What’s your name?
Where are you currently based?
USA, my van. Heading for vanlife in Florida.
How did you first become inspired by Vanlife?
On my own. I’ve always been an avid traveller, camper, surfer, outdoors enthusiast and adventurer! Every vehicle I’ve owned in the past decade has had a bed inside so that during my part-time adventuring I would always have a place to land, even when tenting wasn’t an option. I then started getting inspired to do bigger so that I could bring my animal companions along that were of the feline nature. Then I started thinking about how nice it would be to just park and walk back into my home and be able to cook, eat, relax, even go #1! As vanlife grew in popularity, I started following a couple of peeps in the world and then the pandemic hit. I went very deeply into my spiritual practice with the energies that became available and found the inspiration and trust to leave my 15 year career and home of 10 years to build out my van, create an online business and hit the road with my blind kitty, Beezus The Brave! And here we are.
Do you live in your van full time?
Yes. And it feels so wild still to say that. 🙂
How long have you been living in your van?
Why did you choose this lifestyle?
My initial inspiration was to grow in my skill set and spiritual being by tackling the van build myself (with some support from a couple of people along the way) and then to get out and connect with the land! To hear her talk instead of listen to the noise of a culture that has gotten chaotic and righteous in life, to feel her history through experience and to honour her with my presence. It also felt like I could save on living expenses out on the road while I hustle to create an online presence with my soul’s mission in guiding people back to their innate potential and magic as humans away from all the fear culture programming. I wanted to eliminate paying for my home while I went out traveling, as well as have my special needs kitty with me so that I can support her and give her the freedom in life she desires most after being in a cage for 5 years. And that she has gotten! As I move further into my soul’s mission and put my trust in manifestation and abundance, I want to be available for great opportunities that can happen at any moment. I am inviting the vibrations of collaborations, podcast interviews and connections, bringing my retreat class to other’s containers and those opportunities that have yet to reveal themselves! I want the flexibility to drive to that opportunity with my kitty coming right along. Flying has been side-lined with the pandemic and I am a free-spirit through and through. Like a wild animal, I cannot be caged. So it is through a new mode of transportation and connection that I continue my freedom seeking love for life.
What do you do for work?
I have the podcast, The Raw and Wild Hearts, which hosts an amazing vanlife series inside the container. I am the founder and leader of Awaken Your Life Force Retreats. I am an Embodiment Coach, a Soul Expansion Guide and Meditation Creator. I also create digital content in various forms, including van builds, vanlife, spiritual health and wellness downloads and digital courses.
What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had whilst living in your van?
The moment my blind kitty became my biggest teacher in faith and trust. It was in the beginning of our journey and I still hadn’t come up with a reliable way to let her outside so there was a lot of stress building up in me since I wasn’t able to open my side door without her trying to escape. Not being able to use my side door was stifling and defeating. She also has epilepsy and every time I tried to put a harness on her she almost threw herself into a seizure. So here we were, at our crossroads. The frustration was mounting for the both of us. I was going hard, pushing to get to a retreat gig in Utah, then off to a vanlife meetup in California. I was overwhelmed by our new tiny life, by the mounting frustration in Beezus, by my inability to open the side door. I finally took us out to the wilderness, found a camp spot with good energy and set her free. It was as if I heard her say to me, ‘Mama, trust me”. And within minutes life had changed. She was elated, back outside, her freedom and assessing the smells. Understanding things deeply. I was dumbfounded by the tangible joy in that feeling of trust, by her outside with me, but us doing this life, the full shebang, together. In those moments, as I began my workout, she smelling our world, a raven flew through the forest immediately above our heads, swooshing, swooshing, swooshing. The magic of that moment will always be with me as a reminder that when we let go and remember to trust, life happens for us in exquisite ways. I also happened to be recording so I now get to watch that magic moment whenever the programming that limits us creeps back in. I get to watch us burst with unbridled joy that day out in the woods, the day that began our true freedom and alignment in this vanlife journey for our little family. And wouldn’t you know it, I took a wrong turn in the town nearby only to stumble upon the best feed/pet store I’ve visited, where we found a kennel fence that suits her perfectly. So now Beez has her own space, we have a little patio area and I know she is safe. A win for all, especially our ability to continue on in joy. And she still gets to go wild when we are out away from all…
What is the most difficult challenge you’ve faced living in your van?
Oh yes, I am ready with this one! The constant search and mind battle. The shift of plans in a moment’s notice because of weather, safety and cell signals. I am in the midst of building my brand and online business so it’s important that I have a cell signal to work, as well as some time to create content and market that content. For example, I have lost this work three times already every time my signal goes out. It has taken me 3x as long to complete and definitely some extra stress, all the while being holed up in the van with 3 fans running and blazing heat outside, while I work to keep Beezus cool. Prime example. And often. (We are currently stuck, too. Icing on the cake ) When I have to pack up and leave constantly, searching for a new landing spot or having to drive hours to outrun weather, I am taking away from precious business building time and self care that comes with relaxation, but I have to keep our safety and Beezus’s temperature in mind always. The amount of time I spend on apps trying to get us to good temperatures, safe spaces out in the wilderness if possible and cell signals becomes a huge point of frustration and fatigue. Plus, everything takes longer in small spaces so the time it takes to cook, do dishes, etc adds on when I am already short on it. I can see where this could lead to burnout quickly so I have started putting out requests to park at friend’s houses to regroup and that has proved to be a good move for sure!
