Booking Hard or Hardly Booking?

Ross and I have been hard at work. I’m following a weekly schedule I’ve created for myself, and it keeps me busy. Mornings I blog or work on my book and work on building our business, and then most days I do arts admin and Human Resources contracting I’ve been hired for. Teaching in the afternoon or evenings is also a part of my day.

Ross, on the other hand, is hard at work pounding the pavement for short-term employment, remote work as a podcast/audio editor or composer and bookings.

Hence the blog title. Some days, it’s easy to get fed up that we don’t have more success with bookings. I’ve reached out to at least twenty local churches in the past week. Ross had reached out to a similar number of venues, and he’s applied for at least that many jobs. When your rate of return is low, it’s hard not to feel like you’re hardly booking anything. We’re still establishing a name for ourselves in Florida, and it’s not an easy market to break into without contacts.

But from what we’ve read, the key at this stage is numbers. The more we ask, the more we succeed. 1 out of 30 isn’t a great rate of return. But 10 out of 300 could get us enough work for the next 4-6 months, if we got the right types of gigs. And the more we ask, the more those people forward our emails…so things could grow exponentially if we play our cards right. How nice would 50 out of 300 be?

So the effort continues. And in between, we’ll talk to Groot at Disney World.

Summer on the Outer Banks

Ross and I are spending the summer on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. If you’re not already aware, this popular vacation destination is an extremely unique geographical phenomenon. It’s a series of very long islands, with the sound on one side and the beach on the other. From above, it looks like one very long and tiny landing strip.


We’ve been here since May 1, which has given us lots of time to explore these beautiful and still generally remote (if not entirely isolated) islands during our stay. 

We will continue to share our favorite must-dos for the area, but for today, I thought we could share our top 5 positives and negatives for our visit so far. 

Two Months In: The Best About Living On The Outer Banks

1. The beach is always a couple of minutes’ walk away. 

2. The sound (and its glorious sunsets) are always a couple of minutes’ walk away. 

3. There’s almost always a nice breeze. 

4. The pace of life is relaxed here as people do their best to enjoy themselves. 

5. Not relevant to all, but we have the best co-workers and management we could imagine. Also, wild horses! 

Two Months In: The Worst About Living On The Outer Banks 

1. Sand in everything, including your shoes and your bed. 

2. Worrying about hurricanes and other bad weather. 

3. Ditto the crazy wind sometimes, messing up activities and keeping you awake. 

4. Some of the people we interact with take for granted how lucky they are to be here and ask the impossible (fix the weather, etc.). 

5. There isn’t really a great downtown for when you want to get your city fix – Manteo is fun but small, and that’s about it!

Overall we highly recommend a visit to the Outer Banks. I’m sure we’ll have more thoughts to share soon. Thanks for following our crazy adventure! 

A Place to Live – But No RV?

I’ve drafted so many blog posts in my head recently. Blogs about dealing with the extra levels of stress of planning combined with chronic illness & the related battles to figure that out. Blogs about how hard things are. Blogs about simplicity. Blogs about pulling through adversity. Blogs about the fact that Ross was rear-ended and now on top of RV repairs, we have to car shop, but I am really uncomfortable buying a car when we don’t know the status of our RV.

But I finally have some good news to share, so that’s more fun, right?

Jean’s Playhouse agreed to allow an ad trade for a discounted or free campsite for us this summer. Part of the compensation when we work there is housing, but the idea of living in dorm style housing, presumably single-sex and with other people, didn’t seem that appealing to us given that we’re married and much older than many or most of our co-workers will be. So finding a campground seemed like the perfect thing – we get a place for our RV and can try things out and learn with less pressure, and Jean’s gets to save money by not having to house us.

So I sent out a bunch of emails, beginning with the campgrounds in Lincoln and North Woodstock (the next town over), about housing us for a few months. Two out of my three top choices replied – one was positive, but didn’t have any space left (maybe next time); another just couldn’t accommodate a longer-term visitor (KOA). So I emailed our other choices, who were 20-30 minutes away but mostly great options. One of our top choices in terms of livability, Tarry Ho Campground in Twin Mountain, called me within a day or two of sending the email. I was so excited! The more we talked, the more we realized we’d met at a networking events a couple of years back, she knows my father, she had fantastic memories of our conversation, etc…

So after meeting her in person with Ross and touring the campground, I’m thrilled to say that we have a home for the summer! God willing our RV will be drivable and livable so that we aren’t tenting it. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. As soon as our RV is ready (or as soon as we want to move in), we’ve got a campsite with our name on it. And get this – we’re working for our site! No cash at all. Their seasonal sites rent for $1,950, so between Ross and I, we’ll be putting in 195 hours before the season is over on November 2. (We hope to leave by the beginning of October, but it’s awesome to know we can stay longer if we want to.) We’ll be doing a mix of marketing/social media work (me) and music/working the new food truck (Ross) and possibly whatever else needs to be done. We know it’s a lot of hours to fit in, but we’ll be coming up with a plan to make it feasible, and we can absolutely stay for a couple of weeks at the end to knock out the rest. (After all, if we each put in a couple of 40 hour weeks, the work would be almost complete!) Although there’s a 30 minute commute to Jean’s, it’s only 11 minutes to Ross’ studio, which is great for him and great for us if we need to escape camping for a bit.

