A Healthier Lifestyle

In my post about 7 Reasons to Live in an RV Fulltime I didn’t mention a healthier lifestyle. We are doing this for a healthier planet and healthier relationships but an off-shoot will be living healthier too.

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Day 2 – blogging in the RV

I woke up this morning and could hardly move! The lifting, pulling, hiking, etc. is new to my body. Before Aellyn was born Pete and I were hiking up to 9 miles a day in training for doing the Grand Canyon. Now my life is so sedentary.

You don’t have to uproot your whole life to get healthy but there is nothing like having an ACTIVE LIFESTYLE rather than adding activity, like exercise, to an actually sedentary lifestyle, which is what most westerners do. Like homesteading, farming, etc., living in an RV fulltime is just going to REQUIRE activity. I’m really excited about this aspect!

We’re Fulltime RVers!

It is friday morning and I’m typing this from the dinette table in our camper. The kids and Pete are exploring the woods behind our site while I clean up a traditional camp breakfast.

I’m in heaven!

Yesterday was not easy. It is beyond muddy here – like Ohio right now makes Dagoba look like paradise. The truck we hired to move the RV (because we haven’t upgraded our minivan to a truck yet) got stuck in my sister’s yard. We had to ask a neighbor with a tractor (god bless the country!) to get it out. In all it took 3 hours!!

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Here are some more outrageous pics of getting the RV out of the yard.

But, we finally made it! We also had an easy time with the kids sleeping in their own beds. My kids have slept in our bed since birth so I was concerned it might be an issue but…really, we’re like 10 ft. away from them!

The covers on one of the skylights blew off at some point in the trip yesterday. So, last night, IN THE DARK I climbed on top of the van and used a long stick to position a tarp over the opening and hold it down with rocks. Yay for DIY!

Here’s our official launch video!

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7 Reasons To Live Fulltime In an RV

On May 1 we finally move into our new 192 square feet of RV! We’ll be local and Pete will keep his same job through the summer. So, we’ll be staying at a beautiful park near the Mogadore Resevoir.

People, of course, think we’re nuts. Unfortuantely when you make decisions outside of the mainstream it can be judged as an indictment of their (more mainstream) life choices.

I think the important thing here is to remember that my decisions are made from my values, goals, and dreams and my weaknesses, fears, and circumstances. They have absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. When I say I want out of the capitalist economy it doesn’t mean I think you are evil for staying in it. Everyone makes the world a better place as best they can at the time. You’re doing your best and I’m doing mine.

With that in mind – here are 10 reasons we are becoming Nomads:

1. Find a New Human Dream.

We played the “American Dream” game well. I had a job at NASA and a mortgage and 2 cars and a bunch of debt. I worked to pay my debt and went into further debt to survive the monotony of my life. Since leaving my job I’ve become a so much happier person. I’m healthier, sleep better, and just feel JOY. All. The. Time. When I was working so much and then spending my non working hours working on my “stuff” I didn’t have any free time to grow as a person or contribute to the world meaningfully.

That’s the problem with the American Dream, in my opinion. It keeps us navel gazing and blind or helpless to the reality of the world around us. We wanted to find a way to acheive our dreams that made us better citizens of the Earth. (This reason is #1 because it guides all of our other reasons.)

2. See New Places.

The most amazing experiences in my life have been visiting new places. I’ve been fortunate to live many places and visit some wonderful and beautiful things. This reason also falls into the “stop living for your next vacation” things. If you are lucky enough to be one of the few people making enough money to travel on your vacation…are you working so hard to afford a vacation?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

3. Meet Virtual Friends.

One of the best parts of living in the age of social media is that I have truly wonderful friends all over this globe! How wonderful to get to share a s’more with them around our campfire? Oh, btw, internet friends…prepare, lol.

4. Meet New People.

I am a white woman married to a white man living in just about the whitest small town imaginable. That’s ok. I was raised here and learned to respect and love all people. I don’t think living in a mono-culture precludes soemone from being a social justice advocate but it sure is easier when you experience cultural differences in a relationship instead of in a book.

Now, RVing is a predominately white past-time so, that’s not what I mean. I mean by going out into the community where we are staying and getting to know the locals – local people, local food, local customs, local problems and successess. In my “homeschool” the number one most important curricululm is what I call “Poverty, Inequality, and Money: Causes and Solutions.” My kids will get to experience this in living color.

5. Meet the Earth.

If the poverty and inequality lessons are the number one goal of my parenting then the second is “Amazing Earth: Plants, Animals, and Symbiosis. (lol, I’m loving my course titles. Of course, in case you don’t know, I’m a “un”schooler so there won’t be any curriculum at all). You simply can’t ignore the needs of our planet when you strongly realize that WE ARE OUR PLANET. We aren’t separate. We are one. The love of one is the love of the other. The health of one is the health of the other.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Henry David Thoreau

When you think of environmentally-friendly living the word “RV” probably doesn’t come to mind. And yes, RV’s are gas guzzling hogs. Especially if you use one on vacation to travel 3000 miles in two weeks! There are fulltime RVers that live very “on the grid” and may have an equal or larger carbon footprint than someone living in a traditional home. But, there are others that live a decidedly “off grid” life in an RV. I’ll write more about the “Green RVing” life we’ll be persuing!

6. Escape the Monetary Economy.

This is not the space to get into this in detail but we believe that the current monetary economy/capitalism is incompatible with human-honoring goals. We hope to experience things like communes, ecovillages, barter/borrow economy, and cooperative living. Check out the resources on this post for more info.

