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expectations

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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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The Let’s Go Checklist – 3 Month Marker – Part One

Memorial Day weekends are often a time to catch up with family and friends for a BBQ, remembering love ones who have passed and gear up for summer. In our family, either turkey hunting and sorting out the garage are also on the list!

Last week Kelvin and I got a rare Saturday night alone and we went through a long list of things to do and really me, off loading my worry list! So, what do we have to worry about? Well, I am a worrier and so, it comes second nature to make lists, while trying to solve and turn over sticky issues in my head. Sometimes, it’s a really annoying place to be!

So, one thing I do that helps is to dump out those worries. Write them down so, I can effectively look at them and not just the strands of them floating around in my head along with my emotions. As my dear husband knows, if they gave out ribbons for experiencing anxiety I would be a blue ribbon wearer! Thus, the need for talk and planning was so helpful for me.

So, at the end of our lovely evening, we made a list. A list to guide us over the next months. This is what we are working on (at least as of today!!).

Here’s what is on my mind all shaken out for your reading pleasure and my sorting.IMG_2345

1- Completely sort out our monthly expenses for when we are on the road. Identifying which subscriptions to shut down (we will need some Netflix from the road if can find the wi-fi!), bank transfers that we won’t be doing the road, etc.

2- Figuring out how to manage our money from the road. I have heard some great things about Trail Wallet to track expenses. I also talked to a friend who recently travelled in Vietnam and Thailand about the need for cash and how frequently bank cards get jammed up due to theft or other such annoyances.

3- We need to sell our mini-van before we go. We have a lease and need to sort out our financial obligation to that.

4- Rent out our house. We need to be out of our house by 15 August. We want to rent it partially furnished to save on storage but, would happy to rent it to folks that will take good care of our little parcel of earth while we are traveling. If we rent to folks we don’t know then we have to involve credit checks and in any case, we need to have a lease drawn up.

5- Where to store the things we have decided to sell, donate or dump? Kelvin is working on some Tetris magic in his mind as the boxes accumulate in our garage and evaluating what kind of square foot space we will need.

6- Work on house repairs. Those little things we have been avoiding to fix and now, will need to before we rent out.

7- Sorting out health insurance. Our insurance ends at the end of June along with Kelvin’s job so, figuring out what we will need to be compliant but, also not too expenses as we are unlikely to be able use this insurance while we are traveling.

8- Buy the travel supplies; packs, shoes, travel kits by a certain date.thomas-martinsen-2158 We have a couple of requests out to businesses to see if we can receive any donations and we will write about these products from the road. A real road test!

9- Setting up a safe deposit box at bank to hold important documents and valuables while we are on the road.

10- Getting our inoculations needed for travel. This one is tricky as it hard to convince our boys about extra ‘shots’ but, hopefully seeing us all get them together will make this a great bonding experience! ha!

11- Doctor’s and dental appointments. We are often scrambling to make sure the kids have their check ups but, as the grown ups we don’t always check in unless something is wrong. We need to have a basic check up to make sure all is clean and shiny (teeth) and all in working order!

12-Make digital and paper copies of all the documents we will need access to from the road and packets of information for each boy in the unlikely and, hopefully, never happening situation in which they need to reach out for help without our guidance.

That is the first dozen. There are more than a dozen more but, I am taking it a bit at a time.

Thanks for bearing with me and let me know of other things you would want to take care of if you were leaving for a significant amount of time.

 

 

 

 

 

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100 Days to Departure. It’s like a countdown to a due date.

Here it is…a marker many look to as progress towards or away from an event. We have reached our 100 days to departure date. Since we grew this idea of living overseas, we have been wrestling with the possibilities of whether it would happen or not. Like most people, we like to wax poetically about the things we could do as parents or as adults. 

Taking the step to make a plan actually started a couple of years ago. With my background of internationally living which had accumulated to five years by the time I married Kelvin it has always been perculating in the back of my mind. We had originally had the idea to live overseas in another country for a year. To live, work and learn in that community. We were heavily looking at Belgium as our place of destination. In December of 2015, when Kelvin got the news of his upcoming walking papers for his job  we really started the wheels in our heads.

Last year after attending the World Domination Summit (again, I would highly recommend it), where I attended an academy on long-term travel with your family by Tsh Oxenrider who pens The Art of Simple and  Stephanie Entre who has traveled around the world with their FIVE children. You can follow their current trip in Central America on Instagram.Gurr(small)_20090620_034 This academy opened the world of possibilities for us to repackage our trip, ideas and come up with an alternative plan (note: not to be confused with alternative facts).

So, last summer the round the world plan was born. We have been carefully tinkering away with the plans for this journey for nearly 10 months. Like a long overdue pregnancy. Currently, we are not setting a set schedule of designations and what we are doing on ground in where we are going. We have a basic start and have about the first month set up.

A lot of our work has been in wrapping up our life as we know it in here in Portland, Oregon. Gurr(small)_016_20090823Changing jobs, leaving schools, packing up, preparing goodbyes and selling belongings. We still have a lot to do but, we have a couple of Homeland style planning boards with tasks that we are following up on.

So today, Mother’s day, is our 100 day to go mark. I am enjoying a homemade breakfast from my sons, pondering where we will be next year and if where we are even celebrates Mother’s Day!

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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.

 

 

 

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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!  

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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Minimalist Packing, Like the Name Says – Simplifying Expectations

This week in Portland, Oregon we got hit with a whammy of a snow storm.IMG_1218 All this snow has given us a lot of indoor time and aside from playing chess with my work schedule (seeing which clients could come in when), sitting by the roaring fire and playing competitive games of Qwirkle we have also been dreaming a lot about our travel plans.

