Setting up Camp

Yesterday was a hard day. Nothing bad happened, but breaking down and then setting up your RV campsite is not a quick, clean, easy process. Now, imagine doing this 3 times before 12:00 noon and you kind of get the picture. I started to question my sanity a little bit. I was filthy, tired, had a headache and was hangry. I needed a shower super bad, but instead I got out my paddle board. Of course. I decided my soul needed cleansing a little more than my body at that point. And I was right. Plus, as I was getting out, the board struck the sea wall and I got dipped in the ocean. So I got cleaned up a little anyway. Win win.

But before all the insanity of the day started I was drinking my coffee, and received a message from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years. He had seen my Snapchat the night before of my sunset in The Keys and asked if I had moved to The Keys or something. (Not yet friend. Not yet.) We chatted for quite a while and got caught up on the events of the last year of my life. The events that have gotten me to this place, and what my hopes and dreams are. If you don’t have someone to randomly bounce these things off, I highly recommend it. Sometimes you don’t even know what your hopes and dreams are until they come spilling unexpectedly out of your mouth.

As I was making my breakfast, I was telling this friend how I have absolutely everything I need inside this camper. I don’t miss any of the physical items I left back home. I was talking about how content I was, and then I tried to make toast to go with my eggs and bacon. But I don’t have a toaster. And I nearly went into meltdown mode. (First world problems.) Then, just as clear as day, as if she was standing next to me in the kitchen, I heard my mom say cooked up cheese sandwiches.

For those of you who don’t know, that’s a grilled cheese sandwich in the Brown household y’all. So I took those two slices of bread and put them in the skillet where I had just cooked my bacon. On a side note, if you have never fried bread in bacon grease, OH M GEE….you don’t even know. Even if you have a toaster, do this. And thank me later. But back to it, I really do have everything I need. And have been way too spoiled with excess.

It also made me realize, again, that my parents are always with me. And they still give me guidance if I will just still my mind and listen. And I believe they would be super proud of what I’m doing. The tragedy of their illnesses and then losing them gave me some of the hardest times I’ve ever been through, but it also rewarded me with some of the greatest joys I’ve experienced. Both then, and now. I think they would approve of this camp I am setting up.

#settingupcamp #travel #adventure #wanderlust #rvlife #hippiegirl #threedogsandablog #thekeys #sunsets #makingmemoriesallovertheworld #bestill #getridofexcess

Dish Water Soaked Grief

I try not to blog more than once a week. All the models tell you no one really wants to hear from anyone, about anything, more than that. Once a week. And good little rule following OCD person that I am gladly obliges. Except for now. I feel like this time it’s worth it. I also don’t really care what the models and the “people” think. But that’s another blog entirely.

Yesterday was Mom and Dads anniversary. 56 years. And I had no idea until late in the day. For the past month or so I haven’t really known what day of the week it is, much less the date. So I was out on the water deep sea fishing, for the first time ever, living my life, oblivious to time and space. Just enjoying life. I got back to the condo, showered, cooked, ate dinner and was washing the dishes.

Then boom. I have no idea what hit me. I genuinely have no clue what happened to make me realize the date. I just know that I doubled over with a pain greater than anything I’ve ever felt, and let loose sounds that can only be described as primal. I felt my loss for the first time. It was their first anniversary with both of them gone and I was done in. Broken. Shattered.

I stood there stomping my feet like a spoiled toddler, wailing in a way I’ve never heard, brought to my knees on the kitchen floor of a strangers condo, as I used dish water soaked hands to try and wipe away nearly a years worth of grief and pain. I felt things I hadn’t felt until then.

A couple of times I tried to tell myself to buck up and get myself together. But I realized I needed to ride the waves and the pain and feel every last bit of my feelings or I would never ever be able to start to heal. After an hour or more I finally could see well enough to send messages to the friends closest to me. My sister. A couple of girlfriends. Another friend. I needed my tribe. One friend told me to go out on the water. Go to where I’ve felt the most peace lately, and talk to them.

So this morning I got up, had my coffee (momma and daddy’s girl), and then got my paddle board ready, and walked down to the water. I spent over an hour paddling and just talking. It was almost like some kind of prayer, this conversation I had with my parents. So much came pouring out of me. So many things I didn’t even realize I felt. I had no idea just how much guilt I carried that I had left my mothers side for half an hour and then she passed away, while I had been holding my dads hand when he left us. I knew it bothered me. But I had no idea how much.

Today brought so much out of me. So much conversation. So many things I told them that I didn’t know I missed sharing with them. And I finally got a little bit of myself back. After I got off the water, I walked back and showered really quickly then walked to the little beach bar where I had been putting my board in every day. I sat at the outside railing overlooking the bay, eating some oysters, and right there…close enough where I could have walked in to the water and touched them, were 2 dolphins playing. Right where I have been spending quiet time every day this past week. Right where I came in after spending an hour talking to mom and dad.

Every time in the past year that I have had an experience in nature and talked to my parents, 2 animals have shown up. 2 dogs. 2 birds. 2 dolphins. Happy first forever anniversary together mom and dad. I hope it’s the first of an eternity of anniversaries loving each other pure and whole.

#anniversaries #travel #adventure #healing #grief #wanderlust #hippiegirl #twodogsandablog #growth #makingmoriesallovertheworld

So What Next?

