If you know my husband, you’ve seen that distant look in his eye. The one where he looks like he understands the universe just as it is. The one that makes you wonder if he is contemplating a distant future or dreaming of the past. If you know my husband, you’ve seen a glimmer of hope linger in his eyelashes at something truly beyond our grasp. But if you truly know my husband, if you understand him deep down, you would know that what he is actually thinking about is Sportsmobiles. Not just Sportsmobiles really, but all vans. Yep, you know what I’m talking about- The converted utility vans sported by divorcees and dirtbags alike. What is it about a stripped down dry cleaning van that somehow inspires both simple and extravagant living? I’m not sure. I only know that ten minutes ago we were discussing what we wanted for our future and somehow I’m looking at pictures of vans on his iPad…again.
I get the dream. I understand the simplicity. There is something to “living out of a van” that sounds so content. There is this idea that it won’t take much for us to be happy, just the two of us, an open road, and a giant Mercedes Sprinter van decked with all the outdoor gear we could ever want. OH! and a RACK. Yes, it needs some kind of hard-core rack. We must somehow fit two kayaks, a couple bikes, some surf boards, and maybe a small sailboat on that thing. Maybe something hand welded? Throw a mattress in the back and a tiny kitchen and we have ourselves a lifestyle we could fully support by working in coffee shops or mowing lawns. Sounds serene, content maybe. Or also like we might need a place to shower. It’s idealistic, but at the same time realistic. We could, theoretically, spend our savings on a van, quit our jobs, and hit the road! What would we need? Apart from maybe health insurance, and you know, friends, we’d be fine! We’d be living the dream!! There would be destinations to explore, rivers to kayak. We could visit friends and family on our way out to Yellowstone and sleep on our roof to look at the stars. Yes! It could happen. It’s been happening. In the beautiful mind of my husband every other waking moment (and some not-so-awake moments). This is why you might be shocked to discover that my husband once turned down a 1985 Volkswagen Westfalia Bus.
How could that happen, You might wonder? I know I often have. Would the search for a van continue once he already owned one? I feel like it would have to cease. Maybe that is wishful thinking. Yet, the bus that started it all, the camper van with the pop-top that he so lovingly slept in for years, could have been his. The van that nurtured him through countless camping excursions, the one that give him visions of grandeur and an attitude that believed anything was possible. That bus, the beginning of it all, became part of a deal that would change history. When Garret turned 16, his dad gave him the chance of a lifetime: He could have either of his dad’s cars, the other would be sold. Would he take the Vanagon? Or the Ford Explorer?
Can you believe what he chose? I simply can’t even comprehend it! How could Garret. the man who spent so many nights gazing at the stars, contemplating the intimacies of a camper van have chosen the Explorer? How could this be? I’ve exhausted every possible reasoning and can only conclude that teenage hormones are to blame. So yes. If only.
But not really. See I believe that there is nothing we are truly capable of regretting. We have no possible way of comprehending all of the outcomes that may or may not result from all of the millions of tiny decisions we make in a given week. For example, I didn’t want to go to college. Even now I sort of wish that I never went. The education felt slightly worthless to me and I feel that most of what I have loved learning came after I graduated. But can I regret it? Absolutely not! I made the decision to go to college because I didn’t want to get kicked out of the house, but I could not have comprehended how it set the course of my life in motion. In fact, it’s how I met my Vanagon loving husband! We make decisions all the time, but then karma kicks in. I do believe that we choose our paths, but not the destination. Once we make a decision, the results belong to something bigger than ourselves.
This February we are going to Hawaii to celebrate the marriage of our two good friends and decided to turn our trip into a vacation. We are renting a Volkswagon Westfalia while we are there, and you know what? Maybe this dream is better. It might turn out that it’s more fun to vacation out of a van than live out of one. (In fact, I’m sure it is). We can keep our friends, home, and careers and still experience the VW life without breaking down in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure there will be a van somewhere in my future, but for now, thank heaven that Garret didn’t choose the Vanagon. Who know’s where we’d be!Read More
I ran a 3-mile track run smack in the middle of a ridiculously hectic and scorching hot day. The whole run I thought, “If I didn’t have this half-marathon to train for, would I be running right now?” My answer was no. I really love running, but in favor of my training, I had to forgo a yoga class and a swim this week. I also had a super crunchy week since it was short to begin with. Top that with harp lessons, girls night, YL, and friend’s birthday party gone awry (the incident involved a car, a broken paddle, a ferry-boat, and super sunburned husband). Not to mention, I accidentally ate something dairy related and paid the consequences for two days.
