I Named Her ‘Gypsy’, Prowler Reno, Pt. 3

gypsy clipart

Isn’t the above picture sweet?  I collect camper porn now on pinterest.com.  It’s a thing.

Also, a couple years ago, I bought THESE pajamas which I named my “Happy Camper Pajamas”…(You should remember this pattern…it may become very important in the reno.  Just sayin’).

happy camper pajamas

And this is what I actually look like when I put them on…

happy camper pajamas2

But I digress…

As promised, I took the “before” pics today.  If you missed the first two installments of my series on renovating my vintage 1976 Prowler RV camper, then you can see them here and here.

The man I bought the trailer from had wanted to gut the trailer and renovate it himself.  He only owned it about a month, he said, and only worked on it one or two times.  All he did was begin the demo process before he decided that he didn’t have the time to do the renovation himself and decided to sell it.

Now, it is yet to be seen if I am crazy or just a little unwell myself.  It probably depends on who you ask…

Anyway, the previous owner did a good job of saving everything for the trailer.  The stove, the refrigerator, the heater, etc. reportedly all work.  We haven’t tested this ourselves yet, but I’m going to believe it for now.  He saved the hubcaps and all the pieces he took out.

There is even the original cushions…wouldn’t want to miss out on that beautiful pattern!!

Why was the color of bodily fluids a popular color scheme in 1976?  Makes me wonder…

 

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 Why was the color of bodily fluids a popular color scheme in 1976?  Makes me wonder…

Anyway, if you look closely (to what may look like rubble  to the naked eye), you may see a stove/oven, hubcaps, a dining table and lots of other stuff that will be taken out and saved for later.

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The stove/oven and exhaust fan is a burgundy color…and it looks like it has never been used on the inside!  Score!

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Double sink and hubcaps and lots of other odds and ends have been saved and can be reused!

But then again…a lot will go.  All the paneling and non-wood wood cabinets and walls will go.  We will take it down to the studs and the outer metal skim and start from there.

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The bathroom will be completely taken out.  Neither sweet hubby nor I want to learn the steps to “empty the black water”.  (That is a camping term for those in the know.  For those not in the know, black water = poo and pee water).

We are both life-long-learners, but there are things we are willing to go our whole lives without knowing, and black water emptying seems to be one we can both heartily agree on.

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This is our bedroom.  This is where the previous owner already started to gut the camper and he even gave us all the chip board that he had already purchased!  (standing in left of picture).  If you look closely, you can see that there are some rotten boards down there that need to be replaced. All the windows work and none are broken!  That’s a win!

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And here is the kitchen area.  We will use this as a template to build our own…probably.

But my sweet hubby said I can’t start on it until he makes a pad for it in the backyard where it will be parked during the reno.  And he has to do that before the neighbors report us.  If you’ve ever seen Breaking Bad, you know what I’m worried about…

 

And she followed me home! Prowler Reno, pt. 2

So…

it followd

 

On Sunday, my sweet hubby and I made the trip to go pick up my trailer!  If you missed part 1 of my new series where I explain WHY IN THE WORLD I bought a vintage trailer, you can read that here.

This is my excited face when I realized she was actually FOLLOWING ME HOME!!  She wanted to be mine just as much as I wanted her!  Woot!

(Insert my sweet hubby’s unexcited face here.  But I’ll just leave that up to your imagination, cause he really is a long suffering man who doesn’t need his unexcited face splashed all over the Interwebs!)

First I need to disclose that both my sweet hubby and myself are complete novices in the hitching and unhitching a trailer concept.  Seems like it should be straightforward, but no. And unhitching the trailer is even harder than hitching it, BTW!  It’s actually faster to take the entire hitch off of the truck, it turns out.  Just so you know for next time.

But the REALLY hard part is directing the driver of the truck as to how to back the trailer up into your driveway!!  As in YOUR OWN driveway and NOT the neighbor’s yard. Who knew that when you wanted the back of the trailer to go right you have to turn the wheels of the truck left??

Anyway, after some minor setbacks and a trip from Maryland, through Pennsylvania, and back to Delaware, she is here.

