It’s my two year anniversary of my first trip in my school bus! Wheel of Fortune, or Beluga Blanca (the White Whale), kinda fell into my lap and I figured I’d give it a go since I’d thought about living in a tiny mobile space. Here’s a few life lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1) Hard Skills
Being on my own, having little background in carpentry or building or engines, this was an absolute requirement. I’ve learned about mechanics, changed my thermostat, diagnosed and fixed my radiator hose. Installed flooring, made a folding butcher block countertop, designed a kitchen. (my bus came to me livable, but ripe for improvements.) Learning how to screw into metal and get comfortable building basic things has been huge! Everything takes me longer as I learn about different tools, methods, read forums, and get advice from people with experience. The empowerment that comes along with it is kinda an adrenaline rush. Just because you don’t know it, doesn’t mean you can’t know it. And hire an expert when you want to! Nothing wrong with that either!
2) Obstacles arise when you least expect them
This, too? There’s no way to predict when something will go wrong. Sometimes you just have to roll with it. Be flexible. Take a deep breath. Accept that you have to release the reigns of control in your life and see where it takes you. Bus life has overall treated me really well, but when something does go wrong, it has the potential to be big and/or expensive and/or quite inconvenient! On my first trip out west, my radiator hose blew just outside Primm, Nevada, on the border with California, as I was about to cross 100 miles of Mojave desert before the next town. With all of my chosen material items with me and a job to start in three days, I was questioning life choices. But I fixed it.
Be creative, work through it, and keep a good attitude. A solution always comes.
3) Have courage, trust yourself, listen to intuition
The purchase of this bus was completely spontaneous. I’d been thinking/dreaming about living in a tiny house on wheels for a long time, but hadn’t pursued it; most of them were out of my budget range and I wasn’t ready to build one. When this happened, I followed my gut, and decided to give it 6 months. And as it unfolded, everything I needed just worked out. If I sat with it, had patience, had faith, was true to myself… everything just materialized as it needed to. From exceptional places to park and live to friends who wanted to road trip with me to help me move my Subaru, I’ve been so blessed when I just release the stress and listen to my heart.
4) The whole world is my home
Living in my bus, everywhere I go is my home. Now that I’ve had it settled in a handful of different places, it feels so comforting to explore a whole different surrounding and come back to familiarity at night. Hosting friends for toasty warm winter dinners boondocking in the Buttermilks, posting up at my friend’s farm during the winter, botanizing whatever gig calls to me in the summer, and feeling freed up to be able to travel even more lightly across the country or around the world in the off-season... truly living life at home wherever I am. It may not be forever that I’m exploring this much, or maybe it will be my lifestyle for a while longer – we’ll see! – but I can only be grateful to cultivate this feeling of being at home in mySELF, and hold it in myself wherever I may be.
5) Happiness in Simplicity / I have everything I need
And it feels amazing! Even though I do art and photoraphy, do all sorts of outdoor activities, play music, practice yoga, cook, in this tiny little mobile space, I can comfortably fit everything! I have my gear, my instruments, a full kitchen, art and supplies to be creative, space to practice yoga. I’ve simplified and have room for all sorts of things that make me happy to be able to do in life. Beyond the actual material items, just the feeling of contentment with what I do have (sure, I desire improvements, but just completely happy with how it IS). The more I believe I have everything I need, the more things come to me just as I imagine them. The closer each of us is to finding the contentment with what you have, reducing our wants, the higher your stoke level goes.
6) People are kind
And the ones that are assholes, are usually dealing with deep pain, problems, suffering, projecting. But really, the people I’ve encountered as a journey with this bus has really been fantastic. From the mechanics I met at Travertine Hot Springs who helped me check my brakes on site, to the Cedar Grove buddies who helped me install my hardwood floor, to the friends who’ve made my moving trips into epic road adventures, the bus has built relationships and helped me to see more kindness in humanity. I’ve been welcomed into peoples lives and we share and create together and it’s beautiful.
7) There’s not one right way to live this world
As a seasonal botanist and frequent traveler, my life had already not followed a straight or normal path, but taking a plunge to move into a skoolie just cemented that. And each day, I’m more thankful! It has led me to embrace even more fully the life I’ve been given to live. Instead of being frustrated trying to find short-term apartments, live in less than satisfying living situations, I’ve been able to root down in places and give back to the land and help people where I am. As I follow my dharma, my destiny, with this bus, I’m grateful to be able to experience life in a way that is all my own. I hope more and more people can resonate with that! If it calls to you to go the normal route – do it! – but if you don’t, embrace whatever road you are on, wherever it calls you. And don’t forget to get to know other people from all walks of life and listen to their stories, too.
8) A little discomfort is where you can grow
Overall, my bus is super comfortable. Like spring in Three Rivers, when it is perfect springtime, and the windows are down, and it doesn’t get too cold at night or hot during the day. But yeah – my insulation is not the best and it gets a bit chilly i.e. in Bishop in the low 20s and snow on the ground, or middle of summer heat waves with smoky skies. Other discomfort would be when trying to drive this beast for the first time, or parking in a new city. Or overheating as you’re going up a big hill. But these challenges, of whatever sort – it really does help your character grow. You learn, you adjust, you become adaptable. Seeing the sunrise on the summit is worth getting up to see it.
9) Increased self love and self acceptance
Because I chose this alternative home for my home base, I’ve had to fully embrace the life I’m living. Some people thought it was crazy – I’ll admit, I did too! But what has flowered from it has been freedom and love. Between this and my yoga practice, my self-love has grown, and been shared with those around me. I’ve become a more positive person. Opportunities have opened up. Owning a bus on its own is not going to make you love yourself, but for me it gave me the means to live my life in a way that was flexible and opened things up to be easier for me. Finding struggles fall away, one can self-examine more. Even though my house is on wheels, I feel more grounded than I had in a while.
I hope this was inspiring to you to follow whatever dream you may have, whatever other people may think of it. There is always space to learn and grow, your path is your story to live and to share. Blossom!