Life’s Ups and Downs

Sometimes life throws you a curve – or several curves – and you end up spinning round and round and falling flat on your face.

For me, that pretty much describes the entirety of 2019 up to this point.

It’s been a crazy, wild, painful, emotional rollercoaster ride that I’ve been desperately trying to get off. I haven’t found the exit yet. I’m beginning to think I never will.

Life is hard… love is even harder. Loving in the midst of life is harder still. It is difficult to remain loving and kind to your significant other when your world is crashing down all around you. We have found that out this year, and it has almost broken us… almost.

The details aren’t really important… there was a betrayal of trust, there were also lies, broken promises, hurt feelings, shattered hearts, and painful times on both sides. Neither of us is blameless, but neither of us is totally at fault either.

During times like these, it’s really easy to point the finger at the other party – especially when your heart is traumatized and crushed into little tiny fragments – but there is nothing valuable in blame. It serves no good purpose.

So, as we move forward, trying to figure out how this is all going to work, we are attempting to lay aside blame and focus on what got us to that point in the first place. What could I have done differently? What could he have done differently? What can we both do going forward to protect our relationship from harm? These are all questions we are both asking ourselves.

It won’t be easy – of that we are both aware – but it will hopefully be worth all the painful effort in the end. That is what our expectation is. And if not, we know we will both be better humans because of it.

For now, we are here in Flagstaff, AZ together. We are working on us. We are working on moving forward. Who knows what lies ahead?

Lainie

 

Gratitude

I woke up this morning feeling very grateful for my life. It has been a while since that happened, and I was glad for it.

These last eight months have been a series of trying events, emotional upheavals, and traumatic experiences. Not every single day was awful, but the majority of them were difficult.

Having depression, anxiety and PTSD makes life interesting, to say the least. Dealing with all of those things without the medication I have been relying on for many years has made my life almost impossible.

If you have any of those conditions, then you will understand what I am talking about. If not, you are blessed, but I can’t really describe it to you. Unless you feel it and experience it for yourself, you really can’t comprehend the immense effort it takes for a person like me to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone slap a smile on my face and go out and greet the world.

So waking up feeling grateful this morning was awesome! Gratitude, even when things aren’t perfect (and I assure you, my life is FAR from perfect) is an amazing way to begin the day.

As I lay in bed, I thought about where I am and how beautiful it is. I noticed the sun was shining brightly through the windows, so I knew it was going to be a nice day before checking the weather or looking outside. I felt the warmth of my husband next to me and the doggies at my feet and felt thankful for their presence in my life. I breathed deeply and smelled the intoxicating scent of the pine trees we are surrounded by and felt at peace. I enjoyed the comfort of my soft bed and pillows and felt thankful for a nice place to lie down and rest.

Yes, the car and the RV still need to be repaired. Yes, I still have a lot of pain in my body and my spirit. Yes, the dogs get on my nerves about fifty times a day. Yes, Rico and I are still trying to recover from the latest trauma in our relationship. But… none of that entered my mind this morning. I was simply thankful. No worry. No fear. No anxiety. No depression. Thankful… grateful… peaceful.

Big Love,

Lainie

Life (and Love) Lessons

Unconditional love… is it a myth?

The definition of unconditional love is simply to love someone without conditions put upon that love. A person would have to love someone unselfishly and to care about the happiness of the other person without expecting the other person to pay back that love. To love someone unconditionally, a person must be willing to do anything to help the other person feel happiness without expecting anything in return.

Unconditional love also means that a person must be willing to accept the other person, faults and all, with no expectation that the other person will ever change.

Unconditional love is hard… dare I say impossible… for humans to achieve.

Most people assume that all parents love all their children unconditionally. I can personally tell you that is not always true.

As a child, I realized that the “love” and “acceptance” I received from my parents definitely had conditions. Sometimes I knew those conditions, but most often, I did not. It was always a guessing game, and I lost most of the time.

In romantic relationships, it’s much harder. For instance, most people fall for a person because there is some strong chemical attraction, also known as infatuation. The feeling is often so intense that most people think it is LOVE. However, it is very often short-lived and more often, just lust.

So what happens when that infatuation causes a person to commit themselves to the other person? Chaos eventually ensues.

Let me explain:

When I met Rico, I was in the process of ending a very long and very complicated marriage. My ex was a serial cheater, and I had spent years trying to change him and force him to love only me and stop running around, having affairs. It didn’t work (that sort of thing rarely does). I did not love my ex-husband unconditionally. I didn’t know how.

