Blog

She Kept Her Swimsuits

I write this post in honor of of one of my aunties. A caveat for my cousins reading this, I may not have all of the facts correct. My memory and my impressions of my auntie and how she lived her life may not have been based in fact at all. I saw her as someone who lived large and unapologetically and she inspired a lot of my downsizing. She got to a certain age and decided to take off for the states. In my memory of all of her belongings the only thing she kept were her swimsuits because even in her later years she made it a point to swim every day. She ended up finding a tiny furnished apartment on the Gulf of Mexico. She spent many of her last years enjoying time with family, swimming in the Gulf and being happy at the beach, until she returned to Canada for the last part of her life.

Auntie Lenore

Of course, as I shared earlier, my parents were also a significant influence on my life choices today. They showed me I could live in a tiny place in the first place. All of those years of visiting Canada and spending summers in our 100 square foot cabin that I shared with you earlier in this blog. The cousins would come for a visit and somehow magically we would fit everyone in and have a blast. I never thought of us as having a small place. We never owned our humble home in Chicago. It was a parsonage, something that has seem to gone by the wayside and made room for preacher’s mansions and BMW’s. For our family, we couldn’t have been happier growing up in a simpler way.

Nine Of My “Aha” Moments From Downsizing:

  1. Downsizing is a lifelong practice. This was my biggest surprise. I’m still downsizing! I thought that would be a decision, an action and then I’d be done. Nope. Downsizing, I’m learning, is a lifelong practice. So this Pandemic has been perfect as it has made me thouroughly comb through the entire contents of what I have been hauling around with me in my Airstream. I have had nothing but time to reflect on each thing and determine if it really brought me joy? Improving on one practice has me improve on all practices in my life. I am making healthier eating choices. I am hiking four miles every morning. I meditate more and have a stronger relationship with my creator. I am more careful who I let into my life and the quality of my relationships has drastically improved.
  2. It is ok to keep things I still use and slowly use them up. This includes things that I have more than one of like pens, shampoo and makeup products. I’m letting go of clothing that just doesn’t make me smile. And I’m accepting the fact that in the kitchen, I really only use a couple of cookware items for everything I make.
  3. It’s ok to acknowledge my fears but then it’s important to let them go and see what happens. I was hanging on to a bunch of “what ifs?” Somewhere in the back of my mind, having come from a well paying job, a big house and a lot of stuff, I kept the thought, what if I want to go back? What if this is not enough? How could I make some side money if I needed too? I held on to my cosmetics business. I had a full inventory stuffed in the storage compartments in the bedroom. I hung on to some of my favorite teaching items in case I went back to the classroom as a sub, or started my own tutoring business. I had fun with the bartending job and started to hang on to thinking I needed that. But all of these things were actually keeping me from focusing on my version of my auntie’s swimsuits, so, I let go. I feel a lighter each day.
  4. I realized creative outlets were a must. Painting and photography supplies as well as my keyboard were my top things to keep. Nothing else mattered. I can have fun with all of that. People have shown me that I can make a difference with these items both by celebrating the beauty of the world around us, and by challenging thinking on the events of the day. I love making money with my art and realized when I started valuing it myself, I have gotten out of my own way so others can value it too. I am an Artist. Also, even with the Pandemic I have knocked out debt and accumulated savings allowing me to keep pursuing what gives me joy. I’m thrilled to be really in it and excited to see what comes of it all.
  5. I have learned to live with less. Originally I got rid of I would guess 80% of my belongings…. and I don’t miss a single thing. Along the way, as life has changed so has what I keep and what. I continue to downsize. For example I am currently working on photo albums, sending them all to virtual land. I no longer need to lug those around as nobody looks at or shares ones photos that way anymore. Possibly my album that I treasure the most I’ll hang onto a little longer.
  6. It’s ok to bring back things I miss. In my case it was plants and beautiful pots. I know I love them but they don’t travel across borders well, so I have determined I will have them where I base camp, and if I can’t keep them alive, I will gift them and start new each time. Funny thing is I’m right now plant sitting for two different sets of fulltimers who summer up north. I have also gone back to paper books… I love them too much. Both of these give me the perfect gifts to share, and keep me focused on having community in my life.
  7. Beware of “To Do” lists, they are no different than things. Even in traveling it is easy to replace things with things I need to do. I quickly got swamped in making my annual plans, figuring out how to budget as a fulltimer, and technical care of my rigs. So being grounded right now due to the virus has taken all of that away. As soon as I got past the anxiety of all of that time in isolation I realized I was getting another gift, more time to focus on what was really important and question was I headed in the right direction.
  8. My job and other things (including my fancy trailer) are not my identity. I think everyone during this pandemic is learning to appreciate the unappreciated workers who we could not live without, and to care for them as fellow humans. I think on top of that having taken up a few side gigs just to see if I could, a kind of mental financial security that many fulltimers go through, gave me the opportunity to go back to my roots in experiencing work for work sake and how much of a difference we can make in people’s lives just by how we interact with them, no matter what the job title is. All of our jobs are just that, a job. Even in a career where one is passionate about what they are doing, this is such a freeing thing to acknowledge. Traveling in an Airstream, reminded me how quickly we can slip back into labels and titles identifying us.
  9. I downsized my use of time. In my new place of quarrentine, I quickly blew through the internet data available and realized how much time I spend online. Sure I could have bought more usage but I paused to think about it. I took an inventory of how I actually spend my time, and more importantly why. I learned that so much time can be spent doing things to simply not feel what one is in the middle of. Allowing myself to feel the anxiety of an unkown future, the sadness of the deaths of friends from Covid and the loneliness of not being with loved ones, allows me to move past that and get to the here and now.

