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A Lush, Green Paradise, a 15 Year Anniversary and 20 things I have noticed.

We have arrived in our first country during our round the world journey where English is not the mother tongue. Even more than that, the surroundings are unlike any we would encounter in our home in Oregon.

We had a few hiccups to get us here. I spent so much time sorting out the information about the visas I missed that tiny line about how you must have a proven departure plan before they will even let you on the plane.

So, we were at the Brisbane airport Jetstar check in counter (for the first time) and I hurriedly bought four tickets on a ferry to Singapore. I was punching the details of all our passports into my iPhone screen hoping that the credit card I am using would work to buy the tickets. And what’s more, that we will be able to use them.

The port is a place about 1000 miles from where we were staying but, it IS in Indonesia! Thanks so much to the airline representative who helped me do this rather than be forced to buy another airline ticket. Times four!

Earlier, we had already experienced not being picked up by our pre-scheduled Uber ride and frantically had to book another taxi to get us to the airport. I dislike that kind of scramble to the airport.

While we were checking into our flight (after I bought my ferry tickets) they had a lock down at the JetStar check-in counter. I felt like we were at a cooking contest as they yelled out for everyone to step away and hands up from the computers.

For several tense minutes, we all stood around and scrolled through our phones to see if there was some new information about Mt. Agung, the aged volcano currently smoking in Bali. Nothing. Just a false alarm and after a short while we all got ticketed and sent to the gate. The duty free gin never looked better!

It was about a 5 and a half hour flight and the pilot said he was getting updates on the volcano every five minutes and we would ‘act accordingly’. No sure what that means but, okay. He’s in charge.

Onward, a flight with some movie watching and an occasional peek out into the darkness with the hope to see a glimpse of the magical land we were winging toward.

We arrived in Bali and the humidity hugged us like a damp sweatshirt. Wandering through the airport to the immigration hall that had ceilings about four stories high I knew we had arrived.

My Dragon Fruit Smoothie

A friend arranged a pick up (thank you Drew!) and we were mesmerized by the steady of stream of motorbikes that swarmed around us as we motored down the narrowest of roads in the dark. It was like being with a bunch of ants. You just went with the flow.

Asking for prayers for the people in evacuation camps from the Mt. Agung volcano watch area

The next day we headed up to Ubud, known for its rice patty fields, cultural dances and, most recently, the popularly of Eat, Pray, Love. And currently, a spat of downpours that wipe the humidity from the air and feed the rice.

In Bali, tourism accounts for about a third of the economy so, there is always someone to help you with your questions, desires or plans. That is certainly the case in Ubud.

We are staying at a place I found on Airbnb as I wanted to have something set for the celebration of our 15 years of marriage! Whoo-hoo! This home is a dream, it feels palatial. It was a splurge to our budget at $42 a night. 

So much swimming around my head. More to process and share.

Here’s my my list of 20 things I have noticed after arriving in Bali in the first day and a half.

Three Little Monkeys Sitting on a Bench.

 

 

 

20 things I have noticed since arriving in Bali.

1- There are scooters everywhere and they hold such a variety of people carrying a multitude of things.
2- A rice field walk with Drew was awe-inspiring. We saw people working, rice-growing, ducks, giant spiders.
3- The spiders can be very, very, very big. With bodies as big as a hummingbird.
4-People are very, kind and helpful.
5- The roads are very narrow and have various surfaces, rarely a sidewalk and gaping holes about every 25 feet. Makes for an interesting stroll.
6- It is very humid and the rain comes in downpours.
7- Butterflies, moths, are frequently flying around. They are black, blue and many colors.
8- The beds come with mosquito netting and it looks so romantic.
9- People carry loads on their heads to free up their hands.
10-Geckos, lizards are all over the place. We counted 24 outside our place last night.
11- Ducks can be pets and hang out in the rice patties during the day and get walked home at night by following a flag on a pole.
12- Our place has a little pool and it is delightful.
13- The dollar to Rupiah exchange is 13,435. So you can feel like a millionaire when things cost 60,000 Rupiah and you can buy it with ease. That is the going cost of all four of us getting a ride to the center of town, equivalent of about $4.45.
14-It is hard to figure our what everything costs with such big numbers.
15-There are offerings nearly everywhere for most everyday activities. You find these beautifully folded offerings and incense in the most delightful places.
16-If you order Western food it will look differently than you expect.
17- It is really quiet when you get away from the roads.
18 – There are chickens everywhere. They are like wild mice (aka rats).
19-Alcohol is rather expensive.
20-You need to drink bottled water. Even to brush your teeth.

