Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Road is STILL Life -- Day 487

Way back on Day 2 of this blog, I said The Road is Life, and I was talking about living in the RV full-time. As it turns out, the Universe still has jokes, and now I'm earning my money from driving. If life is all about the journey, I'm living so much right now!

I've been driving for Lyft for about two months. It's not a glamorous job, but it's been fun and pays our meager bills. I get to meet a lot of interesting and fun people, and mostly just drive around listening to music. There are worse ways to earn a living! (Trust me to know from personal experience.)

So this is where we are right now, still climbing out of the hole that being out of work for a couple of months has put us in. Still trying to figure out which way forward is the best way forward. Still trying to stay attuned to the flow of the universe around us. I get the sense that we are in a holding pattern, of sorts. We are like newly planted seeds, being watered, waiting for the warm sunshine and plentiful rain of Spring to cause us to sprout.

There are some cool things going on right now, projects in development, that I don't want to talk about just yet. This is definitely an exciting time for all of us, and I humbly ask for your positive energy as we collect ourselves for moving forward.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Beginnings -- Day 447

I have debated on whether my blog should continue, since it seemed appropriate to end this writing journey with the end of our roadtrip. A few people have asked me what we've been doing, and one pointedly asked about the next blog post. So here it is, by popular demand! (Yes, I'm counting the single request as the popular demand, since there were no other demands to the contrary.)

Picking up the narrative from where we left off in my last post (Thank You--Day 411), the overwhelming generosity of our community enabled us to travel safely back to Dallas. The air of defeat and desperation was mitigated by the warmth of the love that we felt, and we chose to see this as a temporary refueling stop, rather than the end of the journey. Driving back had it's harrowing moments, as Fezzik was still not used to driving long distances, and we were trying to conserve as much money as possible by stopping as little as possible. Some of the mountains gave us trouble, and we actually had to pull of the road a couple of times to prevent overheating, but with a lot of patience and by the sheer force of will, we made the 1366 mile trip in about 3 days.

Rolling into my son's apartment complex, as we had a few times before, had a different feeling this time. The uncertainty of the future, combined with our new found hope from the community, blended into a weird cocktail of fuzzy stress and happiness. We were just in time to celebrate my birthday, back in the arms of our welcoming family. I had mentioned in December of 2015 that everyone should get a Randall (Sometimes the Brakes Fail -- Day 55), and this advice is particularly pertinent again. Randall and Jason have opened up their home to us to stay while we get things figured out.

Day 16 ~ Brookhaven College Thinker
This ancient photo is known as The Ponderer c.2009

December was filled with a mixture of extreme happiness and severe disappointment. My birthday and Christmas were wonderful, spent with friends and family, and reconnecting with folks that we hadn't seen in a year. The fun times being tempered with job opportunities evaporating almost overnight, and feeling like we drove all this way to our safety net, only to find out that it was more like a cobweb. Facing the reality of being older than I've ever been before, and not as *ahem* professional looking as I once was, I wondered if we had made another grave error, and didn't know how to proceed. The brightest spot was the knowledge that at least we weren't going to be homeless a thousand miles from anyone that we knew.

"It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth."~Thomas Fuller

Sometimes you forget that you are made of star stuff, ya know? That the Universe is rigged in your favor? It may not always seem that way, but it is what I believe. When I trust in that belief, and relax in the knowledge that Everything IS, it saves me from the pit of despair that is always lurking on the edge of my perception. Following the flow (The Best Laid Plans -- Day 138) is a much less stressful life and truly the way that I want to live, I just haven't gotten there yet. But as the clouds parted and revealed January of this new year, things began to fall into place. One circumstance after another fit perfectly together to provide for me both transportation and a job. Now we begin the uphill climb from the debt hole into which we had fallen, older and wiser. 

Look out, 2017. Here we come.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Thank You -- Day 411

Often I like to start a blog post with a quote, and I was thinking about using "I get by with a little help from my friends" ~ The Beatles, until I realized that it was about taking drugs and that was NOT the tone that I wanted to set for this particular post, where I'm trying to figure out how to express my gratitude to my community of loving friends and family that have supported us through this rough transitional time. And why are run-on sentences so funny?

But seriously, I owe a tremendous debt that could never be repaid. I reached out for help, and the overwhelming generosity of the people that I am privileged enough to call my friends has humbled me greatly. The outpouring of loving support through words, job offers, places to stay, and obviously cash donations brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

I asked for a miracle and the miracle was you. 

