I’ve been away from you far too long, my gypsy-souled friends. I’m very sorry for that, forgive me. The winter took an unexpected turn, and I’ve needed a break to do a bit of processing. Never fear, I’m back. It’s time to catch you up.
After many grand plans were made, with a variety of unsurpassable roadblocks that came up for each set of those plans, we ended up back in our old stomping grounds in Florida for the winter. The very same area that we left when we started this gypsy journey a little over a year prior, in fact. What’s more, I went back to work for the same company that I was with then also. Talk about full circle!
Naturally, we were worried about back tracking, and getting sucked back into the system. After all, we’d worked so hard over the past year to unwind ourselves and the damage it caused from our lives. It was a valid concern. A good bit of the old life came rushing right back at us when we started up the old way of living again. But, after looking back and taking some time to think through it, here are my reflections:
- Revisiting and reconfirming your life choices from time to time is healthy.
This past winter was a gift in that it gave us a chance to compare what our life (and our expectations of life) are and were, and how the two paths (conventional living and gypsy living) fit who we are and who we want to be. We were deliberate in making our decision in favor of gypsy living the first time, but making the decision a second time gives you greater strength and conviction in knowing beyond a doubt that it’s what’s right for you.
- Networking is key (no matter what path you’re taking in life!)
More than networking actually. When I think of networking, I tend to think of anxious people in “corporate climber” attire with nothing in common, passing business cards back and forth to each other at a chamber of commerce brunch. That’s not what I mean. Instead, I believe in being sincere and working on making friends everywhere I go, at work, at play, wherever. Not all of them will be friendships that last, but the connection was sincere. As Jesus said “Faith, Hope and Love, the greatest of these is Love.” Part of my mission in this life is to try to embody that love and share it. For me, that means building and doing my best to maintain heart felt connections. That’s one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given to share.It was through one such friendship, that we were able to rent a room in a friend’s house for the winter. It was a blessing in several ways for us. We paid a very reasonable rent, got to enjoy her family, and did some repairs around the house for her. Hopefully our stay was a blessing for her also.
- Keeping your integrity opens doors.
When we left the first time, I was honest with my employer, and told them that we weren’t able to make it financially and needed to find another solution. I then stayed every bit as engaged at work as I had been before deciding to leave. (I always try to leave my employer and co-workers in a better spot than when I arrived.) I suppose it’s a little like Johnny Appleseed, planting seeds wherever he went. I like the idea of the trees growing and bearing fruit after I’ve gone. My point though, is that, while it wasn’t my intent, it left the door open for my return.
Being committed to our new lifestyle though, I made sure that I was clear from the get-go about the temporary nature of our time in Florida. I didn’t want to mislead them and betray their trust. Living honestly is also one of our mantras in this new life we’re carving for ourselves.
- You’re more capable than you allow yourself to realize.
While a year isn’t that long to be away, we fit a lot of living in that year. And most of that time was doing work that wasn’t quite of the same nature. Instead of doing database analysis, project management work and streamlining processes for manufacturing, I worked the front desk at a resort. I house sat dogs and cats. I camped in the woods. I put together camping equipment for busloads of school children and families. I did housekeeping. I visited friends. I served corn dogs and chili cheese fries at the state fair.It was wonderful, and blissfully low-stress. But also not particularly mentally engaging. Would my brain still work the way it did when I was back doing the regular grind? Would I remember anything? Could I go back to doing it successfully? Deep down, I think that’s a fear that probably many of us have, fear that by trying something different, we’ve permanently severed the ties. I was worried about it too.
Granted, the answer might’ve been different if I’d been away longer. But this time, I was delighted to see (as was my employer!) that I could step back in without missing a beat. I’ll repeat this, as it’s important for us all to hear: We are capable of more than we let ourselves realize.
- Down time can be just what you need.
This area was pretty isolated, with not much in the way of work opportunities. But hubby was able to pick up some work in tutoring math. And he also spent the winter teaching himself different skills that will help us in our travels, namely auto mechanics.Yet another blessing of having an old vehicle, is that it’s no longer difficult or expensive to find the repair manuals that the auto shops used to protect like gold. They’re not designed for beginners, but if you couple the instructions and information with some diligent online research, there’s much that you can do yourself. He was able to replace:
- The rear window (that was shattered by an unruly dumpster that got in our way one evening).
- The starter
- The fan clutch
- The distributor cap, wires, and plugs
- The radiator
- Fixed the oxygen sensor
- and learned how to turn off the check engine light
And so, besides learning something he’d always wanted to know about, he ended up saving us several thousands of dollars in the repairs that he made. That’s in before tax dollars. Also, because it’s essentially our home these days, he took great care in doing the job well. That’s something that you don’t always get when you take your vehicle into the shop.
- You never know where things will lead you.
While we’re now off and onto new adventures and back on the gypsy track, my winter’s work gained me the opportunity to do contract work for the company from afar. It’s something that, if it continues to work out for both of us, can be done virtually anywhere that has internet access. Of course, nothing in life is guaranteed, except death and taxes (as Benjamin Franklin said). But this has the potential of giving us some stability that we can take with us in our travels. Perhaps it will open other doors also. Remember, that in order to make the most of opportunities, you have to be willing to both see them, and do something with them. It reminds me of an old cartoon quote that went something like this: “Opportunity knocked, but by the time I’d looked through the peephole, turned the deadbolt, removed the chain, unlocked the doorknob, and opened the door, it had gone.”
I guess what I’m saying is, that life isn’t easy no matter how you approach it. There will always be challenges. It is how you handle those challenges that matters. We only get one “go-round” in this world. Make the most of it. Decide what’s truly important to you, and work toward it. Mistakes will be made, but that’s part of learning and part of living. The only people that don’t make mistakes are the ones that have moved on to the next world. While you’re still breathing, it is never, never too late to start living. And in the process, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and you may just enrich your life.