More to come. We will be here for at least two more weeks. More adventures to be had. More plans to be made. Let’s hope that volcano behaves.

Family Commute

Cooking oil for sale at grocery. Makes a lot more sense to take it home and put it in your own container.

Local boys using a fish to fish.

A Royal Bathroom

Happy, jet lagged boys in a field.

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I’m Not Gonna Throw Away My Shot!

Days are counting down and we are on the move. This week we are wrapping up tasks. A big one has been getting our inoculations for this trip. I truly thought this would be pretty straight forward to plan and execute. Ha!

I wish, wish, wish I would started this one a couple of months ago. I found out in mid June that our insurance, which was ending on 30 June, actually does cover a lot of travel shots. Amazing as that isn’t usually the case. So, I was trying to wrangle the best schedule to get our shots in before our insurance ran out. The rest has been cash pay (ouch). IMG_2970That price tag smarts more for me than the pain of the shots, although, my sons will beg to differ.

We got about half of them in before paying out-of-pocket. Actually, cross your fingers for us as we are still awaiting the reimbursement from the insurance company after I submitted a 20+page claim on June 30th hours before our insurance ended at midnight. Please, please, please.

The other challenge has been the timing of all the shots. Japanese Encephalitis has one shot then, 28 days later, the booster. Each shot is $330. Gulp! You can do the math. It hurts my head too much.

Typhoid has one shot ($149) effective for two years or a series of four live-virus vaccine capsules ($40 per person with insurance) taken on an every other day, eight-day regiment, effective for five years. They have to be on an empty stomach that doesn’t allow any warm drinks (read NO coffee) and nothing to eat or drink for approximately two hours. Kelvin, Canyon and I figured out the way to go was to take the capsule at 5am and go back to sleep. Oakley had the shot and was none too pleased to be singled out for that one.

Then the Hepatitis series for Kelvin and I, which runs about $159 but, FREE with insurance. When I lived in Hong Kong in the 90s I had a series of shots but, I cannot (shockingly) find the paperwork on those details. Bummer for me as I got to have some of them again. The kids (and now all kids) have the Hepatitis shots as part of their normal childhood regiment so, no extra bargaining there. And it’s covered by their insurance. Yay!

Yellow Fever, about $159 a shot, is also a live-virus shot which requires someone specially trained to administer. Also, the batches here in Portland, Oregon would sell out in a day so, you had to ‘reserve’ your doses. Never knew, we had such a hot market for real estate and Yellow Fever vaccines.

Figuring out where to get them administered was hard. That became tricky as we ended going through Walgreens Pharmacy to get them all sorted. Other places charged a lot to administer (upwards of a $25 per shot fee) and an in office fee per person which could be just $200 for us to walk in the door.IMG_3024

These stand alone places (and even one connected to Providence Hospitals) refused to bill insurance even after I had arranged a conference call with my insurance (BCBS), them and myself on the line. They stated that most insurances don’t pay and I had my insurance company telling them they would if they would just bill for it. They refused. My last conversation with that medical office did not highlight my best, adult problem solving conversational skills. Sometimes you meet people who are very regimented and rigid (what’s that, Kelvin? You know someone like that?).

Also, when you vaccinate young kids you need written (read not phoned in or electronic) prescriptions for these shots so, had to go to pediatricians office to pickup or have them post them to us. Those pediatricians frequently can’t administer the shots as they don’t have them in-house and are somewhat reluctant to order them in as the transport of live-virus stuff gets tricky.

I had my patience tested many a times and collectively, I likely spent about eight hours on calls and research to find the right place. Then came the waiting times at Walgreens. We knew that store’s employee codes and all the aisles after three visits and approximately six hours being there. IMG_3025The folks there were mostly great but, with each day new people had to be told what we were doing and I was beginning to feel like I was in a Groundhog Day movie.

We would have an ‘appointment’ to get our shot. This was a loose term I realize and often we waited up to two hours to get everything written up, processed, paid for and administered. Kelvin and I broke all our screen time and sugar rules to get it done. Our sensory kids were nervous and at times it was achingly painful to have to negotiate with a screaming, sweating eight year old. I may apply for SWAT tactical hostage negotiation work later in life.

So, we are basically set in that department. One more thing moved to the DONE column. I know you can’t really put a price on avoiding a life threatening diseases. My advice to anyone out there thinking of traveling like we are. Sort this earlier as it takes longer than you think, you might get some of it covered by your insurance and budget for it. It is not cheap. And I am pretty sure this isn’t covered in any healthcare coverage being bargained over in DC.

