Resolute in Pink

This New Year I resolve to relearn the guitar.  And to be comfy with pink.  To own it!

As a child of the 60’s, I have a deep love of folk music.  The Times They are Changin’ and Puff the Magic Dragon tortured my family as I practiced on my first guitar–a 6th grade graduation gift–in my room.  My room which I detested, with its little girlie white bedroom set surrounded by pink pink pink pink–count them, four–walls.  At that awkward, tortured, self-conscious middle-school age, I wanted nothing more than to be older, in control, and strong.  Certainly not pink.

It proved to be much easier to reject pink as I grew to adulthood than it was to excel at making music.  I tried a 12-string guitar for a while, hoping that those extra 6 strings would somehow work the magic that my mediocre fingering could not.  No such luck.  I tried a mandolin, which was great fun, but still beyond my amateur abilities.

When I was in high school, a friend of my little brother’s asked me to teach him guitar.  I obliged, setting out the music for Little Brown Jug and going over basic chords and fingering with him.  Within a couple of weeks, he was way better than I was.  He was a natural.  That’s probably when the definition of talent–and my lack thereof–really hit me.

Last year, as I downsized my household to get ready to move into this little house on wheels, I couldn’t decide what to do with my guitar.  I hadn’t played it in years, and when I did, it was yet another disappointing experience.  So I gave it to a friend to hold for me until I returned with the RV.  By then I would know if there was a place to fit it and, more importantly, if it would even be worth bringing.

When it came time to decide whether or not to pick the guitar back up, I did, without really knowing why.  Yes, there was room in a tall, narrow closet in my little house–a closet I had them put in specifically for the guitar in case I decided to bring it.  No, my son–who is extraordinarily musically talented, yay!–didn’t want it.  And I couldn’t quite bring myself to sell it.  Or give it to a stranger.  So I now have it with me.

A couple of weeks ago I took the guitar out of the closet and put it on the bed.  I haven’t even opened the case yet.  It makes a nice bedside table.  Maybe I am waiting for the New Year.  Maybe I am waiting for inspiration.  Maybe I am holding out for some kind of reassurance that it won’t be so difficult to relearn to play, and maybe, just maybe improve on what little skill I’ve ever had.

Then I have to pause, and wonder.  Who am I trying to impress?  I’m not in middle school anymore.  If someone walking by my little house catches the strain of an out-of-tune voice accompanying an oddly placed chord, what’s that to me?    I can make music.  Even if it’s not all that good, I can still enjoy myself.  Should I so choose.  And I do so choose.

Yes, I resolve in 2015 to strum and pick and sing to my heart’s content.  In my big, fluffy, pink bathrobe that I amazed myself with when I bought it a few years ago–it seemed so out of character, but I just had to have it!  In the light of the flowery pink lamp that I bought for myself for Christmas this year–seemingly so out of character, but I just had to have it!

I can be resolute.  And still love pink.  I am.  Older.  Wiser.  And strong enough.

Don’t Forget to Look Up!

Figured I’d take a few minutes to add my two cents to the wealth of information, opinions, perspectives, and recommendations out there on traveling solo while living in an RV.  Hopefully it provides a little bit of help to anyone considering this or a similar lifestyle change.

First, solo RV living is one of those situations where being an introvert is an exceptional benefit.  Having time, peace, and quiet to linger around in your own company and knock around in your own head–assuming you like yourself at all–is energizing.  Introverts unite!  Or maybe just form a loose-knit group that occasionally keeps in contact over thousands of miles and many weeks or months.

That said (I really don’t like that phrase, but couldn’t think of anything better to start this sentence), it is AWEsome if you have some kind of four-legged buddy willing to come along for the ride.  I don’t know what I would do without my Dawny.  As much as she challenges me with her inappropriate barking, vigorous shedding, and other such doggie behaviors, her unconditional love and loyalty is irreplaceable.  Plus, she provides excellent cover when I start talking to myself a little too animatedly.  I can quickly look down at her and pretend that was all for her ears.

If you are the opposite of claustrophobic, this may be the life for you.  Do you feel drawn to the tiny-house trend that is valiantly shaking its little sword at the McMansions that continue to creep all over this country?  Then take up that sword and move on in!  It is amazing how much we can do without, and how much we appreciate and use what we have when our pile of stuff is reduced to bare necessities (plus a few pretty keepsakes, knickknacks, and photos to make your cozy abode into home-sweet-home).

To keep your home-sweet-home a pleasant place, it helps to be neat and organized, perhaps to a fault.  I am so organized that I drive people close to me crazy (and sometimes away–thank heavens for introversion).  Everything in its place… now!… otherwise my stress levels start to boil.  Nice thing about my 25 foot long house-on-wheels is I can reach everything in just a few steps so it is easy and fast to keep neat and clean.

Here’s one where I fail miserably:  troubleshooting and dealing with mechanical and maintenance issues.  Handy people (proficient with such mysteries as engines, plumbing, electricity, solar, auto body work, etc.) will enjoy the inevitable challenges that arise from driving their house around, up to 75 miles or more per hour, often over rough roads, for thousands upon thousands of miles…  each one of those miles outside…  through rain, hail, wind, burning sun.  Takes quite a toll!  But even if you are mechanically-challenged, like me, you can still do this.  Persist.  Try not to let fear get in the way.  Make Google your best friend for the day, and tap into some of the RV forums and other resources out there for some terrific insight and great advice.  Discover and delight in the fact that it’s not just old dogs that can learn new tricks!

Most importantly, don’t forget to look up.  We are so programmed to look ahead, scan side-to-side, watch our feet, and check over our shoulders.  Stop.  Take a break, take a breath, and look up.  Often.  I found the stately eagle in the picture for this post by doing just that.  After basking in his magnificence for a good ten minutes, I felt inspired and energized enough to go back to my little house and investigate an annoying little leak.  Even though I haven’t figured it out yet, I will persist!

(Speaking of introverts, I bet you’ve never seen a flock of eagles.)

The Slower You Go…

The slower you go, the more you see.

Downsize from a bus to a car, and you gain a better sense of what is all around you as you fly through the landscape.  Leave the bubble of the car to hop on a motorcycle, and you enter that landscape fully, personally experiencing the sun or the rain, the wind, the highway fumes.  Simplify from a motorcycle to a bicycle, and now you can feel subtle variations of  that wind and the contours of the road or path beneath you.  Walk away from the bicycle on your own two strong feet, and that 360 degree experience engages all of your senses:  the spring of the earth beneath your feet, the taste of a breeze that whispers of incoming raindrops, the fragrance of  a patch of flowers floating from around the next bend, the rhapsody of birdsong at sunrise.

Then sit.  Still.  Listen.  Breathe softly and absorb.

Nature is the God that everyone believes in.

(Last line as said by my son, when he was nine years old.  Photo taken at Lake Bonham State Park, Texas.)