A little over 3 years ago, we made the decision to leave our sticks and bricks home, opting for to travel the continent with our 12 kids. It has been an absolutely amazing 3 years. We’ve been to so many places, met so many people, and the adventure … oh the adventures we’ve had – enough for a few books for certain. And in those three years, we’ve also learned so many things about life that have changed our perspectives and changed our vision for the future.
Regardless of how we all make extended traveling appear, traveling is not all lollipops and rainbows, or however that utterly stupid saying goes. Traveling mirrors life and we know all too well that the above description does not in any way describe life.
Life is a roller coaster of good days and not so good days, of hardships and triumphs of deep love and deep pain, of smooth sailing and tsunami’s.
Hopefully, for most of us, the good far outweighs the bad and we can weather the hard times with faith and the support from family and close friends.
Traveling is truly magical, it’s exciting and fun. It makes the highs higher, but then it also makes the lows lower. We have a brand that depicts us as uber happy ALL the time. We are upbeat, super high on life, and living an extraordinary life for sure. Most of the time.
I wanted to write this blog partly to remind myself of the lessons that traveling has impressed on us as well as to share them with you, our friends who are with us always and who can maybe learn a thing or two about traveling, and about living.
Focus and Learn
Traveling teaches you to keep trudging forward, to keep moving, even if it’s slow progress, you keep going. You learn that you can’t change the past, sometimes you can’t even learn from tragedies that befall you …but you can control with how you deal with things.
I have no problems dealing with inconveniences. The truck’s dead, so what? No campgrounds with availability, big deal. These aren’t real problems, they’re annoyances and I can be quoted several times per day saying, “You don’t have the right to not be annoyed.”
But this year, in particularly this year, I’ve found myself asking, “Why?” And wondering what the heck is the purpose of the things we’ve endured this year. What is happening, God. Like so much, so otten. But that’s, a trap. So, instead I’ve learned to ask, “What now?”
Life Gets Real
I’m a writer, I like movies and stories, real life and fiction that in the end wrap up into a nice clean lesson and of course, a happy ending. I’m a sap. I am and I’m no longer afraid to admit it. I cry at the drop of a hat, for joy and in both anger and sadness, the tears flow.
But, life doesn’t flow like a Hollywood movie or a New York Times best selling novel. where the main characters walk through struggle, learn the good from it, label it a lesson, pack it away and live happily ever after.
Most of life doesn’t fly like that. More of a shitstorm of a cluster “you know what” where there are no burning bushes, no epiphanies. Just regular people, like you and me, just trying to find peace and happiness in a world filled with pain and sorrow. If you think I’m getting morose, hold on, this leads to my next Lesson, which is …
You Have To Choose to Be Happy
Happiness is a legit choice, it doesn’t just land on your doorstep, it isn’t gifted to you by God and it sure isn’t found in the rat race of climbing the corporate ladder. Though I did meet someone who told me the only way they would be happy is if they become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Like, really?
No, happiness is a peace within you which you must choose to unleash. Happy people realize this and are not imprisoned by their envisioned chains … their jobs, their children, their bank account, etc. They don’t expect people or things to give them happiness, instead they are the architects of their own life, chase their own dreams and their own idea of success.
Happy people are grateful people, they appreciate and give thanks for the things in life that give them extreme joy … their family, their children, their friends, a sunset, a river … Happy people also choose to smile. Sometimes simply smiling affects your mood and the mood of those around you exponentially.
And finally, happy people find value in struggle. Not that we’d choose struggle, but we know it’s inevitable. We know that at the very least we are persevering and becoming more and more compassionate to other’s struggles as we go through ours.
Live In The Present
Traveling has taught me, more than any other experience in life, to live in the here and now. To relish in the love of my family, to return that love with fervor, to appreciate that which I have right here, right now, without yearning for what was in the past or craving what could be in the future.
If you are unhappy, it’s because of the things you allow your mind to focus on. You have the power to train your mind to think positively, which is easy when things are gloriously wonderful, but when you hit hard times, it takes a lot of will to refrain from falling into the poor me mode.
Focus on the right things, on each and every moment and push all negatives thoughts out. Commit to positive thinking and problem solving and loving and cherishing and gratefulness.
Relax Your Brain
There was a time when Dan would have to fall asleep to the TV because he couldn’t shut off his mind. The thoughts about work, about finances, about coaching, about everything under the sun really would never ever cease.
Traveling has changed that, for the most part. We’ve challenged ourselves to give our minds a break. We challenged ourselves to release worry and anxiety.
Today, there really are moments when our brains are completely clear of thought. It is moments like this that I practice Contemplative Prayer. I need a very relaxing location, the beach, in a hammock beside a lake, in the bath, at Delicate Arch at Sunrise … you get the gist, anywhere away from children, right?
I give God permission to use all my faculties, my mind, my dreams, my creativity, etc to speak to me. I also, as a precaution, forbid the devil from participating. Then, I simply lay in utter peace, with nothing in my mind and this is when I am divinely inspired. It really is remarkable and I encourage you to Google this type of prayer, but my point is … my mind gets a break from the constant barrage of worrisome and concerning thoughts. Try it …
When you travel full time, chances are you won’t have the support system that you would if you were home. But because of that, traveling gives you and your companions a sense of individual and cooperative strength. Together, through our faith, we have learned that we really can get through almost anything together. We are family …