What does "living the simple dream" mean to me?

I always hear people from our generation saying "Ahh, living the dream" when they are doing somthing our of the ordinary - for example: sipping cocktails in a spa of a fancy resort or perhaps they post "living the dream" as the caption beneath a photo of them moving into their new $500,000+ mansion-esque home they have just mortgaged their life away for. At first I was confused by how simple my ambitions were. All I wanted was to live in a caravan and be able to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors with my husband and son, without my husband having to be at work all the time. So for me, this became my simple dream. I find myself having those "Ahh living the dream" moments when I am sitting in a natural hot spring with my husband and son, drinking a beer, ten feet away from a crocodile infested river. Now mine, my husbands and my sons life is all about chasing our simple dream.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Our Year In Review

Our Year in Review
This year has not been without its up’s and downs. We have had a massive year that has seen us cover a lot of kilometres and experience a lot of personal growth. With this thought in mind I figured now would be a great time to review the past year and what it has brought to our lives.

The beginning of this year was an extremely difficult time for us. After my husband lost his father and brother to a car accident in September last year life became extremely hard and downright sad. My husband (understandably) experienced grief and depression as a result of this horrible loss and he found it extremely difficult to go back to work around Christmas time. After MANY frustratingly unsuccessful attempts to ease back into our old life (which involved Brent working away from home for upto 9 days/nights at a time) we realised we were fighting a losing battle. We were already working towards a life on the road (and had been for a while) so we decided to just start our new life a little early.

We purchased our caravan and moved into it. We spent the next few months travelling with our van between family and friends places on the east coast trying to spend as much time with them as possible. We went to Mackay and enjoyed a weekend on an island with our very close friends, spent weeks at Grafton relaxing at my mothers’ house, and visited our family and friends on the Central Coast for some much needed socialising. We used this time to move into and settle into our van, develop our own routine for life inside the van and to relax, calm down after the hectic past six months and day dream about our future adventures.
My beautiful God-daughter/Niece Kaylle (and me!)

During April and May we spent a lot of time on the Central Coast of NSW. We used this time to make some new memories with both our family before we would head off and not see them for a year or more.  During this time I worked for a short period, in my sister’s bakery while she prepared to have her second baby (My god-daughter Kaylee) and we basically soaked up as much as we possibly could of the time our friends and family were able to give us. This was a beautiful way for Brent to connect with his mother, his brothers and his cousins by enjoying a lot of social, fun together and reminiscing about all of their beautiful childhood memories. This experience played such a huge part in Brent being able to take this adventure as he really needed some quality time with his family after the tragedy and before heading off for our adventure. (We lived in the van full time during this entire period)
First stop Dubbo!

At the start of June we began the first leg of our adventure into the unknown. We left the Central Coast and headed straight to Dubbo. This was such an exciting time for us and it felt amazing to be on the road experiencing new towns, beautiful sunsets and sun rises and just enjoying each other’s company. We knew from the first second we hit the highway that we had definitely made the right choice and that this was the lifestyle for us. During this month we experienced so many new places and experiences heading  West across NSW, through places like Dubbo, Cobar and Broken hill, then into South Australia.
Zac on Ayers Rock (and I kind of captured some elses family photo happening too if you look up and to the left of Zac, lol, oops!)

During this time we headed from Port Augusta STRAIGHT up the Centre of Australia. We had our first experiences of the outback, went to Ayers Rock and Alice Springs (and everywhere else). All this time we were becoming happier, more relaxed and loving our lifestyle ore and more by the moment every day. We became closer, changed as people, developed new interests and habits and found new friends and “home towns” we would love to stay at for longer down the track. During this time we did of course experience (and work through) intense and difficult emotions related to the loss of Brent’s brother and father, but we worked through everything together and made sure to give each other support, comfort, love and time to ourselves when needed. We experienced massive internal growth and somehow managed to ‘get our happy back’ as my friend Rhiannon would say!
Brent and I watching the sunset of Mindil Beach