IMG_2741We hope some of you will come up and visit us. They have gorgeous river front campsites with water and electric as well as other sites for tents and RVS, plus bath houses, a pool, an ice cream stand, a food truck as of late June and supposedly great wi-fi. They’re also being super-nice about accommodating both of our vehicles. So besides metered electric, which I think we’ll be paying for, we will be living rent free this summer, which will really help justify our 30 minute commute on a tiny salary. 🙂 My goal is to keep saving money even on our tiny income. Whether that’s possible or not will largely depend on what our health insurance costs are. Really hoping they’ll go down significantly when our income changes at the end of the month!

My last day of work at my current job is May 27. I’ll be so glad to be able to move on. Thanks so much for reading, and please send us happy & inspected quickly RV vibes, as well as a good cheap car for Ross!

The Big Reveal and the Beanie Baby Purge

Well, it’s done. I gave my notice at my full-time job. While I am not yet ready to announce my RV plans to the world yet – we need to wait until the summer so I can keep my church job – I am delighted to announce that after May 29, I set arts administration aside, at least for now, and can focus on other things.

Am I excited? Ridiculously so! I wouldn’t say a giant weight has been lifted yet – much of the weight was definitely caused by financial stress – but for whatever it’s worth, I am not as tired or quite as stressed. So yay for that.

I am also happy to report that last night, as I ran a purchase by my mom (fleece t-shirt quilt to use all my old tees) and talked about how much progress I am making with purging old clothes and my grandmother’s beanie babies, she sees genuinely happy for me. She encouraged me, congratulated me on my progress and asked thoughtful RV questions. I am so glad I got the telling her part out of the way to give her room to do her mom thing. She’s a good mom, even if she doesn’t always understand my way of thinking, and she’s usually right about things. 🙂

Handling Ross’ finances is proving to be exciting, in that we can try new things to pay down debt, but also disappointing in that there isn’t nearly as much room to trim our budgets as I’d like. So I need to get back to work for Judy and hustle some more lessons ASAP. My first north country voice student (minus a few vocal coaching sessions) is tomorrow, so I am looking forward to that.

It’s also hard to make frugal food purchases when you are trying to lose weight (both of us) and hoping your diet can help fix your body (me). I have been doing a great job so far – trying to keep my food budget to $30-40 per week – but Ross is buying a lot of his own food too…and it is just a lot of work to choose which fruits and veggies you can afford if you need a lot of dairy products, for instance. I know we will keep refining it though…lots of things will get easier when we are on the same schedule too.

The next step for Ross is promoting his solo album. Meanwhile, I need to not only make more money, but start getting on top of RV planning. Hoping we can set up an RV appointment this week for the spring.

That’s all I have for now. Thanks for reading!

Feeling Groovy

Okay, maybe not Groovy, exactly. But certainly healthier than I was a couple of weeks ago. Today I have a “preliminary” interview for that long shot job opportunity. Still a long shot? Absolutely. But it will be good for me to have a conversation that looks ahead.

The minuses if I were to get this job are obvious – no motorhome tour, at least right away, we’d have to move to a city that at least on the surface wouldn’t be our favorite thing, and I’d have all the typical challenges of becoming a teacher.

The pluses? A built in simplified life that combines my theater work and my need for income (at least for as long as I can keep it that simple) and maybe even a summer vacation, which would make returning to Canada for regular visits more feasible. Not to mention good benefits and a clear next step.

In any case, it’s got me thinking more about teaching and how much I like it. Whatever the ending is, I’m sure teaching will be a part of my work moving forward. Wish I had weeks to devote to cleaning and organizing my life – so much to do, so little time!

My groovy feeling usually involves rainbows -I love them – and my closet is oddly becoming less of a rainbow than it used to be. Why? Well, I’m realizing that my favorite ways to dress now involve a color palette that lets me interchange clothes and dress easily. So I think when I’m done decluttering, my goal is to have two palettes, with only an occasional dress or shirt to mess with the vibe. The colors? Probably blacks (for theater and music, of course) and brown/pink/purple/tans, which has become my go-to and I absolutely love it with my complexion and my vibe. We shall see if this holds, but I think the writing is on the wall.

Have a groovy day!

Feeling the Freedom to Dream

After I wrote my first post, I had a couple of challenging days. I’ve never done well when the dark of winter sets in – I’m one of the many that have a very tough time functioning without sunlight. But I’m re-orienting myself to waking up early – and I’m finding that if I start one small de-cluttering project, that’s translating into more energy for other things.

Two days ago, I stumbled upon a job listing. I really wasn’t looking for a job. As I see it, the job I have is basically perfect, except that it’s too exhausting for me do forever if I want to also do theater. In other words, not going anywhere any time soon because it is awesome overall and allows me a fair amount of freedom to live my life as I want to.

But this particular job listing looked too amazing to ignore. Do I have a chance? It’s a long-shot, a big long-shot. So I figured, what the heck, I’ll go for it, polish a resume, and see where it leads. But you know the really amazing thing? Because I’m already on the path to a tinier footprint and a simpler lifestyle, the idea of altering my plans completely and moving and starting a new job in August of 2015 just isn’t that big of a deal!

A year ago, I’m sure I would have been worried about how in the world I could make that happen. But now, even though I have an INCREDIBLY long way to go, I’m seeing the progress, and I can look at my apartment and say, sure, you can get rid of half of this stuff and move by August if you have a reason to. No big deal!

It’s definitely the small victories. I’m very thankful that Ross is willing to make regular trips to drop off recycling and donations, they pile up fast!

‘Til next time!IMG_0603