Sometimes I feel like I have lived the American Dream in reverse. I grew up as the daughter of a movie star in a 9,000 square foot Spanish mansion and now I am a 55-year-old intentionally homeless woman trying to recreate her life and career.
If you had told me when I was a kid that I would end up living on the road with very few personal possessions, I wonder what I would have thought. Probably about what I do now — that I must be nuts AND that this is the coolest adventure imaginable. I never know where I am going to be or how I am going to pay my bills, but I do know every single day that I am consciously choosing to show up in hope and healing and humility to this journey of life.
Every day I am both terrified and elated, just as we all are. But on the road, I have to choose how to show up to those feelings because I have no buffers or excuses. And then, the best part is that I get to find ways to help others do the same. I have no idea what is around the next corner, but whatever it is, I know that I will get to meet amazing people, face my fears, have incredible conversations all along the way, and maybe be able make a difference in someone’s life. All while feeling fully awake for the first time ever!
Now I’m not advocating that other people do what I have done, but I will say that being willing to lose everything that the world holds dear has allowed me to find what really matters.
Love is what really matters — and every day living on the road with my little white dog Allie, whether we are couch surfing with friends, appearing at a horror convention, giving an inspirational speech, or driving the back roads, the two of us get to show up to one another and everyone we meet in Love. That might not have been the American Dream I was raised to believe in, but it’s the American Dream I believe in now: Show up in Love to everyone you meet every single day.
I consciously made this choice to live intentionally homeless in order to face my fears. I grew up in a family where home was not just a roof over your head, but a way of expressing your status and position in the world -- a museum of your passions. My father's art collection, my mother's designs, celebrity dinner parties with live music and dinnerware that my mother glazed in her own walk-in kiln. And yet my mother told me every day that this world in which we lived could not be mine unless I earned it myself through hard work.
Since childhood, I have always been afraid that I would never be able to work hard and be good enough to deserve what they had. Turns out, though I aspired to have it, that world of fame and fortune never soothed my soul. I found that out living on the road.
Next month my inspirational memoir, The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self, comes out! To support it, I will be doing exactly what I have been doing these past years -- living on the road, sharing my stories and discovering now around the next corner. All while figuring out just what to do next to pay the bills. Just like pretty much everyone living the American Dream -- only without a traditional roof over my head.
A few months ago, I read something that Father Richard Rohr wrote about the kinds of people who bring about change in the world. He wrote that "prophets, by their very nature, cannot be at the center of any social structure. Rather, they are “on the edge of the inside.” They cannot be fully insiders, but they cannot throw rocks from outside either. They must be educated inside the system, knowing and living the rules, before they can critique what is non- essential or not so important." Although I am by no means suggesting I am in any way a prophet, by choosing homelessness, I have been able to see things I never would have seen staying on the inside. And yet, because it is chosen homelessness, I am not on the outside either.
What I have seen is that so much of what we are all brought up to believe is not necessarily the truth of how most of us really want to live. It's just a lot harder to see that when you're on the inside. When you jettison most of the what world thinks is "normal", you create your own normal. When we find the courage to live what has been calling out to us our whole lives, we finally show up to the world true.
Why does this matter? Because most of us feel alarmingly powerless these days. We watch the missile fire of Twitter ratchet up global tensions, we see hate crimes and bullying increasing at alarming rates, we feel like no one running the show has any common sense -- but that there's nothing we can do but watch the planetary train wreck and hope there will be some survivors. This is no way to live.
To learn to live true is our only recourse to feeling impotent in what seems like an increasingly delusional world.
When I drive the back roads, I meet people who would probably hate the idea of liberal tattooed Hollywood child me, but when I talk to them about sports or gas prices or the weather, they realize I am just like them. My football team is losing, painfully, just like theirs, and we're both worried about all the concussions and injuries; filling up the tank costs more than we want it to, and it's way too cold shivering out there by the pump. They can't hate me, I can't judge them. We realize we're in this together.
And if that doesn't work, I have my secret weapon -- my fluffy white canine ambassador, who everyone loves, and who loves everyone she meets. If I can't make 'em smile, Allie will. Between us, we try to connect with everyone we meet in Love and leave them smiling.
I may not be able to singlehandedly change how Congress votes or who tweets what boneheaded things, but I can show up in kindness and love to everyone I meet, knowing the kindness and love beget kindness and love. I can know and then act on what I know: Love is the Truth of us all and that Love will always ripple out -- because Love, let's face it, really is the only power there is.
Pie in the sky? I don't think so. People who live on the road know the rules of the road. Let someone going faster pass. Let someone into your lane when they turn on their signal. Warn others of road hazards or cops ahead. Say hello at a rest stop. Be kind. Be courteous. Be yourself.
This, not tweets or threats or bullying or sensational news reports, is the truth of our planet. Love is who we all really are underneath everything we were taught we were supposed to be. Living on the edge of the inside, I've seen more love than the news would have us believe is there.
More than ever, I believe in the power of Love to heal our planet.
As I hit the road this spring and head around the US, I hope you will join me on this road trip to our truest selves. May we all show up to one another and our planet in the Truth of Love.
Be kind. Be courteous. Be ourselves.
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