 

 

 

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One Month To Go! The Purge Continues.

I am hunkered down in a coffee shop as my husband and children are hawking all of worldly possessions that we don’t want anymore. Sounds pretty sad in some ways. However, we have been divying up jobs for months. This, the Great Yard Sale, is one of the worst jobs for me. Being a salesperson to my personal belongings is like having a root canal. In many circles, I am considered by some to be a ‘sensitive’ soul so, I attach a lot of meaning to things and that bites me in the bum from time to time.

My husband was very patient with me as I poked through boxes I was helping set outside and pulled things out saying, ‘Really, we are giving up this?’ IMG_2945A saint, the man is a saint.

Don’t get me wrong, sorting out our house and reducing our belongings feels good and liberating. Only, I am a product of a pack rat mom and with both of my parents having now passed on, there are little things of theirs that I attach enormous meaning to. It is a bit crazy since I know these things won’t help bring them back but, they spark a bit of memory in me as I consider them.

My parents would have loved this round the world journey. They taught me that the world is more than the neighborhood around you. I grew up in a town of 5826 people with one stoplight, one movie theater and one newspaper published once a week. Yet, I knew of the magical lands beyond our borders.

My father was a businessman who travelled to various ports in Asia and Europe at least once a year. Mom, traveled with him and wrote a food column based on the foods and adventures from their destinations. Interestingly, us kids didn’t travel with them but, we had the spark to follow our own paths.

In 1980, my sister was a Rotary exchange student to New Zealand at age 16. I remember the day she got the call informing her where she was going. She covered the phone and yelled at us to quiet down so she could hear (likely, my brother and I rough housing in the background). She hung up and announced, “I am going to New Zealand”. I stared at her as I had no idea where that was. We pulled out an atlas and I gasped. The vast distance across the Pacific Ocean marveled me.

I winged it to Europe the summer of 1989 and was in the Netherlands for a year while witnessing the Velvet Revolution that winter. I was hooked. Since then I have lived, studied or worked abroad for five years of my life. However, the last 14 have been in Portland, Oregon. So, I got all tied down again with things, places and meaning in routines.

These are not bad things, just a different allocation of energy. So, we are ready to shed our skin of living here. At least for a while.IMG_2949
As I have written before. I have been feeling a great responsibility to our kids to make sure they are okay. And now they are chatting up folks on our front lawn convincing them that their Spiderman costumes and Elephant and Piggie books would be a great addition to their lives.

I am learning to let go and be again. And my kids are helping show the way.

 

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To Do – Part Two – Feels like A Bit of Scrambling. Just Breathe.

Okay, remember when I said we were working on our list of To-Dos? That was nearly a month ago and now we are down to two months (OH BOY!). I have learned that we need to break these steps into time frames i.e. housing needs and doctors appointments now and travel plans in South East Asia later.

HEY, side bar… What do you think of our new logo! Thanks so much to Zoe at Zoe Pdx She hooked me up with a great new logo and she has a lot to offer. I met her through a connection from TEDx Portland. Check her stuff out!

Here are the next steps on my list.

13. Set up First Aid/Medical Kit: We are going tomorrow to get our shots for travel and are negotiating what that means for the kids (extra shots!?!?) but, we also need to plan for upset stomachs, general medical care and the management of allergies that many in our family navigate everyday. I understand you can get most medications on the road but, when and where might be daunting if we have a sick kiddo in the middle of the night or in a rural area. BTW, my husband won’t like that medical stuff is listed under number 13 but, we’ll keep tabs on it.

14. Special Toys for the Boys. I don’t mean big gadgets (that is a later conversations). More about how to help the boys with the transition and feel connected to home. Oakley is often the one who wants to ‘just stay home and play with my toys’. He has this lovely and magical imagination where he creates worlds out of his legos, figurines and other small toys (you remember Toy Story). So, we need to bring a small selection of toys to bring with that help them both feel connected and happy.

Both boys have Kindles and that is amazing and wonderful but, we will use the environment around us as well to explore.

15. Frequent Flier Miles. Signing up every family member for miles is a bit tedious but, can have some great benefits. We are flying with rock bottom deals as it is but, every little helps especially many months in when we may need that boost of miles to get us where we need to go.

16. What to do with Mail? We are still wrestling with this one. I have my business mail and then our personal mail. I have found a couple of places that take care of your mail and scan items that may be important. One is Traveling Mailbox. They charge by pieces of mail and what services you need such as deposits of checks, re forwarding on etc.

