2 Months of Van Life

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2 Months of Van Life

Today officially marks 2 months I have been living in a van. The experience is beyond anything I could have ever imagined even thought I truly believed I was prepared for this journey. Since the age of 5 I have been stubborn and always certain I have a general idea of how shit works. Today at 55 I call bullshit on myself.

Clearly I knew nothing about living in a van and to be honest I am learning every day. 

The 1st and most important thing is the van has exceeded my expectations as a home. I wanted the BAM van to feel cozy and a perfect home for myself and Gidget. We both consider it our perfect 60 square foot home.

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As I am typing it is 3:30am MST and I am by candlelight, with essential oils diffusing while sipping fat coffee with Gidgt curled up next to me wrapped in a soft blanket. My perfect Nirvana start to the day. When I was living with strangers I lost this. So grateful to have it back except for when you are not parked level and your pour over coffee spills all over the van at 4am. Then it sucks trust me. 

Another bonus of living in a van is that I have no shower. Showers are over rated.

Grateful Planet Fitness (PF) offers showers at each location. I find myself when I am not in a National Park working out at PF most mornings typically followed by hydro-massage before my hot shower. I have been to a Planet Fitness in almost every city and found only one not up to standard. They all are busy, clean and welcoming. It is the best $20 I spend a month. 

The Dodge Promaster van drives like a champ and I am grateful my home is built in one. Although a high roof van it is not much harder than my cute little red Fiat to drive. The van has guts with a V6 and front wheel drive make it a huge BAM. Believe me since it has been tested in snow, sleet, rain, ice and high winds. The BAM van performed like a champ after watching Jeeps and tractor trailers flip over in front of me during an ice storm in Texas.

I am once again pleased with a car made by Chrysler and love the BAM van like my Fiat.

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Community once again stands at the forefront of van life. Most of you know I was plagued with electrical issues for almost 6 weeks when I first started touring in the BAM van. If it were not for this community I don't know how I would have survived and come out on the other side. Thanks to your support and kindness I was fixed up by a family from this tribe and have been working well ever since.

I said goodbye to my refrigerator and hello to an electric cooler. In addition the inverter was busted and replaced with a battery charger that works so well. I am filled with loving emotion as I type. This issue was huge to overcome and literally had me close to breaking. 

Nothing in a van happens quickly. Small spaces have a place for everything and a certain way in which things go. You cannot skip a step even if you want too. Trust me I have tried. This outcome is good for this little busy bee. It forces me to slow my role and take my fucking time. Something I do not come by easy and van life offers a slower pace that my body and mind so desperately crave.

Pooping and peeing in a bucket is liberating in a way. It changes the narrative around the best way to make this happen. I am hoping to have a place in the van where the bucket can live securely so I can maybe use composting stuff instead of plastic bags. I love the bucket solution so much and yesterday at Rocky Moutain National Park it allowed me to park off the beaten path and spend time making and enjoying brunch filled with gratitude.

Meals I have noticed seem to be one cooked and one no cook meal daily. I love having my stove and oven, but find I only use it for one meal a day and my morning coffee lover. I do however use the oven often for Cappello's Cookies and bacon outside of meals making it simply the best choice for the BAM van ever.. If these are the only two things I ever cook in the oven it is so worth it.

I am grateful l made the decision to have an oven and 3 burner stove top. 

My sink is beyond measure a BAM. I have a 17 by 17 square sink that is deep. It is my everything and holds so much stuff for when it is time to get moving. In addition it has a butcher block cover that is ideal. I have a hand pump facet that is beyond perfect for meeting my needs and conserving water. I am on the daily proud of these two choices. No need for a water pump here. 

The two Maxx air fans are truly a huge blessing. I use them almost daily and love how they work and how efficient they are. You can set the temperature you want and they are off to the races. One I use as input air and the other output.

The choice to have 2 fans was clutch and I would recommend every build out have two. 

