Baby Dust Diaries

A Life Less Ordinary

Category: Life or Something Like It (page 1 of 34)

An Atheist Eulogy

My dad died on December 22, 2016 after a year long fight with cancer. I only wanted two things for my father’s death: to comfort him as he died and to have no mention of religious ideas at his funeral (this was his wish as well and I was determined to give it to him).

The funeral home ended up working with us. I was initially disappointed that the “secular” officiant they gave us was clearly a theist. He acted like he had no idea how to comfort people without talking about an afterlife or “seeing them again.” He didn’t seem confused that we wanted no mention of gods but he really seemed stymied by the idea of no afterlife. I was annoyed. I ended up giving them readings (I’ll add one below) and I did the eulogy. His part was basically MCing and he read some memories from family members who didn’t feel they could get up and talk. It ended up being a beautiful, god-free, afterlife-mythology-free service. It was only at the grave site for the full military honors (a wish of my dad as he fought at 19 years old in Vietnam) that religious mythology came into play. Apparently the US government has zero precedent for having a god-free military funeral. How is this possible in a secular country? It made me want to pull my hair out after all my careful work to see my dad’s completely secular wishes carried out to have the “god and country” ruin it. Ick.

When my dad was still alive but we knew he was terminal I started writing the Eulogy I promised him I’d write. I googled “atheist eulogy” and wasn’t happy with the responses. For example, Aaron Freeman’s eulogy from a physicist (which I did like as I’m also a physicist) and this eulogy from an atheist to his grandma. What I didn’t like about these is that they both focus on comparing the atheist worldview with a religious world view. For example, in the physicist eulogy he talks about “need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith” and the other is written for a deceased that was highly religious.

I wanted to avoid talking about the religious viewpoint at all. First, I didn’t want to offend anyone who was also grieving my dad’s death. I knew the funeral wasn’t ONLY about me and my mom and sister. Dad had sisters, his mother is still alive, and many friends from “back in the day” that I didn’t intend to insult by saying “your faith is asinine and your mythology is infantile.” Even if that’s what I thought. But, more importantly that trying not to offend, I wanted to show that atheism has valuable comfort for death just like (I’d say, even more so) than religious mythologies. I wanted to prove without saying so overtly that atheists and atheism does offer comfort. The “no atheists in fox holes” idea is silly, erroneous, and simply religious ignorance about science-based world views. I knew that atheism gave me comfort when my dad was dying and now that he’s gone and I want to SHOW that without SAYING that.

More importantly I wanted to give my eulogy for my dad. I’m a writer and public speaker and the action of giving the eulogy myself was a gift I wanted to give my dad posthumously and give my grieving mother. I’m happy to say that through tears and shaking hands I was able to give the following eulogy. It was beautiful. It was cathartic to write and deliver. I hope it gave solace to dad’s loved ones like it did me. I hope, if you are seeking a secular, doesn’t-even-mention-religion eulogy I hope this can help and I’m very sorry for you loss. I’m adding links to my dad’s favorite music.

When I was seven years old I decided to run away from home. I don’t remember why I wanted to run away but I do remember how I was going to go about it and that was to pack a small doll-sized wicker suitcase full of socks. This task was made more difficult by my sister taking socks OUT of the basket as quickly as I could put them in. Eventually, I guess, I had what I thought was an adequate number of socks for life in the big wide world and I set out.

When my dad got home from work a few hours later I was defiantly marching around the perimeter of the yard (because I wasn’t allowed outside the yard!). He saw me and gave me a questioning look which I turned my nose up at and continued my epic journey. He went in the house. He didn’t yell at me or demand I come inside. He did something much more maniacal (and genius I can now see as a parent). He turned his stereo up enough to make the windows shake and played Heat of the Moment by Asia.

What could I do? I was back inside and dancing by the first chorus. I couldn’t miss that guitar solo.

My dad gave me music. He’d take off work early so that Alice Cooper’s Schools Out for Summer was blaring on the stereo when we got off the school bus on the last day of school. He’d put headphones on us and have Mandi and I close our eyes so we could hear the soaring sounds of Pink Floyd’s Learning to Fly and we’d feel just like we were floating through air.

