Real Nomad Life With A Sprinkling Of Cosmic S**t

Author: Reikicoach Page 1 of 3

What’s On Your REVERSE Bucket List?

We all know about the Bucket List, a list of things to do before you die. This consists of ADDING to your life experiences, not a bad thing, but the REVERSE BUCKET LIST is even more thought provoking.

The REVERSE BUCKET LIST is a list of items that you REMOVE from your life.

Whether it be physical, mental or emotional, as we remove life issues that hold us back, we make more room for our SELVES.

I heard about the Reverse Bucket list from Arthur C Brooks in an interview on NPR. I was fascinated.

What I need to do, in effect, is stop seeing my life as a canvas to fill, and start seeing it more as a block of marble to chip away at and shape something out of. I need a reverse bucket list. My goal for each year of the rest of my life should be to throw out things, obligations, and relationships until I can clearly see my refined self in its best form.

Arthur C Brooks – Your Professional decline Is Coming (much) sooner than you think – The Atlantic

Nomads Can Relate To This Philosophy!

Anyone who’s hit the road knows the process of the “purge,” the drastic removal of physical belongings that’s necessary to fit comfortably into a tiny living space. Anyone who’s experienced it also knows it’s an emotional deep-dive. Once we wade through our emotions, we’re left with the gift of clarity. What remains is what’s truly important, useful, and relevant to a richly lived life. Minimizing is a profound practice, and one I’ve constantly refined as a nomad.

Removing tangible baggage gives us a chance to reveal the intangible, unseen emotional baggage we’ve been dragging around. As we let go of physical items, we find ourselves challenged to deal with the emotional meaning we’ve attached to those items.

Letting go of my office desk was one of those things for me. I’d purged almost everything else in my apartment without too much of a struggle, but the finality of selling that desk brought me to tears.

I’d purchased it at the start of my Life Coaching business, a precious dream I’d poured my heart and soul into.

What I didn’t see coming then was that instead of building a thriving business, my life would come to a screeching halt with an autoimmune condition. It transformed me from an active, independent woman to practically bedridden and unable to drive.

Letting go of that desk was letting go of a big dream, but thankfully, another big dream was on it’s way to being fulfilled!

Becoming a nomad I again purged beliefs about what my life should be. I left my family behind to travel cross-country, and it was painful to realize I’d never be the cookie-making grandma.

NOPE.

My nomadic journey became an opportunity for me to discover who I am … NOT defined by family roles. The sharp grief I felt leaving my family slowly resolved, and now my daughters and grandkids see an example of a strong woman living her deepest desires, in spite of her fears. I’m not the cookie-making Grandma, but now I’m the adventure Grandma! ( Excerpt taken from Wild Women On The Road: A Women’s Guide To Nomadic Freedom In The Modern Age, © Mary Ellen Telesha, Amazon Publishing)

When we can let go of what no longer serves us, we make room for other dreams.

We Make Room To Live As Our Truest Selves.

As we remove rooms full of items that require maintenance, we’re given back precious time to deeply savor the moments of our lives.

As we let go of relationships that crowd us, we make room for higher levels of self-care and service to humanity.

Never Get Tired of Desert Sunsets!

As we eliminate the clutter from our mind and environment, we make room for life energy to flow through us, instead of being so cramped up physically and emotionally that we can’t move out of our own way.

As we make space in our living areas, we naturally open up space in our inner world for higher emotions of joy and freedom.

We learn to fill our lives with experiences, instead of things.

Reflect on your own life for a minute. Is there a place where you feel crowded and where you crave more of yourself? Now go and make your reverse bucket list!

Nomads Vs Pandemic

I haven’t posted in a while… because … you know it …

The covid thing … ahhh the covid thing.

What I didn’t see coming was the energy it would cost to navigate this covid mess … physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The initial stress of it left me with just enough energy to get through the day.

.

It felt like I wasn’t living in the same world as before, humans weren’t the same humans, and I wasn’t the same person.

Being a Nomad In a Mini-van Is Challenging Enough Without a Pandemic!

