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Maldives on a Budget

Picnic Island Rashdoo Maldives

How to Plan for the Destination of your Dreams.

Make this THE YEAR to head to paradise.

It’s time.

Vision boards, bucket lists, wistful sighs that comes along with every instagram post we see.

There is always that one SPECIAL place in your heart you have always wanted to see. Big travel dreams dance in our head. Oh the places we would go, the sites we would see.

And they get stuck there. They become the “someday” in our sentence. Often times staying on those vision boards without ever actually becoming a reality.

Maldives Picnic island
Our view across from island we stayed on – Rasdhoo

We’re here to show you how to make it a reality

You might need to make some big decisions around determining the “when” this will happen. It might have to become a priority in your life when it comes to budgeting, planning and saving for this adventure of a lifetime.

But we can honestly say, if you are able to find the money to go to an all-inclusive resort down south, you are able to travel to the Maldives as a family.

Our goal on our world trip was to hit every destination we had on our bucket list (& we actually did it). But we were also highly strategic in THE WAY we did it.

Below is the very first dream destination that we opted for when planning our Cuppa Round the World Tour (#CuppaRTW) & one that we managed on budget with a Family of 4.

Trust us, make this the year to follow your dreams.

Truly a highlight of all the paces we saw in the world, the Maldives is near the top.

The Maldives

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Weather: Weather was beautiful, wish you were here. Average temp year round 30C/86F. Average water temperature 28C/82F.

Getting there: Search sale flights to get to either Colombo, Sri Lanka or Dubai, United Arab Emirates. There are a significant amount of flights from both locations that can offer up competitive pricing. I often set up a Fare Compare to watch the patterns on how/when different airlines start discounting their fares. We also ALWAYS look at the whole month on SkyScanner to see if there are better/cheaper options on when to fly. These are two of the most inexpensive (& shortest) routes to the Maldives. (I recently found flights for under $950CDN/$800US to Colombo.)

Hopscotching to the Maldives: We managed to find $200US/flight/person from Colombo to get to the Maldives via Emirates Airlines (which on an aside note is probably our family’s absolute favourite airline).

If you didn’t know already, Spencer’s very favourite airline on the entire planet is Emirates. The entire crew were phenomenal to him both legs of our flight.

Sometimes separating flights can make a HUGE difference vs trying to package it all up. If you have time, stay a day in Colombo or Dubai, both are amazing places in their own rights and great places to overcome jet lag before heading onward to the Maldives.

Emirates Flight Attendants & kid world travelers
Emirates is bar none one of the most luxurious airlines we have travelled on. If there is an option to fly with them within our budget, we will always choose Emirates.

Get me to Fantasy Island

Travelling from the airport in Male to your island destination: When we arrived in Male, we caught a speedboat from Airport/Male to Rasdhoo (the island we were staying on). Each guesthouse/location has transport arrangements, our options were to go either morning around 10am or in the afternoon around 4pm, (you catch the boat from Airport or from Male). Cost $40US/person. We took the public ferry on the way back which takes longer but hard to argue when on the ocean surrounded by Maldivian islands.

How you find your resort transfer when you arrive at Male airport in the Maldives
I’m a huge believer in using local SIM where possible. You can find them here at the Male airport or use the wifi at your location.

Show Me the Money (Aka How Much Do I Need To Save)

How to do it on budget: Consider staying locally. We opted to stay at a lovely guesthouse Acqua Blu Rasdoo on a residential island which in itself was a beautifully unique experience. Women were fully dressed in Birkas and we enjoyed the serene beauty of Islamic call to prayer daily. We felt it important to respect the culture on island so were sure to cover arms & legs when walking through town. There is a specific area called Bikini Beach dedicated for tourists who want to wear regular swimwear. Our cost for the guesthouse was $135CDN/$100US per Day and would pay $20US/day to rent kayaks, heading off to picnic at our very own island which sincerely felt like paradise. (We wore our bathing suits on the island).

