Lesson 8: Don’t Make Coffee Unless You Have A Place to Poop

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I make coffee out of my car every morning. And not just coffee, but the best coffee using fresh grounds I keep in a airtight container. I have this great little stove I whip out that fits right next to my feet. I heat the water and can have a cup of joe ready in under 2 minutes.

Watch the quick video below:

I love it, and no doubt one of my favorite parts of my day. But if I am not strategic when and where I make it, I could be in for a much browner…I mean bigger problem. I don’t know about you but even just the faint smell of coffee will send my stomach churning. If I’m not somewhere close to a bathroom or woods when my tum-tum makes its first turn, I’m in trouble. “Prairie-doggin” it only gets me so far.

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Lesson 7: Spending Too Much time Alone is Dangerously Unhealthy

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I’ve learned I am much happier doing nothing with someone than doing anything by myself.

Its true. I think that is because humans, much like many animals, were just not designed or meant to live alone. Now don’t get me wrong, I think being alone sometimes is important and certainly needed, especially for an introvert like myself. I would argue however, that being alone for long periods of time is not just a bad idea, but straight-up unhealthy. Let me explain.

I am the type of person that “recharges” when I spend time away from other people. But just like with iphones, if I leave it recharging too long, the battery begins to wear and over time the iphone (myself) looses the ability to recharge the way it was meant to.

The problem with spending too much time alone is after enough time, there is a tendency to only think about me. This is expected I guess, because there is no one else around to think about. What inevitably ends up happening in these long periods of isolation is I somehow trick myself in to believing that all space in my space and all time is my time. I begin to feel entitled. I start to become short-fused and much more frustrated by other people who infringe on my time and space (especially in traffic). The problem with this is, there is no one around to contend with this lie I have convinced myself of – that I am the best and most important person in my world. This lie, given enough time, roots itself deep into my being and I slowly become more unaware and even less curious of the other people around me. I become more and more self-centered and am only in-tune to my needs rather than accepting the reality that I am not the only person in the universe.

You can see how this is a problem.

To put simply, being alone makes me behave like an ass. And nobody wants to be around an ass. Henceforth a vicious cycle of being alone manifests itself, and if one is not careful, the damage can cost many unhappy years of living life alone and bitter because the world is not catering to ones needs.

Lesson 6: Community is more important than Financial Security

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When I started this little adventure of mine over a year ago, I really had only a few priorities. One of those priorities was to arrive at the place where I felt financially stable –whatever that means. Before college I had experienced a few years of what the “real world” was like. I maintained a job, paid rent, paid bills, and did the whole paycheck to paycheck thing. With college and a few more years of experience under my belt I was ready to enter the ring with the “real world” again, but this time with a new and refined left hook. What I would soon learn, reaching the place where I felt financially stable never came. Probably because when it comes to money, no amount ever seems to satisfy. While chasing this goal of mine, I unfortunately lost sight of what was most important – community, and the true value of a few close friends. I went from having a reasonably established group of good friends that I spent time with most days out of the week to living and spending the majority of my time alone. I was after financial security and gave up what matter most to chase it. At the time though, I just didn’t know that. As cliché as it sounds: what I thought was missing from my life, turned out to be in front of me the whole time. Community and a group of supporting people is a far better security than a number in my bank account. Because really, at the end of the day, money comes and goes, but good friends will stick around forever if you let them.