You don’t have to run 13 miles to be healthy
Because my time is precious, I typically pick a small variety of blissful fun throughout the week that proportionately balances mental, physical, and spiritual health. This usually means exactly what my week entailed, minus the crunch factor and the sweaty stress run. This is because I do not believe that picking a sport will make you healthier, happier, or more hard-core. In fact, as you might have figured out:
- Limiting your diet will make you want what you can’t have
- Making a training plan will make you not want to train
And yet those are the first two things everyone does when they decide to get healthy: They say they want to eat better and exercise. This winds up being counter-intuitive to the actual bigger picture of health. I believe that the priority should be: I want to be healthy and happy. Then the rest will follow. If the priority is: I want to run a marathon, or lose 40 pounds, you could potentially loose the big picture of why you want to accomplish those goals in the first place.
The Roseto Effect: Happy & Healthy
Case in point: The Roseto Effect. Many books have talked about this small town in Pennsylvania that appears to be the healthiest place on earth. The town is virtually free of disease, boasts longevity, and people are ridiculously happy and content with life despite the fact that they smoke and work at the local quarry. Where does the fountain of youth lie? Community. Psychologists spent years researching the town trying to find the secrets to their health. Community was the puzzle piece that made it all work. People simply spent time together!
So I brought this back to my own life this week. I’m going to run this half-marathon, but I’m not going to lose sight of why I’m doing it: because I want to travel to Vancouver with my sister, brother-in-law, and husband (and I’m slightly obsessed with Lululemon). Ahhh yeah, that’s going to be a blast!
By the end of my stress run- I decided to devote the rest of the weekend to community. We hung out with friends, gossiped with the neighbors, and helped out with local chores. I weeded the yard, cleaned the house, purged our abode of all unnecessary items, did a few Goodwill runs, and brought us back to simple. A clean house, a well made dinner, a bottle of wine, and a husband who enjoys a hard day’s work just as I do. We are so blessed to have a life like this!!
Training: Oh! By the way- I did time my mile: 8:30. Better than I thought! I also ran 3-miles in 32:14. Not too shabby! And of course I did yoga: Made it to one blissful sesh with Susan this week. Gotta love her! How are you guys doing with your training?Read More
Every chick flick is about the beginning. The happy, lovey, we just met and are falling desperately in love part. Isn’t that just a tad bit annoying? Don’t get me wrong, I would rebel against any movie with out a happy ever after (as my husband now knows after making me watch “Without Limits”), but they deceptively make it seem like the good stuff is all at the beginning!! I don’t believe that’s true. But I had to decide for myself exactly why I believe that is true…
Garret and I met freshman year of college. He knew I must have liked him after I sat through those darn Lord of the Rings movies three times in a row. It must have been love…. Anyway, because we met so young, we waited 7 years to get married. And you know what? Having that marriage thing on the horizon always felt like the next step. There was always this guiding principle of: The next thing on our check list is “Get married!” So once we checked that off, we immediately thought: HOUSE! Our years of dreaming about our future lives finally became reality when we smashed that champagne bottle off the side of the house. Actually Garret wouldn’t let me do that, plus he said that is only for boats… instead Garret broke his Lenten fast of “no alcohol” in order to toast me on our new deck. He wasn’t going to make it with that one anyway, God understands….
So I’ve married my prince charming, I live in my castle, now what? Certainly the magic doesn’t stop now? Nope! In fact, the next item on most people’s checklists is: BABY. Only that thought makes me cringe. I mean, you kinda have to think about it for a little bit just to be sure- so Garret and I gave the topic our due diligence with a “I’m good, you good?” “Yep, I’m good!”
Yeah we are good. God may have other plans, and if He does, I’ll adjust, but personally I will do everything in my power to follow the guidelines from this commercial. So that leaves us with… oh wait! The societal checklist stops here! We are supposed to be so occupied by check item #3 that the rest gets a little blurred. So if there are no kids in my future, what does my happily ever after look like?
