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Our desire to travel and experience as much as possible in our short lives was definitely one of the biggest influencers to pursue this lifestyle. Beyond that there were a few others that spoke to us right before taking the plunge.
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Driving Miss Norma
Who knew a 90 year old stranger would have such an influence on us and so many across the country and beyond. After losing her husband to cancer, Norma Bauerschmidt was diagnosed with cancer just 2 days later.
I first became acquainted with Norma’s story after seeing a blurb on Facebook about her decision to travel the country with her son and daughter-in-law in their RV instead of treating her cancer. Dreaming of RVing and experiencing more of our country this resonated with me and I became an avid follower of her 14 month journey. Watching her take the hot air balloon ride that she dreamed of doing with her husband before he passed brought tears of joy to my eyes as I saw the complete happiness spread across her face…that smile, so contagious. Norma proved that you are NEVER TOO OLD to realize your dreams and Say YES to Living!
I had the opportunity to meet Miss Norma’s son Tim, his wife Ramie and their dog Ringo at a book signing/conversation in the summer of 2017. It was so emotional to connect with them and feel Miss Norma in the room. I was so happy to be able to tell Tim in person how influential his mother was to us making this huge lifestyle change – it brought tears to both our eyes. Get your own copy of Driving Miss Norma, you won’t be disappointed.
I often think of Miss Norma when I’m facing a new fear. I truly hope she and her husband are living it up in Heaven!
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
I don’t watch a lot of documentaries, but this one intrigued me. I started watching it in January 2017 as I was waiting for my husband to return from a business trip. This was a couple of
months after I lost my job, and I was trying to figure my/our next steps. About 10 minutes in, I knew I was watching this for a reason, and it was speaking to me in so many ways.
I began looking around my 4000 sq foot home that we worked so hard for, thinking, “how the heck did we accumulate so much stuff?” At this point, we were empty nesters and still lived in a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bathhouse. We traveled as much as we could, but we couldn’t wait for the next adventure every time we came back. It was what made us feel the most alive next to spending time with family and friends.
One of the resounding messages of the documentary was, “love people, use things.” I was absorbing all these messages and taking notes, and when my husband walked in the door, I was in tears and said, you need to sit here and watch this with me…NOW. After it was over, I said we have to get rid of all this stuff and pursue our dreams and decide our own destiny instead of enabling corporate America and others to do it for us. It was then that we decided we were going to RV full-time.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Another influencer that helps me sustain this lifestyle and, most importantly, know in my heart this was the path meant for me is The Alchemist. This book speaks of your Personal Legend – the dream within everyone from the time they are born. Not all live their true dream as they get comfortable, lost, or discouraged. They don’t listen to their heart.
While reading the book, it hit me! My Personal Legend has always been travel and new experiences. As a girl, I dreamed of being Julie McCoy from the Love Boat. (Not everyone will know her, but she was a fictional Cruise Director on a cruise ship) She was always so happy, traveling to new places and helping others realize their dreams. In fact, right out of high school, I began a Travel Agent course that I unfortunately never finished.
I put my dream aside (not yet fully realizing its importance) to marry my first husband and eventually start a family. I have no regret about that at all, it was my path at the time, and I’m so grateful for the son we created together. I did, however, forget about my Personal Legend until I read this book and realized it never left me, and I’m living it NOW!
My Dad and Cancer
“You will not live more than 6 months.” That’s what the Oncologist said after he hit my Dad and me with the dreaded lung cancer diagnosis in November 1998. Treatments would give him a little more time, but at what cost? He eventually lost his ability to eat, talk and eventually move. This strong man, my best friend, did exactly what the doctor predicted. He died 6 months later at the young age of 49.
This left me with such despair and a huge void, but it also did something unexpected, almost a gift, if you will. It opened my eyes to the fact that we are mortal, and it’s God’s will, not ours, that determines our time on this earth. It taught me that I couldn’t wait for SOMEDAY or WHEN I RETIRE. I had to start living for today just like Tim McGraw’s song, “Live Like You Were Dying.”
His death had me asking, “what do I want to accomplish, what makes me happy?” That is when I started traveling. I took my son on vacation, something we really hadn’t done before, and it was wonderful seeing new places and having new experiences. I met Craig 2 years, almost to the day, after my Dad’s death, and he was so much like my Dad it scared me at first – a little gift from Heaven, maybe. The best part was that he had the same desire to travel and explore, which has propelled us further than ever imagined.
Together, we have experienced other family members being diagnosed with the dreaded C word! Some are doing much better now, and others are not blessed with a long life. This was one of the tipping points in our decision to full-time RV. What if we are not well when we retire? What if one of us doesn’t make it to retirement? We couldn’t just wait for what the future might hold. We had to follow our dreams now! And I am comforted knowing my Dad is on this journey with us and cheering us on from Heaven!
What influences have had the greatest effect on you? Feel free to share in comments below.