Lesson 5: Blogs are Hard To Maintain

IMG_5628Believe it or not, keeping up with my blog is like pulling teeth for me. I started this blog with the idea that I would document the days and write about my experiences on the road and as I wake up from place to place. I am officially over a full year in now and I’m not even close to the amount of material I expected to have together. Many of my pictures and “almost blog posts” are sitting in a file on my computer waiting to be finished or edited. Being a perfectionist is definitely part of it, and wrestling with what I want to share with you is also what keeps me from posting when I feel I should. Mostly however, my lack of material on my blog after a full year is due to the fact that I don’t really enjoy writing very much. If anything, I like more what I have written. When the words look and sound better on the page than they do in my head, I like this feeling, but sitting down to write just stresses me out. I’m often grumpy, not in the mood or have absolutely zero material or inspiration to write most of the time. More often than not I find something to get distracted by and never write a word. Other times I somehow muster the courage to show up and force myself to push through the grump. Sure writing has its great moments on occasion. The moments where the words flow and the fingers follow. But the majority of the time I stumble through the keyboard and struggle with spelling. I get frustrated and move on to Facebook or Instragam or play a game on my phone. In these moments, sitting down to write is the last thing I want to do. I think what else it is, is taking the time to organize my thoughts. This is the hardest part of the process for me. It takes an exuberant amount of effort and energy that I don’t always believe I have. Communicating I feel is one of my stronger gifts, but organizing them into a structured and linear format for the page is perhaps where I struggle the most. Add the fact I suck at spelling and I feel no one actually reads my blog anyway, all give good reason to why I don’t want to write and give excuses for why my blog isn’t updated. Excuses mostly, but nonetheless, a blog is very, very hard to maintain.

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Lesson #4: Releasing all ties to commitment is not true freedom

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I used to think that if I released myself from everything that tied me down or left me feeling stuck, then and only then would I experience true freedom. After a full year and the ability to go or do whatever I wanted, completely free of any and all contractual obligations or commitments, I now know the freedom I was looking for does not exist. The truth is, commitment has always scared me and has been a struggle of mine. Big shocker right? Blame it on my upbringing or negative past experiences, my age, the culture or time I live in, or whatever…but the idea of commitment or permanent tie to anything has frightened me for as long as I have been making my own decisions. When I think about it, the real problem for me lies with the forcing or pressure of a choice that I feel am not ready for.

My guess is that this hesitation to commit comes a place of fear. The fear of wasting time, but ultimately wasting my life. For a long time, I’ve been afraid to loose something that I was worried once lost, I could never get back -my freedom and independence. By making a commitment to something, I feel I am signing my life away. Unfortunately for the significant people in my life, my fear of commitment to material possessions and worldly contracts have transferred over to my personal relationships. The sad part is, I didn’t know this was possible, but it is, and it has cost me deeply. For years my brain has struggled to distinguish and separate the difference between the good kinds of commitment verses the bad, and as a result, my personal relationships (in the area that matters most) have suffered the most. I believed the lie for many years (and only a year in #hotelprius could have taught me this) that if I cut ties to all my commitments completely and live life untethered of everything keeping me “tied down,” I would in fact experience the true freedom I was looking for. This I have learned is emphatically untrue.

Allow me to use an analogy of a kite on a string to further emphasis my point. Kites, as you know have been engineered to fly through the air with grace and ease. But what allows to kite to fly at all is simple string that connects the kite to the one flying it. Without this string, the kite would not fly. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am the same way. You see, by cutting myself (the kite) loose from the tether of commitment (the string), it is impossible for me to experience the kind of flight and true freedom I was made for.

Dare I say it, but some commitments are necessary. My wager is that the commitments that are necessary in life revolve around the people that care about you most. Case in point: Commitments are not always a bad thing.

Lesson #3: Traveling will not help you find Yourself

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I hear it all the time, and I even used to say it myself. “I just want to travel you know? I need to ‘find’ myself .”

First off, what does that even mean?
And second, Traveling will not help “find yourself,” it will only help you gain a better perspective of who you already are back home.

Like many people my age, I was hit hard with the wanderlust bug right after graduating college. Wonderlust is that feeling many my age experience that longs to be apart of something greater than themselves, and feels that only travel will satisfy. Let me tell you, I had it bad! I was bored and unhappy with where my life was going and I longed for more daring adventures, deeper challenges, and a life full of better stories. For some reason, traveling and experiencing the world seemed to be the thing I wanted most, and #hotelprius seemed the best vehicle (both literally and figuratively) to allow me to chase that insatiable dream I felt was missing from my life. But here is what I have learned to be true: Travel is not what I was missing.

