Life is a Rollercoaster

Time for a bit of a general life update. If you are following me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably already know that my life has been a bit of a rollercoaster lately.

Let’ start with the low. While I was having a great time exploring the Kapiti Coast in the south-west of the North Island of New Zealand about 6 weeks ago, it was time to take Josie for her bi-annual mandatory safety check, and she failed due to rust issues (I wrote about it here). What followed were several weeks of ups and downs. At times I was hopeful, thinking I could get her fixed and be back on the road quickly. At other times I was trying to come to terms with the fact that there is no fixing her (without spending more than she is worth) and that I might be van-less and homeless soon. And all of this is still going on.

What made the situation more complicated, but also gives me hope, is that all the people who have inspected the van are convinced that this rust would have been an issue 6 months ago and that the van should not have passed its safety check back then. Several of them advised me to file a complaint with the garage that did the Warrant of Fitness check back then, as they would be liable and would be responsible for covering at least part of the repair costs. I’ve since done so, and the garage has involved their insurance which, while positive in some regards, is slowing things down so that I still don’t know what will happen to Josie.

It’s been almost 6 weeks now since she failed the Warrant. Six weeks of uncertainty, of not knowing if I still have a home, of not knowing how much, if anything, the insurance will cover and how much I need to be able to pay to either get her fixed or get a new van. As of week before last, the garage’s insurance has accepted the claim, but I still don’t know what exactly that means. And I haven’t heard anything since (and I got tired of calling them every day for updates…).

I know I will be OK no matter what the end result turns out to be, but it’s the not knowing part that has been quite stressful. And since Josie doesn’t have a valid Warrant of Fitness anymore, I can’t drive her and can’t live in her. She’s parked up at the garage who have given me a courtesy car, and I’ve been lucky to find housesitting gigs, so I’ve got somewhere to stay. But it’s all been less than ideal. Though in saying that, it could also be a lot worse…

And right in the middle of all the van-drama and the rollercoaster of emotions that came with it, I got some of the best news of my life.

A publisher actually wants to publish my book!!!

That news set of another emotional rollercoaster ride. The total joy of getting the news, followed by doubts about whether it’s for real (you hear a lot of stories about wannabe authors being ripped off…). Then realising it is in fact for real, followed by feeling completely overwhelmed with the legal terminology in the contract and a week of sleepless nights trying to negotiate a deal that I feel comfortable signing, constantly worrying about the publisher pulling out if I ask for too much. It didn’t help that the publisher is in the UK which means they work while I sleep and I spent a few nights checking emails every 2 hours in case there’s been an update.

But I got there in the end, and about two weeks ago, I signed a publishing deal for my first book. A Total dream come true moment!!!

I now have until the end of the month to finalise my manuscript before I hand it over to the editor. I don’t know yet when it will be released, but it should be sometime within the next 12 months. While I’ve been finishing the manuscript, the publisher has started to work on cover designs and marketing plans so it’s all full-steam ahead and very exciting.

If you haven’t been reading my blog for long and are wondering what my book is about, you might be surprised to hear that it has not much to do with vanlife. The book is my attempt to share how I build a really happy and fulfilling life for myself by learning about the science and theory of happiness and through getting to know myself really well so I could stop listing to one-size-fits-all advice and instead follow my heart and do what would genuinely make ME happy. The book follows that journey by firstly helping people learn about themselves, their personality, values and strengths, secondly, learn about what research suggests may or may not make us happy and then encouraging readers to combine that knowledge and design their own, individual plan for a happy life.

For the last year, I’ve poured my heart and soul into writing this book, and I still can’t really believe that it will soon be out there for people to read.

So over that past month, I’ve had both the best news and the worst news in a long time. Though I have to say, if the van trouble is what had to happen so that the book deal could happen, I’m happy to take that any time. I will happily be vanless and homeless for a while if that means my book gets published. 

And I also realise that, stressful as the last few weeks have been, I’ve learnt a lot about myself – good and bad. Firstly, it highlighted something I kind of already knew: That I’m terrible with uncertainty when I feel like I’m not in control. You’d think as someone who lives in a van, works as a freelancer and has spent more time travelling and adventuring than working in the past 18 months, I’d be good with change and uncertainty. And I am, but only when the uncertainty is on my terms and under my control. I really struggle with uncertainty that’s out of my control, like not knowing what will happen to the van because the insurance is moving slowly and because I don’t really know anything about cars and rust, or like not knowing if I have a book deal or if I asked for too much, and the publisher pulled out. That is why the last few weeks have been stressful. Because I’m used to being in control of my life, but right now there is so much going on that’s uncertain, and I can’t do anything about it. It’s tough, and I just need to be patient and sit it out – not something I’ve very good at.

But the highs and lows of the past few weeks have also highlighted some good stuff. Most importantly the fact that even though I am a realist and often cautious, underneath it all, I’m an optimist and honestly believe that everything will work itself out. I genuinely believe that, no matter what happens, I have the strengths and mindset to make the most of it and to be happy. It's really good to know that this belief doesn't change, even when life is a bit more challenging.

That is a really empowering and amazing feeling!

With all of this happening, I have decided to stay put in Auckland for a while. I’ve been asked to housesit for several friends over winter so that I’m now sorted for accommodation till the end of Auckland. That means, even if Josie can’t get fixed, I don’t have to worry about having a roof over my head. It also means I can do more work and either save for a new van, to pay repairs or to simply put money aside so I can spend less time working and more time enjoying life next summer. I also want to make sure that I have enough time to work with the editor and publisher to make my book the best it can be and to have time to promote it once it’s released. So with all of that in mind, it made sense to stay put for a while.

So as you can see, I've had a few eventful and at times stressful weeks, but I feel like I’m coming out on top 

I will let you know what happens to Josie and the book. I've got the feeling I've got a few more exciting months ahead of me :)