We realised when we got to Darwin that our finances were starting to disagree with our plans of further travel and that we would need to stop and work. Brent had a job lined up but unfortunately it wasn’t what we expected and they wanted him to sign a one year contract (which we weren’t comfortable doing) so we made the crazy, impromptu decision to continue down the West coast and out to Kalgoorlie for another job opportunity. Brent quickly lined up a job in Kalgoorlie and unfortunately this heavily dictated the pace of our trip down the West coast. We didn’t get to experience a lot of WA (not Darwin, Kakadu etc.) but coming out to Kalgoorlie was definitely a great decision as it will fund our further travels. We settled into a caravan park in Kalgoorlie in September (after a 4 day trip to Esperance) and enjoyed a visit from my mum!  Brent started work in September and later in September/October we had a visit from Brent’s mum! Both times it was so wonderful to see familiar faces and spend quality time with our mums.
Brent and Zac at the Kalgoorlie St Barbaras Day parade where a massive dump truck drives through town

During the last three months we have been living in our van in Kalgoorlie while Brent works a “seven days on, four days off” roster in the Super Pit mine. It has been a little difficult for us to get used to not spending every moment of every day having fun together but we understand that this lifestyle requires hard work! Brent has adapted really well to going back to work, especially at a mine where he does not have to spend his nights sleeping away from home in order to work there. Brent is enjoying his job and regaining a lot of his lost confidence in himself by being there. I started back at uni (via correspondence) after deferring for the past year to support Brent emotionally and physically. I a finding it a little difficult to get back into it as I over-aimed and signed on for fulltime despite having our 3 year old son Zac at home with me full time. I am now looking forward to finishing up for the year, taking the first term off and then only doing part tie each term after.

We have spend a massive part of the last few weeks sorting through our van and dramatically downsizing our belongings (and donating them to charity). We have had a busy end to the year with Brent working and me trying to complete the uni term as well as be at home with Zac but we have definitely enjoyed the year and are so grateful for how much 2011 brought to our lives. We look forward to 2012 and all of the adventures and experiences it will bring. 

Where to from here?
We plan to leave Kalgoorlie very early on in May 2012, we will do a two week trip across the bottom of Australia and back to the Central Coast of NSW where we will spend a week or two with our family and leave our caravan. We will then head to Grafton and spend a week or two pretty intensely working on our ute to prepare it for our big 3 month “off-road trip” which we leave for on June 10th with my mum and step father and their vehicle.  We will then spend three months travelling from Grafton to Birdsville, across the Madigan Line (Simpson Desert) and through the Red centre, a part of the Canning stock Route and up to the Kimberly region. We will then go across to Darwin and from there on I’m not sure, but somehow we will end up back in Grafton.
I plan on documenting the entire trip from the moment we leave Kalgoorlie onwards, so everyone will be updated regularly on where we are and what we are doing. After our trip we will spend 6+ weeks on the Central Coast catching up with Brent’s family and my sister and friends and then we will head to Mackay QLD (with the van). In Mackay we will catch up with my brothers, dad and his girlfriend and our friends, for around 6+ weeks and decide where to go to for Brent’s next “work stint”.

So this year has been an amazing year for us. It has seen us finally living our dream life on the road and experiencing this beautiful country. We have learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We have come out of the other side of grief and depression by experiencing and enjoying this beautiful country and eachtoher. We have missed our friends and family so much and we really look forward to spending some time with them in 2012. We are very grateful for every day  we get to be together and every moment we spend living this lifestyle and we hope that 2012 brings more of these fantastic adventures into our life.

What YOU can expect from 'Living the Simple Dream' in 2012

What can you expect from Living the Simple Dream in 2012?

We have had such a great response to our blog in 2011 and we know that as well as all of the people who found it through our Facebook page, we also have a lot of family and friends following. Our blog’s (both our travel and our general “lifestyle” blog) are a great way for us to share this lifestyle with people, inspire others to live a life outside the box and to give our family and friends a place to go to regularly see what we are upto.
Why do we do this?
We created the Living The Simple Dream “blog” page to share our thoughts and experiences on the simple, nomadic lifestyle. We want to show people that this lifestyle is wonderful, freeing and 100% achievable. We want to use ourselves and our life as an example to inspire others to chase their own dreams and life the life that they want to live. We have found that the blog site simply is not enough though, to convey this message adequately.

