Mar 212011

While enjoying Miss Terry’s delicious cinnamon rolls yesterday morning with Greg and Jan White, we got into a discussion about travel plans, and how often it seems like our plans get changed, or pushed to the back burner, because somebody needs or wants us to be someplace else.

For several years now, we have wanted to get back up the the Pacific Northwest coast, and we want to go to Alaska someday. Unfortunately, with our teaching schedule at Life on Wheels, there was never time to do either one.

By the time Life on Wheels ended, our old MCI bus conversion was getting so worn out that we needed to ether give it a major overhaul or replace it. After upgrading to our Winnebago diesel pusher, we were all set last year to do the Oregon and Washington coasts in June and July, before we had to head east to be in Elkhart, Indiana for our Eastern rally. Then we got word that Terry’s son was getting married in July, so we changed our plans to be there for that event.

This year, we have been asked to be in Arizona for a couple of family events, but we have decided that we’re going to have to miss them. That may sound selfish, but sometimes you have to be selfish if you ever want to do the things that are important to you.

Most of us know people who always wanted to do something, be it an RV trip to Alaska, a cruise, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or whatever, and they always put it on hold to make somebody else happy. Then one day, illness, death, or something else got in the way, and they never got to make that dream come true. I think that’s very sad.

We have met RVers who got off the road to be near their kids, who were dealing with family issues, or because they felt like their grandkids needed them, or because aging parents needed their care. That’s commendable, but when do they ever get their time?

We’ve also known fulltimers who let family members guilt them into changing plans, and in a couple of cases, even getting off the road.

I refuse to do that. My family knows that if they need me, I will be there, for as long as it takes. But that doesn’t mean I will be there each and every time they want me to be there.

When we’re young, we think we’ll live forever. But when we get some years on us, we learn that isn’t true. We can replace cars and RVs, we can lose weight and gain it back again, but time is the one thing that we can’t get more of. We’re all born with an expiration date, and none of us know when it is. So make the best of the time you have, and if some call that selfish, so be it.

Thought For The Day – Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up. 

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  27 Responses to “Sometimes You Have To Be Selfish”

  1. Good for you, Nick! I’m glad you and Miss Terry are putting your own travel priorities first!

  2. Good for you! Pete and I purchased our R-Pod to get back out there an enjoy life again after having put my life on hold to care for my mother. When she died last May I was set free and will not allow anyone to change my plans again. I will be 60 this year and I’m not waiting any more for any one. Go forth with no guilt my friend!

  3. I agree…we are trying to limit family travel changes to birth, death, weddings and possibly severe illness or injury. Other than that, the East coast folks see us once a year and the West coast ones, maybe every other (for now). You just can’t do it all!

  4. We made the trip to Alaska last year and it truly is a “trip of a life time”. Only now, maybe not. We are already talking about going back in a few years. And, yes, driving our motorhome — the way to go.

  5. While we love our families, we have made it a priority to take care of each other first. In 1997 we went on the road during the spring, summer and fall but went back to Florida every winter. Both Peter’s parents and my parents were in Florida near our home base. We spent 4 months or so in the winter visiting with them each year and making sure they were as well cared for as possible during the months we were gone. We called daily or weekly while we were gone depending on the their needs. We now have only Peter’s Mom left alive. We have no regrets as we made time for them but did not deny ourselves our time.

    We believe that family both parents, children and others in our families are important to us and we help as much as we can. But we do not believe any of our family need us all the time. We need our own time together to share our lives.

    Nick, you and Terry need to go to the NW USA and to Alaska USA while you can. You visit and spend time with your family each year. No need for feeling selfish. You are being very unselfish to take your time to be with them. The people who are selfish are the people who want you there all the time. They don’t need you all the time. If someone needs that much care, they need to be in a facility with 24/7 care. And yes, there are ways to pay for that kind of care (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc). So go enjoy. And as you say, we are all here for a short time and we don’t know our expiration date. Sitting in that rocking chair with lots of regrets is not the way to end your life.

    I love the Maxine cartoons. To paraphrase her: The best way to live life and go to the end, is to slide into heaven worn our, used up and full of chocolate.

  6. I too commend you for your decision. I know it is not an easy one. . .as we find ourselves in the same quandary, with aging parents, and grandkids that are growing up way too fast. . .but, there’s so much to see and do, if we don’t get out there and get going, we’ll never get it all done!

  7. Yes Nick you have to choose even when Terry’s parents are having a 60th anniversary and yes you never know when death may take US and you have to choose but friends and travel et all are more important

  8. I wish I had a nickle for every positive comment we’ve received regarding the sign on the back of our motorhome which reads “Someday is NOW!”

  9. I can never understand the people that have to be home for the Holidays and then finally leave for the winter. Most times they tell us it’s because the grand kids need them there. I think maybe the truth is they need to be there because they want it. Then they drive south in snowstorms and cold weather. We have a family get together in Oct. and then leave for the winter. We send gifts at Christmas and talk to everyone on the phone. It’s not as good as being there, but a lot safer and easier than driving in the snow. And you know what, when we return in the spring, it’s just as nice as if we were there thru the Holidays. Our kids and grand kids know our routine and are fine with it. We don’t need to be home for the Holidays “for the grand kids.”