In the planning for our trip, I am taking a lot of notes about some of the subtler areas of preparing for travel that may not be as exciting (although I find it tandilizing) as a destination search but, certainly just as important for a successful trip. Two areas I have been reading about are in the packing and minimalism.

I want to be a better packer in any of my travels. I don’t like spending time worrying that I am missing something and therefore, can’t really tune into my experience. You know what I am talking about; the FOMO (fear of missing out).

I first heard about this at The World Domination Summit that I have attended for four years. An amazing gathering of like-minded individuals that want to live “an exceptional life lguiueqplhw-inbal-marilliin a conventional world. I would recommend learning more about this gathering and community here through Chris Guillebeau’s website. I am certain I will write more about his community and work as we go along  but, I digress.

Two things I am excited about are these travel helps aka hacks. Smaller bags and unique packing tools to help one take everything in on a carry on (I have yet to master this) as well as help you find things more easily. Diane Smith of Kid   has some great suggestions in her 8 Hacks in Traveling with Kids. Their website Kidtripster is a fun overall site to visit. Who would have thought the travel cubes would be so helpful! Also, love the silicone liquid carriers.

The other awesome resource is Tsh Oxenreider whose site The Art of Simple has some fun places to poke around in to feed your desire to become more ‘simple’ as well as soothe your travel bug. I really like her list on a packing list for women.

Tsh and her friend Stephanie Langford gave a great presentation at the WDS Academy last summer on how to travel for six months or longer. fhblheica-k-clem-onojeghuoI was so inspired by their work I came home and told my husband about the possibility of changing our trip of a year-long move to Brussels to a Yeear Long Round the World trip. And here we are planning it all!

Thanks Tsh and Stephanie! I am sure I will reference them again but, here I tip my lightweight, crushable travel hat to them! More to come!

 

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Leaning into the Discomfort and Looking for Respect

I have an interesting job for this time in our culture. Over the years, as a therapist, I hear people talk about their varied concerns.  These last two weeks, I have more about the same subject, the election. Thoughts, concerns, worries, musings, humor, fear, agitation and indignation.

Living in a Blue state in a metro area, it is not surprising that most of the people I hear from are talking about their shock, sadness, anger and dismay. images-3.jpegPeople have various ideas on how to proceed with their feelings; get involved, avoid the news, protest or barricade themselves at home.

In the last weeks, I have heard the some words repeatedly; echo chamber, the bubble,  phone bank, the media, donation…among others. One thread I am following is confusion and desire to know and understand. It slowly comes out that we need to talk more and that doesn’t just mean to the people whose answers we already know. It is time to lean into the discomfort.

The weekend after the election, I was at a locally owned store we frequent and the owner and I have a friendly banter. I asked him if we was one of the 59 million who voted for Trump. He looked at me a bit sheepishly and said, ‘I don’t talk about it much for fear of being judged’.

I stood back in took him in. ‘Oh, okay’, I said. ‘Tell me, how did you decide?’ He told me it was for his business and thought that change is needed at the higher levels of governing.images This man has a disability and has family member that is also disabled. Somewhere, he feels disenfranchised with the current system.

I nodded, thinking that this seems like a reasonable, political point, especially if you are fiscally conservative. That being said, I asked, ‘Well, okay, but can you explain him to my kids?’ as I pointed to my boys who were hovering nearby. He said, ‘That part is harder. I don’t like the behavior of this man..’ and he trailed off. We spoke a bit more and moved on to other topics.

Seems like we are going to have more and more of these conversations. Many likely at the Thanksgiving table this year. I am not picking sides (yes, I am left leaning) but, it seems we all know what our ‘peeps’ will say. We need to lean in ask the tough questions of ‘why and how’. The open-ended, curious questions that show we are not just waiting to talk again but, we are listening. We all want to be heard.

Now, I get it there is a lot of extreme rhetoric out there and it’s hard to know who believes what from a glance but, also we can’t assume. If someone has an opinion we need to ask ‘why?’  Myself, I work hard to teach my kids how to be good citizens and that means a lot of explaining about differences, privilege and the varied things that make a person and I don’t have all the answers. images-2I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I really screw it up but, I try to circle back and revisit the best I can.

While living in a progressive, lefty city, I grew up in rural Red State where Reagan was a God and my Dad was the preacher. My Dad was not a religious man by any conventional standards but, he was definitely the spokesperson (and financial contributor) for the importance of the Republican party. He had many flaws (like all of us) and one if his big ones was that he didn’t have room for discourse.

There was no space for an exchange of pluralistic views at our dinner table and many times he called me a ‘tree-hugging, fish-kissing’ liberal. Whether that label was a friendly jib, earnestly or not, my exploring views were not well tolerated in his presence. So, I stopped sharing them.

We moved on to less political topics and we rarely opened the door on these thoughtful, provocative topics. We played it safe. I believed I knew him and his rhetoric and I imagine he thought I was crazy or at least misguided. We didn’t ever say, ‘tell me why you think that way’ or ‘help me understand’.

Sound familiar? Again, we can find the people to agree with us but, to sit through the dialogue of those with which we disagree, that is the hard part. There is no guarantee that it will feel good or we will feel heard.images-1 That part is called vulnerability, as Brene’ Brown says, ‘it’s scary and brave at the same time’.

I don’t have the solutions, the method or the way out of our conflicts but, I am a listener of others and I see that when we respectfully listen people usually feel heard. When we feel heard we can then move on to problem solving. We  obviously have a lot more conversations about how to deal with racism, homophobia, the haves and have nots, the 1%, equity, xenophobia, and that is just a start.  Let’s start with leaning in.