A new Website for LTSD?
This is why we plan on having a proper website made in 2012. The website will have our albums, blog posts, tips and advice, a record of everywhere we visit (we will also import over all of our entries from our travel blog) that will hopefully link back to a map. It will have useful links for other travel blogs, forums and information. Hopefully it will be a very resourceful page for people considering taking the big leap into a new, nomadic life!  
Some of the new regular posts we will be using our webpage for in 2012 will be:

regular weekly/bi weekly posts
Personal posts about the way we percieve our journey
Finally getting around to the promised “blog series” on setting up our car for outback travel
Many more “blog series” posts covering a range of different topics and experiences
Posts that involve and include the people that follow our journey
Regular photo posts
and MUCH, much more!

Our message to you:
We hope that everyone has enjoyed following our journey and will stay with us next year to see what adventures we get upto! We hope that we can bring you a bigger and better blog page that’s easier to use, more resourceful and can better convey the message we want to send about ourselves and our lifestyle. We hope that we are able to use our lifestyle to inspire and encourage people to chase and live their own dreams. Thank you to everyone who has followed our journey this year and we look forward to sharing 2012 with you all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mum, can I help?

Mum, can I help?

‘Mum, can I help?’ – This is the sentence I hear the absolute most from my 3 year old son at home.  It doesn’t seem to matter what I am doing – he wants to help. If he spots me wiping down a bench, mopping floors, baking, tidying or just ‘pottering around’ doing a little bit of everything, he VERY excitedly runs up and asks to help.
Like most mothers I find my days pretty busy ( and most of the time I like that), because of this I found myself trying to rush to get my ‘jobs’ done so that I can have downtime with my son. So I was always responding to my son ‘just let mummy do it mate, then I’ll come and play with you’.

This seemed fine, he never became upset about not being able to help me so it was never something I gave any further thought - until recently. A week or so ago when my uni workload lessened and I found myself with a bit of extra time on my hands – I decided to slowwwww right down.
Zac and I at Ayers rock

I slowed down so much that I started to actually think before I responded to my sons’ requests to help me. When I thought about it I realised that my mum was often disappointed in our disinterest in helping out once we were older. I started wondering if my significantly, efficient mum had perhaps found herself doing the same thing as me – focussing on getting those seemingly “mindless” tasks like cleaning out of the way quickly, in order to have “quality time” for her children.
So I trailed off with my thoughts and began to wonder if maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal to include Zac in these tasks, to teach him skills like cooking, cleaning, tidying, folding, sorting, packing, washing (clothing and dishes) at his own pace, when his own interest spikes and at such a young age. That way he will become capable at such tasks and also develop an understanding of the domestic duties running a household requires.

So this morning Zac said “Mum, what are you doing” and I responded “I’m putting the washing in the machine so I can wash it”, then came the question “mum, can I help?” What did I say? I said “YES”. He then picked up the clothing items I had placed in the basket on the floor, he loaded them all in the washing machine and with direction he took a scoop of powder and tipped it in, pressed the buttons and started the machine. When the load was finished he was EXCITED to hear the beep (can you believe that? Lol) and because he couldn’t reach the line he requested that he could pass me each peg while I hung the washing out. It was actually really nice to have the company and bring a fresh new light to the world of housework.
Zac washing the dishes for the first time when we were in Darwin, we had to re-wash every one of them once he was in bed but he still enjoyed helping.

Not only does this kind of (voluntary) involvement in the housework teach Zac new skills, it also increases his confidence in himself and what he is capable of. Since that task he has requested (and proceeded) to help me measure, mix and bake a batch of coconut macaroons and ginger bread men, helped me put away the washing and we swept the annex together.
During all of this Zac was so happy and excitable but at the same time he slowed down and genuinely listened to and processed the instructions I gave him. He seemed to feel really satisfied at the end of each task and immediately asked me for something else to help with.

