I used to get my fingernails painted in multi-colors before it became a fad. I used to get my hair dyed red with a blonde streak. I used to wear big bold earings. I used to shave my legs and arm pits more often. I used to take a shower everyday and wear a little make-up… foundation, mascara, and lipstick.
Now, I’ve let my hair color grow out to its natural gray, my fingernails are colorless, my pierced ears have closed, I only wear lipgloss on my face, I take more “sponge baths”, and I do laundry every 8-10 days depending upon when my underwear runs out. I’ve even changed my avatar.
TMI? Who cares? What does this have to do with staying strong?
I’m still me but my priorities are transforming. The most obvious ways are physical, but the exciting changes are more psychological and spiritual. The more somber adjustments are due to growing older.
I’m strong in my commitment to living an RV life-style where less becomes more and where we park becomes home. My initiative to simplify my beauty requirements makes me stronger, more confident, more authentic as a person.
I feel more real. What you see is what you get. And my hope is that you see the goodness of my soul and the strength of my love.
Staying strong also requires relationships that are strong. And I am so blessed with a circle of family and friends that support, inspire, challenge, and advise me.
More importantly they accept the real me and help me deal with my ever changing reality. I hope you can say that I do this for you too. Yes, being authentic requires strength. It’s so much easier for me to deny my negative feelings and insecurities and just put on a happy face for the world to see.
But sometimes, when I’m all alone with myself, I sit in a dark place. Yes, this takes strength too because I have to face my shortcomings and find a way out.
And this is where I need my family and friends to support me, accept me, and lend me their strength to see that light out of the darkness.
By now you are probably wondering what happened to inspire me to write this post… Here’s the story:
Jeff and I have been work camping hosts in southwest Oregon for almost 3 months now. Just as we are beginning to feel more confident and comfortable in our duties, Jeff falls on June 19th sprinting after our dog, Casey, who pushes open the RV’s screen door to chase a guest’s cat. His right leg goes numb and gives out, causing him to do the splits, fall on his back, and end up with his right leg up in the air like a contortionist. After Jeff drops the F-bomb loudly several times, Casey returns and I am prepared to take Jeff to the nearest hospital Emergency Room in Coquille, some 25 miles away.
I go into my dark place of thoughts. Jeff needs surgery, his Obama Care high deductible insurance will deplete our cash flow, we will have to relinquish our camp host job, and even end our RV lifestyle.
Eventually, Jeff scoots on his butt back to the RV. Charlotte lends him crutches and an ice pack. I buy ace bandages. Jeff doctors himself via WebMD.
While Jeff ices, wraps, rests, and turns black and blue, I feel obliged to work extra hours here to make up for Jeff’s absence. I find myself back in my dark place once again as I wallow in my fear of financial security and my resentment of carrying the responsibility of our workload commitment. I am so ashamed to admit this, but it’s true. How quickly I forget about what attracted me to Jeff to begin with and that was his ability to not only survive without a financial cushion, but to enjoy the smell of the roses in his life everyday!
Things change again on July 1st as I enter my dark place twice on the same day!
I go to Coos Bay to get my teeth cleaned at South Coast Dentistry.
I do my homework (since I do not carry dental insurance) and ask Charlotte and Gary if they can recommend a dentist. Bob and Deb, friends of C&G who live in Coquille, tell me about the Coos Bay dentists. So I make an appointment and pay only $45 to have my teeth cleaned. Jeff, on the other hand had already gone to a dentist in Roseburg and spent over $2000 and that did not even include all the work they recommended. I enter the dark place of no dental care coverage.
When Jeff, the dogs, and I return (we don’t dare leave our dogs behind because they bark a little bit… well, that’s a whole other story…) Chris and Mary, who take our place in the winter, well for the last 3 years, anyway, have arrived. I mean, brilliant architectural engineer who can run circles around Jeff’s skill level and who refers to Charlotte and Gary as his parents, has arrived to stay while we are also here work camping. Jeff is barely gimping along and I am just starting to feel comfortable and confident in my responsibilities.
Apparently Chris and Mary are between gigs and on their way to Alaska. Indeed, Chris runs circles around us! He’s cleaning the Pavillion chimney and A-frame roof, sawing off tree limbs, cutting the grass, filling propane tanks, sharpening Gary’s tools… Once again the dark place beckons.
On July 2nd I confront Charlotte with my uncomfortable feelings and wonder if Jeff and I should leave. She reassures me but I keep a low profile. I am hit with my feelings of inferiority. I go into yet another dark place.
And then, just as I am getting into a walking routine by doing laps around the property, I trip and fall on my knee on my second lap on July 7th. I am bleeding and shaken and I stop walking. I shower and go out to water when I discover that my knee is swelling, It looks like a misshapen water balloon and feels like one too! First Jeff, then me… Now I am going to deplete our cash flow. My health insurance is from Ohio! WebMD becomes my doctor too. I am prepared to find an Urgent Care Clinic in another week. I am in a major dark place now.
Jeff and I are potential Workers’ Compensation liabilities for Charlotte and Gary and they severely limit our chores and duties. And then I find out that we are being replaced by new camp hosts in early August, a month earlier than our plans!
How I stay strong and work my way out of the dark with a lot of help from my family and friends…