How We Knew The Door Was Closing On Full-time RV Life

img_5460.jpgWhew! What a crazy week our first week in the house has been. Of course I want to tell you all about the farmhouse renovations and what waking up to about 2800 more square feet than we’ve been used to feels like and I will!

But for now, I want to tell you the story of how we got to this sleepy little town we landed in, and how we knew the door was closing on our season of full-time RV life.

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Two questions we’ve been getting a lot lately are, “How did you know it was time to leave full-time RV life behind?” Also, “How did you end up in the place you moved?”And so, because we love you all and we want to answer any questions you have, we will take a shot at giving you our most honest answers to those questions.

While it would sound nice to be able to write a story about how we started full-time RVing because we were financially independent or well-off, and just wanted to go out and see the world, experience new things, and meet new people; that would be embellishing things just a tad.

Truthfully, one of the main reasons we began full-time RV life in the first place was because of my husband’s job had him traveling A LOT (he was gone 3 weeks out of every month) and we were just so tired of the rat race. I’ve mentioned this before in earlier posts, but for those who may have missed it, you can read it here. 

Long story short, we got sick of being apart. And since quitting his job and us becoming homeless wasn’t an option, we just did what needed to be done! We made the both hard and easy decision to sell everything, leave all our families behind, move away from the only town we had ever known, to travel with him and be together! And so, we took a situation that was out of our control, and we chose to make a beautiful season out of it.

Instead of an ordeal, we chose an adventure!

We traveled from state to state for a while and ended up landing just outside of Charlotte, NC two years ago. Needless to say, when you’re moving and traveling, full-time RVing is one thing. But when you’re stuck in one spot two years, it quickly becomes quite another. I doubt I need to describe how easily the walls start to close in and one gets restless when the excitement of moving from state to state is no longer part of the RV life deal. Sure it can be done…we did it! But it just wasn’t ever going to be a long term thing for our family.

Of course, every situation is different and we don’t mean to imply that any of these issues are issues for everyone. But we’ve been asked a lot, and here are a few honest perspectives on why our family knew it was time to move on from full-time RV life:

  1. Our kids are now almost 12 and 10, and although we’ve already been homeschooling for four years and can do that anywhere, we began to know that it was just time to put down some roots in one place since we are obviously here to stay as far as work is concerned.
  2. They are a bit over sharing a tiny bunkhouse bedroom with no privacy…and we really don’t blame them.
  3. We are SO OVER laundromats and campground rules and regulations (which aren’t likely to be a huge issue unless you are living in one for long periods of time as we were).
  4. Space. We are just ready for space again. We doubt anyone could struggle to understand this point.
  5. Growing new roots.
  6. Making a house a home. To be honest, that’s been a huge one for us. Every house we’ve ever lived in we worked together to make it ours, and it’s a huge part of us that we’ve missed for the last three years.
  7. It is time to be able to say say “yes” to joining ball-teams, and groups, and all sorts of extra-activities that we all might like to do without worrying that we might have to just up and leave it all behind. To be honest, we were just a little weary of saying “goodbye” to newfound friends and people we have grown to love.

And so, we landed in the location we are in in this tiny town in South Carolina about 40 minutes outside of Charlotte, NC for a few very important reasons:

  1. When we began this whole journey, we specifically asked God to direct every step of our journey, to open and close doors, and this was the door that was most obviously opened for us to walk through! There were so many reasons we knew it was the right time and the right place.
  2.  The company Anthony does contract work for expressed that they want him here indefinitely, so we stay where the good job is that allows us to live the life we have chosen for our family which is to be a one parent income so that we can invest in and home-school them while they are growing up.
  3. The farmhouse we bought was essentially a half price farmhouse. Long story short, we got a DEAL. Or as most would call it, a project. 😉
  4. It’s in the country. Need I even say more? Far removed from the hustle and bustle of big city life, yet close enough to still have everything we could ever need.

We are monumentally grateful for the last three years and all the richness life offered us in that season. And we are overjoyed and sure that this new season will bring more of the same, just in different ways of course!

img_5560.jpgAs if I needed more proof, I just knew we had made the right decision when our daughter Olivia said to me the other day,

“Mom, I just can’t believe it! I still feel like I’m in a dream that we get to live in this house in this small little country town. Can this be our forever home? Like, I mean one I get to grow up in and come back home to after I’ve grown up and moved out? At least that’s what I’ve always dreamed of.”

Right then and there I knew – fulling embracing the memories of three beautifully amazing years of living transiently, we are home to stay.

 

 

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Sometimes Life Gives You A Big Ole’ “Welcome Home”

round logoHey ya’ll!

Welcome to the “new” Light Life Blog! We promised we weren’t going anywhere, just getting off at the station to board a different train that will take us in a new direction.  😉

Although we are no longer living our full-time RV life journey, we felt that our name was still equally as fitting and so, we kept it!

