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Truth On The Struggle Of Restoration & The Beauty Of The Process

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Hey ya’ll!

If you thought this was gonna be one of those dreamy, Pinterest “viola! everything’s amazing in a week” farmhouse blogs…you’re probably going to be pretty disappointed here. But if you like real life, then come have a sit down next to us because we’ve got more than enough of that to go around!

Newsflash! As much as we all love them, life isn’t mostly a Southern Living magazine and this definitely isn’t a not reality HGTV series.

Also, those things, lovely and amazing as they are, aren’t our reality, and portraying that it is wouldn’t accurately reflect our vision for documenting and writing about our journey!

We wanted to document our lives in a way that shows the truth, the REAL days, the work, the struggle, and the true reality behind the few and far more picturesque moments that happen here and there.

To bring you up to speed, things have been both a mixture of crazy busy remodeling days, and slower days of just enjoying settling into our new place, sitting out on the front porch in our missed-matched rockers and paint chippy wicker furniture we bought an auction for $35, and school days still in our pj’s together.

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I have to admit, remodeling an old house isn’t for the faint of heart. The work is never done. Nor is it anything like what you see on HGTV. I keep asking my husband Anthony, “WHEN is the crew gonna show up?!” Alas, they never do because well, we ARE the crew!

img_6365To be completely honest, farmhouse renovations are coming along even more slowly than I had imagined they would for several reasons.

Mostly because in the midst of it all, we still have to live life! Still, I can’t help but think that endless days just to focus on remodeling would be amazing and we would have come so far already.

Alas, full-time work, school for both the kids and I, activities, and LIFE happens in between the few days a week we have just to dedicate to the house that seem to fly by far too quickly, and come around again far less than we would like.

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In it all, like most seasons in life if we stop to take note, the process is teaching us important lessons that we probably wouldn’t learn if we had unlimited amounts of resources and time…or Chip & Joanna Gaines to just come in do the work for us!

Once again, life is giving us the ever important lessons found in patience, hard work, and learning to let ourselves enjoy the process of the present journey rather than hanging our happiness on some imagined future destination!

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img_5606.jpgAnd so, in between the juggling act of the house work, job work, school, family, and all of life’s other priorities, are the small accomplishments and sweet moments that make life all that it is; all that it should be like Sunday lunch around our unfinished table with faces we love, sweet welcomes from new neighbors, birthday wishes come true, and tiny corners of rooms transformed!

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img_6743I’m starting to understand that the work won’t be finished anytime soon, and since the house is over 100 years old, it’ll likely never end. But that’s okay! The character that is built into our old 1873 farmhouse from long ago, is building lessons of character in us that will last.

Sometimes in my most impatient, frustrated, and impatient moments, I find myself laying on the one couch we have in the one functional living space we have put together at present, wondering if it isn’t really us that’s re-building this old house, but this old house that is building us.

As much as we might have been a gift of restoration to this old place, the lessons we are learning here could very well the new gifts it is offering right back to us.

The deep gifts aren’t really in the end result, they are found in the process.

Because everything beautiful and rich and full of deep character in life, took years and years of slow and steady time to forge.

There is so much beauty to be discovered in the process of restoration.

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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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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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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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The Danger Of Pursuing A Normal Life

20131029-145247.jpg“The greatest and most aspiring achievements are not produced by those who conform to society’s idea of normal, but by those who courageously adopt the unconventional.” ~ J.J. Herbert

What is it that keeps you from taking the leap to change your life from what it is now to what it could be?

I think the answer is a little different for each person, but I’d be willing to bet that for most – it is simply the fear of being different.

Most people are more concerned with how their lives appear to others on the outside than with how they actually feel on the inside.

And so, we’ve become a culture enslaved to the norm. We are all the same! Or at least, we want to be. And we have become quite proficient at accessing the lives of those around us solely for the purpose of being like them or worst, attaining more.

Why? Because no body wants to be different or unconventional. Everyone just wants to feel normal. But maybe the desire to be normal is a poison slowly killing off the full and rich lives we were meant to lead?

It’s something I’ve been thinking on a lot lately.

If I were to be totally honest, when I was a little girl for whatever reasons, I didn’t feel normal. Thinking back, I can’t exactly put my finger on why. Maybe it was the bad perm and the bottle cap glasses, or that fact that I was a musician and we all know how different musicians can be. But I think mostly I blamed not feeling “normal” on living down a long dirt road with a bit less stuff than most American families we knew.

And so I’ve realized that I’ve spent much of my girlhood dreaming of and much of my adult life working to be normal. Whatever the heck normal is.