Being a nomad, in a mini-van, in the midst of pandemic, can be a nightmare.

Everything I’d taken for granted as a nomad; public showers, weekly ice and water runs, grocery shopping, minimalistic living and limited storage in the mini-van … had become a soul sucking cluster-f*ck. A grocery run meant gearing up, physically and mentally. Disinfectant wipes – check. Mask – check. Gloves – check. Alcohol spray – check. Soap and water – check. Did I touch a contaminated surface? Did someone just cough? How do you disinfect bananas? Since I have no place to hoard toilet paper, am I gonna’ be wiping my a** with leaves?

Then came the stories of nomads being chased off public lands and out of towns in some states. 

Nothing will test your resolve as a nomad faster than a world-wide disaster.

So How DOES a Nomad Cope With a Pandemic?

For Me, It Started Out Like This:

  • Feel like you’re having a nervous breakdown at least once a day.
  • Consume alcoholic drinks, chocolate, or other substances, mostly legal.
  • Contemplate quitting nomad life.
  • Get stressed and freak out.
  • Decide to quit nomad life.
  • Later, realize you LOVE nomad life and resolve to stick it out. After all, this too shall pass.
  • Get on with it the best you can.
  • All of the above on any given day.

I finally concluded that living as a nomad was still a healthy way of life, even in a pandemic. I get lots of fresh air and sunshine, I’m living a life I love, and all the “risky” things that stressed me out, like shopping, would still have to get done in a “stick and brick” dwelling.

Since it’s not a great idea to become dependent on drugs, alcohol or chocolate to get through a crisis, here are some healthier practices.

Stay in the present moment. Easier said than done, but the scary movies we spin in our heads about what could happen sometimes do us more harm than actual reality.

Get support. Most therapists offices are offering support for Covid related stress, and if my anxiety hadn’t leveled off I wouldn’t have hesitated to call my counselor. There’s also an amazing free resource specifically for nomads traveling with anxiety, depression and other similar challenges, NomadChapter.org. They offer online resources and groups, group calls, and occasional in-person nomad events. It’s all peer-to-peer, relaxed, with no commitment required.

Lean on your community. Staying connected is crucial, even if it has to be virtual. Don’t isolate from human interaction. Staying too much in our heads without the balance of human connection can create a devastating spiral of depression and anxiety.

Don’t allow fear to rule your life. Most of the time we are safe. Yes statistics can be scary, but there’s risk just being alive here on planet Earth. Keep fear in check by adopting a balanced perspective. 

Practice radical self-care. I listen to stress-relieving videos on YouTube, use essential oils for self-massage, drink lots of water, and take Vitamin C and B vitamins daily. I try to sit with my face up to the sun for at least 10 minutes every day. These practices send a strong message of self-care to my body, which helps keep my immune system healthy.

Squeeze pleasure out of the “little” things. Focus on happiness, joy, and pleasure, even if it’s in little doses. Our heart has the ability to amplify good feelings. Notice when you’re feeling pleasure with friends, or lovers, or sunshine, or stars. Make it a practice to focus on good feelings when they arise. Even with the world in such a messed up state, there is still abundant joy and love to be found.

Keep a routine. Personally, my daily routine gives me a sense of control in an out-of-control situation. It’s tempting to give up on little routines when we get overwhelmed, but in the long run routines help our mental balance.

Be gentle with yourself. When the pandemic really hit the fan, anxiety took over and interfered with my functioning (like maintaining my blog) and I was really hard on myself over it. Being a recovering perfectionist, it was a challenge, but I finally gave myself a break. We don’t always have to be strong.

The pandemic has even given me more material that I’m considering added to my book, Top Ten Lists For Nomads, The (mostly) Funny Side of Nomadic Life. (Available here on Amazon)

Top Ten Things Nomads Say In A Pandemic

  1. When will the showers be open again???!!!
  2. I’m an introverted nomad, I’ve already got this social distancing thing down!
  3. Who’s hoarding all the God D**m toilet paper!!!?
  4. I’m going to run out of toilet paper!!!
  5. Got any leaves?
  6. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE
  7. Isolation? I already do that … in the wilderness/forest/desert!
  8. Yes officer, I’ve completed my two week quarantine. In my van.
  9. When will this END?????
  10. Yep, I STILL love nomad life!

