All posts by SoulTalkGirl

Remodeling Our Vintage RV Motorhome

Over the summer and fall of 2017 I remodeled our 1998 Fleetwood Bounder motorhome. We bought it in May 2017 and decided that while we were waiting to travel in it ourselves, that we would remodel it and rent it out on AirBnB so it wasn’t a useless investment.

It was a big job and it was summer. I would work from 7:00-9:00 a.m. before the Florida heat made it too hot to work in. I painted the cabinets and cabinet doors and drawers and repainted all of the hardware, tore out the old flooring and laid new laminate flooring, repainted all of the walls and laid new carpet in the cab.

It was definitely worth the effort and now we have a beautiful, comfortable, vintage RV that we can call our own and hopefully do a lot of travel in sometime in the future. For now – I’ve listed it on AirBnB for travelers coming to Tampa.

If you’re interested in seeing the remodel and how I did it, I’m adding info to my website – Vintage RV Remodel – where I’m showing the beginning to end renovation.  It’s a work in progress. Here’s the link:

https://vintagervremodel.wordpress.com. 

 

Here’s a few pics of before and after of the renovation.

Kitchen before
Kitchen after
Living / Cab area before
Living / Cab area after
Bathroom before
Bathroom after

I just finished and published the listing for AirBnB so its now ready for renters. If you want to take a look at the listing – it’s here:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20399417

 

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Living Dreams Instead of Setting Goals

How do you feel when you read this sentence: A Goal Is A Dream With Marching Orders!

Does it motivate you, or does it freeze you in your steps with feelings of fear? Does it cause you to want to work toward your dreams or does it melt you into a puddle of anxiety?

This is what I had to determine for my own life. Do I want to chase my dreams to the demand of marching orders? Or am I content to live out my dreams within the obscurity of my own quiet lifestyle? Demands and orders don’t motivate me – they only make me weary, anxious and non-productive. Whereas, my true energy and life come from merely living out my dreams.

Two years ago I joined a multi-level marketing company. I began that journey with the intention of freeing myself from the burden of financial stress and ‘living the dream’. I envisioned a life of fun, excitement and more money to enjoy life – if only I could become successful with this MLM. What I didn’t know then was that it would create a cycle of stress that would make my life miserable.

To be fair in sharing my experience I have to disclose that I fall into the category of being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).  I’m deeply affected by things that most people take into stride on a daily basis. HSPs can be described as having “hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity.

Joining this MLM was supposed to be a dream come true, an end to financial struggle. I envisioned myself expanding who I was as a person. Getting out of my comfort zone. Challenging myself to become more outgoing.

I was directed by my upline to tell everyone I knew about this wonderful gift I had found and that they too could share in it.  I was urged to post on Facebook every day about the products and the business. I was constantly being told that to become successful I needed to get out of my comfort zone.

The women I joined under were really wonderful people. They were already extremely motivated people with successful careers, generous and kind, and really did have my best interest at heart. They taught me everything they knew about how they made this business work. Unfortunately, their style wasn’t a good fit for me and what followed was month after month of constant stress!

In all truthfulness, the products were a life changer for me in the way I look and feel about myself. The changes that occurred gave me a new sense of confidence in who I am. That was definitely the upside of the business.

Along with learning all I could about the MLM, I started listening to motivational speakers and attended a couple of conferences that encouraged me to look into my soul and find that person who could achieve success. The motivational speakers and those conferences changed my life. They changed my thinking and helped me to learn more about the real me. But they did not change the fact that working an MLM was making my life miserable.

Instead of living in the precious present moment, I was always thinking about what my next step would be.  Who should I call? What should I post on Facebook? Who should I email or message? How could I set up another one of those super uncomfortable three-way calls? What kind of an event could I hold to attract people? I hadn’t anticipated the constant state of striving that I would be in.

The barrage of being told to “get after those fence sitters . . . they want this product . . . and they need this business to have the good life” slapped me in the face every day. I saw other women and men becoming successful doing those things, but I felt sick to my stomach every time I did them.

Being recognized for achievements was at the forefront of group messages and posts. For a person who is content sitting in the background applauding other peoples’ achievements, this was extremely uncomfortable for me. Seeking recognition is the polar opposite of living in obscurity.  I am very comfortable in a state of being unknown and inconspicuous.

