After 8 months of travel, how have I changed?
After having experienced first hand the amazing writing abilities of my wife as she creates each post i would be lying if I didn't feel a little bit intimidated by the prospect of creating a post myself. Skyler has been asking me to do this but I've always fobbed her off saying she is the creative and artistic one who dreams up all the amazing things and I'm just the organizer who helps to make it happen, but crunch time has come and as I arrived home tonight my wife had the laptop sitting there with my name on it (figuratively not literally of course) so here goes...
A year ago now I was just finishing up work at a company I had been at for nearly 12 years and little did I know the changes that were about to take place in my life. It was a big enough decision to choose to leave that company but to completely change our life was another thing entirely. I guess I figured that I had been doing what everybody else was doing; raising a family, working, trying to pay off the mortgage, trying to get ahead so that one day I could properly relax and have a real holiday, not the ones you take where you feel that you need another one just to recover from it. There was nothing wrong with that life, most people I knew where doing exactly the same, but somehow there seemed something missing, something I was missing out on.
The realization of this didn't come as a thunderbolt but I think has been growing stronger and stronger with each day and week we spend living the life we are at the moment. At the start it was just an awesome idea to get away from everything and enjoy time with my children one on one, something that work did not allow me to do as much as I wanted. It wasn't easy at the beginning, I felt like I needed to detox from such a stress filled work life, which I believe had made my priorities skewed in the wrong direction. Work had become the thing that ruled my life. It seemed that not only when I was at work, but when I was finished for the day, it consumed my thoughts and took away time that I needed to be me, a husband, a father, just me. When something takes over your life like that you change as a person and for me it was into the kind of someone that i didn't really want to be. So thanks to my wonderful wife and a loving God I finally got the message that I had to change something fast so I took a leap of faith and jumped in.
As i reflect back now after 8 months I can definitely see that it has been a process of change for me. As my wife and I talk about how the children have adapted to the changes I can see that I also have had to go through a process of adaptation to this new life. It was hard to be around the children all the time at first. I'll admit it, its easier to go the work than it is to be a 24/7 parent and I take my hat off to all the stay at home Mums and Dads out there, its a tough job where there is often no time for yourself, but the benefits have been enormous for me. It seems that the more I experience and the more I follow my passions and interests, the more the whole world seems to open up to me. There are things that I want to do in my life now that i never would have dreamed about a year ago. Likewise there are things that I want my children to experience in this life, that I never dreamed of before. Its like someone has switched on a light to a huge room filled with interesting things to see and experience.
I think the biggest change in me has been the shift in priorities for me and for my family. It has been a shift from having things, to having experiences. Don't get me wrong I have never really been one who focused on material things but I guess my major priorities in life tended to lean towards accumulating money so that we would be financially secure, which would then lead to going on more holidays so i could "experience" life and enjoy myself. I've always been a saver and would sacrifice so I could save for a rainy day in the future somewhere. This is not necessarily a bad thing, our society is full of people who do the opposite and get into a lot of financial trouble as a result, but for me it wasn't just the act but the mindset that was affected me. In essence looking back, i was sacrificing some really important things that i should be enjoying now, all for the prospect of enjoying it in the future. I remember the day it came to me that my oldest son Levi who at the time was turning 12 would be 18 in only 6 short years and start a life of his own, where I was no longer a major player! Where had the last 12 years gone? Why did I feel that I hadn't spent enough time with him? Because I hadn't. Other things in my life had taken up not only my time but my head space, and I would be damned it I let that happen anymore. That was the fuel that kept me going as I plodded through the hell of organizing and packing up a house of 12 years, selling everything we could, all the time thinking "What are we doing?", "Are we really going to just pick up and go?" The title of the blog is "learning brave" and I believe I have learned so much because I was willing to listen and be brave when all my insecurities were telling me I was crazy. I haven't regretted it once since we left.
What will the future hold for us now? I've learned that keeping your life open to the millions of possibilities helps to make so many more of them actually happen. I've learned that you only get to live once on this earth so I want to experience as much of it as I can. It has been so rewarding to have spent more time with Bohan in the first year of his life than I did with all the other four combined. It melts my heart that he calls for Dad as much as Mum and wants me to cuddle him to bed at night. I've learned to takes things slower, and not be so high strung about everything working out perfectly. Our last eight months have had plenty of imperfect experiences, but they were experiences that I would never change. We laugh now about them and it teaches the children that life is not all perfect no matter how well you plan for it, but you can still find joy in it.
One of the biggest changes in me has been the ability to see different perspectives in many aspects of life. I think I was too narrow minded before. If something had worked for me that it should work for everyone, right? Wrong! My views about education, particularly the education of our children have been on a huge learning curve and all because I looked outside the box and was willing to accept that there were different ways of thinking and learning and educating. The more I study this subject the more I see the individuality of people and their personal ways of learning. It has been exciting for me to find this in my own children and to recognize the amazing skills and talents they all possess. I've learned more about my children in the last 8 months that I think I did for the sum total of their combined lives to date. What a joy that has been. Living in different countries and being part of their communities and different ways of thinking and viewing the world, I believe has made me a more complete person also. I feel that I am coming to the end of my detox from the type of man I was and am starting to see the sort of man I've always wanted to be.
I found lots of time to relax and enjoy the simple things like a baby's obsession with sunglasses!
Don't ask me what the hell I'm doing in the middle of the forest with a pram! My face says it all, thongs and stinging nettles! I'm sure it was not my idea. But hey, I'll never forget it.
It's nice to be able to see yourself truly happy. You don't often get to see your own face when you are happy.