Here’s To Happy Trails …

and Plenty of TP!

Nomad Boot Camp

The time finally comes, and you’re on the road! You’ve made it! You’ve planned and purged and navigated all the obstacles and it’s a thrilling emotional high to finally achieve your dream of nomadic life! 

Sometime after that, probably sooner than later, chances are good that this extreme high will be followed by an equally extreme low. 

Not a happy me.

You’ll get burned out. You’ll have times of worry and overwhelm. You may find yourself getting lonely, depressed or discouraged. Thoughts of quitting might nag at you, or you may start wondering if you’re really cut out for the nomadic lifestyle. You might get homesick for modern conveniences, or have any number of newfound struggles you couldn’t foresee. You might start questioning your life choices, and wonder why nomadic life isn’t as euphoric as you found it in your imagination.

Welcome To Nomad Boot Camp!

I don’t know why, but almost everyone nomad I’ve swapped stories with has experienced a harrowing adventure right out of the gate.

Recently, a newbie nomad I know got her van stuck in sand. TWICE. In one day. A week before that she’d almost driven her van into a fire pit. It’s a different world out here in nomad land!

Dust Storm!

For me it was my sliding door refusing to shut shortly after my maiden voyage to Arizona, followed by a major dust storm that had me stuffing towels into the door cracks while wind and dust howled outside my van windows.

Then, the same month, (stress related much?) I found myself in the La Paz emergency care with excruciating lower back pain, something I’d never experienced before in my life.

I couldn’t sleep through the pain, and waited out the hours alone, at night, in my van, absolutely miserable between doses of prescription Ibuprofen. 

This Was Going To Be My Nomad Life???

The good news is this: It’s ALL TOTALLY NORMAL!

It’s almost as if the transition to nomadism is SUCH a big shift in energy that it shakes up our lives … like being held upside down while all the stuff that has to go gets shaken out of our psyches … and vehicles … and bank accounts.

We’re not just making a move from one home to another, we’re changing a lifelong way of existence.

My mess in the beginning.

It’s a wonder we don’t all quit when we first start out. We pack too much into our vehicles. Things seem harder than we ever imagined. We experience unexpected feelings like loneliness, depression or fear. Things get mysteriously lost in our rigs, even though we’ve spent months, or even years organizing the perfect living space on the road. It’s an entire new way of being in the world.

If we’re persistent enough we get through the shake up … and start to enjoy our new normal of nomadic living!

We Get To Learn We’re Capable Humans!

Becoming a nomad is an ongoing transition, from the time it’s just a glimmer of an idea, to when we become a full-fledged road warrior.The process doesn’t end when we finally launch … the transition continues emotionally, mentally and physically as the months roll on. 

The nomadic journey is ALL about change – where we park our living rooms changes on a regular basis! One day we may be waking up to a cool shady primal forest, a few hours later we’re baking in the hot desert sun!

From the physical adjustments of not living in a permanent shelter, to the emotional exploration of how we define ourselves as nomads, our old way of living dissolves. We purge belongings, give up dependency on modern conveniences, and ultimately re-wire our very identities. This mushy dissolving stage is often a time of grief and letting go. 

While the life we once knew may be over, the new nomad life ahead of us is often still just a mass of uncertainty. When we first start out as nomads everything seems so much harder than we expected, our great ideas don’t work out, and THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

I do agree that research and preparation are essential, but it’s is an almost universal experience among nomads that no matter how much we prep, we’ll never know exactly what we’re doing until we’re on the road!

It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at any skill, and nomadism is no exception.

Over time we’ll develop emotional resiliency, and physically we’ll develop new “muscle memory” to accomplish the tasks of nomadic dwelling. Like any skill, we need to stick with it to learn it.

Here’s A Few Things That Can Help Us Through The Transitions.

