My mother + I have an interesting relationship. So interesting that there are a handful of people who actually avoid being around us in public places. Others, well…they contribute to the crazy. It all started back in High School when my mom picked me up from track practice with the farm truck. Being the excessively self conscious teenager I freaked out on her for the dirty truck. The next day she picked me up with the same ol’ truck, adding a few deer antlers + other farm paraphernalia to the back. Challenge accepted.
This was about the time I decided to stop being embarrassed by my mother + to start retaliating with equally embarrassing shenanigans. Over time we found an equilibrium. We loudly overshare opinions in public, obnoxiously frolic through the grocery store + sing our way along the trails. We’re loud + we embrace our weird. I dare you to try to embarrass us; it won’t work. And now that I’ve convinced my mother to join me for a leg of the #YourLead trip this summer…watch out world!
Happy Mother’s Day, you crazy goon!
don’t worry, we’re totally normal + incapable of being embarrassing…probably…not.
When I first told my mom I was moving in my car last summer her reaction was…expected. For a mother. Our initial phone conversation went a bit like this…
Me: Living up so far north doesn’t make sense, I’m going to move into my car.
Me: Yup, the Forester. I’ve slept in it at trailheads before hikes so I know I fit. It’ll be easier.
Me: Yea, I’ll save money and I won’t have to drive as much. Plus, it’ll let me…
Mom: Uh, I can’t talk about this right now, call me back in a few days. I need to think.
…my poor mother. Keep in mind, this conversation was happening only a few months after I shaved off all my long blonde hair, because, why not?! In less than a year I had gone from being her reliable, average daughter to someone who followed random impulses “because, why not”. She probably needed to call her friend Mary to discuss where she went wrong in life + figure out how to rope me back into being a sensible adult. [spoiler: she went right, all the way…it’s her fault I’m like this, which I’ll forever be thankful for!]
Later that week I called her again, this time she didn’t try to hang up on me. She actually admitted her friend Mary thought it was a good idea. [thanks Mary!] Between her attempts to talk me out of it I managed to figure out exactly what she was concerned about. My assumptions included safety + outward appearances. Nope, she was worried about my hygiene. More specifically showers. Initially I went with the “if I’m dirty no one will want to kidnap me” route but ultimately, I fessed up with my gym membership plan.
the set up I lived in for 3 months + have returned to for shorter stints multiple times since then
It has been just shy of a year since I first transitioned into the nomadic way of living that freaked my mom out. In late April I did it again. I left my seasonal job in the mountains + packed away all my gear, sold my car + hopped on an airplane as I head off to my next bout of nomadic living. This time around my mom was much more supportive…so supportive that she let herself get talked into actually *living* in the #YourLead van for an entire week! This takes my summer to the epic [+ potentially traumatic] level.
So, how’d I manage to get my mother’s blessing for my nomadic life + talk her into experiencing a sliver of it for herself? If you ask my brothers it’s because I have some manipulative tendencies [apparently they are still mad at me for talking them into playing Barbies with the promise of playing tractors after, but rarely following through]. In reality, I think it had a lot more to do with having a game plan, being completely confident in my ability to survive + not taking “no” for an answer.
Make a Game Plan
Before you hit up your mom or family or friends or anyone outside your trust circle have a game plan! Know the basics of the how’s, why’s and where’s of what you’ll be doing with your nomadic life. How will you survive financially? How will you stay safe? Why are you doing this? Why not go with XYZ or ABC instead? Where will you sleep? Where will you park? Where will you shower? You don’t need a spreadsheet or powerpoint presentation on every answer but have a solid idea of what you’ll be doing so you can answer their questions, confidently.
Trust the Plan
If you’re confident in your ability to adapt + survive in a rather non-traditional way of living the people you’re talking to will feel that + start to find their own tickle of confidence in your plan. If you don’t have an answer to their skeptical questions, fess up + thank them for the insight…then get back to them with an answer once you figure it out! If someone is concerned about something [especially if it’s your mom] let them get involved. For example, safety. There’s some risk involved with sleeping in your car + no one knowing where you’re parking makes it harder to look for you if you disappear. A simple shared pin every night makes everyone’s mind rest easy.
Stick to Your Guns
This is your life + your life plan. If you want to live in your car or wander off to Mexico, do it! This goes hand-in-hand with having confidence in your plan — people will trust you more if you trust yourself. Also, if you think your mom should join you for a week of van living, just so she can get a better understanding of why you do it…don’t let the first 49 no’s slow you down! Keep bringing it up, keep sharing the positives, keep asking, keep digging to see why the “no”is so adamant. It just might be something as simple as needing a legit power outlet in the van, a problem that is already solved!
Oh, and if someone really isn’t getting it…leave them be. This crazy sort of living isn’t for every one. It’s weird, I’ll be the first to admit that. And I’m sure the logistics and sacrifices are unfathomable for some people; just like the idea of a life behind a white picket fence + passel of babies gives me the hives. There’s nothing truly wrong with either life, it’s just a matter finding what jiggles your jello.
While I never anticipate a burning need for the latter the realist that lives in the back of my mind is fully aware of the fact I’ll eventually crave a bit more stability. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the bajeebus out of morning views like this one…
…and I literally cannot wait to show my mother a little snippet of what this life is all about. There is a really good chance we’ll drive each other crazy but I have faith in our ability to stay sane by the constant distraction of adventure + see-all-the-things trails just waiting for us to explore together or at our own pace. That said, I can promise you many hilarious + eye-rolling stories will come from the week we spend wandering around Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Don’t hold your breath, but definitely be glad you won’t be stuck in the van with the two of us!