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Roos, Koalas and other Dreamy Aussie animals.

Week two in Australia and we are moving on to camping after a luxurious stay at Deb’s home with three fuzzy roommates named Patrick, Marley and Gracie. We have been enjoying the personalities of each as we navigate their home and their human’s house.

We have loved having a kitchen, washer, dryer, two bedrooms  and even the use of a car. Albeit our trials of driving a manual shift were fraught with tense laughter and Oakley occasionally covering his eyes! We found this gem of a connection on Trusted Housesitters which allows us to connect with folks who want their house and pets cared for while they are on vacation.

While at this house, we made friends with nearby kids big and small. The boys playing footie with Joseph and his family who are West African immigrants to Australia.

James using his amazing grill sheet for the Kabobs

Meat, meat and meat.

We also enjoyed being invited to a real Aussie BBQ. Kelvin’s search for a butcher

work with ended up at Arundel Meats which serendipitously connected us to another neighbor. The butcher he worked with just happened to live across the street. Small, friendly Australian connection.

The Menu: Pre-course of sausages, then kabobs, then steak then salads and of course beer and wine. We did have some strawberries too! All for good measure to balance out our fruit and veggies was we are not currently lacking for protein.

Then Kangaroo and Koala Bear encounters. A dream to experience and a 50 before 50 bucket list item for me. The Roos were so close and just in the neighborhood. It seems like what running into deer is like for us in the NW. These Kangaroos are smart, sweet and strong.

They are so much bigger than I imagined. Just as the Koala bears are so compact like a favorite teddy bear and all curled up like a new-born human baby, but with so much more fur. It was sweet. 

So, so sweet. There are not many animals you wish to immediately cuddle upon the first time seeing them. These wondrous creatures meet the bill. I was transformed into a place of wonder and amazement. Feeling a bit voyeuristic watching them as they graze and nap. But, they are good teachers of helping us slow down and take it in.

The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was recommended to us by our Aussie connections and it was a great place to see Koala, Kangaroos, Salt-water crocodiles, Wallabies, Wombats, Dingos, Echidna, birds of prey, Emus, many snakes, and water rats (which was NOT my favorite encounter).

The non-profit place protects the animals and uses the funds for entry to support further care for animals. It felt good and worthwhile. Even getting to make silly photos for grandma at home! Canyon is our ham!

We also returned again and again to the parks along the water to the Bouncy Pillow, time one the beach and riding bikes along the water front for a couple of miles enjoying the giant Pelicans seeking snakes and brown snakes waking up after a long winter and sunning themselves on the beach.

It is never a dull moment. We couldn’t have spent many more days here and the boys connection with local kids playing make it a winner on many fronts.

We are settling into our regime of world schooling in the morning and it is hard transition some mornings but, enthusiasm builds with new animals to discover and research. Canyon wholeheartedly wrote up a report on the Red Kangaroo and was over the moon to see them at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. He felt so proud to know his work had taught us more information than we might have learned on our own.

So, we are doing our laundry, watching an educational program on Australian ABC telly, repacking our bags to get ready for the train, bus rides to get us to our camper van rental. It will be one of the first longer treks with our gear on our bodies.

We can do it! Stay tuned and we will let you know how it all turns out. Wifi will be limited but, we are talking with friends via What’sApp as we can call, text and video on the encrypted platform pretty seamlessly.

I am on Instagram with tid bits from time to time at audsjoy_simple_expectations a bit more frequently so, please do follow me there too.

Loving sharing this adventure with you. Please stay tuned and toss us some questions. We love to hear from you all!

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The Golden Coast of Australia is Magical.

Sol 14 for the Gurrs currently on the Gold Coast in Australia. We have gone through some ups and downs over the last days. All good in the life of adjusting to being location independent and living our dream of round the world travel/living. 

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Canyon staring down the pesky birds at Surfer’s Paradise

The time travel time warp of travel from Hawaii was a doozy. The journey to the airport was a mess of traffic at 4:45am. At one point, we even had chickens that were strutting by us faster than we were moving. But, we made it and our host the rented us their car from Turo was a complete angel by meeting us at location near the airport and dropping us off. We couldn’t have done it without him.

He and his family was amazing to us in Hawaii. Meeting us on his day off and hosting a wonderful afternoon at the beach. Never undermine the binding power of families loving travel. We have already been helped out a couple of times that is amazing and I count that in my gratitude list every night!

