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How I Became a Full-Time Airstreamer: Part II

In part one of this post, which you can read here, I addressed why I lived a very regimented life for nearly two decades (and, yes, I’m not so naïve to think that I don’t still possess this quality – I simply know that I now manifest it in a way that feels healthy to who I am as a person).

The second part of this post, which you are obviously reading at this very moment, addresses more specifically HOW I got here. To buy an Airstream and commit to a full-time nomadic lifestyle, more or less, was not an overnight decision. In fact, I started looking at them a year before actually biting the bullet (pun intended, of course). Again, there are three really significant moments that solidified my confidence to make this decision:

  1. I got divorced. For a very long time, I cared deeply about what others would think of me if I got divorced. On paper, my life looked perfect. But, the wife that I was had walked the streets barefoot and alone in too many foreign cities. I spent nights hiding under the covers to escape drunken screaming. I allowed myself to shrivel inside laundry room corners and hear words that made me an alien in my own home. I cried violently on the inside while I trained my outside to feel nothing, express nothing, be nothing. I accepted ignorance over truth that he was having an affair with another woman. My soul was dead, and I looked in the mirror for years to simply acknowledge the shell of my humanness without ever seeing anything but hair, teeth, and nails. When I finally mustered the courage to leave, when I realized that I should care far more about what I thought of myself than what others would think of me, I
    Full-Time Airstreamer: Part II_Snowboarding

    location – Sun Valley, ID

    felt like I was being granted a new life – one filled with hope and beauty and freedom.

  2. I got fired. Yep, fired. After getting divorced, I moved from Louisville to Boise to be closer to my Colorado roots. I wanted to snowboard. I wanted to breath mountain air. I wanted to use this newfound life for a love that I knew was buried deep inside of me. I worked as the marketing manager for a publishing company for nearly a year, doing small freelance projects on the side to supplement my income as a means of paying for snowboarding passes and AirBnB reservations. Without so
    Full-Time Airstreamer: Part II_Nugget

    Nugget
    Credit: Kendra Graybeal; location – Boise, ID

    much as a warning, my CEO fired me on a random day in June. I was completely caught off guard. Scared. Confused. I went and picked up my French Bulldog, Nugget, that I had purchased four weeks prior. We sat on my couch for two days. My fingers yearned to apply for every W2 job west of the Mississippi. My soul told me to be still, to wait, to give myself 30 days as a freelance designer to see if I could build my own business and define my own freedom. I landed a client the next day, and I’ve continued to work with some amazing individuals and teams now for over a year through Sleigh Creative. I learned that I could, in fact, be my own boss, and I recognized how much I respected working on deadlines, not time cards. Thirty days later, I was knee deep into a passionate career that truly feels like my destiny. Thirty days later, that publishing company went under. Life. It’s funny.

  3. I bought a house in Boise and moved to Sun Valley. I started looking at Airstreams when my lease in Boise was about to expire. I wasn’t entirely interested in buying property as I was still unsure where I wanted to land permanently; however, I also felt like buying property in Boise would be a sound financial investment considering the city’s consistent growth (and, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a pretty badass place). I stumbled upon a place that wasn’t yet on the market, and without so much as blinking, I put in an offer. I moved in and found myself hitting the road every chance I could get with aforementioned Nugget. The Airstream dream had been put on hold because I knew that I couldn’t very well get approved for two major loans in the same month, and winter was coming. I was having dreams of snowboarding and my heart kept getting pulled to the Sawtooth Mountains of Sun Valley. So, I rented out my house. I packed up my car. And, I moved. And, holy shit, what a winter (despite the lame amount of snowfall and a torn MCL). When my short-term lease rolled around, I honestly considered looking for another property,
    Full-Time Airstreamer: Part II

    Credit: Marty Upton; location – Cimarron, CO

    but I also realized that amidst my amazing connection to this small mountain town, my mind yearned for the deep intellectual stimulation that comes from the hustle and bustle of city living. Something inside of me kept whispering that there were so many places out there that I had yet to explore and that I might not ever be in this situation again to be able to capitalize on my freedom. So, back to the Airstream dealership I went.

 

As I waded through each of these experiences, I was slowly cloaking myself with the self-confidence to embark on a larger journey, to embrace a larger definition of freedom. Airstream life, or #vanlife, carries a certain eloquence about itself. There is something beautiful about bucking the system, something brave about those who say “fuck it” and take off into the unknown without rent to pay or a grocery store to call home or a mailing address to receive all the junk mail that is constantly cluttering our inboxes.

The truth: It’s beautiful. But, it’s far from glamorous (I address my initial growing pains here). But, I do know that, despite all the discomfort of being in a new lifestyle without any sense of normalcy, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this very moment.

Stephanie is a road warrior, adventure seeker, and brand builder. She grew up in the mountains of Colorado and after spending nearly a decade between the PNW and the east coast, she’s proud to once again be calling Colorado home. Well, home for now. Stephanie recently bought an Airstream with the intention of living a more minimalistic and nomadic lifestyle. After logging over 20k miles in her car last year, chasing rock faces in the summer and powder days in the winter, she realized that life could be a hell of a lot simpler if she could carry her house with her on these adventures. In 2017, she started her own marketing agency, Sleigh Creative, to take control of her freedom. As a freelance creative director and brand strategist, she spends a lot of days playing and even more nights working. In all things, be it work or play, she seeks to inspire people to the life of never settling. You can follow along with her journey on Instagram, @by.stephanieleigh, and through her self-titled personal blog.