He didn’t just play the music we talked about it. I learned about mercy from Nils Lofgrin (and never could watch boxing again) and about the genocide of Native Americans from Elton John. I learned about homelessness from Jethro Tull and that I should do what my daddy tells me from Johnny Rivers (or my hands would never come clean).

My dad gave me the stars. Through his telescope in our little backyard he showed us the rings of Saturn (this is one of Mandi’s very first memories) and the galaxy in Orion’s Belt. He had a special apparatus for viewing the Sun and I saw the boiling surface of a star before I was old enough to drive. And he taught us that we are small in the scheme of the universe and important in our impact. He was very compassionate and loved animals and always taught us how to treat this beautiful planet on which we take our cosmic ride through the Solar System.

My dad gave me humor. Our house was always, ALWAYS full of laughter. And dad liked to find humor in small things. Like he’d take an obscure movie quote and say it so often it was like another language we shared only with us. “Wanger down”, “Lookie here what I brung you” and that’s just from the movie The Right Stuff. He also liked to mispronounce words. In my family we say Beaker Full before someone leaves because that was his hilarious way of pronouncing “be careful”. Most recently, even when he was sick, he started saying “He’s got” from some show called Barnwood Builders that I’ve never even seen for myself. But “he’s got” will become part of my speech for the rest of my life. He had that way to make life fun.

And now he’s gone. And I have three little humans looking to me for understanding about how life and death works. What happens when someone we love gets sick and dies? How do we cope? How do you go on when you’ll never hear their voice again or hold them in a hug?

And this hurts so bad. Like right here in the chest is this hole. This empty, gaping wound where my dad used to be. These are the words we use to describe the pain: loss, empty, wound.

And I get why we use these words. The pain is physical and can be overwhelming. It’s actually scary to notice it so we distract ourselves from it.

But if we are really brave and can sit with that pain and stare into the hole…

It hurts.

But I find the hole isn’t empty at all. It’s filled with music and stars and humor. It’s filled with memories and laughter and tears. It’s filled with dad. I haven’t lost him. He isn’t gone. He isn’t in that box of ashes. He is right here [in my heart]. There is no emptiness. There is fullness. Here, in my chest, in that pain, is pure love. So much love it is bursting at the seams. And when the love is too much it pours out from my eyes as tears.

The fact is. The fact I want my kids to know is that grief – this word we use for sadnesses of loss – is just a symptom of love. When you cry and even scream at this pain it isn’t really grief we are feeling. It is love.

So I’m going to cherish this aching hole. Treat it as a precious gift. It was worth it. He was worth it. It was an honor to know him, to learn at his knee, to argue politics with him, to share music, to share the love of my kids. To share our brief time on this rock together laughing and loving.

This is what he was showing me in the music, and the stars, and the laughter. Life is hard and so so beautiful.

Thank you dad.

And here is the reading from Margaret Meade.

Remember Me:
To the living, I am gone.
To the sorrowful, I will never return.
To the angry, I was cheated,
But to the happy, I am at peace,
And to the faithful, I have never left.
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.
So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea — remember me.
As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty — remember me.
As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity — remember me.
Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, your memories of the times we loved,
the times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed.
For if you always think of me, I will never be gone.

a528f6e0e269d8cf30dc9ce705af9297My dad’s death is hard to accept. Writing this when it hasn’t even been one month since he’s been gone makes me bawl. It is good to cry. It is necessary. But I am comforted by my knowledge of how life works and it couldn’t work without death. Life is change. As Natalie Babbitt said,

Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way it is… But dying’s part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can’t pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing.

May you LIVE. Peace.

The Need for Creativity

This weekend my mom used a roll of old wall paper that she bought or a dollar at the thrift store to re-line her pantry shelves.

She did this while her house was full of family and kids and while making dinner and cleaning. We teased her mercilessly about it because that is how my family rolls. 😉

She said something very true: “decorating my house is how I’m creative.”

How true! I paint and sew. My mom decorates. My house looks like a tornado hit it with a craft supply store. Hers looks like the pages of a magazine. And both are the signs of us living our creativity.

6a011570601a80970b01538dee9231970bI didn’t do that much creative for years. I was busy getting graduate degrees (and writing papers became my only creative outlet) and working on my career. Once I had kids I suddenly had this URGE to sew and cook. Later this turned into painting and drawing. Now I can’t imagine life without creating.