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Pretty good for a 4am wake up and harrowing trek to the airport!

Australia is 20 hours ahead in time so, we lost a whole day but, I thought we might be okay with the time of day being only four hours different from Hawaii. However, it took a bit of an adjustment for all of us. We are still ironing out the sleeping and eating. Little Oakley had such a hard time of it he got sick the first night and vomited all over without even knowing it, waking only when he had a bloody nose. Poor lad. Whew!

On Sunday, Kelvin got to have his second Father’s Day this year and we celebrated by wandering around the local mall to get first day supplies….sim cards, groceries, adapters, notebooks for schooling and a tasty lunch.

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Kangaroo Patties anyone?

The children helped us shop in the local grocery store as we searched for staples while eyeing some unique options, like Kangaroo patties (we passed this time).

We have been sorting out our world-schooling schedule with the boys. We touch on: Math, Writing, Journaling, Free-Draw, Research on a Local Subject and, what’s that? Lego building? Well, some things need to have special billing in order to stave off homesickness.
Canyon researched the Red Kangaroo and now we are all hoping to find one hopping nearby. However, they don’t really live near here due to their penchant for drier climates which we learned from the research. All is good in a day’s work!

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Oakley during Free Draw in Hawaii

Both boys have talked a lot about what they miss now that they know their friends are back in school. We had one FaceTime with a couple of dear friends and that helped. We are currently planning the Skype with the class. I sprung out the secret stash of Legos I had for such a homesick occasion and now furrowed brows are relaxed. At least for this moment.

House and Pet sitting is going wonderfully. I can’t say enough about the magic connector of Trusted Housesitters . We are currently on a house/pet sit taking care of three furry kitties of various temperaments. One lets us love him all day, the second on occasion and the third has come out only at night and being jet black makes for a ghostly encounter. We love being able to be in a home, cooking our meals, bathing when we need, feeling relaxed and having space to write, study and rest.

Today, Kelvin had is first stage at a local butchery. He worked alongside some local folks breaking down lamb and beef. You can follow his own process on his blog at Degrees of Kelvin. It is a great way for chefs to make friends and contacts. Also, he got paid in meat product so, that is a great bonus as well!

We are figuring out our schedule as we not just traveling around. We are trying to ‘live’ each place we are at. We go out to explore but, also setting time for learning, living in house and playing. We realize that finding playgrounds is an important part of our plan. IMG_4064Yesterday, we found the giant bouncy pillow and it rocked! Also, made quick friends with  a local lad on the zip-line. These are playground toys that would likely be inaccessible in the US due to our litigious culture. It was fun to watch the boys bouncing all over the place.

The surprise of everything thing feeling ‘normal’ for familiar then trying to drive a manual transmission on the ‘other’ or left side of the road, drinking some tea outside and then hearing the most amazing bird calls. It’s early days for us here and so far. Magic.

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Surfer’s Paradise

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Oakley having lost the plot at the airport as we sort transportation.

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Loco Moco in Oahu!

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Moving on Out! Lightening up the Load! On the Road!

We have been counting down the days until we fly out on the 23rd but, we realize that our first big departure day is tomorrow when we leave our house. We have been scurrying around for weeks trying to get all in place. The packing, sorting, donating, selling, scrapping and now, the cleaning.

For me, it feels like one of the most emotional parts. Packing up our lives means going through all the things that are around us daily. IMG_3120The regular coffee cups, the choices of shirts to wear, the boys Legos, that favorite pillow or cuddle blanket. Even going through shampoos, a lucky necklace or board game. We have been reducing our possessions to the smallest of piles to take with us.

 

The pack list is rather minimal. Pack what you can carry. IMG_3129
We still have some honing down to do and we will, however, it is certainly a fraction of what we have had access to everyday.

I have been impressed to see how our kids have been coping with the change and they have shown us, over and over again that they are very resilient kids. Most kids are. They live in the moment better than most adults. They are playing with what is in front of them even if it has been reduced to that last box of Legos and their Kindles.

These last days we have been feverishly cleaning surfaces and taping up boxes. Now the pod is gone (much to our

Good bye Pod!neighbor’s relief, I am sure) and our halls echo with our voices, we are aware that it is really us that makes a home. We ever we are, we will be fine.