  1. Take exceptional care of yourself. Don’t neglect self-care routines. Keep brushing your teeth, stay clean, and get plenty of rest.
  2. Keep in mind this transitional period will pass. You’ll adjust, and things will start to feel more routine.
  3. Reach out to fellow nomads. It’s often the little things that make a big difference in quality of life for a nomad, and the collective wisdom of the nomadic community can be a life-line.
  4. Remember your “WHY.” What’s the reason you chose nomadic life? Let that keep driving you. (see what I did there?)
Nice and organized now!

Being a nomad is an opportunity to really live life, to see what’s around the next corner, to have experiences and meet people we’d never encounter sitting in one place. Embedded in those very experiences are the golden opportunities to discover ourselves again and again.

Thankfully nomadism has become my new normal … yes there are adventures on the road that can be stressful … but when it’s all said and done, I FEEL ALIVE!


Whether you’re a newbie or experienced nomad, find more in-depth discussion of nomadic life in my book Wild Women On The Road: A Women’s Guide To Nomadic Freedom in The Modern Age.

For a more humorous take on nomadic life, read Top Ten Lists For Nomads: The (Mostly) Lighter Side Of Nomadic Life.

Sadness, Grief, And Changes On The Road

I’m single again.

Thought I’d never have say those words. Again.

Being on the road with heartbreak is … well … especially heartbreaking.

I can’t just lay in my bed, turn on Netflix, and indulge in ice cream therapy all day like I would in a stick and brick dwelling … there’s chores to be done, water to be fetched and filtered, the cooler to be drained and maintained … all the constant little minutiae of van dwelling.

Therapy.

I started out solo in June 2017, and became the other half of a couple by New Years Eve 2018. I’ve been in nomadic partnership for 2 years out of the 2 years and 8 months I’ve been on the road.

If you’ve followed my journey or read my book, you know we were very happy together, and very much in love.

And just before the 2020 WRTR, the annual gathering of women out in the Arizona desert, (Women’s Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) we separated.

I’m Lost.

I’d traveled with my beautiful partner for over two years … and forgotten how to be alone.

I feel homeless for the first time since embracing nomadic life.

The funny thing is … I lived alone 8 years, very contentedly, before hitting the road.

I haven’t achieved the second phase of a breakup according to Chandler Bing on the sitcom Friends,Get Drunk And Go To A Strip Club,” but it’s been 12 days, and I can finally hum Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares To You” without a complete meltdown.

I’ve never been in this particular depth of heartbreak, and I’ve been through some for sure. I don’t know if it’s because I’m across the country from my entire family, that I’m doing this as a nomad, or that I’ve become somewhat isolated being the other half of a couple … but this has thrown me into a deep depression.

There were moments I was barely functioning, but thankfully I’m starting to come back to myself.

It happened right before the WRTR started, and in between episodes of crying and the onset of a frightening depression, I forced myself show up at the WRTR and RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) … and kept my volunteer commitments. It was the only thing keeping me going for the first few days.

I guess it’s good timing this happened right before the WRTR/RTR started and there are so many nomads in the area … I found a group that offers support and safety for nomads just like me. It’s a group that deals with depression, anxiety, and other mental illness on on the road, an incredibly valuable resource for nomads. (Nomadchapter.org)

My fellow campers at the Nomadchapter group understand that there are some days I just need to hole up in my van.

On the other hand, talking to women making it to their first WRTR, and listening to their incredible back-stories, shone a little shaft of light into my heart. This WRTR will be my third, and the women who make it out here is one of the main reasons I keep attending. Their courage, and stories of sometimes just throwing stuff in a van or RV and traveling solo across country to get to the WRTR is inspiring.

I’m Here To Tell ‘Ya, Women On The Road Are Fucking AMAZING.

So, it’s gonna take some time.

I’m starting over with new routines, new friends, and a new-again identity as a solo nomad.

As nomad YouTuber Deborah Dickinson likes to say, I’m a gonna’ Keep On Keepin’ On.

If there’s one skill successful nomads have it’s the the skill of persistence, and damn do I need that right now. Part of me just wants to give up, (that’s just grief talking) but I won’t … because I am one stubborn-ass bitch.