It wasn’t at all the lifestyle I wanted to live. I am not and never have been a goal oriented person. I’m motivated by the tugs at my heart and words of encouragement, not by setting goals and trying to fit into a mold that someone else has created for me. Living out my dreams of success has never had anything to do with attaining “things”.  Things mean little to me. Things do not define me.

In Wayne Dyer’s translation of the 46th verse of the Tao Te Ching in his book Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life  he says: You’ll find that the experience of inner peace becomes our true gauge of accomplishment. 

I’m no longer setting goals or striving to reach an end. I’m not in a constant state of needing to do one more thing before I feel successful. Are there things I would like to achieve in my life? Absolutely, but I don’t want to “strive” for any of it. I’m on a journey. Not running toward a goal.

The majority of a journey is the steps it takes to reach your destination. If that journey is leading you to your dreams, shouldn’t that be the part you enjoy the most?

Post Christmas Joy

I’ll admit that many past Christmases have been filled with my own anxiety and angst when I have unnecessarily over-anticipated, over-thought, over-spent, and over-planned. Truthfully, this Christmas started out with a plan. My son and his girlfriend were going to come home from California. My youngest daughter, who lives at home, would be going between our house and her boyfriends’ parents’ house for festivities. My daughter and her husband, who live in Tennessee, were possibly going to come home. All would be well.

Then Christmas plans changed. First, my youngest daughter wanted to spend more time with her boyfriends’ family and would be spending limited time at home. Second, my son told me he wouldn’t be home until the day after Christmas. Lastly, my daughter in Tennessee wouldn’t be coming home at all because of their work schedules.

With my heart a little sunken and my spirits and little damp, my husband and I were facing a very quiet Christmas together. I think we both felt somewhat like the breath had been snatched out of our lungs. I felt a little dazed as I realized that the position I held for so many years as a parent was in a transition phase and Christmas would be very “different” this year.

It made me reflect on life’s milestones. My years as a child with no worries, first loves, moving away from home and getting a first real job. Traveling and experiencing different parts of the country. Then love and marriage and a child. Unfortunately, a divorce and heartbreak. Then a new love, marriage and a couple more children.

Now my grown children were busily going through their own life cycles. Experiencing everything I had hoped and prayed for them. College, living in other parts of the country, marriage, love, and traveling the world. They’re living life larger than I ever experienced and that’s a dream come true as a parent. That’s what brought me joy thinking about Christmas without my kids.

I had settled my heart about our Christmas. I was at peace about spending Christmas Day at the beach, just me and my husband – the seagulls, the waves, the sun. I was okay that life brought us to this place.

Then I got a text from my son. He said he and his girlfriend would be here after all – for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I felt elated. I started trying to set times for dinners and gift opening. Made trips to stores for gifts and food. My daughter was trying to work out times for spending with her boyfriends’ family and at home with us. It became stressful trying to work it all out.

That’s when I finally said – – – “You know what? Let’s just play it all by ear this year. Let’s not set our hearts on any one plan. Let’s just see how it goes.” The only thing I timed was when the turkey would be done on Christmas Day. Everything else could just play out as it fit into our days. It was then that my heart settled, my mind settled and I felt peace in my soul. No longer trying to control the outcome of visiting and eating and opening gifts created a much more peaceful and fun atmosphere for everyone.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were full of joy and peace! There was no anxiety. There was no angst. There were no expectations of anyone. It all just flowed beautifully into a joyous family experience. I think that may have been the lesson God wanted me to learn from the beginning – to let Christmas happen gracefully, without my own agenda trying to create an experience.  That is what made it the best Christmas I’ve had in many, many years and I will continue to feel that joy for many days and weeks to come.

 

 

HSPs and the Holidays

The holidays are stressful for many people, but for Highly Sensitive People (HSP) it can be much more overwhelming.  I’ve always known that I don’t handle life like most people and about five years ago I discovered why I felt different.