We did have one of our two Bon Voyage parties. We had a give away area where folks sorted through some of the items we couldn’t yet donate or dump. It was a fun night where we also drank some of those really nice bottles of wine we have been saving for how long? Literally decades for some of them.

Lightening up the load. Today, we take our kitty to her new home with a long time friend, Ace. We pass the keys over to our patient renters. We return that final batch of library books. We use that borrowed vacuum for the last time.Growth chart measurement! Last for awhile We check the mail. Return keys to my office, measure the boys growth on the wall for that last time for a while and return that leftover dish from our Bon Voyage party.

Tonight we sleep the last time on our pile of blankets on the couch and the last bed left  in the house.

Tomorrow we drive to Idaho for a week of visiting family and friends. Our renters move in and we are officially on the road. Our journey in the contiguous 48 States starts our journey.

Bon Voyage! IMG_3077

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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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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!  

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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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An Experience of Grief-Elections

All over the world we still are talking about this election. It took me until today to feel like I could write something down. I wondered about why it has taken me so many days to write as I have a lot buzzing in my head and then, I realized, this is because I am still going through stages of grief. Several stages a day even.

In my work, my clients and I frequently talk about grief. We discuss that grief can be not just the loss of a person but, the loss of an experience, an opportunity, a thing or an idea. images-3The example I use is by looking at your dead car battery.

Say you wake up in the morning and get ready for school or work, go out to your car to get to work and the car battery is dead. The first thing you do is to try to start it again. You are in denial that it won’t start. ‘Of course, it is going to start”, you think to yourself. It hasn’t passed your mind that anything is wrong. You think, the car is starting and you’re going to do whatever it was what you were expecting to do. It would function. You shake your head, ‘huh?’ you think. You try to start it over and over. You don’t really believe that it won’t start.

Then you move into bargaining. You plead with the car to start, you beg and you coax. You may say that you will take the car to get high-octane gas, go to church next Sunday, anything to get the car to start. You may even fiddle with the air, music or other levers in the car to see if that will change the outcome and help it spring to life.

But the battery doesn’t start and then you move into anger. You are hitting the dashboard and yelling at the inert engine to start. You are pissed. You use choice words either under your breath or loud enough for the neighbors to hear and yet, the battery is still dead.

Sadness comes next. You moan, collapsing in your worries about how the day has gone to pot and if you don’t get to work or school on time everything else is also is going to fall apart.

Then, acceptance. You pull out your phone to get AAA, a Uber or race off to catch a Trimet bus to get going. You get it and understand the battery is not going to come to life and fire up the engine.

This week millions of people of all diversities and majorities have been progressing through these stages. I kept refreshing my screen to the 538 website which I had been using as my barometer to help balance my stomach clenches over the last couple weeks. Tuesday morning, I thought that a 70.2% certainly of a Hillary win was pretty good. Then when the numbers fell and the states were too close to call I was definitely in denial. I couldn’t compute in my head that this could actually be happening.images-2 As I cuddled with my boys on Tuesday night, as per our ritual, I cozied up to my seven-year old’s sleepy form while hoping against hope that the next time I refreshed my screen it would show better numbers. It did not. As I lay in the dark talking to myself in my head, I really thought that it was just a bad moment, denying that anything could really go wrong.

That night, I stayed up holding my phone, listening to NPR and watching CNN until I heard that Clinton had called Trump. As I kept switching sources, I felt I was truly watching a horrible crash that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. I willed the outcome to be different. I went through bargaining, anger and a lot of sadness. I woke up my husband to tell him the news and we held each other, we talked and I cried for the better part of two hours. images-1We scrambled our approach to tell our boys the outcome in the morning. The night had started out with us having a civics lesson on coloring in a map of America was the states were called out for the electoral college numbers. Those red states are still stained on our dry erase place mat as a reminder of a bad night.

I went back to hanging out in bargaining for a while on Wednesday since all the votes had not yet been tallied and was trying to convince myself that maybe, just maybe the electoral map could change. I have a problem with chronic optimism when faced with bad odds. Later I sunk back down into sadness with smatterings of anger and, I suppose, acceptance. I know what has happened is true but, I really can’t stomach processing it all.

The rest of the week I was the witness of several client’s experiences of grief in the process. Emotionally washed up at night, I took to baking, listening to musicals and treating the radio like a hot potato. imagesI would turn it on for a bit and then suddenly flick it off.

