What is your why?

We are coming up on a year of owning our Serenity (Toots), we have covered 30,000km and have had some of the best adventures I have had in my life.  When we set out on the journey to purchase a motorhome, we had no real idea of what we wanted or what we were looking for.

As we looked online and visited dealerships, we got a clearer picture of what we were going for and why. The why seems to have been the biggest thing we used as a guiding principle in the search. We had to become honest with why we wanted one in the first place.

We spent a long time trying our best to break the “keeping up with the Jones” attitude so many people in our society hold. I had watched people struggle to make ends meet while owning a $50,000 boat, snowmobiles, ATVs and about $100,000 in vehicles. They had the latest everything, but if they didn’t work overtime and stay away from their families as much as possible, they could not afford to eat. There was a disconnect there, so Kaitlin and I actively remind each other of WHY we want to purchase something and if it’s a need, want or nice to have.

We took this mentality into our RV buying experience. When we would stop in at a dealership, we would silently run through WHY we wanted an RV and if it fits into this scheme for us.

The first thing on our list was freedom. We are avid believers in the word freedom and all its meaning. Freedom can different for everyone, but to us, it means we are setting up our life in a way where we are truly in charge. We have been actively working our butts off to build careers which allow us to be free and move around as we see fit. (* is our online yoga wellness video platform, meditations, yoga classes, educational and fun as can be, please check it out and help support some amazing causes!*) After quitting my electrician job and chasing this videographer thing, I felt compelled to bring that feeling of freedom into the rest of my life. An RV lent itself nicely, obviously, but WHICH RV?

This freedom and being able to move where and when we see fit is massive for us. Once we started looking, we knew not just any RV would do, we needed mobility and the ability to be a bit stealthy at times. We didn’t want to be kept out of any parks; some National Parks don’t allow units over 26-feet long. We wanted something Kaitlin would not mind driving into a city, and something I felt confident driving on at least a smooth, dirt road.

We wanted a space large enough for all our things; work computers, bikes, surfboards, dog (we have a big dog named Teagan, see picture below). Yet small enough to get into a mall parking lot if needed. A Class B+ RV seemed really the only option at this point, and there are lots out there once you start to look intentionally.

Next thing was a safe place to sleep. I don’t mean where we park it, or which campsite we may stay in. I mean the environment in which we spend our sleeping hours, the actual physical makeup of the space we would be living in. Something I noticed all my life, but never really put too much thought into, was that when you walked into an RV, most of them have a very distinct smell. Kind of like the new car smell, but for RVs. Do you know what that smell is? That is the materials inside off-gassing not so pleasant gasses.

The seat cushions, the flooring, the cupboards and countertops seem to be stinking up the joint. Kaitlin took her masters in Natural Health, which brought us down the road of learning the environmental influences on our health. Meaning, the things you choose to wear, sleep in, cover your floors with, or build anything out of really can play a huge role in your overall long-term health.

Think about it. How many things in your immediate environment right now are made of plastic? I bet your clothes are even made of polyester. These are oil derived products. Oil! The same thing you fill your car with. Using this oil derivative example, I think you know that the materials used in an RV can be pretty toxic. You wouldn’t really want to rub gasoline on your skin or sleep with a bowl of it next to your bed, would you? Though this is a bit of an exaggeration, there is no way around the fact that plastics are not really good for you. You know how a shirt wears out? That is it breaking down, the polyester material has been losing mass and leaving bits of itself all over the place. Most of it in your dryer, but lots of it on your skin, your biggest organ. Not cool.

When we actually take in our environments, we will see so many examples like the shirt. Oil based products being just one toxin we are surrounded with every day, there is no real way out of it except to live in a wood cabin, off the grid in the Adirondacks. So why not try our best to lessen the impact these things are having on our bodies?

When Kaitlin was learning about the chemicals in carpets, flooring, household paints, bedding and furniture it was a bit scary. A lot scary. I had grown up with all these toxins all around me and no one told me? My health had no doubt been affected, whether it has presented itself in a physical way or not. When our bodies need to be constantly defending itself from foreign dangers, the stress will undoubtedly take a toll, albeit not the same in every person.