Although relatively few people are aware of it, as many as 15-20% of the population are HSPs (Highly Sensitive People). Elaine Aron, in her book The Highly Sensitive Person, states: “People differ considerably in how much their nervous system is aroused in the same situation, under the same stimulation.  . . . (HSPs) notice levels of stimulation that go unobserved by others. This is true whether we are talking about subtle sounds, sights, or physical sensations like pain. The difference seems to lie somewhere on the way to the brain or in the brain . . . We reflect more on everything. And we sort things into finer distinctions.”

Christmas can be especially overwhelming with thoughts of “what needs to be done” in order for it to be the perfect holiday. For me it brings on emotional overload. Anticipation leading up to that glorious day is overwhelming to me.

I stay away from malls this time of year. Several years ago I went to a large mall to go Christmas shopping.  As I walked around the long halls with never ending storefronts I became full of anxiety.  People everywhere were walking in and out of stores with name brand bags hanging from their arms.  My emotions kicked into high gear as I started to think of people purchasing gifts they knew they couldn’t afford, so they could create a “perfect” Christmas, only to wonder how they would pay off their credit card bills after the holidays. It felt like a frenzy and I couldn’t handle the anxiety of it. I had to leave the mall.  That was the last time I entered a mall during Christmas.
Elaine Aron says, “What is highly arousing for most people causes an HSP to become very frazzled indeed, until they reach a shutdown point called “trans-marginal inhibition.” I definitely had reached that point and I could not leave that mall quickly enough.
Being able to handle major life events has always posed a challenge for me. The result has often been bronchitis or fatigue because of the stress to my mind and body.  As I get older I handle events with even more anxiety.  I’ve been misunderstood many times because of avoiding stressful situations, including family events. It’s often perceived as a lack of love or respect for others, however, this could not be further from the truth. My true nature is love and peace toward everyone.

If you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed these tips might help you to enjoy the season a little bit more:

  1. Commit to only a couple of events or parties – don’t try to attend them all.
  2. Take advantage of online shopping and avoid the crowds at the mall.
  3. Learn to say “no”. Simply say “I’m sorry I can’t make it” – and leave it at that.
  4. Be aware of what you eat. Candy and cookies can cause brain fog and fatigue.
  5. Listen to Christmas music that relaxes you.
  6. Sip a cup of hot tea while taking in the beauty of your Christmas tree lights. If you don’t have a tree, light a scented candle. There’s something soothing about watching the flicker of a flame.

Remember this: Don’t compare yourself and your preparation for Christmas with anyone else. Holiday joy is unique to each person. Allow your holiday happiness to flow from your soul without feeling like you have to be like anyone but who you uniquely, beautifully are.

Christmas blessings to you!

 

 

Serenity – Quiet Your Soul

Work, errands, bills, family, health, cooking, cleaning, and the list goes on. We live in an age where multi-tasking is the new norm. You know the scene well. Stomach in knots, easily irritated, always thinking two steps ahead, To-Do list a page long, and the list goes on and on.

Stop! Serenity is just a moment away from your present reality. You get to choose! So right in this moment . . . chose peace – chose serenity. No matter what is going on – conflict in your mind, exterior chaos in your living situation, tension in relationships, stress of finances, fear of the future – you have the power to quiet your soul.

Serenity is one of those things that, if you try too hard to grasp it, it eludes you. It enters when you merely allow it’s presence. When you feel that richness, fullness and peace – you know it has seeped into your soul.

butterfly sunny day.jpg

Simple steps to feel serenity:

  1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine allowing the warmth of a sunny day to flow deep into your lungs. A butterfly lands softly on a beautiful flower and a gentle breeze wisps across your face. Feel peace flowing into your lungs and seep into your soul.
  2. Breathe out worries, tensions and anxiety by picturing a box filled with heavy hammers and wrenches being dumped out along with all of your burdens.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 over and over
  4. Feel your mind, your muscles, your lungs, your heart relaxing and feeling light, relaxed and fluid.

Become intentional about allowing yourself to have moments of serenity in your day. Visit this place as often as you’d like. Remember – – – you can create this kind of peace in your life. It’s a choice.

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Feeling the Holiday Jitters?

