life, mental health

Learning to Be

The world has stopped. The unthinkable has happened and we’re in crisis mode, trying to get our heads around this ‘new normal’.

I’ve been here before.

No, not exactly like this, obviously. But almost five years ago, my world stopped when I finally admitted I couldn’t teach anymore. I’ve been adapting to my new normal ever since. It’s been a bumpy ride, but there have been many surprising blessings as well.

Learning to be. This is a big one. We are so inundated with messages telling us we need to be doing something all the time. There’s a culture of busy-ness, where the more you’re doing is like a badge of honour. When you have a chronic illness, that’s not really an option because the fatigue, among other things, is so killer that You. Just. Can’t.

So you spend a lot of time at home, sitting around, isolated, without a whole lot of options for entertainment. Sound familiar? I’m sure it’s a new experience for most healthy people, and it can be uncomfortable just sitting in your own skin sometimes. Or maybe that’s just the MS. 🤔

But just being, instead of always doing can be a wonderful opportunity to get real with yourself and figure out what’s really important. We’ve been conditioned to believe we need to be working, be productive, be entertained, be adventurous, be travelling , be consuming, be socializing.

We’ve forgotten that sometimes it’s important to just BE.

When you stop doing and sit quietly with yourself, your mind has space to process. This is why meditation has become so popular. But you don’t even have to be that organized about it. I’m not knocking meditation in any way, I’m just suggesting that you pay attention to whether you take any time during your day to stop doing and just BE.

Staring at nature is my go-to for times when I need to stop and be for awhile, even if it’s just out the window, or the nature channel on TV. I guess that’s technically doing something but the mental health benefits outweigh any slicing of that proverbial hair.

We’ve been running on the societal treadmill for so long that doing nothing, just BEING is a difficult thing for many people right now. I get it. Like with anything though, a shift in perspective can change this strange situation we’re finding ourselves in, into an opportunity to examine our values and decide if we really want to go back to the “old normal”.

As much as I miss teaching, I am grateful every single day for my many blessings. Learning to be comfortable with just being and not doing all the time has helped me enormously in accepting my new normal. I hope it helps you too.

Just be.

Hummingbird in flight feeding
Look what you can see when you stop doing for a few minutes. Just be.
Photo credit: Amanda L. Callin

❤️ Amanda

Health, life, mental health

Love. Not Fear.

View at Medium.com

It has been far too long since I’ve published anything but this article is important enough to share. If you allow your fear to spiral out of control, that lowers your immunity and makes you more susceptible to getting sick.

Stay informed, but focus on connection and gratitude. Turn off the screens and get outside. Wash your hands, and stay home unless it’s essential to go out. Stay safe and healthy out there!

❤️ Amanda

life

Our Happy Place: Our portable, compact vacation property

We finally took the plunge and joined the RV world. Ever since I had my first panic attack while tent camping three years ago, we’ve been trying to decide the best way to make the leap. Yes, we’re both overthinkers, and as I mentioned in my bathroom series we’re also very debt-averse, so it wasn’t a decision we made lightly. Obviously, since it took three years!

But seriously, a trailer, a fifth wheel or a motorhome, a truck camper or a tent trailer, there are so many factors to consider. Ultimately, we decided we didn’t want to deal with another motorized vehicle and the added expense and headache that could create. A truck camper is too small and not my kind of thing so that was easy to nix also. So then we waffled about a trailer, not wanting to store it away from the house but not having enough room to store it behind the front of our house. The bylaws, and some neighbours in our municipality are pretty rigid, so parking it on the driveway is not an option. Not really our thing, either.

Searching Facebook marketplace, a 1996 Jayco tent trailer came up for a decent price not too far from our house. Living on an island we don’t have quite the same access and availability as people on the mainland, so you have to move fast. This seemed the perfect solution, small enough to park in the driveway, but large enough for us to use as a family.

It’s in beautiful shape for a 23 year old camper, so despite assuring each other we would walk away and think about it overnight, we made an offer right away and drove it home the next day.

After a minor Griswold moment that our awesome brother-in-law came and helped us out of, we realized the tent trailer is much bigger than we thought – yes, we measured but that doesn’t give the visual impact that having the actual thing sitting there does, we decided storage was the only option. Oops.

It’s worked out beautifully though, because the storage place is out of town right near where we’ll be mostly using the trailer and we don’t have to haul it through town every time. It’s very affordable, as was the tent trailer, compared to if we had gotten a larger trailer or fifth wheel. Most RVers seem to think a tent trailer is the perfect way to see if you will actually use an RV as often as you think you will, especially if you buy privately and don’t mind a retro look. We can use our trailer without worrying about things getting damaged, or any depreciation – this puppy can only get better!

There are many impressive pop-up camper makeovers on Pinterest, and as much fun as that could be, that won’t be happening to ‘Happy’. I intend to spend my time camping and hanging out with my family and friends, not redecorating a camper that’s just going to get dirty anyway. Life’s too short, and that’s what my home is for. I go camping to get away from all that.

Anyway, we took Happy out for a test night with our youngest last week and she performed beautifully! We thought towing and backing up would be stressful because neither of us has done anything like that before but after researching some tips online (important!), and taking things slowly, it was not a big deal at all. Set up was a breeze, we used a curved leveler that made it so easy, and again, benefitted from the tips I read online beforehand.

We were so pleased with how easily everything went the first day but of course you don’t really know until you sleep in it. What surprised us most was how sturdy and stable the trailer was. With the ends sticking out, I always thought pop-ups looked a bit precarious and wobbly, but it didn’t move at all or make any sound as we moved around. We were all so comfortable and slept so well, we were sad we could only stay one night.

We already had three other camping trips planned but we came home and booked three more, including 5 nights in August which is the longest we’ll have camped since we travelled through Europe together in 1994. We’re excited to do some spontaneous camping too, at some of the first-come, first-served sites.

Now when we head out of town to pick up the trailer, we say “okay, let’s go get Happy.” 😊 On second thought, maybe we should call her “Happier’ -? La vie est belle! 😊

Okay, finally here are some photos.

❤️ Amanda

Raising the roof!

Easy enough for our ten year old to do!