I’ll be on my feet again eventually … and movin’ on down the road.

Complaints Of A Nomad

Nope. Just No.

After a recent desert rainstorm with severe wind gusts, I woke in the morning to the screen shelter blown completely over … and it had taken out my entire kitchen. The stove, tables, utensils, every single fork, spoon, and spray bottle was on the ground, covered with wet desert dirt. In two years on the road, and the third season on the desert, this was a first. I wish I’d taken a picture, but I was in such shock I didn’t think of it. 

So today, sitting here in my mini- van, to say I’m miserable would be an understatement. It’s been another rainy cold winter on the Sonoran Desert, much different than the much warmer first winter I was here. Weeks after the kitchen incident, it’s cold, wet, rainy and damp 53 degrees. The lows at night are starting to dip into the 40s and 30’s. Blah.

Rainy day view in the van

As the frigid days hang on, it starts to wear on me, body and soul. The cold and the dampness throw me into an autoimmune flare … which slows me down in mind and body, and makes me more emotional than usual. I grumble about leaving the cold and damp of NY state thinking I would be better off in nice, warm, sunny Arizona. Hhmmmph.

I’ve talked about the emotional toolbox we need to be a successful nomad in my book, Wild Women On The Road: A Women’s Guide To Nomadic Freedom In The Modern Age, and lately I’m definitely having to reach deep in the toolbox. This way of life ain’t for sissies! (Telesha, Mary Ellen. Wild Women On The Road: A Women’s Guide To Nomadic Freedom In The Modern Age (p. 126). Kindle Edition. )

My Emotional Toolbox Contains:

OPTIMISM

PERSISTENCE

ADAPTIBILITY

PERSONAL FAITH (NON-RELIGIOUS)

COURAGE

PROBLEM SOLVER

STUBBORNNESS

FLEXIBILITY

(If you’re thinking of becoming a nomad, or just making major life-changes, set aside a few minutes to take inventory of your own “Emotional Toolbox,” containing your own personal strengths.)

Right now, optimism is surely the most challenging thing to keep going. I just want to complain!

Coping skills … Once in awhile … 🙂

While I do get to bitchin’ on the cold rainy windy days out in the Southwest, it helps keep it all in perspective when I think of the sub-zero weather on it’s way to my old stomping ground in upstate NY. Cold rainy days in the Southwestern desert still beats freezing rain, temps in the negative, and vehicles buried in snow!

Besides the weather, there are other not so fun things that come along in a nomad’s day, for instance, loud neighbors … or nosy know-it alls butting into your business. … out of control dogs… or creepy guys.  Putting up with not so courteous nomads is probably a close second to weather ruining my day.

Other things that would be easy to complain about are the critters, mice in the engine, having to find a shower, bathroom snafus, no running water, cooking outside, no oven, budgeting.

Do I Think About Moving Back Into A “Stick and Brick? (A regular house)

I have to admit when these times come along I do fantasize about thermostats, climate control and hot showers on demand.

The Sun’ll Come out …

Still.

When I think of my disabled self just sitting around behind four walls, not having money to travel and barely paying my utility bills every month, it infuses me with the courage, persistence, optimism and stubbornness needed to keep living this rich nomadic life filled with experiences, both good and bad.

Like everything in life, living as a nomad is a yin and yang thing. Good/bad, light/dark, rain/sun. Good people, shitty people. 

The rainy days will always be followed by bright, bone warming sunshine, the dogs will eventually stop barking, peace will ensue.

I get to experience these deep cycles of yin and yang on the road. When the days are good, nothing can compare. I relish standing outside in my kitchen cooking a simple meal, as the sun and clouds and moon, the trees, the birds, even the ants, join me in my life. I soak my soul in the desert sunsets almost every day, and count myself beyond lucky to have a soulful, loving partner to share them with.

After a recent bitch session with my partner Nancy she put it all in a nutshell for us, optimistically saying, “We’re nomads, We can do it!”

Desert Sunset

As Always, On The Road I Feel ALIVE!

