I turned our trailer into a space for wellness, but such a space is nothing if not filled with intention. So I set five for this trip.
Embracing the power of spontaneity invites pure magic into our lives, and spontaneous moments wait for each of us around every corner if we’re paying attention. But all too often, especially in the routine of everyday life, we turn off our curiosity — that which allows us to be in tune with spontaneous opportunities — and we do what we're used to doing, go where we always go, and eat what we know is easy, quick or ready-to-eat. We default to the habits that have been subconsciously programmed into our easiest and most comfortable automatic settings.
There is a difference between acting in and embracing the moment, and operating from those automatic settings. That difference is intention. Without intention, we are wont to operate on autopilot, and autopilot is a dangerous setting to act from.
When I operate on autopilot, life passes me by. I let go of the wheel, become a passenger in my own life and lose control of where I'm going. With my curiosity turned off, I don't question anything. It is in this numb and disconnected territory where I unconsciously create habits that don't serve my wellness, because they are powered by individual impulses rather than holistic intention.
In order to turn autopilot off, we must set mindful intentions, which is what I’ve done for this trip. I’m taking advantage of the constant change in my physical environment to shake up the mundane habits of my internal environment. By marking and tuning in to some purpose, some will, some aim, I’m building positive habits and creating space for spontaneity that adds to this adventure, rather than derails it.
I approach my intentions as a practice, something I must work at every day because they don't come easily or naturally to me. I have to repeatedly turn off my autopilot — sometimes daily, sometimes weekly — because it’s a persistent internal setting, and I must keep reminding myself what I have set out to do in this next chapter, and why.
As a part of my practice, I meditate on my intentions at some point every day. No, I don’t have the time or space to sit alone in a room full of fluffy pillows surrounded by a candled shrine. But I can lay quietly in the dark and think before falling asleep, or reflect in the silent daybreak moments before my family awakes. I can also meditate on my intentions in the car, as we drive from place to place. There are plenty of points throughout my day where I can create quiet mental space for introspection, if only I seize the moment with intention.
And it is important to do so, so as not to mindlessly slip back into the passenger seat of my life. To remain in the driver's seat, I intend to:
I find much more opportunity to practice self-love in our RV trailer than in our static life because there are fewer — or, at least different — pressures on me each day (due to a combination of the lifestyle itself, the fact that my daughter is getting older, and because My Love and I work much more as constant equal partners than we did in our static life). My self-care routine — from showering and getting ready in the morning to winding down each night — is much easier since I only have exactly what I need. But self-love doesn't only apply to styling my hair or washing my face. I practice self-love when I thoughtfully prepare a meal, when I care for the physical environment I live in, when I stay motivated to move my body, and most importantly when I encourage myself to feel proud, be kind and employ patience with myself and others where I typically would not. I’m better able to take care of my family when I have truly loved myself first.
In order to maintain new habits of self-love, I must practice discipline. This is a hard but important practice that is also made easier by our nomadic lifestyle. Whereas a house or an apartment affords the luxury of walking away from a mess into another room, a trailer does not. We must clean up the dishes after every meal, or we cannot make and serve the next one. If we don’t put our dirty clothes in the laundry bag that hides behind the futon, the trailer soon becomes one big clothes pile we cannot move through. The same goes for the World’s Cutest Human’s toys and books, and all of our gadgets. And you know what? I need that reality to practice this intention, because my autopilot is very lazy. However, it’s not only in the areas of domestic responsibility that I must practice discipline. It’s also in my self-love habits, like eating well and exercising daily, that I practice a long-range view to show myself that putting in the work is worth the results it brings.
Coming off a stressful chapter of my life, it’s easy to think about the past. What just happened, what we left behind, what we could have done differently or better. But all the reflections and wishes in the world cannot change the past. And the only way to affect the future is to be present now. Social media challenges this practice (i.e. let me just check Instagram real quick while missing a beautiful vista in front of me), as does my desire to capture it all (i.e. taking a photo in a moment where I would be better served to just observe and soak it in). But what will help everything more than anything is to slow down. Pause. Stop, even, and be present. To really take in the sights around me and really smell the smells. To listen — really hear — what my daughter or My Love are saying to me or asking of me. But most importantly, to listen and really hear what my heart and my soul are telling me. I — my sacred self — know what I need now and what I need next, but I’ll never learn if I’m not present enough to listen and be open.
We designed our nomadic lifestyle to celebrate creativity. Well, creation, period. Sometimes it’s only five minutes during the day that I am able to take a few photos or write down a few words. Sometimes it’s just a doodle on a notepad that allows me to express myself through my handwriting (my point of view on how much our handwriting is connected to who we are will be saved for another day). Sometimes it’s building a house of blocks with my daughter. But I am grateful for those moments, as short or long as they are. As long as I'm creating something, anything, every single day. Or, celebrating another’s creativity — in street art, or architecture, or sculpture — and the creativity of nature. Inspiration goes hand-in-hand with creativity, and because our external environment is always changing, I've found inspiration along the road in the weirdest places. For instance, I’ve discovered an obsession with worn and broken-down sheds and buildings. I've got a major thing for them. It’s all I can do to not pull the trailer over 60 times per day, or more, to photograph a ratty building in the middle of nowhere. Because it sparks something inside of me, and that makes me want to create.
When stressed, I can go from zen mama to crying frustration station in one minute flat as though the entire world revolves around my itty bitty problem. Luckily, My Love is the opposite. Next-to-nothing rocks his boat (that’s the Costa Rican in him, Pura Vida, man), and being that we spend (almost) every waking moment together, his presence guides me toward the calmer end of the spectrum. He is also a mirror when I lose my cool, which helps me practice stepping back, slowing down and seeking perspective in every situation. The world these days does a pretty good job of that too, with tragedies constantly bombarding us through media to remind me how small my individual problems are in the big picture. So I practice — when the iron of my patience gets too hot — pausing, taking a breath and reminding myself that it could be much, much worse. I am, and we are, blessed to have our health and our freedom, free of persecution. The majority of the rest is just details.
Automatic is a less scary path to follow than intentional, because it is familiar and low-maintenance and therefore non-threatening, which is how we can find ourselves lost — waking up one day wondering how we got where we are emotionally, spiritually, mentally or physically. But automatic is certainly not a path that will lead to anywhere productive, and to me it's just not worth it. Intention is the way to progress.
I'm grateful for the changes we have made — particularly leaving New York City and its stresses for this overland journey of exploration — and the space those choices have created, which has given me the strength to become my best self again on this voyage. And if these intentions serve me well, hopefully far, far beyond!