Remote work? Van life? Really?
Yes. I have been a digital nomad, traveling solo since March, 2018.
I run my online sewing school, Sew Like A Pro™ – offering all the training you need to make women’s ballroom and country dance, artistic roller and figure skating dresses – from my camper van, or from other people’s homes while cat-dog-housesitting via Trusted Housesitters.
- P.S. If you need a petsitter or want to be be one, I suggest you register using my Trusted Housitters referral link. You get a 25% discount off the first year and I get two free months. It’s a good deal for both of us!
True-but-funny story: I hold live Q&A meetings two or three times a month for the sewing school members. That’s true, but it is not the funny part. However, it is the cool part because I get to hang out with the sewing school members socially and answer their dressmaking questions live… Gosh, we have a great time on the live meetings!
The funny part is: since I have a different background for many of the live dressmaker Q&As, the members began asking me every week, “Where are you this time?”
The backstory is that March 2018, I put my sewing machine and other dressmaking supplies, plus my personal belongings, in storage in Oregon, where I called home. My cat, Sophie Fiona, and I began what we thought would be a four or five month road trip to drive across the vast United States to go help my sister-in-law in North Carolina, who was undergoing chemotherapy.
I loaded my tiny Kia Rondo car with a mobile office, filming and camping supplies, two small suitcases of clothes, a crate of shoes, a food cooler, four gallons of water and a giant cat litter box. The packing was complete with cat toys, cat food and one terrifically terrified cat.
Truthfully, I was as scared as my furry friend. … And with that, I drove off sobbing and thinking,
“What the #^*@! have I done?”
I finally drove back across the Oregon border nine months later … and I had no idea where to go then. I didn’t want to live in Portland again because I had discovered I preferred smaller towns. So then what? I had to begin the search of which town in the entire world felt like home.
My belongings have been in storage since 2018… with an exception of a few months when I thought I wanted to live in Colorado. Notice the phrase “thought I wanted to”.
Well, it turns out that as much as I like visiting Colorado, I don’t want to live there. (I imagine the Covid shutdown two weeks after I arrived did not help my affinity for that state.) So my stuff went back into storage as soon as the Covid shut-in ended and I could get out. I sold my little car and bought a used camper van from a friend. Thus, I began living the van life many people say they want to experience.
Since March 2018, my road trip has taken me 80,000+ miles / 128,748+ kilometers. I have been able to remote work the entire time.
Goodness, have I seen and done some amazing things! What a beautiful country this is. (Though really, the entire planet Earth is breathtaking.)
Overall, I am very proud of myself for adapting to new surroundings, often multiple times a week. My courage level has certainly increased, as has my appreciation of this beautiful country I call home.
Why don’t I share my van life travels?
My guess is this:
1) Photography is one of my hobbies. I have thousands of images on my external hard drive. Folders inside folders inside folders. I have no desire to filter through them all to pick a whopping six to share online.
2) It’s been a crazy, personal development journey that I don’t yet understand myself. Therefore, I don’t want to talk about it.
3) My laptop is like an appendage. I already spend too much time in front of my laptop running and advertising my online sewing school. I have zero urge to spend another hour or three at my laptop each day talking about what feels like the never-ending road trip.
4) Enough is enough? Aren’t there enough van life stories on the web? Why add mine to the mix? Plus, the first two years, I didn’t even have a van. My adventure cat, Sophie Fiona, and I were in a small Kia Rondo! You can see the car in the image above and in the 5-month blog post.
The camper van was an upgrade two years ago; the first time I gave up trying to find a suitable land-based home in Colorado.
Oh, how my cat, Sophie Fiona, loved van life!
She did not like the movement while I drove. However, she loved it when we arrived at a new place. She thought the van much more worthy of her royal French-Irish blood line that our old car. 😉
Not for one second did she care the roof had major leaks when we got it. She simply walked around the rain-catching buckets inside the van and nestled on the dashboard to take in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee while I had a glass of wine and ate a gluten free pizza.
But Sophie passed away just before the 2022 New Year’s Day . Now I travel alone. I miss her sweet face, soft fur and admirable adaptability more than I can say.
Sophie and I used to love sitting side-by-side with the camper van slider door open, watching the world go by.