A year into our marriage and I am realizing that the fun really starts here. I mean, I’m content and enjoying the moment and all, but we now have the right to dream up any checklist that we want! Our bucket lists are uninhibited by children or how to make enough money to float our rent. We can make true plans and dreams and forge new paths. And you know what? Writing those checklists together (and checking them off) is truly more romantic than watching Lord of the Rings together. What’s next for our checklist? Ooooh that is a good one, and loaded with answers (see my last blog: What if). Just this week for example we were inspired by a blog detailing the lifestyle of a “dirtbag gourmet”. There is something about vanning it around that gets under our skin. We contemplate all the time about how our coffee truck would look and how we would design the interior. The dreaming is part of the fun of it, but really, it’s the idea that we can actually do it that makes ours a true happily ever after. Anything and everything is possible now and that is the exciting part!
We only find more and more reasons to fall in love these days- which is so great! College Garret and Elle were two totally different individuals from our current, slightly more mature but majorly more excellent Elle and Garret status. Yet I believe that Garret much prefers wino Elle to Mike’s Hard Lemonade Elle. I may have fallen in love with him while he was tuckered against my dorm wall eating a bowl of easy-mac the size of my head, but I also really enjoy the version that this weekend announced that he wants to try an “alkaline” diet. Gotta love the guy. We’ve come a long way, but the way is really fun! Each new interest is another adventure that we can explore together. Just like the couple featured in the blog- he likes rock climbing, she likes yoga, but together they share a love for adventure! And that is how I picture our own happily ever after.Read More
Ahhh I love so much when reoccurring themes pop up in my life. I popped onto my computer last night to find that two of my favorite blogs were on the same topic- and its one I needed desperately to hear. If I told you to simply BE GRATEFUL, you probably wouldn’t give it a second thought. Absent-mindedly you’d think, yeah I know. That’s what I thought too!
Listening is new to me right now. I’ve heard the same things over and over again without absorbing them. It’s like when you read a full-page of your book only to realize you didn’t actually comprehend it. That’s what I’ve been doing with gratefulness. Earlier in the week I listened to a podcast about it, considered buying a book about it at Barnes and Noble, in fact, all the time I think about how grateful I am for my life! Yet it wasn’t until last night that it all clicked into place. I simply needed perspective.
Smile with your Heart- a blog by an adventurous nurse with awesome zeal, posted an incredibly blunt article chronicling the emotions behind her recent trip to Haiti. Having seen true hope in the face of despair, she no longer has it in herself to feel sorry for a man who is impatient with airport security. YET- how many times have I been that airport security man? (ok woman, but you get my drift). How many times have I near about cried because my hot chocolate fell off my car as I pulled out of my driveway? How many times have I felt upset or troubled because a food product was manufactured alongside gluten (which I’m allergic to)? Talk about first world problems! (LITERALLY!).
Now this morning, I find that my awesome friend and co-Young Life leader wrote a post about being grateful while writing an excruciating term paper! Talk about hammering the point in!! (I GOT IT!! Thanks for the message!). Did you ever see the movie Bruce Almighty? I’ve always related to the moment when he is crying out for a sign and a truck full of signs pulls in front of him. He still doesn’t get it. Yep that’s me! Once again it all comes back to listening. It’s time to crack my ears open and stop being the one to chatter. Apparently big things are in the works here. I’m all ears!!
So how to be more grateful? Appreciate what I have, which is A LOT! I love my job, which is actually not very common. My husband travels quite a bit, which affords me time for all my Young Lifers. I used clean water in my tea this morning, which many countries don’t even have access to. I put a shirt on this morning that I haven’t even worn before while many people only have one (if that). I brushed my teeth this morning with fluoride hardly realizing that without that my teeth would have rotted out before the age of 18. There are so many large and itty-bitty things that I am thankful for, and remembering all of those things can make a HUGE difference! Afterall, some of the most desolate and poverty ridden countries are full of some of the most grateful and hopeful people on earth. Who am I to not feel the same way despite having so much?
It’s a beautiful life, and I plan on living and loving every second of it!Read More