So why The Light Life?

Because we believe that regardless of who we are, what we do, or what we live in, we live our lives as lights that shine brightly into a dark world. That has become our family’s mission statement – LIVE the light.

And so, we will stay The Light Life Blog!

I realize that some of you may be disappointed that we won’t be sharing our RV life posts these days. However, we’re willing to bet that you might find sticking around for this leg of our journey to be well worth your time too – at least we sure hope so!

13654255_878327102311846_5489519023965512515_nAs of this past Friday, we moved out of our sweet little camper home to settle into an old 1873 farmhouse in a quaint little southern town in South Carolina just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina!

While the house itself has been lived in and updated here and there through the years, it needs quit a bit of TLC to bring it back to life. As you know, old houses need constant care and are always a work in progress. But we will be sharing more of the history as we go!

13775889_880227538788469_1907651864583726424_nLike much in life, we know that this will be a marathon, not a sprint. It is a journey we have chosen to take knowing that it will take time, which will teach us patience…because we are just regular folks who definitely aren’t Chip & Joanna Gains, we aren’t financially independent (so somebody still has to go to work everyday) and we don’t have an entire crew helping us knock out our long punch-list.

We don’t have unlimited funds and will be remodeling this house on a pretty tight budget, so part of the story will be how to live well without being born with a silver spoon, winning the lottery…or robbing a bank. 😉

For the most part, it will be the four of us working hard together to make this sweet old southern house, our forever home.

I’m not gonna lie, it would nice to hire a crew to just come in and do it all for us and then move in, but part of the reward in it in the end will be that we did it together, we made a house our home – together; just as we made our little camper home together for the past three years… only now we have an 3,000 additional square feet of work and space.

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This is only the beginning, and we have so much to do and so much to share! A tour of the inside will come soon!

Mostly, we want our readers to know that we just adore and appreciate you, and the last thing we desire is for this blog to just be a place to document our farmhouse journey; that’s not what we’re going for at all. We want to connect with you, to share our lives with you, to encourage and inspire you to LIVE the light in your own lives, wherever you may find yourself.

There is a long road ahead and so much more to come. We hope you’ll discover the beauty there to be found in your life, as we share ours.

Welcome again friends old and new to The Light Life Blog! As we begin this new chapter, we’re so blessed you’re a part of our story too.

It is our hope that this place of sharing our story will be like a big ole’ southern front porch where life quiets for just a while and you sit a spell with us until your soul is encouraged and your weary heart is lifted with a warm and gentle embrace that says,”Welcome home. You are so loved.”

Here we go!

Much Love,

Anthony & Rachel

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We invite you to connect with us on Facebook & Instagram!

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On The Ending Of Our Full-time RV Journey

Hello friends!

It’s been so long…so very long since I’ve written. Although I can say that I’ve missed you all something fierce; my sweet readers who have so faithfully followed along as our family has taken this three year journey of full-time RV living, at one point I had to decide that personal growth and building a life with my family was more important than building an ever-growing online presence and blog readership. I had to learn to find balance in it all. With that, you will hopefully understand why I have mostly been MIA from this blog over the last year or so. 

It was time to write to let you all know that after three incredible years, our family’s light life journey of full-time RV life is coming to a close.

Our life season is changing and it is just time to settle down and grow deep roots again.

I have to be honest and admit that I’ve been spending the past few weeks looking back over the last three years and being reminded what a crazy, wonderful, amazing experience of life it’s been and realized, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Not even all the times we banged our heads on a cabinet in the camper, or the toilet was backed up…AGAIN, or the shower floor filled up to overflowing because someone forgot to open the grey tank. 😉

As I have reminisced over the past few weeks or so, I have given a lot of thought about what RV life and living small has taught us. And although many things, I attempted to narrow it down to just a few.

  1. Gratitude. – The whole world just grows bigger and brighter when you intentionally strip your life of frills and time suckers and live simply for an extended period of time. Besides, when you live small and simply, you appreciate EVERYthing that most of the world doesn’t even notice.
  2. Family. – Not having the crushing financial pressures of many American families, gave us precious time together, along with the spacial closeness of camper life has knit our hearts together in a way we had never experienced before.
  3. Experiences. – I probably don’t have to explain why and how RV living fosters myriads of ways to experience life in unique ways.
  4. People. – We’ve met so many fellow humans of all walks of life along our journeys, living in different campgrounds, ect. They have made the journey rich in their own unique way! We will never forget your faces and how you  have graced us with your presence and brightened our journey no matter where we were.
  5. Home. – Even in our tiny little 300 sq. feet of living space that got cramped at times, it always, always felt like home. Because we learned that home isn’t a house or a location, it is where ever you are fully loved and accepted and free to be yourself. We found that home truly is wherever we are together.