To briefly recap, we spent a month in Hemet, California, trying to find jobs to keep our adventure going. All signs had pointed to this location as being the most logical, in terms of proximity to civilization, affordability, weather, amenities. Everything about our stay was perfect, except for the fact that literally no one was hiring. I had heard things about the job market being tough for the last decade, but it had never affected me in Texas, because the economy of the Lone Star State was really strong, and I was in an industry with high turnover (which means getting hired is super easy.) California is a different animal entirely, and the higher wages for menial labor means that people are more selective in their hiring and turnover is relatively low. When you pay people a living wage, it's a job they'll want to keep for as long as they can. We reached a point where we had to choose between paying rent for a little while longer, hoping that one of the 32 jobs for which I had applied would call me back for an interview, or giving up on California and trying to make it back to Texas. Paying rent again would have meant no money for food, so that was one of those really interesting exercises in Faith. 

I'm reminded of a story that I heard once in church. There was a flood, and a good Christian man found his house filling with water. As the water made the road impassible for his vehicle, a neighbor came by in a big four-wheel drive truck. "Get in, the flood is getting worse," the neighbor shouted. The man replied, "God is going to save me!" And he retreated to the upstairs of the house. As the water rose to his second floor window, a rescue worker came by in a boat.  "Get in, the water is going to continue to rise," called the rescue worker. The man shouted back, "God is going to save me!" and climbed up to the roof. As the water encroached upon the edges of the roof, a helicopter came with a lowered rope. The rescue worker called to the man through a bullhorn, "Climb up! This is our last flight out!" The man yelled back, "God is going to save me!" With a shrug, the rescue worker in the helicopter departed, and the water still rose. The man o the roof drowned and went to Heaven. As he stood before the Throne of God, he asked, "Why hadn't I been saved? Why was I left to die?" God answered him, "I sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter. What else did you want me to do?"

As I was in Hemet, stressing about what to do, the idea of asking for help kept coming up. I am loathe to request assistance in ANY circumstance, preferring to suffer along in silence, often feeling like whatever struggle I'm going through is deserved. Consequences are the result of actions that we take, decisions that we make, and choices that we select. Everything that happens is for a reason! I'm not suggesting that everything is predetermined; rather, things are post-determined, in the sense that the reason something happened is often due to the actions, decisions, or choices that we make. There are ripples that we see, and many that we don't, that influence our world and the world of those around us. Everything is interconnected, and the ripples of the choices of other folks influence me and my ripples too. When I came to this realization, I knew that the reason I kept thinking of asking for help was to learn that it is OK to ask, and that sometimes when you ask, you will get more than you need. I didn't realize how alone I had been feeling, fighting this fight with only my girls in tow. Our community rose up to support us, and now I know that I'm truly Never Alone, and we are all in this thing together. 

So I extend to you all my heartfelt thanks for giving me back my life, and showing me how deep my roots actually go. Some of you I speak with regularly, others I haven't interacted with individually in a long time. But know this: I love you, you are part of my community, and if you ever need me, I will be there for you.

I am You.
 You are Me.
 We are One.

Friday, November 25, 2016

End of the rope -- Day 394

This is the hardest post that I have ever had to write. I've actually been putting it off for a while, trying to convince myself that I wasn't going to need to write this post. Holding out for a miracle.

Miracles are around us every day, and it is often up to us to figure them out. Sometimes the miracles that occur are so common as to be mistaken as mundane, and only after careful consideration does the miraculous appear. This past year has been one miracle after another! This adventure in an alternative lifestyle has been liberating and educational. I am truly thankful for this experience, and the places that we've seen, the friends that we've met, and the memories that we've created that will stay with us forever.

Sometimes when you're following a path, it will take you in directions that you are not prepared to go. Sometimes you think you know where you're headed, only to come around a blind corner to see a cliff with a dizzying drop-off. Is this a dead end? Of sorts. The beautiful vista that opens before you is worth the hike in. Appreciate the beauty of the experience! Having to go backwards down the path at that point is just logical, and safe.

This is the point that we have reached in our journey. We are at the precipice, we have seen the beauty and the majesty, but now we have to backtrack a bit. We are going to be going back to Texas. We are not looking at this as a failure, merely another chapter in the adventure.

But we are going to need help! Having calculated our budget for the return trip, it turns out that we don't have quite enough cash. The jobs that we were counting on to get us through this winter have all dried up, along with our savings. We are coming to you, our community, to ask for your assistance in this great time of need. I know that Christmas is coming, and you all are going to be stretched a little thinner in celebration, so I'm not asking for much. Whatever you can contribute will be greatly appreciated, and we will be indebted to you forever.