What if this is the new normal? What if I do have to spend all of my time with myself? I guess its pretty important to maximize loving the time I spend with myself and minimize how much I’m simply checking out or numbing from reality around me. I guess it’s important to feel my feelings and then move on towards joy. And it’s also important to continue being real about what I value in my life. After all, shouldn’t we all be our own best company?

Oh and I, like my aunty, believe keeping a nice collection of swimsuits is pretty valuable too, even if for now I can only use them in my doggie pool. Thanks for following!

This Fulltimer is Staying Home!

Hey Folks! Here’s a little piece on what stay at home means to me right now. First of all, what is “home” for a fulltimer? Well, in my case home has been wherever my trailer is. People ask me where I live and I point to the trailer. Right now my trailer is here in the Sonoran Desert. As someone who has been enjoying a nomadic life, sitting still can feel confining. I have had to learn to travel in my imagination, keep the company of myself and explore more deeply who I am and what is important to me, furthering what I started out doing in my original downsize. I have had to learn to be ok getting still and quiet and hearing what my fears and anxiety are gifting me to learn about myself. Everything I have been through in the last couple years traveling as a fulltimer, I believe has prepared me to be right here, stying put, in the desert, one of the most spiritual places I know. I have let go of lots of material things. I believe this has prepared me to go deeper exploring what I value, and what guides me to be a better person once life speeds up again. I know I will look back on the pain and suffering of this time and realize, as in everything difficult, it was giving me an incredible gift.

Right now I have disconnected the battery and am staying still in this river home, while my trailer sits behind me. Staying in this ghost town of a park has allowed me to save precious cash in case things get really tough. It has given me the luxury of a full size refridgerator at which my spinach stayed fresh for one month. Yep! Unbelievable. In my trailer I would have had to get fresh vegies every few days. I get joy from the small things! It has also allowed me to store up on staples like beans and rice, canned spam and canned fruit and veggies if needed. It has kept me healthy and safe.

Sitting still here has given Mr. D. room to run about free indoors, vs his usual back and forth in the one hundred square feet of trailer, although I’m not sure that he really cares. My dog does thouroughly enjoy our morning desert walks and acts like my daily alarm clock if 6:30 am comes about and I have not gotten up yet. I’m guessing as the sun rises earlier that will be 5:30 am, but that’s ok. I enjoy our time as much as he does. I mean who would have believed I would be going for four and five mile hikes into the desert daily. We photograph the sights, commune with burros, track bobcat prints in the sand, collect wild flowers and add to our collection of rocks for our rock garden. Sitting here has allowed me to go within and find my inner strength and courage to be there for my loved ones from afar, and to be there for myself. We are never guaranteed tomorrow and I am grateful each day for everyone of us who is still here.

The photo below is of the closest neighbors I have had up until now, Bob and Dee. They head out to their home parking in Oregon in a few days and I wish them safe travels. All things happen for a purpose and having had these two here is no exception. Dee gets all of the credit for showing me how to navigate the hikes in the desert, how to appreciate small desert finds, and how to build up my organic garden.  It would not be appropriate to share her age. I’ll just say she is a rock star and when I started hiking with her I knew I had to step up my game, and I’m forever thankful. These two have become family. They are both what I call givers, and have taught me to be more of a giver myself. We look out for each other from a distance,  and keep each other’s spirits up.