All of this and so much more that can’t be listed on a blog, has grown us, stretched us, and made our lives so incredibly rich in ways that we could never have bought with money or found within that big ole’ house we lived in back then; and for that…and for all we’ve discovered about ourselves and about life and humanity that is good, we will forever be grateful and will carry with us always.

As this chapter comes to a close to give way to a new one, we want you to know that this is not “goodbye,” but rather just a turn of the page.

And still, we invite you to continue to join us in the next chapter of our brand new journey! Because it just wouldn’t be as fun without you all.

And so, on Friday of this week, at 9 am we sign papers to make this 1873 farmhouse jewel our very own.

Home.

In a brand new town we’ve never lived before, filled with neighbors we’ve never met before.

We could never have imagined almost three years ago to the day, that our journey would lead us to a completely new place and home. But it has, and we are grateful…and for all the things that have brought us here.

I could tell you the story of how we ended up here and how we aren’t exactly sure of all the reasons why we are being planted here. And I could also tell you that our hearts are strangely confident that this is where we are supposed to be at this place and time. We can’t wait to see what becomes of our lives here and how we get to be used to breathe fresh, new life into this old place that has been the same for years.

New life.

New beginnings.

New experiences.

New lessons.

“For everything there is a season…”

Change and growth is what living is all about isn’t it?

It means we are alive! We are changing, growing, expanding, and moving forward.

And so, as you read this, we are living our very last day of full-time RV life.

And I know that when I walk out of our tiny home for the last time as “home” and close that little camper door, I will smile a smile of complete gratitude and peace as I reflect back on this journey we have taken together, from beginning to end.

I put together a collection of just a few of the many highlights of our journey and the memories we take forward with us to share with you all below….

We did it.

And it has been our honor to have you join along with us for this leg of the journey.

There will be much more, so much more to come…

(page turn) <3

 

{more pics of the house, what we plan to do next with our sweet “Light Life” camper, and stories of our old (new) farmhouse journey to come…}

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The Light Life Blog RV Remodel

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Back when we lived a more normal life in an actual house, I was known for changing the paint color on my walls every other year or so because everyone who knows me knows that I get bored easily and love to change things up! Now here we are, about to enter year two of our journey to full time RV life. So naturally, we I, felt it was high time to give our little home a facelift too! And somehow I got lucky and managed to talk my husband into the insanity of it all.

We went all in and decided to do a marathon remodel session on the last weekend before summer cranked up to hot as hell status! *We own the Open Range Light (LT308BHS) model camper.

For now, we have completely revamped everything with the exception of the master bedroom and half of the kid’s bunkhouse area. We will finish those up soon..but we just couldn’t wait to share it with you anyways.

And of course it was just too much to wait until next spring when the entire thing was done to show you all how turned out. So here is snapshots of our face-lifted, personalized, a bit more cozy RV home! We hope you are inspired to make whatever space is you live in, your very own!

(Be sure to click here to view the before pics)

11311543_1603387973269899_189322981_nAs you can see, we had quit a job ahead of us…and we made quite a mess! Since our camper is only two years old, we didn’t really need or want to change a whole lot structurally except for the living/dining room slide-out area (which used to be a huge u-lounge area) and the bathroom sink (which was entirely too small).

I’m a huge fan of bright and fresh spaces. And since we homeschool and spend much of our time in our RV, we decided we wanted to get rid of all the dark and use lots of white and grey to lighten and open up the space as much as possible!
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We began the process by taking down every cabinet door and hardware. We kilzed every wall once then painted them with two coats of a light grey premium grade satin finish paint. The dark wood cabinets were also kilzed and painted with two coats of a premium grade antique white in satin finish. We didn’t really worry about 100% perfect coverage on all the cabinetry since we wanted them to have an aged feel and everybody knows that aged things aren’t perfect and definitely don’t look new!

We used a medium/coarse grit sandpaper to distress the cabinets once the paint was dry to give them their aged, shabby chic look. I love the way they turned out!

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We decided to go ahead and completely re-do Olivia’s side of the bunk house area of the camper, so Olivia got to work and helped her dad build her new bed area and mommy did the painting. It was definitely a team effort. We think it turned out so lovely and Olivia absolutely LOVES her new space! She says it feels so cozy…I agree!    (Jackson’s side will be revamped soon!)11905751_10153697338327847_4035993158962612862_n11951968_10153712451262847_5831649625826629152_n11892012_10153712464292847_4331026778324875532_n        11215704_10153613252677847_5702014323835840354_n

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We still have a bit more remodeling left to do (in between dad’s work schedule and school) and will definitely show you when we’re 100% finished. But for now, we sure have loved giving you a mini tour of our tiny home on wheels and we hope you’ve enjoyed the peek into our freshly remodeled camper home!  Please feel free to leave us questions and comments below in the comments and then click right here to follow us on Instagram @thelightlifeblog!