I’m convinced the thing I was missing was NOT to explore new and unfamiliar terrain in my world, but new and unfamiliar terrain in my heart. That may sound corny but I needed and longed to feel things deeper than my current level of involvement. I needed to experience life on a more intimate plain. That meant, I needed to get more deeply and intimately involved in something I truly loved and believed in, either romantically or behind a cause. I needed to feel and experience life in new ways, but I was convinced that traveling (probably because it seemed the most fun) was going to satisfy the itch I couldn’t seem to reach. But don’t get me wrong, traveling wasn’t at all that bad or in any way a complete waste of my time. In fact my experience helped me learn that traveling is an art-form and this world is a beautiful work of art that should be celebrated for the beauty that it is. It was also through my traveling that helped me understand that it is the difficult challenges and often uncomfortable circumstances in our lives that allows us to see ourselves for who we truly are, showing our true self in the form of our responses. It is in those uncertain and sometimes extreme circumstances outside of out control (that travel often expedites) that exposes the parts of us, that we ourselves have not yet seen – the parts of us we are convinced we need “to find.” You don’t have to travel to gain perspective. Travel is just the excuse to jump in. If you are looking to “find yourself,” commit yourself to a relationship, get a new job, or join a movement.

Lastly, character isn’t something you find, it is something you develop.

Lesson #2: Comfort is Relative

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Think about it.

Like most things, something can only be labeled good or bad, when it is compared to something else. When you say something is good (or bad), lets say a burger, what you are really saying is, that this particular burger is only good or bad relative to the other burgers you’ve tasted in the past. Right? How else would you measure if your burger is good or bad or not? The same is true for comfort. Lets use the comfort of a small bed and space of #hotelprius. If all you have ever known is a nice, lush, comfortable queen size mattress and were to spend a night in #hotelprius, you probably not get a very good nights sleep. Why is this? It is because, relative to your cushy mattress at home, my bed would just not reach your level of comfort standards. However, if all you have ever known was sleeping on the cold hard ground, #hotelprius would be quite an upgrade. Better than what you had before, right? Now, I am not saying that all I have ever known is a sleeping on the ground, or that I’ve never experienced the comfort of one of those nice Temperpedic mattresses before. I’m just saying that I’ve spent many a night on the ground in a tent somewhere on a mountain and #hotelprius is way more comfortable. Also it just became my new normal. In time I really did forget about all the various comforts of a home, and a real bed, and lots of space and just got used to the new way of living. For the record I sleep very well. I’ve invested well in my air pad and it helps I don’t move around a lot when I sleep, and that a small space doesn’t bother me. The difficulty is saying no to friends when they invite me to crash in a real bed. I have to say no every time, because I know that once I get a taste of a real bed, especially those Temperpedics, I’m going to loath going back to the bed of #hotelprius. I would just rather not go through that torture. Comfort is relative.

21 Things I Learned While Living Out of My Car For a Year (a Series)

IMG_5695I’m excited to announce a new series to the blog: The 21 life lessons learned from my travels in #HotelPrius. If you have been following my adventure on Instagram, you know I’ve been working on this post for quite a while, as I have made mention to it several times before in recent posts, but have never actually posted anything about it. Until very recently, I hadn’t felt ready to share it with you just yet. I needed to wait, because really, and I say this the nicest way I can, this blog has nothing to do with you. It started mostly as a way for me to keep track of my travels and adventures and hold me accountable for the times when I did not feel like writing. These next few posts are pretty extensive and required a lot of work preparing them and getting them ready to make public. These next 21 posts are an accumulation of blurbs and journals I’ve kept from my travels over the the last year and has caused me to look deep inside myself and even wrestle with things that I was afraid to confront. While these life lessons may not all be universal truths for everyone, they have served as important lessons for me and my experiences living out of my car for a full year. Some will be deep. Some funny. Some trivial, and some even borderline-cheesy, but they are honest and they are real, and come from a place of complete vulnerability. For that reason alone, I hope you can appreciate it for what it is. I did my best to eliminate any fancy or artificially contrived rhetoric or try-too-hard platitudes. As your read, please, don’t expect to be blown away. Don’t expect your life to change forever. I’m not a poet. I’m barely a writer. But I promised and owed it to myself to keep an accurate account of my time in my car over the last year and that is what I did. One day, some of these things may end up in a book, who knows. But for now, they are on this blog that few will actually read. But thats okay. Because this last year was one of the most gratifying and challenging years of my life. Some of the things i experienced can and will only ever be learned first hand. No blog or journal or book could ever articulate some of the lessons I’m not able to put into words just yet. This year was a beautiful experiment if you will; An experiment in life untethered. An experiment to be and live as efficient as possible and carry the most, but as little as required. This year has taught me more than I could ever have imagined. I am very thankful. Enjoy the next few reads.