It’s that beautiful time of year again! The neighbors have their homes and yards decorated, the stores are filled with displays of red and green lights and bling, and Christmas tunes fill the airwaves when you turn on the radio.christmas tree fireplace

 

Flip through any magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store and you’ll see pages filled with glamorous table settings and perfectly browned and glazed turkeys nested on a platter with beautiful roasted vegetables surrounding it. A woman is standing with perfectly styled hair and make-up with a holiday-themed apron wrapped around her beautifully adorned holiday dress.

WAIT A MINUTE! I’m not even close to that portrayal. Should I be in a panic?

I haven’t decorated my yard, let alone the inside of my house and it’s December 9th. My decorations are patiently waiting in the shed (placed close to the door as of a few days ago). That’s actually my project for today after I’m done writing this.  Smile.

I haven’t baked any goodies and put them in the freezer to pull out for holiday parties. I don’t even know If I’m going to attend a holiday party at all. I have thoughts in my head of gifts to give, however, I didn’t go out Black Friday shopping nor did I shop on Cyber Monday.  I don’t have a holiday outfit picked out to wear.

I won’t lie. I get the holiday jitters every year. It’s not a natural, exciting, calm feeling for me going into the Christmas season. I wish it were. The anticipation of everything that a holiday “should be” (the fear of not giving the perfect gift or having the right kind of food, or spreading the right kind of holiday cheer) is terrifying to me.

I don’t believe that gifts have to be large and expensive in order to be special, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling anxious that I’m not living up to the expectations of others. Some of my anxiety comes from feelings of not measuring up to everyone else’s abilities to create a magical Christmas for their families. Some anxiety is shear sadness that Christmas has become so much about buying gifts that people go into debt – with good intentions of making other people happy.  My heart gets sad to think of how many gifts are exchanged without one single thought of Jesus’ birth – the reason we celebrate this beautiful season in the first place.

I do love Christmas lights, the music, the food and knowing in my heart that Jesus really is the Reason for the Season. In order to enjoy holiday preparations this year I will keep things simple, take in deep breaths of holiday joy, and try to not get caught up in anyone else’s anticipations, expectations, or abilities.

We’ll have our holiday eggnog as a special evening treat and make plans to drive around neighborhoods to see all of the beautiful lights. I’ll sit on my sofa with a cup of hot tea in the evenings and stare at our lighted Christmas tree in our cozy little living room. And in those moments I’ll get that beautiful feeling of joy that my life is perfect just the way it is and Christmas will be perfect because Jesus made it so.

jesus made it so

 

 

HSP, Anxiety and Irma

I didn’t chose to be a Highly Sensitive Person and I’m not sure I’d chose to be anything other, but the struggles are real and deep and painful. I also didn’t choose to have anxiety and depression. Truthfully, it’s difficult to say the words “mental illness” and look in the mirror and realize I’m speaking about myself. That I actually fall into that category.
Major celebrities have come out and spoken about their own mental illness. Why is it so difficult to come out and speak about mine? I’m nobody special or popular or sought after.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had an “episode” of depression and anxiety, but the struggle has been real lately. It started again with “Irma” when my hyper-sensitivities to everything around me intensified.
I was going about my business this summer staying busy renovating a vintage RV (a story in itself), learning how to grow vegetables in Florida (also another story) so that I could try my hand at it this winter, and working at my business. Then Irma started to make its way across the Atlantic Ocean.
We’re pretty used to Hurricane Season in Florida and the threat of it is a constant, every summer through November. But this one was a game changer for me.
Never have I felt the waves of fear, anxiety, threat, or danger that I felt while we were preparing for this hurricane. I wanted to board up and leave town, but as we prepared and time passed it got to the point where it was more detrimental to leave – with the droves of traffic going out of the state – than to stay.
I would have waves of fear and complete terror, and then would get calmed down by neighbors that we lived in a safe area as far as flooding and past hurricanes. I would feel okay with our plan of hunkering down in the interior hallway for what was predicted to be 9 hours; then within hours I would completely melt down and feel the panic again.
That repeated pattern occurred for days prior to Irma hitting the west coast of Florida and at the last moment, during a time when no one was encouraged to be out on the roads, my panic won over and we drove to the east coast of Florida.
The hurricane is gone, our yard is mostly cleaned up (still working on taking down the shed that was demolished by fallen trees), but my mental state has not returned to normal. I’m just waiting out this episode and praying it passes quickly.

