Our New Home… On Wheels

Aside from the fact that I’ve basically been homeless for the past few months, I don’t think you and I are all that different. For example, I’m guessing that you, like me, never dreamed that the first home you purchased would have wheels. Sure, I imagined a guest house, a nice yard, and maybe a pool or something… but never a house that would require new tires from time to time. It’s not that I’m too bourgie to see myself in a mobile home. In fact, home prices in Southern California have made me consider that option more than once, especially when I learned there are trailer parks right on the beach in some of the priciest neighborhoods in LA! But still… “first time homeowners” and “pumping our own sewage out” were phrases I’d never thought of putting together. Until yesterday that is, when we did indeed buy our first home… on wheels! We bought ourselves an RV! A 5th wheel to be exact. A 2016 Keystone Sprinter to be even more exact.

2017-04-28 14.30.04

We didn’t intend on buying one so new. In fact, our plan was to buy an old one to fix up in a way that matched our style. Though I’m pretty glad that didn’t happen because I know us well enough to realize that in reality we’d never actually finish, and we’d spend our whole six month road trip lamenting the backsplash we never got around to. So luckily, we avoided the five stages of backsplash grief when we happened to drive by just the right RV dealership- with just the right reason to sell this one fast- on just the right day, and saw just the right RV for us! So we bought a 2016 model for 1/3 less than the list price! I’m not even joking. And it’s selling for even higher than the listed price everywhere we’ve seen it posted around the country!

2017-04-28 11.42.12

Of course we were skeptical that we could be so lucky as to find just the right everything for just the right price, so we hired an inspector to look it over. And it came out perfectly! His only negative feedback was that the “outside was dirty”. I think it was that dirty outside that helped us get this great deal, because it limited how many people driving past would stop to notice how sparkling this trailer was on the inside! In fact, it’s practically brand new and barely used inside!

SAC78845 SAC78858 SAC78875 SAC78830 SAC78831

The TV, stove, and fireplace (yes, FIREPLACE!) all seem like they have literally never been used. And there are still new stickers on the bathtubs and showers. Yes, I did say bathtubs and showers PLURAL because this is a 2 bed/2 bath model!!!

SAC78850 SAC78869

FYI friends, this couch folds into a bed... as does the couch in the living room! Where are you going to meet up with us?!
FYI friends, this couch folds into a bed… as does the couch in the living room! Where are you going to meet up with us?!

SAC78871SAC78884

If you’re doing the math, you know that means our daughter Celia actually has more of her own space than she did in our LA apartment (see our nursery closet pics here)!

SAC78896 SAC78900SAC78905 SAC79072

And it’s actually tall enough that Scottie can fit in it! Which was a real problem when searching for this. He still can’t stand up in the bedroom, but that was the case in all but one of the 5th wheels we saw (and is the reason we didn’t buy a tiny travel trailer!).

SAC78977SAC79083 SAC79091

So when all is said and done, this is the perfect RV for us! Better than we ever imagined we’d have. I am a little sad we won’t be Pinterest famous for all the remodel magic we do (we actually can’t do much because it’s so close to factory condition and changes would likely lower the resale value). But I have a feeling we’ll be less stressed out on the road knowing that:   1.) Our backsplash is done, and 2.) We have a better chance of making it from Point A to Point B with our “car house” (as Celia calls it) in tact. And man, does it feel good to have such a new and perfect place to call home… for awhile!

SAC78950SAC79036 SAC79060 SAC79052

Look out, America! Here comes the Chansons with our (almost) new “Car House”!

SAC78991

 

SAC78996 SAC78998SAC79002

 

SAC79095 SAC79057SAC78955

Is Extraordinary Living Selfish?

Since my initial concept of this blog began to form, there is one major challenge I have wrestled with constantly.  Am I putting myself first too much in my attempt to live a Rare Existence?  The fact that you are currently reading this blog means that I have decided the answer is no. But still, it is a question that requires some thought, so I’m putting my musings out there.

