“For life is not the thing we thought, and not the thing we plan; and a woman in a bitter world must do the best she can” -Robert Service
One thing I’ve come to realize, as many before me have, is that life’s only constant is change. This change can affect every aspect of your being, like love, health, career, passions, interests, location, friends, and family. No amount of planning will every make your future secure, which can be stressful or exciting depending on your own perception of life. Although I’d like to choose to be excited all the time about the unknowns and endless variables life throws at me, it can be down right exhausting. I do believe when you break out of the normal avenues of life, when you fight against the current of mediocracy, you are bound to get your ass kicked in one way or another. If you are aware of that fact beforehand, you can prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. In my situation, I thought my plan was THE PLAN and had everything mapped out in my head to the tee. Silly, naive, well intentioned girl.
the success of a failed plan
The beginning of 2017 started with a plan, including my then boyfriend, to transition into vanlife! A life of traveling all over the country and eventually the world together, blissful, romantic, and ultimately utter crap. Ah love, how blind it’s sight. Anyways! I was full steam ahead with preparations of buying a van, researching materials, layouts, etc, etc. I was on a mission, and rightly so, for I was changing my whole way of life and I was excited to break away from the normal 9-5, living for the weekend lifestyle. I did not anticipate the level of pain I would feel moving out of my perfect little cottage and the looming thoughts of leaving all the friends behind that the pursuing of van life had now incorporated into my day to day life. Although I was on the path I wanted, a lot of emotional weight was constantly being heaved upon me everyday, quite unbearable at times.
It was May. I had purchased the van, we had moved out of our cottage, gutted the van, and the real work needed to start! I had planned for us to hit the road the first week of July, which only gave us 2 months to build it out! I was optimistically, but very stupidly, ambitious. What was I thinking!?!!?!
As the days started to pass by and despite my continued inquiry to my boyfriend of when he’d be able to help me start building the van, it started to become clear to me that I was going to become the leader and main doer of this project. At the time it seemed so strange that he wasn’t as pumped and excited to work on a project we had dreamed and talked about doing together. And naturally like an emotionally weighed down, confused, stressed woman; I made a big deal about it….. mainly because it was a big deal! This was a huge undertaking that had gone from 2 people collaborating and working on it, to 1 inexperienced person trying to just figure all of it out herself!
Mustering up strength to tackle this daunting task by myself was something I was not prepared to do. But with most things in my life so far, I had to find in myself the ability and confidence to make it happen. I tried not to get freaked out by all the things that needed to be done, but instead I worried about one step at a time, creating a tunnel vision for myself.
A month after we moved out of our cottage and when it was getting down to crunch time with building the van, alas, my boyfriend and I broke up. I was down for the count. The life I had envisioned us living, that I was in the midst of building, vanished in an instance. I fought every day to remain optimistic, to continue to work on the van, and to work at my full time job I still had. I fought to get out of bed, to pick up a drill, to build this little home that was suppose to be both of ours. I fought to live.
Thankfully I had the emotional support of friends to help me hang on and gather myself to accomplish the greater goal. I had friends that taught me new skills I needed in order to build my future home. Life was a mess, but I had to keep pushing myself, I couldn’t give up on my dream just because someone else was afraid of it.
I learned how to use all sorts of new tools and techniques. Most things I had to figure out, wing myself, and thankfully I didn’t have too many mishaps! Sooooooo much measuring upon measuring upon measuring, trimming, eyeballing. I’m thankful that a beautiful couple, Jayme & John, of gnomadhome.com started this same exact project 7 months before I did and had wonderfully documented and blogged it all! I got to message them and get advice that I’m so so grateful for.
THIS DAY!!! This day was a real boost in my confidence of my skills! I made the frames for the storage benches. I couldn’t believe I had made them all by myself! When I placed the first one inside the van and it fit perfectly, my face lit up with the biggest smile and maybe a few tears. A smile that was comparable with seeing the rocky mountains for the first time. It was such a beautiful moment of success despite all the trials I was suffering.
As you can see from the pictures I had already put the paneling inside the van. THAT was a nightmare. Different depths of metal and curves. I hated that part of building the van.
Storage Storage Storage!!!! I had so much fun completing the benches. After custom building these babies… I just didn’t feel like custom building a kitchen cabinet. So I search around and found the exact dimensions and style I wanted. Thank you Target! In my budget and fun to assemble, at least it was for me haha.
Now that I had all structural and storage aspects of the van done, I could now focus my attention to the aesthetics of MY van.
My ceiling. I LOVE MY CEILING!! I wanted to have it represent things I love. Places I want to go, places I’ve been, the night sky, the moon, nature, photography, arial blueprints, and my home. I can look up at night before I go to sleep and when I wake up and feel at ease.
Ahhhhh, my bed. It was slightly nerve racking to cut into a brand new bed I purchased… like for real. This was a project I did about a week before I hit the road. It was the last big thing before packing all of my belongings into my tiny home on wheels.
Moving from a cottage, to a room in a friends house, to moving into a van… I got rid of so much of what I had spent years of accumulating. Towards the last days before I took off in the van, material possessions and nostalgic items contained no value. I dropped things off at goodwill, took picture of photos and documents and then threw them away. Things that meant everything to me in the past all of a sudden in the starkness of my reality, showed their true value… it was nothing. I had the memories.. the important ones I remember and everything else was just needless fillers. I purged and it felt amazing.
The day for me to head out of the life I had always known came so fast. Those last few days felt like I was in a tornado. I had my last day at my job I had for 5 years, said bye to so many of my friends, who essentially were my family. It was all very bittersweet.
I had accomplished my goal. I built a home for myself in only 2 months and all by myself!! It was something I was proud of and showed that I could do anything I set my mind to.
I have felt weak, broken, on the edge of complete collapse of who I was as a person, but out of all of that I was able to create and construct a home, a dream, and a reality to propel me into a life I had always wanted. For better or worse, I believed in myself. I trusted in my strength and it carried me through and beyond my difficulties and challenges.
Life is change, life is struggle, life is the greatest pleasure. Believe, trust, act, and commit. For the best is yet to come.