We had been trying to have kids for a while, so we spent a fair penny changing the way our house was decorated. If a baby were to show up, we, like any parent, would want to lessen the stress on that new little human’s system. We bought a new bed and repainted. We ripped up carpets and put in bamboo eco-friendly (better, but not perfect) flooring.

So skip forward 5 years, that remodelled house exploded and burned to the ground during the fires in Fort McMurray, we have yet to be blessed with a child (we have been working through the International Adoption process for 6 years now) and we are ready to buy a little toxin-free as possible RV to live in. Our health is part of our WHY. Maybe one of the biggest parts.

Being the little hippies we are, we also knew that longevity and little waste as possible was a big picture WHY in our lives. We try to purchase clothing which will last as long as possible, made from the most natural fibres we can get. Try is key there, we still get sucked in by a deal, but it usually backfires and the jacket rips or the jeans get too worn too quickly. For me, the piece I knew I wanted to include in the GIANT purchasing decision was that things inside the unit would essentially not break prematurely and need to be thrown out and replaced. Finding finishings as closely related to a house, and a finely built house at that was extremely important.

I didn’t want to deal with broken door hinges or small appliances failing and needing to be just tossed out into a landfill somewhere. We live in a disposable world, we live day to day generating a fairly large amount of waste. Some more than others, but for a Westerners to live waste free these days, it’s almost impossible.  It’s not an easy task to even minimize the waste we create, but I feel a great place to start is the consumer decisions I make. No more throwaway purchases (trying my best).

The next piece of this hunt was to support places and things we believe in. We are from Canada, we love the freedom and safety we are awarded in this magical country. I have seen a lot of places in the world and I can honestly say that Canada is one of the most beautiful; both environmentally and socially.  I love it here and I am proud to have grown up in this country. In order to support a country and the people in it is to make purchases as local as possible. Again, not an easy task in this world we are in. Worldwide trade has taken over our buying experience, mass production in foreign countries seems to be the status quo. We are lucky to have access to what we do. I mean avocados?! Yes, please! The electronics I use to make a living require the economic system we currently have set up in order to be affordable enough and accessible enough to enable me to even write this blog post. It’s amazing, truly it is.

With that all said, I think we can all agree that how we mass produce things in other countries, just to ship it here, get used, break and send it back to that same country as waste, is not the best situation for our planet. When the planet suffers, we suffer. So I feel that if my buying power is directed more often to local businesses, that perhaps the large-scale use and abuse system will slow slightly. If I could get all my groceries from Vancouver Island I would. Good probiotics from local soil for my guts aside, I want to support this amazing place. If we could have bought an RV built in Victoria BC I would have in a heartbeat, if it met the other important rules we have that is.

So where did this leave us? I think you know the answer here, but I will run it through regardless. We bought a Leisure Travel Van. This thing ticked so many boxes during our hunt it was almost a no-brainer. When people ask us why we picked a Leisure over others, I kind of run them through a shorter version of the list above;

Ever want to get away? Sometimes it’s closer than you think. From Victoria BC to Jordan River BC, is not far, but it’s a world apart, thanks Toots for the Freedom.

  1. The build quality was far superior to other units we looked at. Both in finishes and in the materials used to make such a solid home for us.
  2. The smell. When we walked in, had a hint of a new car, or the leather and flooring, but was nowhere near the same off-gassing we had experienced in other units, a much cleaner environment.
  3. The size was perfect for our plans. We tour, we can park it on a street in any city, I am parked in Victoria as I write his. It drives like a car and is plenty roomy inside for us two people to live in full time.
  4. They are Canadian made. This makes me happy, not that I would want to take away from USA made brands or European brands, but I am Canadian and it makes sense for me to live in a Canadian built structure.

One more thing people ask me a lot is about price. What I always say is that we had a budget vs. WHY plan to stick to. There seemed to be a big jump in quality with Leisure without the same big jump in pricing, and to live in an authentic and meaningful way, to live my values sometimes requires money. Money to support the Canadian market I am part of and money to truly appreciate the time, energy and resources which go into these long-lasting, top-notch products. I know we made the right decision and I couldn’t be happier with our Serenity. Plus, it is a fine looking piece of equipment which I feel so proud and confident to call home.

Thanks for reading!