And you know that feeling of when you buy furniture from a furniture store and you think that the furniture is going to be a great fit while you’re in the store, but then when you get it home IT SEEMS SO BIG!!!  Well, that is how I feel about the trailer now that it is sitting a little crookedly in my driveway.  Same trailer as before, I just have to stand a little closer to take the picture if I want to stand in my own yard.

I’m losing daylight and also battery power in my phone, so I will take BEFORE pictures of the inside of the trailer tomorrow…stay tuned.

 

What Is She Up To Now?…in which I reno my 1976 Prowler, pt. 1

The most important thing to know at the outset of this project is that I’m 50 and this is my goal for the rest of my life…

what is she up to

I’m not positive that I’ll ever wear clothing resembling this, but I don’t want to rule it out…just sayin’.

My daughter assures me that no one was ever going to say, “What a sweet old lady,” about me anyway, so I’m in the clear there.

Anyway, so this is what I’m up to now…

On Facebook Marketplace I saw THIS…

original ad

(Except, she wasn’t sold yet, I took this picture after…)

And I knew I HAD TO HAVE IT!!

Now, in addition to wanting to be known for being a little eccentric, I also have ALWAYS WANTED TO RENOVATE A CAMPER!!

 wanted to renovate a camper.
I LOVE CAMPING!!!  My parents used to take us camping in a pop-up trailer every summer.  We traveled all the way from Ohio to California one epic summer  That was the summer I went down a water slide for the first time, we drove THROUGH a tree, and we discovered that my little brother and my mom should definitely NOT be allowed to be in canoe together!

Camping always meant playing UNO and making homemade doughnuts and riding bikes and hiking nature trails until we were pock marked with massive mosquito bites and lost track of the day of the week.  It is some of the best memories of my childhood and times I always wanted to recreate with my own kids in my own camper.

I also have an entire page on my Pinterest.com page entitled “Happy Camper Ideas” whereas I have saved all of the pics of campers that have made me wistful and made me laugh…and the ones that made me say, “I can do that!”

So, I arranged with the seller (and with my hubby) to go see on it on a Thursday afternoon.

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And that’s how she became mine.

Stay tuned and follow along.  I’m going to take you through the renovation step by step, and we will find out together whether I am a little bit crazy or a little bit unwell!!

 

How I’m saving my own life right now…on living with Depression

I have a mental illness. It is called Depression.

I’ve probably had it my entire life, according to my doctor, but one day 10 years ago my life detonated and lay in shreds all around my feet…and then those pesky brain chemicals just couldn’t keep up anymore.

Before then, I was a pretty decent ringmaster of the crazy circus that made up my emotional life. I could alternatively hide what I was ashamed of about myself and fake control and happiness in front of others.

But then the worst thing that could happen, did. And my old wine skins burst.

And ever since then I’ve been living with “The Big D”.depression1

My Depression:

Maybe my depression is different than anyone else’s, but it has taken me 10 years to get to this place…where I’m ready to publicly acknowledge and write about my life with depression,

But more importantly, how I’m saving my own life right now.

I’ve always felt very ashamed of and embarrassed about having Depression. I’ve suffered from the stigma associated from it, of course. I’ve weathered well-meaning friends and family saying all the things that well-meaning (but not depressed) people tend to say.

(I liken it to taken divorce advice from someone who has never been divorced, parenting advice from someone who isn’t a parent, or weight loss advice from a skinny person.  All the books and courses in the world will not teach you what it FEELS like to be depressed.  And even how I feel with Depression may not be the same as how you feel.)

I take objection to even the definition of Depression.  They call it a “mood disorder”.  I don’t think of it as a mood that I’m in.  To use the term mood denotes something changing with the whims of the day, or something fleeting, or something insignificant.  Like I’m a hormonal teenager.  Like I’m being immature or cowardly or manipulative.

Instead, I’d call it a “thinking disorder”.  Instead of affecting my lungs or kidneys or another body part, it affects my thinking, which then directs my behavior and mood.  Thinking irrational thoughts IS the disease.  Thinking that you’re worthless, hopeless, replaceable, pointless, and better off dead IS IRRATIONAL and is part of the illness…and it is not the truth.  depression

My depression is being so happy on the inside, but not able talk to people at my daughter’s engagement party, so that people imagine I’m upset.