It relieves stress and is like meditation. The popularity of “adult” coloring books testifies to our need for creation.

How do you feed the need to be creative?

Why I Don’t Pledge Allegiance

I don’t believe in saying the pledge of allegiance. Funny, since I was the person to read it aloud every morning of my junior and senior year.

People react strongly when I say this. How dare I not love my country!

It would be easy for me to use the excuse of the “under god” line which was added in 1954 as my reason for not reciting this oath. And that is one reason. I don’t believe in the tyranny of a state mandated religion. One persons “god” shouldn’t be anywhere on our money, court rooms, or schools.

But that is only one tiny reason. There are several others I’d like to share:

1. Taking a pledge.

Have you ever reflected on what it means to pledge something?

Pledge means a solemn promise or undertaking.
synonyms: promise, undertaking, vow, word, word of honor, commitment, assurance, oath, guarantee

First, should five year olds, who can’t legally make decisions or enter into contracts, be pledging to anything?

Second, to say this pledge I have to solemnly (seriously and earnestly) take a vow or oath. This shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. I can only evaluate if I can take such a serious oath based on careful review of what I’m pledging to.

2. Allegiance and Patriotism

Allegiance is to give loyalty and devotion to a thing. It was historically used by subjects to swear fealty to a monarch. In this case we are swearing allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

Giving allegiance to a flag is just stupid but the implication is that you are giving you allegiance to is The United States of America so I’ll focus on that.

So, let’s talk about loyalty. Loyalty is about being reliably faithful to a person or thing. This is easy to see in interpersonal allegiance. I have an allegiance to my husband as I’ve agreed (taken an oath even) to be loyal to him.

My loyalty has limits imposed by my own morality. If my husband murdered someone I would not help him hide the body (sorry babe) because murder is immoral. This is what makes it different than fealty which doesn’t really care about your morality which is completely subsumed to the sovereign you are giving your fealty to.

Loyalty to an impersonal thing like a government should also have caveats for morality. This is why we expect soldiers to disobey orders when they are morally wrong as in the My Lai Massacre or the Abu Garaib torture. Loyalty in this instance means follow orders but not at the expense of morality.

Patriotism is defined as love of country and of our compatriots (fellow countrymen). I’ll talk about love of country in a moment but love of compatriots seems a simple thing. Of course I love my fellow Americans. Especially when we prove how loving and powerful we are as when we came together after 911. It warms my heart. I want all my compatriots to be happy and fulfilled.

Here’s the problem with love of compatriots. Compatriots are, by definition, those you have a common country with. Whether that is land, government, language, or ethnicity, the whole concept is based on Us and Them. Saying I’m “patriotic” implies I have love for other Americans instead of (at worst) or at least more than (at best) non-Americans.

This is where we get the idea that loving our country also means “there is no country I’d rather live in” which quickly slides in to: my country is the best. Better than yours. My compatriots matter more than you “others”.

I don’t think this is ever a positive view to hold but even if it were you better be sure your country deserves such devotion which I’ll talk about in a moment.

So patriotism and allegiance. Do they go hand in hand? Patriots are usually very allegiant but those with allegiance aren’t necessarily patriots.

For example, a mercenary has allegiance to his employer but isn’t necessarily a patriot. Their allegiance comes from a choice to act on behalf of a country/government not out of love of said country. Someone who is allegiant but not a patriot can not always be counted on to give “blind” allegiance.

A patriot, on the other hand, holds allegiance so strong that they will forgo their own sense of morality in order to show undying love for country/government.

For example,

“Stephen Nathanson contends that patriotic loyalty is not always a virtue. A loyal person can, in general be relied upon, and hence people view loyalty as virtuous. Nathanson argues that loyalty can, however, be given to persons or causes that are unworthy. Moreover, loyalty can lead patriots to support policies that are immoral and inhumane. Thus, Nathanson argues, patriotic loyalty can sometimes rather be a vice than a virtue, when its consequences exceed the boundaries of what is otherwise morally desirable. Such loyalties, in Nathanson’s view, are erroneously unlimited in their scopes, and fail to acknowledge boundaries of morality.[17]”http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalty

In other words, loyalty driven by patriotism and nothing else is a vice not a virtue. For your loyalty to be virtuous it must have an accompanying morality that isn’t dictated by the object of the loyalty. It is the ultimate check and balance.

