Monday, April 21, 2014

R = Rescue from the Restless Recliner

R

As I drove back to Chicago from my Winter of living in the Winnie, I plotted out what I intended to do once I arrived back to my house:

1. Go through 4 months worth of mail.
2. Get my taxes filed as well as tax returns for my mom’s estate.
3.. Finish getting the house ready to be put up for sale.  

I figured a month should be sufficient time to get that list accomplished, since I’d already done a lot of the major house prep work during the past 2 years.

After my first week in Chicago, I was feeling pretty good—both items # 1 and 2 were checked off and I had successfully met Uncle Sam’s April tax deadline!

But the past two weeks were an entirely different story.  It suddenly hit me on one of Chicago’s gloomy, gray days that for the first time in my whole life I no longer had any hard-set deadlines to meet, nor any firm dates to arrive at my next destination, or even a clue where that next destination might be! 

In a word, the last two weeks have been mildly terrifying

I began sinking further and further into the comfort and familiarity of this tan recliner…absolutely paralyzed by this new untethered, unstructured life ahead of me.

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Oh sure, I was keeping myself busy with catching up on some website reading, buying a few new items for the RV, and ticking off as many non-essential computer projects as I could think of.  But exactly zero-zilch-nothing-nada got accomplished related to getting the house ready for sale or making any progress in the direction of my dreams. 

What the heck?  Time’s a wasting! The Springtime real estate market won’t be hot for long!

Every night I’d get myself pumped up to start on the house the next day, but by morning, I was beating a well-worn path right back to that recliner to suck up yet another precious day with nothing to show for it.  My internal FUD voice began yelling louder and louder.  You probably have one of those nagging FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt) voices too?

FUD:  “What the heck are you doing here, Lynne?”
Me: “Just looking up a few things online.  I’ll be back in a jiffy!”
FUD: “You’ve been getter rather comfy in that recliner.  So, tell me again, why are you wanting to get rid of it?”
Me: “Because I want to be a full-time RVer”
FUD:  “Yeah, well, if you really wanted to do that don’t you think you’d be upstairs sorting through closets right from dawn until dark?   Take a look around the neighborhood—do you see any other person getting rid of practically all of their possessions?  No, because they’re all responsible adults out working at their full-time jobs, that’s why!”
Me: “Shut up, you stupid FUD voice!”
FUD: “Don’t you think you’ve already screwed up your life quite enough by quitting that well-paying corporate job and alienating many of your oldest friends with your irrational behavior?  Have you now gone absolutely friggin’ insane to also want to sell your house and everything in it?” …
”Are you doing all this just because you haven’t met a nice young man to get married to yet?”
Me: “Grandma, is that you?  I’m trying to have a conversation with FUD here!”
FUD: “So, just what is it that you’re trying so hard to run away from?”"

Well, old FUD seemed to halt me right in my tracks with that last one.  

Some warmer weather arrived to Chicago this past week, and signs of Spring were finally starting to make their way to our suburban neighborhood —husbands out reviving their lawn mowers from winter slumber, wives out preparing their gardens for new colorful plants, and kids out playing and riding their new bicycles around the cul-de-sac.

What was wrong with me for not being out there doing those same things? and maybe networking with the neighbors to find a new full-time job while I was at it!!!

It’s interesting that in my whole winter in Mexico, I never once had any of these thoughts or fears.  Maybe because I was always surrounded by fellow RVing full-timers and snowbirds who were already living lives prioritized by their passions rather than conventionality?  Whatever it was, I seemed to feel infinitely more comfortable with them than my neighbors here in Chicago.

Today has been another gray day here in Chicago, but on this day…finally…the recliner has sat empty for most of day while I’ve started tackling the job of clearing out an upstairs closet.   Coincidence that this renewed vigor is beginning the day after Easter, our annual celebration of rebirth and eternal salvation?  Perhaps.

But I also got a little help from my “new life” friends and inspirational bloggers, who made me realize some powerful new things about my current journey.

Full-timer friend, Suzanne, said that during this stage of her extrication from normal suburban life, she’d constantly ask herself questions as if going to a daily ophthalmologist’s exam—“Which of these looks better? A or B? A…or…B?”

Do I want to A) stay in this house?  Or B) travel around full-time in an RV?   Would I like to A) go find another full-time job to pay for this house?  Or B) see if one of my passions eventually leads to some modest income to sustain my travels further?

No question!  I want option B!