There are 3 main reasons I do not believe extraordinary living is selfish.

1. Your role in the world matters.

Yes, I do believe that loving the world around you and giving of yourself to humanity as a whole are key elements to a well lived life.
I do not see living an extraordinary life as being in opposition to that life model, in fact I think they go hand in hand quite well. I believe that people’s talents, experiences, weaknesses, strengths, genetic predispositions, etc. all make up one whole unique person.  And it is my belief that each one whole unique person exists to fill certain holes in the world in a way that only that specific person with that specific makeup can fill. That said, I believe that if you are doing something that you are not fit to do or living as if every person were meant to do the same things, then you are going to be unsatisfied and potentially inhibit the world around you from living up to it’s full potential.
The main reason I think everyone should be living the destiny they are made for, is because I believe it is the main thing that will make their life beneficial to those around them.  I definitely agree that living your life for the good of others is the number one priority…  I just happen to think that living the life you are meant to live is one of the best ways to do that.

 2. Sacrificial love isn’t always what it seems.

Yes, life and love require sacrifices. It’s not all sunshine and roses and it’s not all about pursuing things that make you happy.  Sometimes you do things you don’t like for the sake of others.
The problem arises when people define themselves by these sacrifices.
It is so much easier to play the victim.  So much simpler to not push yourself in life because you simply assume your position holds you stationary.  No, life doesn’t always go as planned, no life is not all about our happiness, and yes sometimes love does require more sacrifice than we want to make.  But within all that we still have choices, and no one choice has to define us for the rest of our life because we still have choices after that.  Many people let the sacrifice phase run their entire life so that it no longer can be called a phase, but rather…well, it’s just called their life at that point. Spending your entire life sacrificing what you are meant to be doing with your life for the sake of others has consequences to not only you but to those you believe you are sacrificing for.
The good intentions behind our sacrifices can quickly turn into excuses to avoid our fears.
When this happens, we begin basing our life decisions on fear disguised as love and this is of benefit to no one, no matter how much we want to believe it is.  We are telling ourselves that we are living the way we are for the sake of another person, when really that person/situation can go on just fine without us.  But we are incapable of acknowledging that because that is going to require more self-examination and change than we are ready for.  When we get to this point, we are in the danger zone because there is a good chance that we are doing more harm than good by what we are still calling a “loving sacrifice.”  It’s important to constantly ask yourself “are my past sacrifices still necessary or am I just stuck in a bad routine that I have been afraid of questioning?”  Knowing when to make sacrifices for others is just as important as knowing when to move forward with your life within that sacrifice, or when to let go of the sacrifice entirely.
 I fully believe that you can commit to truly loving others in life and still pursue an extraordinary life.
Sacrificing for others doesn’t have to mean giving up your dreams and loving people doesn’t have to mean you don’t get to be happy yourself.  In fact, for many people, living an extraordinary life is all about giving up their comforts to enable them to love others better (as in the story of Kelli that I featured awhile back).  I also believe that love, happiness, filling the role you are destined for, and selflessness all fit together very well and often create a circle where each aspect feeds and strengthens the others.

3. Your loved ones will thank you.

Anyone who is drained of passion, hope, and joy is not going to be of much use to people around them.
If you are a mom who has become a complete martyr for your children and do not have a single ounce of self-esteem or personal identity left in you… what are teaching your kids about life?  If you are a husband who uses every ounce of energy you have to just survive every single workday long enough to be able to make it home and zone out in front of the TV… what kind of love are you able to give to your wife and what kind of example are you being to your kids about how to love people?
Sick people can’t make others healthy because disease spreads.  Push aside your fears and be willing to constantly ask yourself what needs to be done for the greater good of others… you might be surprised that it requires that you be healthy and happy so you can love others well.  Make the choice to be a healthy person who can lead others to health by example.

