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Asking for Help (in finding my AdventureMobile!)

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

Saturday was a hard day.

I meant to spend all of it cleaning out what I thought was my new RV-to-be.

To begin, much of the morning went to a conversation with my mom and my friend Wiley regarding a recent social media story I posted regarding a disturbing hate-speech type slogan on a billboard in my hometown of Cody, Wyoming. It was a vital conversation that provided more context from all sides ... and by the end of it I was eager to get to my #1 task of getting my RV road-ready.

Finally, around 12:30 pm, Wiley and I headed over to take stock of things with the 2002 Ford E350 mini RV I'd planned to buy from my friend Meredith sometime this week. As I boarded her, sat down, and took stock of the reality of her pros and cons, it hit me like a ton of bricks: This was not the right vehicle for me to set out on my Hero's Journey in.

I didn't want to admit this, especially because of how connected I felt to the RV, whom I'd planned to name Fey, in the terms of the narrative of my story, my Hero's Journey. She, and her owner, Meredith, were the ones who had re-inspired me to hit the road in the first place. To explain, let me rewind a little bit.

"Virginia's leaving"

In January of this year, over my 31st birthday, I spent 11 days in Tennessee with my cousin and best friend, Caety (thank you Mom for the birthday gift of that plane ticket). During those 11 days, Caety -- who recently completed her Masters in Social Work and now works as a clinical therapist -- and I processed through countless hours of current, lifelong, and generational trauma in our lives (another, more-detailed blog post on that, later).

Caety and me in Tennessee in January 2021

For now, what's important is that all this perspective --- all this making conscious of unconscious desires and wound --- led to the realization that the most vital step I need take in my life was not actually making a business plan to turn my parents' ranch into a healing retreat center, but to leave my family ranch behind. To depart my hometown, to find autonomy rather than self-imposed dependency on my parents.

It led to me realizing that divinity ranch was not an idea to be superimposed on my parents' resources and actual ranch, but rather a creative platform and energetic (magical) meeting place I carry with me, find, document, and share wherever I go. 

The immediate plan I hatched was to go to the Northwest coast, find a bungalow, get some kind of low key job, continue building divinity ranch as a platform, and finish my first book manuscript. The ocean has been calling me since I spent six months in the highlands of inland Guatemala during the first half of 2020, and I felt la mar might offer me the space para florecer (to blossom).

Upon returning to Wyoming, the person I most dreaded telling about my plans to leave was Meredith. She had taken over (from me) running my parents' barn and horse operation, and she and I had dreamed up big big things for collaborating to turn the place into a sustainable healing, retreat, and backcountry adventure basecamp destination ... not to mention somewhere to film movies, to create and share a creative and artistic aesthetic that reflected the vision of our wild feral feminine equine hearts.

Meredith and me in December, 2020 at a Horsemanship Clinic she was co-instructing (photo: Michael Poulsen)

Now, I had to tell her that none of that could happen, at least not yet. Not until I went out and cultivated the voice and lifestyle and creative expression that actually reflected who I ACTUALLY, FULLY, HOLISTICALLY AM, not who I thought my parents or hometown (quite intertwined in my unconscious) wanted me to be. Staying not just in Cody, but on my parents' ranch (and home since birth) was an unconscious way to keep myself bound, restricted, small, and acceptable.

Now being conscious of that, I couldn't unsee what I had seen. I knew as my friend, Meredith would support my new insight and way forward 100 percent. I also knew it would be devastating to part ways and put some of our shared dreams on hold, or back into the creative fire to be composted into something else entirely.

As Meredith and I sat talking at the table in my cabin (scene of countless hours of deep, rollicking, heart-opening conversations over tea and spliffs), she instantly confirmed the energetic power of our connection by informing me she already knew I was going. On the very same night when my cousin and I had journeyed (with the gentle, micro-dose guidance of Mother Mushroom) on the last stretch of our deep processing, and all had come clear as I came into direct contact with my inner child and knew I had to go, Meredith had also sat up in bed at 3 am with the words, "Virginia's leaving," on her lips. She had only been waiting for me to confirm what she'd already sensed without a doubt.

A (nomadic) future recalled

And so as I confirmed my imminent departure and she her premonition of it, we both cried together in a stuff-of-life mixture of relief and remorse, delight and devastation, total understanding and complete uncertainty. We continued smiling through our tears as we discussed next steps in both our lives, and it was then Meredith casually mentioned selling her RV to buy a truck that could pull a horse trailer.

Suddenly, something cocked into place, triggering a remembrance of my destiny. 

Come with me one more zoom-out and back, if you will. See, I was supposed to be spending this year of 2021 in Australia. I had applied for and received my second-year Working Holiday Visa back in March of 2020, and my plan had been to spend the majority of 2020 into 2021 in Central and South America (becoming communicative in Spanish at last), and then return Down Under to reunite with my (ex) Australian boyfriend Ollie and spend the rest of 2021 into 2022 year there. I'd spent hundreds of hours imagining an Aus 2021, and much of that daydreaming cast me living the nomadic creative dream, aka van life, as I continued to hone my photo and video skills, grow my creative platform, and, you guessed it, finish the manuscript of my first book.

