Appreciation post with a twist..
Pictured here, hooking her first fish (which got away), with the default ‘tongue out of the side of the mouth while concentrating’ look is a friend of mine, Leah. We met a few years ago in NSW after we just happened to be down the road from her parent’s beach house. Over the years since, we’ve kept in contact here and there, but never managed to cross paths again.
Leah was one of the first people I reconnected with after losing my facebook account and page; she noticed my messages had gone and SMS’d me to make sure everything was ok. Little did she know, I was far from ok, and a couple of weeks later Jaiden and I went down to visit them near Lismore and pitched our tent in their back yard. We had an amazing 5 day stay, Jaiden and Arlo were inseperarable and played perfectly. Meanwhile, I had a much-needed sounding board in Leah, unloading all of my current thoughts and feelings while I processed how, and if, I was going to move forward with my writing and long-term plans.
Losing contact with all my friends and 9 years of people I connected with through my blog has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through because the people in my life are what I value most. But for those 5 days we went to homeschool meets, made new friends, and for the first time in quite a while, we felt like we were once again with our tribe.
Whilst there, I spent some time chatting to Leah about her plans of potentially hitting the road in a caravan with her kids. Not one to sugar coat things, I left Leah with the realities of the transition from house life, into van life, and much to think about. Overflowing with gratitude we left Northern NSW and returned home.
A week later, at 3am, Leah, her 2 kids, and her flatmate and kids fled for their lives as flood waters inundated their house. For the second time in 5 years Leah and the kids had lost everything. In these situations it’s almost impossible to see any silver lining, but if Leah ever needed a push to make the decision to move into a caravan, this was it. Thanks to the generosity of people, and a loan, Leah found herself in a position to purchase a car and caravan in just a few short weeks which was truly remarkable.
Given the caravan market has gone crazy, finding a second hand caravan, on a budget, for a family, with a time crunch was never going to be an easy task. To the uninitiated, buying second hand caravans is a potential minefield and can result in an expensive, unusable caravan. Unfortunately, sellers are not always honest, and newcomers can get caught out with rose coloured glasses. Not to mention, Leah had obviously been through an incredibly traumatic experience, and the added pressure of car and caravan hunting whilst facing homelessness, would make it even harder to keep a level head and find the right van. Leah agreed to let me assist her in finding a caravan, and after many hours looking at vans, a fair few km’s, a dishonest seller who neglected to mention a tree had fallen on the caravan and bent the frame, we found a van that would suit their needs and another 800km later, we picked it up and delivered the van to Leah down near Lismore last week.
Leah’s initial conversations with me about travelling had me continually saying “there is so much to learn, it can be overwhelming” and I am sure that in the past few weeks, Leah has found this to be entirely true. Travel can be great, but it can also be hard, tiring, stressful and unpredictable. Last night, Leah and the kids spent their first night in the van, and after months of uncertainty it heralds the start of a new journey for all of them full of learning, discovery, connection, and without a doubt, some adjustment.
Helping someone find a family caravan with no prior knowledge, in a rush, on a budget, is not generally a task I would take on, as taking ownership of such a task can be really challenging in normal circumstances, let alone with someone who’s just lost everything. However, I could not sit idle knowing the potential minefield that is caravan hunting. Whilst it took us many many hours to find the right van, those hours in the car did give me time to think. On the way back from another dud van I thought to myself “Why do I do this shit for people? I am just creating myself more stress”, and the answer came to be before I even finished the question.. After 9+ years of writing I have discovered the joy in selflessly helping people. Be it helping someone via a random message, or weeks of searching and many hours in the car looking at vans, helping someone succeed and progress is what fills my cup, and what I want to spend my life doing. It’s the reason I blog, the reason I sit here writing this on my laptop at 6am, instead of sitting in the sun with a coffee.
At a time where I was totally demoralised and had seriously considered giving this blogging / writing gig up forever, helping Leah and her family reiterated what I value most. It’s not the blog, or the followers, it’s using my experiences, skills and knowledge to help add value to someone’s life, or to give them the courage to see that they can take that first step, into the unkown.
Thanks to Leah for being there to support me when I needed it, but also for allowing me to be a integral part of their journey, which in turn, reminded me of the purpose, and importance of my own journey.