I Give Up
The Real Reason I Decided on Solo Vanlife
Yep, you read that right. This won’t be the stereotypical downward spiral into the negative reasons why I decided to embark on the solo vanlife journey you may have become accustomed to seeing on the internet, though.
I’m not giving up on life or on my dreams. I’m finally giving up the resistance, pulling against what I want to do. I’m dropping the excuses and, instead, I’m opening my heart to receive opportunities to have & experience whatever I want.
One thing my Life experience has taught me is, everything has a purpose. And that includes anything we feel a positive resonance with as well as anything we perceive in a negative way.
Everything is what it is.
A car is a car, a person is a person, a dollar is a dollar, and I’ve realized that I have a choice in the way I perceive the people, situations, and things that surround me. This perception is what gives or takes away perceived value.
For instance, money is money regardless of how I choose to perceive it.
If I perceive it as the root of evil intentions, the cause of greed, and something I never seem to have enough of, I feel sucky. The money hasn’t stopped being money, though.
If I choose to perceive it as a resource to trade for things and experiences I enjoy in life, I feel good. Still, the money hasn’t stopped being money.
Everything has potential to be whatever we decide to perceive it as. And I’ve learned that when I choose to perceive things in a compassionate and positive way, I feel good. This doesn’t change the person, circumstance, or thing. It’s not intended to. But it does change me.
That means I learn to exercise more control over how I feel without the influence of external things, people, or circumstances. These things are, with or without my perception.
Positivity and compassion are compelled to find their way to me, multiplied, when this is consistently my dominant energy.
So, why vanlife?
Let me be frank. I’ve finally reached that point in my Life experience where I’m ready for more. More adventure. More love. More freedom. More knowledge. More experiences. More fun.
While pondering this idea — what these experiences and emotions mean to me —similar ideas flowed and joined me in this reverie.
Before long, pen in hand, I was sketching out build ideas for a van with perfect measurements, writing out a list of essential things I’ll need, burning the midnight oil binge watching every video on YouTube that had anything to do with building a van from inception to completion, and deciding which electrical, plumbing, and waste/sewage systems would be perfect for my plans.
Diving deeper into several of the vanlife communities I’ve long been a part of on Reddit and downloading app after app packed with tips and tools for campers, vanlifers, and overlanders, my mind was a sponge, absorbing every minute detail.
This mad scientist energy went on for days.
What emerged is probably the most masterful plan I’ve ever conceived.
It’s time to take my life on the road. “But, what does that mean for me?” I thought.
This means I can travel the country (and maybe the continent) like I’ve always wanted. It means I can visit my friends and family from coast to coast as often as I like.
It means I can finally experience the great wonders of our country like the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Rocky Mountains, and the iconic Hollywood sign.
Vacationing in Belize, enjoying authentic Brazilian cuisine, and nomadically free-roaming Canada are all possibilities with endless tendrils of opportunities just waiting to be seized by me.
These ideas produced positively charged emotions that swayed my body to and fro as they pulsed through me. And I wrote down every detail in the pages of my (new) Box Truck Life notebook.
As the days ticked on, increasingly more frequent signs of what I had decided to do were shown to me.
YouTube videos teaching me everything I want to know about building, insuring, and weatherproofing a van to convert into a tiny home on wheels were suggested to me.
Inspired ideas for maximizing the space inside of the truck to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing to me were clear inside my mind’s eye, and I sketched them out using precise measurements.
Box trucks were literally everywhere I looked. I couldn’t go a mile without seeing at least two box trucks. These co(operative)incidences enthused me and fueled my confidence that this is the direction I want to move in.
Of course, other people’s unfavorable vanlife experiences can sometimes leak into my life through these sources (YouTube videos in particular) and I begin to feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew from time to time.
It never lasts long. Within at least 17 seconds, I thank that clarifying thought for the value it brought me and remind myself that I’m built for this.
Consciously re-wiring the synapses in my brain so they fire in a way that’s more pleasing to me has become a habit I’m happy to have picked up. Thank you Dr. Joe Dispenza.
Among the most beautiful, but deadly, places in the world is Belize, Central America, where my father was born and raised. With venomous reptiles like the Fer-de-lance viper and creeping things like ferocious army ants, surviving in Belize is no walk in the park.
Growing up in the 1940s wasn’t easy for young Norm by any stretch of the imagination. Hunting and living on his own in the wilderness, running his own auto repair shop, and working as a master carpenter all his life, however, prepared him to teach his children (all 15, including myself) everything we know about carpentry, auto mechanics, and sustainable outdoor life.
Camping was one of my favorite activities to do as a child, specifically for the food.
While most other families had an array of homemade sandwiches and chips, singed barbecue, or Chinese takeout for dinner, Poppie (as we all know him) used to cook actual meals composed of beans, rice, fried sweet plantains, and our succulent fresh fish.
The aroma would attract neighboring campers, who would always come over and revel at how inventive he was with his use of the campfire to create a complete meal for his family. Most times, they’d join us as we sing, play guitar, and listen to adventurous tales of his life.