So there I was, in the midst of an emotional earthquake, and I met Rico. I was instantly attracted to him. He was exactly what I had been looking for. I thought then that it was “love at 1st sight”. He was similarly attracted to me (read infatuated), so we began a whirlwind romance.

Eleven plus years later, and we are struggling to find that intense “love” (read lust/passion) we felt for each other back then. To be honest, we’ve been struggling with that for about five or six years now. However, we are very committed to each other and to our marriage.

Because of this struggle, things have happened and both of our hearts have been broken. Despite all of that, we still want to make things right and to remain together. Thus, we have both begun on the path to discovering and truly knowing what love is (I know – that song started playing in my head as soon as I typed those words).

This is how I stumbled upon the “unconditional love” concept. I’ve heard it before. It’s not new, but I don’t think I’ve ever really understood it. My exposure to the concept has mostly been from a Judeo Christian/religious standpoint. Agape – the “God” kind of love (i.e., unconditional) was the goal for all in that world. But I can’t remember anyone ever really explaining it to me… I don’t recall ever being taught how to do it.

As I have researched and dug and read everything I can find on the subject, I am beginning to gain some understanding. It all seems to boil down to acceptance without condition. If I can accept Rico exactly as he is without trying to change him, then I can easily love him unconditionally. The two things seem to go hand in hand.

For instance:

I think Rico drinks too much alcohol too often. He thinks he drinks just the right amount of alcohol (lol). I want him to stop drinking entirely. He is willing to compromise and drink less, but not stop entirely. I haven’t been able to accept that. I want it MY way. I want him to stop completely, dammit! Because I haven’t been willing to accept his offer of a compromise, we fight over this issue. However, the REAL issue here is that I want to be in control – my way or the highway.

This same scenario plays out in our marriage in a lot of different ways, so what is the real problem? I’ve come to realize the real problem is that I’m a control freak and I need to fix myself. I need to accept him for who he is and where he is and concern myself with my own issues.

I need not concern myself with changing Rico or fixing his problems, because that’s not my job. HE is in charge of himself, and I am in charge of myself. The fact that we are married and in a contractual agreement does not change that. On our wedding day, he did not grant me permission to control his life any more than I granted him permission to control mine. However, because we love each other and respect each other, we try very hard not to hurt each other by doing things that are selfish (it doesn’t always work).

In learning this new (to me) truth, I have found that it is easier to love Rico. I can actually let him be who he is, and enjoy it. I can actually allow him to be himself and in doing so, I am discovering anew what I loved about him in the first place.

Additionally, since I no longer have to “fix” him, I have much more time to work on the wounded parts of myself that need healing. Some of those wounds are old and very deep. Some of them are new and fresh. Some of them are self-inflicted, and some of them were caused by people who claimed to love me unconditionally. No matter how or when I received the wounds, I must tend to them myself. It’s not Rico’s job to heal me – it’s mine and mine alone. It’s not Rico’s job to make me a whole person – to complete me – it’s totally up to me to be everything to myself.

I’m grateful for the universe showing me this truth. It’s something that is very new to me, so I’m sure I will revert back to my old controlling self now and again. But now that I’ve seen the light, I hope to never return to that old darkness. I hope to continue on this new enlightened path and eventually get to a place where I can love Rico (and everyone else) unconditionally.

Will Rico and I remain married? Who knows? However, we are working on it, and working on ourselves, so no matter the outcome, we will both be better humans in the end!

I ask again:

Unconditional love… is it a myth?

My answer is:  No – not a myth, but extremely difficult to do.

Big Love,

Lainie

 

 

Contemplating Solo Travel

As some of you know, Rico and I are in Flagstaff, AZ indefinitely. The Mini Cooper needs a new clutch and the RV needs a lot of things repaired, so Rico found a good job and we’re saving money to fix everything.

Once the RV is repaired, I’m thinking about doing some traveling solo – with the fur babies of course. I am, however, a bit scared of setting off on my own. I’m excited as well, but the fear is bigger than the excitement at this point.

I am contemplating doing this because I hate being stuck in one place! Ever since we began this nomad life back in November of 2017, I have loved it (and hated it) so much that I can’t imagine stopping. Rico understands completely and has given me his blessing. The only things holding me back now are the necessary RV repairs and my trepidation.

I know there are a lot of single ladies traveling and living the nomad life, and I know they are doing it very successfully, so it can be done. My problem is that I am a little bit anxious about being alone if I have a medical issue.

Friends have suggested that I travel with other people, which is a good idea, but I really want to do this alone. I NEED to do it alone. I need to know I can do it, and I need time alone to work on some of my personal issues. I also need time to heal, and that is best accomplished with loads of personal time to be introspective. If I travel with others, I’ll feel obligated to be social, and that’s just not where I am right now.