My depression is having to give myself a pep talk before performing mundane household chores.   And not having the will to give myself the pep talk a lot of days.

My depression is spending too much time on Facebook, watching TV or reading as a means of distracting myself so I do not have to think the thoughts in my own head.

My depression is…for some reason I can’t figure out…feeling like the only place to be is on the floor of my bedroom.  On these particularly awful days, I feel a physical weight in my arms and legs and a palpable exhaustion that makes me prefer to sleep than have to battle through it.  On the floor, I cry a lot and I cry hard and I wish that I could find a dark whole and crawl inside of and simply cease to be.  I call these “Attacks of Depression” because that is what it feels like…an actual assault…and I don’t always know what triggers them. And sometimes I do.

My depression is good days and bad days…sometimes lots of each in a row.

How I’m saving my own life…

First, it’s this…deciding to be transparent and authentic about my depression.  Yes, I’m still embarrassed.  Yes, I’m still worried about how others will react or treat me.  But I’m choosing courage over fear and today, at least, courage is winning.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I texted a friend when I felt an attack coming on because I believed she would pray for me.

Right then.

I was really terrified to text her.   An email would have taken too long to craft and explain.  But a text? Maybe?

“Pray for me, please. Depression is rearing its ugly head and I am feeling paralyzed.”

I was feeling so very vulnerable and afraid.  I really didn’t want to talk at that moment and I was afraid that my phone would ring…

And the dots showed up as she was answering  me.  I could feel my heart quicken…

3-hearts

A wave of relief washed over me because I knew that somebody knew. And although I was alone, I didn’t feel alone in my pain just then.

And then I left my phone and my computer downstairs and I sat on the floor of my room and cried.  Hard.

But then, a thought that I’d never had before came into my mind.  It was, “You’re not worthless, you have a mental illness that makes you think that you are.”

And my tears slowed as I repeated that sentence over and over to myself.  And soon I was able to pray.  I said, “Dear Heavenly Father, please give me another perspective about myself than what I have about myself right now.”

And I starting thinking about my kids.  I thought about how my kids love me.

And how my husband loves me.

And my mom and dad love me.

And my former students love me.

And my friends love me.

And I started feeling that maybe, even though I don’t always feel it inside myself, that I am lovable because some really fine and wonderful human beings love me.

Lastly, I got up off the floor and I made myself some chicken salad and added some avocado and almonds for some healthy fats, and then I went to sit outside in the sunshine.

And as I sat there, eating a healthy lunch that I made for myself, sitting in the sunshine on a warm afternoon, I felt a feeling of pride…

I just saved my own life today.

I cared for myself.  Yes, I asked for help from a friend and from God, but it was my bravery and humility and action on my own behalf that did it.  I do know how to care for myself, and I feel like I can trust myself to be good to my physical body and my mental health.

I have to be real here.  I have a mental illness and that means I will have more sitting-on-the-floor-of-my-bedroom days in the future.  They will be awful and they will feel like an assault.

But I’ve equipped myself with some new weapons with which to fight…

I can text a friend so that I’m not alone in my pain.

I can pray for a new perspective and courage.

I can remember that I have an illness, and I am a grown up and I can take care of myself. Just like if I was sick with pneumonia or anything else, there is a medical protocol.  I need to visit my doctor, take my medicine, take vitamins, eat well, and move my body.

And just like I wouldn’t get mad at myself for having pneumonia or a kidney infection, I don’t need to beat myself up about having Depression.  I can rest when I need to without feeling guilty or ashamed.

I have to remind myself that this illness is an illness of my thinking.  It goads me to dwell on thoughts that are not true or rational.  I’m not always able to control it, and I’m not always aware that my thoughts are irrational.  The mantra, “You are not ____, you have a mental illness that makes you THINK that you are ___” was a helpful one.  I must have read it somewhere on the Internet once, and it came back to me when I needed it.

I can live with The Big Angry D.  And I can save my own life.  I did it and I can do it again, and again, and again.  And I will.

 

 

 

Reflections at the Wedding of My Child

So, two of my three kids have gotten married in the span of four months.  After not having seen, or even speaking to, the Husband That Was for nearly four years, I have seen him twice in these many months.

