*warning* this is a long, rambling post. I was going to write this just in my personal, private, paper journal - but then, I thought about how much I appreciate the personal feelings that other bloggers
have shared (Dooce
etc.) Most all of my blog is about how wonderful this life is, and it's true, but that's not the whole story. If all you ever read from other people is goodness and light, you'd think there was something wrong with you when your life doesn't match up. It's important to know that everyone, no matter how happy and lucky, has some dark times. It's not only normal, it's actually good. One of my favorite quotes is from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet
"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. "
So, here goes ...
A couple of nights ago I started feeling sick to my stomach, I had diarrhea, headache, couldn't sleep, couldn't eat. Had I caught some kind of flu? Or eaten something bad? Nope, it was simply fear. Fear of running out of money. What is so weird is that nothing had happened, nothing had changed from the day before that sleepless night when I was happy and productive. But I got out of bed two days ago, went for our walk with Odie, then just came back home and went back to bed. Not to sleep, because I couldn't, but I wasn't capable of doing anything else either. I'd sit at the computer and review my mile-long list of things to do. Within a few minutes I just couldn't take it, and I'd crawl back to bed.
I did have to get up to go to a dentist appointment for a root canal. Believe it or not, that was the most pleasant part of my day. When it was over, and I got the $2,200 bill for all the dental work that needed to be done, I went home and went back to bed. Still couldn't sleep.
This has only happened to me a few times during my life. When I'm in the middle of it, there seems no way out. I think of people who suffer from depression and wonder how they manage. People like Dooce who had debilitating depression after the birth of her daughter ... how do you take care of someone else when you can't get out of bed?
What brought this on? It's like I have been living this beautiful dream for the last few years, and I just woke up! The dream was as comforting and happy as I feel when I'm in the ocean scuba diving. Waking up to the fact that money could run out, was like opening my eyes to realize that I'm 100 feet below the surface ... with no scuba equipment!
When I get paralyzed like that, it's clear that I have to DO something. I have to reach out to friends and talk about it. Poor Jim, one morning he has a happy, laughing wife to go for a walk with - and the next morning a morose, whimpering fool telling him our happy life is over. What changed? Absolutely nothing except my state of mind.
I talked to my Mom. Told her she had been right. Something a mother should like to hear. She was right to tell me that these years are the years of a person's life when they need to be making money, building a career and retirement (I'm 55 and Jim is 54). She was worried for my future when Jim and I took off on the road spending the savings we had rather than making more for later. I'm sure she got a little satisfaction from hearing those words, 'you were right' but mostly she's still worried about me, she wants me to succeed. She gave me a hug. She paid my dental bill ... bless her!
Another friend, Chris, happened to call to ask about going out to lunch. She started by asking the standard, 'how are you?'
Wrong question! I launched into my anxiety-stricken tale, all the while feeling so guilty. How dare I think that I have problems? I have a fairy-tale life. I don't have kids to feed, or even a mortgage to pay. But, looking at our financial situation now, compared to 5 years ago, is a very sad tale indeed. We did it by choice - which, in my depressed state makes it even worse. Chris gave me some practical pointers; eat something ... give yourself permission to not think about our future right now, just pick one thing I need to do and sit down and do it. OK, Thanks. That worked. I got some work done ... some billable work! I was able to eat a little dinner, and I was able to sleep last night.
For me, these anxiety attacks are wake-up calls to make some decisions. Luckily, the call comes in time to make some reasoned decisions. We won't run out of money for several months yet, and we have lots of opportunity for income at rallies this summer. 'Computer Education for RVers' is not a huge money-maker, but any venture takes time to develop. We only came up with the 'Geeks on Tour' business a year and a half ago. The first couple years on the road we were pursuing work in the WiFi field. And, yes, we have made money while we've been on the road - just not nearly enough.
I am about to convert our website with the video tutorials to a fee-based membership site. Right now all the video tutorials are free. It has always been my plan to make it a membership site, but I needed to develop enough content to make it worthwhile. That will make us money, but it will take time to grow.
Meanwhile, we have several good rallies this summer, and we've found that people buy our tutorials on DVD. We get lots of great feedback on how much they learn with the tutorials. That keeps me going. We're getting a disk duplicator so we can make a bunch of them. Jim also does lots of computer 'tuneups' when we're at rallies, and he's been doing computer service calls to customers while we're here in our old hometown. I have several website orders already on my plate. And, maybe we'll get a Datastorm order or two.
Our plans have us returning to Florida in October/November and, if we need to stop and get work, well, that's not so bad! Even knowing our situation now, I don't think I would have done anything different. In fact, I remember when we made the decision to sell the house and hit the road in 2003, a big part of the motivation was dwindling assets *then*, and the desire to do something wonderful while there was still enough extra money.
Better to watch your money dwindle while paddling the Columbia river, or hiking in Yosemite, or giving seminars to crowds of people at RV rallies, than to be sitting in your depreciating house! Yeah - I have no regrets - and we can do whatever we have to come fall. Meanwhile we have a wonderful summer planned with 6 rallies that's all about Geeks on Tour - we have to give it a go - even though it may be the end for a while.
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