Feng Shui In A Van – VAN Shui?

Ok, I’m no expert on Feng Shui. I had a little book on it years ago, and Feng Shui’d my apartment. I don’t know all the rules, but I know how it feels.

From this article about Feng Shui, “Feng shui is … the art of placement—understanding how the placement of yourself and objects within a space affects your life in various areas of experience. It … teaches you how to balance and harmonize with the energies in any given space—be it a home, office, or garden. Its aim is to assure good fortune for the people inhabiting a space.”

We Nomads Need Feng Shui In Our Tiny Living Spaces!

Simplified principles of Feng Shui include:

  • Minimizing Clutter.
  • Improving Energy Flow.
  • Adding Positive Elements.
Clothes In Rectangles

I’ve found minimizing is a necessity to feel good in the van. Marie Kondo, the current star of minimizing, says, “tidy your space, transform your life.” I haven’t read her book, but my daughter taught me how to fold my clothes in rectangles ala Marie Kondo!

Now that I’ve Marie Kondo’d my clothes, I can fit most of my wardrobe in a 10 gallon bin! (25 3/4″ x 18 3/8″ x 7 1/4″)

PAST SET UP

I’ve been on the road two years now, and at first I had curtains, and a tapestry above the bed. They were pretty but proved problematic right from the get-go … the curtains just got in my way and the tapestry made me claustrophobic! I ended up going for strictly utilitarian function in the van, but lately I’ve been craving more self-expression and beauty in the van.

I needed a better flow of energy in that little space!

I started by finding mini prayer flags that fit perfectly on my side window. They’re a reminder to me of my spiritual life, which is mostly defined as universe lover, Nature Lover, Tree lover, Meditator.

I wanted psychedelic pillow cases, but they were too $$$ for my needs. I bought some cheapie cases when I had the rest of the van “redecorated.”

Pillow Case On Amazon!

Anyone living in a van, especially if it’s small like my mini-van, knows the bed is the centerpiece, but traditional bed covers were either too big, too expensive, or just too ugly.

Hah! I’m living a non-traditional life, so I came up with a non-traditional solution.

I remembered there was a place in town selling really cool tapestries for a price that was more reasonable than a bed set!

Chakra Tapestry For Bedcover!

For me, how a space makes me feel is Feng Shui. Optimal functioning in my small space is paramount to feeling good there.

Important Feng Shui In The Van.

  • Keeping things in the same place. It’s unbelievably easy to lose things in a van!
  • Being able to find things quickly and easily, within a few seconds.
  • Everything in it’s place determined by how often it’s used and when I need to reach it. (For example: Flashlights in easy reach when I’m in bed at night.)

Eliminating clutter is important in Feng Shui, and I was determined to find ways to organize the “cluttery” things in my van like spray bottles, sun screen, flashlights. I found a cheap storage cube at the Family dollar that I couldn’t resist. WITH SEQUINS. Once in a while I can’t resist a little bling. 🙂

SEQUINS!

Something else that was driving me crazy was having clothes piled up around the van. Nomads will get this … clothes that aren’t quite dirty enough to go in the laundry bag … a pair of jeans I wear only to “go out,” a few hoodies I rotate through depending on my mood, and my pjs. My clothes are stored in the bin under the bed, but I don’t want to dig around under there every day!

I found another perfect storage cube to keep it all in one place!

Frequently Used Clothes Storage

I bought a new black throw rug and put a plastic shower mat over it to catch any midnight spills when I’m half awake trying to hit the bucket – if you know what I mean.

The last thing I did was put “curtains” back up in the back windows. I realized I had two cool Ganesh bandanas … how perfect is that for a nomad! Ganesh is the Hindu God of removing obstacles, among other attributes!

Back Curtains

It feels better in the van, I have the same amount of “stuff” but it’s organized so the energy flows in a way that makes me feel good.

I am SO HAPPY with my van right now. This past year I’ve taken out wooden shelves, removed the platform from the bed and lowered it, and now updated the decor. With the recent reorganizing, I now have more OPEN SPACE in the van, allowing more good energy to flow!

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