Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Perspectives

How do you summarize a year? How do you put your finger on how you've changed when the change has been a slow, ongoing process?  In light of these questions, the purpose of this post is to attempt to write some of what I have learned through traveling this last year.

An obvious truth reinforced has been perspective affects attitude which affects action. Whether for trivial things like the size of the washing machine to big life changers like the blessing of having children, my perspective in the moment shapes my attitude which flows over into my actions. Traveling has allowed me to see this effect over and over again. Acknowledging that I need perspective changes at times has allowed other voices to be able to penetrate in moments when my perspective is off...usually just focused on myself. Here are some things that I have a new perspective on:
  • Peanut butter. Never to be taken for granted again. Such an easy go-to lunch option for kids that much of the world can't tap in to.  
  • Washing of clothes. A necessary household task that is accomplished in a million different ways with a million of different resources. Our current house has an enormous washing machine with a dryer. I can accomplish 2 days worth of clothes in about 2 hours with the only work of placing clothes from one machine to the other.  So amazing!!!  While we were living in Athens, I remember feeling the weight of having to do laundry.  However, that weight has vanished.  Maybe it started by having to wash a small load every day, hang dry everything, and then wait for them to dry. This certainly made it evident to me that I never really had it rough.  With having a dryer again (and having way less clothes), laundry has turned into a 5 min deal every other day instead of a laborious task that takes up my Saturday. 
  • Getting from Point A to Point B.  Bobby would always tell me that stressing over making it to a destination on time does not raise the odds of actually making it there at said time. It's taken me a couple of years, but I think I have finally relaxed about causing tension until we are actually late.  I remind myself frequently that traveling in your own personal vehicle from door step to door step is a luxury.  We like our new car and our thankful that we have this luxury.  But as crazy as this might sound, I miss all the walking.  Give me some time though and I will be completely spoiled and forget how to manage without a car. 
  • Kids will survive with not many toys. When you have a small amount you can be entertained with little (like when traveling on a plane or train). Also technology is amazing at providing entertainment when traveling. Now that we have access to more and it's convenient and cheap to buy more, how do we fight against not having too much?
  • Eating portions. Grocery stores are little in the places we stayed. You do not have endless options. You have your basics and the staples to survive but you don't have an aisle for crackers or a wall of break & bake cookies, crescent rolls, biscuits, etc to choose from. We ate less because we had less to choose from. We ate meat, fruit, and veggies. I've gained weight since being back. It's nice and not nice at the same time to have the comfort and easy access of all foods of home. ;)
  • Name brand versus off brand.  Man, I'm ashamed to say I was a snob before we left when it came to having to have certain brands. I guess once you know something works and you like it you don't want the chance of getting something new and being unhappy. However, while we traveled we always bought the cheapest when shopping. We couldn't read the descriptions so we just compared by price. A good example is diapers.  I had no idea if the diapers were good for 12 hours or for Movers.  We just looked for a size and the cheapest price.  And guess what?  They worked just fine. No rashes, no crazy leaks (thank goodness!). They did what they were designed to do. I'm kicking myself now for the years of buying a certain brand and not buying for price. Oh well, I guess traveling while they were in diapers ended up being a good thing.  
The most important thing I have learned is how important it is to consciously stop and smell the roses (both literally and figuratively).  I tend to be task oriented.  It has been really good for me to stop being so focused on tasks and be more focused on my family (I only had to leave the country to figure this out!).  We have had some amazing experiences this past year, but more importantly we have been able to spend quality time together.  As we settle into a more normal routine of life, we are being intentional to carve out quality time together.  I know that as the kids get older it might be harder to make this happen, but I hope we always make the time to do fun things together.

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