Volunteering for Santa Barbara County as a Park Host for the past six months has provided me with an unbelievable opportunity to live my RV dream on the West Coast. Tuckers Grove Park (TUG) is Santa Barbara's largest County Park with an expansive mountain bike area, hiking trails, and multiple BBQ grills. The park features nine reservation sites that are booked all summer on weekends, and a very popular off-leash dog park, with fancy a credit card dog wash station. Hence, the long line of vehicles at our park gate in the morning at 0800 to secure a prized picnic spot, and to use our uber clean restrooms!
Cleaning TUG's restrooms has become my source of Santa Barbara civic pride. My usual gear for this task is a pair of very stylish knee-high black polymetric rubber boots, the finest of latex hand apparel, a hefty all-purpose utility scrubber brush, astronomical amounts of PineSol, and a super high pressured spray hose. While completing my chores (through the "high" of a PineSol infused aroma), I had an epiphany. I realized there are a couple of sea anchors holding me back from truly moving forward with my new career. I recognize that I can no longer continue to keep one foot in an old port and be 100% successful in launching a new career here in Santa Barbara.
I am incredibly fortunate that this past week dispensed a series of "Deb's life lessons". These lessons renewed my focus on activities I yearn to devote my attention and time... and yet had drifted off course. Life sure has a mystifying way of teaching me the essential lessons needed for an awakening or a kick in the butt. I trust in my intuition and ability to discern the "buoys in the ocean" for what they are- navigational aids- adhere to their warnings, or run aground. So as I continue to fill my sail, I am mindful of three potential anchor dragging hazards - people, places, and property (things).
Like the changing tides, there is an ebb and flow to my continued personal and work relationships. I am incredibly blessed to have been surrounded by so many beautiful people who share their God-given talents and gifts with me. But several tides have drifted by, and I had failed to raise my anchor out of the sand. I changed my bearing, but some of my dear support crew (previous friendships and relationships) may be on a different life course.
While out on a recent sailing jaunt with Kelsey, I inadvertently encountered a bed of sea kelp which then became entangled around the rudder. Fortunately, I was able to release most of the kelp through a few tacks, combined with a nifty heave-ho maneuver. We were blessed with good fortune, as this mishap did not require one of us to do a man-overboard drill with a dive knife. However, this lesson was invaluable in my reflection process this past week. It can be very tricky to navigate through the sea kelp of old habits, or people who might be dragging along in life. Any of these items may restrict forward progress, limit turning radius, stall and completely blind you.
Also, I see how I set myself up for disappointment when I placed ridiculous expectations upon others. I tried too hard to gain favorable entrance into a family situation in which I was yearning some emotional replacement fix. I am aware and make no bones that I still have emotional wounds healing after the loss of an extended family in my previous 17-year relationship. It is crystal clear to me that placing expectations on others is an receipe for an impending disaster.
I understand that like the wind, people (and I) will change and I acknowledge that my course may no longer be aligned with theirs. Learning to sail has been an incredible teacher for me. Being a great sailor is all about reading the wind, making adjustments in the sails, trimming, or tacking to change your direction completely. Successful navigation requires me to shift my perspective and allow somethings to blow through with no judgment or trying to fix anything. There are days when change is bewildering, tough to handle, and downright uncomfortable. But I love change, as it has renewed my soul and opened up so many incredible new adventures.
Facebook is an excellent example of a forum that has enabled me to hang onto people who are toxic, rude, obnoxious and have downright poor taste. I have allowed these people to stay on my news feed and catch a glimpse of their inappropriate comments, rants, mud throwing political commentaries. It is tiring to read everyday affairs online when I am scanning for golden retriever videos! In 2019 I am opting not to sail with these folks any longer. 2019 is all about navigating full steam ahead by setting my course, trimming my sails and cutting the drag for optimum life performance.
Turning 50 a few months ago has permitted me let go of what others think. I understand that my new vagabond lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people may view the way I am living as absolutely crazy, way outside the lines of social norms, and just too radical. However, I imagine there is a long list of people reading this blog who have dreamed of cutting the kelp loose in their own lives and sailing free to rediscover the inner-peace of the soul that sings in the sun.
Resigning from a 19-year teaching career, selling everything, buying an RV, moving to Santa Barbara has reignited the old Deb with a passion for continuing to make a difference in the world. I am so happy and greatly appreciate scrubbing a few toilets for free rent to live here in Santa Barbara, CA. I dreamed of this lifestyle for 25 years, and it has been life altering and amazing. I thank God and my angels each morning for a second chance to love with my huge heart and become the best of Deb. I live in paradise, make my schedule, drink lots of great coffee, and stay grounded each day with the daily intention to bring Light into others lives as much as possible.