My plan is to take a short little trip first – somewhere within an hour of Flagstaff. That way, if I get into trouble, Rico can come to rescue me. If that goes well, I’ll venture further out. I really want to go visit friends in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, but that might be a bit far. I guess I’ll plan things as I go.

Regardless, expect me to be going solo at some point later in the summer. I’ll even have my own separate YouTube channel and Facebook page so y’all can come with me in the virtual sense.

Big Love,

Lainie

RTR 2019 + Par-T-R

I really can’t believe it’s been an entire year since we were out here in Quartzsite, AZ for our very first RTR (Rubbertramp Rendevous for those of you who don’t know). It’s been a year of learning new things, dropping old things along the path, and gaining many new friends, experiences, and a lot of knowledge.

From Arizona to California, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Nevada, we have traveled America’s highways and byways only to end up back here with both old friends and new, in the place where our journey really began.

This year’s RTR has grown much larger than last year’s, and Rico and I, along with a lot of other cool people, have added an unofficial component to the mix… the Par-T-R!

Bob Wells, the creator of the RTR, and guru to many of us nomads, is an amazing human who has dedicated his life to helping others learn how to live a life of freedom the cheapest way possible. Rico and I love and respect Bob so much, and we owe him so much, that we didn’t want to disturb his wonderful Rendevous with our loud (and sometimes obnoxious) music and parties, so… we decided to occupy the space where last year’s RTR music camp was and have our own UNOFFICIAL gathering of friends.

The group began with about 30 like-minded people who love to play music and party as much as we do, so we thought it would be a blast, but remain very small. However, we underestimated the number of people who like to make/listen to music and party around a campfire in the desert. We have been greatly surprised and excited to have so many people join us at our fires every night. It’s been an amazing five days, with many more to come.

If you are out here in the Arizona desert, at the RTR, or just close by, and you want to have a blast making and listening to great music around a campfire, come join us!

Hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

When The Going Gets Tough…

… I take a nap.

Naps are regenerative and necessary things in my life, especially when things aren’t going well. I’ve been taking a lot of naps lately.

Let me catch you up:

  1. I ran out of my anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication at the beginning of August
  2. I had no insurance
  3. I had no way of getting the medication
  4. I lost my mind
  5. I went to bed
  6. Our tent failed again, but we got it replaced with no hassle
  7. I got some kind of infection in my head and had really bad congestion, nausea, and vertigo for about 3 weeks
  8. I didn’t get out of bed (much) until I got my Medicaid approved and got my meds on October 1st
  9. We left Colorado October 2nd because it’s just too cold for tent camping now and Rico’s seasonal job ended
  10. Mini Pearl (the car) broke down on the side of I-40, 15 miles east of Gallup, NM
  11. It cost us almost 700.00 to fix her, plus the cost of a hotel room for 3 nights
  12. Yeah…

So – when the going gets tough, I go to bed. I rest, recuperate, and recover, and then I get up and get busy!

Tomorrow, Rico and I are heading for Las Vegas. We’ve done a lot of research and it seems to be a good place to make money busking. Our hope is that we can make enough in the next month to completely fix up Mini Pearl and have enough left over to last us through the winter. If not, we’ll just hang around Vegas until we do.

I’m feeling better now that I’m on my meds, but it typically takes about 2 weeks for them to fully kick in. I’m still a little scattered and all over the place, and it shows, but when things get too overwhelming, I take a nap.

I hope all of you have a great rest of the weekend, and I hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

Living in a tent SUCKS!

Okay – it only sucks sometimes.

We have been living in tents since November of 2017 (with a couple of months spent living in a travel trailer in Texas in Rico’s parent’s backyard) and for the most part, we have really enjoyed it.

But…

There are times when it is really challenging!

We are currently on our 5th main tent and we’re about to have to replace it again. We’ve decided we’re not going to get another one like the last three because they’ve all had the same issues. The zippers on the doors stop working, and the front loop for the tent stake tears, causing the nylon part of the tent to rip. We’re done with that tent! Hasta la vista, baby!

Wind is also a HUGE factor. If you’ve read past blog posts, you know what I’m talking about.

The Tent Killing Winds Part One

The Tent Killing Winds Part Two

The Tent Killing Wings Part Three

There is also a video about it on our YouTube page. Please subscribe to our channel while you’re there!

After the current main tent was recently battered and beaten by the wind, and since it is already needing to be replaced because of the zippers and strap, we started looking for something smaller and more suited to high winds. We still haven’t found what we’re looking for but we are on the hunt.