Allegiance can’t be given lightly. You have to think about the actions of the object of your loyalty. How likely are you to have moral conflicts with the object of your loyalty? Is an act of morality that might not be loyal seen as “unpatriotic”? Is loyalty valued over morality?

If any of these are true the object in question might not be worthy of my loyalty.

3. The Republic

The pledge’s next line is about our allegiance to “the republic” represented by said flag. A republic is a form of government where the people rule through direct democracy or through elected representatives.

American republicanism is a bit different from other concepts of a republic in the classical world.

“Republicanism is the guiding political philosophy of the United States. It has been a major part of American civic thought since its founding.[1] It stresses liberty and “unalienable” rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption.[2]“http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republicanism_in_the_United_States

This sounds like something I would be willing to pledge allegiance to. But, only if the current state of our country was represented by this definition.

Is the CURRENT republic worthy of allegiance? Are liberty and unalienable rights central values in America today? Do we have inherited political power? Do we vilify corruption?

Or has corporate money eclipsed any true republicanism? Is corruption seen as an unavoidable feature of the system or rooted out wherever it is found?

4. Liberty and Justice for All

The final phrase of the pledge also sounds great but only if it is in any way true for us and our compatriots.

Liberty is freedom. Are we free? Are we all equally free? Or do we lead the world in imprisoning our compatriots? Are our compatriots of color given the same liberty as white compatriots or are they three times as likely to be jailed for equal offenses?

Do we all have access to justice? Or does money become the ticket to justice instead of it being a birthright of our country?

Does our country act justly in its relations with other countries. Do we keep our treaties? With the Western Shoshone Nation for example? Does our country respect justice when enacting trade laws? Or do we enslave and ravage other countries in order to promote the interests of our compatriots only?

If I’m going to pledge allegiance to something I’m going to have to take that seriously and ask some hard questions before I do. I want to know that this country deserves my allegiance and that my loyalty will not be immoral at least some of the time.

I don’t pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The republic for which it stands has been corrupted by corporatism and the aristocracy of capitalism. Our nation doesn’t operate under any god I recognize. Liberty is dependent upon your skin color and net worth. Justice is entirely dependent upon immoral and selfish interests and applied unevenly based on skin color and net worth.

The United States of America does not deserve my allegiance. It is unworthy of it. I don’t pledge it out of blind patriotism. I don’t recognize my compatriots as more important than my non-American brothers and sisters.

When my government realizes it has become completely unworthy of your pledge it will be the first step towards deserving it.

I pledge allegiance to humanity and all the kindness and good for which it is capable. I pledge allegiance to the cooperative spirit and peacemakers that work everyday to make the world a more just and free place for everyone. Not just compatriots defined by outdated lines of nationalism.

And my kids won’t say the pledge until they can cogently answer these questions for themselves.

FAQs:

“Then get out”
If you can’t understand the right of an American citizen to NOT pledge allegiance then you don’t understand anything about this country.

“You can only say this because of the freedom of America”
Agreed. There are certainly many countries where I could be killed or imprisoned for refusing to pledge allegiance. I don’t think the only criteria for allegiance to my country should be that “it could be worse”. I have a higher standard than that.

“No country lives up to your standards”
Agreed. I could tell you dozens of countries doing a better job in a lot of these areas but that isn’t really my point. I don’t want the US to become like some other country and then I’ll pledge. I don’t want to pledge to a country. Nationalism is an antiquated idea that no longer serves the needs of the Earth or humanity. Technology has made us smaller, closer. We have the opportunity to erase our arbitrary boundaries that make us hate and kill each other. We can move beyond us and them and realize our future is only secure if we are WE.

“But the troops…”
My refusing to pledge allegiance to this country does not mean I don’t love our troops. My dad and husband both served. I’m a pacifist and don’t believe in the military at all. That doesn’t change the intentions behind their actions when they enlisted. There are many beautiful things our military does. It isn’t the fault of individual soldiers that warmongering is such a big part of our current ethos as a nation. Someday, without war, these military men and women will continue their peacekeeping work without the violent side.

