Welcome to Life, Other Than
“Look what I had to overcome
from my last life,
I think I’ll write a book –
How long ’til my soul gets it right?”
–Galileo, Indigo Girls
Where did Life, Other Than get its name and
what does it mean?
That’s probably best explained with a little history of how I got to where I am today – living in an RV, traveling with two dogs, and no actual plan for what is next.
Below is a Facebook post I wrote to my friends in January of 2016 about the life I had been leading and about getting out of it to anything, other than that. It had been hard up until this point to put much of anything into words about my experience over the last year and a half, but one day it just came to me – and all of a sudden, and now I’m ready to write.
I decided to share my stories because I know there are so many people who are also stuck in situations that are sucking the life out of them. Perhaps reading my stories of escaping to a Life, Other Than will help them find their own paths or temporarily escape their situations – if only by proxy.
It’s hard to anticipate as a writer what your readers will get from sharing in your experience, but if there is one thing that I hope my stories will do is to help others wake up and realize that there is more to life than the stress and misery they experience each and every day. There is a Life, Other Than out there for them, too.
Facebook Post to Friends
January 11, 2016
Today I sat down finally to do the books for my old business so I can send them off to the accountant. Just having to interact with that part of my life again literally has me in a horrible state of anxiety. After several hours of it – like almost 12 – I have finally broken down and taken a half of a Valium. I literally cannot catch my breath.
I lived in this state of anxiety for years. The last 2 years before I left it had become unbearable. I knew it was slowly killing me. I was having a lot of hormone testing done over the last year we were open and my cortisol levels were literally so high that they were like double the highest level of normal.
Closing the business and ending a very toxic relationship nearly simultaneously in the fall of 2014 clearly helped to alleviate a great deal of the stress I was under. The next hormone test a couple of months later showed my cortisol levels were finally in the normal range.
Many factors kept me from closing the business sooner – really complicated factors. One day, I reached the tipping point and could take no more. I still didn’t have solutions for the complications – and I still don’t. There is still so much to sort out – even more than a year later.
The day I reached the breaking point when I decided
on my way to work close my store, I had no plan at all.
I did not know how I would support myself, how I would pay my mortgage, how I would eat…but that no longer mattered. What mattered was that if I didn’t act right then to stop the thing that was slowly killing me, that it would win. There was no more fight left, and I knew it. I don’t think I have ever quit anything in my life before, but I had to quit this.
Within a month, the store was a shell with nothing inside. Getting to that point in a month was so difficult that I had no time to seriously contemplate my future.
Naturally, as we were selling off the last of our inventory, customers would ask me, “what’s next?” To one person, I jokingly said –
“I’m going to buy an RV and drive off into the sunset.” That kind of became my go-to answer so I wouldn’t have to think about it. I didn’t have the mental energy.
But, the notion stuck, and around Thanksgiving, once most everything had been done, I started looking for an RV. December 2nd, I bought my RV, Eddie. I soon realized I had bitten off more than I had realized, for while she was mechanically sound, the water damage was severe.
I bit the bullet and found some fumes to power me through a near complete interior renovation. I ripped out the walls and rebuilt them, put up paintable wallpaper and painted it, replaced the shower, the toilet, the bathroom sink, and all plumbing fixtures and drains; ripped up the carpet and put down new flooring even in the cab; built shelves in the cabinets had the front seats reupholstered; installed a new lighting fixture in the bathroom; got new cushions made for the dinette and guest bed over the cab; and installed a new stereo and speakers.
All of this took place between January and the first part of May 2015. I had sent her for some exterior repairs during December at an RV shop. I figured that if they fixed the leaks outside, then I could handle the inside – and I did most of the work myself. Eventually, I reached a point where I realized that I could renovate Eddie forever and that I needed to stop and leave. Honestly, I think people were starting to think I was kidding about leaving, but I wasn’t.
When I left Little Rock on May 13, 2015 I barely knew how to drive Eddie with the tow dolly behind her. I was pretty nervous. In the preceding months I had disposed of every single thing I owned that did not fit in Eddie or in 6 small boxes I stored at my brother’s. Having all of my eggs in one basket that I really didn’t know how to park was enough to make me a bit timid – (it’s as long as a semi and you can’t back up a tow dolly with 2 pivot points, so you can only go forward).