With full tummies and smoldering embers in the fire pit, we’d nestle into our family-sized tent (or the back of his Suburban) underneath the stars in the night sky and, to this day, it’s still the best sleep I’ve ever had.
That fond memory is a rejuvenating reminder that my rough tomboyish upbringing — learning carpentry, planting and harvesting crops, cleaning and cooking for a family of 5 — all served a purpose. It prepared me for this decision to embark on a vanlife journey of my own.
The idea of becoming a vanlifer turned out to be more attractive than I initially thought.
Social Media content offers an array of perspectives on this lifestyle choice. Some believe it to be difficult and stressful while others perceive it to be freeing and fun. So, I did my own research and relied on my intuition to guide me.
While gradually gathering all the necessary details to make an informed decision, I figured that the first step would be to decide on the type of truck I want and why.
I found that truck.
Most days, you can find me in my car. Yeah, I’m one of those people. And a few days ago, while in said car, I saw a clear sign that this decision to embark on the vanlife journey is ready for me.
You see, my mind tends to wander as I search for the best words to convey the information I’m writing or editing and I slip into what can be described most accurately as a “daydream”.
My eyes defocus on the environment around me so that everything blurs and I turn my awareness inward to listen for answers.
When words that resonate with what I want to say align with a positive emotion, I’ve got it. My awareness then returns to the present moment. The blur gradually fades as the screen comes back into focus and I type or write what I’ve received.
This happens in a matter of seconds most times but can take up to several minutes depending on the material being written.
A lot of times, depending on the direction my eyes wandered to before doing this, there’s something in my line of sight when I refocus.
Often times something interrupts my “daydream” by moving into my line of sight, causing me to refocus sooner than expected.
There’ve also been times when I’ve refocused to find I’m unintentionally staring someone down. Those are awkward moments. We’re not going to talk about it.
On this day, however, it was a bird that had flown into my line of sight, suddenly bringing my awareness back.
It sung a song I hadn’t heard the red cardinals in the neighborhood sing before, and I searched for it in the area it had flown in, knowing right away that this bird was different.
It was tiny, lemon-colored with black-tipped wings and the cutest little charcoal smudge covering only the foremost part if its face. Quickly darting its little head left to right, then toward the ground — presumably pecking at food — and repeating, it seemed to not notice my presence.
As I gazed on in reverence at the magnificent life form in front of me, the corners of my mouth turning upward ever so slightly, an idea came to me: see if you can figure out what type of bird that is.
Ooh! Something new to learn.
Like the nerd I am, fingers moving at lightning speed, I poured over the Google results on “little yellow bird with black wing tips” and prepared my cup to be filled with knowledge.
Near the top of the results list was an image that was identical to the little birdie I had seen. The American Goldfinch. I glanced back quickly at it, playfully, wanting to confirm that I’d solved the mystery, but it was gone.
“Of course,” I laughed to myself, “you only wanted me to look you up.” And as that thought passed, another quickly moved into frame, “But, why?” That new question sparked a new impulse.
While typing in my earlier search query, one of the predictive options included “spiritual meaning”. Hmm. What’s the spiritual meaning of the American Goldfinch?
What returned broadened my smile.
Turns out that the American Goldfinch is the state bird of Washington (along with New Jersey and Iowa). Washington is what’s significant here.
Anyone who knows me knows that, for as long as I can remember, the Pacific Northwest has called to me. Mountains, rainforests, brisk weather, cloudy skies, these are all things that call to me, to my soul.
When the first images of Seattle and Oregon made it to me some years ago through internet research, movies, books, videos, and television shows, the energy of the environment connected with me deep down. I knew I belonged there.
My awareness was suddenly focused back on that seemingly unimportant impulse to research a bird I’d never seen before, and how that impulse had now expanded into something greater.
I thought, it’s a real possibility that getting this solo journey into vanlife idea into motion will allow me to discover the true reason that specific region calls to me so. I’ll be able to experience it in person.
And that excitement, that resonance, is what reminds me that this is my path. This is where my journey has brought me.
Everything I’ve learned in my life up to this point has prepared me in some way for this project. And I feel ready to be ready for it.
Turns out that delightful bird is believed, in the Christian faith, to be a symbol of prosperity and abundance. It comes as the soul of a lost loved one.
For me, it’s an affirmation that I will travel to Washington state, prosperity and abundance are mine, and that, even when traveling solo, I’m never alone.
It’s a reminder that there are Universal Forces on all sides guiding and protecting me along my path, lighting the way for me.
Joy filled my entire body and goosebumps rippled down my arms. I know that’s my Inner Being’s physical manifestation of agreement with what I’m feeling.
But wait, there’s more.
A day after this wonderful co(operative)incidence, the caretaker for my pet phoned as a reminder that Zeus is, once again, getting low on food. “I’ll get it and take it to him tomorrow,” I noted aloud to myself.
The following day, a Thursday, while making my way to him with his food, what do I see on the side of the road with a huge For Sale sign in the front window but the exact truck, with the exact dimensions, that I had chosen for this journey!