The bottom line is that though extraordinary living is focusing on yourself and your own life while pursuing changes that might result in your own personal happiness, that doesn’t make it selfish; because it is those very changes that will most likely result in positive changes in the lives of those around you. If doing what you are meant to be doing with your life makes you happier (and it’s likely that it will) that does not automatically make you selfish. Happiness does not have to equal selfishness. If you are pursuing your own happiness IN SPITE of what’s best for those around you, well then that’s another story. But extraordinary living is not about finding what you WANT to do with your life but what you are MEANT to do with your life and I don’t believe what you are truly meant to do with your life is something that will be detrimental to your loved ones, but in fact beneficial to them… as well as to yourself. As long as your happiness comes from things that are good and true then it is a gift from God and can be one of the greatest sources of the love that you extend to others.

Why you should watch a movie that might make you want to kill yourself

“Who made these rules anyway?” screams a frustrated, 11 years post Titanic, Kate Winslet at Leonardo Dicaprio (who looks about the same a decade later, except that his tux and tails have been replaced by late 50’s era swanky suits).

If you haven’t seen Revolutionary Road, see it.
You may hate it, many people do. I mean REEEAAALLY hate it. It does have the depressing factor, but to me it is full of truth and beauty. Yes, there are some morally questionable scenarios that I’m not sure which side of the fence I’m on and there are many different ways to interpret what happens and who’s to blame… but the multidimensional factor of the story and the characters is what makes a good movie (or book as was Revolutionary Road’s initial form) right?

My take on Revolutionary Road?
It’s a story about what happens when you choose to live a life you are NOT meant to live. It’s what happens when you choose comfort over risk, when you choose to believe the lies, when you choose to see problems and your own fears as insurmountable. It’s the story of what happens when you let life win. Basically you rot from the inside out… and your rot spills over onto the people around you until you and all your loved ones are completely miserable. You are dead inside and eventually, you die on the outside. This is Revolutionary Road. Wonderfully uplifting, isn’t it?

If you are currently in a marriage that makes you feel trapped…
…DON’T see this, it may make you suicidal. In fact, the people who I know who truly hated this movie with a bitter, burning anger, were people who were in that situation. So in that case, I don’t necessarily recommend it. I could be wrong though, so see it at your own risk.

If you feel trapped in any other way…
…then maybe you should see it or read the book. It will show you what at least one of your potential outcomes could be and it’s probably something you need to see, as painful as it may be.

If you’ve already seen the movie or read the book and you hated it…
Then maybe give it another shot with the perspective I’ve offered in mind. Or maybe not. Maybe you still won’t like it. I do, but you don’t have to and I would totally understand why you might still hate it. It’s disturbing no matter how you spin it and it really is a very complex movie with lots of different ways to interpret. My early apologies if you end up wasting yet ANOTHER 2 hours of your life on a movie you hate the second time around just as much as you hated it the first!

A couple of my favorite quotes from the book by Richard Yates:

“If being crazy means living life as if it matters, then I don’t mind being completely insane.”
-April Wheeler

“No, Frank. This is what’s unrealistic. It’s unrealistic for a man with a fine mind to go on working year after year at a job he can’t stand. Coming home to a place he can’t stand, to a wife who’s equally unable to stand the same things. And you know what the worst part of it is? Our whole existence here is based on this great premise that we’re special. They we’re superior to the whole thing. But we’re not. We’re just like everyone else! We bought into the same, ridiculous delusion. That we have to resign from life and settle down the moment we have children. And we’ve been punishing each other for it.”
– April Wheeler

“I want to feel things. Really feel them.”
-Frank Wheeler

“I wanted IN. I just wanted us to live again. For years I thought we’ve shared this secret that we would be wonderful in the world. I don’t know exactly how, but just the possibility kept me hoping. How pathetic is that? So stupid. To put all your hopes in a promise that was never made. Frank knows what he wants, he found his place, he’s just fine. Married, two kids, it should be enough. It is for him. And he’s right; we were never special or destined for anything at all.”
– April Wheeler

“We’re gonna be okay.”- Frank Wheeler
“I hope so. I really hope so.”- April Wheeler

See the trailer or rent the movie here.
Buy the book here.