  10. Paul and I will always be grateful to you and Terry for giving us some much needed advice regarding how to deal with Paul’s aging dad. He is now in an assisted living facility, seems to be very happy (judging by the number of women lining up to dance with him at the social gatherings!) We have spend almost five great years fulltiming, seeing a whole lot of this country and experiencing things we only dreamed about. We are slowing down a bit this year as I am recovering from my second major back surgery but are planning future trips without the guilt.
    My arguements fell on the almost deaf ears of a concerned son, your imput confirmed what I was saying and all of a sudden, the advice made sense coming from two trusted road warriors. Thanks again.

  11. I agree with all the comments. You have to resist the “pull” of whomever and go forth with your own plans. Call it “focused” or “selfish” but we all have to make the decision. We have finally gotten to the age we don’t do funerals unless we are in the area. In 11 years we have not had to fly back for any reason. What freedom!
    Nick, we went to Alaska in 2007 and again in 2010 with our RV. If we go again, we will just go and not make big plans. It’s another great place to visit. Don’t put it off another year.

  12. Nick, you know we agree with you, as we four discussed the topic Saturday. Right now, of course, we have given up some of our “freedom” by agreeing to serve on our Park’s Board of Directors, but that was our free choice also. And this summer’s travels will take us to two very important family milestones, and it was our free choice to say we wouldn’t miss them for anything (except personal illness or disaster). Next summer, though, that’s going to be ours, and we are saving your blog from today in case we need ammunition!

  13. THANK YOU for your very well thought out post. Our parents have passed years ago but it seems there is a never ending supply of kids, grandkids, and assorted other relatives that we could use as excuses for abdicating our travel plans. You are 100% right that taking care of each other is the most important issue – one I still struggle with. Life gets shorter everyday, get to The Pacific NW and Alaska while you have a chance. Dave (comment #8) makes a LOT of sense too…

  14. I’ll second the comments. Albeit an emotional juggling act to know what is always best for ourselves and others. I’ve found that during the day I often have to ask myself “What is the next right thing to do?” The answer usually is evident and I’m sure that as long as you are doing that “next right thing” life will be good for you and all others in your life.

  15. Good for you, go and enjoy the West Coast, you may want to bypass California since gas is over $5 in some areas, do not know what diesel is but it is going to be higher. We have cut back on some of our travels but that was due to health problems. We will be back on the road and having fun May. Be safe

  16. Nick and Terry we travel out of Alaska in October and return late March each year from Fairbanks, our home for 30 years. Its getting a little old. We traveled the Alcan one year however, go the Cassiar hwy 37 as this is the normal truck route to Sumas crossing in Washington. Go for it. This can take us about 4 days or sooner if driving 12 hrs/day. Mike.

    PS: Some people go up one way and come back the other.

  17. Wow! I read Bess’ comment and it sounded MUCH more selfish than your blog. What a guilt trip she’s trying to lay on you! I got the impression she wouldn’t be happy unless you gave up travel altogether so you could be there whenever she wants you to be. Since we all know we cannot live for others–GO! And tell Terry to leave all the guilt with her Mom where it belongs.

    My Mom moved away then complained that she didn’t see enough of me. I refused to take on that guilt. You can, too. Be the strong woman we all know you are. And know that your friends are with you on this one.

  18. Let me be the first to welcome you back to the Pacific Northwest. We are having an outing April 15-17 at American Sunset Rv Resort in Westport Washington. Care to join us? We are the San Juanderers, a WIT group from NW Washington.
    cheers, cheryl

  19. Linda you took the words right out of my mouth. As I recall every year Nick and Terry spend a month or more in Arizona near her family. How much is enough? I think in this case, nothing is ever enough. But as Bess points out, we never know when death may take US. That includes Nick and Terry. Either of them could be gone tomorrow, as Terry’s cancer showed us.

  20. If anyone tried to lay the kind of guilt trip on me that I read in Bess comment, all they’d ever see of me again would be my taillights! Selfish, selfish, selfish! Shame on you Bess!

  21. We went through this with our daughter who was 31 years old when we started fulltiming. We canceled travel plans three times to go back to Iowa in the winter. Once was because her daughter had pneumonia. We got there and Laci was out sledding with her friends in the backyard. She had somehow had a miraculous recovery overnight. The second time it was because she and her husband were having a crisis and splitting up. They had kissed and made up by the time we got there. The third time it was because we “needed” to be back for surgery she was having. It was a laparoscopic gall bladder procedure and she was home the next morning and at bingo with her friends 2 days after. We said No More and refuse to play that game any longer.

  22. My mom used that same poor me guilt trip all of my life. Now she wonders why none of her kids or grandkids never call or come around her. I would bet Bess wonders the same thing. Life is too short for that crap Bess! Get over yourself!

  23. Others will always prefer that we live for them rather than for ourselves. Good for you Nick and Terry. You only have one life to live, go live it. As for the others in our lives, how do you think they would respond if we told them how to live theirs?

  24. Bravo!!!

  25. Terry, were you adopted?

  26. I second all this good advice from everyone! Just add in a job that limits YOUR spirit of adventure.
    Still would like to help with YOUR caravan to Alaska.

  27. I don’t get the Besse slamming. As I read it she’s saying go for it. Death can take US and our travels away….not the other way around. “Friends & Travel are more important”

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