To be brutally honest I think there is plenty of room left for me to grow as both a father and husband. I don’t, by any means, think I’m a bad family man, but I’m acutely aware I have made the latter part of the year very much about me. About becoming better. That has meant making a few sacrifices re time spent with the family, as I’ve prioritised my routines around sleep, meditation and exercise. While some might view it as selfish, I know in my heart I had to do this. To put myself first, at least for a while, so that I may ultimately be much better in my roles as both father and husband. Finding and scheduling proper time with my family will be a priority next year – as well as finding more activities with whom to do together. At this stage the afternoon appears to work well – after my son has woken from his nap – as time to block off just for my boy. Saying to myself this is time for Wiggles and blocking out everything else means I can be truly engaged with him.
Before getting help I felt so guilty when spending time with him but not really being there as I struggled with bouts of depression. It was like seeing everything through a thick fog. The truth is I didn’t really want to be there and I didn’t know why. It broke my heart but I understand now, it was a process I had to go through to get where I am today. This was the biggest motivator for seeking help. I realise that more important than the amount of time spent, is the quality of time spent. Ultimately I believe this is why being selfish and looking after myself first was necessary. It still is. You can’t help others without first helping yourself.
Home is where the heart is, so they say. But are we really using our hearts at home? I often feel we take our homes for granted, largely oblivious to the damage our home and more specifically, our habits at home, are having on the environment and to ourselves. So what improvements can we make to change this and really bring our hearts back into it? I can think of several changes – taking shorter showers, using the air-con less, cooking more and with less (no) meat, less tv (less screen time altogether for that matter), recycling more, etc – all of which would help our family live a healthier, happier and more sustainable life. With this in mind, I think a really good project to undertake going forward would be to make our home as environmentally friendly as possible, concentrating on sustainable living habits. To make this our collective mission as a family. To have a real emphasis on sustainable living, working as a family to become better, changing our more harmful ways. To raise Wiggles in this way, so that he can learn to live the way his generation must. For now I’ll set the simple goal of writing a post about how we might go about this in greater detail, and use that as a spring board toward a more sustainable way of living.
Travel, as always, is non stop for me. New destinations with work this year have included Seattle, Frankfurt, Toronto and Cape Town. Visiting the Boeing factory in Seattle, hiking along the coast near Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and cage diving with sharks in Cape Town are highlights. Outside of work and with the family we have done a fair bit too. Vietnam, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Japan and Thailand including two weddings and a Rugby World Cup. Not a bad first year of life! Shame my son won’t remember any of it! We, however, most certainly will.
Highlights are many but one which really stands out would have to be, my boy taking his first steps in Tokyo with the whole family present! Flying him and mummy to the UK, then bringing him into the cockpit after landing, was pretty cool too! Other than that, the opportunity to simply spend so much quality time with the family during our travels this year has been very special.
It’s fair to say adding a child has made traveling very different. As you’d expect, everything revolves around them, their nap times, schedule etc. Although it has limited us in many ways, ‘employing the grandparents’ to help out has made things significantly easier than it otherwise would have been. We’ve shared many special memories as a result. I’m incredibly grateful for the time we as a family, and especially Liam, has had with them.
So what have I taken away from my travels this year, and how can I make them more special going forward? As anyone who knows me understands, I’m a strong believer in travel. It’s one of the best ways to challenge the bullshit stereotypes running around in your head. I also believe it’s one of the best ways to break free from your everyday distractions and simply be present. Travelling continues to teach me lessons all the time. Not only about the wider world but myself too. It’s such a cliche to say travel is means for self discovery, but I’ve definitely found it rings true.
That said I’ve recently found my travels to be lacking a certain something. A greater purpose perhaps. It’s not something I thought about too much before, always content exploring neighbourhoods, finding great local eateries far removed from the tourist drags or going on adventures, trying something completely new. I think I will always find happiness doing these things, but I now feel something’s missing. More than ever I desire to add greater meaning. To not only experience local cultures, but give back to them. To not stay at the luxury resort, but the eco lodge instead. Support those who are trying to live responsibly or indeed support those who need it most. Whether finding projects to get involved in or going on a silent retreat for a period of prolonged introspection. This will be something to think about going forward. For my son I hope to demonstrate that meaningful purpose can be applied to anything he chooses to do. That by doing so his travels, and life, will be far far richer.
2020 will see us travel less often but for longer trips as a result of trying to limit the damage of changing Wiggles’s routine. Those trips will be similar to 2019 in that we will look to spend as much time as possible with the family but with a greater emphasis on travelling sustainability and/or with some kind of purpose. Ultimately in order to teach Wiggles something valuable. If nothing else to teach him to look for the value in travel.