Adventures in letting go | Bess Ann's Story

Bess Ann and her husband Kerry sold their 2200 sf dream home and 90% of their possessions to reform their lives as modern-day nomads. Bess Ann talks about the process of change...

“At first it was just a conversation about wanting to see the country when we retired. I wasn’t a camper and had never stayed in an RV, but Kerry and I found ourselves talking often about ‘someday.’ As we went to RV shows and met snowbirds, we found that many of them were limited by health issues and money. We wondered what it might look like to purchase an RV in the ‘now.’

With changes in the economy we knew my husband might get caught in a layoff, so we put money back. By the time the layoff actually happened, we had found an incredible deal on an RV and made the purchase. We thought we would make some short trips while Kerry looked for another job. [Note that Bess Ann offices from home.]

Later that summer we went to Park City Utah and Yellowstone for six weeks--which was beautiful. We came home to Texas where it was 115 degrees. The house had been shut up and it was miserable. We wondered if we really needed this much house. The market was bad so we started with a “let’s just see.” Within a week we had an offer at the asking price. We looked at each other and said, ‘we’re doing this.” Then I immediately thought, but wait, we aren’t ready.

We realized that if we sold the house and traveled full-time Kerry would officially be retired. Storage for our belongings seemed an albatross, so we put 90% of it in a garage sale keeping only some original artwork and memory items. It was really hard to start selling things, but there was a point where I realized...”this is just stuff.” Once I came to terms with it, it was very freeing. I realized how many things thought I needed that actually got very little use.

I didn’t expect the struggle of leaving what we knew. We both grew up in families that stayed together and lived in the same geographic area. What we had seen modeled was what most of us grow up to expect. You get a house, a car, a truck, a few vacations and you work until you are 60. Selling it all and moving into 350 square feet...all mobile...was a huge departure from what we’d always been told was normal. We decided ‘normal’ is overrated.

The biggest thing I’ve learned in the process is where my values are and what I’m trusting in. I’ve learned that the world won’t fall apart if I let go. I’m a planner, and it has been difficult to allow the plans to go. But the reality is that we are in a self-contained motor home. If we are two hours late or two days doesn’t matter. We create structure where it is important...getting up at the same time, sharing meals together...

Being this mobile let’s you know who you are. That things can change around you, but not change you--the you that exists when you peel away all the layers of the onion. I’ve also learned that change may be hard or different, but that doesn’t make it bad.

Another neat thing I’ve learned in meeting people across the country is how different we are, and yet still alike. That’s a little flower that keeps opening up for me."

© Cathy Hutchison 2012

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