That Time Good Morning America Talked About My Daughter’s Hair

http://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=31000091
ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

Why I Love Facebook

good-vs-evil facebook eggs-resized-600Facebook gets a lot of grief in my circles and rightly so. Their sexist double standards about how breasts can be used (selling beer? ok. Nursing a baby? not ok.) is a huge sticking point. There is also much talk about how “bad” facebook is for us and our kids. Everyone is always “trying to cut back” or “taking a break” from facebook.

Don’t get me wrong being able to balance our use of technology is important but there seems to be this general feeling that facebook is primarily a vice. A silly diversion at best. I’d like to argue in favor of the great wonder of facebook.

(I’m going to talk about facebook specifically because it is by far the largest social network in the world but the same could apply to twitter or pinterest or any other person-to-person connection tool.)

Five Reasons I Love Facebook:

  1. I meet great people that I’d never have the chance to meet otherwise. I have friends from San Diego to Maine and every state in between. These are people I’ve never been within 100 miles of physically but who add to my life in indescribable ways. And that’s just the US! I got a Christmas card last year from a favorite blogger of mine who lives in Belgium. I have friends who give me hard time by posting sunny, summer pics from Australia when I’m under ten feet of snow in Ohio. I hate them. 😉 No I don’t, I love them so much. I am unbelievable grateful for facebook putting these people in my life.
  2. Making enemies usually ends in making wonderful friends. Like getting kicked out of a feminist group because I don’t vaccinate my kids (ouch) and then having five people friend me because they agree with me and thought I was treated unfairly. Or when my long time friend and neighbor comments negatively on my son wearing a “girl” shirt (ouch) and then having twenty people friend me because they too are gender non-conforming or transgender and want other parents to know you *can* support your kids. That’s some serious silver lining there.
  3. I can cultivate whom I am influenced by. Facebook often gets slammed for changing the word “friend” to mean non-hostiles. I get what they are saying. Many of the friends I mention in #1 and 2 aren’t the people I’d call in a crisis. They only know one slice of who I am and I only know one slice of who they are. This is usually seen as a bad thing but I like to look at it a different way. Facebook is a place I can nurture my passions and share my struggles. I have tons of friends filling my facebook feed with social justice, peaceful parenting, and generally, positive, world-improving views. When I’m feeling frustrated with parenting I know that I’ll be getting advice from people who share my values. My facebook feed is carefully cultivated by the “friends” I make to be a place of safety and nurturance for my journey. I’m so grateful.
  4. I cultivate my own news channel. These friends I’ve made because of a single issue (like they liked my post about my “cross dressing” three year old) are people who’s views I respect. So, when they post something outside my wheelhouse I am apt to listen. Social justice is a HUGE arena and none of us know everything. The diversity of my friends list exposes me to ideas I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. Like my vegan friend who posts about animal rights or my Jewish friend from whom I’ve learned a great deal about Israel/Palestine. Instead of relying on one news outlet I have this great network of people sharing snippets of news from every corner of the independent news world.
  5. My worldview is larger. I grew up in a tiny little town in Ohio. I was 18 before I ever met a black person. I know, right? Sometimes I think it isn’t any wonder that so many white people are so ignorant about racism. They’ve literally been shut off by their own homogeneous environment. Even though I dream about living in a diverse city circumstances have kept me here. I try to embrace that since middle america needs awakened people too. For people who live in all-white areas and aren’t in the tax bracket that can travel, facebook is an amazing window to differing views. It is hard to understand your own subconscious assumptions when everyone you interact with daily has the same subconscious assumptions. Facebook connects me with people who share my passions and yet are very much different from me because of differing backgrounds. I’m no longer bound by my place or financial status. By hearing non-white, non-american, non-middle class views I can better challenge my own lens on the world.

Facebook has its downsides – ads, sexist rules, and horrible marginalization of pages that don’t have million dollar budgets to “boost” their posts – but it is only a tool. And YOU control the tool.

If you get on facebook and feel worse then change your facebook! Unfollow family and friends you can’t “unfriend” that fill your feed with hateful things. Join topical groups about the things you like and friend request people you have synchronicity with. Unlike any page that doesn’t enrich your life. Like, share, and comment on threads you appreciate. It will help facebook show you more things you like.