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
My mouth falls open and my big brown eyes eyes widen in surprise as exhilaration surges through me. My FaceTime caller and I pause from our usual playful banter to revel in the magnificence of this moment (he’s really supportive of my dreams, and I love that about him).
We decide it’s worth it to go back and see how much they’re asking for it. The money may not be in my hand right now, I pondered, but I have to stop and at least see what they say. Can’t hurt to ask.
The remaining 8-mile drive to drop off dog food seemed too long. My mind was buzzing with ideas and possible scenarios on the best way to get that truck.
It wasn’t only that it was a box truck for sale. It’s literally the sixteen-foot U-haul box truck with the mom’s attack option that I decided was the best fit for the build I planned only two weeks ago!
At first glance, the open lot was nearly empty, save for a couple of tractor units and one or two passenger cars.
It’s a tractor unit repair shop off one of the many two-lane highways in Ohio. A road I’d taken many times in the past.
I didn’t know quite what to expect from this interaction (and, in hindsight, I should have done some segment intending before I went inside) but I somehow trusted that this isn’t just a fluke.
As I enter the air conditioned, empty customer waiting area, I take in the surroundings in search of movement in the back or a bell to signal to anyone within earshot that someone is at the front desk.
A sign posted prominently on that desk reads: “It costs zero dollars to be nice.” Another sign that I’m in the right place at the right time.
Eventually, when no one had come to help me, I exited the office and walked around to the open garages where faint riveting noises echoed inside.
Seeing tractor units up so close made me feel smaller than I already am on my 5 foot 2 inch frame. The humor of it tickled me.
Looking around for human life among the large rubber tires, hoses, lifts, and shiny metal, my eyes catch those of a worker sitting atop one of the units, a smartphone in his hand. He springs up and jogs over to me.
“Can I help you?” He towers over me, clearly taller than six feet, and not tough on the eyes either, but his smile is warm.
“Nobody was in the office,” I respond kindly.
“Yeah,” his smile widens, “the owners are at a meeting and I’m not sure when they’ll be back.”
I ask him about the box truck out front and he walks me over to it, chatting with me along the way.
He allowed me to take pictures — including the sale sign up front, which included the number to the owner of the truck — and then ran inside to grab a business card for me.
During our discourse, he happily brings my attention to the fuel lines that they completely redid recently, and assures me that it runs great.
In my mind, I was doing cartwheels! It looks like it’s been out of use for a few months as evidenced by the thin layer of dust accumulated on the exterior as well as a part or two with superficial rust. Nothing I can’t fix.
The outside could use some TLC, sure. It’s not new and it’s far from perfect, but it’s perfect for what I’m going to use it for. That’s good enough for me.
Accepting his business card and settling into this feeling of perfect alignment, I hop back into my car and head to the park for my daily trail hike.
Though no money has changed hands, it feels like the truck already belongs to me. And I think that’s one of the keys to manifestation: feeling the joy of having it before it arrives.
It’s like I already know it’s mine and when I think about it, I feel so good I could lift up off the ground and float away.
Maybe this is what I’m always supposed to feel like. I like it, and could definitely get used to it.
When I felt ready, I called the number on the sale sign to inquire about the truck.
The stern baritone voice on the other end of the line is intimidating but kind.
“Does it run?” I ask.
“Yes,” he responded, “it does.”
“How much are you asking for it,” hopeful to get an answer I like.
“Two thousand,” he said without a hitch.
Perfect! Now, I know what number to shoot for. My feeling of joy didn’t budge. I knew I was led here for a reason and I know it will work out for me one way or another.
I told him of my exciting plans for converting the truck into a tiny home and living in it and asked if he’d be willing to donate it toward my project.
“It’s not mine,” he said regretfully, “it belongs to a customer and I doubt he’d do that.”
Without thinking too much about it, and having run out of words to say, I felt the impulse to end the conversation and politely thanked him for his time, placing the phone down on the bed next to me.
Okay, we have a number. Now, what’s the path of least resistance to get two thousand dollars to buy this perfect truck and start this journey? I asked my Higher Power.
With new asking comes new answers. Having clarified the question, now it’s time to get into the Receiving Mode for the answer.
Feeling confident that Universal Forces are tending to my desire and will deliver what I want to me in perfect timing, I decided to appease my growling tummy with leftover Alfredo pasta from a local pizza place, head out to grab some coffee (Starbuck’s is life), and spend some time at the park where I can finish up this blog entry (it’s a beautiful day out, by-the-way).
Apart from that, I feel good. I accept that my part is done and, in the meantime, will continue sketching out the specifics of my idea and ponder some names for my non-binary box truck conversion.
Yeah, it’s totally a “thing” to choose a name and gender for your converted van. This way, you can connect with and reverence the Life in your new home and highlight how it represents your Spirit and why you chose the vanlife journey. It’s pretty sweet.
So, for names, I’m thinking White Lotus. Then, I can build the inside so it’s reminiscent of a spa. On the exterior, I can paint a beautiful white lotus flower with stars emanating from its petals, symbolizing the journey of enlightenment this truck is helping me traverse. Yeah, I like that.
Remember, everything is possible when you believe.
Oh, and always trust the process, trust yourself.