I read a great post today from David Cain at Raptitude.com (the Frightening Thing You Learn When You Quit the 9-to-5).  His experience, and those of his commenters, confirmed that what I’m going through right now is pretty normal for such a life-changing move.  

And, so, it’s finally hit me that this new phase of my life is not about "running away" from a status quo “responsible adult” life, it's about running towards a fully self-directed passion-driven life!

Suzanne’s final words of wisdom told me to envision it being next January and to imagine me still sitting here paralyzed by the recliner.  Whoa! Talk about an indelible motivator!  I’d rather walk across Antarctica in my bare feet than sit in this house one more winter!!!  So, yep, that visual got me off my butt today and finally moving forward towards my goal again!

I’m finally facing the truth of this new direction in my life—a passion-driven life is just plain scarier and less-predictable than the suburban corporate-drone life I’ve had for the past 30 years.  When I make mistakes and failures, or leave tasks unfinished in the future, I’ll no longer have anyone else to blame for that…except myself!  

On the flipside, though, when I succeed, it will surely be more satisfying than ever before.  This quote from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” sums it up nicely:

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

If any readers in the Chicago area are interested in a gently used tan recliner…it’s now for sale!

 

 

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19 comments:

  1. That is a great quote. You are just going through an adjustment period and it is great that your blogging friends can help out. I always said I am running "to" something, not away. My bank balance may be a little lower than it was a few years ago, but I will workamp and volunteer and find other ways to conserve or to earn money so that I can hold on to my savings and retirement funds and I will be ok and you will too. P.S. We could always get another job if we find things are not going the way we had planned.

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    1. Yep, so true Teri. The full-timing lifestyle certainly provides much more flexibility for one's living expenses that paying a monthly mortgage on a big house! It's also nice to know there are some great solo full-timing "sisters" out there to help show me the ropes and keep me pointed in the right direction!

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    2. Its a big decision and I am sure you will make the right decision. Sometimes it is hard to take that leap of faith but its often needed to make your life as happy as you deserve.

      Sean at His and Her Hobbies

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  2. I am into week 2 of my retirement, ok vacation until my exit interview this Friday ... I love it. I thought I'd have doubts, fears at 4am in the morning but nada...zip....best sleep I've had in years, better diet and I only have one thing on my list to do per day. No written list. I'm in the process of selling vehicles while doing more downsizing of my small Indiana home. To sell or not to sell is my personal mental fight ... it's paid for (base camp?) but I miss living in the west. So now to find a trailer to full-time in along with my 3 hounds. Loved following your adventures in Mexico.

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    1. My neighbors in Mexico had a sweet brand new Arctic Fox that they were really enjoying. Sounds like you've got a good plan!

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  3. I read the beginning of this entry with a bit of trepidation. Enjoyed your thought process to the final decision. I am hitting the road this summer and hope I can make my journey as fulfilling as yours.

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    1. You may very well beat me there! Even though it's nerve wracking, I'm really looking forward to the new adventures and bet you are too!

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  4. For the second year in a row I have made a conscious effort to divorce my recliner. We will never be free of this location as farmland is where Beth's migratory locator points are and it is where the $$ is. After a week of picking up sticks, killing unwanted plants, dealing with the 'thaw' of finicky winter stored yard machines, continuing the 3rd of a 5 year plan of creating maintenance-free ornamental beds, and picking up thousands of barn shingles loosened by wind and ice and so evenly deposited in the yard by the relentless winter wind, I am nearing a point where the place can be returned to wilderness even if it means the coyotes can nest right next to the house. The cats and kids are gone and there is now longer any fear of bigger critters carrying them off anyway. I embrace the feeling you described of having no thought or fears while being off in Mexico. Basically, it is called living. As for the house: you've been there and done that. I'm no longer sure that the 1950's recipe for life we were weaned on is such a hot idea. For a long time I have said: Go there, do that. There are still a couple reasons for us to stay put but after that *poof!*. To keep my foot in the world of amazing, unforeseen possibilities I shall have to maintain my attendance at Burning Man. Year six is coming up! I am astounded at how much it has become an anchor outside the box.

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    1. Love your ways with words Jay...you always make me smile! Who knows-- I might have to go experience BM one of these days firsthand to see what everyone has been raving about all these years! But until then, I'm looking forward to seeing you and Beth this June in Iowa!

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  5. Loved the last line! Yes, I can still remember seeing my beloved couch being carried out of my house when it sold. Talk about "swallowing hard!"

