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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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.
And those are the most important things to me. Decent gas mileage would be nice too, and four wheel drive is more important to me for what I desire to do and to share.
So, sitting there enduring the painful come-to-Jesus that this was not really what I wanted, it became obvious to me (in a way it couldn't when I wouldn't allow myself to really examine what I actually desired rather than just what was first presenting itself to me) that perhaps the most valuable thing about Meredith's RV --- it's incredibly low mileage --- was not actually even something that was very important to me. But again, without having actually examined what was most important to me, it was easy to focus on the good things (content) about her RV and feel like that was good enough reason to go ahead, without examining the context of how that content fit in with what I really wanted to do.
*** Note to self: Go deep and be honest enough to figure out WHAT YOU REALLY WANT.
So why is the mileage not really that important to me, as long as the engine and overall mechanics are doing well and have some good years left in them? Because I view this Hero's Journey as something of a journalistic, diaristic assignment that I'm embarking upon ... something that might last a year, two years, three years at most, at least in this particular vehicle. I don't need something that will last me another decade...
I need something that can take me deep into the mountains and forests, through the snow and over the rivers and deep into the Wild Heart of America, and that is ready to go there now.
So everyone can get what they desire
So, there I was on Saturday, once again dreading telling Meredith about a big change in my plans that would affect her. And yet, I had also consciously gained enough perspective, or come far enough in my cultivation of emotional and relational awareness, to realize that...
To think that I need to be someone else's savior, or that I know for sure how my actions are going to affect them, is narcissistic of me and disempowering to the other person. This is not to say we ought not to constantly consider how our actions will affect others (indeed this is the anecdote to narcissism); it's just to say it's also vital to communicate with others throughout the process so we can actually give them a chance to tell us for real how our actions are affecting or will affect them, and then we can go from there, and then communicate some more, and go from there, and so on, and on, and on ...
Not surprisingly, the first thing Meredith said when I told her I wasn't going to be buying her RV was, "I know." She'd, of course, sensed the shift in my energy that very Saturday, and, once again, had only been waiting for me to tell her.
The conversation I'd dreaded turned into yet another vehicle for increased closeness. Meredith shared with me how my wanting to buy it had helped her actually start to take the steps to get ready to do what she did, indeed desire to do: sell her RV. She'd been putting off the moving out and cleaning process (largely because of the devastating trauma in mid 2020 of losing her best friend and co-captain, Rosebud, may she Rest In Peace, always ), and me planning to buy the RV from her had inspired her to get in there and get stared with the steps that were going to lead to closure, and to her being able to do what she wanted --- sell the RV --- even if it wasn't to me.
Also, by not needing to prove I was "going to do what I said I'd wanted to do, come hell or high water," and therefore go forward with something I actually did not desire to do, now the right person for Meredith's RV can actually have that RV. By being honest and acknowledging what I desire, and communicating about it, I am opening the way for Meredith's RV to go to her rightful home, as well as for me to find mine.
If I had gone ahead just for the sake of "saving face" with my audience and with my friend, afraid of the shame of having been wrong or the conflict of admitting I don't actually desire to do what I said I would, then not only would I have created a resentful and toxic situation in which I felt "forced" to purchase something I didn't actually want, I would have also kept this marvelous RV's true next owners/adventurers from finding happily-ever-after with her, because she does check all their top desires and needs boxes.
And you know, despite my backtracking, I do wish to give myself at least some kudos for the point in the process at which I realized and was able to admit I needed to backtrack. I figured all this out BEFORE I officially purchased an RV that didn't actually check the boxes of my desires rather than AFTER doing so.
I am still extremely unaware on many fronts, and, and I am becoming aware of that which I am unaware of sooner in the process --- in earlier rather than later stages of the Journey. This is progress!
And so, all this is to say, Meredith's marvelous RV is indeed on the market! If you're in the market for an AdventureMobile like Meredith's, contact her via her instagram!).
Asking for help
When we actually allow ourselves to ask what we want, and then to discover what we want, we can ask for help in getting it (or getting closer to it). Somewhere in there is also the courage to believe that we can actually get, and that we actually deserve what we want. I've found that asking for help is the surest way to alchemize the shame around believing that we might actually deserve what we desire, or that it's even possible.