In our rich consumers’ civilization we spin cocoons around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions.
- Max Lerner

7. Family Centered Living

I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish. (Right, Zoe?). It isn’t the religious aspects I like but the family-centeredness of everything they do. We see them work 1478954_10102028271020644_1208691901_nso hard to make food without modern conveniences like tractors or washing machines and think “yuck!”. What I love about the life of the Amish though is every task they do is in service to their family and community. They (rarely) wake up and leave all day to work for someone else. They wake and work hard with and for their family. I want this for my family.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. – Helen Keller

I could think of more but this sums up the primary philosphy that’s guiding our path right now. It is our path for our family. Yours may be different and that’s ok! That’s better than ok. It’s what makes our world so rich: diversity.

Vaccines and Feminism

I think the vaccine debate is often a hidden misogyny. Saying things like “2 seconds on Google” or calling those who don't vax “anti-vax truthers” implies that non-vaxers are stupid, alarmist, and selfish.

I love and respect science which I worked in for a decade. But, believing in science doesn't mean I have to ignore non-science. Science can't explain why acupuncture works but it does. Science says vitamin E doesn't reduce pre-menstural breast tenderness but I have 20 years of experience that says otherwise. That's fine. If the science isn't there then the medical profession should steer clear but we – individual people – don't have to steer clear. It is the same with vaccines.

Like the story of a mother whose daughter got a vaccine on Friday and by monday morning had pulled all of her hair out. She is a statistical anomaly and therefore her mother is just being hysterical. That's misogyny. We have no respect for motherhood, mothers, or the choices women make for their families.

While worrying about measles I think we should also worry about how we treat women and women's choices in the process.

I don't consider myself anit-vax. To be anti-vax would mean I want to end the practice of vaccination. I don't. The science is clear that vaccines produce the intended effect (reduction of childhood illness and loss of work productivity of parents due to illness) at an acceptable societal risk. If I were a government policy maker I would look at the science and recommend vaccination.

However, I would also respect a person's right to choose. I would never want to live in a country that mandated medication. Would you?

The fact is that Dr. Offit (an infamous pro-vaccine expert) and I agree on many things:

* vaccines produce antibodies

* vaccines reduce the occurrence of clinical illness

* vaccines reduce work absences

* vaccines are effective in the majority of those who take them

* vaccines don't work in 5-35% of people who take them – even after boosters.

* a small percentage of people will have a vaccine reaction that is moderate to severe.

A minute on the last one: Yes, vaccine proponents know and admit that sometimes vaccines harm – even kill. An infant that dies after the HepB vaccine because of a yeast allergy is an example of a person for whom a vaccine was NOT the best choice for health. No one disputes this.

And yet Mr. Offit and I disagree on a few points.

* the risk is negligible.

* the risk/benefit is not needed on a per-patient basis – a one-size-fits-all plan is sufficient

* the small number of adverse reactions is an acceptable risk for the wealth of good vaccines do.

I'm a conscientious parent. I don't do anything on a one-size-fits all plan for my three kids. I weigh the specific information about my child with the risk/benefit of a treatment. As with childbirth, education, nutrition, etc. I've done extensive research from good old medical journals and the CDC's own website. I never once consulted Jenny McCarthy (/eyeroll). My choice is that the benefits of vaccination did not outweigh the risk which was elevated in my case due to a family history of adverse vaccine reactions.

This is a right that should be respected. Respected because this is a free country where we can make our own decisions about our bodies. Respected because I should be respected as a woman and a mother as capable of making decisions for myself and my kids

Of course, some then say that I'm being “selfish” and putting others in harm's way. This is a difficult one because my obligation to society is very important to me. I would never take lightly the idea that my actions effect others. I don't “hide in the herd” and hope other people keep vaccinating.

The fact is I don't believe that non-vaccinated kids are anymore dangerous to can't-be-vaxed people than vaccinated children. There is plenty of science that agrees with me.

“Herd immunity” – a term stolen from natural disease vectors and used in vaccination despite no experimental verification of it working the same in induced immunity – is very debatable. But, let's say we believe whole-heartedly in herd immunity. There are still other ways in which vaccinated children also pose a threat to the non-vaccinated. For example, serotype replacement with HiB, carrier status with whooping cough, and vaccine shedding with live viruses like flumist and chicken pox.

These are agreed upon cases where a vaccine actually harms the herd. The decision that Dr. Offit makes is that this is an acceptable harm. That's fine. I don't make the same decision.

My children are a harm to an immunocompromised person when they are sick or carrying illness. I meet my obligation to the community by keeping my kids healthy and then keeping them home when they are ill. Vaccinated children are a harm to an immunocompromised person when they are sick or carrying illness. They are less likely to be sick (with vaccine available diseases) but just as likely to be carrying illness.

So here are some things that are terribly misogynystic to say to a mother (sarcasm in parenthesis):

* you just don't remember the death and destruction before vaccines (because, yes, I'm incapable of using history to make decisions and if I can't see it it doesn't exist)

* you don't understand the science (let's talk about the immune system and see who knows more)

* you just follow Jenny McCarthy (yes, I'm a vapid celebrity devotee because I'm a girl and girls are like, totally superficial)

* you are harming your children (OMG, this parenting thing is sooo hard! When will they feed themselves?)

* you are harming your community (whatever that's their problem I don't want a stinky chemical in my precious and pure children)

* you are just a conspiracy theorist or “truther” and thus anti-science (I'm a girl, math is so hard!)

I know an awful lot of non-vaxing moms and none of them are alarmist or uneducated on vaccines. None of them are shitty moms that don't care about their kids. They are smart, compassionate, wonderful mothers who have made a decision for their families that should be respected even if you disagree with it.

I'm all about common ground. I know that vaccines are a heated issue. I don't expect pro-vax people to completely understand my viewpoint. I do expect that we can both respect the humanity in each of us.