Sometimes we sat side-by-side in the parking lot of In-n-Out Burger enjoying our meal. For real. This always got smiles and a double-take from passersby.
The image on the right is more interesting than a burger joint. It is Mount Saint Helens in Washington. Sophie and I went to slept and awoke in this very spot. It was only the two of us watching sunset and sunrise at this glorious volcanic mountain.
Such is the joy of van life boon-docking. No tent required. We can see-sleep-experience a wide variety of places we could not enjoy if we had stayed at “home”.
Many people say I am living their dream. Sometimes I agree with them. Sometimes I just want to go to a home I do not have.
Why am I sharing all this with you?
Maybe so you know I’m a real, live person and not just a face on a website. (Trust me. It took a long while to get used to seeing my face in many public places!)
Before beginning this crazy long road trip, I worked from home alone, creating the Sew Like A Pro™ school. Neither that work pattern, nor my solitary life on the road lends itself to having a well-rounded life. Therefore, I recently began a quest to find someone or a class that could help me consciously create a fabulous life with the same accuracy and efficiency I use to turn a paper sketch into a gorgeous 3-D dance or skate dress.
Luckily, I discovered Lifebook as part of the vast training at Mindvalley (the world’s largest online self-help university).
The Lifebook creators divided life into twelve categories that they have proven should be balanced and abundant to have an ideal life.
… Wait a minute! Where is the adventure category?
I aced that one!
I admit Health & Fitness goes downhill if I’m in the camper van for a long time. That’s one of the reasons I try to break up van time with cat-dog-housesits via Trusted Housesitters. Housesits allow me to get a dog and cat fix, give me room to move around, catch up on my work and hold dress design challenges while I have space and fast internet. Also, while housesitting, I try to getting my bum back into a firm, round shape instead of seat-shaped blob of flesh.
- TIP: Are you a homeowner in need of a petsitter? Or does petsitting sound good to you? Sign up using my Trusted Housitters referral link and you get a 25% discount off the first year, plus I get two free months. It’s a good deal for both of us!
Are your twelve categories balanced? Or do you think your life is super off-kilter? Leave a comment below if you want to share what works or does not work in your Wheel of Life.
…Anyway … Jon and Missy Butcher, the creators of Lifebook say,
“For most people, the notion of ‘having it all’ in life can seem downright impossible. They believe that pursuing success in one area of life will inevitably require the sacrifice of another.
But what if it doesn’t have to be this way?
What if you could have a fit and healthy body, a vibrant mind, your dream career, financial freedom and a passionate romance – all without sacrificing one for the other?”
Over the last 25+ years, I have tried many self-help coaches and programs.
Because I believe in creating the best possible business and life plus the highest version of me. A few programs yielded moderate to good success. Most of them did not produce enough benefits to warrant the time and money invested.
A few months ago when I joined Mindvalley, I discovered a ton of super helpful classes including Lifebook and the world renowned British hypnotherapist, Marisa Peer. Her Mindvalley program is called “Uncompromised Life”. I love it! By far, Lifebook and Uncompromised Life are my two favorite courses in Mindvalley, but there are dozens and dozens included with my pro membership and I have more to explore.
My investment in Mindvalley Pro investment was nominal compared to an extremely high return in my education and personal growth! (That sounds like my online sewing school and Dressmaker Business Academy! 🙂 )
Granted, I did my usual thing: I dove in with both feet and a big time commitment. But I want progress and I am willing to do the work. I see small but tangible results in only six weeks. I am pretty stoked about it, which is why I share it with you.
I work freaking hard to produce amazing dress design challenges and a comprehensive sewing school. Would I tell you about a coaching program that was shoddy? No. Absolutely not.
If, like me, you struggle finding a balanced life or just want to improve who you are and how you live your life, Mindvalley is the best online option I have found. Check it out if it resonates with you.
(You should know the Mindvalley links are affiliate links. If you signup using one of these links I may earn a few dollars in commission. But I tell you this because I think it is important for all of us humans to be our best and highest self – not because I get paid a lot.)
Again, thanks SEW much for reading this blog.
I appreciate you following me and Sew Like A Pro™. Now that I have taken some time out of my camper van to to rest and restore, in a lovely home, I have lots of new ideas for future vlogs and dress design challenges. I will let you know as soon as the flowers blossom and bear fruit.
I hope you have a wonderful week!