Stuck in the mud - Neils Photography / Flickr

Becoming Unstuck

Any time an obstacle seems overwhelming or unsolvable to me, the overarching problem is that I’ve forgotten the value in chipping away at complex problems…in doing what I can do, even if it’s indirect or small in scope.

Today I came to my senses long enough to recognize a way to begin pushing through the issues keeping us from RV life – an idea that embraces our challenges instead of fighting them. And no, I don’t mean simply psyching myself out so I can believe everything will be OK.

I think I’ve found a way to get help and at the same time be helpful. Let me back up a bit and explain.

All or nothing thinking gets me nowhere

Money – lack of, to be precise – is the biggest reason we’re still in our house. A mass infusion of cash would solve our problem instantly. Well, duh – what wouldn’t money help?

Only a handful of life’s dilemmas couldn’t be improved – if not solved – by money.

Forget about the improbability of quickly and legitimately earning what we need, and any other such silver bullet solutions – if I’m not worthless I should be able to figure out the one amazing thing that unlocks it all! The single as-yet-undiscovered answer to our complex set of problems! The brilliant move that gets us out of our house and on the road to amazing places! Right?

Ah…I wish. I’m sane enough that this kind of irrational thought isn’t a conscious process. My subconscious, though, obviously must blather on incessantly along these lines. Otherwise why would I fixate on my inability to (thus far) earn, find or somehow conjure up the heap of cash needed to move us along?

I’d also not bother ruminating on the possibility I’d simply overlooked a golden opportunity, nor contemplate the amazing promises in one or more of the half-dozen daily marketing guru sales e-mails I receive.

Yeah, I really do that sometimes. Desperate for a fix, y’know?

It’s doubtful anyone – guru or not – could show me how to make it rain money, and fortunate (I suppose) that finances mostly keep me from paying for advice.

Journey of 1,000 li
Lao Tzu’s actual advice was about starting a 360,000-mile journey :O
(click for a full-size downloadable image)
When I calm the hell down I remember the inspirational quote about breaking things down into smaller steps – “Journey of 1,000 miles,” etc.

Side note: I learned that Lao Tzu’s original quote references li, not miles, which are about 360 times the distance of a mile. Whoa. I guess he was serious about starting small with even the most arduous efforts.

We have come a long way on our journey out of Georgia. No, not in miles (or li), but in equipping ourselves for the life we’re striving to have. The way forward isn’t clear, but it starts with steps.

Not leaps and bounds.

We are not the first ones to have these challenges

We have a business, not a paycheck. I can work half-time at best, and it needs to be around our “special” dogs unless we want to give them up. Can’t live in the RV without paying for a campground with hookups (~$600-850/month) and can’t do that on top of a mortgage payment, shop rent/expenses and RV payment.

We do have assets, but they’re not liquid. Well, we have one asset, anyway. One that’s not only illiquid, but occupied by people, dogs and stuff. I’m glad we have a roof over our head that we sorta own, but there’s no practical way to liquidate it that won’t require money we don’t have.

Actually – there is one way. It would cost us $50,000 or more so we’re not going to do it: sell to a house flipper. We know we’ll eventually get into our RV. We’d just prefer it to be sooner rather than later. And that means moolah.

Some days it seems like the majority of full-timers we hear about receive a regular check of some kind, without regular employment.

Whether it’s a pension, disability, social security or military retirement check, having that kind of guaranteed cushion lessens the challenge, even if the dollar amount isn’t enough to eliminate it.

I know there are plenty who don’t have that regular income. People like us, except they’ve figured out how to get into an RV and live – without a big budget. How did they do it?

The other night after we turned in, I spent about an hour looking for answers, or at least insight. My sleep-deprived hubby nodded off right away, while I grabbed my Kindle and went on the hunt.

2 stars from me – tops. Too broad a scope, no depth to actually be helpful.
I scoured the Kindle store looking for books with stories of working-age people who’d made the transition to full-time RV life – without benefit of any kind of subsidy. There weren’t many. From the reviews it seems most books weren’t worth their asking price.

I bought one anyway. It was highly reviewed, although I knew that might not mean anything. It didn’t, I later discovered (after I’d finished the book anyway).

Becky Schade's Solo Full-time RVing On A Budget
Even though I’m not going small, or going solo, I may buy this one anyway.
While there are better books out there about getting into RVing, I saw neither varied perspectives nor specific examples of how working-age people of modest means have made the transition.

I grew tired of looking for answers on Amazon, shut off my Kindle and settled into my pillow. As I drifted to sleep I had the thought that I should write the book I was looking for.

Connecting the dots

When I woke up the following morning the idea had blossomed into a full-on conviction. I’m thinking seriously about writing a book of real-life stories of people overcoming obstacles to live and work from RVs full time.

Is that crazy given what all I’m supposed to be doing, and that I’ve said I wanted to work on other kinds of writing?

I see Brian nodding his head…

I’ve “shoulded” and “somedayed” myself to death about writing memoir and fiction. I swear this book idea isn’t an effort to avoid that – or to put off de-junking our house. So what exactly is it, then?