Lesson #1: Limitations Force Creativity

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When there is little to work with, it forces you to be creative with what you have. This doesn’t just apply to the limited space of #hotelprius, but also a great truth for me in life as well. Due to circumstances, most often out of our control, we don’t always have the abundant resources to make life work the way we want, dream, or plan. Sometimes in order to achieve what we want or gain access to what we consider most important in life, sacrifices most often need to be made, and we just need to start thinking creatively.

The reality is, life for the majority of us can be limiting and can often catch us off our guard. #hotelprius was creatively created by some of those life’s limitations that caught me by surprise. Read the full story here. The short version of this story is, I had just moved across the country after college and life was not panning out the way I expected it to. I was unemployed, money was running thin and I was out of practical options for what to do next. The last thing I wanted for my life was to fall behind, and living out of my car became the most efficient solution I could think of. So that’s what I did. With limited money, I didn’t have the option of buying a solution to my problem (i.e buy and live out of a van). Instead, I had to use what I already owned (a Prius and some used camping gear) as a solution. This forced me into thinking creatively. I had no choice but to take what I already owned and make it work as best I could. I played with the space inside my car and strategized with how to turn my Prius into a livable, practical and sustainable lifestyle. Maximizing my efficiency was my biggest priority and it was important that I was frugal with both my spending and my space. The Prius just made sense. I gathered my available resources and prioritized my needs – what you might do in a survival situation. A comfortable bed, a place for my clothes, curtains and extra storage space came first. Once those were in place, I used the additional remaining small pockets of space to add things that could serve multiple purposes and functions. For the space by my feet, I used a hardtop suitcase that also served as a desk and small work station. Later, I would add solar panels to charge my phone, a pull out table for my stove, and added new an improved curtains from old pillow cases. Maybe some of these things I didn’t necessarily need, but things I could justify to continue to help me live more efficiently.

In a year of living out of my car, I’ve carried this life lesson with me wherever I go. Before buying my way out of problems that arise, I look for other, more creative solutions first. Solutions that require only what I already own, then moving on to potential low cost solutions second. To question whether or not someone else has ever done it before is completely irrelevant. I may not be the only person living out of my car, or even my Prius for that matter. But I guarantee you, there is no one who has done it for cheaper and does it this efficiently. And I guess I’m proud of that.

P.S. No, that is not a picture of Jesus, that is a picture of me back when I had long hair. Crazy, I know.

 

1 Year Today!

IMG_5343 It’s hard to believe, but exactly one year ago today I embarked on a journey that would forever change my perspective of life and the world around me. I have learned so many valuable life lessons not just about myself, but about people, about God, about different cities and cultures, about traffic, about the thirst for adventure and the importance of great friends and healthy relationships. Although a very enlightening experience, there is such a thing of spending too much time alone and after a full year of the “rolling-stone, carry no moss” lifestyle, I’m at the place where I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and apply it to a more consistent, well-balanced life around great friends and people I can invest in. I’m thankful for all the places I got to see and the people I met along the way. If #hotelprius has taught me anything it is that I don’t ever want to have experiences like these again, by myself. Life was meant to be shared and experienced in community. As for what’s next, I’m headed back to Austin to be with friends and regroup for the holidays. I have a few tentative plans for what is next, but need to rest and really assess what is best for me in the the next season of life. I do have plans to turn this last year of my life into a little coffee table book, to remember for years to come. I hope to have it printed with many of the pictures and morning musings not published on the blog soon. I can only hope you will all buy it, as it would be nice to share what I have learned and pass it on to others who could maybe benefit from the experience. Who knows? Thank you to everyone who has supported me and followed me during this crazy journey of mine this last year. I’m thankful for all your kind words and support, more than you know. Let Life’s Big Adventure continue…. -Chris