After years of raising 5 children in the comfort of our home-city, we’ve been getting a little bored with the challenges and triumphs we face every day. We think it’s about time to put our intrepidness to better use and release our family into the bigger world.
Starting June 29th, 2011, our family will be leaving our home and our life as we know it for a whole year. With the writing of this blog, the commitment has been made and there’s no turning back! Why have we decided to do such a crazy thing?
Many years ago, before I was married and settled with a family and a career, I read about a Toronto couple and their two children who were traveling around the world on a sailboat. Every week, the mother, a reporter for the Toronto Star, would write about their adventures and I fantasized about what that life would be like. Hopping from island to island, discovering new cultures and ways of life, meeting strangers who would remain friends forever. Even her stories of storms at sea, pirates and dodgy hospitals seemed romantically exciting. What a wonderful way, I thought, to get close to your kids and raise them to see the world with eyes wide open. I wasn’t even married yet but I loved the thought of rallying against the norms of my conservative roots, thumbing my nose at traditional values and finding my own way in life.
Then, as they say, real life got in the way…
Here we both are, 51 years old, on our second marriages and parents of a combined brood of five. We have a mortgage, a kid in college, two others trying to find their own way in life, and an elderly father-in-law. Not exactly the time to be thinking of chucking it all to fulfill the idealistic dreams of our youth right?
Well actually the timing is good. Tony can work from anywhere in the world, Linda is a teacher so she can home-school along the way, and we currently have a few far-flung friends who would like to open their doors to us. Our oldest boys, ages 21, 19 and 18, are now experiencing their own life adventures at university or in the working world so they’re the perfect age to hop on a plane and meet up with us, whenever it suits them. Our younger children, ages 12 and 11, are young enough to still enjoy adventures with their parents but old enough to appreciate what we are doing and have a say in what they want to get out of this trip.
So why not just go on a long vacation? Well, there’s more to it than just sight-seeing for a year:
Linda’s Personal Goals
First of all, I want my kids to realize how awesome this great planet of ours is. I want them to walk where their ancestors walked, see the diversity of the natural world and experience life in ways they could never imagine sitting at home.
Secondly, I’m worried about the greedy, consumer-driven, egocentric, image-conscious world our children are growing up in. I get so disheartened when our grade 6 son is complaining that everyone else in his class has a cell-phone except him. Why does an 12 year old need a cell phone? Our 11-year old daughter wants to dress like every teen she sees on TV and already worries she may not be skinny enough. I really want to shake up their reality a little and show them that the world is more than American Girl and Halo. We want them to meet other kids around the world and see how they play, what they eat, where they go to school, what they do for excitement, and how they interact with their families. Even though Western culture has permeated every corner of the planet, it will still be different. And different is good!
My last reason for this journey is purely selfish! I want live-out my youthful dreams before it’s too late. I know that sounds dramatic but we will be entering the “golden years” soon and we don’t want to regret never having taken the chance. It really hit home for us last summer when a wonderful man, our age, died suddenly. Photos at his funeral captured him smiling happily with his wife and kids unaware of the secret time-bomb ticking in his body. If my time-bomb is going to go off soon, I hope to have some amazing pictures to share when my time comes. I want to experience what it’s like to ride a camel in the desert, to stand in a thousand-year-old temple, to haggle in a bazaar, to sweat in a rainforest, to dig up vegetables on an organic farm, to save a turtle or an elephant or a tiger. I want to watch a sunset from the top of a mountain. I want to land in unfamiliar territory and find my way, to open ourselves up to strangers and make friends with people whom we never thought we would have anything in common. I want to share languages and lives and laughs!
Tony’s Personal Goals
There are three reasons why I want to travel with my family.
First of all I want my children to experience new and different things. I want them to meet interesting people, visit strange and wonderful places and be exposed to alternate ideologies.
Second I want to have fun with Linda. We’ve both travelled a fair bit but not always together. When we have gone on the same trip we’ve always a great time so I’m looking forward to sharing new experiences with her!
Third it’s my goal in the next couple of years to add ‘farmer’ to my resume. I’m not going to change my creative habits – in fact I expect I’ll be producing more video than ever – but once I get settled back home I think I also want to become a farmer.
We’re starting our trip on an organic farm in Ireland. We’ll be WWOOFers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) which means we will be immersing ourselves in the organic farming experience. We’ll be doing the same in Italy and when I’m not farming I’ll be telling stories about my experiences.
WWOOFing will help me decide if I’m up to the challenge of working my own farm. Linda and I have a plan to do more than just farm – in fact we’ve got some pretty BIG ideas about how we want to share our passion for food and education but those ideas are fuzzy and this trip will help bring them into focus.
So wish us luck and a safe journey and we hope ours will inspire yours.
Linda & Tony