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked “so, what’s next?” in the past week or so that I have been stuck at home waiting for my car to be fixed. So many times that I’ve started to feel impatient. Everyone thinks you have to be DOING something, and working a 40+ hour week, and they just don’t get it.

See, I left and started these travels because I realized deep in my soul that there is no way we were created to just earn money, working jobs that don’t fulfill us, so that by the time we retire and can MAYBE enjoy that money, we are too old and too tired to do anything about it. I also started this because I have absolutely no clue what’s next. I stayed in a job that was definitely not what I was called to do for 6.5 years so that I could help care for my parents. I would do it again a thousand times over. But now it’s my time.

I have been calling 2019 my selfish year. I was listening to a podcast before I started traveling and they said something that really struck me. They said “whatever your gift is, your first customer is you.”. They quoted Frederick Beuchner “find that place where your deepest gladness and the worlds hunger meets.”. And I am not sure what my gift is. I’m not sure where my deepest gladness lies. But I do know that I need to be my customer right now. Selfish. I can always make more money. But I can’t make more time.

So, instead of continuing to sit with people who ask the question that assumes we all have to work and not enjoy life, and instead of moping about because my car is broken and I can’t pull my camper, I found an AirBNB at the beach that’s pet friendly. (Super huge score that it even has a fenced in yard!) And I threw a pair of flip flops, some shorts and my paddle board in the trunk of the rental car, loaded up the dogs, and headed to the sun and sand and salt again. Because I do know one thing, when I’m on the water and I’m out in nature, I can think and breathe. And maybe figure out what next.

But until I do, I’m going to continue to immerse myself in nature, stay active and live my life. The dogs don’t seem to mind where we are or what we do. As long as they are with me. Honestly, people should take lessons from them.

#sowhatnext #selfishyear #beyourowncustomer #travel #adventure #wanderlust #hippiegirl #sup #threedogsandablog #lessonsfromadog #makingmemoriesallovertheworld

You’re Never as Far From Home as You Think

Saturday was my last day in Florida before I had to head back towards home to get my car repaired. I had already packed up my paddle board, but I had several hours before I had to check-out of my camp site, so I decided to rent a kayak to get just a little more time out on the water. (Also, my paddle board had dumped me the day before and I had seen 3 alligators, so there’s that too.)

I have kayaked before and I have to admit, I’ve never really understood the draw of it. I don’t love it. I have never found it enjoyable and could never really get the rhythm down, but I thought I’d try again. But as I was paddling, I found myself just absolutely fighting the wind and the water to make any headway. I was getting so frustrated and I was thinking I just don’t understand why anyone does this. So after about 40 minutes of frustrated paddling, I stopped. I sat there and was still and quiet. The song Peace Be Still started running through my head. “The winds and the waves shall obey His will”…

This isn’t a religious post, but a lot of the point of the journey I’m on is for me to find myself again. To learn to breathe and just be still. As I sat there, not fighting, just being still and breathing, the winds started slowly and gently turning me back in the direction I had started, back towards “home”. I let this happen, and when I finally started paddling again it was amazing how easy it was to go in that direction. I got in to a good rhythm. And I was truly surprised to see that I hadn’t even made it that far away with all my stubborn fighting. It was easy to make it back.

I guess my point is, you are never as far away from home, or your true self, as you think you are. If you stop fighting and being so bloody stubborn and in control all the time, and just sit still and breathe, you’ll find the journey is much easier. You’ll get pointed in the right direction. You are never too far away to make it back to where you really need to be.

#bestill #breathe #travel #journey #wanderlust #hippiegirl #threedogsandablog #makingmemoriesallovertheworld

Off the Grid

During this last week, I found myself off the grid. The day I was supposed to be leaving the Florida Keys, my debit card was compromised. Praise the Lord that I check my account daily (OCD) and that I bank with a Credit Union that gets that handled super fast. I decided to extend my stay in the Keys, and ended up at a site that was still rebuilding after the hurricane and had no WiFi. They basically had no cell coverage to speak of, and to stay in contact with the world, I had to leave my little island. Turns out I didn’t miss it much and didn’t want to leave my island, so I was off the grid.

During these few days I was able to spend time out on the water with new friends who had a pontoon boat and it was so calm and perfect. But I also lost my voice. Pretty funny if you think about it. Go incommunicado and end up losing your ability to speak. Kind of makes me think I was put off the grid on purpose.

The day I did end up leaving the Keys, I really didn’t want to go. I wanted to extend my time even longer, but I thought I really needed to head in the direction of home. I planned to go as far as Tampa, but what should have been a 4-5 hour trip took 7 hours because of road work and other road delays. I was seriously considering going back off the grid (thinking I should have just stayed) but I was only 15 miles from my destination and I felt like I was home free. Then a driver blew through an intersection and t-boned my car and swiped the camper too. (I’m fine and the dogs are fine, so don’t worry over that.) But that accident extended the drive another 2 hours and left me stuck with a limping vehicle and trying to get it driveable so I can make it back to Birmingham.

This has been an amazing trip and experience so far. This last week has just conspired against me quite a bit. And I know that’s how life works. I won’t let it stop me. And I won’t let it stop this journey. But it does make me want to stay off the grid. It’s quiet and peaceful there.

#offthegrid #travel #wanderlust #threedogsandablog #hippiegirl #florida #makingmemoriesallovertheworld