The moment it all came together…over a wood pile

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I quit my big important corporate job in May 2013 because I was convinced that there had to be a better way. A better way forward for me (less stress, less conflict for my personal morals and values) and for our family (more time together, less juggling, less frenetic).

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We then had a fun and active summer and took 8 months off starting in September to avoid winter and start our journey to define our “new normal”. While travelling I delved into Dannielle Laporte’s “Desire Map”, her new book that talks about leading your life in line with your core desired feelings. I was really intrigued with this concept of planning based on your heart vs your brain and ended up plugging away at the book, the process and the outcome while we were travelling.

By the time we got home in the spring I had defined my core desired feelings (the things that I want to feel every day) and they have been sitting at the back of my mind over the past few months – more like marinating than anything.

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We spent yesterday afternoon stacking 4 cords of wood (that’s the pile in the photo) for a former neighbour (we now live 50km away but I firmly believe that neighbour is a state of mind) who is injured and needed some help. We went out there as a family, worked hard in the drizzling rain for 2.5 hours and were rewarded with a home cooked meal and some wonderful company.

While grooving away to the tunes (Tim is never far away from music) and getting in the rhythm of loading endless wheel barrows of wood, I found my brain really free and clear and reflective on the last few days. I was outside, in nature, being active with family. This is the thing that I have determined is the biggest influencer on my own personal happiness. It also seems to make room for lots of contemplation and mental wandering…

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Hunter and I have had an ever improving road schooling week, almost peaking with Thursday’s afternoon phys-ed skate park session where I felt truly blessed to be enjoying the beautiful fall weather and experiencing his learning curve as he was attempting to master some new tricks. I saw his joy in showing me his new moves and was part of the awe and pride when he succeeded at something that was a stretch for him. We continued the upward swing on Friday when we attended the Yukon school education session with Infinitus at the Yukon Arts Centre. They are a beat box string trio and I honestly had no idea what to expect. We were going because I thought it was a great opportunity to continue to expose Hunter to new forms and styles of music. They blew us both away. Their ability to connect with a theatre full of kids for an entire hour was on par with their ability to play requests that ranged from Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean to “Happy” and “Verve”. I got to sit there and watch my 11 year old boy get turned on by something – the power in that is AMAZING. He left stating that he wants to learn to play the cello, how amazing their music was and that we HAD to go to their concert Saturday night.

In the middle of all of this was the basics of numeracy and literacy and we are plugging away at it. I am a firm believer that those are critical skills for life and not something that we can skim over. At the same time, this other stuff is what brings colour to the world and makes us all individuals. The ability to feel passionate about something, no matter what it is, is so important.

We went to the Infinitus concert on Saturday night, bringing along another 11 year old boy with us. While the classical Bach sections lost him, the contemporary stuff held him through and Hunter walked away happy that he had experienced Infinitus a second time.

In the mix of all of this great stuff this week, I have found myself surrounded by stories of friends and family that are suffering from various forms of cancer or who have unfortunately passed away due to their illnesses. These are not old people – they are in their 40’s and 50’s. We read more and more articles about the chemicals that are in our food, our skin care products and our environment and it leaves me wondering where this is all going.

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Coming off of summer holidays you hear kids talking about how their parents are different people when on vacation. They aren’t as stressed or grumpy. They talk about how important vacation is to their family because of this.

Standing out at the wood pile yesterday afternoon I found all of these thoughts swirling around and I continued to ask myself “What are we chasing?”. We have more and more stories and examples that re-enforce that life is short and you only get one kick at it so why, as a society, are we so focused on competing with each other and chasing the money, the promotions, the titles, the new houses, the stuff???

I LOVE Ted-Ed videos. I am continually looking for new ideas for how to engage Hunter in learning and am fascinated with the diversity of things that are being experimented with in the education field. This week I watched a great video by Rita Pierson that talks about how important it is to build relationships and that every child deserves a champion as they go through life.

At the end of the video I was struck with the thought that if we aren’t our own childrens’ champions, how can we expect someone else to be? I also loved the +2 vs -18 metaphor and how positivity can make such a difference in those around us.

Our lives have fundamentally changed since we hit the road last September. We have a stronger sense of family, have more effective communication and are much more connected to each other. There is a sense of feeling that we are in this journey together, where ever it may take us. We have committed to taking things one year at a time – no stress about needing a master plan, just focusing on how do we meet our needs today and tomorrow.

I had a conversation with someone earlier this week and they asked “what are your plans for this Chasing the Sun thing?”. At this point, the picture is fuzzy and clear at the same time. I’ve been thrilled to hear from friends how they took the summer off to hang with their kids or chose to get more active as a family this year because of the experiences we are sharing. I firmly believe that there has to be a different way forward for families. The education system as a whole was built to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution and doesn’t align with the economies of today and tomorrow that are driven by innovation. We aren’t building thinkers, we’re building kids that are focused on mastering standardized exams. Most kids are so over prescribed in terms of time and activities that we have lost the focus on family and play. Many kids are actually missing basic physical literacy skills due to early sport specialization. At the same time we have ever increasing childhood obesity rates and predictions for shorter lifetimes in the coming generations.

I worked hard to get to the point where I could work on a contract or consulting basis and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and support organizations and individuals that need help. I am also working hard to balance my clients needs with my needs and our families needs. As parents, Tim and I are both committed to working less and playing more. What that looks like changes every day, based on the weather and the season. What matters most is maintaining the commitment to each other and to us as a family. I’m optimistic about our year to come and loving the journey that we are on.

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So… what are we chasing? We’re CHASING THE SUN both literally and figuratively. We’re chasing family kayaking, mountain biking, surfing and skate park adventures along with those bluebird sunny spring snowboarding days. We’re also chasing that warm glow and happy feeling that comes with a proverbial sunny day – overflowing with a sense of presence and all that is important in the moment, a life of few cares beyond what is right in front of you and those that you surround yourself with. By sharing our experiences and being transparent about our journey, we’re also aiming to make a difference by supporting those around us as they work to define their “new normals”.

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