If you have ever wanted to buy us a drink, or dinner, or take us to the movies; if you have ever wanted to buy us birthday gifts or Christmas presents; if you have ever appreciated any help or act of friendship on our behalf and wondered how you could ever repay us? Now is the time. I will accept any gifts or loans to our paypal account Send the Jacksons back to Texas (paypal.me/CheoJackson). We have already made arrangements for a place to stay once we get back, and I have several job prospects there, but all of that is irrelevant if we get stranded in Arizona on our way back. Please help, if you can.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Year One: Everything "IS" -- Day 365

We've done it!

When we embarked on this RV journey, I pledged to do it for a year as an evaluation period. We have reached the end of that commitment! This year has been a learning experience like no other, full of life lessons from the poignant to the peaceful. I have learned how to handle shit both literal and imagined. If I could make a list of the three biggest truths that I have gleaned from all of my experiences in the past year (and with no small contribution from personal experience prior to that) it would be this:

1. Perspective Matters
2. Perception is Reality
3. Everything "IS"

Now, if you read my previous post, I already talked a bit about the first two points, so I'm just going to focus on the last one today.

EVERYTHING "IS"

I do not claim to be a great thinker, or philosopher, and I know that my words, thoughts, and ideas are primarily for my own personal development. I do like to share them here so that you can get to know me better, and so that I can learn a little more about myself through some personal reflection. This blog has also been documenting our family journey in the RV for this past year that we have spent living on the road, and those life experiences shape my personal philosophy.

This has been an amazing year. From the original lesson of what to look for when shopping for an RV to what to do when the brakes go out, all the way to learning how to live more simply and being more flexible. Through all of this, I have come to the realization that nothing is ever just one thing. The confluence of events that lead to each situation are a myriad with a mind boggling level of complexity, and the perfection of the outcome is amazing. Even the situations that are the most terrifying, like the brakes going out during Christmas week, have their Christmas angel resolutions. Throughout our journey, there have been many different explanations offered to us for why things work out the way they do. Some people want to point to God's plan, or fate, or karma -- all of which may be true -- but rather than define, I seek to accept. I don't need to understand everything, or really anything, because that is not necessarily going to change what "is". 

I realize that this is a really simple concept, and perhaps I lack the language mastery needed to communicate this concept effectively. But that also doesn't change what "is" (ha!) I realize this lesson is mostly just for me, and probably won't be earth-shattering to anyone else.  If you stopped reading this already, I wouldn't blame you. Heck, I've halfway tuned myself out at this point. But I'm going to carry on, because I don't feel finished yet.

Ever since I was a little kid, I used to get really frustrated if someone ate my candy. Regardless of whether I purchased it myself, or it was given to me, I felt like I had earned that candy, and I wanted to enjoy it all to myself. As I've grown up, I have become much more understanding and generous, and I will usually share my candy with you (if you ask me nicely.) Sometimes, especially if you have children, your candy may mysteriously go missing. Children, I have learned, are notoriously impulsive and not always the most considerate. Empathy and consideration are things that are learned over time with more interpersonal life experiences. The point that I'm trying to get to is that the candy is now gone. It doesn't matter who, how, or why. None of the answers to that question will make the candy not gone. 

Acceptance. That is one of the greatest lessons that I have learned in this past year. I had to let go of a lot of things, ideas, and preconceived notions about how the universe operates. Once I can do that, and it's an ongoing process at this point, I can understand some of the more important things in life. Instead of focusing on why a particular life event has occurred, I can accept that it "is" and then move on from there. 

Understanding that EVERYTHING "IS" helps me to adjust my PERSPECTIVE, which changes my PERCEPTION and alters my REALITY.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Vacation! -- Day 353



I'm on vacation.

"Perception is reality" and "Perspective matters" are my two favorite things to say. I actually tried to track down the origins of these quotes, and they seem to have just grown out of the distillation of longer quotes and ideas from a bunch of different people. So pretend it was Abraham Lincoln or Ghandi, depending on your own philosophical leanings. It's not like it matters who said it, or whether you believe it. These are the words that I have discovered are the most true for me and my life.

When I say, "I'm on vacation" it creates a new perspective on the current situation in my life. I'm taking the time that I have right now to relax, think, write a little, and spend time with people that I care about. Resting is one of the most important things that a person can do for health and well-being, but we feel like we have to somehow earn the right to rest. This can be a dangerous opinion, because what if you never feel like you've earned it? What if you never feel good enough?