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The sliding window over the sink was a perfect choice. I was discouraged by a few in the van life a world due to concerns about rain. It has rained almost everyday for a spell while in Colorado and I have not had an issue with the window. Seldom does water come in. I sleep with it open most night and am grateful for the added ventilation. I believe this window is a life safer and love the nice view it offers.

My bed/sofa mattress suck. I worked hard to pick the best least toxic and even spent a lot of money on it, but my body aches. I must replace this and thought a short term fix might be a topper, but my issue is storage of the damn thing. I have no idea where it will fit and feel like I might have to bite the bullet and replace what I have. Damn it more funds I will need. 

Solar power are essential to the ultimate van experience.

I hope to some day have at least 500 watts of solar on the BAM van. In addition a control station for the power system would be nice. Right now everything is pretty raw and not the best look although it all works. I also would like a shore power connection to the outside of the van. Right now I have to roll down a window for electrical hook up and it simply sucks. Right now it is 32 degrees outside on June 3rd and I feel it with the window open even a little. Not ideal.

I love the walk through design of the van.

I find that It is very much a huge asset. I struggle to open and close the sliding door and find myself using the back doors often to enter and leave the van. I don't have a table to use for my laptop/meals and that blows. I hope to install an arm on the edge of the bed frame that will hold a laptop and/or dinner plate.

The closet is my everything.

It holds all I need and offers me a surface to body roll with balls. The doors are not as sturdy as I would like and hope to have them reinforced this year sometime. I hesitate to put my entire body weight on the doors when rolling with the therapy balls. I believe once the construction is a little better I will love the closet even more. Adding this to the list.

I believe insulated window covers are a must and will get some cute to size when I am back in Orange County this month. I anticipate they will help with hot and cold. The magnetic window coverings are great and easy to use however adding the insulation will be an added BAM.

Life in the van offers everything I need to be able to continue touring while honoring my body.

My work out routines have changed 100% with yoga taking on a new look. I do tons of stretching on my bed and warrior poses in the van. Planet Fitness and Hula Hooping are the daily norms in van life and the most consistent work out routines I have.

The hardest things to navigate are filling my 5 gallon jug of water and managing the grey water.

In addition the propane tank for the oven is heavy too. I am using machines at PF to build my arm strength and think I am getting stronger each day. This continues to be a challenge yet I remain confident it won't be for long.

The van does not have a step and core strength is needed to get in and out. I can tell when I am tired by how well my body navigates this each day. Some days I am a champ and others not so much. I am not interested in a step and like the daily challenge and awareness this offers me and will continue to use getting in and out of the van as part of my workout.

I know an awning is another purchase for the BAM van I will need to make.

It will allow me to open the sliding door while providing cover and shade. Right now when I open the sliding door for fresh air it simply makes things hotter inside due to know shade I see many van life folks with awnings and I am 100% certain it is a huge need for the BAM van. No matter how you slice it living in a van is living in a metal box. Shade is key and for little miss MS it is necessary.

I would say I am an 8 out of 10 with the BAM van's build out which I am proud to share. I am pleased with almost all of my choices for the build out and van type.

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It seems every van life experience is an evolution just like this. Many live in their 1st build for a year and then sell it to get some cash for their next build rather than outfitting their existing. I can see why this would make sense and know how valuable and easy to sell a conversion van is.

I will be outfitting the BAM van to it's 10 status because the energy and love that has built this van cannot be duplicated.

The community powered BAM van is the greatest gift to the tour and my body. I know without it my ability to so this work would have been compromised. Having a 60 square foot home on wheels allow me to continue to be a miracle and serve. A huge part of my management of MS is to be able to control my environment as much as possible. The BAM van provides this.

I am so grateful for the BAM van.

I am in LOVE with our home.

Thank you everyone for believing in us and providing what we need to continue to serve.

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I Poop in Bags

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I Poop in Bags

I really thought I had played each scenario out in my mind about what van life would be like. In addition I raised my kid from 8 to 16 vacationing in an RV so I really thought I had a good idea about van life. Heck I even traveled the world building international tech companies and never worried about traveling alone and figured that was a huge thing in van life.