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Finding Joy In The Ordinary

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This morning I awoke, made my bed, read a bit, and stepped straight into my tiny kitchen to get the sauce started for our crockpot dinner tonight.

There was nothing about this impending day that is anything more than ordinary. In fact, despite the fact that we live in a camper and have an amazing life together, let’s not over-glamorize it. Most days our lives are about as ordinary as yours. Every single day there are chores to be done, bills to be paid, floors to be swept, jobs to be worked, and schoolwork to be completed.

Still, smack dab in the midst of ordinary, I had a moment this morning while standing next to my kitchen stove, stirring the sauce, in which I felt complete and total joy wash over me like a fresh wave on a shoreline.

I had not won the lottery, or had anything particularly amazing happen to me except that in that moment I realized how blessed I am to be living a life in which I know what it is to have deep meaning and purpose… and to feel so fully alive.

And I knew right then that no person or thing had given joy to me, nor could steal it away again.

You see, joy isn’t happiness.

It is more.

Joy is the complete fulfilling contentment that resides in the deepest part of us when we are moping floors, cleaning toilets, cooking dinners and living the most ordinary of days. Joy is the thing that remains when our world is falling apart, or we’ve lost a job, or a loved one is sick, or life didn’t turn out the way we had expected it would.

This world can give cheap, fleeting substitutes, but it can never give us the things that will last when everything else fades away.

You see, there is only one source for joy. 

Relationships, job titles, accomplishment, and things… all of them fall short of bringing joy so deep that circumstances can’t steal it away. Worldly things bring only fleeting moments of short lived happiness. But joy…oh joy. It is worth so much more.

I’m thinking maybe we’ve been chasing the wrong things. In our pursuit of happiness and our own poverty of the soul stricken versions of the American Dream, maybe we have traded in the one thing that can’t be bought, sold, or earned.

Joy. Deep soul joy.

When was the last time you experienced the true fullness and contentment of life found there?

Joy is the most infallible sign of the existence of God.
 

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10 Reasons A Simpler Life Can Equal A Fuller Life

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When I started this blog back in 2013 for the purpose of documenting our journey with full time RV life, I made the decision right then that I never wanted sharing our lives with others to get in the way of living our lives with each other. There have been seasons in which it was more practical to write regularly, and post articles that many of you have found helpful and informational. But over the course of this past year, the momentum of our lives changed quite a bit and it just hasn’t lent itself to writing much. And so needless to say, I haven’t posted on The Light Life Blog lately and I really can’t apologize because we’ve been, well…LIVING the light life!

Our 2014/2015 school year is coming to a close and I’ve been looking back over the last 10 months or so of our lives realizing just how fast it’s gone by and just how full our lives have been! We’ve been busy roadschooling, taking trips, enjoying the outdoors, hiking, running 1/2 marathons, participating in a homeschool co-op, spending LOTS of time with family as we are currently just 5 hours from our hometown of Wilmington, NC, and I started back to school full-time as well…which is where a great chunk of my time and brain space has disappeared to.   😉

Looking back is always a treat. It reminds me again why we made the decision to scale back our lives two years ago. And how much that decision to live this lighter, simpler life has not detracted from the fullness of our lives one tiny bit. In fact, quite the opposite.

So what have these past two years of full-time RV life taught us? Here’s just 10 things for starters.

  1. Things can be bought with money, time cannot.
  2. Life doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to be full and good.
  3. Quality trumps quantity. Every. single. time.
  4. Kids would rather have your time than your things.
  5. Education means a whole lot more than textbooks and the 3 Rs.
  6. Freeing up your time allows you to educate the WHOLE child. Mind, body, and spirit.
  7. We should spend less time building retirement accounts and more time building relationships. Because in the end, we don’t get to keep the stuff anyways.
  8. That whole American dream thing? Doesn’t necessarily have to rule our lives, or be our dream at all.
  9. And when you don’t love the direction your life is taking, it’s okay to reinvent yourself and re-write your story.
  10. Not everyone will understand your journey, and that’s OK. It’s YOUR journey, not theirs.

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That Little Thing That’s Robbing Our Joy

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Several mornings ago I opened my eyes to the sun peering through my tiny camper window at me. I saw it, felt it, I breathed it in and felt it’s warmth from the inside of my being to the outside. I felt light and fresh. My eyes still blurry with sleep, I reached for my phone and mindlessly scrolled through my Instagram feed. I stumbled right past another RV mom that I follow and saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a picture of their “new to them” house they were in the process of renovating, and her announcing that their year on the road was coming to an end. Her feed was filled up with pictures of large, spacious rooms and the unloading of all the belongings that had been packed away in storage and placing them in their proper spots. In that moment, I could relate to her joy and felt legitimately happy for her new journey.

