Todays update today comes to you from Monterey, California. The location where we plan to hang out for a few months (as long as the fishing is good – more on this later). There is much to see and do here in California and with an added bonus of Joe getting to hang out on a big commercial fishing boat for a few months (Bucket List Item # 222 – CHECK) while making money and working his arse off – we are pretty excited about letting things un-fold at there very own magical pace.
We’ve made the transition from big suburban house in Dallas (1999 – 2007) to living apart exploring our own forms of minimal living (2007 – 2014) to a 400 square foot studio space in Boulder, CO (2015) and now we our living in a 29foot RV – our home on wheels! We learn something new every single day in this vain of living – which keeps us hungry for me.
Our first few weeks in the RV were FANTASTIC:
We spent a few weeks prior to hitting the road “tethered” to Joe’s mum’s place. It was great because it allowed us to get our feet wet in RV living whilst still having all the fine luxuries of being connected to a the true mother ship (the mother ship = full washer and dryer, home cooked meals and hot showers). After a few weeks of living in the RV while being connected – we were ready to hit the open road and figure things out on our own. I have to give big KUDOS to Joe on his ability to navigate his way directly into the driver’s seat of this RV and take off to three different states! He did let me drive for like 2 minutes before we hit the open road – I’m now experienced. Truthfully, there is a great deal of work that has to be done to set up and tear down and prepare for the next trek. I think we’ll get better and better as we move around more – for now, we’ve successfully navigated the terrains.
WITHOUT HISTORY, THERE WOULD BE NO FUTURE
A little bit of history for those of you who stumble upon our musings. Joe and I have been told that we have an incredible love story. I admit – our story is pretty damn cool – alas, it wasn’t and hasn’t always been an incredible love story. It has been filled with many great opportunities to learn, grow, make mistakes – then, RINSE AND REPEAT!
Joe and I were married in 1999. We quickly began our trek to living the american dream – we secured corporate jobs, purchased our first home and immediately started working on having a family. During our marital years, we experienced pretty much every major loss you can imagine – with the exception of a either of us having a major illness.
We lost jobs due to corporate lay-offs (both of us in the span of one month at one point on our journey). We discovered that we would never be able to have children of our own after years of expensive fertility treatment. The toll these losses took upon us truly rattled us to our core. But, we had survived all of it and were able to keep all the fine possessions that we had accumulated all the while our souls had started to shift.
Our version of the American dream was changing at a rapid pace. In 2001, I would receive the early morning phone call that was the final loss that would ultimately rattle the doors of my soul so loudly that making a change became the only food my soul could swallow.
The passing of my beautiful mother during the midnight hours – the 4:00 a.m. phone call to tell me that she was GONE (at age 45). My mother was my best friend. She was my confidant. She was my cheerleader. She was my BELIEVER! She made me see things that I couldn’t see – courage and faith in myself. Her passing continues to color the view of my world daily.
The next few years for me were beyond 50 shades of grey – dark days followed by days of simple survival. Ultimately, this was a wake up call to LIFE. There was so much I hadn’t done in my 28 years of living and I knew that time wasn’t something I was promised. I also realized that possessions weren’t something that I’d ever be able to take with me – experiences, I could create and hold onto experiences. So, that is what I set out to do.
Joe and I divorced in 2007. Our divorce (yet another major loss in my life) brought me once again down to my knees lying on the bathroom floor begging to know my purpose. I was committed to figuring out how to use all of this loss to create the life I wanted – which by the way, I had NO idea what it would look like at that time – still don’t, which means I get to implore my creative side until I figure it out.
I spent the next seven years immersed in therapy, training and running marathons, hours and hours of meditation and yoga followed by the shedding of layers and layers of trapped emotions and also belongings (a whole bunch of STUFF that I was holding on to) that was no longer serving me.
My Benjamin Button years of doing everything in reverse – we get there when we are meant to get there. I returned to UNI and earned my degree, sold everything I owned and traveled around southeast Asia for several months, started a non-profit that was focused on educating women in third world countries and started my own company. It was a busy and productive seven years. It was hard, scary and soul rocking stuff – but, I made it through smarter and a bit more thick skinned (oh. yes, there were the moments on the couch when I didn’t think I could go forward).
I also discovered my love of sunsets and sunrises during this period. For the record, they have always existed but I’ve never noticed because I’ve been “busy my entire life”. I was also ready to share all of this with a partner. After many nights on beaches around the world watching the sun make its grand entrance into the ocean – I wanted someone to experience it with.
And, as luck would have it – Joe and I had kept in touch during the seven solo years. Even in our divorce and the years that followed, we had continued to help each other out when and where we could. To make a long story short, we found our way back together in 2013 and haven’t looked back since – actually, we’ve only looked forward and worked as hard as we could to follow our dreams.
There was a time during the years of our divorce when Joe and I sat together and had a discussion. During this time, we talked about how simple our life had been when we shared our first tiny apartment in Dallas. We were focused on living and not on material things. It was TRUE! After all the loss we had experienced, we had also talked about chunking everything and buying an RV to hit the road. But, if you know anything about CHANGE – it doesn’t happen overnight – in fact, it can take years!
This is most definitely a high-level overview of our walk together. And, it is a somewhat sugar coated vision of how things went down – there was a beginning, there was a middle and there was an end. We learned many lessons during each of the phases and we are incredibly thankful that the roads of our life merged again and we are able to travel onward together.
The moral of my story is this… Loss of people, places and things has taken me into the deepest and darkest parts of my soul! It has broken open my entire heart and left it bleeding – alas, it has given me a great perspective on LIFE – love it! love them! love every single moment, every single flower, every single sunset and sunrise. Make the most of it. You don’t get to take ANY of the material items with you – thus, always choose an experience.
In the next update – we’ll share the story of our RV (and introduce you to Joyce and Willie) and our first 14 days on the road (New Mexico, Las Vegas and California)!
With great gratitude, Brandi J. Joe & the Big Red Dog named Bleu.