Even though his help can slow things down a lot and make simple tasks quiet tedious, ultimately, I do have the time for that and if that’s what he wants to do and he finds fun at the time than I don’t think he is missing any of the “quality time” he is giving up by missing out on a few of those minutes and hours of sitting on the floor playing with plastic toys together. Not that I will let my domestic responsibilities take away our play time.
I love to teach Zac accountability as a method of discipline. For example if he throws a tantrum that involves knocking his drink on the floor (or something else messy) once he has calmed down I will direct him to the cupboard to get a cloth, then have him clean up the mess he has made. This seems to be far more effective than a punishment that doesn’t actually correlate with the situation he has created. We offer him help and if he accepts than we get a cloth and also help him but he has to be involved too. I guess that including him in domestic tasks (or any tasks for that matter) when he requests, is in the same vein. Some of the other tasks he requests to help with (and we allow him to by finding jobs he CAN do) are:
  • Fixing the car with his dad – Brent will have him pass him tools and will explain what he is doing
  • Baking – he loves baking and we bake together several times a week
  • Carrying things – at the supermarket we allow him to carry a basket with a loaf of bread (or something equally light) if he requests to.
  • Feeding and caring for our guinea pig – this is another way to teach him responsibility aswell as how to be gentle.
  • Sorting – he will sort through his belongings and our belongings with us to choose what we will donate to charity
And many other small tasks like collecting our mail, taking the rubbish out, making our beds, sweeping, washing the car etc.
Zac helping daddy fix the car

I am really enjoying working together and I am enjoying not only his company but the educational aspect of it. I won’t be forcing him into housework as I completely respect that that is my responsibility (and it doesn’t bother me at all) but from now on, when he asks to help, I won’t think twice! It’s a beautiful opportunity to spend even more time together and teach him about tasks his future will most definitely involve.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Getting an early start on New Years Resolutions.

So as I prepare to say goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012 Ihave began to think about New Years Resolutions, we all make them, but do we all keep them? New Years resolutions. New years eve, the dawn of a fresh, new year, its the perfect time to set a few goals you would like to achieve for the year. I make resolutions ever year but I dont always stick to them because they arent always goals that my "heart" is in on. They are generally fickle resolutions or vanity related (come on I'm a woman, we like those sorts of notions). So this year I've decided to focus my goals on out travel lifestyle, because lets face it - weight loss just doesnt seem to be happening for me and they say that when you "give up" and stop focussing on it, somtimes it happens in a natural progression.

So I want this years NY reso's to focus on internal growth, prolonging and refining our lifestyle and just general travel and family time. I also dont want to have too many because ultimately - it's too much to focus on. I have decided to make five new years resolutions. So here goes:

1) Find an inner peace with our lifestyle.

This may confuse some people because I am so open about my love of this life, but I feel like I must explain: The way we live is so different to our peers and when you take on such a different lifestyle (despite how much you love and advocate it) you can somtimes find yourself questioning yourself. I have found that alot of our peers have recently purchased their second homes (or their first) have setlled their children into day care, school etc and have very structured day to day lives. So when I see this, naturally I wonder if (despite how happy this life makes us) we could be making the wrong decisions and potentially "f**king up" our future.

Deep down I know this isnt the case but its hard not to question yourself when 'everyone else' seems to be doing the one thing and your life is so completely different. So this year I want to focus on the fact that 'yes, my life is different', but we love this life and it works for us and the lives of others work for them. I want to stop comparing my sons childhood and upbringing to those of our peers children and accept that the different experiences dont have to be detremental to his growth and development of things like social skills, strong relationships and feelings of security. I know how happy this lifestyle makes myself and my family so it's silly to question myself just because I am not part of a majority group for once in my life.

2) Sort out our financial situation.

I know that my husband (Brent) and I dont aim to be rich (and most likely never will) but I would like to develop a system or plan. At the moment our plans involve working for 6 - 9 months then having 6-9 months off travelling however nothing is ever regular. I would like for us to focus even more on penny pinching while we are staying in a town working - to optimise our savings success. I would like to leave each town knowing that we have saved as much as we possibly could have (NOT so we feel 'rich') so we can then live as frugal as possible, for as long as possible and prolong the time before my husband has to go back to work.

This was our initial focus when beginning this trip: the idea that we werent out to get rich, just to have fun. Which has been a good focus for us. But once again in regard to comparing ourselves to others in our peer group we have deiscovered that we dont maintain as much financial security as them and in our constant search for gratification and happiness we somtimes omit financial security from our priorities and be quite frivilous with our money. I'd like is to focus on being frugal and stretching our money further and not spending on things that dont matter. We are still solid consumerists but I can feel us getting better so I would like to focus on that over the next year and really refine our financial needs down to what we really do need to spend on.

3) Spend more time helping others and being charitable.