I wondered as I drove through town on Interstate 40 in the direction of Memphis if I had made a huge mistake. There were a lot of “what-ifs”. Looking back 8 months and over 10,000 miles later, I realize that I found the only solution that there was to extricate myself from a situation that was sucking my life away.
I have only one regret:
that I did not do it sooner.
If you are in a situation that is having that effect on your life and it seems there is no way out, pull the plug on whatever it is today.
I liken what I did to tossing a hand grenade in on my life. It blew up all kinds of things. But, had I not have done that, I would never have gotten out. Changing little things would not have solved the problem. Massive upheaval was required.
I still have no idea what I’m doing or how I will ultimately earn a living, but for now, I have a roof over my head, I’m in a safe place, and, with the exception of today and having to revisit my past, I live pretty much stress-free.
Today I learned just how much stress I was enduring – because I got a taste of it – and it was just a tiny bit. I don’t know how I lived like that for so long. I am so happy things are different now.
“Sometimes when things are falling apart,
they may actually be falling into place.”
— Author Unknown
So, for the new visitors to my blog,
that’s the very short version of how I got to where I am now.
Life, Other Than began with recounting the Exodus from a life that I hated, and it chronicles the 10,000+ mile trip to Alaska and back to the Lower 48 in my RV, Eddie, along with my two elderly Jack Russell puppies. Since it was formed, I have added stories from my other travels around the world.
Why did I go to Alaska?
The same reason I ever go anywhere – I had not yet been. There were a handful of places that I wanted to visit since I was in grade school – the Badlands of South Dakota (already did it), crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica (also already did it), and making a solo trip through the Yukon wilderness to Alaska (hadn’t done it).
It just seemed like the logical place to go. I needed distance from my former life, and I’d be hard pressed to find that much distance in any other direction where I could go via RV with my dogs.
Crazy as it sounds, I had no exact plan. I never do when I travel. I kind-of go whichever way the wind blows me. And so, on May 13, 2015, I headed east from Arkansas – unsure how far I would go before turning north and then going west. I thought perhaps about going to Maine, but I’d been there before – and I’d seen a lot of Canada between Montreal and the tip of Maine from a trip in grad school. So, I decided to start out by going somewhere I knew I wanted to see, but was unable to make it in a previous trip up north – the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
On my drive towards Nashville, spending the night at a rest stop, I thought I should probably let some friends of mine in Michigan know I’d be in their neighborhood. I sent them a Facebook message that I was on my way. They told me that I could come and stay with them for a bit, so the next morning I plotted a slightly different course that would take me near Ann Arbor, and away I went.
So began my journey into
my Life, Other Than.
What’s In this Blog
As I am writing this blog, I find that stories from past travels around the world are creeping in that I need to tell, so I’m writing them, too.
Although the stories are being written in the present, I have dated the blog entries to reflect the time period in my life when they occurred to help keep the narrative more linear in fashion.
This method of putting dates on blog posts probably defies some rule here or there regarding the finer points of blog etiquette, but I think it’s the only sensible way to present my stories in a coherent form to the reader.
Lord knows that I can barely keep it all straight in my own head, and I’m the one who lived it all. Besides, I’m a non-conformist by nature.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy your time here at Life, Other Than. Please leave me comments and share your own stories. If you are a fellow travel blogger, grab some commentluv and get a link back to your own blog in return.
Comments must be moderated to keep out the spammers, so if you comment, it won’t show up immediately. I keep pretty close tabs on comments submitted, so if you aren’t a spammer, your comments will be approved.
My brother had the presence of mind to snap this photo before I left. I had literally just pulled out of the driveway and hooked up the Prius to my RV, Eddie. All I could think about was that the real estate agent was coming any minute to show the house and that I had to be gone.
The quote on the back of Eddie
is from J.R.R. Tolkien, and it reads:
“Not all who wander are lost.“
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