Revelations from the Road, Part Three
Some people have had questions about the logistics and financial aspects of my current lifestyle. I will try to answer some of them, and give a few updates on topics I touched on in the past.
I have been in Florida since Christmas Day. I’ve stayed in Bradenton, St. Petersburg, Vero Beach, and Indian Harbour Beach, and briefly visited people in Sarasota, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and Sebastian. I have stayed with my mom, sister, aunt and uncle, and a woman I met online. I paid a portion of the cost for a beach condo for a couple days when there were too many of us to stay comfortably at my mom’s. Other than that, I have not had to outright purchase lodging since I stayed at Mystic Hot Springs one night in November, though I do make efforts to contribute, either through tasks or supplies or both, wherever I am.
Regarding my pursuit of ambidexterity, I regularly eat sushi with chopsticks left handed now, though I often tire of the extra effort halfway through the meal and switch to my right. New challenge – I am trying to brush my teeth with my left hand. It is going very slowly, so far. If you can think of other non-dominant challenges, let me know.
My spiritual practice—which includes things like prayer, meditation, zipping my lip, support group meetings, step work, random Unity Church services, working toward forgiveness of myself and others, attempts at surrender and heart centering, A Course in Miracles, and trying to get/stay quiet enough to hear my spiritual guidance—has been blooming in the open space cleared for it. I am grateful for the opportunities, and daily made aware of why it is referred to as spiritual practice. I goof up, stray off, forget to remember, say things I shouldn’t and harbor unproductive thoughts all the time.
For some time, as I mentioned in a prior note, my dreaming had disappeared. This struck me as especially weird since I have been recording my dreams since 2009. They are back! I made a decision to switch from writing them long-hand in my black and silver journal, to speaking them into the Notes app on my phone. This was a hard decision, and I worried that the difference between dictating and writing would significantly impact the style/texture of these documentations, but I’ve gotten over that. Because I use my phone as my alarm clock and flashlight, it is always within reach when I wake up. More importantly, I don’t have to carry the dream journal, which added weight and bulk. I still treasure the five or six dream journals I have filled, and when my life changes again I may return to them.
I learned that if you have curly hair, you can use regular conditioner as your “product,” replacing the styling gel/mousse/frizz tamer that you might be buying. (In a pinch, even lotion will work.) Not everyone will like this, but for me it is working great as long as I am letting my curls be curls rather than doing a blow-out/straightening project. If you don’t have curly hair, some of what I just said will sound like nonsense. Curly girls will get it. Why does this matter to me? Flying with gels/liquids is challenging, and hotels (and everyone else in the world I might stay with) has conditioner available, but not so these other products that once seemed necessary to me. Liquids and gels also add weight to my backpack. Doing without a hair product means I can travel lighter.
My vehicle and I have been apart from one another since December 18th, and aren’t scheduled to reunite permanently until March, April or later. My gasoline expenses have gone way down (though I contribute to the gas tanks/expenses of those who transport me or loan me a car). That said, I have spent nearly $1,200 on plane tickets I purchased this month. Those flights will get me from Florida to Nebraska, to Seattle, to Minneapolis, then to Spain, a brief stop in Paris, and back to the states – all the flying I’ll need to do for the first half of the year, as far as I know. My gasoline expenses in the months prior to ditching my vehicle were $200 – $300 a month, so even with flight purchases and paying for the occasional tank of gas in someone else’s car, I’m about breaking even.
Because I have more time and flexibility in my life than I have had since childhood “summers off,” I can do things slowly, in their own time, and not have to force activities to fit into an already overcrowded schedule. This means that facets of my life have become less expensive. In my former life, there were long stretches when I paid or bartered for a YWCA/YMCA membership. This was, in part, because my window for exercise was extremely limited. Now I might walk at dawn or at night or noon, and can be seen hooping under streetlights, in abandoned shopping malls, in an empty room next to my mom’s exercise class, or occasionally at the gym where I pay a guest fee, usually low. I have found free or nearly free places to swim, like a heated, competition-size pool in Indian Harbour Beach that charges a one-dollar fee.
