Monday, 30 January 2017

Timing

When is the right time?  There probably won't ever be a "good time" to take 5 months off work and travel! What I have learned is that no matter how much you can plan and organize your time to get to a point of pulling off an extended period to travel there's going to be obstacles and set backs that make you question whether is this the right point. 

Here's how timing has played a role in getting where I am today, with 10 days before departure:

Planning takes time

Although I've always known I've wanted to take an extended period of time to travel with my children and expose them to the diversity of  the world, it was 4 years ago that we made the decision to initiate "the plan".  I applied for a deferred leave of absence from my employer which is often referred to as a 4/5.  The plan was that my employer would deduct part of my income over a 4 year period and then in the 5th year that I have off, I would continue to get paid the same. However, after I applied for this, I had an offer for another position (my dream job!) that was a contract for 5 years, and didn't want to be off work the entire last year of my contract, so I changed my savings time to 2.5 years with .5 of the year off. Hence why my travel time is 5 months and not longer.

Home exchanging takes time to plan. I looked for places over a year in advance of where we wanted to visit and put offers out there. We also entertained offers from other places which eventually made up the plan for the countries we would visit. It takes time to make sure your dates can be coordinated and flights can be made between the destinations.

Saving takes time

Clearly just picking up and leaving would be difficult. As I've mentioned before, I've worked additional jobs on top of my day job and have tried to save along the way. I also booked some of our flights and excursions ahead of time and paid for them at the time (ensuring there was a decent cancelation policy).

Best time for home schooling

My daughter is in Grade 4 this year. I feel that she's old enough to remember, to learn and her experiences can have a great impact, yet still young enough that I can still teach her math! Yes, I'm an educator, however NOT a math teacher! I'm not going to lie, math was my least favourite and not a strength for me in school and I'm completely intimidated by math home work my daughter might bring home. I barely survived my son's math homework, in fact we hired a tutor! The other factor was that at this age I think leaving her friends will be easier than when she might be older. Therefore, for me to "home school" her during Grade 4 seems like the ideal time.

Concussions can last a really long time!

So part way through my income being deducted and our saving period, my husband had a bicycle accident in San Francisco and suffered a traumatic brain injury that led to post-concussion syndrome for over an ENTIRE YEAR! He had to go on long term disability which equated to being paid at 60 percent of his income. This was a huge set back. We even considered cancelling the deferred leave plan with my employer. This was an extremely difficult year and everything I had saved we ended up having to dip into and actually went into more debt during this time. It was challenging having a husband at home that could not do anything for the longest time (literally), while I was balancing work and my side jobs, as well as having to do all of the after school activity runs for the kids. It was because of this exhausting and challenging time that solidified the fact that I needed something to look forward to and continue to plan for. It gave me a light at the end of the tunnel while dealing with a sick husband and kept me going, so to speak.  Eventually he recovered and returned to work and we were back on track, just not financially. This past year we've really tried to work on paying off that debt accumulated during his time off while also saving again for this trip.

Cancer doesn't have a timeline

During the same year my husband was home with a brain injury, we learned the most devastating news, that my mom had cancer. It came as the biggest shock to my system. My mom who exercised daily (like high impact aerobics!), who could run circles around me, and ate the healthiest of all people I know was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My first thought was, why her? There are so many other people I know that don't even take care of themselves that would deserve this more than my mom. However, my mom would be the one to beat this because of her strength and being healthy. 
My family with my dad and beautiful mother in the centre- a year before mom's diagnosis


Over the year she endured chemo and radiation, and complications after every treatment, hospitalizing her. After surgery and treatments she was finally told the cancer was removed. We all breathed a sign of relief, until 2 months later, when she learned she now had stage 3 ovarian cancer. It's truly emotionally draining to watch the roller coaster that she's on going through treatments and dealing with the side effects of the treatment and the emotions of everything she's facing.  So as you can imagine, I've been struggling with whether leaving for 5 months is practical at this point. Several times I've contemplated cancelling my trip, feeling that I need to be here for my mom. However she's been insistent that I carry on with my dream and my plans and that she'll be just fine waiting for me when I get home. Many tears, sleepless nights, conversations with my family I've decided to listen to my mom and trust her that she'll be waiting for me when I return. She just finished her last treatment for the ovarian cancer last week and we hope that she'll now continue to gain her strength back.
Running in the Niagara Run for the Cure

F*#K Cancer!


I was starting to think everything was stacking against me for actually making this trip happen. I had my first mammogram last month which resulted in a "recall", meaning I needed to come back for more imaging but was not told any details. If anyone has experienced this before, it's totally nerve wracking!  I was told this the day after New Years, and had to wait over a week for the next appointment. The second mammogram resulted in needing additional imaging through ultrasound-again, nerves are shot at this point waiting to hear the results. Of course I get a phone call from the doctors office that they need me to come in and discuss the results. So many things rush through your mind, I think of a friend that we lost a few months ago from breast cancer, I think of my mom's battle and the wait leading up to the appointment is even more excruciating than waiting for the second mammogram. After finally getting to see the doctor, I've been left with the result that there are some spots that are suspicious and will need to be monitored again in 6 months. The doctor assured me that I should take my trip and enjoy my time and I'll have the tests again when I return. 

This experience has put a lot of things into perspective and has really solidified my decision for taking this trip now. I can't wait, there really isn't going to be a "good time" for this to happen! 

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