Saturday, August 18, 2012

DETOURS, PART II

The previous post was about the literal detours we've made during our first 6 months on the road in our RV. Today's post is about detours in the figurative sense ....

Despite the problems we had with the RV and all the hassles of detouring and trying to get them fixed, RVPainter and I continued to have fun. BUT, there's no question that it got to me sometimes. And it wasn't just the problems, it was the whole CHANGE thing - a huge transition for a girl whose always been all about "home." I LOVE having a home, I LOVE creating a lovely home, decorating it, arranging it, rearranging it - these are creative pleasures that are a big part of my life. Suddenly, these are gone.

And, I've always liked the security of knowing where home is and the comfort of familiarity and routine. But routine can also become synonymous with "rut." I've never been adventurous, and I've often been afraid to experience life to its fullest. I know that about myself, and it's something I've wanted to change.

Nova Scotia was our first long stop - a full month. We'd been looking forward to this rest from covering rather a large amount of territory in a short time. We thought, "This is when we'll start to see how you 'live' in this kind of lifestyle - as opposed to acting like you're on vacation all the time." I thought I'd write and RVpainter would paint.

But when we stopped, suddenly all my fears about the magnitude of this change and about the future crashed down on me. It was unfamiliar, we had no TV stations and internet was spotty. Everything that could possibly come up did - fears about all the awful things that could go wrong and fears about not knowing where we would end up or if I'd ever get back to having a home again. Not knowing how to make a daily life in this new set of circumstances. For about two weeks my anxiety was high and free-flowing.

But then I read a wonderful book by Robert Gerzon called, "Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety," which helped me a lot.

I began to realize that I have become conditioned from childhood to "achieve". To always be doing, working, studying, producing. Striving and toiling. And that a big part of my problem was adapting to doing less - to in fact doing little more than just ... enjoying the day and the scenery. In the past I've been able to relax easily on vacation, but I realize that it was because I knew it was temporary. To see that same sort of relaxation stretch on indefinitely into the future seemed to terrify me!

In his book, Gerzon says to ask yourself what God would want to say to you about the situation you're struggling with, and this is what I thought he'd say: "Melissa, you've been striving and toiling your whole life. It really would be just fine with me, and with everyone, if you goof off for a while. A long while. No one is waiting for you to deliver anything. No one is pressuring you to write your next book, or to produce anything. Only you are creating that pressure. See that beautiful ocean I created over there? Why don't you just go appreciate how beautiful it is, how wonderful the warm sun feels on your face and the cool breeze on your skin.Give it break, girl, it will be okay, it really will. "

Slowly but surely, I started to become comfortable with just "being" and not having to be "doing." One day I noticed that I wasn't worrying anymore; that I had moved into a place where I had handed over my fears about the unknown future to a higher power. I've always been a worrier, and I realized that worrying only makes you suffer constantly over things that haven't actually even happened. It steals the joy from the present. Since mid-way through Nova Scotia, I've found that I haven't been worrying much at all.

So ultimately what I realized is that this whole RV adventure is a DETOUR for me in my way of LIFE that I badly needed. It's not that I want to goof off forever. I'd get bored. I do want to write my next book, and the next and the next. But I felt pressured to get right to it, to not lose the momentum created by my first book. I also realized though, that I needed to back off from that and let the book emerge from my heart and my soul, and not from a place of pressure. And that the only person putting that pressure on me, was ... me.

I don't want to just write books to make money, I really want my books to be the best they can be. I want to be very proud of them, and I want them to delight my readers. My first book took me quite a while to write. Inspiration didn't just come to me continuously - it came to me over time. So I've decided to trust that I'm just where I'm supposed to be, doing just what I'm supposed to be doing, and that everything will come around.

If I just travel and see new places and experience new things, sit on beaches and under trees, rest and read and take walks, think and pray and appreciate for a while longer, I think it will be just fine. The point will come when I'm raring to get back to work, and the time will come when my next home will find me, and it will all be at exactly the right time.

15 comments:

  1. Such a powerful post. Thank you so much. Home is immensely important to me, I don't like change and I do see how my preferences can be confused with being in a rut. I will give this a great deal of thought.

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    1. Well I think being a homebody is a fine thing and I look forward to being one again someday. But I do think I've "played it safe" in the way I've lived and followed more or less one path that is like a rut. But that doesn't mean you are in one!

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  2. I guess the thing is to just BE in the moment and find whatever joy is there for you. Easier said than done I would think.

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    1. It's REALLY hard at first. But if you stay with it, it becomes more normal. It's staying with it that is hard - we fill our lives with lots of distractions large and small to stay in "doing" mode. Not that it's bad - it's just different!

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  3. This was an excellent post, Melissa. Look at what God is teaching you on this trip -- life changing!! I know exactly what you mean about being conditioned all your life to be achieving, productive, doing, useful, etc. It's so very hard to SLOW DOWN. Usually, just when you find yourself really getting used to it, and liking it, life speeds up again. :) Blessings on you both. Do ENJOY your slower life while you have it. God is probably giving you stores/reserves of rest so you can do something really important down the road.

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    1. For some reason I thought of you when I was writing this for some reason. I am enjoying it, and I do think there is a reason yet to be revealed for this "time out." Thanks for the words of support.

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    2. p.s. I'll keep in mind that part about enjoying it now because it will speed up again - I know that to be so true - the cycles of life...

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  4. Great post. I'm so glad you're feeling more settled. I think for me the problem would be getting past the 'being on holiday' feeling at all! That book sounds like the perfect read. I can really relate to your 'I want my books to be the best they can be' - that's exactly how I feel too. Take care and be happy :-)

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    1. Thanks Annalisa - once I settled down, it seemed like maybe I WOULD be comfortable being on holiday all the time! I've notice that with the ease of self-publishing, many authors seem to want to spit things out quickly and I have been very disappointed with some of the quality - even writers I really like. I don't want to be like that! Your book was very intriguing and kept me guessing - when I'm settled down a bit more, I want to write a review.

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  5. Melissa, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. I have been struggling with some of the same issues, accepting that I am "retired" and that all the pressure I'm used to putting on myself isn't necessary. I'm so glad you figured this all out, and very quickly I might add. I am in the same place with the book I am writing, just allowing it to emerge.
    Karen

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    1. Karen, it all happened remarkably fast - the feelings, the panic - and then these sources of information coming at me just as I needed them. I can't say I've got it "all figured out" but I am certainly in a much better place and far more open to letting things emerge and less intent on thinking I have to come up with all the answers myself. It's so helpful when we know that others are struggling with the same challenges - we can support each other through them!

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  6. Ahhhh.

    Thank you Melissa. The most challenging part of life for me is precisely what speak of in this latest blog.
    From the "doing," the "achieving," and the "producing," to the fact that just yesterday I got clearer about relaxing and loving what God created for us to enjoy, and the push to write more stuff, to get it done fast so the next thing can be started!

    Ahhhh. I can hear you now.

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    1. Oh Shelley, how glad I am to know you are out there with your beautiful spirit and wisdom. And to know that we share these challenges - what a relief to know we aren't alone xo

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  7. What an amazingly profound post this is, Melissa. Your words just make me want to sit quietly for a moment or two and ponder them.

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    1. Karen, so good to know all these good people out there - the connections and support are such a treasure.

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