A free application I installed on my phone, called Tides Near Me, helps me determine the best time of day for beach walking. (If you’ve ever tried doing a long beach walk at high tide, you’ll know why this is so important.)
I am thrilled to download books from the library and read them, for free, on my tablet. (I am using the Kindle app but there are others.) The book I finished yesterday is titled Your Money or Your Life. I confess the library loan had expired, so I turned my tablet to “airplane mode” to finish it before it disappeared.
My work is partly paid work and partly unpaid work. For pay, I run a tiny rental property business, speak at workshops/conferences/colleges, provide writing coaching, help people down-size, manage and develop content for the Facebook pages of two agencies, and occasionally fill in for staff at the place I previously worked full-time. My income is what some would consider modest, and others would consider unacceptable—just above what is described as “the poverty line.” I have an emergency fund to deal with unexpected expenses (which maybe should be thought of as expected expenses) like the furnace replacement this month in my Iowa farm house. My regular monthly bills are my cell phone, car insurance, and health insurance. Food expenditures vary widely depending on where I am, and whether the people I am with are restaurant meal-splitters.
My stress level is low, most days. I sleep well, and for long stretches. (I imagine this translates into lower health care costs.)
Most of my entertainment is free: walking, hula hooping, watching the sun come up, going down to the beach to watch an Atlas rocket launch, watching instructional videos on YouTube, visiting the manatee colony that lives in the canal, meditating, talking to strangers, writing, watching videos of or doing FaceTime with my baby grandson, laughing with my mom, talking with friends, or watching a movie on a gifted Netflix account (you get to use your account on FIVE devices, so a Netflix account can easily be shared among households.) I already mentioned the digital library books.
Because of this, I have no hesitation paying for entertainment or experiences that haven’t, as of yet, come to me for free. I bought tickets to see a Martin Sexton concert in Seattle, and am likely to pay to use the flotation tank at Souler Float before I leave Florida. I was glad to pay the entrance fee to a contra dance in Cocoa Beach, quite a value considering there was live music and great instruction.
Things continue to come to me as gifts, like the tie-dyed T-shirt I found buried in the sand on the beach. I pick up trash when feasible, so I pulled it out of the sand, shook it off and attached it to my backpack. Once home, I realized it was intact, and washed it up. It is my size.
A grey dress that will serve me well as I travel, that I am likely to wear fifty or more times in the coming months, cost four dollars at Goodwill. Well, it was 6.99, but had a stain, so they knocked off two dollars, and then my mom bought it for me to get the senior discount. Total cost, four dollars. Mom promptly removed the stain when we got home.
Here’s an informal Wish List for the Universe. Starbucks gift cards. Six to eight foot paracord bullwhip. A slim, travel hip belt for walking around places like Barcelona. A long-sleeved black shirt/bodysuit/leotard like you might find in a dance store. Or, as an alternative to that, a black, silk, base-layer-style long-sleeved shirt. Comfortable headphones, not ear buds. A better water bottle, perhaps collapsible. Entry to Hoop Camp. Audio version of The Spell of the Sensuous, which as far as I know doesn’t exist, yet. The white dress I have seen in my dreams and visions for decades. All in their own time, or not at all, with no urgency what-so-ever, and with thanks in advance.
Transition days are still somewhat uncomfortable. And I have realized that Lincoln, Nebraska is a difficult place for me to be, and that I tend to try to leave town very quickly once I get there. This is perplexing to me, because there are so many dear friends and family there, and activities I love. It is an amazing city, and I would have thought it would remain a “home base” forever. I am still in the dark about what all is contributing to this Lincoln Stress, and will keep you posted as it reveals itself. I have a few hints, but no real information about it, so far.
Once again, thanks for reading.