We Are Family

I got my brother and sisters with me…

I decide to pull out the old rotten carpet out of the cab of the van only to discover that the floor has some serious looking rust spots. It’s been a couple of weeks since I came upon the damage and it’s been a cause for concern. My whole career has been based on solving problems. Taking complex learning and translating it into easy to follow steps for others to understand and use. This situation is no different. I got a hole and it needs to be fixed.

My sister and brother in law just happened to be down for the weekend. They are a handy pair. I have always admired my sister’s choice of professions. She had spent many years in the Canadian Air Force as a metal fabricator working on airplanes. I found out my brother in law has some experience with welding. My brother, well he is a jack of all trades and has been helping me with the project since day 1. So, in true project management fashion, I assembled the very competent team of experts who are up for the challenge and we get to work. 

With resources and know-how in place we decide a change of clothes is necessary to tackle the potentially dirty job. My sister bought my mom’s old house and some of the contents are still there. My mom’s coat still hangs in the closet next to the kitchen door. It’s coming up on the two year anniversary of my mom’s death in September. As I stand in her bedroom looking for something to wear in the closet I am overwhelmed with her presence. I take a couple of shirts off the hangers and smell them. Oh mom, they still smell like you. You are still here. Tears well up as I close my eyes for a moment. This is a pretty big hole we are trying to fix. Not just on the van floor but my heart. I hear my mom talking to me from other rooms as I walk through the house. She would call from the living room when you entered from the kitchen door to welcome you. Sometimes I can hear her voice echo through the space.

The family has had its share of challenges over the last few years and yet here we are coming together to problem solve and rebuild this van. I have heard you can’t choose your family. I am glad for that because you never know what you might need at any given moment. The universe is a way better judge on future needs than I am.

It takes some discussion and a few brainstorming sessions but finally we get to work patching the worn floor. Grinding away the rust where we can and applying new support when needed. I can’t help but make the comparison between the work on the van and work being done to heal our family relationships. You have to clear away the toxins that eat at your dynamics. Find new ways to communicate and come together. Mom would be ecstatic to see us all collaborating and getting along.

The van has helped us to find ways to connect again. It’s been a new beginning for me too. I am using tools I never thought I would have the confidence to even try. A little patience from my brother and determination to continue the work has made me excited about the possibilities for future projects and work.

We are family, I got my brother and sisters with me. I am truly blessed.

Blank Canvas

Starting from scratch. Am I crazy?

I sat in the van the other day and stared at its current state. My old thinking is still wanting to rule the day. The interior is good enough just do some cosmetic stuff and move on. I struggled with those sentiments for a few more minutes and then all the sudden the sledge hammer in my hand found a purpose. Before I knew it half the walls were down and the van had twice the space.

Sometimes you fight change until the urge to shift within just can’t handle it anymore. Picking the option that makes you feel like you have settled in life only delays things. It never really sits right until you do “that thing”. You know, that thing that is whispered in your ear over and over again. There was a wonderful lady I got to interview at the ashram named Jean Roberts. She wrote a book about her life as an island girl growing up in Grenada. How she grew up in oppression and decided to run away at a very young age.

I left home at 16 and lived with a couple of sisters. I worked and supported myself through high school. It seemed so much easier then to make decisions without worrying too much about how they affected others around you. The world revolved around my teenage life and I was creating canvases by the dozens. Thought nothing of painting over them and moving on.

I will be 57 in 2 months. It’s been a lifetime of changes. I am not my 16 year old self for sure. Thank heavens!

Sharon’s latest post talks about living adventures through my posts. It’s not lost on me how she and I are always peeking over the fence at each other. I envy her ability to make decisions about relationships and move forward in that regard. Put on her big girl panties and move into a better light. I understand the hesitation to make the first strokes on the canvas. I ask myself often what I am afraid of when it comes to being alone. If my partner doesn’t see my vision and has no desire or interest to explore the possibilities with me then ….what am I waiting for? A sign? Hmmm I have had plenty of those, a sledge hammer in my hand? I have one of those too? A push? Maybe.

My friend Sharon and I are at that place in life where our whole world is about to change. The post COVID blues I think. The universe is opening up again so now what?

For me? I have an empty canvas in the form of a tiny home to consider how “I” for the first time in my life want to create a haven just for me. Sharon has a new condo, new job and new life. I am excited for both of us to face our fears and build our confidence in ourselves. Maybe even build a bit of confidence in others. My brother has been helping me with the demolition. We have barely spoken over the last 40 years. Now we are collaborating almost daily. I am finding my voice and figuring out what I want to say. I am exploring new pallets and variations of light and color. It is changing my perspective for the good.

It’s healthy and positive to clear space. So many possibilities to explore now that the demolition has started.

Vantastic!

Everything is fixable….it’s my new mantra

Ok, eventually I promise, I will run out of puns here but in the meantime….

I believe in synchronicity. My life has been full of experiences that seem to appear custom made to help me learn something about myself, teach me an important lesson or skill or heal a whole in my spirit or heart. Sometimes, the crisis or drama is created for me to enjoy until another event happens to get us back on the right track. There are no coincidences in my life nor the people that appear out of nowhere to join me on my latest adventure.

The pandemic has been hard on families. Mine has been scattered and a bit disconnected. My mom died at the start of it all and we are all still grieving that loss. I parked my van at her house in a nearby town. I plan to work on it there with my siblings and extended family. It has been a way for us to reconnect and find some comfort in each others presence. Humans need humans. We are all lonely even if we have people living in our houses. It feels right to rediscover their gifts. To get to know them again and understand their point of view. The van has given us an opportunity to move forward in our new space that doesn’t have our mom to keep it all together.