Walking the island of Rasdhoo
The guest rooms were lovely at the Acqua Blu guesthouse we stayed at.
Respecting cultural & religious values was paramount for us on the road. No one ever insisted that we be covered but we felt it important. Note; it was less of concern for my daughter as other children on the island were dressed similarly in shorts. I simply used two sarongs as we traversed through town.

What to Do: Snorkelling, kayaking, dolphin tours, whale sharks, mantas, chilling by the beach and Diving. We worked with the guest-house to organize a manta excursions, the kayaks and snorkelling and utilized the Rasdhoo Dive Centre on the island for our dives. Honestly (after having experienced many across the globe) feel that the Maldives were one of the very best dives we have ever had. Coral is still alive and colourful, marine life is off the charts and the visibility range was well over 40m.

It was almost impossible to image waters this crystal clear. It made every part of being in the water glorious.

IMPORTANT NOTES: The Maldives are 100% islamic which means no alcohol anywhere apart from international resorts (& no you can’t bring any on island). We felt fine going without for our time in the Maldives. Consider dividing your time between the expense of an oceanfront bungalow & a less expensive option. Find locations nearby. It is not too difficult to make arrangements for either a plane or boat pick-up/drop-off to another island.

The Distance to Kuramanthi (an international resort option) is literally across the bay.

If you follow our path of the North Ari Atoll, there is a beautiful resort called Kuramathi Island across the bay from Rasdhoo, which is significantly more expensive but can provide that luxe Maldives experience you might be looking for. It is ultimately still the same ocean, still the most incredible diving and still the most beautiful beaches. The main difference is the luxe experience if you crave it and alcohol as an option.

Cost for a week in Maldives: $800US in flights, $810US in accommodations, Boat /airport transfers $180US (Boat to island and Ferry back), Food/Snacks $400US, Diving $300US, Excursions $240US, Kayaks $80US.

TOTAL COST: $2810US (with flights from wherever you are coming from)

See. Totally doable. We hope this helps in getting you moving towards your bliss. Stay tuned for more posts on family adventure travel & amazing places around the world.

Put yourself here. This is the private picnic island we would head to daily. Not too hard to see yourself there is it?

TOP TIPS: Arrive in the morning to take advantage of the boats heading out that day (there is usually a restriction that they stop going after a certain time.) If you arrive late, stay in Male overnight, then catch a boat in the am. If you try to bring alcohol into the Maldives, your bag is flagged. (We had bought gin thinking that would be our drink of choice while there.) While initially I was convinced I was about to go to prison, I submitted the alcohol to a customs clerk (as directed) and they simply gave me a claim check to pick up on my way out of the country.

Just cause. These little guys were everywhere so I thought I would give em a shoutout.

Heading to certain destinations on a shoulder season can mean thousands upon thousands of dollars difference, while doing extra research on where flights connect to and from can mean a steal. Skyscanner, Google Flight Matrix, Kayak, and Fare Compare are all your very best friends.

*** Costs are estimates based on our experience. They of course will be subject to research, timing, negotiations and availability. But trust me, if you think you can get there? GO. Definitely GO. It’s so worth it.

To Learn More About Dream Destinations on a Budget:

Maybe check out our post on the Galapagos on a Dime

To check out our Round The World adventures simply search up #CuppaRTW,Follow us on Instagram Or Subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

We are happy to answer any questions you have so hit us up! (& Get Planning).

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Changing the WorldFamily Matters

It Was Her Eyes. Making a Difference For Hungry Kids #Toonies4Tummies

I’m hungry

We are all responsible to make sure our kid’s tummies are full.

It was her eyes.

That’s what I remember the most.

We were sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Buenos Aires, people streaming along the ramblas in front of us enjoying the 30+ heat and sunshine. As we people-watched, I noticed a number of children, dirty, no shoes, messy, tangled hair, carrying babies with diapers as their only coverage begging to those passing by, pleading for money to feed their family.