And then in happened, I felt it happen. Almost like something heavy had taken perch on my chest. In the midst of sharing her joy, it was as if a dark cloud had suddenly blocked the sunshine from my view and something had stolen mine. For the first time since we left our normal life behind a year and a half ago, I felt the first twinges of deep discontent.

The truth about everything in life is, eventually the new wears off and it’s up to us what we choose to see and believe about the lives we live now.

Nevertheless, I needed to let myself feel the way I felt, without shame. I needed to be honest.

And in that moment of celebrating with her, I had been reminded just how much I miss certain things about our old life. And in that, I realized that it’s okay, maybe even healthy to get honest with ourselves, sometimes maybe even admit that we miss or even long for things to be a bit different.

Truth is, I miss having one place to always go back to that is ours. I miss the routine. I miss working and making my own income. I miss spacious rooms. I miss the bright morning sun beaming through the large windows of our school room where the kids and I spent our mornings together listening to classical music, burning sweet smelling candles and learning. Mostly, I miss having a house to decorate, make home and invite others into…the holidays serve to remind me just how much I miss that part.

Truth is, we all have things we miss or long for in life. And I’m still not convinced that’s always necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live or what you do, unfortunately it is human nature to notice all that we don’t have.

But one thing I do know is that comparison is for sure the greatest thief of our joy. It is when we begin to compare where we are in life to another’s journey that our longings for our best life stop being a healthy force and threaten to pollute our hearts. And when that happens, we and everyone we are connected to, lose.

It took me a day or two, but eventually I realized the pit I had fallen into. Truthfully, I didn’t like the way it felt to be there. Once a spark of discontent enters our heart, it all too quickly becomes an ember with the potential to set our heart ablaze with envy and resentment. Causing us to live life with blinders on to all that is good and wonderful about our present life.

It’s impossible to live with contentment in the present moment when we are too busy comparing, living in the past or wishing for a better future.

And so I spent some time looking back over my own pictures of our last few months and all that we had done and experienced and I realized that yes, there have been sacrifices in exchange for the life we live right now. But two years ago I had all the things I was looking back missing and we never had the opportunity to do any of the things we get to do today. Our life appeared big then, yet the truth is, it was so small. I realized that we’ve spent the entire year and a half taking trips, having experiences and hanging out with people we love most.  It’s very much like we exchanged the security of a house for the freedom to live.

Do I miss living in a house? Do I miss all the familiar and living near those we love? Truth? Yes. In 20 years would I have traded a more sure, settled life for these few shorts years of experiences we would have never had otherwise and life on the road with my family? I doubt it.

Life will change and we’ll settle down somewhere again wherever the road lands us, our address will stay the same and I’ll have plenty of lovely rooms to decorate. But If I’m not careful, I’ll miss what matters. I will look back far too much and allow the past to appear much more glamorous than it actually was. (You know we humans do that a lot right?) And If I don’t keep a leash on the wonderings of my own heart I might allow comparison to do exactly that which I fear most. I will look back and realize that I missed all the beauty that is now.

All the wonderful that is mine today.

 

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And the perfect gift of today is a price much greater than I am willing to pay in exchange for a little brick and mortar security.

Let us refuse to allow even a little comparison to steal all that is ours for the taking this season! 

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Mental Habits of Happiness:

While a happy mind has positive patterns of thought, negative patterns are implicated in conditions like depression and anxiety. Toxic patterns of thought include:

  • Perfectionism, where we strive for perfection and almost always find ourselves lacking. Being praised in childhood for intrinsic traits (like intelligence) rather than changeable traits (like effort) can promote perfectionism.
  • Social comparison. Comparing ourself to those who are better off than us leads to lower self-perception, while comparing ourself to those who are worse off than us makes us look down on them.
  • Materialism. In fact, research has shown that buying experiences gives us much more of a happiness boost than buying things.
  • Maximizing” rather than “satisficing.” Maximizers try to make the optimal choice (a form of perfectionism), while satisficers pick the first available choice that fits their criteria. Maximizers tend to feel more regret over decisions, and be less optimistic, more depressed, and less satisfied with life and with any success they do achieve.

Source: http://positivepsychlopedia.com/2014/10/28/mental-habits-of-happiness-week-7-science-of-happiness-edx/

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The Reason Why Everyone Else’s Life Seems Glamorous But Your Own

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Yesterday morning I sat outside enjoying a good book in my worn, blue outdoor chair with a small hole beginning to break through the seat, setting my coffee cup down on a makeshift end table I put together of cinderblocks and a piece of wood. I mean, it works, but it certainly isn’t the marble top end table I willingly gave up for this. I chuckled a bit at myself, and how this same girl who genuinely adores a well decorated home, manicures, message appointments and fancy dinners could possibly find so much joy and peace smack dab in the midst of such an ordinary, simple life. Every now and then I catch myself in moment in which I am both surprised and amused at how uncomplicated yet basic our whole lives became the moment we made the decision to stop trying to live just like everyone around us in order to be happy or live validated lives.

