Other than a two-week trip to Portland in October, we’ve been parked in our hometown of Ashland since mid-September. Our original plan was to head south by the end of October, wending our way leisurely across the country, and ending up in Florida for the winter. But life doesn’t always go as planned, and we have things we need to attend to before we can leave. At this point, it looks like we’re going to be here until sometime in January.
We love Ashland. In all of our travels, we’ve yet to find a place that we would rather call home. And we dearly love our friends. When we’re here in Ashland, life returns almost to our pre-full-time-traveling “normal,” and we share wonderful dinner parties, music jams, creative art projects, and outdoor adventures with friends. This is home, in the deepest sense of community.
I love being here, and at the same time, I feel out of place. I’m deeply grateful to our friends who welcome us home, and who create a place for us to stay when we’re here. But this isn’t what we had planned, and it’s knocked me off course. Winter is nipping at the heels of fall, with the gray and chill and rain that is typical for November in Ashland. We’re home, but we’re not home—we’re in our small trailer, instead of in our cozy house on the hill with a fireplace and plenty of space for entertaining.
I feel stuck, and the mud that I’m slogging through on the trails is a metaphor for the spiritual mud that I’m slogging through as I try to motivate myself to get things done. We’re getting out for long walks every day, we’ve recommitted to a daily meditation practice, I’m working on my music. I have a blog to catch up on. We have plenty to keep ourselves occupied, some things more fun than others.
Our plan was never to travel fulltime forever, but we’re not done yet, not by a long shot. (I check in with Eric, and he feels the same.) Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m adrift between two worlds. It calls on every glimmer of awareness I can muster to be here, now, knowing that we’ll be leaving again before too much longer.
Wherever I am, I want to be fully present. Truthfully, it’s effortless when we’re traveling. When every day brings fresh adventures, it’s easy to be present and appreciative. Simply being in a new place, I feel energized and happy. But it’s much more challenging for me to be present on a trail that I’ve hiked in Ashland thousands of times (I’m not exaggerating—I’ve done the math).
And so I’m practicing—yet again—opening my eyes to what surrounds me in the present moment. Traversing the path in the park that I’ve walked almost daily for 18 years, I turn my attention to the sounds of the creek, the birdsong, and the rhythm of my breath. I watch the leaves as they turn to gold and then fall from the trees. It brings me back to the present moment, which is where I want to be. Even if I can only manage that for a brief instant, it’s something.
We’ll be leaving again before we know it. I don’t want to miss any of our time here in Ashland by worrying about the present and all that we need to do, or planning for the future. I just want to be here, now, grateful for this moment, for our friends, for this beautiful place that is still our home. When I can manage to stay in the present moment, I never feel lost.
We just went through something very similar. We are new full timers (really new- just started in August). Less than a month after leaving everything behind, I broke my leg and we ended up stranded in Massachusetts for 3 months. Luckily, my brother and sister in law lived nearby, so we had some local connection, but we were very much stranded between the life we had planned and the life we were stuck with. As the days got colder and grayer, it got pretty depressing. We just left and are so very happy to be on the road again. I feel for you… Sonetimes you just gotta muddle through and make the best of it. Hope you get moving again, as planned, in January!
Oh wow, you definitely understand what we’ve been going through! I’m so sorry to hear that you broke your leg—and only one month after setting out on your adventure. You must be thrilled that you’re now free to pursue your dreams! Happy travels, and thanks so much for commenting, Laura.
You’re very right Laurel, we must be in the present, the here and now or we’ll begin to stagnate and grow jaded (or – gasp – grow old!) It’s hard to do, however, when you truly want to be somewhere else! I hope your situation works out in the best way, that time flies for you and I know you’ll find that January will be here in just a minute.
Thanks, Sue. You’re right, January will be here before we know it—and I don’t want to miss out on the joy of being here in Ashland. Hope we can meet up with you guys somewhere before too much longer.
I, too, worry about how I will feel when we get off the road. We were talking about this with some fulltimer friends last week and he said something so true, that fulltiming gives you a short attention span. I would really miss our ever-changing views and the excitement of new trails to explore, although I am getting weary of planning where to go and where to stay. Guess we could have much worse problems! Enjoy the rest of your time with friends. January will be here before you know it.
Gayle, it makes me feel better to know that you’ve had the same questions about life post-traveling. The idea that fulltiming encourages a short attention span gives me something to think about….and makes me more committed to my Mindfulness Meditation practice. :-)
We are spending more time in Arizona than we had originally planned but with sunshine. We are able to find new paths and bike rides but can imagine the itch would be much more with the grey. So glad you have the community to connect.
Debbie, sunshine definitely helps brighten my mood! Fortunately Ashland doesn’t have severe winters or oppressively gray and rainy weather….but it’s no Arizona in the winter. Our community of friends makes all the difference. :-)
I sympathize with you. I know well the feeling. It’s a tough chasm to navigate. You will feel better once you are back on the road. Stay strong, stay present.
Thanks, Jo. I like that mantra. :-) When it’s time for us to come off the road, I’m going to be looking to you for guidance in how to navigate the transition gracefully.