I know what you are going to say, it might have been a scam. A ruse to foil tourists into giving them money. Maybe. Quite possibly. But you can’t make someone’s eyes look the way hers did.

At one point, I looked over at a trash bin and saw a little girl wildly licking her fingers as she devoured the sauce left inside a styrofoam takeout container. We locked eyes and in that moment, I wanted to cry for her. The pain of hunger etched across her face. Her eyes, sunken and manic with a desperate need to eat something. She was full-on starving.

Her eyes are burned into my brain.

We spent 3 months travelling through some of the poorest countries in South America. The word “hustle” has a different meaning down there. Their hustle is for survival and it can be very difficult to see at times. Throughout our entire trip around the world, one of the biggest impacts for us was how often we would see more of those eyes. Countless examples of children in dire need of food.

Kids often get mistaken with behavioural issues when in reality, it is hunger leading the way

Fast forward to when we came home to Toronto and I was at my child’s school. I was walking down the hall and ran into a child with those same hungry eyes. She said her tummy hurt and again, I wanted to cry for another child going through pains that they shouldn’t have to suffer.

The issue of child hunger is still a big problem here in Canada. Over 1.1 Million children access student nutrition programs on a daily basis and 1 in 8 households in Canada are food insecure, meaning they struggle with getting food on the table.

We all know kids who eat breakfast do better in school, and missing meals can impair a student’s success. Behavioural & concentration issues can be a challenge in children who are hungry. It takes a village, as they say, to care for our children. In this case, our village is our local school community and the programs set in place to help kids thrive.

One of the main contributors to this community is the Grocery Foundation and their #Toonies4Tummies program. This is a program that brings a significant number of grocery retailers and product brands together to help raise funds for student nutrition and keep tummies full at school.

The beauty of it all?

The Grocery Foundation funds all of the expenses for the campaign which means 100% of the donations received go directly to serving local communities.

Over the course of January, February and March, #Toonies4Tummies are collecting toonies at the till in store to help towards their $1Million dollar goal this year.

Even better, you can donate right from home by going to the Grocery Foundation website and donating online TODAY.

All it takes is a toonie and you are helping be the change with children across Canada.

Teach your children the importance & impact of helping others by watching how far our toonies grow with the Toonie Tracker at Toonies4Tummies.ca

We are all in this together. It’s time to care for our village.

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Changing the WorldFamily MattersKids Corner

23 ways to Teach Your Kids Kindness This Holiday Season

JOYTO THE WoRLD

We are our children’s biggest role models in how to grow up to be good humans. Yet in our running around, hectic scheduled mayhem that is so common today, we just might be teaching them the wrong set of values.

Teaching your kids how to be kind (now and in every day) is an important part of modelling as a parent. As the world shifts and changes, more than ever it is important to teach your kids kindness as a crucial part of their core set of values.

The holidays can be crazy for sure but it is also the most wonderful time of year. It is a time to be grateful, to spread joy, to embrace the holiday spirit and most importantly to be kind.

I know, I know, there is so much going on but TRUST ME, being kind is super easy.

This year we brainstormed WITH our kids on what we could do to be kind this holiday season and this is what they came up with.

 Teach Your Kids To Be Kind By Getting Them Involved

Handwrite a note

Take the time to tell someone how they have impacted your life, send a thank you note, or share a sweet sentiment to make someone’s day.

Save your pop can tops

Bless her heart, my grandmother would berate us if we didn’t take the pop can tops off for the countless years we were growing up. I actually didn’t think they still did this anymore but March of Dimes indeed does collect pop (& beer) can tops to purchase mobility items for those in need.

Donate money to the food bank

Did you know that food banks/soup kitchens are most often able to secure up to 4X the amount of food as you are purchasing from the grocery store? Many people will donate what they haven’t used in their cupboards. Canned goods (while still food), often lack the nutritional value a family needs to stay healthy. Consider what you donate. Giving money AND food is a great way to help provide fresh produce to families in need.

