“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
We have been reading blogs about life on the road, talking to travel bloggers with children, watching Netflix travel programmes made by full-time travel bloggers – and all the while wanting desperately to change our lives.
But there is something holding us back, so many reasons not to go. A sense of security. Two “amazing” jobs. A pension plan. School. A community. Family.
So the question is – do we buy an RV, take the kids out of school, and hit the road, or do we do the “sensible” thing and wait until they leave school – then hubby and I can travel to our hearts’ content? BUT – so far none of our parents has managed to make it to retirement, so why plan for retirement? Wouldn’t it be better to get out there and live NOW?
It’s the old saying – do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Of course, you can be right and be happy!
But that doesn’t always happen. And the question is – when do you put your foot down? When do you insist on being right? And how far do you push it?
At our house, we have had a week of fighting. Well, more accurately, Hubby and I have.
It started last week. I had been working long hours and was exhausted. After a 13 hour day on site, I had come home to the news one of the girl’s school friends had passed away. It threw me a little, well more than a little. She was the same age as my youngest, and her elder sister the same age as my eldest. And I was tired. And it was cancer.
As I’ve said before, you never get over the death of a parent. You can learn to cope, and you can start to remember them and to smile, without a tear in your eye. But then IT (grief) will rare its ugly head when you least expect it. And when cancer took the life of a little 8-year-old girl that we had known since she was a toddler, a little girl who loved princesses and cats – IT hit me like a bus.
So I wasn’t coping. I was grumpy.
And Hubby did something I didn’t like. He was wrong – I was right.
A brave little girl who fought a battle beyond her years. Who had her 9th birthday party early, who never made it to 9.
As I tuck you into bed, as I kiss your forehead, I think of your friend who has just lost her little sister. Your friend, who at 12 years old, now has to face life without her best friend, her snuggle bunny.
Your friend who has to bury her little sister in the next few days.
I think about when the funeral is over, and everyone has gone home. I think about your friend, and that she will have to get up in the morning. That she will sit down for breakfast, at the family table, with an empty chair. That she is going to have to go to school. And come home. Alone. And that for everybody else, life will go on. But for her, life as she knows it has just stopped. Life will never be the same again.
Miss T, I ask you to be there for your friend. Your friend that you may find sitting on the floor of the library, head in hands, crying. I ask you not to expect her to move on. Just sit. Listen. Be there.
Miss T, I ask you to never wish your sister wasn’t born. I ask that you never hate her or wish her away. I ask you to love her and cherish her.
And Miss T, my daughter. I love you. I am so proud of you for being who you are. For being a leader, and a competitor. For being so stubborn and argumentative – for being so strong. The world needs you to stay strong.
4,000 miles, 39 days, two children … this trip is amazing. It changes us and brings us together as a family. But it’s not just the positive experiences that do that. It is the journey. And the journey comes with good days and bad. We can plan to the nth degree – but with so many factors outside of our control, travelling cannot be “unicorns and rainbows” all the time.
By day nine on the road, we are exhausted. We have been together for days on end (hint – no “alone time” = grumpy children + grumpy Daddy + grumpy Mummy!). Hubby still hasn’t completely recovered from his flu, and to top it off it has started snowing.
We have no rest days scheduled in our itinerary- today is our day for Lake Louise, Lake Agnes, Moraine Lake and Banff – snowing or not.
This exercise in gratefulness helps me to concentrate on what is good in our lives. Giving thanks can make you happier and more resilient, it can strengthen relationships and reduce stress. This Gratefulness Family Challenge does that simply:
Every night at bedtime we each say three things we are grateful for that day.
I love the idea of incorporating gratefulness into our everyday routine – of practising gratefulness every day with our children.
Focusing on what we are grateful for also helps us on our path to minimalism, to get rid of the clutter and to concentrate on what is important to us.
“The world is a book and those that do not travel read only one page.”
The Icefields Parkway was my reason for visiting Canada (after seeing the photos on a blog!), and it didn’t disappoint.
The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93, or ‘Promenade des Glaciers’ in French) is a 230km majestic drive between Jasper and Banff. I have never travelled any other road in the world that has such a diversity of attractions – aquamarine lakes, spectacular mountain ranges, rushing waterfalls, glaciers and wildlife!
Jasper National Park is your destination if you are looking to do a bit of bear spotting. It was by far the best spot to see bears – and we are comparing it with Banff National Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite and many more.
The scenery in Jasper is stunning, its surrounded by the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and at almost every turn there are vistas of blue lakes or rushing rivers, and not to mention the meandering wildlife. Of all the places we visited on this trip, Jasper National Park was my favourite. It is a pity so many visitors go north as far as Banff, or Lake Louise, and miss out on Jasper, and the Icefields Parkway.
Jasper and the Icefield Parkway absolutely blew me away. If you want to talk about a place where your soul feels at ease, where you feel at home, and at peace, Jasper is your destination. The Icefields Parkway is your journey.
I’ve included our favourites from Jasper in this blog, and will follow it with a blog about the Icefields Parkway.
What does the phrase “living my truth” mean to me? It is about being at peace, and content. And the freedom to be me, to drop the mask of the person I show the world, and to honour what is important to me.
“Living my truth” is a journey in getting to know myself. But one benefit of going through the grief process is that it makes you stop. Stop and assess what is really important to you.
Years ago I wrote my goals down. It was in the wake of losing my mother-in-law suddenly, and in the context of having already lost my father to cancer, long before he could walk me down the aisle or ever meet his beautiful grandchildren. One of my goals was to:
Spend more time with my children. Make that QUALITY time. Spend more time playing hairdressers and bouncing on the trampoline and making cakes and reading stories.
I was going to write a Working Mother’s Survival Guide, but then I thought – why should we just be surviving? Life is short. In most cases our children won’t leave home until their 18 or so. That is a long time to just be “surviving”. Why can’t we be happy?
I am the first to admit I struggle with balance, of balancing the desire to be there for my children with the tug of work commitments. I’ve struggled with the guilt. Every extra minute I spend at work, or away, I feel the guilt that I “should” be at home with my children. Every time I miss a school outing I feel the guilt. Every time I’m late or I miss a newsletter – I feel like I’ve failed as a mother.