I also have had the luxury of an outdoor space to create more paintings and show my artwork. Getting lost in my creativity is my favorite way to soothe my soul while all of this craziness goes on around me. I actually hosted a six feet, wear your masks art crawl. Yah, Bob and Dee were the only ones around to come by but it was fun. You have seen some of my pandemic pieces. Here, you’re getting a sneak peak at one piece that has not been released yet and will be on show in an online art exhibit May 1st. I encourage you to look for notice of that and see works from my community of artist friends. All of the artists out there, photographers, musicians, comics, painters and more, have helped me keep going.

“Patron Saint of the Earth” Acrylic on Canvas 16 x 20

fullsizeoutput_2b75

I never thought of myself as an off grid gal but I’m picking up some new skills that will help me get there. I’m working on growing as many vegetables as I can in containers and learning how to blanch them.  Sitting still has allowed me to do that. If you remember when I first went on the move I gifted many of you my beautiful plants and pots. I love seeing them doing well in your gardens. But I am also glad to have some of my own again. As a fulltimer, I am a full believer there needs to be more opportunities for us to have a base camp, or a place we call home that we can return to  when feel the need to sit still.  I love my plants, yet they  are too difficult to take with me. If I could have them in a place I consider to be my base, I could come back to them.

I am picking up other skills such as dog grooming. YouTube is amazing! And here’s a shoutout to UPS for delivering my top of the line grooming tools. I think I did quite well. I’m not sure that my dog would agree that I now possess this as a skill though. If you’d like to see what he has to say check it out here.

 

A lot of my other fulltiming friends have also found a parking spot that allowed them to stay put. Just because we can jet set across the country in our trailers doesn’t mean it would be appropriate. There are so many frontline workers risking their lives to help the rest of us that sitting still until there is a vaccine, is my way of saying thank you, I see you.  Thank you to the nurses and doctors and the scientists. Thank you to the truckers. Thank you to the delivery folks. Thank you to the grocery store and gas station employees. Thank you to the law enforcement and security folks. Thank you to my local park employees. Thank you to the workers in the fields keeping food on my table. Thank you cleaning people who are doing the seriously dirty work, and the folks working the morgues. Thank you to the folks at the post office for delivering my essentials. Thank you to the internet company workers for keeping me connected. I know I am missing someone who is putting their life out there for me. I know there will be plenty of time to be on the move again down the road.

I believe in people’s right to protest, but one has to ask, what if they got it wrong? Is that worth people dieing? Stay safe my friends and give me a facetime, Google Duo or a Zoom shout out if you’d like to “travel” via phone, see the desert and keep entertained as these quarantine times allow the scientists to find solutions for us.

Pandemic Parking

So we’re in a Pandemic. Little did I know my “Tiny Adventures” would take me here. I guess it’s still a tiny adventure. I mean the virus is so tiny it mysteriously leaps through face masks and flies around the world unseen befuddling scientists and experts. Looking back at posts and drafts I had to chuckle as I read some of the comments I wrote. “Expect the Unexpected” was one of my possible titles. I talked about “being flexible and being open to what life puts in front of you”. I imagined the twists and turns I would be taking my blog on. I shared my  “grattitude for time spent with loved ones”, and relief on “overcoming my fears ” of things like my first tow through the Canadian Rockies while it was snowing, or my story about tornado hopscotch. I dreamt about all of the places I would journey to around our beautiful continent, and all of the creative possibilities for some land that I have. Well, little did I know what was right around the corner. And the crazy thing is, I have to remind myself when fear arrives and starts to cripple me into a frozen state, that still, little do I know what is right around the corner. Not knowing brings me back to the here and now. I feel like my whole journey has been a spiritual one of taking risks and stepping out on faith to fully live life in the present moment. It’s been a journey that ironically has prepared me to live life to the fullest in the presence of death , enormous loss, sorrow and global disaster. It has reminded me that in spite of the things happening around me, the sun always rises, life goes on and I have a choice to enjoy this fleeting moment that I get to be here.  Surviving this, living depends on the simple fact that I have a choice in how I think about things. This gives me hope and keeps me joyful. That keeps me breathing.