I'm on vacation.

I don't really have a job, right now. At least not in the strictest sense of the "earning income" definition. I have lots of "things that I have to do that I don't want to" and "things that are expected of me to contribute to the well-being of the family unit" but nothing that I'm going to be putting on a resume. These are just part of this grander project called Life.

People get hung up on the semantics of their own personal worldview. I understand where it comes from, because I lived that way for most of my life. The need to define terms becomes important to ensure proper communication, but sometimes we get so bogged down in the minutiae of definitions that we lose sight of the bigger picture, the IDEA that was trying to be communicated. When I say that I don't have a job, the understanding is that I don't have an employer that is paying me for my time and skills. I am not part of the the commerce of this project called Life.

The danger of this particular worldview for me is that everything becomes a transaction. I want to eat, so I need food. In order to get food, I need money. In order to get money, I need a job. Work = eat. I was raised to believe that a person that does not work, should not be allowed to eat because of 2 Thessalonians 3:10. This is a misquote as it actually says a person that is UNWILLING to work, should not be allowed to eat, but as with a lot of popular Bible verses, it has been twisted to punish behavior deemed undesirable by the church. From this we have created the "Puritan work ethic" which is beneficial to an employer, but can create an internal pressure that leads to stress and anxiety in some to make sure that they are always "working." The concept of Rest is lost, gobbled up in the dread of becoming a devil's workshop.

I submit to you that the idea of "working" means different things to different people. We are all doing things on a daily basis that affect our world. The interactions that you have with people, the words that you speak into their lives, the love that you share -- these are all important things that are produced by you, just by you being you. You matter, you're good enough, and the world is a better place with you in it.


How many times have you heard, "If you find something you love to do, you will never work a day in your life" or somesuch? This used to inspire me, because I used to love to do lots of things. I loved sports, and music, and art, and making friends. The older I got, the less likely it was for me to be able to make money doing any of those things, and it was frustrating. Some of the things that I loved to do stopped being fun when they became monetized. The pressure of doing this fun thing became a job, and that sucked the fun out of it.

This left me in a predicament: How am I going to be rich, if I can't make lots of money? How am I ever going to be able to go on a vacation?

The revelation for me was that it's all perspective. I discovered that I didn't really want to be "rich" in the sense of having a lot of money. What I wanted was to be "happy" and there is all the difference. Now, instead of making decisions based on what is going to make me the most money, I look for what is going to make me the most happy. The difference is amazing, and has provided me with more "wealth" than I thought I would ever have. One way that I've heard it put is, "The secret to having it all is realizing that you already do."

And now I'm on vacation.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Delaveaga -- Day 340

Many of you know that I like to disc golf. For me, it's a particularly special sport, because it can be enjoyed simultaneously by people of varying skill levels. It's a chance to walk around outside, talk with your friends, and throw stuff really hard.

One of the cool things that I like to do is find new courses to play. When we lived in Dallas, we used to drive all over the city looking for new disc golf adventures. Now that we're travelling more widely, the opportunities for disc golf are more widespread, but not always easy to make happen. Fezzik is not the best vehicle in which to explore cities, and disc golf courses seem to end up in some pretty interesting, and hard to get to places. Remember Taylor Mountain?

I have compiled a wishlist of courses that I would like to play one day. I haven't updated it much, since we were stationary all summer and I was limited to the practice basket that I bought from Amazon. Now that we're back on the road, I dusted off the bag and got to check off one of the great courses of the USA.

Delaveaga

It's hard to explain the excitement that I felt when I realized that we were going to be in the vicinity of this course. I have learned that often proximity doesn't equal opportunity, and that is just part of being an adult. But this time the stars were aligned, because all of my new friends also happened to like disc golf, and have vehicles that can navigate the treacherous highway 9 through Santa Cruz to get to the park. It's like the universe WANTED me to play Dela. (Dela is what all the cool kids call it.)

The tall trees, and elevation changes made it a truly challenging course. Having all of my friends with me made it a memorable experience, and I wish I had taken a bunch of pictures. I didn't throw as well as I would have liked, being rusty from not practicing enough. But it was still a great time, and one that I will remember forever.
My buddy bought this disc as a souvenir


The moral of the story for me is: sometimes expectations set you up for disappointment. But sometimes the reality, while different from the expectations, will be so much better! I would have loved to play the most amazing round of my life at Dela, but really just being there and sharing it with my friends was the best day of disc golf I've had in a long, long while.

Now I have to find the next course to add to my wishlist, since a spot has opened up.