So, here we are five days later and we are all still processing. I think if Hillary had won there would be another 50 million or so going through their own experience of grief. We are a nation in conflict and grief. It will take more than a support group to help us get through this. I want to be hopeful but, my well is a bit dry. Today was #WorldKindnessDay and I checked in with a couple of friends who had big events in their lives and that felt good.

Over the weekend, we watched Les Miserables and Fiddler on the Roof. I explained to my children the grief of those stories and it helped me to see them confused by such horrid behavior, racism and anti-Semite rhetoric in the story lines. They, who have grown up with the only president they have known being a man of color, were shocked to learn that pogroms existed for decades and not too long ago. I felt I took a little of their innocence in explaining these stories, however, I also loved that they instinctly knew that it was not okay to act like this as a human today. This gives me hope.

In my grief, and this week they have seen me process a lot of it, my boys have supported my new acceptance in ways they don’t know yet. Yes, this has happened but, the story does not end here. We have work to do to continue to teach, learn and practice empathy. They don’t know it but, my boys are already guiding me in this process.

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The Cat is Out of the Bag!

Last week we revealed our plans to my mother in law and our kids. Different reveals with different reactions. Just to get you up to speed, we are planning a round the world trip with our boys starting in the summer of 2017. My husband will lose his job of the last 12 years and we are taking advantage of the timing and age of our boys to plan a trip away. A long time away and many long distances away.

Travel has been a part of my life since I was a teenager and my husband found his own travels through work in his 20s and together we have found some new paths and memories. Since our kids were born we have not traveled interationally together. This trip holds a lot of excitement as well as trepidation. I feel very soothed when planning trips even if for an overnight getaway.

Travel is a big part of my life and a ‘must’ that I need to feel sated. There are a lot of travel stories in my head that I want to share with our boys but, even more so, I want to create travel experiences with them so they too will be shaped by exposure and immersion in new cultures.

So, our plan. In August 2017 we will take off heading to Southeast Asia and soon thereafter Australia. We have dreams of going to destinations in Eastern Africa as well as South Africa, Israel, Croatia, several Western European countries where I have previously left footprints and have friends. Many of these freinds have kids in a similar age range of our boys. images-20The idea of connecting cross cultures for all of us in these ways feels exciting and a little bit nerve-racking. A bit like the night before Christmas or our wedding day.

In the spirit of this blog, we are trying to figure out how to set our expectations in reasonable and achievable ways. As I have written about before, I see that we all struggle with setting some expectations too high and feeling a crash of disappointment and resentment many times in our lives.

I am trying to consider how to define expectations in three areas. Minimum, Reasonable and Achievable and Dream Scenario (also known as the lottery, bonus, gravy, pie in the sky expectations). Many of us set Dream Scenarios and are let down and stunned when they don’t turn out that way. We forget what we can and cannot control in the grand scheme of things and are deeply disappointed when we pin our happiness on the actions of others.

We all do it. I am not one that knows how to not to do it, however, I am trying to re-adjust those expectations so, that I can safeguard my wellbeing at least a bit. These travel plans will be a lesson and challenge in planning, awareness and life experience.

We have to plan timing, budgeting, where to go, how to school our boys as we go along, flights, places to stay, how long to spend places, how to keep in touch and document, how to adjust ourselves to another’s ‘regular’, how to pack, how to leave our comfortable and predictable life at home and return to it after our time abroad. These are not small tasks and not a comprehensive list of those tasks. unknown-3My husband and I have set up bi-weekly meetings with each other to tackle some of these areas and to process ideas.

I will note here how things are going, however, I really want to hear from others. I am putting the call out to folks to give us feedback on places you think we ought to consider, gems hidden or otherwise to unwrap and explore. Helpful suggestions and thoughts of our plan are welcome. Be in touch and please leave comments here to spark more conversation.

More soon. Be well now.

Audrianna Joy

 

 

Expectations family travel Fitting in Hong Kong round the world travel travel travel blog Uncategorized

The Travel Plan Reveal – Trying to Make Something Enormous Simpler. What are the Expectations?

So, one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog was to document our family’s plan for world travel. Travel is such an important part of my life (my middle third especially) and I want to share it with our kids and create new memories in new places today. My fear has been that writing about something that has not yet happened is a bit out-of-order, cart before the horse, so to speak. images-11My fear would wash up inside and worry about being named as a non-doer, someone with all talk and no action and a tiny fear of superstition. If I write about it will it not happen.