Facebook isn’t static. It is what you make it. As your passions migrate, change your news feed by unliking old pages and liking new ones. Make it work for you and you’ll feel less guilty when you use it.

And remember the days before facebook (or ask your mom, lol) when our worlds were smaller and with it our minds and ideas. I’m a better person because of facebook. Hands down. I’m grateful for facebook and what (and whom) it has brought into my life.

Namaste.

The Lottery of Birth [Documentary]

Do you shape the world or does it shape you? Drawing on leading thinkers from around the world, and with a torrent of mind-expanding ideas and information, THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH will make you think again about what it means to be free.

This is an excellent starting point for awakening to the reality of the human condition. I watch this a few times a year and learn something new each time. The best part is that between viewing you start to see your other passion topics through this lens.

Speakers include some of my favorites:

Tony Benn

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GKP70W0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00GKP70W0&linkCode=as2&tag=thebabdusdia-20&linkId=JVWE3LH3SU2CTKZQ">Creating Freedom Episode One: The Lottery Of Birth</a><img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=thebabdusdia-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00GKP70W0" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />The premise of this documentary is how the completely random chance of being born into a specific society shapes our very reality. How would your life differ if you had been born a San Bushman or a heiress in Europe? The documentary also talks about how this social conditioning guides us into a role in our social order. This is important to me because the current social order literally kills millions of people every year not to mention the damage done to our planet. And yet most of us play a role in the social order that keeps it stable and in place. If we want to see peace and freedom and social justice prevail we have to tear down the walls of the social order keeping these things from happening. To do this we have to understand our culpability in our role and how social conditioning, based on our birthplace only, trains us to ignore this culpability in our busyness.

I also love Vindana Shiva (in all things) when she talks about our tendency to see parts and not the whole. This is what I mean when I say that we have skewed too far to a male energy dominated paradigm. Linear, logical, parts-based. We desperately need a female energy balance. Curves, creativity, holistic. Male and Female energy has nothing to do with the sexes. Men and women both have male and female energy. In eastern traditions this energy duality is called yin/yang. I’ll be talking more about this in other posts. Anyway, Vindana points out that she nearly completed her doctorate in nuclear physics without ever learning about the health risks of radiation. This is a poignant example of how narrowly focused our society encourages us to be. Each person picks a very narrow slice of the pie of knowledge and then wears blinders for life. The result is the economic, justice, and ecological disasters our world is facing. Fixing these problems will require a holistic view.

I really can’t recommend this documentary enough. It is an “oldie but goodie” in my house – which means watch it often. Give it a try!

This documentary is now part I of the Creating Freedom series.

This post includes an affiliate link. If you happen to purchase this item based on my recommendation, Amazon provides a percentage of its profit to me for the referral. I appreciate your support.

A Healthier Lifestyle

In my post about 7 Reasons to Live in an RV Fulltime I didn’t mention a healthier lifestyle. We are doing this for a healthier planet and healthier relationships but an off-shoot will be living healthier too.

Snapshot_20140503

Day 2 – blogging in the RV

I woke up this morning and could hardly move! The lifting, pulling, hiking, etc. is new to my body. Before Aellyn was born Pete and I were hiking up to 9 miles a day in training for doing the Grand Canyon. Now my life is so sedentary.

You don’t have to uproot your whole life to get healthy but there is nothing like having an ACTIVE LIFESTYLE rather than adding activity, like exercise, to an actually sedentary lifestyle, which is what most westerners do. Like homesteading, farming, etc., living in an RV fulltime is just going to REQUIRE activity. I’m really excited about this aspect!

We’re Fulltime RVers!

It is friday morning and I’m typing this from the dinette table in our camper. The kids and Pete are exploring the woods behind our site while I clean up a traditional camp breakfast.

I’m in heaven!

Yesterday was not easy. It is beyond muddy here – like Ohio right now makes Dagoba look like paradise. The truck we hired to move the RV (because we haven’t upgraded our minivan to a truck yet) got stuck in my sister’s yard. We had to ask a neighbor with a tractor (god bless the country!) to get it out. In all it took 3 hours!!

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Here are some more outrageous pics of getting the RV out of the yard.

But, we finally made it! We also had an easy time with the kids sleeping in their own beds. My kids have slept in our bed since birth so I was concerned it might be an issue but…really, we’re like 10 ft. away from them!

