WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN U.S. AND WHY?
I am a camp host for a private campground for groups, on a small lake in the mountains 30 miles from my home (which itself is in a town of 2,500 people and is 100 miles from the next larger town). The camp was formed in 1949 and is run by volunteers. The campers clean up everything after themselves and restock bathrooms so my job is mostly to be a presence. I am the only paid employee and am living in my 7×13 foot camper, able to be outside most of every day, miles from any electric lines.
After more than four decades working as a caregiver (overnight nurse mostly, massage therapist and meditation coach sometimes), I am done. To sleep at night, to hear the whirling burble of sand hill cranes flying overhead morning and evening, to walk around the lake or hike up to the mountains alone, to cook outside, fills my soul. I am restoring myself. It is time.
So far, I have barely returned to writing the book which I started about three years ago, but most mornings I am writing in my journal. A start. I excavated all the cubbies in the camper and organized all my gear into trailer-living or car-camping. I feel healthy and alert and ready for whatever is next.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE?
— being outside in nature, or at least to be able to look at it from inside a quiet space.
— being a Ba-Chan, watching my grandsons explore their world, as they master all those skills we take for granted, as they joy in what might seem mundane to us jaded folk who have been too long embodied and embrained. Hand-eye coordination doesn’t mean putting the food in your eye! They remind me to look closely and to allow wonder.
— when I do sit down with my book, how the characters take over and tell their stories, not at all as I expected.
— my family and I love being able to travel to be part of their far-flung lives. I love my friends and the place I live.
— words and ideas and history and biography. I love “found metal” sculpture and would like to learn welding in order to do that. I love gardening, taking a desolated spot and encouraging beauty to take root and flourish.
WHAT ARE YOU GOOD AT (DO YOU THINK) ?
I’m good at wondering about all kinds of things, asking questions. I like figuring things out in the “material world” (as opposed to the intellectual world) — how to connect the propane for the camper, how to start a generator, inventing a medical mobility device that I hope to take to market.
I’m good at seeing the humor in situations — often rather quirky — and inspiring laughter in others. I’m a good writer, though I do tend to be “long story long.” I’m usually a good listener, though sometimes I interrupt (awareness is the first step for change, right?).
WHAT CHANGE DO YOU MOST LOVE TO CREATE IN THE WORLD?
The change I most love is that moment of true connection. It can be with myself, with other beings, with nature. If I’m not connected with myself, I’m not available for that anywhere in my life.
One element that drew me into nursing was that a nurse is privileged to be with people at their most vulnerable, shorn of their usual identities. Birth, grave illness, death bring us to what I feel is a deeper place, where I thrive and where I find that true connection can happen more easily.
I’ve also recently been very involved in my local library, particularly working to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to my county, gathering financial support and enrolling children ages 0 to 5 to receive a free book, mailed to their home every month.
WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR LIFE FOR?
What would I give my life for?
Another great question.
My children, and now my grandchildren, for sure, should occasion require. Would I stand by and let a madman shoot innocents? I like to think not. But I also like to know how to protect them, using guns appropriately.
I used to be more engaged in the larger world. Engaged, enraged. But now I’m more focused on what is right before me, and seek less engagement with others and more with myself.
WHAT DO PEOPLE VALUE AND PAY YOU FOR?
I’m in transition. I’ve been highly valued for being sensitive to other people, to their needs (medical, emotional, sometimes spiritual), for being able to feel how energy moves — or doesn’t — around their bodies and beings. As a nurse, I could join that skill with more traditional medical skills to promote healing. I’m valued, as a volunteer, for my enthusiasm and energy. Now, I’m valued for being willing to live out here alone and keep an eye on the camp. It is perfect.
WHAT IS THE MOST STRUGGLING THING IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW?
Money, no question.
It feels like the only struggling area. I chose to retire, and am truly done with nursing even though economically it is difficult. I think if you do not love being a nurse, you should do something else, because you won’t be able to bring as healing a presence to those in your care. I loved being a nurse for many years. But now there is something else calling me. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I need to listen. Maybe money will come, maybe not.
If I had been more judicious with money in the past, I’d be in good shape. But I have never made a life-decision based on financial advantage. So I’m a camp host, making in a month much less than I’d make as a nurse in a single overnight shift.
Much of my spending has been for things that seemed important at the time. Hindsight proves they weren’t that important. The time has come to sort thoroughly, to give away the unimportant. I know, I know. I could sell a lot of that stuff. But I am not a good seller. For some people, that is their passion. Not me.
I do miss being able to give money generously. I do not regret any money spent on travel or experiences. I embrace the current challenge of paying down debt and being on a cash basis as much as possible. I won’t starve now, and I have a sweet wee house in town for shelter and a sweet little camper for getaways.
I have lots of friends and family who love me.
I am blessed.