Make a friend

Friendship can be a difficult challenge for many kids growing up. Encouraging your kids to be fully aware of what is going on around them, to look out for kids who might be alone and actively seek out people to help or sit with can have an absolutely HUGE impact on another kid.

Listen to a friend

Social media is not your way of keeping in touch with important friends. That is and always will be the highlights of their lives. Check in, visit, and be present. Ask and truly listen to a friend who might need to talk a bit over the holidays.

You can make a friend anywhere you go, as long as you try.

Give money/Buy extra coffee/sandwiches and deliver them on the street

I have many friends who disagree with the belief in providing money and food to those in need. Yeah. No. No one, not one person, has ever asked for a fate of trying to stay warm out in the freezing cold without a roof over their heads or knowing where their next meal is coming from. No one ever. We have all taken wrong turns in our lives. For some that wrong turn has gone further down a path than others. For others, mental health issues have prevented them from maintaining a job or relationships or even providing the capacity to take care of themselves.  You never know anyone else’s story. Find the compassion in your heart to imagine how difficult this must be. Don’t judge. Just give.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen

We have been working with the kids on the concept of “jump to help”. Don’t wait to be told, offer up your help wherever possible. Spread joy & strike up conversations with patrons who are visiting this service. Nothing is more valuable than human connection.

The kids had the best time volunteering at a Mission and became fast friends with the people they were working with.

Hold the door open

Such an easy idea can really brighten someone’s day & in turn put them in a mindset to pay it forward as well.

Learn someone’s name

Whether its your barista, server, retail clerk or even the homeless person you meet on the street, dignity is everything. It’s such a simple thing but asking someone their name can often mean the world. It acknowledges them and shows them the respect they deserve.

Pay for someone’s coffee or meal

Next time you are at drive through, consider paying it forward by covering the order behind you. It is such a nice delight and usually starts a chain reaction of kindness.

Offer to help wrap presents

Older neighbours or friends who might feel challenges with arthritis or body pain might find it difficult to wrap gifts. Do it for them while having a visit and a cup of tea.

Hug someone

Hugs are the best. Seriously, if I could just offer free hugs at the mall to everyone (especially those who look Grinchy) I would. Hugs release oxytocin in a squeeze and have massive, awesome medical benefits. Not only does it help lower heart rates and reduce blood pressure, it also decreases stress hormones. Who doesn’t need a hug?

Bake or cook for your neighbours & friends

Sometimes putting time in to bring joy to others is the best kind of kindness you can share. Prepping a meal or providing baked goods to someone having visitors over the holidays is a great way to get your kids involved in considering the value of community.

Offer to take kids

I always say to our friends, more is actually easier. I love the bustle of kids running through the house and it allows us to have quality time with people we care about. Dropping off kids allows our kids to think of ways to entertain and allows our adult friends to go Christmas shopping or have a nice, quiet dinner out without concern of running home while the babysitter meter is ticking.

Fill the school library with books that support important dialogues

As the world is shifting, we still have so much to learn. Gifting a book to the library as part of your holiday plans helps to create dialogue on a number of important issues. Indigenous history & reconciliation, world religions, sexual identity, self-esteem, bullying and building respect are all topics that could use more accessible literature within our schools.

Get social in real life. Encourage kids to say Hi & smile.

Challenge your kids to meet someone new. I think in our over-concern of stranger danger, we have created a lot of nervousness in our kids. We have been focusing instead on being aware of your surroundings and trusting your gut. It is important for our kids to learn how to be social and a smile is one of the best kind of “viral” sensations you can create.

These lovely ladies were super awesome to volunteer beside and treated the kids with such kindness.

Stop by the fire, police or nurses station with baking or treats

Shift work is killer over the holidays. Many emergency/medical occupations miss out on their own family Christmas to provide care for others. Stopping by with kindness shows kids how we need each other in a community to function & flow. To show our gratitude & appreciation for those who watch over our world.