This is a wonderful post Laurel and so accurately describes how I feel every time we have an extended stay in our home town. Be here now is a phrase I actually say a lot to myself. You have expressed the push/pull feelings extremely well. It is a spiritual endeavor for sure. I have much more time to allocate any way I want when I’m not on the road but I seem to do a whole lot less. So sorry we won’t be seeing you in Florida in late winter. I’d like to hear about your meditation practice.
Sherry, you expressed exactly what I’m feeling—I have much more time available when we’re not traveling, but I don’t feel like I always use it especially well. I’m trying…writing this blog post and hearing from friends helps.
We’ve been doing a Mindfulness Meditation practice—it’s a practice I’ve done for years, but sometimes it falls by the wayside. I found a wonderful online resource that’s helping to keep me/us on track: http://palousemindfulness.com/index.html
All too soon, you and Eric will be back on the road.
Just imagine if you could not travel for whatever the reason, luckily you don’t have to worry about that. So, remind yourself that the time spent wisely is a wonderful reward for feeling stuck. Do new things you never have time to do when in Ashland, look to small new adventures, explore places nearby. Stop, take time to savor all the things you are offered..each day. From the book “What Would Buddha Say”… “When you are frustrated or restless,ask: What am I wanting now? What is wrong with what I have? Welcome what life is offering you in the moment. It is a way to calm your craving.”
Peggy, thank you for these beautiful words of wisdom. I’ve been making a list of the things I still want to do while we’re in Ashland, and the people that I want to see while we’re here. We are so incredibly fortunate. Perhaps we can entice you to come down to visit us, too! oxox
Beautifully present! Thanks for your musings.
Cyn, more music and time with you guys makes me happy. :-)
I loosely follow your blog and was recently wondering if you were traveling this winter. We are on a 9 month trip and were in Oregon in Oct. It’s a lovely state- I could live there but home is where ever we are in the trailer. Hope you find peace in Ashland and on the road.
Thank you for your good wishes, Pat. We’re still happy to call our trailer “home” even when we’re parked in our hometown (where we still have a house!). But I must admit sometimes I miss all of the amenities of our house…and being able to spread out a bit. Enjoy your journey!
Yes, yes, yes! I’m a new reader, found you while googling the beautiful silver agave sculpture in Palm Desert (pretty random, I know!) and how did you get inside my head? We are back in Phx for our 3rd winter after 6 months of daily awe on the road. I do love it here, great friends, blue skies, gorgeous trails and all and yet I’ve had more ‘pj days’ (hang inside, unproductive in your pjs) than I care to count. Conscious of all I should be practicing and yet, maybe just grateful for a challenge of a different sort? Thanks for articulating what’s been percolating!
Haha, this is such a fun comment! I have had plenty of ‘pj days’ since we’ve been in Ashland — I rationalize that I’m in my yoga pants and that makes it okay. :-) Writing this post helped me articulate my feelings and thoughts. Thanks so much for commenting, Leah — it helps to know I’m not alone. Enjoy your sunny winter in Phoenix!
I love your little fall leaf mandala. It symbolizes the centering you are trying to do with the constant change of seasons, and cycles. It’s beautiful.
Which reminds me of the Navajo Beauty Way Prayer (or some measure of it):
In Beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With Beauty may I walk.
With Beauty before me, may I walk.
With Beauty behind me, may I walk.
With Beauty above me, may I walk.
With Beauty below me, may I walk.
With Beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of Beauty,
lively , may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of Beauty,
living again, may I walk.
It is finished in Beauty.
It is finished in Beauty.
Those thoughts often put me in the moment and allow me to feel the wholeness of creation.
This is so lovely, Sheila. It’s a good reminder of the beauty that surrounds us, even as winter descends. I’m looking at the snow on the mountains outside of our window as I write this. :-) I’m glad you appreciated the little mandala, too. You have a gift for seeing and creating beauty.
Thank you for sharing this lovely post. I think, for me, living this life of real freedom makes being stopped feel more like being stuck. The reminder to be in the present is SO timely for me. Hugs to you and Eric :-)
Jodee, you are so right…I need to remind myself that being stuck is only in my mind. :-) Ashland is actually a lovely place to be stopped for awhile—although I wouldn’t deliberately choose winter. Hugs to you and Bill, too.
After 5-1/2 years on the road consisting of 49 states (many of them multiple times), 12 Provinces, volunteer work in 14 National Parks, and travels in Mexico, we are feeling a little road weary. So we’ll be in the “look for some property” mode when we return to the NW next spring. Don’t know where that will be yet and we aren’t ready to stop traveling south for the winter in the motorhome. However, one of the main criteria is property that is two mountain ranges east of the Pacific (less rain…).
Our very best to you and hope you are back on the road soon. Please think about stopping in Page for a visit on your way south. We’ll be volunteering at Glen Canyon NRA January through April.
You two amaze me in all that you’ve done in 5 1/2 years! We have some catching up to do. Think about Ashland when you’re looking for a place to settle down—we’re between one and two mountain ranges from the Pacific, but we’re in the arid part of the state. (Really! We only get 18 inches of rain per year!) We would love to see you when we head south.