And then the funniest thing happened, I got married and we got a normal life. I mean, every single thing that makes up normal in this culture anyways. The mortgage, car payments, debt and those neat, carefully achieved mow lines in the front yard. We even lived in the suburbs once – you know, the neighborhoods where all the houses look exactly the same except for the house number and the cars parked in front. It felt a bit like living smack dab in Sthneedville where they are selling bottled air!

And one day I looked back at my childhood and realized what a gift not being “normal” actually was! I just couldn’t see it then for all the normal trees blocking the view in my forest.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against normal. After all, normal is well – normal! It is fine and there’s not inherently anything wrong with it.

It’s just that at some point I realized that all becoming normal did was made me just like everyone else. And although that’s exactly what I had longed for as a girl of thirteen, when you’re thirty – being just like everyone else somehow begins to lose it’s glittering appeal.

So after about ten years of normalcy, our lives are now far more unconventional than I could have ever dreamed up.

Why? Well, for starters we:

  • Don’t have our children in the public school system
  • Homeschool
  • We don’t let the medical field dictate what potions we should shoot into our systems
  • No longer have a mortgage
  • We are working towards ditching debt for good
  • Live small
  • Travel
  • Spend much of our money on experiences over things
  • We believe we should educate and raise our own children instead of letting society do it for us
  • Refuse to depend on culture to dictate to us what a rich and good life looks like.

Now, we haven’t always done life this way. I remember a time when we frantically shuffled our kids from place to place, with barely enough time to feed them while we killed ourselves to make money so we could hold on tightly to all our stuff. We never took a vacation or went places because quite frankly, the normal American life we were living consumed every single bit of our time and money.

It was an exhausting way to live and quite frankly, it wasn’t living.

20140613-103958-38398345.jpgQuite often someone asks me, “Don’t you miss all that space you had when you lived in a house?” And my answer is always, “Of course I miss the space inside a house! But look at all the space we actually enjoy living in now!”

And no one ever asks, “Don’t you miss being away from your husband all the time, shuffling your kids from place to place so you could work and never having the time (or money) to enjoy life?

I’m sure you could guess my answer to that one.

So yes, being normal has it’s obvious advantages. Which is what makes it appealing to so many. And maybe our lives will look more “normal” at some point in the future. But I’m honestly not in any hurry to be like everyone else again. Because our willingness to let go of clinging to average  – and t0 live unconventionally, has given us a whole new way of living that we could only have every dreamed of before.

You know?

Back when we were much more normal.

20140613-103956-38396906.jpgSo yeah, we don’t have a ton of space inside the place we eat and sleep. But look what we’ve gained!

  • We eat dinner together almost every night
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying nature
  • TV doesn’t rule our lives or waste precious brain space
  • We can afford to live comfortably on one income
  • Travel more and experience more
  • Meet people from all walks of life
  • Learn to work together to create a life
  • Do almost everything together as a family!

It isn’t a stretch to say that living unconventionally has given us a life we never had before!

What has happened to us that normal has become living our lives trapped in jobs we don’t love, enslaved in debt with no time to spend with those we love most, travel or actually live life?

That is so not normal.

And if it is, then I’m no longer interested in what seems to have become the normal American Dream.

The truth is, a normal, average life never truly made anybody happy.

———

So we can just exist or we can live.
Most of the time the danger of spending a life pursing normal ends up being hidden behind the forest of all the “normal” in our lives. And all the while we just might be missing out on the full, rich, abundant life we could have had all along.

The choice is ours.

Choose to be unconventional and live a “one of a kind” kind of life!

 

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Your Life Isn’t Making You Happy

1234953_10151851788762847_1023737968_nDepending on your perspective, it may or may not come as a surprise that we get lots of comments like this one. “I’m SO jealous of your life. That is my dream and if I could only do that, then I’d be happy!”

And while I do know exactly what they mean in a sense, there is a part of me that doesn’t completely agree with the sentiment that if our lives were like we wanted it to be, then we’d be happy. And before you shoot me down, let me assure that I know that’s the truth because we are living that dream and you know what? There are still days that my life doesn’t feel happy.

But the problem is, happiness can never be reduced to a feeling or we’re all screwed. Rather it must be something we have the power to have….if we choose it.

Just a few short months after we’d moved out of our house and into the RV, I had someone sort of pretend to want to know how life on the road was going for us – only to interrupt me as I was trying to answer to say, “Oh it’ll get old soon and you’ll hate it and be unhappy.”