Clean someone’s driveway/Bring garbage cans up from the street

Especially as it gets colder, helping neighbours who could potentially slip and fall is an easy kindness to do every week. A wonderful task to get your kids involved in and seeing the importance of considering others in your every day.

Wash someone’s windows at the gas station

Its one of our son’s favourite things to do (& as long as he gets permission) he loves washing the windows around the gas station.

Stop by a seniors home

Often times seniors don’t have people coming to visit as much as they would like, need to get to appointments or would like to go to the store but don’t have the mobility to get there. A simple conversation and company can go a long way. A drive to somewhere they need to go could be an absolute dream.

Take a treat in to teacher/mechanic/hairstylist/doctor/dentist/service provider

A nice surprise that says “We appreciate you” will often make the team at any of these places smile.

Donate unexpected items to drop off at shelters

Consider donating products like diapers, new underwear, tampons, pads, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, even toilet paper can be welcome stock to share.

Spread Kindness & Joy

In any way you can.

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Family MattersTravel

Last Night I Cried…

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Not ready to head home from a life-changing trip around the world.

Last night I cried.

For a person who is quite synonymous with tears, I think my track record over these last many months has been pretty good. There have been only a few crying moments on this trip.

Apart from tears of joy.

My Happiness is all about being around these majestic animals

We knew at the beginning of this adventure that it would change all of us one way or another. Shifted perspectives, maturity/growth in the kids, a deeper understanding of how our world works.

What we didn’t know was exactly how or when we would start to notice that change. If I am being honest, I kept searching for it in the beginning months. I was waiting to be enlightened. Waiting to “feel” different or suddenly have that moment of clarity of where our life would lead. I thought FOR SURE it would be revealed as I sat on the beach and gazed out at the sunset.

You have to admit this sunset IS pretty inspiring. Taken on Koh Lanta, Thailand

Admittedly, I MIGHT be a bit of a hopeless romantic.

The truth is, it didn’t quite happen like that.

What happened instead was the realization that we actually had to go THROUGH this entire journey before we could figure out what it was all about.

Along the way I had the deepest desire to write. To share the experiences we have had with you at home. Hopefully as a source of encouragement, inspiration or to satisfy that travel bug for you in the midst of those bleary winter months. I wanted to write countless tips & travel hacks that we have learned along the way. And post more videos. And pictures.

And we will. Just not yet.

You see one of the biggest a-ha’s we have had on this trip is the difference when we are fully and totally present. We are practicing mindfulness in the moments and with that comes a delay of sharing all the things. I felt guilty for awhile, for not sharing enough. Now? Now I’m good because I believe BEING PRESENT is a big part of our story.

The real reason I started crying last night is because we started planning on when we were going to come home.

Granted, it is almost exactly to the day from our third version of our adventure timeline (initially we were going for 3 months, then 6 months and now it will be closer to 9 months). But we actually started talking and PLANNING how we were going to get home. Yuck.

Our kids (actually, our whole family) have thrived in this choice.

We are healthier. An easy task when your daily dose of Vitamin D goes from the trip between house and car to the entire day outside.

We are happier. Again, when your daily activity surrounds physical activity, laughter and exploration, life feels all together simpler. To watch our kids try new things, to be adventurous, to overcome their fears? God! That makes me happiest of all.

Most importantly, we are so much more connected that we ever could have asked for. Can I say (without judgement) that I believe I love both my kids and my husband more or maybe deeper?

Having had the chance to spend so much quality time together, we have more consideration and respect for one another than we did when we were full of busy.

I believe they in return love me more as well.

I know, I know. Life isn’t over. We still have a couple months to go and trust me, in those months we will be soaking up every moment we can.

I just don’t want it to end. 

Just not yet.