    I think the hardest thing for me in making this change was "stabilizing my atmosphere" as I went through the process in the presence of well meaning, more conventionally focused friends. Even Mom said at one point, "You're not serious??" It was tough not allowing myself to snap back into the magnetic draw of conventionality and what is considered the "norm." But I just tried to stay focused on the dream. The RVing Blogosphere became my reality because they now felt like "my tribe." Sure, I alienated a lot of my more conventional friends, but then look at the friendships I gained. ;-)

    Stay focused on "eating that elephant, one bite at a time!"

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    1. thank you my friend for blazing the trail and sharing your wise first-hand advice!

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  6. I think anytime you don't have a specific deadline, it becomes easier to put things off. You can visit Chicago in the summer, you definitely don't want to spend another winter there.

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    1. you got that right! I just hope when it starts getting warmer and green here that I won't get "Spring Fever" and laze away my summer here enjoying the nice weather only to realize by Fall that I've run out of time again! Fingers crossed this whole things gets done within a few months!

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  7. Ahh, your post brought back many memories. Especially when I was 40 and quit my well paid corporate job to start my own design business. At the time, I had three kids either in college or starting. I needed x number of dollars a month to keep from everything collapsing. After I gave notice, I was so sick to my stomach saying, "What have I done?" Then I realized, after about 4 gut wrenching days, that the worst thing that could happen was that I would have to go back to work for someone else again. Wow! There are always alternatives. Nineteen years later, when the firm was one of the top 50 in the USA, I sold it and came to San Miguel. No, I'm not an RVer, darn, but I've lived life in the most amazing ways for the last 14 years here. I can't imagine going back to the life I lead, which was wonderful at the time, but would not work for me anymore. I've lived a STRESS FREE existence and I'm spoiled.

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    1. Wow, now THAT took some courage to make that kind of move while supporting 3 kids! So glad to know it can be completely worth that giant initial leap of faith! Yes, I think it'd be hard to imagine anyone with STRESS in beautiful San Miguel (ha ha!), but I get what you're saying-- the location is irrelevant to the freedom and courage of being able to fully captain your own ship. Hope I can be 1/10th as good as it as you have!

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  8. Lynne, thanks for sharing all of the aspects of your journey--both the more conventionally "positive," as well as the scary. Even though I've not followed your exact path, I can say that becoming retired was indeed that--becoming. It was not simply ending a career and not going to work anymore; it was much more than that. There were phases to this and it truly was a becoming experience, and indeed still is. Seems to me you're experiencing the yin and yang of it all, the freedom from deadlines/schedules, and the scary prospect of figuring out how to fill up those unstructured days. But I like that you're embracing both sides of this coin--no one else's experience is or will be quite like yours, so as you get responses--like this one--remember to, as one of the monks told me when I spent a sabbatical at a Buddhist monastery "taste everything, but swallow only what fits." As long as you continue to allow both sides to emerge, so you can address them, you'll find your rhythm and your path to resolution of what seems like perhaps insurmountable conflicts. As I've gotten to know you, I'm absolutely confident of this fact. Even though we're not full timing, Trisha and I will have spent more time on the road than at home for two years by the time the next New Year rolls around, so we've had some similar thoughts. One of the great things about life on the road is that there is a lot less "stuff" and "things to take care of" than at home. That has become quite comfortable. And we've made some really great friends along the way--had a couple from LA whom we met in Wisconsin recently spend the night with us here as they make their way home from Florida; another couple from Mass whom we met in Sarasota came calling a few days later, and we love having contacts to visit as we make our way around the country. So keep at it, my friend, and I'm confident you'll find Lynne's best solution! Look forward to the next time we meet along the highways and byways!

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    1. Just love LOVE that quote "taste everything, but swallow only what fits"! Thank you for your wise observations, and yes indeed, I want to taste quite a few new things in this next chapter of life and relish the experience (however good or bad it ends up!).

      Can't wait to see new posts of "HappyTimesThree"!!! and certainly look forward to seeing you guys again down the road!

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  9. Sorry you had to go through the anguish of this decision. So glad Suzanne was there with her always great advice. Having lived with you for a few months in Mexico, I have come to know you just a bit and believe that you will be happy living on the road as a fulltimer. You bloom with adventure and your creativity feeds on new things to photograph and write about.

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    1. You sure know me like a book now! Yes, on Sunday, I showed off the trip slideshows to the family and couldn't believe how much that simple thing did to re-energize and re-focus. It made me remember that I really do thrive on discovering new things, and sharing those with others!

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