Updated: Dec 9, 2020
I caravan for my mental health.
When we fled the United States, and southern California, for a #worldschooladventure south of the border, I was also fleeing habits and patterns of mine that I strongly associate with having a home. (I tend to refer to these unsupportive compulsions of mine as part of my “Mother Wound.”)
I.e. When I have a home to care for, I end up filling my time by accomplishing chores and items on my to-do list at the expense of prioritizing the activities that really fill my internal cup of satisfaction and contentment. (Like, writing; dancing; etc.) I also end up filling all of the nooks and crannies of our space with stuff. More stuff, even if it is used or upcycled, still means more caring for things and less time doing the things I would prefer to be doing. (Unless I pay for house cleaning services, which is a privilege that I wish for all of us!)
I also tend to move quicker when I live a more urban or suburban lifestyle. I find myself driving around, to and from various activities, throughout the week. As I move faster, I expect my children & partner to do the same. It is hard for me to remember to slow down, ask for help, delegate tasks and clearly enunciate every step for each chore (if I cannot let go of micromanaging, that is.).
Thus, I move quickly, trying to accomplish as much as possible, forgetting to ask for help and doing it all on my own. Each and every time, however, I end up blowing up in anger and resentment because I am doing everything, no one is offering any help and it seems that I am expected to do it all (since I have demonstrated this to be the case!)
Having a family inside of a home means that I also usually end up worrying about spills, stains, broken windows, furniture, appliances, etc. When bills are adding up and my to-do lists are seemingly growing longer, I feel more stressed, easily frustrated with less patience and less time (and money) to give. I also like to build community, so I tend to look for a larger space to rent so that many people can gather together frequently. Hosting more people usually means wanting to have more stuff in order to to accommodate them. In the past, for example, we collected over two dozen wood pallets. With them, we crafted tables, a stage, painting easels, a lounge area, and more. However, more things - even if they are upcycled and free! - meant more work. All wonderful work, mind you. Yet, I was finding myself stuck in a pattern of prioritizing myself last. All of the stuff and upkeep of our southern California lifestyle had me experiencing overwhelm. The sheer cost of paying to live in San Diego was/is a monthly anxiety. And being stuck in my patterns of doing it all, not asking for help and then feeling angry and resentful, had me miserable.
Downsizing our San Diego life was a tough thing for my partner to do at the time. (He was a sentimental, stuff keeper.) Yet, I am glad we did it especially since, after his death, I didn’t have to go through and get rid of an even larger pile of all of his things. The Universe also lent an assist because, when we left the USA, we had purchased a used-RV in which we stored all of our remaining possessions, along with those things that Burt thought he couldn't live without. Unfortunately, our friend from whom we bought the RV and whose property we stored it on was also going through a health crisis and soon found himself in convalescent care. In response, his estate liquidated all of our most precious things. (More loss on top of loss! The Universe sure was preparing us for 2020....) Our caravan lifestyle has been reinforcing how to live with less. As a result, I spend less time cleaning and more time working on the things that I enjoy doing (like my writing!) as well as bike riding with my son (plus other fun activities, especially in summer). All of our time spent outdoors in nature has been healing, especially after the loss of my partner. You can read more how I have navigated my nervous system with frequent dips in cold water here. During this crazy year of Covid, national outrage, and environmental calamity, it has been nice to be unplugged and just be present with real life. Our caravan lifestyle allows me to roll up on my loved ones and friends located around the continent. It also allows me to connect deeper with myself, my closest ones, and the Earth. I may not be a gypsy but I sure like setting up camp around a bonfire and being present to life’s inherent magic. However, it is also challenging to live in daily uncertainty (again, welcome to 2020!) and I do find myself missing some of the comforts, like warmth and daily baths, that can come with having a home. Like everything though, this is a season in our life. We will soon enough find ourselves homebound once more. (Although who knows where or when!) Here are some questions for you to chew on if you are considering the Caravan lifestyle for you and your sweet family. Best, C.
Exercises for deciding if this is the right lifestyle for you & your family: ~Do you & your family enjoy traveling and seeing new sights? ~Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable and having less convenience in your life? ~Do you have an ability to sustain your means with a life on the road? (Or, can you save up enough money to take off for at least 3 weeks or more?)