Of course, I’m am thrilled for my kids.  They have each found wonderful spouses who actually GET them.

wedding hands

Abigail, my oldest daughter, has found a man who understands her strength and independence and is not daunted by it.  He actually loves that about her. She holds strong opinions that she will passionately defend, and he has his share of his own.  They are loving and understanding and weird and wonderful together.  I have much confidence in their ability to work out life’s twists and turns with determination and intelligence and grace.

My sweet son, Warren, has found a sweet, loving woman of his own who really appreciates him and loves him for all that he is.  They are a generous and loving couple and their love for each other is quite contagious.  I love their sense of humor and their inside jokes.  I love their patience with each other.  I love seeing my son love someone else so completely, and to know that he is loved in return.  I could have never given my son so joyfully to anyone if she hasn’t have been someone who is as wonderful and generous as he is.

But, it wasn’t easy sitting at their wedding ceremonies.  As they, so young and hopeful, stood there promising their lives and fidelity and faithfulness to each other.  As they so earnestly and sincerely promised to love each other and grow old together.

Oh, how I hope it is true!  How I pray that the vows they each took on their wedding day will be borne out even when life hands them sorrow, and disappointment, and grief, and trouble.  How I hope that they will actually cling to each other and grow with each other and support each other and change together.

I hope they will communicate with each other when stuff is just hard, instead of withdrawing; instead of building separate lives under the same roof.

Because I couldn’t help but think of my own first wedding day.  I couldn’t help but picture myself in that wedding dress…the friends and family all gathered around…the hopefulness in which I zealously committed my life and fidelity to another…the confidence and faithfulness to which I vowed. I meant every word.

A part of me has to believe that Rick meant it, too.  That he didn’t stand up there before our friends and family, before God, and intentionally lie when he vowed that he would love me, “keeping only unto her, until death do us part.”  Even if his actions later made those vows null and void, I have to believe that he did intend to keep them, at least on our wedding day.

So, its hard to hear those promises being made to my babies.  Its hard to hear my babies make those vows.  I know that they fully intend to love each other and grow old together now.  Its easy to promise those things while bodies are beautiful and love is young and so much of life is yet before them.

Its really, really hard to actually live those promises each day and each year and through every circumstance.

In the end, I think its really hard to hear those kinds of promises because I can no longer believe in them.  And losing the ability to believe in love and vows is really a hard thing to lose.  Like losing your faith.  Like losing hope.

So, I just pray for my kids.  I pray that the curse of divorce never touches them again.  Their parents divorced and that is as close as it ever needs to touch them.  I pray that they never experience the guilt, the rejection, the loss, and the pain of knowing that those promises they made on their beautiful wedding day turned out to be empty words after all.

 

 

Surviving the Holidays after Divorce

Why are the days set aside for things like celebrating our blessings and the love of the people in your lives filled with such obligatory attendance, compulsory traditions, and stress??

Why do we compare ourselves with some kind of magazine spread or fictional media-produced version of what a holiday should look like?  Then we make ourselves miserable because our family just doesn’t measure up.

Six years ago, the first holiday after my separation from my husband of 21 years was Thanksgiving. That Thanksgiving Day was spent without my children.  They decided to spend the day with their father and grandparents.

I could have wallowed in my loneliness.  After all, I was incredibly sad without them.  Our tradition had been that I would poll each child and ask them what they especially wanted for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Then, I made each item from scratch so everyone would have their favorite food on the table.  It was my act of love for my family to create this special dinner every year, even if no one except our immediate family could be there.

In moments of choice…such as where and with whom you will spend a holiday…your hope is always that your family would want to spend that day with you.  But that year they chose their father because they hadn’t seen him in a few months, and they saw me every other day of the year.

And they assured me that they would spend Christmas with me.

Every holiday after divorce, children have to choose who will get to spend the day with them.  It can be a source of tremendous pressure and guilt for them, and I didn’t want to put that kind of stress on my kids.  I wanted them to be happy and enjoy the time they had with their dad, and not to worry about me at all.

So, I bought a plane ticket and flew out to visit my aunt and uncle in Ohio.  There I also got to meet cousins, nieces and nephews, and other extended family that I hadn’t seen in years.  My mom and dad also decided to come.