Here's a toxic little unconscious karmic loop I've noticed in my own upbringing and culture, and therefore in the way I've unconsciously lived my life up to now. It goes a little something like this ... stop me if you've heard this one before:
I will not dare look inside myself to find what it is that I actually desire.
Even if I did find the courage to see what it is I truly desire, or it's so loud and demanding that I can't help but know it's there, I will DEFINITELY not ask anyone for help in obtaining what I actually desire.
I will then self-righteously be angry at others for not providing me with the help that I need. Because, if they really loved me, they would already know what I actually desire (yes, I really expect this of them, despite the fact that until quite recently I didn't even know myself). And, since if they really loved me, they would psychically know what I desire, then, if they really loved me, they would also automatically help me to get what I truly desire without my having to ask for help.
I will continue to tell myself the narrative that there's no point in finding out what I really desire nor communicating that which I really desire (asking for help) because it won't work anyway.
I'll oscillate between getting really depressed that I don't deserve what I desire and/or really angry that other people must not think I deserve what I desire, since they obviously already know what I desire, and therefore obviously also know how to help me obtain what I desire, and are just willfully, and oh-so-cruelly choosing not to.
We make this real nice, super shitty, and utterly disempowered little bed for ourselves to lie in where, if we never seek to discover nor acknowledge what we truly want, and therefore can never ask for help in getting it, we can continue telling the story that we can never get what we truly desire nor do we deserve it, so ... what's the point in asking?
Well, personally, I'm done with that. Because I would rather experiment and see what happens when I do look directly and honestly into what I want, acknowledge what I truly want as legitimate, and then ask for help in making it possible. I'm done because I WANT TO RECEIVE WHAT I ACTUALLY DESIRE, and I want to help others receive what they actually desire, as well.
This principle plays itself out beautifully with what has happened with this van idea in the past three days. Firstly, I was afraid to look at what I truly wanted because for some reason I thought I just had to take the first thing I'd allowed to become available to me and settle for that. Not being willing to look at what I actually wanted -- not believing that I could deserve what I truly, deeply desired -- kept me from knowing what I actually wanted. Not knowing what I wanted prevented me from being able to ask for help in finding what I actually wanted.
When I was able to acknowledge what I actually want for my AdventureMobile (see list above), then I was able to communicate it. Unfortunately, I first communicated it to people who don't really know anything about conversion vans (like, even of their existence), aka my parents, and that led to being told that there was no way I could get everything I wanted for the price I had in mind. Despite this, I still asked for their help in looking for what I really wanted.
On Saturday night and into Sunday I felt better, but still hopeless and depressed at not having a sure way forward. Still trapped and hateful of myself for thinking I could deserve to get what I really desired for what I was able to pay for it. My shame at going back on what I'd said I was going to do had been too great for me to ask many people besides my parents, Meredith, and my friend Wiley for help when it came to finding what I desired, but luckily, I had asked one other person: My dear, dear soul-family friend, Tom.
Yesterday, Monday, Tom graciously, miraculously inundated me with at least 30 different Facebook Marketplace listings of conversion vans and beyond that not only had many of my top desires ... they were also in my price range! Suddenly, what had seemed so impossible as to be stupid and entitled and ridiculous to ask for was actually completely real and completely possible! Even more possible, with even more options that I ever could have imagined!
This, my friends, is the power in having the courage to ourselves what it is we really most desire, and then the vulnerability to ask for help in attaining that desire. I want to thank my friend Tom for providing the inspiration to look honestly upon my own desires, believe they are worth trying for, and express them to those who just might be able to help. Also, I want to thank Tom for all the hours he was willing to put in doing something at which he clearly excels --- scouring the internet for deals and sales, not a skill of mine --- to help me realize my desires.
You don't know what you want until you look. You don't know who can help you until you ask.
Thanks to Tom, I have lots and lots of leads, though I haven't put in an offer my dream AdventureMobile just yet. I would love your help on this front, too. Now that I've shared a little bit more about what I desire ...
Who knows, as we discover for ourselves and then share with each other what we really desire and need, how we might be able to help each other realize that we CAN get what we want, and we CAN help give others what they want. I think this is something along the lines of what we humans are here to do. All it takes is ongoing honest self investigation and candid relational communication.
And so, if you have any leads on a conversion van that fits the bill of my top desires, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ... I sure would appreciate your help. You can also email me to let me know how I might be able to help you!
Remember: We can't see until we look; we don't know until we ask.