I can very much relate to this post and these feelings…After two years of nomadic travel we actually unpacked our small cases to stay “put” for a while, in Chicago so as to be near family. The hiatus stretched into about a year! I did not anticipate how hard psychologically, unpacking my suitcase would be! I felt lost, I felt anxious. For me too, focusing on being in the present moment was what helped, (always does). After all it is all we have.
On a side note, we visited Ashland for the first time, about a year ago, to meet with our youngest son who had just finished a 3 month farming internship in the area. Love how easily accessible the forest and mountains are and the artistic vibe.
Oh, I wish we had met when you were in Ashland, Peta! It is a lovely town in a beautiful location. I appreciate that you understand how challenging it is psychologically to “unpack our suitcases.” And yes, the present moment really is all we ever have.
It seems you have struck a chord many of us are feeling. We, too, wonder how we will ever settle in one place. We will be here in Cortez for over six weeks and I am not sure how we will do it. It’s only a little over a week and I am getting real antsy. If it weren’t for the wedding Dec 27th, we would be ready to go now. But like you and Sue said, we need to be present and enjoy our time as it is. I do try to remind myself how blessed we are to have the ability to live the way we do. So a few bumps that change plans isn’t too bad:) January will be here before you know it because we are waiting for that month, as well:)
Pam, even though you’re in a beautiful location, I can understand how it would be challenging for you to stay there for six weeks, so far away from your beloved red rock country! Good thing you have such a wonderful event to look forward to. You’re right, we’re very blessed to have the freedom and ability to live the way we do. Hope we can cross paths in January. :-)
Gracious, Laurel, so many wonderful comments. Obviously you hit a chord in the soul of many a traveler, full time or otherwise. You know the feelings I have been experiencing lately, wanting things to move along, feeling in limbo. I wonder if this is just something that is happening universally. We are all one, after all. Thank you for this. I so hear you. We will head south in January as well. As Jim said, the attention span only needs to be a day when on the road…interesting thought. I am often most present when we are traveling.
Sue, thank you for your lovely comment. I think that feeling of being in limbo is perhaps the most difficult challenge any of us face—and a worthy one to embrace. Seems like we’re all heading south in January. :-)
I think we are all torn between structure and what we know and the sense of adventure. After 5 years, 2 half time and 3 full time we are going home next March – for how long, who knows? What will it be like, how will our friends react. Will they get bored with our tales of travels? If we could stay with our trailer we would be fine, but having to leave the USA for six months of the year isn’t what we expected. After doing so much I think you go into overload, do I want to see that palace? nah.We just spent a week in Seville and now another in Cadiz in Spain, not really doing anything touristy at all.I feel a bit guilty for not exploring all that I can, but we all need some down time.
I agree, Jane—we all need some down time. At least, that’s what I tell myself! But as you know, it’s a challenge to shift gears from traveling and adventuring to a stationary life. There are definitely benefits to both—I find it’s the transition that’s not always so graceful.
I’ve always resisted long stays, I get bored and restless. And here we are at Amazon. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but with more than three weeks to go, I am already planning our escape and beyond!
Linda, I was born with that restless gypsy travel gene. It’s amazing I’ve managed to stay put as much as I have in my life.
I would imagine that you have more reasons than boredom to be plotting your escape from your stint at Amazon! Keep thinking of how you’re going to spend the $$.
I feel your struggle…I live a variation of this when we are in San Diego. May your mindfulness practice bring you peace in the moment.
Thank you, Lisa. The mindfulness meditation is healing and centering, and staying put in one place is the perfect time to practice and integrate it into our daily lives.
Hi I am new to your blog. Is your house rented out, is that why you cannot stay there?
Hi KL, yes, we rented our home to a wonderful couple when we took to the road full-time in June 2013. It’s worked out well for us—one day we’ll return, but we have lots of travel adventures planned before we’re ready to settle down again. But I still miss our home sometimes. :-)
This is such a poignant post Laurel. At present we are without a travel vehicle and I am struggling with that. But we are resisting getting another until we decide if we are going to be spending more time on international travel. As soon as I say this I read someone’s post about a beautiful location here in the states and I feel a bit sad, like my wings have been clipped. I too have renewed my mindfulness practice, which helps me to live in the present and embrace each moment. Hope you find your remaining time in Ashland to be filled with memorable moments with friends. January will be here before you know it.
LuAnn, I would feel like my wings were clipped, too, if we didn’t have our little home on wheels. Then again, your recent overseas adventure was spectacular, and I can understand why you would be considering more and holding off on buying another rig. We were just talking today about visiting you guys when we make our way south in January. We can meditate together. :-)
A chapter in our own nomadic life has just been concluded and I wonder if I will have the same feelings as what you are experiencing right now. When I do reach that point I can look back to your poignant post and feel normal then.
One thing that is on your side as you reflect your situation, is that you are physically in your hometown, a comforting and familiar place surrounded by friends. Not a bad place to be in the moment.
Yes, ML, being home is a very good place to be, especially right now. :-) I’m looking forward to hearing what you have planned for your next chapter.