I call bullshit on myself about knowing what van life would be like.

Day one of van life set the tone for almost everyday for the first 14 days living in a van. Everything I filled with water: my Berkee filter, toilet and my sink tank leaked everywhere on my virgin first night. I had floods from one end of the van to the other. Okay I thought no big deal just clean it up and move on sister.

Day two and things get even more interesting.

My gut thankfully is 100% healed. So healed that my morning constitution happens on schedule and without delay daily. The BAM van is equipped with a Porta Potty as of right now that is strictly for #1 and off limits to #2.

I learned this at Burning Man and believe it is a great rule to live by when not using a flush toilet.

Day two living in a van and I chose to begin my journey at a California Parks and Rec campground that only allows RV’s thinking it would offer hookups in case I needed them for electricity. Funny thing is my van is not able to hook up to 30 and 50 amp which most parks offer, but I did not know this until I was actually at the RV park. I was under the impression my electrician had installed this capability and learned the BAM van did not in real time.

Situations like this are exactly why I wanted 2 weeks on the road alone before touring. I knew I needed to get used to van life.

The park I stayed was literally right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and simply perfect. EXCEPT they lock the bathrooms and they lock you in at night from 8pm until 7am. No one can come or go and bathrooms are locked. I did not know this prior to arriving so another real time learning experience.

All RV’s have their own toilet and kitchen which I have in the BAM van so they assume you have a bathroom and toilets being locked is not an issue. They even inspected the BAM van twice to be sure I met the criteria of an RV which I did.

Little did they know I was counting on their bathroom at 4am to be my hang out at my bodies daily request.

I knew within an hour of my first trip living in an RV I was now going to have a ‘situation’ the next morning. Immediately I ran to the internet to find out how to poop in a van when you don't have a toilet.

I will be damn shitting in a van is a huge topic.

I was so relieved to know that I was not the only one faced with this although for different reasons others had figured it out and were happy to share how.

You shit in a bag that is on a bucket. 

That is right folks many people do this and officially I have joined the ranks of being a bag pooper!

The most common set up includes a 5 gallon paint bucket with a toilet seat on top and a bag wrapped around the toilet seat. When you are done you simply take the bag and put it in the trash (totally legal folks).

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I kept reading and did not have time to get this set up and knew the only answer was I had to figure out how to shit in a bag at the crack of fucking dawn in my van. I knew the Porta Potty needed to be the vessel and somehow I had to make it work.

I prayed hard all night the poop God’s would let my body hold off until 7:01am, but they suck and at about 4:10am I am notified I have less than 5 minutes to come up with a solution and fast.

I looked at Porto Potty, grabbed a trash bag and began retrofitting it into a shitting potty. A few minutes later and Gidget and I are shocked because I have just pooped in a bag! This from the girl who once had live in help, was drenched in diamonds and a gold Rolex with a 40 foot RV complete with a Sub Zero!

Today I am pooping in a bag in a van and loving life more than ever!

Later that day I decide to make a delicious lunch and afternoon coffee using my nice propane oven/stove. As I am cooking I thought kids were toasting marshmallows burnt just the way I like them. It is about 2pm and I look outside and no one was toasting marshmallows.

Quickly I realize it may be my van that is burning. I take everything off the stove and lift it up to see a fire. Fuck!!!

Grab the fire extinguisher & run outside with a call for help. Nice thing about RV parks everyone is pretty nice. I had 3 men in the van in seconds with extinguisher's in each of their hands. The fire was no big deal  (a result of a leak caused by faulty installation by a professional recommended by the manufacturer. All has been fixed thankfully.) , but a freaking scary situation close to my initial fear of shitting in a bag. I now had a van covered in extinguisher powder, but things were going to be okay.

I simply sat in the van and don't think I moved for almost 24 hours. Literally paralyzed with my thoughts of WTF you can't do this van life V. You made a huge mistake and now have to figure out how to end this.

By the morning I was more determined than ever to keep going.