17. Special IDs for boys and safety kits. No one likes to think of things going haywire but, sometimes they do and we have to plan with our boys about what our plan is if we were ever separated and IDs for them to keep them safe and officially, noted to us without having them carry their passports all the time. Boots and All has a great article that goes through the basics.

18. Sort our Finances. This is a big one as many countries don’t treat credit cards with the same frequency as we do in the States. Also, there are all those pesky fees, currency trading fees and all that. A lot of that is on the road information. That is another task all in itself and I’ll come back to that on a later post.

We are looking at sorting our money now on this side. We are paying off any balances we have, ending subscriptions and memberships we won’t be using (Netflix will stay!) but, it is amazing how much that all adds up. We are also taking the Money Cleanse through the Paradise Pack we are a part of.

19. Move out of office. For nearly four years, I have had a private practice in a lovely house with other helping professionals and I am sad to leave that space. That move in itself is going to be a doozy as I have all my files, supplies and many, many, many books. I  need to sort how to manage that while I’m gone in the event that someone needs access to those files. My colleague Hillary Mondry is going to be my custodian while I am remote. She is a gem and a great counselor if you are in the market.

20. I also have to finish my CEUs (no time like the present!) to keep my certifications in check while on the road.

21. I am setting up my practice so, I can work from the road with folks who are in ‘maintenance’ mode. I want to have a true ‘holiday’ and I will but, I also want to work some from the road to keep me fresh and of course, for a source of income. That means using video platforms that are safe and confidential and scheduling resources that help with helping us ‘show up’ on time. Gen Book is used by a lot of folks.

22. Set up a good bye BBQ. We are already joking (but, seriously considering) having a grab bag at our good-bye BBQ. Folks get to take a bag full of stuff to use, sell or donate. Ha! We actually have wine glasses from our wedding that will we be giving away as good bye gifts. This is going to be a night fraught with mixed emotions. We are coming back but, really will miss so many. We are going to have one in Oregon and one in Idaho where a lot of family live and we will spend our last week.

eryk-fudala-129284

Photo by Eryk Fudala on Unsplash

23. Last night! We are going to spend our last night with a good friend (of 38 years!) who will also be loving and caring for our cat while we are away. Staying with a friend on that last night will be so important even though we will get up at an ungodly hour to take off.

24. World school Supplies. We have a lot to sort here. We have feedback from the boys’ teacher and we are starting to firm up our details of how it will look from the road which  supplies electronic and paper. I’ll write more on this in another post.

Well, that is this update and check in! Whew…so much we are working on. Thanks for joining us and staying tuned. Feed back is welcome!

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World-schooling, A Whole New Responsibility

One hundred and seven days to lift off and all the tasks are piling up and colliding. Many of them taking up all the extra space in my head between all the responsibilities of now..such as work, getting kids to and from school, food, shelter, etc. 

So, the big worry on my mind today is our kids eduction. This might be the biggest fear for me about this travel (so far!). IMG_1700I have never seen ourselves as people who home school their kids. We have always sought out the appropriate education philosophy for our boys and embraced our school as they plan for our kids.

The Montessori approach has worked really well for us, especially with the sensory challenges we have had along the way. We love the student led teaching style, how students learn concepts from accessing working materials, free movement around the classroom, small group or individual instruction and independent follow-up.

The ‘going out’ philosophy of approaching research in the world is an aspect we really love .In this Going Out activity, the kids are encouragejan-mellstrom-242087d to research and seek out a way to investigate their question. The steps to find out the answer to their question has the child find out the place where one would learn about that interest.
For example, one would go to an aquarium to learn about the Pacific Octopus (this was one of Canyon’s interests). The kids (usually two or three at the most) have to figure out how much it costs to go, they have to call the place to see what the hours are (no internet searches!), who could help them when they get there, what are the directions to get there and so on. Then they write out the questions they have to ask and how they will write down what they learn. At the end of their outing they report back to the class what they learned.

We are looking to apply this approach as we maneuver the world. However, I get scared that we won’t be able to keep them on task with their math, reading and writing skills. roman-mager-59976I realize how much we depend on our schools to keep our kids ‘on track’ for their learning. It is their professional job! I am not a professionally trained teacher. Kelvin and I both have skills to share, like any parents but, the responsibility of being in charge of a year’s worth of eduction feels very daunting to me.