Me in Tasmania in spring 2019 by Ollie’s Holden Commodore, which we lived out of (Photo: Oliver Rodden)

Covid, along with a difficult and amicable breakup with Ollie, had changed my plans drastically for 2020 as well as 2021. Going back to Australia had ceased to be an option, and I'd dismissed all my previous Down Under dreaming as no longer relevant, and, quite frankly, painful in its impossibility.

Yet in that moment when Meredith off-handedly mentioned selling her RV, it was like I remembered my future.

Of course, that's right! I'm not going to find some place to rent somewhere on the coast, I'm going to go live on the road! All my van life dreaming wasn't for naught; it just wasn't where I thought it would be! 

All my previous imaginings of sitting cross-legged on my laptop pounding away before a sprawling open-air back-hatch vista of ocean cliffs and endless sky came flooding back, and it was easy and delicious to transfer the scenes from Aus to North America. The best part, I realized, was that if I did van life here in North America, I could take my dogs and my cat on the road with me (leaving my animals had always constituted the most difficult part of all the international traveling I'd done).

Done deal, I thought. And, how perfect, how meaningful, how utterly and conveniently fitting to do it all in Meredith's RV that had taken her so many wonderful places ... And now it would be like we were switching places in a beautiful cosmic dance as she took over caretaking the barn and the horses at my family's place, and I took over the RV wayfarer status and carried the mobile torch onward, wherever it sought to burn.

Don't throw the baby out ...

Now, I told you the flavor of my Hero's Journey, and of my creative world (divinity ranch), is to be honest. To grow in self-actualization, to document the challenges and triumphs and whatever comes up, for real.

I think documenting real life magic (which is my mission for divinity ranch) means showing how the hardest stuff can turn into soft landings that, while they may seem to take you down a notch, are actually going to help you get up to where you really want to go. 

So, I can tend to be an all-or-nothing person. It's like, okay, it can't just be that Meredith reminded me of what I deeply, truly desire to do ... perhaps am destined to do ... to go out and document magic on the road. No, it's also got to be that because the reminder came from her mentioning she's selling her RV, then it must be her RV I'm taking. But this need not be so.

I do love to use the trusty old phrase, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." (Graphic as it may be, it gets the point across). And that's what I'm talking about here.

Just because I'm going doesn't mean I'm taking Meredith's RV; just because I've realized Meredith's RV isn't the one I'm taking doesn't mean I'm not going. 

I need not believe that rejecting part of a premise means I need reject the whole thing.

Furthermore, this is self-actualization, magic, alchemy, call it what you will ... in action: Taking something that seemed like the most sad and shameful thing (going back on what I said I was going to do, potentially disappointing my dear friend, suddenly feeling utterly lost and despondent with that most obvious way forward stripped away from me), and turning it into a beautiful opportunity to learn and to grow. What seemed like the worst thing might actually be the best thing.

Now, don't think that a big part of my Saturday depression didn't stem from being afraid of what other people would think. It did. The day after I posted my first blog telling everything what I was doing, I changed what I was doing. Classic, Virginia. (Or, perhaps worse: Classic Virginia). How's that one gonna come across?

In the moment when I had to admit to myself Meredith's RV wasn't for me, I wanted to go hide under a rock and sob til I turned into an actual and literal living sob story, imagining what a pathetic, wishy-washy disappointment I am to the world, to my friends, to myself.

Then, again, I came up for a gasp of emotional air/perspective and saw that, this kind of backpedaling, these kind of processes, these kinds of reroutes ... these are what makes this story worth telling, and worth sharing.

I want to share that I don't have all this figured out, and I'm forging forth anyway. I want to share how an ideal that was at least partially based in fantasy and pleasing other people, when actively and honestly acknowledged, can alchemize into its magical truth. The magical truth lies in me being brave enough to say: 

"What I thought I wanted, upon deeper investigation, is not actually what I want at all. And I'm okay with that. I'm okay with that because by being okay with it --- and only by being okay with it --- can I begin to discover what I do actually desire." 

What I Actually Desire

Meredith's RV has a lot of great aspects, like an ideal size for two people (or one person with three animals!), an awesome kitchen set-up, a toilet and shower, a generator, and despite her vintage model, only just over 30,000 miles. These are all wonderful aspects that make her RV a wonderful choice ... for someone for whom those are the things topping their list for what they desire in their AdventureMobile.

And yet, almost none of the best things about Meredith's RV are actually what's at the top of my list.

At the top of my Adventure Mobile Desire List, if I had it all my way:

  • Conversion Van.

  • Four Wheel Drive (because I desire to be living *far* out on public land as often as I can, and it's often poorly-maintained dirt roads that will get you there).

  • A loft space for sleeping.

  • Lots of creative storage.

  • Composting toilet (which my friend Kesia just informed me could literally be a bucket with a toilet seat on it ...)

  • Something do-ably big enough for me, my two dogs, and my cat (my standards are much more flexible on this than the average person's would be.)

  • Something aesthetically beautiful and ready to be moved right into the second I purchase it (for my passions and priorities right now, any kind of carpentry projects needing to be done are not the list. Getting creative about how to organize my things in a tiny home-on-the-go will be pragmatic-and-space-related project enough for this wordsmith ... I got nothing to prove with the DIY stuff, y'all. I'd rather document, share, and be inspired by other people's stories with their hands-on passion projects).

  • Water storage of some kind.

  • Mechanically runs like a dream.

  • In a price range of $10,000 - $20,000.