We also need to make sure it is big enough for our bed, because we are currently sleeping in what used to be the secondary tent, and it’s ALL bed. Not fun when you have to change the sheets.

Speaking of sleeping, when one is housing themselves in a tent, one must make certain the bed is the absolute best! Ours most certainly is. It’s a Coleman Cot with a built-in air mattress and it is the most comfortable bed I’ve slept on in years! (I’m not getting any kick-backs for recommending this bed – I just want to inform y’all)

We have had to replace the air mattress one time, but we got a cheap one from a big-box store and it works great. It also comes with a battery powered air pump that makes inflating and deflating the bed super easy. The only drawback is that it’s pretty heavy.

Hopefully, we’ll find our forever tent this time around. I’m getting sick of replacing them for sure!

Hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

Moving On… It happens every 2 weeks

As boondockers (camping somewhere without water, toilet, electric, showers, etc.) we have to move camps frequently. Most free sites (BLM land, National Forest land, etc.) only allow a 14-day stay, which means every 2 weeks or so, we have to pack up and move. This also means a lot of my time is spent researching new sites and driving to them to scope them out if they are close enough.

lainie-phone-colorado-tcf-7-16-18-314.jpg

The worst thing is to arrive at a site we haven’t been to before and find out it doesn’t meet our needs. It is either full, or the road in is too treacherous for the Mini to make it, or it has no shade cover for the tents or has no cell signal or something else that makes it unsuitable. That’s why I like to go investigate it first.

When we do find a good site, the move takes about three days. Day one is packing everything up (we don’t have a rig, so we have a lot of stuff in the tents). Day two is actually moving and setting up enough of the site so that we can cook and sleep, and day three is finishing the setup. So in a 14-day period, 6 days are spent moving. It gets tiring for sure, but it’s free, so we do it.

The best thing about moving every 2 weeks is the adventure of exploring a new site. And, if we move far enough, we also get to explore a new town or city. That’s always so much fun!

However, most of the time, we make short moves. It’s just easier, and since we’re not on a schedule, for the most part, it is our preference. Right now, Rico and Eric (my brother from another mother) are working in the town of Buena Vista, Colorado at a restaurant for the season, so we need to stay close. We’ll probably have to move at least 2 more times before the job is finished, so I’m currently scoping out our next site.

After the guys finish working, Eric will head back home to Texas for a bit, and Rico and I are thinking about going over to Utah to see the National Parks there before it gets too cold. I’m really looking forward to that.

We had hoped to see more things in Colorado, but the job was too good to pass up, and we really needed to save up some money before winter. There’s always next summer, right?

The area we are in now is amazingly beautiful. I had been here before as a child, but Rico had never seen it. On his days off, we have been exploring. We’ve been wanting to go up to Maroon Bells near Aspen, but the smoke from the wildfires west of us has been hovering over the mountains, and we really want to see the Bells in all their glory, so we’re waiting it out.

We are going to go see The Royal Gorge over in Canon City (pronounced Canyon) and make a trip to Colorado Springs to see all the sites there. It’s really great that we’re so close to so many awesome places!

Before we head out to Utah, we’re definitely planning to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park if we make it out of here before the first snowfall.

Stay tuned for awesome pics headed your way, and be sure to go subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you can keep up with all our adventures!

https://www.youtube.com/buskingbohemians

Big Love,

Lainie

Nomadic Life Finances

Hey y’all! I just finished making a video for our YouTube Channel about finances while living the nomadic life.

https://www.youtube.com/buskingbohemians

So… I wanted to talk about this issue here as well. While living the nomadic life can be awesome and wonderful, there are also things that can make it downright miserable. Running out of money is one of those things.

Here are my tips for you if you are considering hitting the road:

  1. Have an emergency fund before you ever get on the road
  2. Make sure the income you have is enough to cover your monthly/daily/weekly expenses
  3. If you need to generate extra income while on the road, figure out what you’re going to do in advance and have a plan in place.
  4. Make sure to include EVERYTHING in your budget that you can possibly think of.

Emergency Fund:

We had about 3 months’ worth of money saved up before we left DC. How did we come to that figure? The budget – I did a cost analysis of what it would take for us to live each day on the road, and then multiplied that by 31 to get our overall monthly expenses. Now, cost analysis sounds very complicated, but it’s not. I’m not great at math, so if I can do it, anyone can.