Over the past year, our lives have been on a steady progression towards a more basic way of doing life. We pretty much don’t rely on any kind of medical intervention except in rare cases of emergency, we’ve traded the kid’s game systems for board games, their iPods for books and our big brick house for a tiny one that feels more like a home than ever before.

One would think it would have been easier to stay put in our comfortable house and our comfortable life than to let everything go to head out on this new way of life. In fact, one question we get asked all the time is, “How do you handle moving around from place to place and not actually having the stability of a normal home life.” And my answer is always, “I’m sure this kind of life isn’t for everyone as some people really do feel they need the predictability of a more normal routine with a normal schedule and the same place to drive home to at night. However, I actually very much enjoy the change, the excitement, the spontaneity that traveling from place to place affords. But truly, most of it is what we make of it.”

Last year, we made our home in five different towns in three different states. And we had such amazing times enjoying the newness and uniqueness of every new place. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about all the places we went and the different people we encountered along the way.

More recently there hasn’t been any exciting travel news as we’ve been parked in one cozy spot for the past four and a half months now. As I’ve stated before, although we do have some degree of choice, mostly my husband’s work dictates where and when we pack up and move on to the next place! And so because of the longevity of my husband’s job contract at our current location, we are beginning to settle into the notion that we may be here quite a bit longer than we had initially expected.

Let’s be honest, traveling around from state to state sounds a heck of a lot more glamorous than living in an RV park in a camper. And while a part of me misses the allure and excitement of life out on the open road, always moving about from place to place, oddly enough I am also completely at peace with slower, less exciting, maybe even much less glamorous times.

Because all of life is about seasons. And no season ever lasts forever, nor should it.

The thing about life is that as wonderful as thrills and excitement and the next new thing can seem, all that shimmers and sparkles is only a small fraction of the true human story. The truth is, as much as social media and blogs would have us believe that everybody is living their own fairytale of sorts, most of life is made up of the mundane. 

And no matter how wonderful or not so wonderful our lives may feel at any given time, no one really gets to escape the reality that most of life is pretty dang ordinary.  Just like you, we are here. Doing all of the things that make up a life in an endless cycle of monotonous duties. Laundry, dishes (sometimes 3 times day in my tiny camper sink) school, work, grocery shopping, cooking meals, trying not to screw our kids up…..and laundry. Ohhhh the glamour. Yeah, be envious of THAT.

And yet somehow smack dab in the midst of the ordinary, there is richness and deep joy to be found. I figure, since so much of life truly is mundane, maybe instead of mourning that fact, trying to change it or feeling resentful at another mom’s dreamy, magazine worthy social media feed, we should find the goodness in all of the ordinariness of our day to day lives.

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Truthfully, I had never imagined I could be content with being so simple. I never imagined that I could genuinely find fulfillment in explaining math problems to my nine and a half year old and watching her get it, writing out spelling words for my eight year old, returning library books several times a week and driving my daughter to ride her horse almost everyday.

Maybe we have been far too consumed with why we are or aren’t happy with our lives. Because the truth is, the circumstances of our lives have little to do with our happiness level. Maybe the joy is found in our perspective.

What I could see when I look at my life is that I live in a 300 sq. foot camper which is even worst than living in the single wide I swore I would never live in, that I am burdened down with the responsibility of my children ALL day, and that I am sacrificing my own personal fulfillment and dreams for the benefit of everyone but myself and that my life has no real purpose.

But what I choose to see when I look at my life is that what I live in affords me abundant opportunities and financial freedom that I wouldn’t have ever had otherwise, that I am monumentally blessed to have my children with me to love and be loved by them, that I have the ability and the mind to educate them myself and that anytime we give our lives away for the sake of another we have found the deepest kind of purpose there ever was to be found.

So when we are tempted to dwell on, or maybe even feel sorry for ourselves and the mundaneness of our everyday lives, maybe it isn’t our lives that are the problem at all – maybe the real issue is in our perspective.

Instead of chasing happiness, maybe we should be chasing perspective. I have found that the surest way to find deep joy in the mundane of the laundry and the dish soap and the cooking of the evening meals is to imagine what life would be like without those things. I am convinced that the only way to be happy is to be content. Content with the life we have right now, not tomorrow or next year or when things get better. And being content is a purposeful decision, not one dependent on how perfect the external circumstances of our lives are.