Dad Says:

Yup. She cried.  It has been few and far between, but this was a doozy.  Recognition that we were going to wind up returning home hit hard.  It took a bit to get past the inevitable and realize that our future was still unwritten. That what we take from the trip will no doubt determine what we become in the future.

And then she cried again.

Jenn holds the value of being respectful to the core. Yet at the entrance to the Grand Palace she was rejected by some overbearing guard, who decided that she wasn’t properly covered in her overwhelmingly hot capris and would need to purchase a skirt and top to shroud herself in penitent fabric.  This, as others strode by in skirts and bare legs.

Oh well, off to a rather shrewdly located shop that sold just the thing.  And as you might expect with such a captive audience of cast-offs searching for coverage, big markups and rude service.  Can I try this on? NO. CASH ONLY.  Tears in eyes she emerged, and covered herself in a blouse that, for all intents  and purposes, is not the best look ever.  I mean ever.  But it got her passed the gate, and, wiping the tears away, we went on to sweat our bits off admiring Bangkok’s best.

And if we are being truthful, she cried one more time.

At the Grand Palace in Thailand, home of the Jade buddha and where the king is laid to rest. The ornate decoration took your breath away. It was awesome, some would say even overwhelming. For Jenn, who feels deeply in every moment, too overwhelming. For her, it was that beautiful.

Sure, a few small occasions of tears but in the end (as it always will), everything worked out fine. Just like us heading home. Whatever happens, it will all work out fine.

Just saying…

 

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Family MattersReal LifeTravel

How Will You Tell This Story?

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Our WHY Behind Travelling the World

Every story has a back story and it’s not always pretty.

I never really considered ourselves storytellers until this trip.

Sure, Chris and I like to talk in stories. It’s fun and entertaining and most importantly gets people laughing by the end. Something for us that is ultimately the end goal.

Now my grandmother. She’s a storyteller.

In fact, she was the best storyteller of us all.

My grandmother was most indeed the matriarch of our family. The older sister and the “second mom” to a large family growing up in the prairies. She was given the job early in life to care for her 6 younger siblings, becoming a provider for the family at a time when she should have been playing instead of working. She was sweet, stubborn and with an incredibly strong work ethic. Her get-it-done-and-do-it-well ethic was one she imprinted on our entire family. But she loved to have fun. Her laugh was so big and contagious, it either had you in tears or one of you saying “I’m going to pee my pants!” or both.

Her life was her family and the art of storytelling was something she shared with her siblings, her children and her grandchildren. Trust me, you end up at one of our family reunions and nobody ever just recounts a moment. Vast, broad strokes of details are painted along the way. The story weaving back far enough to set the stage: providing minutiae like smells, clothes or even weather to give you the background you needed to see the whole picture and to feel like you were there.

It was an important part of my grandmother’s stories.

But Why?

So you could understand her WHY to every story she told.

As a kid, I would get frustrated. I was impatient, too young to understand the time it took to create that background, instead feeling she was going on and on. Ugh! Grandma! Always feeling she went much farther than necessary for the story’s conclusion.

As I got older, and she came close to the end of her years, I wanted to sit for hours to listen to those stories. I understood the foundation she was laying. I wanted more time to gobble up every morsel of a story she was willing to give.  To hear them often, so I could remember them when she was gone. So she would stay close in my memory through all of her beautiful stories.

Our WHY

A few years ago, we adopted a mantra to Come Before Winter.  The concept simple. Do whatever it is you have been thinking or dreaming about now because you never know what tomorrow brings. At that point we had known too many people affected with disease and too many passing before they had a chance to live a full life.

It changed us as a couple and as a family.

We took trips. A lot of them.

We created memories. A lot of them.

Travel became a priority.

Taking our kids to Scotland to visit many relatives on my Uncle’s 92nd birthday was so special.

