Where you live:
After four non-cumulative years of living on the road, my family and I settled down in a time of uncertainty during the pandemic. Though we live in the Midwest for now, we are always looking west. We’ll make our way back to the mountains and desert when we’re ready.
What you do:
I am the co-owner of The Modern Caravan, an Airstream design and renovation studio that I started with my wife, Ellen, six years ago. We decided to become nomads in 2014, renovated a vintage Airstream, and a few years later, the business grew organically from our life on the road. Living nomadically was incredibly life-changing, and sometimes I wonder where we’d be if we hadn’t made the decision to go for it, even back then, when it wasn’t yet popular or normalized the way it is now and there wasn’t any representation of other lesbian moms on the road. It’s sort of hard to believe that turning point in my life was nine years ago now–our daughter was 4 and now she’s turning 13!
I authored and photographed my first book, The Modern Caravan: Stories of Love, Beauty, and Adventure on the Open Road and it was published this past spring by Chronicle Books. I have also written a memoir I hope to have published.
Outside of work, I am a mother and partner and friend. I run and do yoga and get outside as a way of connecting to my body. I’m a writer of daily morning pages, an avid reader, and lover of food, cooking, nature, and having friends around my table.
Tell me a little about your journey as a writer.
I always wanted to be a writer. Writing as a kid allowed me to dream and imagine a life beyond the painful reality I actually inhabited. However, after I went away to college to major in English, I stopped writing, even though I still wanted to be a writer. I was struggling with depression and dissociation after leaving my childhood home—I couldn’t connect with myself, let alone the page. Many years later, when my wife and I decided we wanted to live on the road, I began to chronicle what it was like to make such a huge, life-changing decision, downsize our lives, and build out a vintage caravan on Instagram (@themoderncaravan). Over time, short captions became long, fleshy ones and I began to fall in love with writing again, though I didn’t love the limitations of the medium. However, I was still writing and sharing! I have received countless emails over the years about how something I wrote helped someone in some way, and this is when I began to realize that my writing had the ability to not only help me make sense of my life, but help others make sense of theirs.
When our family began traveling, I knew pretty early on that I wanted to write a memoir about our journey, but I knew writing it couldn’t be rushed. I took some notes here and there, but mostly I just lived my life. When it was time to write the memoir, I felt like I’d just know. A few years later, I decided to write the proposal for a different book while I waited on the timing for my memoir to align. I was a year into running the business and wanted to do something for our community. My first book was a love letter to the full-time travel community and caravan renovators, a way to connect and put something tangible in the hands of all of the people who wanted to connect with me, my wife, and the work we were doing.
After my first book came out last spring, something inside of me released, opened. I sat down and my memoir came pouring out. I wrote 124,000 words of a first draft in four months. I’m still so blown away by how ready I was to write that book, even if it wasn’t the book I thought I would write when I began traveling seven years prior. I plan to finish revising that book, write a proposal, and start querying agents (my agent left her job last year) and I really hope to get it published—but I’m not rushing anything. More than any other reason, I wrote it because I needed to write it. Writing is what makes a writer! No matter what, I write every day before I do anything else—my wife brings me a cup of decaf coffee or tea while I sit with my notebook and scratch my pen across the page.
You can find my recent writing in this special piece I wrote for a magazine in my old city and I have a Substack newsletter as well. My first book is available for purchase right here, or wherever books are sold.
What's the last project you did and what did you like about it?
I’m proud of my outward accomplishments, but the work I’ve done on my inner life has been the ‘project’ that means the most–and not in a ‘there’s something wrong with me’ way, but an ‘I deserve to feel safe, loved, and worthy’ way, and I’m willing to do what it takes to feel and know that. After nearly three years of intensive therapy, for the first time in my entire life, I finally feel like I am worthy of belonging and love. I am still working on feeling safe, but now, I am taking time to rest and heal in softer ways. There’s a lot of grief to process for years lost and what could have been. I am sinking into my body, I am asking what I want in this next phase of my life, and getting to know myself on the other side of trauma.
What piece of advice would you give the 25 year old you?
Leave the marriage/church/life/belief system you didn’t want or ask for or trust now. Don’t wait. That feeling in your belly—that one that rises up just under your ribcage—that’s your intuition. Listen to it. Listen to it all the time, even when people say it’s not real. Don’t listen to it sometimes and not other times. Listen to it every single time. Sometimes it will not be easy to hear because you’re hurting and breaking and there may be a lot of people saying you’re selfish or not good. Do everything you can to get quiet and listen. That voice, feeling, nudge—it’s you, and if you listen, it will lead you away from unsafe things and toward love and beauty.
And remember—it’s not your fault that people hurt you, but it is your responsibility to heal from it.
How would you describe your style?
Earthy, comfortable, neutral, basic—with some signature pieces thrown in, usually things I’ve thrifted, like the coat I’m wearing in some of these images. My wife calls my style ‘refined hippie’. I wear a lot of cotton, some linen and hemp. I absolutely loathe being uncomfortable in my clothing and opt for elastic waists whenever I can. I like my clothes to flow, but still have a little structure so I don’t feel like a blob. For my shape, I have this loose ‘rule’ about tight on bottom, loose on top and vice versa. So I’ll wear a tunic or big sweater with yoga pants, or some wide-leg soft trousers with a fitted tank or long-sleeve tee. I wear easy, loose dresses, lots of jumpsuits, and accessorize with scarves or handmade jewelry that I thrift or buy from artists I love.
What are your favorite BRYR clogs styles?
Well, I love the Gabe in Terra Cotta, which is what I’m wearing. It’s such a classic clog and so incredibly comfortable, and feels earthy but a little elevated. I wear boots if I’m working in the studio or cozy slippers if I’m writing, and live in Birks and Blundstones for daily errands, but when I go out on a date with my wife or to a dinner party, I like to look put-together but still like me, and the Gabe clog achieves this look and the color goes with everything in my wardrobe. I also have my eye on the Daphne in Juniper, I think the color is just so lovely and bright but still works as a neutral.
Shop Kate's clog here.