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Maybe when some see the leaves begin to turn brown and fall to the ground to get trampled on and crushed by passers by, all they see is the death of life that once was…..but I see potential for leaf piles all made for diving head first in, brisk morning walks, cool evenings together around a warm, glowing campfire, holiday cheer with family and the birth of a new season that holds everything good that makes life worth living. What some might see as a death, I see as the birth canal to an even better life.

So you see, one life is not really better than another. Most of the goodness of life is all in our perspective.

When you look over your life as a whole, what do you feel and see? Maybe you see all that is good….even in the ordinary. And if not…..maybe it’s just time to stop and take a better look. 

 

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RV Life One The Road Reflections: Year One

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Well hey ya’ll!!!!  Gee have I ever missed you! 🙂 But I took a much needed sabbatical from writing and blogging to fully enjoy the summer and to get the kids started back with a new homeschool year in a completely engaged and un-destracted way.

We are still parked in Charlotte, NC and have enjoyed the mild summer and all that the Charlotte area has to offer both in the bustling city and also the more leisurely lake life where we are parked. Over the past few months we’ve made several trips to Wilmington, NC as well as Gatlinburg, TN to get our fill of the mountains AND the beach as we have come to adore them both.

So with that we have officially wrapped up a busy and fun-filled summer. Also, right along with it, year one of RV life on the road is also in the books!

In totally honesty 2013/2014 was by far the fastest and most amazingly beautiful year of our lives. Doing it together as a family, RV life has afforded us the opportunity for rich experiences and the freedom to be fully present and intentional about our lives.

For the first time in a long time, it felt like we really LIVED rather than merely surviving. As my husband and I laid in bed last night reminiscing about the year I looked over at him and said, “And we didn’t miss a thing.”

Here’s to year number two and lots more conscientious and intentional living where that came from!

Live intentionally. Live light. Live free.

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Light Life Stories: The Odoms

This is a very special family whom I’ve still yet to actually meet in person, but our hearts have knit together on each of our own “Light Life Journeys.” Meet Andrew and Crystal Odom and their adorable little girl, who are former “tiny house dwellers” and are in the process of making the switch over to full time RV life. Read about their story into debt and their current journey out and how they are reclaiming their freedom and their lives through living light. They remind us all to live intentionally, that it is possible live small and love it, and the importance of  reclaiming our lives back from the grip of American culture and it’s pre-occupation with status and defining our lives by material possessions. I know you will find their lives and their story so encouraging and inspiring, just as we have.
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The first home I owned cost just at $52,000. For that price I got a 2-bedroom, 1-bath, fixer-upper that was on .35 acre in the middle of a post-war neighborhood in Norfolk, VA. It was built in 1953 at a time when America was reestablishing itself. Men had returned home from the war and were now firmly rooted in their post-war career. Women were homemakers and mothers, not CEOs and business owners. Homebuyers were encouraged to look to the future and stretch themselves as far as they could to buy a house. It made more sense then.

Fast forward to 2009.

The nation had been in a recession for nearly three years and unemployment hovered at a thirty year high. The real estate market had recently tanked and homes were considered a risky investment if not a ridiculous one. Many homeowners were waking up to find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of working to pay for the house they sleep at at night and live in only long enough to get up and do it all again the following day. The average home size in the United States was a bloated 2,670 sq.ft. and in 2010 we would see 2,871,891 foreclosures alone! The world had indeed changed from just a decade or two before.

Somewhere along the line the American Dream became defined by owning more stuff than your neighbor and having more than those around you. Many times that meant relying on credit cards with lofty interest rates. But was that the way to go? Was that the new truth? Did my new bride and I need a bigger house, a better car, or a large salary to find happiness? And just what was this elusive happiness we had been conditioned to believe in? Would it come about when we sacrificed our dreams for the pursuit of stuff?

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On February 21, 2009 I married Crystal in the mountains of North Georgia. It was a small wedding in what would be one of our first financial decisions together, as a couple. We invited less than a handful of people and got married in front of the fireplace at the cabin we were staying in. Our officiant was a lifelong friend of mine and an ordained minister. Our photographer doubled as my best man. My sister was the maid of honor and our reception was little more than finger food found locally and a bottle of champagne. Our total cost was just under $1000 (including my wife’s dress which we found on eBay). At that point though saving that $1k was a huge deal. Along with my hand in marriage and a promise of for better or for worse I also came with just over $40,000 in consumer debt. For the past 14-16 months I had been trying to keep a struggling business afloat, living off credit cards, and using retail therapy to help me cope.

I was a financial mess and being so would color our immediate future.