I don’t want to screw this up! We have met with our kid’s teachers and they are giving us some guidelines to help us as we go through this year. It also tells me that I don’t want to be in charge of this educational part for all of their education! I have always respected teachers and now I am particularly aware that I am a bit out of my depth. We also have plans to Skype in with the class about once a month to keep up connections as well as foster enthusiasm for learning and sharing.

People are very supportive in saying our boys will be fine. “No worries!” says a friend, “you’ll be learning so much on the road.” Okay but, I also don’t want them to be behind their learning levels when we return. Our kids teacher has given us some material to use as we go along. gaelle-marcel-8992We already started a practice of writing in a small journal at the dinner table after our meal where we each write a little bit about the day. Oakley will write one sentence and Canyon a couple. Kelvin and I also write and we all check each other’s work. We generally write down what we are grateful for that day. Noting small, notable things that happened that day.

We started this journaling exercise last October and are not doing this daily due to the crazy schedule of sports, work and occupational therapy being some of the many things that rearrange our schedule every day but, we get some practice in. We plan on doing this every day on the road. Hopefully, this will help all of our writing skills and create a wonderful journal of our experiences in the world.

If you are following this please let us know what you think, what you would do and how you would caretake your childrens’ education.

 

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OMG! We ARE really doing this!!

The last couple weeks pieces of our plan have officially fallen into place. Kelvin’s new passport arrived. Yay!! Then we had a flurry of activity as we set up two house/pet sits in September in Brisbane, Australia. And we got our tickets to fly!

So, here is a rundown of recent events. Over the last months, I have been searching for a good fit for a house sit in Australia. Trying to make sure that where we choose or get chosen is where we want to be but also, logistically a good place to be.

In the US, we are used to driving long distances but, it is a big deal to try to drive 1400 kilometers between housing opportunities. hugo-villegas-174015And an even bigger deal when we try to do it in three days in a country we haven’t driven in together (Kelvin was there on his own in 2001), driving on the ‘other side of the road’ for us Yanks and in a camping vehicle we have yet to rent or even select. The situation gave Kelvin and I some pretty funny conversations as we were trying to rationalize a mammoth drive to get in between locations for a place to stay.

The organization we have been working with Trusted Housesitters to find the best matches. We have had lots of conversations, Skype chats and emails with potential matches and I was beginning to feel like I was online dating as I was proposing matches for our family as being the ‘best match’ for others on the other side of the world.

We finally sorted a match with a woman near Brisbane, Australia to care for her three kitty cats and bird. She is also, generously, allowing us use of her car while we are there. She is actually going on two trips with an eight-day break in between and she asked us if we could do the first leg as well. jesse-collins-92501It sounded good but, we were coming from Hawaii and wouldn’t be there for the first two days of her trip. She, again kindly, offered to make her trip work with ours so we can be her support and she ours.

I then started scrambling to figure out our tickets to Australia from Honolulu. I have been playing around online with searches for the ‘perfect’ ones and had yet to officially commit.

This is where things got really interesting for me. We have been planning this trip, at least in theory, since last August. A good eight months ago and just like a woman in denial of her pregnancy, I didn’t actually believe it was all happening until I had visual proof. For me, it was the tickets.

I have flown around the world many, many times, however, I have never been responsible for two little humans in the process.john-cobb-14130 It’s one thing to throw things in a backpack and dig out my passport but, an entirely different kettle of fish to be arranging four flights to another country with visa applications, baggage requirements, thoughts about timing, food accessibility, world schooling plans, accommodations and time changes for all of us.

We were up very late at night. It was the only time Kelvin and I could effectively talk about these plans without the’ regular’ day logistics happening around us. My brain froze as my hands hovered over the ‘Click to Purchase’ button.

This is after several more searches in Google Flights and Momondo as well as the airline Jet Star where we eventually bought our tickets. I was breathing heavily. I looked at Kelvin and my eyes grew big. He looked at me questioningly.

“Yes….?”, he gently asked. “What’s going on?”

I stared at him and said, “Are we really doing this?”

Here is where my very patient and kind husband could have said any number of unhelpful things. Instead, he just said, “Yes, we are and it is all going to be okay”.

At that moment I had all the details of our trip that I have been pouring over in my mind, on paper and on the internet swimming around in my head and I thought, ‘Where is the adult around here that we can check with?”

Then I realized, WE are the adults! Yikes! This just got real.

I had a similar brain freeze when I was seven months pregnant with our first son, Canyon and my friend Wendy was driving me home from michael-waters-105757Baby’s R Us with the crib my in-laws had bought us.

I knew it was going to happen. That baby was going to be coming soon.  But, I didn’t really know it until that moment. I was looking like I was nine months pregnant as it was but, it was that crib being brought into our home that really hit it home for me. It was real.

