Sabbatical Halfway Point: Psychology Experiment in Progress

Sabbatical Halfway Point: Psychology Experiment in Progress

 

I’m wrapped in a blanket with my feet nuzzled in the sand to keep warm. The waves crash down
loudly in front of me. I am six miles south of Myrtle Beach. Street lights every 50-yards or so behind me
offer just enough light to confirm that I am the only person here. The last time I
was alone on a beach was six months ago, on the other side of the country. It feels like
yesterday and forever ago, at the same time.

Immeasurable personal growth has taken place since that very first night of deep soul searching.
I transitioned from feeling lost and confused, suffocating from the pressure of having to “figure out”
my entire future to feeling content, filled with gratitude for the gift of time. Time to breathe.

My six-month “State of the Motor-Home” address:

Brian and I thought we were packing for a year of secluded relaxation. This couldn’t have been
further from reality! My gypsy-soul has been full-speed ahead seeing and experiencing more than
she ever thought she would in a short 6-month period. The so-called “relaxing” days are scheduled
and protected to ensure they happen (just like at home). Luckily, I find comfort in chaos because
there is NOTHING relaxing about this lifestyle!

According to the Strengths Finder book, I am a “maximizer”. It’s true. Good or bad, I maximize everything
in my life. I cram more things into my schedule than physically possible and I can eat seven baskets
of fries before most families share one. Now, living in a motorhome, I can simultaneously make lunch,
give a spelling test, and whiten my teeth while moving 65mph down the road. Maximizing.

Some thoughts:

A continuous road trip is a brilliant way to see a substantial part of our country and it’s quite
budget friendly when compared to the cost of making each destination its own family vacation (see
how I justify things). Nothing beats the panoramic view from the front seat of my Winnebago.

I miss my people (friends, family and fur family members). I miss my bathtub. The
craving for La Fountains’s chile verde and Leatherby’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream sundae has
not subsided since our departure. There will be a couple stops that the motor
home will make before reaching our driveway upon our return!

Parenting: There’s not a manual or flow chart on how to “mom”. We all do things our own way and that
is OK. Personally, I have always practiced the leader, teacher and disciplinarian role before building a
friendship with my girls. However; having extra time together has given me the opportunity to develop and
foster friendships with the other three humans on this bus. It has been a cool experience for me as I
learn to let my guard down. We joke about getting home and question whether we will all sprint separate
directions or suffer from separation anxiety and never leave each others side. Psychology experiment in progress.

Tiny House: Surprisingly, the size and space that we live in has never been an issue. I credit our sanity
to having a private space that we each call our own and retreat to if/when necessary, two bathrooms, and
a master-bedroom door!

Food/Beverage: Coffee, wine, cheese, bread, restaurants, bars, bakeries, farmers markets, etc. We have
been able to experiencea massive variety of different food and beverages. This has been my favorite
part of the trip, though it is not cheap! I LOVE going out to eat even more than I HATE cooking. And…this
is a good segway into my next topic…

Money: Though we planned and saved for three years as we prepared for this circus, we are spending more
than we ever thought we would! We had to make a financial decision early on as to what kind of trip we were
going to have. Did we want to constantly count pennies and seek free places to sleep (i.e. Cracker Barrel,
Walmart, and Flying J parking lots…) or did we want an adventure that required more of a financial investment,
but offered more stability, safety, and experiences?! We chose to “go big”. When else are we going to be back
to some of these locations? Probably never. “Going BIG” doesn’t mean spending frivolously and living lavishly
(we are in movable tin can after all). It does mean we are willing to invest in this experience and not lose
sleep over money or the lack of it as it bleeds out of our wallet. Our situation is unique compared to
many families living on the road full-time, we are out here for a one-year adventure, not a permanent
lifestyle change (yet!). Seven months later, I still believe that we made the right decision and have fully
taken advantage of this sabbatical.

Home/Online School: Admittedly, I was never a good stay-at-home mom, so naturally, this isn’t my favorite
part of the trip. Being a motor-home mom is challenging enough, but when you have a child that struggles
with attention deficit disorder triggered by severe anxiety, it can be brutal! Working as their learning
coach is the hardest fulltime job (and mental challenge) that I have ever had. Give me a marathon to train
for, any day! I am doing a a good job, I work really hard at providing the best education I can, but I won’t
be sad when they skip off to “regular” school and I go back to work.

Finally, the fun adventure I thought we were setting out for ended up being an essential step for my mental
release. It is hard to explain, but I never felt like this trip was “optional” and now I understand why.
As I sit on the beach, I eagerly sort through all the ideas dancing around in my head, motivated and
rejuvenated. Yes, the definition of a true sabbatical.

I feel humble. I feel grateful. I feel free. I am determined.
I have laughed harder than I ever have, and I have cried harder than I thought possible.
I am alive. I am happy.

We knew very little about driving a motorhome across the country, but here we are, killin’ it!

XO

Tina
Boondocks and Bliss

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