We Signed up for a New Life

We did it. We signed on the line and put our house up for sale. Emotions were real. Real loud (at least for Jimmy). I was just plain excited. All I could see was the next step in our journey to full-time living and I just couldn’t wait to get it on the market to see what people thought. You see, we remodelled just about every square inch of this little house and we made it spectacular. We made it smart. We made it the house that people stopped to look at as they drove by. We loved it and I wanted to know if others felt the same.

Then reality set in. Showings come with hurdles; they are a big pain. It means someone else is going to be living in our house. Showings mean we couldn’t finish getting rid of all our things as a furnished house sells better than an empty one. Showings mean that we had to keep our house spotless all of the time. Showings mean we are displaced every time they show the house. But they get the job done and are a vital part of the whole process.

Our biggest hurdle?  We sold our second vehicle months earlier as we downsized, so we only had one vehicle. This would have meant that one of us was always going to have to figure out what to do with themselves, two dogs and a cat during every show. But luckily, we already had our LTV and it was conveniently parked in our driveway!

Little home parked next to big home = WIN.

Spending hours out in the LTV was as good as being in the big house! It was way better than sitting at a McDonald’s or looping around the block for hours. Or walking if one of us happened to be at work. We also could peek out the window and see who was looking at the house (don’t tell on us). We also got to spend time in the LTV organizing, installing interesting stuff and in Jimmy’s case, sleeping after working graveyard shifts.

The remaining hurdles had to be dealt with one at a time. Some were mental, some were physical and some were just plain logistical.

The Mental

Well yeah, the whole selling the house you thought you would retire in is hard. We just had to get over this one as there’s a bright and scenic-filled life waiting down the road.

The Physical

I had an emergency appendectomy right after we signed. It wasn’t fun, but I’m ok. I was limited to only picking up 10 pounds or less for a while and this left a lot to Jimmy (sorry babe).

The Logistical

Oh man! It’s not like we were moving to another house or had plans to later. When we closed, the house was supposed to be empty and we had a lot to sell or get rid of. But the realtor wanted us to keep the house furnished until we got a “clear to close” status from the buyer’s financing. We weren’t sure how we were supposed to sell it all when that status doesn’t usually happen until a week prior to closing! We considered moving everything to storage and selling later but decided to offer it all up to the potential buyers and see what happened. Fingers were crossed!

We received a contract from the very first showing which was less than 24 hours after we listed! This was when things became very real for me. We were selling our house. Holy cow! Wait, I’m not sure I want to! But, I did. That was hard. The showings continued for a week while we waited to see if any other contracts came about but it seemed like we would be living in the LTV much sooner than expected.

Those reactions to the house I was wondering about? Yeah, they were all great. The best one was “OMG, this house is FABULOUS!” One week after our listing was published, we had shown the house 17 times and had received 9 contract offers!

Life is good.

Fast forward 2 months and you will find that we closed just over a month after listing the house and have officially been living full time in the LTV for a month. The situation has not been ideal as we are both working different schedules. This means someone is always stranded or having to find something to do while the other one sleeps. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as we expected, but not particularly easy either. Luckily the RV Park we chose is quiet and not terribly far from work.We stayed in this first ‘resort’ park for 1 month. For our purposes, it was great. Even if it was a concrete jungle. We didn’t use many of the facility perks – only their WiFi and popcorn. We were spurred to move on when they switched us to a daily rate at the end of the month. Jimmy really had a hard time giving up the popcorn.

We moved out to a County Park on the beach and LOVED it! Wildflowers were blooming, walks on the beach were relaxing and migrating birds singing outside lulled us to sleep…. It was hard to leave!

April 17 was Jimmy’s last day of work. April 18th marked our first true day of freedom and the beginning of Full-Time RV Life. Will we miss family members that live locally? Yes! Do we miss the house? Surprisingly, no! And the furniture crisis was averted when the buyers asked for most of our furniture. We actually only had to sell a few things and donated just one carload. Waiting and the minimalist game paid off.

Are we still scared to embark on this new way of living? Sure, but we are ready!

Did everything we need fit in the motorhome? Gosh, we hope so. Honestly, I feel we have too much and plan to reevaluate monthly. Do we miss our “hometown” or jobs? Nope, but we sure do miss the people!

Let the adventures begin!