Wendy was reassuringly hilarious as she calmed and comforted me that we would get through this, the baby was indeed going to be here in about eight weeks and, that it would all be okay.

So, that night last week, we officially bought our international tiIMG_2002ckets that will transport our family to the other side of the planet.

And it will all be okay. Right? Of course, right.

The day after we bought our tickets my husband left me a bunch of flowers and a note that read, ‘Australia, here we come! I love that we are doing this!’

He is my elixir, yet again.

Onward and upward to the planning…. more to come. Thanks for joining us on this journey and we prepare for our journey.

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Giving Up Our Safe Spaces and ‘Things’

Five months to go to lift off. There are a hundred scattered thoughts in my head. Things happening in our world distract me endlessly and I am working on pulling myself back to our trip. It feels like wrestling with the alignment in my car. 

So, what’s next? Well, still trying to pare down our possessions. Mostly, this feels like it is happening in my head as I walk from room to room and think about what I really need and what I can let go. IMG_1716I get caught in this struggle to find the ‘best’ place for my stuff. I think, ‘I really should sell that book’ rather than just give it away. So, then I get caught in the crosshairs of finding most economical solution and what is that, really? If I clean out the metaphorical cobwebs doesn’t that have a plus on my well-being?

Recently, I have discovered Let Go and Offer Up and I
love the concept of them. The idea of being able to see what you are buying or post attractive photos of what you are selling appeals to me. I get that Craig’s List is similar, however, the immediate visual works better for me. Now, the problem is not scrolling around for things I don’t need to gather. Just sell. Just let go. Don’t accumulate.

Then the challenge in renting our house out. I so wish we could leave our furniture but, understand it is a risk in having it taken care of in a way that we would. I cringe in paying for big storage unit while trying to rent out our house. Hence, the desire to reduce our ‘stuff’. How willing are folks willing to rent out a house for a year, knowing they will not be able to extend the lease? My hope is yes folks will. So, there in lies the challenge. To find the right rental match for us and our house.

IMG_1700Did you know you have to pay taxes on your rental income? Some of you are hitting your forehead with your hand and saying, ‘YES, I knew that!’.
Well, I am catching up, just give me a chance. There is the magical pricing of getting a rent to pay the mortgage, the fees for someone to ‘manage’ the house while we are gone and then adjust to make sure we can pay taxes and I’m not paying to have someone stay at our house. It is a bit of math wizardry.

I’ve been looking at  Zillow to help figure that out. Found a good article on finding renters. The things to include in a rental agreement. Feels a little fool hardy to leave our most important purchase in our lifetime in the hands of strangers for year but, this whole venture is a risk. Jumping into plans to completely rewire our reality for a year feels scary. And leaving our house is a giant step of vulnerability. It’s our place of safety, comfort and, quite literally, home.

Keep tuned….more mind bending contemplations to come.

 

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Perfectionism and Sensory Overload

Every day closer to our departure, I am getting more excited and, honestly, a bit more freaked out. Reading other travel blogs excites me and then sets a new bar of ‘I wonder if we could do that’ to ‘Should we do that’ to ‘Are we supposed to do that?’  Trying to avoid the quesitons in my head that have a should, ought or must in them. Trying to reword them into maybes and that could be interesting. I have a lot of articles on my reading list tab and an other dozen in open windows on each of my devices. I have to consciously remind myself to read and enjoy and not read and add to my FOMO (fear of missing out) list.john-mark-arnold-42898

Trying to be careful to avoid perfectionism, I have to dig deep and ask myself what choices would mean in the long run and avoid that biggest annoying, perfectionism question ‘What would other people think’. That is a big one that we all grapple with and sometimes succeed in out running. I reach to Brene’ Brown’s work on vulnerability and perfectionism and it helps me ask myself reasonable and helpful questions. I am striving to be more internally motivated rather than externally so.

Overall, my husband and I have had a lot of positive feedback to our travel plan. Yet, this is a plunge into the unknown, for us as it is for most folks. We can read a lot about what travel is like for families in Laos but, what will that really be like for our family. We have two boys with sensory struggles so, all our parenting life has been learning how to navigate seemingly routine situations with a new eye on how this will play out for our boys, each of which has a different threshold for specific sensory input and output.

Personally, I’ve encountered some narrow-minded feedback on what our kids are dealing with, from ‘Is that (Sensory Processing Disorder ) even really a thing?’ to the equally unhelpful ‘You are over reacting and no wonder it effects your kids’. With a deep breath and shake of my shoulders, I move on.