Honestly, I didn’t even have any more words left to say. I was sort of taken back by the blunt, brutality of those words.  I mean, what difference did it make if our new simple life was going well right now or not? Regardless, apparently it would get old soon and we would hate it.

I walked away from that conversation without saying another word. Because quite frankly I needed to chew on those words for a while to see if they were true for me or not.

Later on, the conclusion I came to within myself and what I wished I had said was this: “You know what? EVERYTHING in life gets old. Living in the same town gets old. No matter how big it is, the house you live in gets boring and you start feeling the need to paint the walls a different color, buy new furniture or just sell the whole thing and buy a new one. Heck, being married to the same person for 12 years gets old….  if I let it. So does that mean that we are doomed to being miserable and unhappy once the new of something in life has worn off?

I know my share of miserable people. Gee do I ever. And what I know about each of them is that there lives aren’t the problem at all, the problem is found in their perspective and in their attitude towards life. And they either look at everyone else’s life through that same negative or over-glorifying lens.

We claim that we are unhappy because our lives don’t look like we want them to, we have just become the weak, powerless victims of life. When that happens, there is no chance for happiness anywhere.

The truth is, whether or not one lives a happy life has little to do with the circumstances of life, how much money you have in your bank account, what you live in or where you live.

Heck, living in a huge house or an RV can’t make one any more or less happy than they already are.

“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, insist upon it and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” – Unknown

There are days in which I might find myself beyond aggravated, maybe even tempted to call my life as a whole “unhappy” because the hot water in our RV shower ran out about 5 minutes too soon, leaving me with a head full of soapy hair and hairy legs. There are mornings that I might almost dislocate an arm while attempting to make up our bed in a tiny room with next to no space to move. They are weeks in which it may feel like our lives suck when a tire blows while going down the road, the gas tank runs out right in the middle of cooking dinner or the foot lever on the toilet gets stuck in the down position and floods the bathroom with toilet water and 275 sq. feet of walls threaten to close in on the four of us.

But you know what? Ultimately my immediate circumstance don’t get to determine the happiness (or lack thereof) of my entire life. Why? Because I don’t let them. Besides, stuff or circumstances never made anybody happy in the first place. I know this well because I had the same kind of  days that felt “unhappy” when I lived another version of near perfect life smack dab in middle class suburbia, American dream land.

————

The other day I was just having a blue day and as my husband and I were talking  about it he asked me this question, “Do you feel happy with your life right now?”  I thought a second before returning my honest answer.

Because I know that even on the rough days when the circumstances of life tell us that our lives are are in some way less someone elses’, we can’t buy into that lie. It’s just not true. All of the happiness of life is ultimately based on one’s perspective of life and what it actually means or takes to make us happy.

And if after reading this and evaluating your happiness level and your own life you find still that you are truly unhappy with your life, maybe consider one of the most life-changing truths I’ve ever discovered:

Changing the circumstances of a life cannot make an unhappy person happy.

Happiness is something we find deep within our hearts because we’ve sought it out, fought for it and protected it from the ravaging pull of the cares of life. And no matter how or where we live, it is up to us to choose to be happy no matter where we found ourselves. To find the good, the noteworthy, the multitude of things that are already right in front of our nose to be happy about!

Happiness isn’t a person, a thing, a place or a way of life. Happiness, is a choice we make that covers over everything in our lives and makes what could be ugly – beautiful.

When we stop playing the victim, hopelessly peering in at other’s lives and wishing, when we have chosen happiness, all of our own lives become miraculous and good.

Here is a small formula to help find your own path back to happiness. Stop the hustle and bustle of life for 10 minutes and evaluate and list out the things that matter most in your life in order of priority and all the things that make you most happy. Not just the feeling of being happy, but deep fulfillment.

For me it is:

  1. My faith
  2. My husband
  3. My children
  4. My family
  5. Relationships
  6. Inspiring others
  7. New experiences
  8. Nature
  9. & coffee

So this is where I will invest my life. Everything else are just side notes. Happiness is found here.

When I made my list what struck me most when I looked back over it was that where I live, what I live in and material things I possessed didn’t even make the cut.

The truth is, nobody will remember me as the girl who lived in an RV. I hope they will remember as the girl who was always up for a new adventure. Who found deep joy in inspiring others. Who could look at a mountain view, an open lake or her children’s face and see the fingerprints of one greater than herself. Who was in love with life. And whose eyes shined because they saw beauty everywhere.

That I was happy.

What ways have you found to choose happiness in your own life? What things make you truly happy?

 

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