Where do all these worries come from? My inner critics pushing their particular voice forward, reminiscing about previous times in my life when I struggled and when I failed and taking those moments and shoving them forward in my mind as if to show me.

“See, you can’t do this. You’re a fool to say these things out loud. Someone will reveal that you have failed in the past. Don’t involve others in your dreams until they are real and countable.”

So, my own expectations are tangled with worry, fear, excitement, hope, joy, trepidation and uneasiness. My point of this blog is to explore the challenge of having really high expectations dashed by reality unfolding. However, this is not a blog about images-13holding back our dreams, choosing the slow and safe lane, redirecting our wants toward the loudest naysayers opinion.

I have already made a lot of choices in my life that were non-conventional at the time. Traveling, studying and living overseas for a collective five years of my life didn’t match the norm of my contemporaries. At no point in those travels did I regret being where I was.
Yes, I struggled at times, feeling extraordinarily lonely and
left with only myself for company.

Which sometimes my own company was not great awash with some self-defeating judgements or thoughts. However, I didn’t try to come back ‘home’. I tried to figure out what was happening and how to make it a little bit better. Often hoping to make it much, much better.

Ironically, those moments are the ones I learned the most from. I think particularly about my time living and working in Hong Kong in 1993-1994. images-17Yes, what seems like a lifetime ago. I arrived in this big, neon city with my Dad as he had me connected to a business partner of his to do some work. We flew business class. I think it might have been the first time I had spent 11 hours sitting next to my Dad.

While flying into Hong Kong, I remember the how close the plane was to the buildings in the city as we circled to land at the airport. To me, the buildings looked like hundreds of matchboxes tipped up on their ends balancing precariously next to each other, almost feeling like I was looking at Dominos on a table top. My worry was that one might fall over.  Looking back, I may have been reflecting what I felt inside myself.

I had willingly left my safe haven back in the States to move to a new place. This wasn’t a new move for me. images-16At this point in my life, I had left my home country for foreign places several times but, landing in Western Europe each time. There, I could find a way for my caucasian self to blend in with my English and weak Dutch. I could be on a train and most would be none the wiser until I ordered a coffee, even then I could tilt and soften my accent to draw away from my American self identifiers.

In Hong Kong, I wasn’t going to blend in. I was, what my co-workers later told me was ,a ‘gweilo’. A ghost face. I could try to mix in but, my skin, eye color, the general way I held my body and my illiteracy in the various Chinese languages showed me for who I was, a stranger in a strange place.
Yet, I so wanted to blend in. When I travel, I am one to carefully hold the map inward, cautious to avoid too much attention. I want to be in step with and nearly anonymous in the community I am exploring. One to one, I don’t mind meeting new people and, actually, quite love images-15it but, I don’t want to be painted with the brush or spotlight of FOREIGNER where ever I go.

I was acutely aware of the ‘ugly American’ that would travel about the world, bumbling into people, cultures, languages, cuisine without an awareness of or care about the ripple effect of their wake. I may have kept to the shadows to my own detriment at times. As in Hong Kong, I found it not only very hard to blend in but, also to make friends. I didn’t connect to the ex-pat community. Back then there was no internet, Facebook, email list to join so I could safely explore my options in the comfort of my own computer before walking in a room and hoping to make a friend. I also didn’t want to make friends only with foreigners in this strange place with me. It would have probably helped a lot but, I was stubborn. I wanted to find my own way. And it turned out to be a very lonely path.

That Hong Kong travel experience was one of my darkest but, it taught me a lot. I can get through things. Most everything is in motion and we don’t get to stand in one place for very long. I look at my own kids and see that. Are they really seven and nine? What happened? The hard times move on and the good times move on. What we have control over is maneuvering ourselves towards better, healthier, happier times. This doesn’t always work as we don’t control anything but, ourselves. images-18However, perhaps we can point ourselves in the direction we want to go. Like a boat on a stream…there are plenty of obstacles but, we can navigate.

My husband and I are preparing to navigate ourselves into the greater world outside of our comfort zone in Portland, Oregon with our kids in tow. We want more experiences, unpredictable and hopefully, joyful. Yes, we will experience heartache, frustration, headaches and differing opinions but, we will be living and learning. We plan on leaving on a year-long journey in August 2017. What comes here is further exploring, planning and navigation of our life and dreams. Please stay tuned.