Our boys are contemplating thoughtful questions about travel that one with experience in clemente-ruiz-abenza-134561leaving the country might overlook. I love the simplicity of their queries about ‘Are bathrooms available where we are going?’, ‘What is the likelihood shark attacks in Australia?’ to the far-reaching of ‘What if I miss my friends?’ and ‘Where will we sleep?’

Kelvin and I are both seeking solace in knowing we can’t answer all the questions and many not until we get to where we are going and that is okay. We can find basic answers to help the curiosity but, we are realizing that we are teaching our kids that predictability is not necessary and is, in fact, a wild goose chase. We are learning to contemplate that some steps have to be taken with a leap of faith and that it will all turn out the best it can for the situation we find ourselves in.

This doesn’t mean we are not working to soothe and calm each other in the face of the unknown but, we are going to work to avoid exacting answers that may change.kristopher-roller-188180 All while understanding that trying to make other’s happy with our choices doesn’t always make us happy and ultimately we can’t control others opinions anyway.

Big lungful of air here. We are all going to be okay.

So, sensory awareness and perfectionism shake off. These are things to contemplate as we move closer to our departure.

 

 

 

Brene' Brown Disappointment Expectations family travel Fitting in mom blog relationships respect round the world travel vulnerability worry

5 Things to Do Before We Skip Town-Cleaning out the Mental Cobwebs

We hit the six-months-to go mark yesterday. Whoa, yikes!..I just caught my breath when I wrote that. That means about 180 days to ready, steady, go. In my whirling life I realize I have a lot of loose threads I am constantly picking at. Some are reasonable and others are just plain, annoying time sucks. So, while I am trying to ‘clean house’ literally I also need to do it figuratively.

These are the things I am working on.

Kicking Toxic Relationships to the Curb! I am a human, non-sociopath (thank goodness) but, that also means I am a deeply feeling person. While this is not a bad thing, I find that I invest in relationships that are clearly not helpful, kind, symbiotic or healthy for me.kristopher-roller-188180

I spend a lot of time trying to craft a response from someone I care about and ache for them to like me back. I spend too much time, energy and, quite frankly, pieces of my soul in the output of others without receiving a balanced, authentic connection in return.
I am practicing turning towards the ones that have shown up and have earned the right to hear my story.

Say No When I Feel I Should say ‘Yes’. How many times a DAY do I mumble out an ‘okay’ or squeak a ‘yes’ when I know, in my heart of hearts, this request is not what truly aligns with my value much less, even have time for. It feels like a must but, at what cost?
dikaseva-34987Now, I don’t mean shirking my responsibilities but, rather saying yes to a time commitment that ever shrinks my sliver of ‘me time’ that have on my calendar. No one is making me do this. I do it. And I need to cut it out. Now.

 

Paying attention to the ‘shoulds, oughts and musts’ that rattle in my head.  Or otherwise said, stop ‘shoulding’ on myself. I say this to my clients all to time and like other  psychotherapists, I don’t always practice what I suggest (shock!). I think of these words as threads from someone else’s rule book, goals and they hijack my own dreams, hopes and intentions.

jared-erondu-15318I find myself surveying the room to find the ‘best’ choice or solution for all involved and meanwhile my voice, and often, my values get muffled.

Pushing others agendas to the front of the line will get me nowhere and often, it is not reciprocated

Resetting my Expectations of Others. Also, something I talk a lot about with clients. I am trying to do this more in my own relationships and, luckily, I have a very supportive and intuitive husband that often takes me by the shoulders and tries to redirect me to the more realistic path.

When we have an event, gathering or interaction coming useemi-samuel-15564p, my husband and I will talk about what the minimum expectations are (seriously shooting as low as possible), what is reasonable and achievable and then, the dream scenario.
All the while, becoming abundantly aware that I can only control myself as I am hoping for some crazy, magic, Jedi mind trick to get others into knowing and doing what I want. Often without saying it out loud.

Minimum : Low, low, bottom of barrel e.g. I show up at an event, I have a coffee
Reasonable and Achievable: e.g. I see the person, have a couple of connectingwords. 
Dream Scenario, aka, Lottery, Bonus, Gravy: The names says it all, expecting the best!  

unknown
I am setting simpler expectations. Dream Scenario will not likely happen but, if it does, what a pleasant surprise! It’s a lot shorter fall from high expectations and landing splat in a pile of disappointment and resentment to saying ‘that was unexpectedly awesome’.