America the Beautiful – God Shed His Grace On Thee

America the Beautiful – By Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Your Battle or Someone Else’s?

Who could have imagined even 10 years ago that American citizens could show such blatant hatred, scorn and outward evil toward each other? I wonder if most people even know why they’re hating and fighting? Do they know what they’re fighting against rather than rallying for?

Have you ever experienced a tragedy where everyone around you has promised to pray for you and then you literally felt the power that came from those prayers? I have and it has felt like a cloud of strength surrounding me and helping me to endure.

What is happening in the United States right now, feels like just the opposite. There is a cloud of anger, resentment, and scorn in the air like I’ve never seen or felt before. Rather than strengthen it is tearing down. The negative power hanging about us is just the opposite of that wonderful strength that comes from everyone around you praying.

I once worked in an office with a woman who liked to stir up trouble. She seemed to think she was the voice of authority on any given subject so she would plant seeds of discontent in the minds of those around her about how things “should be”. After that she would sit back and watch the anger of those people propel them into taking action against the very idea she had planted in their heads. She continued to feed them with ideas on how the situation should be and she watched as the people she had ignited on fire with angst and disdain, fight the very thing that she was upset about. She never lifted a finger to make the change that she desired to see.

Did the battle get fought? Absolutely! But with no consequences to her even if it backfired on the people she had incited to take action. There are many people out there like the woman I worked with, who are waiting for people just angry enough at the world, to carry out the plans that are important to them without accepting any responsibility for the outcomes.

Choices are placed before us daily. What we do with them should be carefully thought out as to the consequences to ourselves and others. In the end, we’re the only ones who have to answer for our actions, because the inciters will be sitting on the sidelines shrugging their shoulders acting as if they had no part in it.

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on the Loss of My Dad

Last week I lost my biological father after a long stretch of poor health. He was the man who was the catalyst of my creation. The man I called dad. The man who left my mom when I was a baby. The man responsible for the addition of step and half siblings and step moms into my life.

In a menagerie of family extensions I learned to weave my way through all of the varied relationships that graced my life from a very young age. Christmas Eve with mom and Christmas Day with dad was natural. Family celebrations like graduations or weddings were pleasant with both mom and dad and their respective spouses and children present. There was no drama or anger or angst over both being present in the same room or the same house at the same time. We were all a family unit and that’s just the way it was.

As I sit here surprisingly peaceful, I reflect on those growing up years and am grateful for a mom who didn’t cause dissension between her children and their father. I think of what I could have missed out on had she done that. Those Sunday afternoon visits that were all too infrequent. Those summer visits at dad’s where I experienced and embraced my new siblings and step-mom. Those Christmas Days at Grandpa Floyd and Grandma Bert’s farm house where all 14 kids shared in a gift exchange and blended together like real siblings.

My dad’s choices created a new, beautiful world really. I wouldn’t give up one step brother or step sister. I wouldn’t be complete without my two half brothers or half sister. I wouldn’t have the joys of having three moms.

I think sometimes we look at unfortunate circumstances or changes beyond our control as dark and tragic. We put blinders on in the midst of our grief. We choose to only see it from one angle. If we look a little deeper, however, there’s always something within any situation to be thankful for. If not for any other reason than to retain peace in our souls, we need to look at change and grief with open minds. The opposite is torment and unending questions that keep us in chains.

When I totally forgave my dad for changing my entire world and redirecting the course of my life after leaving my mom, I was able to release those chains and a whole new world opened up to me. What I found in return, was a dad who made choices based on the foundation he grew up with and who he had chosen to be. God allowed him to be my father and who was I to judge him?

Today I’m 100% grateful for God’s grace in the relationship between my dad and I. Without that grace I wouldn’t have forgiven and allowed my dad, who I loved dearly, to be a part of my life. I’m grateful that God showed me my imperfections, which opened my eyes and my heart to forgiveness.

I will miss his love of country music and all things John Wayne. I will miss his joy of westerns and the Grand Ole Opry. I will miss his guitar playing and singing. I will miss his stories of his truck driving days. I will miss his acceptance of me and all of my faults. I will miss my dad.

Rest in Peace Don Williams – Jan 25, 1931 – May 2, 2017.