What is your favourite product you’ve purchased for your van?
My Moonshade, hands down! This was essential for me for a couple of reasons. My first and foremost priority, The Beez. Having a van cat means you have to regulate the temperature inside the van, no exceptions. They are not dogs, who can leave the van for shade outdoors or take a dip in the lake. Eliminating some of the intense door heat helps the van stay much cooler in direct sun and heat. It also allows her to go outside more often and stay under the shade. The second reason I covet this product so is that I was lead very astray by a well established van build company. I thought I could rely on their 40 years of expertise, but it turns out I was just a quick job and a cool 11k. They placed my batteries in the most intrusive location possible I think. It created major frustrations and blocks for me in my van build. As a result, I was forced to put my refrigerator on the door side, which you guessed it, brings in the heat. Little known fact about refrigerators, they don’t like heat. It’s become a staple that I face the door to the East every time I park. Has it caused problems? Yep. Has I gotten stuck a few times because of the 3-point turn? A huh. And do I just accept, adapt and move on? It is the only way at this point. I also have to put up my Moonshade to block the morning sun now. If it’s windy, none of us get to go outside. These are the adaptations that become necessary out here living small, in the weather and exposed. And yep, I still love my little home, VanDetta, with all her quirks and mistakes.
Have you had any negative experiences?
The jury’s still out on this one! As a solo female I am always acutely aware of my surroundings. I have moved across a parking lot exhausted and weary and I’ve also driven back the 10 miles or more it took to get to an overnight spot because the vibe was off. It’s so important that I feel relaxed and in my flow to enjoy my night and get a good sleep. So I finally decided to go to a more remote area near a lake where there were other campers scattered about. I settled in with no one in viewing distance. I had a lovely evening and was winding down watching some videos when I heard a distinct knock on my van. That was the moment that I was truly made aware of how vulnerable we actually are inside the van in the dark when anyone can see in, but we can’t see out. My anxiety shot up. I put my hood up immediately to try to disguise my gender (something that I do often in parking lots at night) and started the van going back and forth trying to see through my lights out into the night. After 15 minutes of this and approaching exhaustion, I decided to jump out and grab my fences, rug and take off. Nothing happened when I did, but my stress level was so high there was no way I’d have a good night there. I drove away with things flying off the shelves to a parking lot that had retired RVer’s in the mix. I slept so deeply that night. And made the decision to stay for a week since there was a cell signal, safety around and a free stay. Would I have rather been out at that remote area by the lake. Absolutely. Once that adrenaline kicks in, is there a way back? Not sure. Who knows, maybe it was a sly little raccoon that had mastered the art of the human knock, but I guess i’ll never know…
Have you saved money by living in a van?
Sadly, not yet. Food and gas inflation are definitely real and very felt out here on the road. I am also 5 months in and still purchasing necessary additions for the van. It is important to invest in the items for preparedness and safety, as well as the gadgets that make life even just a teeny bit more hassle-free! I’m hovering around the same monthly costs of living as I had in my solo home in Portland, Oregon. I’m hoping to be able to settle in some areas a bit more, reduce my gas consumption and carbon footprint, finally get a bit deeper in connection with the land and get out this content that is burning a hole in my computer!
Tell us about your blog/channel/business?
I have a podcast called The Raw and Wild Hearts, which has a fantastic vanlife series inside of it. I am currently at the Gutted event in Colorado waiting to interview Chris Penn from Tiny Home Living for the series. The podcast is about breaking through limited programming mindsets and beliefs to live in joy and alignment, even while the world around us moves through chaos and fear. And to have a heck of a lot of fun getting there in our conversation exchanges! My blog and services are at www.therawandwildhearts.com. I am quite active as a vanlifer and soul expansion guide on my Instagram Channel at The Raw and Wild Hearts. I also have a Youtube channel under The Raw and Wild Hearts. I have hundreds of hours of footage that is waiting to be made into van build and vanlife content to support women out there in both areas. Maybe someday soon I’ll find myself in a spot where time becomes more free to get much more done in that area of my business. I hope, I hope! But as for my soul’s mission in what I share with the world through my offerings, I am here to be a trauma-informed Intuitive & Embodiment Coach, a Meditation Guide, a Ritual Facilitator, a Retreat Leader and a Fear Culture Destroyer! I’m here to help you remember your Infinite Magic and Divinity as beautiful Source Energy within your physical experience!
What piece of advice would you give to other women who aspire to live in a van solo based on your experiences?
Remember that every post you see on social media has a backstory. They are multi-layered and don’t always show the true journey. Vanlife could be the hardest and most expansive thing you’ve ever done. It is a unfolding and as such, takes time, diligence and care to arrive at the sweet spots. Release expectation, practice radical presence, come prepared and always remember to breathe, Grasshopper.
What are your future Vanlife plans?
I’m headed across country toward Florida for the month of October. I plan to spend the rest of the year in Florida, then heading up through the East Coast, back through the midwest and possibly land in Idaho for next summer. And it’s always subject to change. I got into vanlife to release my responsibilities of maintaining my home in a city I had been ready to leave for several years, but more importantly to create a level of freedom so that I am available for all great opportunities that come my way! And that still outweighs all of the frustrations and setbacks along the way. Heck, I was on my way to Mexico, but an opportunity presented itself in Florida. Now I pivot, Florida-bound!
How can our readers keep up with your adventures?
You can also meet our featured member Katherine, living vanlife in Utah right here!
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