The lat few weeks in the lead up to Christmas we have absolutely torn the inside of our van apart in regard to getting rid of extra items and giving to the less fortunate. We even had our son go through his books and toys and donate a massive box of books he no longer needs to children whom may not be receiving anything for Christmas. We have donated moer stuff than we even realised could have fit into our van in the frist place and we have all felt really great about it. We are a family that love to help others and we would love to incorperate some volunteer work into our travels this year. I am hoping we can perhaps stay at an outback Aboriginal camp and help out with fixing their diesel machinery (Brent can) and I can perhaps do activities with the women or children. I have applied for a few different volunteer programs but we will just have to see what we can find and where we will be.

It does concern me alot that as an only child, Zac could grow up feeling privlidged, perhaps even 'spoilt' (I hate to use that word). So I would love to focus on teaching him compassion and how to be charitable. I hate the idea of living with a tonne of stuff and sitting ona  gold mine of money while people are out there struggling, so even though we dont have either of those, I want to help. I want my son to learn how to help and I think this adventure can really facilitate that for us and for him.

4) Continue to enjoy the simple pleasure in life and share them with others.

I love that our lifestyle allows us to enjoy the simple pleasure of life. I love being outside with my family exploring new places and experiencing nature. I love the way nature can foster healing and positivity and I love to promote and share that concept with others. I want to focus on that once again this year - I want to focus less on man made touristy attractions and more on the natural, amazing wonders that this country has to offer. I want to explore the outback, experience more sunrises and sunsets and the rest of the beauty this country has to offer. I

I also want to try and share that with others. When we go back to suburban areas to visit friends and family I would like to encourage them to take outdoor adventures with us, even just day trips or weekends camping, rather than going to theme parks or shopping centres. I want to encourage them to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and experience the beauty of nature with their children and friends. I want to have bbqs outside rather than eating at restaraunts and I want to do weekend activities like bushwalks with them. This lifestyle and being outdoors means everything to me and it would be unfair of me not to try and share that with the people I love.

5) Continue to push my comfort zones.

So far our trip around Australia has pushed ALOT of my boundaries and comfort zones. When we began this journey I only wanted to stick to the coast and actually drive right around the coast roads of Australia. When my mother heard this she was devistated as she has an intense love of the outback and cant say a single bad word about her adventures through the deserts of central Australia. Eventually I became convinced to go straight up the centre from Port Augusta, to Darwin with stops at Ayers rock and Alice Springs and I will forever be grateful that my mum and my husband took the time to 'convince' me to do this. I have turned a massive 'fear of the unknown' I had about these areas into a HUGE interest and now somthing I look forward to the absolute most.

I have pushed many of my comfort zones on this trip because before I leaving I was an extremely nervous person with a lot of little anxieties and fears. I have an intense fear of lizards but at the reptile centre at alice springs I was surrounded by them and did my best to stay near them. I am intensly afraid of going undergrouns but at Cutta Cutta Caves I want underground (not for as long as I should have, but it was progress, none the less). I have been close to snakes and crocodiles in the wild and have let go of alot of the boundaries that heavily inhibited my life. I now crave adventure and simplicity and am not afraid to forgo homely comforts in order to chase them. I want to focus this year on pushing even more of my boundaries by taking opportunities that are offered to me and searchinf for some of my own.

So these are my travel/lifestyle related New Years Resolutions and after reading them back I can see that all I have to gain from achieving them is even more fun and happiness and adventure. I hope that this year I can focus on them and achieve them and really 'live it up'.

What are your resolutions?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giving so much yet receiving even more.

I have found myself thinking alot lately about people less fortunate than us. I hate the thought of people 'going without' when my family has such an abundance of 'things' (despite living in a caravan).

Where am I going with this?
I took some time this week to go through our caravan. I somehow managed to find an entire box of books, close to 6 bags of clothing (mine, Brents and Zacs) and a few toys, houshold items etc. I put it all in boxes and donated it to a wonderful local woman whom distributes the good she recieves among local, struggling families, nearby aboriginal communites and multiple charities.

This got me thinking about what we need V's what we dont need
I realised that my son had draws of clothes (two VERY deep draws and the top half of a wardrobe, to be exact). He has this same amount (and somtimes more) every year (for every different size) and for the warm and cold seasons. The more I thought about this the more excessive it seemed to me. I mean, he barely even gets to through the top three items of each pile and they are all at least ten, maybe fifteen items deep.