Another blessed lesson occurred while purchasing an awesome new Subaru Outback with my girlfriend. I did not realize how much kelp I was dragging by keeping an anchor in Arkansas. This became apparent when I was filling out the financial paperwork at the car dealership. I found myself dumbfounded when trying to explain how I lived and owned a business in Santa Barbara, but still had an AR drivers license, permanent AR mailing address, insurance, and a bank account in AR.
It is like trying to be anchored in two ports at once and not making a commitment to pull up the chain on the last port for fear of uncharted waters. I walked out of that car purchase experience realizing that it is time to raise anchor from AR and bring all my business affairs west (especially since a 479 prefix on someone's caller ID could be mistaken as a tellemarketer!). PS...If you would like my current phone number click here to send me a message.
I feel untethered in this category, as I purged most extraneous belongings before moving in June into my 24' RV. Also, I have eliminated at least 50% additional items since setting up permanently in Santa Barbara.
Our incredible new business (SB SOS) is teaching me new lessons with each client we encounter. In this new career, I assist people and families with the transition of scaling down of personal possessions or items that no longer serve them. One of the most challenging new waters I am learning to navigate is watching the pain and strain on human lives caused by "things."
Coaching people through the steps of letting go when they have developed a numb, complacent attitude towards releasing material items is a balance, emotionally demanding, and takes patience. Every family client we have assisted has a different story, but all our clients have had one thing in common- GUILT. It is fascinating how the accumulation of material possessions can cause enormous guilt. Guilt that you bought so much, kept too many, and continued to pile extra belongings on top. Guilt to let things go because it belonged to a grandmother, an aunt, or it was your fathers.
Our business revolves around helping people with the inability to let go of the past emotionally. I certainly have learned you can't move on to the future when you continue to hang onto items that are anchoring you in the past. The hardest situations are when explaining to clients that some of their treasured items have just timed out, worn beyond donation, and need to placed in the dumpster. Often we pray with our clients for strength to just let go of years of guilt, shame, and embarrassment for the clutter that has become entangled around their lives, like kelp around a rudder.
I want to share one beautiful story about a recent sweet lady we assisted... or privacy's sake, let's call her Ms. Mary. We began the process of downsizing her belongings after a local realtor contacted us for help to get Mary's home ready to list for sale. Ms. Mary had lived in her sweet Santa Barbara bungalow home for almost 40 years. She had several serious health issues over the past ten years and a couple of surgeries that left her physically challenged. Her little home had become overwhelming for her to manage and filled with an enormous amount of excess items aka clutter.
In just one day we loaded a 17-ton dumpster with her life accumulations that were emotionally and physically strangling her. We sat on the floor for days and assisted Ms. Mary in sorting, shredding, and keeping only the exceptional items she wanted to move to her new apartment. Everything else was boxed up, sold, donated to her favorite charity, or disposed of. We then staged her Santa Barbara cottage home with minimal furnishings that Ms. Mary wanted to keep.
The realtor sold her house on the first day for cash and above asking price! We returned two months later and packed Ms. Mary with her beloved cats and moved her into the fabulous Valle Verde retirement village home three days before Christmas. We spent one day unpacking Ms. Mary, organizing her kitchen, making her bed, setting up kitty boxes, hanging Christmas lights and by 6:00 pm Ms. Mary was eating her first dinner at her lovely dining table.
The moral to this story is when we first met Ms. Mary she could not let go of anything. Nothing! The most rewarding part of this story for me was at the end of the day when we walked out of Ms. Mary's new home she said, "girls everything is just perfect! Without your help, this process could not have happened. You helped me bring just enough of my things to make my home lovely." I admire and respect Ms. Mary as she made the brave decision to sort, sell, and dispose of things and personal items that no longer served her life.
I once believed that the more material things I hung onto, the richer my future would be. As it turns out the truth for me is the exact opposite. Less is more! Today I live a wholesome, abundant, peaceful life with the essential things that allow me the space to enjoy the greatest of all pleasures... time to breath, feel my heartbeat and EXPERIENCE life.
I have no idea how in the world I landed into this line of work. Nonetheless, I love it and find it very rewarding to help families move forward and let go of the past. Perhaps I understand the pain of letting go, moving on, and releasing shame, guilt, fear without judgment. I finally get to live on the other side of the rainbow, but I most definitely had to release my past to have an opportunity to see what the future had in store for me. What anchors will you pull up this year?
May the Journey Begin Within You Deb