Day three I realize that the sliding door on the van does not agree with my hand/arm. Silly me to forget how sensitive they are. Not a problem I have 4 other doors, but a huge eye opener reminder that I still have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Once again I sit down for 24 hours thinking WTF you can't do this and MS is giving you a warning sign to stop.

By the morning I was more determined than ever to keep going.

I was also grateful for my tour partner Elixinol and their amazing CBD balm which took all pain away and I no longer open that door all day long. Code: boss10 saves for anyone looking to use CBD.
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After leaving San Diego I head up to Morro Bay to camp with no hook ups once again beach side. The campground is open 24 hours and so are the bathrooms thankfully. I breath a huge sigh of relief that my bag pooping days were on hiatus during my stay on the Central Coast of California.

The next morning I open my van door to several neighbors complaining that my lights flickered on and off all night. Sleepy V had no idea. Upon further discovery it happens whenever I locked the van. This meant I had to live in the van that has everything I own and is worth over $50K unlocked until I could get it fixed. WTF again I am thinking I can't do this and have made a huge mistake.

By morning I was more determined than ever to keep going.

Took my van in and it was a software glitch and a simple fix thankful once again. In fact it seems to be an issue for many because most often when you lock your van you are outside and I am locking it from the inside which creates weirdness apparently. Who knew?

After 4 days in Morro Bay without any major issues I start to get into my groove and become certain this is where I belong. Next up was Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon which had me way excited. I also had to remind myself that nothing is ever easy and all of this just growing pains. I see the van as a community vehicle and I am the vessel that helps it support others.

I knew I was where I belong even with all the events that stood to take me off my path.

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Thursday I was driving to the Grand Canyon after 3 nights in Joshua Tree National Park and as the van is going from 6 to 7000 feet like a champ I catch a glimpse of the mileage on the van and I was close to 7800 miles at that moment (today I am over 9000 miles) and I simply started to sob like a baby. Snot pouring out of my nose and literally crying out loud like a crazy person tears of pure joy & pride.

I realized that in 2015 which is only 3 years ago I was only able to drive 3300 miles the entire year due to MS effects on my body. The years prior too I was either not able to drive or only about 5 miles a day. Here I am realizing in real time how far I have come and will probably have over 35K by the end of the year which is HUGE. In addition I am driving my house that I live in and take care of all by myself. Cry baby V drove the final way to the Grand Canyon filled with pride and reminders of how amazing my journey has been in the face of many fucking obstacles.

At this moment I realized THERE IS NO DOUBT I CAN KEEP GOING and I am where I belong.

Van life takes me out of my comfort zone daily more than once a day and if there is one thing I know for sure is that my best life has always happened when I am fucking uncomfortable to the max.

Today I am getting rid of my Porta Potty and officially transitioning to bag pooping in a bucket. I prefer it and have found it to be perfect with no mess to empty in the grey tank dump. Who knew?

My life is filled with more joy than I have ever known when by societies standards I have nothing to be joyful about because who poops in a bag and lives at poverty joyfully? Yet I am more certain than ever of who I am & what I am made of.

The BAM van will be my life's greatest adventure and achievement beyond being a mom and today more than ever I am grateful to be uncomfortable and me.

Thank you life for once again reminding me who I am.

I even believe someday I might be the 1st ever to kick MS out of my body for good. That is who I am. Someone who never gives up and lives outside of societal norms happily.

Hang on folks because if anyone can kick MS our of their body this BOSS can!

Watch me try!

BAM.

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It Has Begun...

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It Has Begun...

Thursday, February 8th,  2018, the build out of the BAM van began. I cannot put into words how excited I am.

Just two days before my adult daughter comes home and immediately breaks down sharing with me that she is worried about me living in a van. She also expressed she felt as if she was failing me. I was floored and all this happening about 30 minutes before I am going to give a class on aromatherapy.

The funny thing is that the person helping me build out the van is my kids handyman. In fact he built out his 1st van in the 70's and lived in the van life for years. How funny is that?