I started looking for a van at least three years ago. Even before the pandemic, I was longing to go on a roadtrip with a house on wheels. To be out in nature with my musical instruments, creating art, discovering plants and wildlife is my jam. I love to hike and explore the mountains. Heck I grew up in the foothills of Alberta. The Rockies were my nursery and then my playground growing up.

I started to gather my board of directors and advisors for the Van-Essance build. Everyone I have contacted so far has been so helpful and eager to try their hand at creating an epic home away from home with me. I take great stock in symbols and appreciate the universe’s lessons.

The key to the ignition of the van broke off in the ignition. I could have taken the whole van to a locksmith and got them to get the key out. I had some anxiety about it being bad and stuck and costing me lots to get fixed. Fear is an interesting thing. 

False Expectation Appearing Real. Have you ever noticed that when we face our fears they are rarely as bad as we built up in our head? My helpers popped out the container for the ignition and I took that part into the locksmith. Within an hour I had it fixed, two new keys and it cost less than twenty bucks. 

I have a feeling that this is only the start of me facing my fears. A few blogs back I wrote about a dream I had in a vacant pool with a cobra and a snake charmer. The snake kept pressing it’s snout into my cheek. I knew it meant I had to face my fears head on. It was no longer serving to sweep them under the rug. 

What do I fear? 

Failure. What if my husband is right and I am not mechanical? That the skill can’t be learned? What if I bought a lemon and it turns out to be a mistake? So many what if’s running in my head. I can let them paralyze me or I can conquer them one step at a time.

What is failure? To me, it’s not trying at all. I have lived many years in a place surrounded by bubble wrap. I created that place. It’s safe, it’s comfortable but it’s missing a key. The key is broken in the lock. I think that getting a new key and starting a different narrative in my head is what is needed.

One step then another. Have courage to move out of the bubble wrap. At the ashram I really enjoyed walking meditations. It’s moving with awareness. Take a step, connect with your body to intentionally shift your balance as you choose your direction. Those teachings are coming in handy now that I am back in the “real world”. 

Time For Fessing Up

I have a confession to make. I have a phobia about asking for help, for things or even directions when I might be lost. Where does it stem from? Well, I can probably spout many options to answer that question but I won’t. What, for me, is important is what to do about it.

The van purchase has motivated me to get past my fears and tackle speaking and asking for help as much as I need to. I think it’s going to be good for me. Part of me really wants to try my hand at doing some of the work on the van. As a woman who grew up in the era that girls didn’t “fix things”, girls didn’t sign up for automotive classes or wood working in high school. I got the option of home-ec and/or band. I won’t tell you how bad of a sewer I am and the tragic nightgown that I threw away right after class was done. I think the flannel beast weighed close to a 100 pounds. I can cook but we didn’t really cook that much in class. I always walked past the shop and peeked in. Envying the opportunity to learn a skill that would be very useful right now in my fifties ambitions.

My husband is very handy but not really thrilled that I bought an old campervan. He has basically stated I am on my own. I am ok with that. The anxiety level is through the roof with getting it right or at least making sure any thing I do doesn’t fall apart around me as I travel. I have watched tons of restoration videos so far and those people don’t fool me. I know the art of editing and angles to make the most of making it seem simple while hiding the big flaws.

What a trip though if I can pull it off no? Renovating a piece of classic Americana that has remained functional and desirable. So, for the big stuff, like appliances, electrical and vehicle repairs I will leave it to the experts. What about the things I can learn to do like making a slide out bed or building cupboards or trying my hand at sewing again? What is life without a challenge?

It would be so much easier to pry my wallet open and dole out the cash to someone else to do it for me but my spirit tells me I at least have to try. I do have a handy crew of relatives who I might be able to bribe to help me. My brother use to work in a trailer factory. I have a niece who is partnered with a heavy duty mechanic. A sister who used to fabricate fixing airplane bodies for a living. So expertise is there. We are not without resources for sure. This winter could be an interesting time where I could gain huge confidence in my abilities and finally learn how to use power tools.

Stay tuned to see who wins the argument my spirit, my sanity or my husband (scenario where I just resell the beast and call it a day).

Van-Essance

I have wanted a camper van for some time now. I follow a few vloggers who are living a “van-life” existance on Youtube. I am a realist. I know that vanlife is not as glamrous as some might think. It sounds romantic and care-free but in reality it can be scary and full of hidden costs. Yet…here I am..I bought a van. Not just any van. A 1978 classic Chev camper van. It has low kilometers, fridge, stove, bed, character and is full of potential. It was formely owned by a tattoo artist that used it to travel around to convention and tattoo shows. It’s perfect…for me. My husband thinks I am nuts. Why buy something soo old to which I reply well “I am older, aren’t I worth restoring?”.

I can use it “as is” if I would like as it drives well so far. We (my brother in law) drove it from North of Vermillion all the way to Raymond which is about 550 Km. It was great on the road and handled well.

What do I hope to get out of owing such a vehicle? Quenched curiosity. Have you ever drove on a highway and seen all of those locals attraction signs? Tours of a honey farm or the worlds largest Easter egg lives here or a Ukranian flee market 12 kms that way. I want to stop at them all and be able to say I have been there. Why not? YOLO is a thing.

So, for this year, I am thinking get the van as comfortable as I can and as mechanically sound as I can and hit the road. There is no time like the present to take advantage of good weather, cheap-ish accomodations and the time to explore anything and everything up and down this Province that I live in.

I can’t wait to start the “VanEssance” adventure series. Hope you join me for the ride. If you see me on the road wave or better yet leave me a comment here and perhaps we can meet up and go for coffee or go see what is interesting in your hometown.

Cheers to the adventures of Midlife Arises continuing…

Namaste