Yet there are children out there with hardly any clothing
There are so many children I see around from families whom struggle to make ends meet, from local aboriginal communities and children that have runaway from home, or young teenagers whom have children and also struggle to make ends meet. Yet my son, Brent (my husband) and I, have wardrobes full of clothing we dont even wear one tenth of.

What can you and your family do without?
Im sure you have things in your home you could do without. Things you dont use anymore or things you bought "just incase" but know you wont use. Things that were given to you as gifts or given to your children but are no longer used. These things not only take up space in your house but owning them takes up space in your mind (remember, at any given time you can respond to someone if they ask if you own a particular item, even if its out of your sight or hasnt been used in years, this means that all of those bits and pieces laying around in your house are taking up precious space in your mind, being stored up there so you can remember them if you ever need to reference them or use them).

Getting rid of these items, downsizing your childrens toys, your wardrobes, the "bits and bobs" in your numberous 'junk draws', wont just free up space in your house, it will take away some of the clutter from inside your mind. Why do you think it always feels so great when you fill a trailor load to go to the tip or fill the back seat of your car with items to go to charity? Those items are no longer needing to be organised and retained in your mind.

Books and toys
Our children accumulate so many books and toys over the years. They get more of them for Christmas and birthdays yet the old ones stick around too. So many children go without gifts, go without toys and books. These small, seemingly 'silly' items can bring so much joy to children experiencing adverse living situations or tough times financially for their family.

Clear out before santa comes
Have you ever thought about clearing out before santa comes? Rather than keeping all of the older, outdated, no longer used or no longer age appropriate books and toys can create more room. I make a point of going through my sons toys for items that are no longer age appropriate for him. These are the type of toys that are made for children a little younger (like he was when I bought them) the kind of toys that are find for a small, less coordinated two year old, but a rowdy three year old will simply break as opposed to enjoy. I take these toys out when the new, more grown up toys come in at special times of the year. Then I can donate the no longer age appropriate toys, to other children, still in great condition.

This means that other children are able to enjoy them, I have recycled, I have potentially given children gifts whom may not have recieved them (and therefore put a smile on their face), ive taught my son about being generous and humble and I've also create room in our home, lives, time, and minds for new, age appropriate toys and books.

What about all of that food?
We all have them... Those various, random jars and tins at the back of our pantry. The items we bought on sale when we seen those alluring yellow signs stating "two for one" and so on. I had so much food in our van that I not only had a full pantry with jars and packets of food (aswell as overhead cabinets full of baking ingredients) - I also had a 55 litre plastic tub (or two) in my annex full of food. I went through and donated all of the excess items. They were being wasted sitting there, they were things we had bought incase of needing extra food one week, but had never used. There were tinned versions of items we are able to afford to buy fresh, there were tinned soups but now i have learned how to make my own, there were graxy mixes (but now I make my own from scratch) same goes for spaghetti sauces, pasta sauces, prepackaged flavoured pastas etc. All of the things I have learned to (and now prefer to) make myself, from scratch.

So I decided to donate them all to a local food bank. I donated an entire 55 litre tub and I was informed that it was promtly delivered to a family who honestly didnt know how they were going to eat that week. They had small children and like all of us experience at some point in our lives - were struggling financially. These items would have sat in our pantry, even though we already had enough food to last weeks, maybe even a month or two. While a family could have been sitting at their table wondering how they would feed their children.

You may not having any items to give?
How about your time? Its true what they say - time is precious. If you have a few hours to spare why not donate them to a worthy cause. You can search (online or locally) to find somthing that suits you, your age, your capabilities, your time, commitments etc. There is a charity option for everyone. You dont have to give items, you can give a helping hand. You can volunteer to help young mothers learn domestic skills, to teach craft to aboriginal children in outback communities, to read stories to children, to have a chat with the elderly, to plant trees or care for animals. There are so many ways to give back to the community that gives so much to you.

The emptyness makes me smile
I look around our caravan and our wardrobes are no longer overstuffed (they are infact half empty), yet we are comfortably clothed, Our kitchen cupboards and draws are no longer jammed with unused utencils and food items but our stomachs are full. My son isnt lost in a sea of toys, yet he is entertained and content. All of the things we have given away have not taken a thing away from our life but have potentially brought some joy to someone elses.