The covers on one of the skylights blew off at some point in the trip yesterday. So, last night, IN THE DARK I climbed on top of the van and used a long stick to position a tarp over the opening and hold it down with rocks. Yay for DIY!

Here’s our official launch video!

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7 Reasons To Live Fulltime In an RV

On May 1 we finally move into our new 192 square feet of RV! We’ll be local and Pete will keep his same job through the summer. So, we’ll be staying at a beautiful park near the Mogadore Resevoir.

People, of course, think we’re nuts. Unfortuantely when you make decisions outside of the mainstream it can be judged as an indictment of their (more mainstream) life choices.

I think the important thing here is to remember that my decisions are made from my values, goals, and dreams and my weaknesses, fears, and circumstances. They have absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. When I say I want out of the capitalist economy it doesn’t mean I think you are evil for staying in it. Everyone makes the world a better place as best they can at the time. You’re doing your best and I’m doing mine.

With that in mind – here are 10 reasons we are becoming Nomads:

1. Find a New Human Dream.

We played the “American Dream” game well. I had a job at NASA and a mortgage and 2 cars and a bunch of debt. I worked to pay my debt and went into further debt to survive the monotony of my life. Since leaving my job I’ve become a so much happier person. I’m healthier, sleep better, and just feel JOY. All. The. Time. When I was working so much and then spending my non working hours working on my “stuff” I didn’t have any free time to grow as a person or contribute to the world meaningfully.

That’s the problem with the American Dream, in my opinion. It keeps us navel gazing and blind or helpless to the reality of the world around us. We wanted to find a way to acheive our dreams that made us better citizens of the Earth. (This reason is #1 because it guides all of our other reasons.)

2. See New Places.

The most amazing experiences in my life have been visiting new places. I’ve been fortunate to live many places and visit some wonderful and beautiful things. This reason also falls into the “stop living for your next vacation” things. If you are lucky enough to be one of the few people making enough money to travel on your vacation…are you working so hard to afford a vacation?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

3. Meet Virtual Friends.

One of the best parts of living in the age of social media is that I have truly wonderful friends all over this globe! How wonderful to get to share a s’more with them around our campfire? Oh, btw, internet friends…prepare, lol.

4. Meet New People.

I am a white woman married to a white man living in just about the whitest small town imaginable. That’s ok. I was raised here and learned to respect and love all people. I don’t think living in a mono-culture precludes soemone from being a social justice advocate but it sure is easier when you experience cultural differences in a relationship instead of in a book.

Now, RVing is a predominately white past-time so, that’s not what I mean. I mean by going out into the community where we are staying and getting to know the locals – local people, local food, local customs, local problems and successess. In my “homeschool” the number one most important curricululm is what I call “Poverty, Inequality, and Money: Causes and Solutions.” My kids will get to experience this in living color.

5. Meet the Earth.

If the poverty and inequality lessons are the number one goal of my parenting then the second is “Amazing Earth: Plants, Animals, and Symbiosis. (lol, I’m loving my course titles. Of course, in case you don’t know, I’m a “un”schooler so there won’t be any curriculum at all). You simply can’t ignore the needs of our planet when you strongly realize that WE ARE OUR PLANET. We aren’t separate. We are one. The love of one is the love of the other. The health of one is the health of the other.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Henry David Thoreau

When you think of environmentally-friendly living the word “RV” probably doesn’t come to mind. And yes, RV’s are gas guzzling hogs. Especially if you use one on vacation to travel 3000 miles in two weeks! There are fulltime RVers that live very “on the grid” and may have an equal or larger carbon footprint than someone living in a traditional home. But, there are others that live a decidedly “off grid” life in an RV. I’ll write more about the “Green RVing” life we’ll be persuing!

6. Escape the Monetary Economy.

This is not the space to get into this in detail but we believe that the current monetary economy/capitalism is incompatible with human-honoring goals. We hope to experience things like communes, ecovillages, barter/borrow economy, and cooperative living. Check out the resources on this post for more info.