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Needless to say once me and NIcki spoke about her concerns we were both reminded the role societal norms play in our lives. We are both taking steps to get her more comfortable with the process. It is important for me to start sharing what van life looks like and to remind Nicki this lifestyle is my choice and there is nothing she can give me to change how I live.

I am humbled, honored & grateful to serve.

Dana is my contractor who is doing the build out with me. I am literally documenting and running to the store. I thought I could help do stuff and was quickly reminded that my body still has MS and does not like repetitive motion. I was putting a new tag on the van and my hand got rigid using the screw driver. How the hell was I ever going to hang insulation? OMG I am insane. Damn it.

The van is going to have lots of activity in the next two weeks. Dana will be working full time getting the van ready to start touring ASAP. As you know the brand of PaleoBOSS is not poised to make money it simply tries to cover the cost of touring. The build out is the most cost effective option however it is still not free.

We are currently at 56% on the crowd funding for the BAM van build out with just a week left.

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I need your help to finish this project and get me back on the road. Please donate today. Every donation gets us one step closer to having the community powered BAM van back on the road supporting others.

This next round of funds provides the resources for the electrical work/system, wood for interior build out and a sink. Even with the $3500 raised vendors and myself are matching this amount for a total cost of the build being $7,000.

Stay tuned for a video & blog talking about the insulation process coming soon. We chose a 3 step process insulating for cold and heat. Having MS my body has body temperature regulation issues so this part of the build out is critical to my ability to live in a van so stay tuned.

You can also follow the BAM van build out daily on Instagram @theBAMvan

Join the movement.

Donate here.

 

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A Movement Growing Up

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A Movement Growing Up

When I began the award winning "Taking it to the Streets Tour" my original intention was to tour for a year supporting community. Here I am almost 2 years later after recently announcing I commit to tour for another 5 years for a total of 7. So much for my original plan.

Allow me to introduce you to The BAM van and The BAM van blog.

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Through the generosity of a sponsor I was able to get a down payment on a Dodge ProMaster 1500 high roof fan that will be turned into a green-recycled community powered movement machine.

The BAM van will be converted into an off the grid touring vehicle to support the tour.

This blog will chronicle the journey from now for the next 5 years from the build out to touring all over the USA and Canada supporting community. Join the journey and consider becoming involved in the movement.

Words cannot express how much the BAM van will elevate the work we do in the community. Not only will it break down another barrier to entry it will also save my body and finances from the struggles of tour life. Which are all HUGE wins for the movement.

The next step is the van build out.

I went to my tribe asking how best to do this together and you all suggested to get this community powered machine ready to take it to the streets. Happy to report our needs are not far reaching and with all my person I believe together we can bring this crowd funding to a place that will make our dreams reality.

A place where healthcare is accessible and communities thrive.

I am hoping to be intimately involved in the build out and working hard to make the BAM van a green van using sustainable choices whenever and wherever I can.

You can follow the progress on Instagram @theBAMvan

There was recently a TED Talk that informs us the key to living a long life is social integration, This sits at the #1 spot in determining this for each of us. The "Taking it to the Streets" tour is 100% about this key concept and once again confirms the value of the work we do together in this movement.

The BAM van raises the roof on life for the community I serve and will support the social integration of consciousness with every person I meet. I am certain together we can turn the BAM van into a community powered game changer by bringing knowledge, access and a sense of real community to others. 

To join the movement click here.

I am proud to say in a few days we are already over 30% funded. I know we can bring this home.

  • Join the tribe of believers who know the power of consciousness to create much needed change in healthcare and daily living.
  • Join a community that is powered by the human spirit.
  • Join a movement that continues to grow internationally with love and intention.

I can promise you the tour changes lives by sharing accessible tools of empowerment to all of our brothers and sisters. The work is done without judgement & with 100% belief in the human spirit to overcome.

Every day as a community we Believe in A Miracle. BAM.

 

Will you help and be a part of something community powered and inspired? Thank you for your consideration so that everyone can Believe in A Miracle.

BAM.

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