Whelp…I have almost no experience with fiction, and little more with memoir, but nonfiction is something I can do now. I love diving into an interesting subject, then crafting a story around it. Even with nonfiction, I’m all about the story. Just ask Brian – he’ll tell you (as he rolls his eyes thinking about my responses to his “yes or no” questions).

Brown & Brown Insurance – 2005 Annual Report
Our clients luurrrrved this annual report copy I wrote for them every year. #cheetah
In my corporate communication days, I interviewed people whose superiors thought they were doing great things. With each subject I spun as engaging a story as I could muster given the topic.

I won awards, and praise for my work, which was cool. Mostly, though, I was more fascinated by my subject’s humanity than their YOY numbers or whatever else I had to cite to convey the kind of achievement investor relations folks could appreciate.

To each his/her own, but it just didn’t mean much to me.

RV life, though, is a different story (ha ha).

A perfect storm of problems and solutions

Back to the central question of this post:

How did others work through the challenges we face?

Fancy lunch in an RV
How do we get here?
Judging from questions posted to RV-related forums, other would-be nomads struggle with some of the same things that block our way. Experienced full-time RVers sometimes respond to those posts. They’ve been where we’re at. Some of them are very helpful.

Would RVers who’ve transitioned to the traveling life be willing to share their experience in a more personal way?

A deep dive with folks who’ve transitioned to life on the road would be immensely helpful to us. I’d take all the questions I have and ask 10 or 12 people, and appreciate and contemplate the varied perspectives and experiences I’d undoubtedly collect. That alone could provide some of the answers Brian and I seek.

Does it make sense to take those stories to the next level, writing, editing and publishing them? I hope so, but I need to see enough interest to convince me that writing this book is worth the work.

I do love to write, so we’re set there. I know what it takes to publish a book, at least in Amazon’s Kindle marketplace. The RV niche on Amazon has blossomed – no doubt because of people like us seeking ways to live nomadically. Although we’re still not talking NY Times Bestseller numbers, it’s about ten times as popular as the niche my yogurt book falls into.

Depending on what I charge for the book, I could make a couple hundred or so a month. Not enough to support us, but maybe enough to fill the Dutch Star’s gigantic diesel tank or pay for a week in a campground.

For this maybe-book to succeed on Amazon I’ll have to make sure it’s well written and deep enough to offer value and actionable insight. I have a vested interest in the latter, and I’ll do my best to not futz up the former.

I’ll also have to figure out the best way to market it, and devote some hours to that effort once it’s written.

Even if all signs are positive, none of the above guarantees that spending the time to write this book will provide sufficient ROI. But it’s good to try to get an idea about feasibility. My friend Faith and I collaborated on a project that provided a painful lesson in investing resources without clear market demand.

Maybe the thing to do is find just one person or couple with full-time RV experience – working-age, without any monthly supplementary check – interview them, and write one story to start. I could share it on the blog, and if it goes swimmingly then I could talk to more people. What do you think?

Do you know anyone who’d be a good candidate? Let me know in the comments, or use the Contact page if you don’t want to publicly name names.

Positive momentum

Since I began writing this post, our roof and ceiling repairs have been completed so our house is closer to being market ready.

Home for sale in Douglasville, GA.
Home for sale. 3 bed, 3 bath, new roof + super-sexy shingles.
In the area of an already-published book, the Instant Pot marketing people granted me permission to post about my Simple Mason Jar Yogurt book in the Facebook community I’m part of. With some half-million members, this could boost sales quite a bit – eventually.

Since there are so many people giving free advice on how to make yogurt, it’s hard for cheapskates people 🙂 to see why they should pay $4 for a book. When the free methods produce poor results, or when they see how much better their yogurt is when they follow my method, then they’ll appreciate it.

So I think I have to use my one remaining Kindle promotion day to give it away free. I hope that will create more fans who’ll mention the book to the next person struggling with lousy homemade yogurt.

Only in the Instant Pot Facebook community are yogurt struggles a huge thing 😀

I’ve also had a couple of tiny web jobs come up. They’re not a lot in the way of income, but then, with website work, if I am charging more it means investing more of my time.

What a blessing to be able to help a client out of a fix and fit the work in without much of a struggle. Thanks, universe 🙂

So, that’s where we’re at right now. I hope by sharing the book idea with you all I can get your feedback. To me it feels like the idea itself is a degree of forward movement, but sometimes I’m overly optimistic. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. — William Jennings Bryan

1 thought on “Becoming Unstuck”

  1. Interesting idea Teresa. I think it over a bit about what we wanted to know when we were thinking about going full time. The answer is there were so many things we wanted to know: what kind of rigs (motorhome, 5th wheel, travel trailer, truck camper), how much this lifestyle cost (initial cost and ongoing cost), health insurance, domicile state, RV gears and gadgets, what to keep and get rid of, where to get RV services and maintenance, RV-related how-tos, cellular and wifi boosting, list goes on. Looking at the market demand, there’s always people looking for answers to these general questions I mentioned. The more specific your book is about, the smaller the potential market. Wish it’s easy to find a sweet spot.

    Liked by 1 person

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