In our rich consumers’ civilization we spin cocoons around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions.
– Max Lerner

7. Family Centered Living

I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish. (Right, Zoe?). It isn’t the religious aspects I like but the family-centeredness of everything they do. We see them work 1478954_10102028271020644_1208691901_nso hard to make food without modern conveniences like tractors or washing machines and think “yuck!”. What I love about the life of the Amish though is every task they do is in service to their family and community. They (rarely) wake up and leave all day to work for someone else. They wake and work hard with and for their family. I want this for my family.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. – Helen Keller

I could think of more but this sums up the primary philosphy that’s guiding our path right now. It is our path for our family. Yours may be different and that’s ok! That’s better than ok. It’s what makes our world so rich: diversity.

Gypsies

Did you know my ancestors on my Dad’s side are Romani? No, not Romanian, Romani. And no, not like the Romny you see on My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. But, yes, Romani are historically called Gypsies because people thought they were Egyptians. They are not. They are from the northern part of India and were forced out of their homes to wonder Asia and Europe. They are the ultimate wanderers.

So maybe it is my Rom blood? I’m not sure but I have it bad. Wander Lust. Always have. When I graduated high school and my parents wanted to buy me an expensive piece of commemorative jewelry I asked instead to go on vacation. Twice in college I got to take classes that traveled: I studied the geology of the Colorado Plateau in Utah and Arizona and I studied Phycology (study of algae) in San Salvador, Bahamas. My honeymoon was a month backpacking through Europe.

Having kids makes traveling harder. Money is tight and there is always family to visit when you have the time off of working 50 weeks a year. Pete and I have talked about our retirement dreams for years: buy an RV and travel the country.

Then I met a woman named Tara and she and her family – a husband and two kids – were traveling around Australia in a camper. I kept waiting for the end of that sentence…”until the money runs out” or “for work” or “for two weeks”  There had to be *something* after that sentence, right? You can’t just raise kids without a home can you?

That was 4 years ago and I didn’t think “yes! I’m going to do that!” on that very day. But, in my heart I dreamed that I had that life. Then, one day out of the blue, Pete said he dreamed of that life too! Here we were dreaming of something different but not pursuing it because it is SO CRAZY!

Families are supposed to “put down roots,” buy a house, have a steady job, save for college, and vacation occasionally if you are very lucky. We couldn’t just make travel part of our lives could we?

Then the last two years happened. I was forced out of my job after having kids which was a nightmare at the time. In hindsight, I don’t know that I would have ever left such a lucrative job on my own. Then our house went into foreclosure (not due to losing my job ironically but because of my time in the hospital with the twins). Pete couldn’t find work. He actually started driving to Boston for job interviews. Yet, here we were with a house we were trying to short sell which tied us to one place. That place had no jobs. It was a horrible catch 22. It seemed that owning this thing called property was an albatross.

We were able to move and downsize our lives but, strangely, we had gotten a taste of freedom. Freedom from a work-till-8-pm job and the mortgage that went with it. We hated the forced stationary quality of that life. We hated the live to work paradigm. We hated dreading Sunday nights. We hated spending Saturdays working on house stuff instead of having fun. We wanted something different.

1478954_10102028271020644_1208691901_nWe wanted to work to live. We wanted our weekdays to be so wonderful that the weekends hardly felt different. We didn’t want to count the days till our next vacation because our life was so wonderful it felt like vacation. We didn’t want our vacations to be a scurry of hitting every family member’s house with sight seeing thrown in. We didn’t want to come home from vacations needing a vacation from our vacation.

We didn’t want to be owned by stuff. We think we own it but then we are slaves to it. We have to maintain it and continue to pay for it. We are owned by the bank we pay each month. We fill our lives with things. I had a dozen pans for different uses. I had 3 different meat thermometers for different purposes. My kids had more toys that I ever wanted them to have. We were buried under stuff and the time the stuff took. All those toys needed tidied up and cleaned. All that house needed work and cleaning. The yard. The two cars. The bills.

So there it is. We are doing something different. We have sold everything we own. We have our clothes and necessities. We have keepsakes in storage. And…

We bought an RV. We are going to travel and work. Travel and live. Travel and raise our kids. Travel and school.

I was thinking of starting a new blog (and I probably will document what we learn as we travel here) but this is just more of our Baby Dust Diary so I’m going to stick with it. I’ll continue to post things about homeschooling, unschooling, and now ROADschoooling.

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