Graduate Blog: a travel, health and personal evolution lifestyle blog.
Living in a self-converted van is a continuous work in progress. It never feels like the van is completely finished and the more time we spend in it the more ideas we get to build (or change) things that will make living in the van easier. For example, after five months of living full time in the van, we have begun making a bug screen for the back doors so that at night we can sleep with the doors open and bugs won’t get in and Uggs (our cat) will not be able to sneak out and have his midnight adventures with the coyotes. Screens will also make the inside of the van cooler during these hot summer nights, which have been kicking our ass. Needless to say, there is always a project (or three) going on in the van. Throughout these never ending projects, we have learned (the hard way) that one us has to step up and take lead on each project. Before we adopted this tactic, every time we would start something new, we would bicker and nothing would get done.
Figuring out that we needed to have a leader for each project did not happen right off the bat. In the beginning of the van build, we were a mess and it caused absolute chaos. We were at each other’s throats and there was a point when it didn’t seem like the van would ever get built. Then, we had a breakthrough. We made a list of what needed to be done and we assigned a person to be in charge of each project. Along with the list, we made a deal with each other to trust whoever was in charge of each project, regardless if they knew what they were doing. Let’s face it – 95% of the time neither of us had any idea of how / what we were doing.
I remember my first big project was to frame out the inside of the van, walls and windows. I sat in the gutted van for hours staring at the walls wondering how the hell was I going to figure this out. Luckily, I have a friend who is a master carpenter so after days of clueless staring, I drove the van over to his shop and he gave me a few tips and tricks that pointed me in the right direction. When I came home with the plan, Jess listened as I told her how we were going to frame out the van and trusted me that it would get done right. Although I am sure she wanted to interject her thoughts, she listened as I explained the plan and worked with me to execute my vision. After all of that, it took us only one day to frame out the van and we realized how much smoother it goes when we work together and trust one another.
We have continued to trade off taking the lead on different projects throughout the remainder of the van conversion, which made for a fun and fight-less build. Learning how to take a step back and put trust in the other person carried over into our lives more than just building the van. It brought us closer together. I hear that trust is the basis of every relationship, and building the van taught us to trust in one another. It taught us to work as a team instead of two individuals. Above all, it proved that when we put our trust into one another, we are able to accomplish everything that we set out to do.