We had a fun day.  My aunt’s 80-something-year-old mother-in-law forgot to put the sugar in the pumpkin pie…and we all ate it anyway (so as not to hurt her feelings).  As we choked down the flaky custard, we laughed until rivers of tears rolled down our cheeks and a wonderful, spontaneous family memory was created.

My kids called and checked on me and I could honestly tell them that I was fine.  I missed them, but I was okay.  I felt sorry for them because their father’s girlfriend made lasagna instead of turkey on Thanksgiving.  I promised to fix them their favorite foods when we all got home.

After divorce, holidays will be different.  Traditions will change.  But that doesn’t mean that has to be a bad thing.  Stop the compulsory attendance and obligatory traditions and stress and find a way to enjoy the day.

If you can’t be with your children or parents, then find someone else to spend the day with.  Reach out to extended family that you haven’t seen or a church family or invite over other friends who are without family for the day.

Start a new tradition based on what YOU want to do and the people YOU enjoy.  Create a day in which you’ll be thankful and be able to enjoy your blessings.

A Journal Entry dated 6/28/06

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“Because I’ve been so gloomy, discouraged and angry lately, I decided to give myself the assignment to writing down everything that I’m thankful for,

I’m thankful

  • that I’m healthy
  • I have a great immune system
  • I have Rick* (my now ex-husband)
  • That Rick has always taken care of me
  • That Rick has always loved me
  • That Rick is sensitive to my emotions and needs
  • That Rick is committed to our family
  • That Rick wants to be a good father
  • That Rick loves God
  • That Rick desired to have his habits under the control of Christ
  • That Rick works hard
  • That Rick is willing to put his own desires and dreams behind what is best for our family
  • That Rick really strives to always do his best
  • That God’s plan includes Rick in my life
  • That I was capable of having children

I’m thankful

  • That I had Warren* (my son who was away at college at the time of this writing)
  • That Warren is faithful
  • That Warren says that he loves me even when he’s with his friends
  • That Warren is an overcomer
  • That Warren is sweet and tenderhearted
  • That I was able to witness God deliver Warren from his learning disability and used me as the vehicle
  • That Warren really does know the right thing even when he doesn’t act like it
  • That I have a son
  • That I can feel such deep love for another person, so deep it hurts
  • That my son calls almost every day
  • That Warren can cook
  • That Warren is affectionate

I’m thankful

  • That I had Abigail* (oldest daughter, a junior in high school at this writing)
  • That so many of my prayers have been answered through Abigail
  • That Abigail is so dear and special
  • That Abigail has always, through her simple presence, been a source of comfort and strength for me
  • That Abigail is compliant
  • That Abigail loves me
  • That Abigail wants to help others
  • That many times, Abigail has been a friend to me
  • That Abigail desires to be a strong Christian
  • That Abigail is strong and capable
  • That I’ve gotten to go on mission trips with her

I’m thankful

  • That I had Savanna* (age 14 at this writing)
  • That Savanna makes me laugh
  • That Savanna has the ability to amaze me
  • That Savanna has the desire to please
  • That Savanna is growing in faith
  • That Savanna is helpful
  • That Savanna desires to learn and to do her best
  • That Savanna is affectionate
  • That Savanna and I have had a lot of special moments

I am thankful

  • That I can talk to all of my kids
  • That I homeschooled my kids
  • That I was able to share special books with my kids and that we had read-aloud time together
  • That my life has been rich and full
  • That I’ve been able to publish some of my writing
  • That strangers have told me that my writing help them or answered their prayers
  • That I have a nice house to live in and a dependable care
  • That I don’t have to work to support my family
  • That I have some good friends who have really helped me grow spiritually
  • That I have a good life
  • That God has given me spiritual gifts
  • That I live in America
  • That our church embraces God and not rules

I’m thankful

  • That God loves me even when I’m wrong and unlovable
  • That you, Lord, are patient with me
  • That you never give up on me
  • You encourage me
  • You strengthen me
  • You sent your son to die for me
  • You created the universe
  • You have the power to do anything
  • You have victory over Satan
  • I have been forgiven from all my sins
  • That Warren’s, and Abigail’s, and Savanna’s futures belong to you
  • That my future belongs to you whatever it may be.