I am excited. Not just "oh today is a good day, I think I will smile" but genuinely, pee-in-your-pants, cant contain myself, I want to jump up and down while dancing around the room excited. Why? because of Blue Wilderness Media. For those of you not familiar with the happenings of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, let me fill you in. This family, the Jackson's, decided after 3 kids and 15 years of marriage to quote "spend every dime of retirement and college savings we have to explore foreign countries, meet interesting people and connect as a family" So they left their home, jobs, and school to board a 47 foot boat. For over a year. there are no words to describe just how amazing that is. The trip was completed roughly in September of 2008, so a fair amount of time ago. I knew they were going, mostly because I wanted Mark Jackson to take my wedding pictures and he couldn’t. because he was sailing around the Caribbean. But this trip is significant today because I just discovered their blog. my joy abounds.
I loved my upbringing. Aside from the fact that I was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I don’t think there is much I would change about it, if anything. Each summer we had a family adventure. They ranged from cruises, to sailing in Antigua to Ranger baseball games and trips to Wet-n-Wild in Arlington, to Aruba. Often times there was more than one. i.e. Cruise and Arlington. I loved it. I truly believe my parents built in me my need for travel and my love for all things foreign. My mother was raised in Japan. She was forever around different nationalities. She taught us to treat everyone, regardless of colour, religion or creed, with dignity and respect. We had Japanese exchange students come and go, Japanese visitors, and many Japanese decorations through out the house...not to mention the Japanese food. My mother travelled a lot growing up; her country lists include most of Europe, Israel and most Asian countries. Her stories are fantastic. My personal favourite is meeting the pope in Rome. he personally blessed my mother. nice. I really believe that I got my appreciation of cultures and people from my mom. She is so accepting and gracious; she taught me those qualities were important and as a direct result of that I have the desire to travel and meet other people.
My dad, well…he taught me how to travel. Often my dad says to me "every day I pray that you wont do anything stupid" My desire to do 'stupid' things? I got that from him. My dad has done his fair share of travelling as well, albeit a bit differently than my mom. Whilst my mother travelled with family and organised school trips, my dad did a bit more of the nomad/rebel thing. That’s my kind of travelling. My dad loved California, particularly San Francisco. He liked it so much that he flew out most weekends of his college career to San Francisco, just to hang out. And he wonders why I spend all of my money on travel. He once drove up the coast of California on Highway 1. He slept in the back of his car, 'showered' in rest stops and in the bathrooms of restaurants, stop when he wanted to, ate when he had to and just keep driving. Yet he questioned why in the world I would do something so stupid as to sleep in the back of my car when I did the exact same trip my sophomore year of college. as a side note, i had no idea my dad had done the same thing. none what so ever. he just told me that a few weeks ago. I learned how to really travel from my dad. How to enjoy the cruise and luxury when the opportunity presented itself, but to never limit myself by believing that was the only way to travel. he went to Australia, just him and buddy to explore. I did the same. I love this story because it was in the 1970’s; hippie culture, war protests, etc… My dad and his buddy both had long hair. My dad just to his chin, his friend? Down to his shoulders. As a result, they were stopped at customs. Of course…why wouldn’t you stop the crazy hippie kids? Regardless of the fact that my dad, and his friend, never did drugs, that his friend was actually the valedictorian of his school, they were searched and questioned. The friend’s camera was completely taken apart because obviously he was hiding something in there. Nothing was found. Eventually they were free to go. I love my dad. He gave me my spirit of adventure, my love of the unknown, my need to go, to explore, to experience all that the world has to offer. The way he lived and his stories--the fact that half of me comes from him--his experiences instilled in me the desire to travel at all costs, in any way possible.
The way that I was raised taught me to be my own person. My parents taught me right and wrong, but gave me room to explore. room to make my own mistakes. they gave me enough independence to make my own choices. yet the choices they made shaped me into who I am. I love Christian music, even cheesy music like Sandi Patti, because of my mom. I love the Beatles and Buddy Holly because of my dad. I like to read because of my mom. I like to read history books and military history because of my dad. I like designer shopping because of my mom. I like flea markets because of my dad. and I love to travel because of both of them. They probably didn’t know it at the time, but they instilled in my from a very young age the desire to live abroad. I bet now they wished they hadn’t! :)
So here I am, at work, reading the Blue Wilderness Media website, and I come across this quote from the Jackson's 9 year old daughter;
"Our boat is for sale and has a signed contract. If everything goes through, the new owner will come to pick it up here in Newport. It’s going to be really sad to say goodbye, but my parents said that we will be homeless for a while. We will buy a van and drive up to Maine and maybe Canada for a month or two. We’ll camp some and stay in hotels...In the USA elections...I’m not talking about an election about Obama or McCain, but an election for the sale of our boat. The one most important republican, ME, is voting not for the SALE of Blue Wilderness, but to SAIL Blue Wilderness!"
Wow...mom and dad say were going to be homeless. that’s cool though, we'll get a van and drive around some more. but I still want to sail. what a sprit. what a life. I long for that to be me and my family in 15 years. maybe even sooner.
So why the excitement? why the abounding joy? Because this site is PROOF that it is possible. Proof that it can be done successfully. My family may have had the typical life, a home a job, dogs, school etc... but we had adventure too. I learned from my upbringing that it doesn’t have to be set in a certain way. I have learned from living abroad that loads of young families travel with young kids. Families with toddlers go on massive holidays all over the world. I read the other day about a family who is packing up their SUV and driving from England, across Europe, through Russia and ending up in Thailand. and the Jackson's have proved that a family can just up and leave, against the 'better' judgement of people around, and they can travel the world. and succeed. because of that I am thrilled.
In my head it means that I am not limited. I don’t have to settle down and have the same permanent life forever. Change is possible. change is always possible. I don’t know why I forget that, but I do. I forget that there is not a formula that everyone is required to use. the old adage 'everyone is different' is so true. I don’t want the picket fence, I want a hostel. I don’t want 4 cars and flat screen T.V. mounted on the wall, I want windows that face an ocean and sand always on my floor. I don’t want a rigid schedule, I want a flexibility that comes with relaxation. I want the flexibility that comes with a life of travel. and that is the life that I will have.