I was reflecting and felt so grateful as it felt like everything I expereinced in the last four years, two years of downsizing and two years of travel, was preparing me for this moment. I’ve had to grapple with what is most important to me, shed off things that were no longer useful, learn how to be resourceful and learn from my mistakes in a new way of life, find new ways of getting groceries on the road when I couldn’t unhitch and drive somewhere, take care of my health when far from my trusty doctors and medical support system, learn how to stay safe when isolated and stay connected and in community. I have had to face my fears and do things anyway, learn to really live in the moment, appreciate and be grateful for the beauty around me, and get handy and more confident with DIY projects. I have learned to really love time with myself as well as love who I am. I have had to learn a whole new way of budgeting and handling finances since when you are on the road you are booking things sometimes a year in advance and dealing with other unique finance challenges. As a side note, I have to admit its killing me to not be able to take advantage of the diesel prices I’m missing right now! Ayway I have also learned some new skills picking up side gigs here and there where I didn’t have an important title and I could learn to humbly be of service to others.  I have learned how to ditch my “shy” and make friends out of strangers some of which began as internet friends. All of that and more I know is helping me now.

I’m creating a regular routine, which while it lasts, starts with a dog walk, then a cup of coffee and some reflection and meditation, then a five mile hike in the desert, followed by getting a project done. I make up projects for myself and my neighbors. They have joined in the fun and make up projects for me too. And I have found there is a lot more time for making art. I try to connect daily with three people and I incorporate a zoom meeting here and there and spend minimal time on the news in the eveing. I cook all of my food, eat healthy and drink lots of water.  I’m working on starting an organic container vegetable garden. Every few days is cleaning day.  I dress up once in awhile just for kicks. Every night I try to get a solid nights sleep.

Thank you, thank you, thank you….. for reaching out to me and checking on me to see if I had a safe place to be. Reaching out reminds us that we count, somebody cares about us, we matter.  As for parking, I do have a place. I was planning on making the desert my homebase and parking in a park along the river. Instead I have parked my trailer in storage in a park along the river and am living in my boyfriend’s river home. Seeing what was coming he convinced my stubborn, independent don’t need anybody ass that it made sense to try to find ways to live smarter right now and since I was fortunate enough to have the option I  seized it. In doing this we minimize costs and combine resources. I hope folks are thinking creatively how to do the same… lean on each other… help each other.  I also recognized that if I wanted to have some back stock of food, my tiny trailer refridgerator and freezer was not going to cut it. So over time I have been able to build up food resources here allowing me less of those deadly trips to the grocery store. Remember folks it is this week that advice tells us it would be smart to even avoid grocery stores as we head towards the peak of the effects of the virus. Since my guy is mostly in LA working on the frontlines I’m mostly here by myself, with a few other folks who have not left for the summer. When he’s not there, we are quarantined together following all of the advice I hope you all are following.

Also, in looking out for my dear furry companion there is more space for him to run around in doors when we need to stay inside. It will be easier to keep him cool. The less stressed I am the less stressed he is. I am so grateful to have a dog to care for… reminds me of the roll of tiger in the boat in “The Life of Pi.”

I’m not going to lie, I was a little sad unpacking my trailer and cleaning it for the shutdown. I had to make sure it was ready for the intense heat it will be sitting in here. I was disappointed to cancel my first two rallies in Colorado, Airstream and the We Can Tow It rally for Women who tow. Even so, I know this was the right move. I just came out of three days of fighting off intense panick, depression and grief having now lost five people I know to the virus…. and one close friend to other health issues that I’m sure were complicated by the fact they dealt with them during this time. But I am well. I am strong. I have support around me. My faith carries me. My companion dog gives me comfort. My partner does all he can to help me stay safe and in the moments we do see each other we leave it all behind and stay in the joy of getting to know each other. The birds sing to me all day and the desert soothes me. And as for my tiny adventures they will continue in my new living space, and one day I’ll take my rig back out on the road for some more adentures. Don’t get me wrong I’m still about living tiny. This place is a little bigger than mine but it’s still requires minimalist living, so it feels like its just the next leg of the journey.

I have actually been in stay at home mode before the actual order and am ending day 28. My spirits have stayed upbeat. So as I accept this is my life right now, I am finding ways to still contribute, connect, feel joy and dance in the beauty of this planet. I’m loving my loved ones with all of my heart while they too are still here, and I’m finding ways to live life on life’s terms. I hope you are too. I love phone calls in the morning so if you need some human connection call, give a shout out, facetime share our geographies, lift each other up.