 

Slow down and Look People in the Eye. In our technologically focused society we are often bumbling around the streets, coffee lines and even traffic lanes with our eyes angling down at a device. We are missing connections around us that are as authentic as anything we desire from those we are following on social media. jon-tyson-77013Simple eye contact is a deeply personal, human experience.

Now, I am not saying I am trying to see into stranger’s souls. No, I am merely saying we often feel so alone while surrounded by dozens of people. And a simple head nod and eye connection can boost our serotonin and release a few healthy hormones in blood stream to battle the anxiety and cortisol spikes we get while scanning click bait online.

 

Whew…so, what are you working on? Is this helpful to you?  These are not going to be accomplished immediately. These are all practices that are like pulling the car alignment into place. It takes attention and management. Saying them out loud makes me more accountable for them as well. So, how about you? No high expectations, just the minimum please.

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Here’s Your Notification: Turn off Your Notifications!

As I write this in the middle of the night, I am not struck by the irony of my thought or suggestion. I was tossing and turning tonight as I churned thoughts after attending at talk by Michael Lewis. He is known for his works The Big Short, Moneyball, The Blind Side among others.

In his varying topics last night, his talk included the new Trump Presidency.  I was really struck by his discussion with Hanna Rosin about what is going on in our country. Hanna asked, ‘Are we going to be dumber in four years? He said it’s like Patton standing in front of the American flag in movie theaters in the 1940s with the statement.

“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.’” ― General George S. Patton, Jr. to his troops on June 5, 1944

Then WWII. Now, 2017, our new reality. Get involved. And make it count. And we’ve seen this over the weekend.qc6vnbe4jqs-jerry-kiesewetter Millions out walking, marching, speaking out for a multitude of reasons.

Yes, it is good (I know, there are plenty of competing thoughts on this) however, your involvement has got to be balanced or your going to end up in my office. This week, I found the tone of many sessions came back to and unpacked angst, fear, anxiety, worry, anger and grief.

In only a week and how many times have I been bounced around the blogosphere, social networking sites with topics and events from inauguration, women’s march to minute by minute updates of what is being done or said in Washington and, therefore, bouncing around the world)?

My clients and I discussed this and pondered, maybe we are not only online too much but, we are being ‘pinged’ too much.otedkfse3j0-anete-lusina My work is hearing about what is taking up space and interrupting people’s lives and making it not work as well – it frequently comes back to – too many notifications.

This week I have been talking with clients about a media diet and that delicate balance between FOMO and awareness. During sessions, my clients are aware that my office is one of the few places where they don’t look at their phone for 50 minutes. I see them carefully put their phone at the other end of the couch or hesitate in their handling of their devices as they settle in.

I had to take deliberate steps to reduce my access to information and I am doing this imperfectly. My morning routine, for nearly 30 years, has been listen to NPR. It is as much a part of my day as my coffee, and getting dressed. This news cycle is ruining my everyday experience. I used to find it grounding. Now, I find my own levels of agitation are raised before I leave the house. Then I may take it out on my kids, or in my driving or my stress eating. I can’t do this. Not every day. Not for the foreseeable future.

I think of Stephen Colbert’s Election Night speech. Before the outcome was fully decided, Stephen encouraged us to get back to our lives and reminisced about when he was a kid and politics was a once in a while topic at the dinner table. Now, it can be several times a minute depending on how many notifications you have on.

I am also drawn to work by minimalist parent advocate, Asha Dornfest, who has been trying to help us be better parents and humans with her blog and podcast. that-horrifying-moment-when-youre-looking-for-an-adult-but-then-realize-you-are-an-adult-so-you-look-for-an-older-adult-someone-successfully-adulating-an-adultier-adult-fcb44She said in 2015 at the World Domination Summit that sometimes we are searching for someone else to be in charge.

So, given this. What do I recommend? Who am I to recommend anything? Well, I am a struggling  woman, mom, business owner, therapist, friend and human. I have to figure out how to balance it myself or I won’t be able to see you and I don’t want to be in the fetle position in the corner of my bedroom. But, like Brene’ Brown says, we need to embrace our imperfections. Well, excellent I can do that!

Some suggestions include; screen free days or, a at minimum, screen free pockets of time in our days. zajstp1nb88-alex-holyoakeThat is a start. I also recommend a couple of apps Calm and Mindshift that help us distract or rather, be in the moment.

Okay, enough for now. Excuse me while I go crawl back into bed and hope my hot water bottle has a little love left to give. And I will resist the urge to flip over the phone to see what’s happened in the last 20 minutes.

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