Almost immediately after getting married we began to figure out our next step. Both being raised in the South we felt like a good truck, a “starter” house, a kid or two, and perhaps a membership in the local congregation would be the ticket. We were stopped short though when we searching for the house. We had found a cute little bungalow in town that was listed at $86,000. It needed work but we were up for the challenge. When we sat down with the lending agent though we could sense things were about to change. With my salary of just $10/hour for 40-hour weeks and Crystal working only seasonally at the local college we weren’t prepared to hear that we had qualified for a home loan of $179,000. It was a dream come true! As a man I was beside myself with pride knowing I could buy the house my wife and I wanted and provide as I had been taught to do. After just 48 hours though my wife told me she had good news and bad news. I opted for the good news first. She told me we could buy the house. I couldn’t imagine any bad news then. Turns out we could buy the house but we would have to sell our car, eat just 3 meals a week, do without lights, and possibly shower at the local gym because water would not be an option for us. The American Dream had let us down and was even willing to suck us in even more. We did the only thing we knew to do. We started praying about a new situation; a new opportunity!

That opportunity came in the form of a 190 sq.ft. house built with rustic charm and set up on a tandem axle trailer. Pictured on the website of Tumbleweed Tiny Homes it look near perfect for us. After all, we had met as missionaries and had for years lived in backpacks, guest rooms, and questionable accommodations. This hand-built mini-mansion would allow us to skirt around a mortgage, have an interesting and stylish home, be mobile, and work towards better financial decisions (which by this point meant paying off the debt I brought to the table).

From late-2009 until even now my wife and I have worked hard at simplifying our lives. We have minimized the number of clothes we own, the types of food we eat, our dependency on cars, the number of square feet we need to exist indoors, the amount of books we surround ourselves with, the number of CDs and DVDs we buy (largely for one-time use), and the overall debt we have amassed.

In this exchange we have maximized our quality of life, our love for each other, our concern for the world around us, our ideas of entertainment, our health (mentally and physically), and our general dispositions. Things didn’t stop with just a dream though.

310490_10150870938305151_1906189448_nIn 2012 we broke ground (or should I say rolled in our trailer) on what would become our home. After researching a number of tiny house trailers, small homes, cottages, tee pees, yurts, and other non-traditional structures, we settled on a single-level, 240 sq.ft. tiny house trailer built on a 30′ long by 8′ wide, tandem axle trailer. We were also working on the size of our family having added our daughter to the mix in 2011. Our debt had been over half paid off, I was working a new and more lucrative job, we had spent much time in prayer and meditation discerning need -vs- want, and we had saved money to begin our build.

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3The entire process took nearly 14 months and is intricately documented over at Tiny r(E)volution but on January 3, 2013 we officially moved in to our tiny house. Our dreams were coming true and while the real estate market had been steadily bouncing back and the job market was getting better we were focused on a new American Dream. We were focused on OUR American Dream.

In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. Ours sounded more like “life will be better for us because we realize that our life is a gift from God meant to be lived investing in others and the world around us. Our opportunity should be one without monetary value and presented to us in accordance to our giftings and our passions.” We had been passionate about getting out of debt so we honed in on the problems, outlined a solution, and dove in. We had been passionate about a home that fit our needs so we created plan and built a house. We had been passionate about having a small family so even in our mid-30s we enjoyed the blessing(s) God gave us as a couple and then in the form of a beautiful baby girl. None of these took place because we are holier than thou or because we worked harder than anyone else or because we are in anyway more exceptional than anyone else. They took place because we believed in them, we believed in ourselves, and we wanted a life free of obligation and consumer stress.

10494740_574324878336_7099352784910747276_nAs I write this we are now living in our “new to us” 27′ Aruba travel trailer preparing to become full-time nomads (my employment allows me to be location independent) and experience the nation as God lays out for us. We have reduced our consumer debt to just a handful of payments (I can literally count them on one hand), a small loan for our travel trailer, and a truck payment for the beautiful and reliable truck we just financed to tote us around the US. Our living room has become wherever the sun rises and sets and we have found in each other a love deeper than we ever thought possible. Our daughter is about to turn 3 and has no idea that we aren’t exactly….well, “normal.” She is smart and well adjusted and is slowly learning the lessons it took her old man thirty years to catch on to.

Money can’t buy happiness. Credit can’t change your mood. But friends, love, and laughter – all blessings from above – can make your days worth living and your adventures more exciting!

 

AboutDrewFounder of Tiny r(E)volution and author of the popular book ‘Your Message Here :: GAINING CORPORATE SPONSORS for your tiny house project‘, Andrew Odom is a social media strategist and content crusader amongst other things. He is also an accomplished photojournalist with work seen in Details, Relevant, South, Kitchen Drawer, and Tiny House Magazine. His proudest accomplishment however is his adoption and current advocacy of the tiny house/small house/unconventional house community as a designer, builder, and dweller. Having recently sold their 240 sq.ft. tiny house Andrew and his wife (as well as his 3-year old daughter) live and travel in a 27’ Aruba travel trailer.

You can follow them on Instagram @tinyrevolution

We welcome you to leave any questions, comments or well wishes for the Odoms in the comment section below!

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