I simply figured out where we were going to be going each day and then calculated the miles and mileage to get the gas expense. I made a sample menu for our meals and calculated the cost per meal per person. I figured in the cost of water, ice, dog food, laundry, showers, etc. for each week, multiplied that amount by 4, and put that into the budget. I then added in a couple thousand dollars for emergencies, like vehicle break-downs, medical emergencies for us or the dogs, and a miscellaneous fund.

That’s how I came up with the amount we needed to save before we hit the road. We didn’t quite get to the desired amount, but we were close.

Since we left DC last November, we’ve had to use that emergency fund a lot, and it is now completely gone.

Income:

Our main income is from busking (playing music on the street for tips) so there is no amount we can count on. It’s a crap shoot. Sometimes you make GREAT money, and sometimes you make NOTHING. Therefore, I haven’t been able to work the budget as easily as I did when we were both working and getting a paycheck. It’s been hard… however, I know how much we need to make to survive, and that’s what we shoot for.

I also sell art, which is not a steady income stream either. It’s either feast or famine.

https://www.facebook.com/Zentastic-Doodles-834929993348982/

So, when these avenues fail to generate enough income, or when we need to fill up our emergency fund, Rico (who is a fabulous chef) gets a job. That’s where we are now – Rico is working. It’s not the best case scenario for either of us (especially Rico) but it is what we have to do to make it work.

When (if) my SS Disability claim gets approved, we’ll have a small amount of money we can depend on coming in each month, but it still won’t be enough to cover all our expenses. That means we’ll still be busking and selling art, and Rico will get a chef job when necessary.

Budget:

All the little things are what will get you on the budget… things you just didn’t think of, so let me help you out:

  1. Gas
  2. Food
  3. Cost of camping, if any (we always try to find free camping by using great resources like https://freecampsites.net/ )
  4. Toilet paper/Paper Goods
  5. Toiletries
  6. Ice if you have a cooler
  7. Water
  8. Showers if you’re not in an RV
  9. Water and sewer dumping if you’re in an RV
  10. Laundry
  11. Propane
  12. Fuel for the generator
  13. Entertainment
  14. Miscellaneous items
  15. Trash disposal (sometimes you can’t find a place to put it for free)
  16. Pet food if you travel with pets
  17. Medicines for you and your pets
  18. Cleaning supplies

This is just my list… I’m sure everyone’s is different.

In summary, my advice to you before you head out on the road is to do your research where finances are concerned. Prepare – have a plan – save up your money, and be smart with your finances. That’s the sure way to ensure success once you get out there on the road!

Big love,

Lainie

 

The stress of the nomadic life

Most people think living life on the road is the ultimate dream. I sure did… until we actually did it.

I’m sure living this life would be more than amazing if we had an income like so many of the nomads do. We aren’t retirement age, and my disability claim is “pending” (which I’m told could take YEARS!!! what???) so, we have to rely on our ability to hustle and make money any way we can, which is often extremely difficult.

Busking is fun and SOMETIMES profitable, but more often than not, we don’t make enough each day to cover our expenses. For example, we went last week to both Leadville, CO and Salida, CO. In Leadville, we made 9 bucks. In Salida, we made ZERO.

It all depends on the place you set up, the people in the area, and whether or not your music is to their liking.

Lainie Phone Colorado TCF 7.16.18 273

At the Traveler’s Campfest (where we were camped) we played around the “campfire” (burn ban, so there was no actual fire… we just circled around a field) and they passed the hat for us. We were SHOCKED and THANKFUL for what we received there. It was enough to cover our expenses for the next week. PLUS, the other nomads just kept coming to our campsite and just giving us cash… 5 bucks, 20 bucks, 50 bucks… they were all sooooooooooooo generous that it really touched our hearts.

Now that the Campfest is over, we’ve moved to a new site with our tribe and Rico is looking for a job in a kitchen. We’ll stay here until it gets too cold and save money for the next leg of our journey. We’ll also continue to busk because you never know when or where you might just make a few dollars.

If you are considering the nomadic life, remember that it costs money – not as much as living in a traditional house or apartment – but it still costs money. My advice to you, if you are in this place, is to make sure you have enough saved for an emergency fund, have a plan to cover your expenses while on the road, and DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! There are plenty of YouTubers out there who have made all the mistakes already, so make sure you subscribe to their channels and WATCH THEIR VIDEOS so you can learn from their mistakes.

Rico and I thought we were really ready when we left DC last November, but we have discovered that there is a HUGE learning curve to this lifestyle and mistakes will be made… sometimes costly ones… Better to be prepared than to be stuck, so do your homework!

Hope to see you all out there on the road!!!

Big Love,

Lainie

Here’s the link to our YouTube channel. I’d appreciate it if you would go hit subscribe 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/buskingbohemians