Dont hold onto it

Why sit there, with all of these unused items, for no reason, when they could bring joy and comfort to the lives of others. Knowing you have helped people can also bring joy and comfort to your own life.

Christmas is a time for giving, what can you give?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The way our relationships have changed as a result of living on the road.

My husband and I
I like to think that my husband and I have a phenomenal relationship (with ups & downs, of course). We work hard to be honest and compassionate with each-other and we focus really heavily on being happy, above everything else. We share a lot of the same goals, focuses and morals which helps our relationship to stay equal and accommodating for both of us. My husband and I enjoy being together (as I’m sure everyone else does with the spouse) so our main priority of this trip was “time” – for each other, our son and the three of us as a family.

When Brent (my husband) worked a demanding job, fulltime and we lived in suburbia, we felt like we had so little time together. However now that we live in the van our situation has forced us to realise that we had too many “distractions” during those important moments that should have been ours. Im sure many of you can relate to the idea of coming home from work and tuning out in front of the TV once the kids are tucked into bed. We fell into that pattern (due to exhaustion). Now that we live in the van – watching television is a very rare occurrence for us.

When nightfall hits we tuck our son in bed then eat our dinner together, under the stars. We then stay sitting outside and talk and talk and talk and before we know it it’s time to get to bed. We have so much time to talk to each other, learn more about each other, plan our future, and discuss our dreams – more time to connect. This “time” together is completely free from distractions and is so valuable to us; it’s one of the wonderful by-products of this lifestyle.  

My son and I
My son and I have more time together than I ever imagined having with my child. I am able to really focus on teaching him things, fostering a love for the environment and a compassion for others, purely because I have so much time and inspiration. Once again, our quality time is uninterrupted and outside with fresh air and endorphins flowing.
We explore entirely new areas and learn together and because of that he develops an added confidence and understanding of what he sees and experiences. We do things in our own time with minimal temporal commitments, so we are free to let our imaginations flow, some-days until the sun goes down and it is time for bed.
Because this lifestyle is so different to the norm and may not necessarily be as controlled or secure as a normal childhood environment we find ourselves working harder to include him in decisions and the formation of ideas or plans. Our days allow for his input and we have the time to explore the things the three year old mind considers logical. This increases his self-confidence and encourages him to speak up and add input where he sees fit. Although the ideas of a three year old aren’t always achievable/logical (e.g. Flying to the moon on a Sunday afternoon) sometimes they prove to be fun, exciting and rejuvenating and they always make our day a little different to how we expected it to be.
This lifestyle is a fantastic way to take your children away from distractions and the “busy-ness” of everyday life and really get to know them. It’s a beautiful experience and it really enhances your relationship with them.

Us as a family
As a family we have come to really depend on each other, after all when we are in the middle of nowhere, alone we don’t have anyone else to depend on! I went from just being my husband’s wife to becoming his drinking buddy, apprentice, best mate and competition (He loves competitive games we even competed on the way out to Ayers Rock to see who could spot it first – I won!). He has become my “girlfriend”, confidante, dance partner and chick-flick-companion among other things. To Zac we have willingly become his “play-mates” his buddies, his “taste testers” (for the latest play dough creations) and his teachers.

We depend on each other a lot and we bring so much to each other’s lives. Only having “us” for support has meant that we have had to further develop our abilities to be selfless and understanding when the other person/s may need some extra care or support even if we’re not feeling up to it. We understand and respect that when one person is unwell the other person has no choice but to take on the responsibilities. We also understand that what we have is special and beautiful and we are extremely lucky to feel so close and connected.

If you choose to live this (or any more “family- time focussed”) lifestyle you will find that for every negative there is a positive. For every shred of normalcy and routine your life lacks you will emotionally regain a new level of dependence and understanding with your family or travel companion. For every moment you miss out on with others (and sadly there are many) you can focus on the moments you are gaining with your family.

We dont always make make the "best" or the "right" decisions but the decisions we make nearly always lead to us being happier and more content. Dont be afraid to put happiness first and chase it! As long as it isnt at the expense of others than you have no reason to not be happy.

There is so much you need to sacrifice physically and mentally to live this kind of a lifestyle but it brings an unimaginable amount of joy and contentment to your life, which is worth more than any item you could own.