A long overdue update
It has been over two years since I have written an update on my life and what progress I have made. I am not exactly sure why I stopped writing, most likely I wrote more in the past out of loneliness. Now that I am traveling with Jennifer full-time I have my life partner and no longer feel that loneliness. Jen is insistent that I continue sharing my experiences with the world. I certainly do not feel that I am a great writer, but she sees something in me, so I will push myself to deliver more this year.
First off, you might notice that I did not post this on Nomadic Destiny and that is because I will be shutting that site down. I had grand visions for that site to write more about traveling in an RV, etc. but I quickly realized that I do not want to be a travel/RV blogger. There is already so much information on RV’ing and spots to visit that I had nothing special to offer, plus I have too many other projects to keep up with. In the future, all posts will be on this website and will be more personal writings along with my photography.
It is hard to believe that it has been two years since Jennifer joined me on the road, the time has flown by. It has been quite the transition going from a solo nomad living in a van (down by the river at times!) to the RV life with a family of fur balls. I have lost some of the freedoms being able to go where I want on a whim, but I would not trade it for the world. The deep joy and satisfaction that comes along with having a family are fulfilling in ways that I could not imagine.
There is no shortage of challenges when living in a tiny space; you cannot escape each other when times get tough. As problems arise we must face them head-on, we often joke that the best way to test a relationship is by living together in an RV for six months. You will figure quickly every little thing that annoys you, and why you love each other so much. We have our fights as everyone does and we learn and grow from them. Life is certainly not perfect living on the road and presents more challenges than you would likely face living a ‘normal’ life in the suburbs. These challenges are helping us to grow faster in our relationship and deepen our bond. I am lucky to have an incredibly supportive partner that I look forward to spending my life with.
Dealing with adrenal fatigue has been extremely frustrating. Just when you think you have things dialed in and you can relax on your protocols, it rears its ugly head again. Last summer we were in the San Juan mountains in Colorado, my favorite place on earth, and I couldn’t hike. I tried what should be a very easy hike for me, and I felt like I could legitimately pass out. It was defeating and depressing, our plans for the summer would have to change.
After that, I was committed to getting my energy back. I found a doctor that was willing to prescribe me T3 to get back on the CT3M method, after a few months on this protocol I was regaining my energy and my life. The keys to overcoming adrenal fatigue for me have been the CT3M, getting plenty of sleep, not overdoing exercise, avoiding sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. I am not convinced that I will ever be ‘healed’ from this, but I hope over time that it will affect my life less and less.
One of the reasons I am shutting down the Nomadic Destiny site is that I do not want to be part of the glamorization of the RV Life. I have become disillusioned with social media only showing the good side of everything; it feels fake and shallow to me. Do not get me wrong, I love the RV life and intend to continue for some years. The thing is, it’s far from amazing all the time as you would be led to believe by looking at #rvlife. At times it can be incredibly challenging.
We are constantly fighting the weather, especially wind. We have to pay close attention, so we are not driving in the wind, or camped somewhere where the wind will be an issue. Last year we were camped on a sandy beach on Lake Powell and thought we could weather a day or two of wind, which was a huge mistake. RV’s are not sealed up very well, and the sand made it into every hole and crack it could find. We had dunes in our pantry, along with a layer of sand on every surface in the trailer. Not glamorous.
This spring our black tank became plugged at the valve, talk about a nightmare scenario. Thankfully a good friend came to the rescue, and we snaked it out together, I will spare you the details, but it is a perfect example of the realities of #rvlife, it could have been worse, but it was not pretty either.
Photography continues to be a journey of creative growth. When I seem to have things figured out and know which path I want to take, the creative muse throws me another curveball. For a time, I was exceptionally passionate about creating nightscapes; I even wrote a book on the subject. Then I was chasing the light trying to create very dramatic landscapes with blazing red skies. I became disillusioned with color, so I shot only black and white. Then it was storms; I would only go out when storm clouds loomed to create exceptionally dramatic skies. After trying all these different styles, I still felt something was missing; I did not feel the weather should bind my time to be creative.
Into my life entered ‘small scenes’. In contrast, grand scenes are beautiful and obvious; they smack you in the face for attention, anyone can walk up to this spot and create a beautiful photograph given the right conditions. The composition can be varied slightly to enhance the scene, but it is obvious what to photograph. Small scenes are not obvious; they require you to slow down and open yourself up to seeing what is around you. I was first introduced to this idea by reading 'Beyond the Grand Landscape' by my good friends Sarah and Ron.
After reading their book I started dabbling in small scenes, but I still was not finding my eye, I was merely recreating what they had already done. I then took a course on contemplative photography, and my creativity was forever changed.
In a nutshell, contemplative photography is the practice of slowing down and being open to seeing what is around you; it is almost a meditative state. The brain is exceptional at filtering out what is going on around us as not to overwhelm it with too much information, and keep the focus on what you deem important. In most of our brains, the ‘importance’ lies in things like a project at work that is stressing you out, paying the bills, an important upcoming meeting, etc., etc.
When we are ‘stuck’ thinking about life’s worries and stressors, the pre-frontal cortex is activated in the brain. This portion of the brain is the filter that prevents most creative thoughts and allows you to focus on survival. In our ancient past, this was useful when a saber-toothed tiger was chasing you or you were starving and had to focus on getting your next meal. In the modern day, we have a myriad of stressors that never seem to go away, thus having our creativity continually blocked.
Contemplative photography helps with this by training your brain to quiet the stressors in your head, very similar to meditation. Quieting the thoughts of all the stressors for a time will help to slow down the pre-frontal cortex and allow creativity to flow. Once you are in this state, you allow yourself to ‘see’ what is around you. The key is to not ‘look’ for photographs but be open to them. I know this sounds hippy-dippy, new age crazy, but it works.
The problem with ‘looking’ for photographs or compositions is that you are again activating the pre-frontal cortex because it is a task, trying to ‘find’ something. If instead, you are open and aware of what is around you without actively looking, you will start to ‘see’ things with the creative part of your brain rather than the rational part. This does not happen overnight; it takes time to train yourself how to do this, I would recommend finding a course to practice this on a regular basis.
Now that my eyes/mind are open to seeing these type of scenes, a whole new world of creative photography has opened up. I am no longer dependent on dramatic weather, or even a dramatic scene. I can photograph nearly anywhere at almost any time of day. Having good light and good subjects are still a requirement, but I am not limiting myself with so many constraints now. When you place these constraints on yourself, you limit your creativity and can easily fall into creative slumps with the weather creating so many disappointments.
I still love photographing grand scenics, nightscapes, storms, etc. The addition of small scenes has rounded out my photography; it allows me to be creative more often which leaves me fulfilled as a creative artist.