As you can see, the Tiny Adventures of ElisaMG continues. It just looks a little different than expected. Thanks more than ever for following.

 

Solo Streaming and Romance?

IMG_8636

Is it possible to have a romantic relationship when traveling on the road? Little did I know I’d get the chance to ask myself that question. Of course isn’t that always the way it is?  We meet someone interesting when least expecting it. So apparently, the answer is, yes! I’ve met a handsome, confident, funny, giving, smart, sweet man, who sees me, gets me and supports me daily. He happens to be a talented chef and entrepeneur. He is also  extremely kind and thoughtful. Gil, I’m so happy you are in my life! 

 

I’m fairly private when it comes to our story, but I did feel I should mention my change in direction. I know those of you who figured it out before this point are smiling. Also, no offense if you are one of those modern day internet couples whose story grows online, or if you are the couple who lives in the same space but communicate to each other on social media. For me, when it comes to my romantic world I’m pretty private, and mostly share with my partner, or our circles. Of course a lot happens online these days so to each his or her own. For nowm I’ll stick to old fashioned methods of sharing.

Anyhow…. back to the original question……Apparently, living this lifestyle attracts quality men. You have to be the kind of guy who is confident and secure with yourself and your own life to be willing to say yes to someone who has the opportunity to float about free like a dragonfly, changing directions with the wind. To be a guy who can hang with a solo stream sister you have to be someone who is whole on his own, has his own life talents and things going on, yet is flexible enough to find a way to make things work, and make the time we have, quality time. As for me, I found Airstream Life has really taught me to be in the moment, and know that everything figures its way out. I don’t have to have all of the answers. With all that is going on in the world right now I have to remind myself of that. If you don’t slow down and enjoy the journey you miss the beauty.

In terms of “Tiny Adventures” I have learned I love the desert and the river so along with meeting this beautiful soul, it made sense to me to make the desert my home base. I’ll be having a lot of fun building my presence in the art community nearby, still enjoying my travels and road trips in a town near you someday soon, but doing so with this as a base for me, while enjoying getting to know this man. I have realized that for me and my reality having to be constantly on the move because I have to is not as glamorous as it sounds. Ironically, some of the you tubers and travel bloggers I have followed, have come to similar conclusions in their journeys. Getting to be on the move because I have chosen to travel somewhere is much more fun. I still am 100% on living tiny, as it allows me to actually live very large! I also believe having a base will allow the future travels I choose to be more interesting then some of the  places I have stopped out of necessity. Traveling solo is great but having a companion to share it with will be cool too.  You may also notice my blog taking a gradual turn to sharing more about my art and what it means to be an artist living in an Airstream.

 

County Parks & California Fires

Prado2

So one question I get a lot of is where do you stay? Where do you park? One way to stay somewhere is through the County Parks system. Of course there are State Parks, where you typically need a state park pass, and National Parks which the same would apply. There are also a lot of gems in local County Parks.  Especially in California, a state that is not super RV friendly. Most parks in California only allow you to stay for fourteen days at a time and also have a limited number of days you can stay in a year which means if you want to stay in California you need to know how to dance about to different parks mixing it up.

On my way to my winter parking location, once I used up my allotted time in Bonelli, I travelled a few miles away to Riverside County’s Prado Regional Park Campground. I was happy about a more reasonable price. I loved the spaciousness around my site. I literally sat by my fire pit in pj’s enjoying down time with myself and I had tons of privacy. I loved that I’m still not far from surrounding cities and my friends could all come visit when I wanted company. There was lots of space to hike around and enjoy the lake views. At night time there was a nice view of the city lights, and, I felt safe from all of the fires popping up in all of the surrounding neighborhoods. Plus the camphost gifted me free firewood, and let me know in spite of the surrounding fires we were in a safe area to have campfires.

prado3

Eventually I knew I would have to get on the road. Once again, I was keeping an eye on my routes, the wind, and weather reports as well as the locations of the fires. Getting caught up in that was definitely not a goal.

In my last days at the park, the only thing interesting was this faint sound of an announcer on a megaphone every once in awhile in the distance. I thought what is that? Is there some event going on somewhere close? Hmmmm….When I finally listened carefully to it and made out what they were saying….. “Prisoner number 65411….. bla bla…. bla bla… bla bla”…. I broke out cracking up. Will I go back there? Um….. yah…. time will tell. We’ll see what else might be available if I find myself in fire filled Southern California again. I’m still laughing.