Lessons we learned:

Note: Full-time RVing (in any type or make of RV) may have implications on policies including, but not limited to, warranty and insurance policies. Please do your own research before making the decision to live in an RV on a full-time basis.

The Transition to FTVL (Full Time Van Life)

The last time I wrote you was from our maiden voyage in Toots (our 2017 Serenity). We had been working hard to launch our new yoga/wellness/functional movement website and all was full of love and butterflies.  Now I write you with different news. I write you with feelings of fear and some anxiety.

The reason for these two distinct feelings? We have made the move. We have moved out of our home in Victoria, BC and into Full-Time Van Life (FTVL).

Firstly, I will address the fear. Let’s get it straight, right?

The fear has nothing to do with Toots!  I am more in love with our LTV than ever and know that moving in was the right choice. Kaitlin and I fit this life better than we could have hoped. We travel to film and teach FUNctional Yoga for our new website, and love to visit the ones we love all over North America. Sounds perfect right? Yes and no. Now that we have made the commitment, I see the societal norms we have been entrenched in being challenged. The reaction from friends and family range from “Yes! this is perfect for you guys!” all the way to “Whoa….really How is that going to work?” Do we try to hold onto the former, although the latter makes you think no?

The “How to make it work” statement brings on the fear. It brings on some doubt that maybe we can’t make it work. That maybe it was a mistake, or we aren’t hippy enough to fully embrace the lifestyle. I am working on nipping it in the bud before it can fully gain steam and turn into action. I have to remind myself (usually during a morning meditation) that we have chosen this, and we are giving it a try. I feel so grateful for that.

Using those thoughts immediately resets me back to being both giddy and excited. Which seems to be my default these days. We have the utmost freedom and have been actively working to build our lives out this way. This is not a mistake or a coincidence, I chose this life that I am living and that feels amazing. It’s really not scary at all. The fear is not mine.

Now to the anxiety.  The A word.  That lingering feeling where something is not quite right. Those things that are all wrong or mistakes that have been made. It sits differently than fear; it sits in my gut. Little nausea, mixed with a little bit of gas, is the best way I can describe it. When I get a chance to look at it, I see that the fear and anxiety are not separate. They are basically the same feeling, showing up in different ways and being sparked by slightly different worldly factors.

Anxiety seems to come from within, it seems to stem from my own thoughts (and essentially made up problems).

“Where do my shoes fit in the RV? Why are the cupboards so full? Am I doing this wrong? I’m probably doing this wrong. I am most likely going to fail at FTVL. I am most likely going to fail in my new career. My marriage is probably on the rocks. The government is falling apart, my investments are going to crumble and we are running out of water.”

The ball can keep going until all I want to do is sit in a ball on my Serenity’s corner coach bed and wait for it all to fall apart around me. Sounds silly, no? It’s not. The outcomes may not be real, but the feelings are. They are warranted and reassured by the news and the people around me. Again, I have to see it for what it is, take a quick stock of the gratefulness I have for the life I am building and see where I can stop wasting energy. The precious energy I have needs to be directed to myself and my new found life, not the ‘problems’ I have found. If I see the barriers, how will I ever be able to see the opportunities and openings and wonderful and amazing things around me?

I see this FTVL as a blessing. It’s winter in Canada and we are adapting. Albeit, we are on Vancouver Island, so our Canadian winter is not a true Canadian Winter. Our furnace runs, but not all that often and we won’t see much snow. “Canadian Winter Lite” I’ll call it.  I know we have made a great choice, both in our LTV and FTVL. Our possessions fit wonderfully and we are ready for some locational freedom. We are driving it down Baja California this December & January on a bit of a tour. We teach a yoga retreat in Sayulita Mexico in January, so we have decided to drive our home there this year! How amazing of a sentence is that!? I plan to keep our Journal going and keep the Love Notes From the Road flowing as we settle into Toots and find our groove.

One thing that there is no room for in Toots is any feelings other than gratefulness, peace, love, excitement, amazement, and awe. This world is filled with beauty and we plan to soak it up as we tour! I wish you all the best and I would love to hear some note from the road! -Ben


Note: Full-time RVing (in any type or make of RV) may have implications on policies including, but not limited to, warranty and insurance policies. Please do your own research before making the decision to live in an RV on a full-time basis.