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.
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.
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.
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 NYC, Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Doing a Yoga Retreat with dear friends in Nicaragua. Meeting up with childhood pals in Quebec City.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?