You can do it my dear

This post is dedicated to two of my friends (you know who you are).

 

“You can do it my dear.” That is what I told myself when my husband and I both went full time into our new photography business which has continued to support us for the past 3 years.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend, Kelli, told herself as she gave up her successful career to start up her non-profit organization that now helps hundreds of foster children every year.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Molly told herself (and her husband!) as he went in to reverse his vasectomy after they decided that extraordinary living for them means having and raising as many children as possible (they now have 4 boys and are pregnant with their 5th baby!).

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend, Nicole, told herself when she started up her blog that now has a large fan base and is leading to major speaking opportunities which enable her to help all kinds of people in more ways than she dreamed possible.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Christina told herself when her and her husband decided to start saving their money to fulfill their dream of living on Maui- which they succeeded in doing 5 years later.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Julia told herself as she gave up her life, time, and energy to nursing school because what she is meant to do with her life is help people.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Lynn told herself as her and her husband set off to leave their home in Phoenix and live in Chicago for a year… just to have an adventure.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Abby told herself when she moved to Africa to start housing and taking care of orphaned children there.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what my friend Katie told herself when she started sewing wedding dresses out of old tablecloths and soon became busier than she could handle sewing all kinds of unique women’s clothing.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what I want you to tell yourself next time you have a dream, inkling or idea, that seems made of equal parts amazing and impossible.

“You can do it my dear.” That is what I want you to tell your friends when they share their big dreams and ideas with you… right before you pull out a pen and paper and help them write out the steps to accomplish their plan.

YOU can do it my dear(s).

 

Do Epic Shit

How do you respond when your husband tells you he wants to be a street artist?

My response included the following:

1. Don’t get arrested.

2. Don’t destroy someone’s property or cause a lot of work for anyone.

3. Say something good.

I know number two could be difficult to adhere to, but I think it’s possible. He was fine with that since he doesn’t really believe in most of the common street art messages anyways like “people shouldn’t be allowed to own property, so I will destroy it” or “consumerism must die so I will destroy an advertisement that cost someone thousands or even millions”.

Messages like those are all I ever saw in street art, even as my husband and I started having long discussions about the values, meaning, and purpose behind it. And then came that one fateful day when I saw a piece of street art that resonated with everything in me and completely rocked my world.

DO EPIC SHIT.

That’s what it said. That’s all it said. That’s all it needed to say… and it hit me like a ton of bricks had just been catapulted into my stomach (except that I lived through it of course). It was a stamp. Which means, it’s all over the place. Which means, the message is spreading.

Finally I saw the strong truth behind street art. The kind of rebellious truth that everyone always tells me it stands for, but I never understood until now. Use your talents to spread a message. A message that will benefit everyone who sees it and takes it to heart. Speak truth, speak it loud, confidently, often, and publicly.

DO EPIC SHIT.

The next time I was in an uncomfortable situation that roused my insecurities, this phrase resonated through my head.

DO EPIC SHIT.

I was on my way to a party with a bunch of people I didn’t know, but I wanted to get to know since I’m in a new town and need friends. Is my outfit too French? Will my drink be too girly? Will my jokes make sense? Will they deem me cool enough to be one of them?

DO EPIC SHIT.

Why am I worrying about this? If I can’t even sit in a room with really nice strangers and acquaintances for a few hours, then I will never be able to do anything epic.

DO EPIC SHIT.

Then again, this tiny little non-epic moment is probably actually part of me reaching my epic moment. It’s growth. It’s a step. It’s leaving my comfort zone. It’s all a step in the right direction and I’m taking it.

DO EPIC SHIT.

Don’t worry, I will. And I encourage you to do the same.

(if you liked this mantra and want to learn more about Extraordinary Living join the  Rare Existence Facebook community)!