trials and tribulations of re-decorating an RV.  It CAN be done.  It doesn't have to have a pink interior and hideously flowered upholstery. Thankfully, I am more than capable of interior decorating.

So...a year of living frugally and refurbishing an RV.  Then the big step.  Seeing if it's something I can honestly and am willing to do.

The plan is to move to the motorhome for 6 months to a year while maintaining my current job.  That will allow for me to sock money away and hopefully have enough in savings to maintain one year on the road.  Of course, I wouldn't use it - it would be a nest egg of sorts.  Instead, I would find temporary jobs wherever I travel.

I have done 30 years of office work.  While currently I am in Business Development writing job proposals - I have done everything from being a file clerk, to a typist, to an office manager and everything in between.  There is nothing I cannot do in an office. So - there's Kelly Services, or TempAide. I can freelance as a writer and editor.  Maybe I can even learn how to be a waitress.  I can work at campsites for free monthly camping and cut my costs.  The point is - I can do it.  I can figure out a way to bring in enough money monthly to survive as a full time RV'er.  And for emergencies, I will have some money in the bank.  Maybe I'll even be able to feed that account at times.

The next step is to seriously figure out a monthly budget to include the real necessities for life on the road: insurance - RV, car & medical; mail forwarding; fuel costs; electricity/generator/solar panels; communication expenses; food; entertainment...etc.

That is a puzzle though for tomorrow.

Today - I just need to get through a few more boxes...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Research, Research, Research ... (Did I Mention Research?)

I am sure there are full-time RV'ers who just jumped in their rig and took off toward the horizon, but I can't do that.  I need a plan. I need to have a clue as to what I may run into, or not.

I need to understand so I don't hit the road, run into a snafu and run back a home that may no longer exist.

Where am I today?

I live in  a small (1100 sq ft) apartment with my son, a dog and two cats.  Yes, I rent. No, I do not have any retirement nor am I independently wealthy.  I do not have money hiding away is some secret account.

So, anything I do has to somewhat planned out. I need to understand what I have to have in my arsenal when I pull out.  So I am scouring the internet.  I have a spreadsheet with 16 different websites, must have's for an RV, a list of things I enjoy, and places I want to see.  This list will continue to grow over time.  What I have learned in the past week of exploring is this:

there are a lot of things you need to know before you go out on your own.

I want to look at RV's.  I want to get into them, see what I can stand - sizewize - what I can't. Did you know that here in Central Texas, nothing is open on a Sunday? Crap. Having spent most of my life in either California or Alaska - I still get thrown for a loop here in the bible belt. So, I need to make plans to have time and go to an RV dealer on a saturday.  Sounds easy enough...but not so much with me.

Did you see "Up"?  You know the dog? Yep. That's me.  I can get sidetracked easier than most anyone.  My son can get so frustrated in a conversation that he will yell, "MOM. stop. focus." So, I have to focus...and make lists...and figure it all out.

Here's what I have so far on my "to do" list:
medical insurance
find and buy an RV
downsize completely
sell stuff
start a side business
establish homebase
buy a gun and get a permit
vehicle insurance
tow package
That is no where close to a list that is realistic in needs.  So I am asking people who stop by this blog for your help. If you have owned or still own an RV, I need to hear from you.

What do you feel are necessities and things you can live without?
What do you wish you had?
How big is your rig?
Do you tow a vehicle?
How much time do you spend in it?
Do you travel with animals?
What do you think (or know) your average costs are per month to include gas, lodging, insurance, food, utilities and extras?

I'm honestly most concerned with financing my adventure - so I am researching job options that I can do from the road.  Not something that requires me to "sell, sell, sell" but something that utilizes my talents.  This will be difficult.

So I'm waiting to hear from you.  Please? Help me out here and I will continue to write about my struggles, my triumphs and what ever else comes into play moving into a life as a full time RV-er.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ready or Not! Let's get started!

I've made a decision.

In ten short months, I will join the ranks of empty nesters.  As a single mom of an amazing young man, I realize that "my work here is finished." No, I'm not done being a mom...but I am done with those 18 years between birth and college.  Next summer my incredible son will start the next chapter of his life and I will start the next chapter of mine.

I've always had dreams of travel. Ever since I can remember I've wanted to explore the wide open road.  I love driving. I love the adventure of visiting different towns and learning everything I can about locations.

I think cemeteries are amazing.

The United States of America are beautiful and filled with so much just waiting to be discovered by everyone willing to venture out of their safe hamlet.

I want to venture out.  I want to see it all. I want to explore Civil War sites, all of our National Parks and funky little hideaway kitschy tourist haunts. I want to work at Walt Disney World and dress in period clothing at Williamsburg, VA while telling stories about life during the 16th century.

Some people who know me think I've already experience adventure in my life.  I spent 18 years living in Alaska after growing up in Southern California.  Then - life change as it is known to do - and I moved my the two of us to Texas just four short years ago.  After 23 years of marriage, my husband and I went our separate each other our blessing to move forward and follow our dreams.

My son has told me to live for me this time and after some small research, I've realized that living the life of a full-time RV-er is actually a real possibility.

Today I am starting out - dream in hand - and plan to get myself into a position to hit the road sometime in 2015.  I know. It seems so far away.  But for me - someone who has no real finances, credit or even an RV - three years is a blink of an eye.

So now I need to start planning.

There is so much to do and planning it seems a tad overwhelming.  But it's also exciting. First things first.  I need to downsize.  I've got about 100 boxes in my garage that I need to go through and let go of.  Thankfully, I only live in a 1,100 square foot apartment and am only partial to a few pieces of furniture.  So, in the end - when I take the step to move into an RV - it'll be easier to give up the big stuff.

It's the smaller stuff that will be difficult.  I expect I will maintain a storage area somewhere...or the attic of a relative's home.  But, in the end, I will find myself much lighter in the material department and much richer in experience.

The second thing I need to find ASAP is a way to make money on the road.  For me, that will more than likely mean writing.  It's what I do and have done for over 30 years.  I expect this to be more difficult than letting go of memories.

So - here it is. My first blog about the next chapter of my life.  I will come back here once or twice a week and talk about what I've found and what can help me move forward in my desire of freedom.

Hopefully, you will find something that helps you on your journey. Or maybe you have some tips or directions for me? I'm open to any information you may have.  Or questions. If you are starting this process too - and you have questions, maybe we can find the answers together.  This is so much more than just my quest to find me.  This is yours too.

This is the call of the road.  The desire to get back to people. The need to continue learning and growing.

This is the next chapter of a life of wonder.

This is the first day of the rest of my life.