Multi-generational trips to Disney World with Grandma. A trip to Scotland & Ireland with my parents. Seeing Carmen (an opera very special to my family) at Lincoln Center in New York, a 40th birthday in NYCClimbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Doing a Yoga Retreat with dear friends in Nicaragua. Meeting up with childhood pals in Quebec City.

Climbing Kilimanjaro to celebrate our 10th anniversary was a milestone we both loved achieving

We pushed far out of our comfort zone and it felt really really good.

The decision to do these was very intentional. We are blessed for the rest of our years with all the special moments we created with people we love.

Watching my Dad’s joy over showing his grandkids his home was an important part of our family story.

But these last few years have not been without struggle.

In 2014, on the day we were leaving for Mount Kilimanjaro, my Grandma passed.

When she left, I felt like I had lost one of my “persons”. Those people in your life who love you unconditionally. Your biggest cheerleaders. Ones where the connection to them feels deeper. The love pure.

But 2014 was full of life. We lived and loved big. We took on challenges and celebrated milestones. We conquered, we achieved, I turned 40 and we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. The time we spent with family and friends was time we will never regret.

When one of my best girls asked if I would meet her in NYC for her 40th, of course I said yes. How often do you celebrate a milestone like that?

Then 2015 made way to become a very difficult year. Like every other family we were running like mad chickens, over-committed, and busy. Just so busy.

I challenged myself in business. To build, to create more, do more, get bigger and in doing so, created an absolute wreck of a human being. I made decisions that went against my intuition and EVERY time got myself kicked in the ass. I took on some big financial risk during this growth and didn’t sleep for months.

Then in May of 2015, I lost another one of my persons. One of my dearest friends passed away suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Always one of my biggest cheerleaders, she was a wise old owl who was able to look (& talk through) all sides of the story when considering options. Yet she pushed me to be fearless and bold. Forever answering “yes!” before I even finished with “Do you think we should..?”

I always felt lucky to have had her as a friend but I wish I had told her more how much I valued her friendship, love and encouragement. Her loss made a deep cut to many who loved her. To this day, there is still a huge gaping hole that sits open in so many of us.

Beautiful memories like this make me happy

The grief of losing her mixed with massive business ups and downs created a level of anxiety and depression that I didn’t even know I was going through until much later. Most days, I felt like I was suffocating. When I think of those times, I often picture the Sea Witch from the Little Mermaid darkening the waters, growing bigger and bigger until she took over the whole screen. An ominous black liquid cloaking over me to the point of being unable to breath.

Outwardly, I was functioning because I felt I had to. Because it was expected of me to just “get over it” and to “relax” over the money invested in the business. Privately, I was having severe anxiety attacks that would scare both myself and my husband. They would happen as the kids slept or were gone for the day because somehow one of my ill-placed measures of success was not breaking down, truly breaking down, in front of them. On the other side of an attack I would end up feeling so exhausted that even sleep (& the desperate need for it) became part of the vicious cycle.

In September of 2015, We (ok I, with reluctant family members joining in) decided to do the Kon Mari purge. It’s a process I can’t recommend enough. Not necessarily because of the “Sparking Joy” piece but because getting rid of stuff clears your mind. Downsizing and letting go of so much of our crap helped immensely in releasing associated feelings connected to the past and got us moving to the future.

To start your way through a Kon Mari purge, here’s our start.

But something was still not right.

The purge helped collectively reduce my claustrophobic feelings, the big business decisions were done for the year but we felt like we weren’t living big anymore. Just going through the routine. Just busy people.

We had always talked of a dream of traveling the world. There were HUGE signs being sent our way that kept saying Do It Now! Come Before Winter! but that notion, that idea of making the leap felt SO big.

Too Big.

Yes, it can be Scary as F*ck. It can also be the most invigorating, exhilarating decision of your life. It is hard to believe that a year ago (at the start of 2016) we made the concrete decision to travel the world with our kids.

I am telling you this story not for sympathy or empathy but for you to see you are not alone. Everyone has a back story.

It’s for you to see our WHY behind the decisions we made to get here.

We want to tell you stories through our travels so that you can come along with us. We want to paint the picture so that you might be inspired enough to head down a similar path or travel somewhere you had never even thought about.

We all create imaginary barriers about why we can’t go somewhere. For us, we thought The Galapagos was too expensive. We are here to tell you it is entirely possible and one of the places we would recommend you to consider.

We want to tell you stories that are raw, real and honest. Ones that help you feel safe in taking that leap. Ones that makes you laugh. Taking chances to live the life you want. The one you deserve.

100%  it can be scary as shit. But it means you are LIVING it.

And that’s all that counts.

So tell us, what is your WHY?

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Family MattersTravel

It’s the Journey…

Sea turtles in the Galapagos

And so ours begins.

How to stay present while traveling.

Mom Says

I wasn’t sure how we would approach writing about this adventure. Social media is so engrained in my world (both professionally and personally) that of course I want to share everything with everybody because it’s just all so beautiful and so different. We hope to spread the good word about unique places, spaces and experiences that we think you might enjoy. The kids eager to pass on lessons we have learned on the road, taking on the responsibility of sharing information with their class & friends as part of their experience.

Sea lions in the galapagos
The mere proximity we had to wild life in The Galapagos made me cry ALL the time.

We believe in sharing openly and honestly about this journey. Writing without censorship the awesomeness and the challenges of family dynamics on the road might help in planning for your own adventure. Traveling with special needs for us is not about focusing on the disability but about providing an ABILITY to see the world in a different way. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Here’s the kicker. We barely ever get to ugly. It hasn’t ever really been a part of “us”.

The one bad I have been holding on to is that we haven’t written much. The truth is we haven’t written much YET because we (especially me) are learning to be present.

Swing at the end of the world views
This was the sun setting as the kids and I waited for them to venture on the Swing at the end of the world in Banos. IT was epic.

It’s so much more difficult than I realized.

I am in awe of the beauty mother nature has created here and listening intently to what the she has to say. These moments are gifts and I am concentrating on staying in the moment. To be still, breathe it in, recognize what it is and be grateful for all the beauty that sits before us. Admittedly it has brought me to tears so often that Chris is wondering if I’m going through “the change”.

Having Frigate birds soaring only a few feet away had us all choked up
Having Frigate birds soaring only a few feet away had us overwhelmed from the beauty of it all.

A dear friend gave us great advice before we left. Live fully in that moment for as long as you can, because the minute you bring a camera lens into the picture, all of the specialness you are witnessing disappears. A wise woman is she. A wise, wise woman.

Penguins in all their glory on Isla Isabella had me bawling
Penguins in all their glory on Isla Isabella. Penguins..Can we just say Penguins?

Dad says:

So here we are: all of the above is true, and now, this thing is on.  Real time events, reactions, and fun times ahead.

We arrived in Quito in the evening to a never-ending river of light as the city sits surrounded by so many mountains.  I am now speaking more spanish than ever, which was previously restricted to resort replies such as ‘si, yo es mucho macho’ and ‘uno mas’ and some upsizing at Taco Bell.

The city is awesome, foreign and fun.  Look for more posts to come as we comb through the notes and find the best stuff for you all.

This sunset happened minutes after we witnessed humpback whales breaching a mile off shore. We all were overwhelmed with emotion
This sunset happened minutes after we witnessed humpback whales breaching a mile off shore.

I don't know what we loved more. Having an Eagle Ray float by us or the Kids singing "Oh Let's Name the Zone" from Finding Nemo on the way back. So far above everything else, being in the moment in the Galapagos has been one of those true chances of a lifetime kind of gifts.
I don’t know what we loved more. Having an Eagle Ray float by us or the Kids singing “Oh Let’s Name the Zone” from Finding Nemo on the way back. So far above everything else, being in the moment in the Galapagos has been one of those true chances of a lifetime kind of gifts.

 

 

 

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