I have an amazing life and I know it. Even in my most dire financial times, I never wanted for food, shelter, or water. I am blessed beyond belief. Every time I feel like complaining, I remind myself of these three things: food, shelter, and clean water. And not just any food, shelter, and water, either.
I can afford to eat healthily and to indulge in treats. I live in a wonderful home with 3 flush toilets (yes, that is definitely a highlight), a comfortable bed, and even a bathtub. I also have functioning modern appliances that mean I don’t have to slave over a wash basin to do the piles of laundry that 5 people undeniably create. I have clean water that comes out of any tap inside my house. I can actually drink water from anywhere in my house without filtering it first (even if it does taste like chlorine sometimes, which is why we use a filter in the kitchen—oh yes, I can afford a filter! Another blessing).
In addition to those basic necessities that I don’t even have to think about, other than going to the grocery store or farmer’s market to replenish my fridge (which is always well stocked), I also live in a country where I can be free. I am free to live life the way I want to – to express my religion without fear of political punishment or death; to express my displeasure with the government in a public venue without fear of political punishment or death, and to interact with any and all members of society anywhere I go within my country.
Yes, I lead an amazing life. I suppose I’m keenly aware of this fact because I wasn’t from this awesome country originally. I came to Canada by way of Brazil, with a 4-year “stop-over” in the US. Whereas I never wanted for anything in Brazil either, and we were taken care of even in our most dire financial times (we had very generous family members), I did see what it was like for those who were not as fortunate.
It was so commonplace for street children to knock on our door asking for stale bread or something to eat, that it was a running joke to knock on our relatives’ doors and ask in a joking manner, “do you have stale bread?” And to not think that there was anything wrong with that joke. Racism was so institutionalized that no one thought it existed, even when the majority of “favelados” are black, and children who were called “black” because they are the darkest member of the family cried because black was not something one desired to be. And no one thought there was anything wrong with that either. Jobs were few and far between, and if you had a job, you hung on to it for dear life, even if it paid peanuts. Because at least you had peanuts. So many others didn’t. Working as a teenager to help at home was not a viable option unless you wanted to work the streets.
Then we came to North America. As immigrants, we didn’t have much, but we had the world ahead of us. All the children worked to help pay the bills. That was just the way it was. I worked hard all through high school and university. In my last two years of high school, I worked 30-35 hours lifeguarding, teaching adults how to swim, and coordinating shifts at the local YMCA.
When we came to Canada, I worked full time until I got to university, and then I worked two part-time jobs every year I was a student. I paid for my own education on the backs of my labour—and $45,000 in student loans. It was enough to pay my tuition, buy my textbooks and materials, live in a tiny apartment, eat food that wasn’t fancy, and have a small TV that only played VHS movies (no cable). If I wanted to go anywhere, I walked or roller bladed, or took the bus (with the bus pass that was included in my tuition). If I needed to use the Internet, I walked over to the library. I had an amazing life. Food, water and shelter were never wanted for.
Yes, an amazing life. Perhaps amazing is not the proper word. Amazing indicates full of awe. It wasn’t quite amazing. It was blessed. It was a life that met all my basic needs and expectations, and that is something to be thankful for. So many in the world are not as fortunate. We shouldn’t forget that.
But being thankful for what you have doesn’t mean that you should never want something more. Because we are this fortunate, because our life is so blessed, we also have the opportunity to do something more with this blessed life. To change it any way that we fancy; to build the life that we want to build. We can afford to do so, both financially and emotionally.
Now that I’m no longer a student and that I have 3 kids, I realize that although my life is truly blessed and there’s nothing to complain about, I could definitely do something more with this life.
My main motivation is to spend more time together with my kiddos, 3 awesome kids 5 and under. I wish I had the clarity that Jon Goodman had when I was 24. I knew I wanted to be married and to eventually have children, but that’s about as far as I went with my “planning.” And that was the problem—as they say, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Now that we have a 5-person family, we realize that we want to spend much more time together than we do now. I’m a homeschooling mom, so I do get to spend a lot of time with the kiddos. But we’re not doing all the things we want to do, and we are not spending as much time with Daddy as we wish we were.
Make no mistake, we are aware and thankful that we have all of our needs fulfilled. But it’s OK to have wants too. And our wants include family adventures, time spent together, and truly enjoying any work we need to do.
I have worked many jobs in my life, but none that I could truly say paid the bills in full AND that I absolutely loved. It was always one or the other. It’s time to change that. I have been thinking a lot about “lifestyle businesses,” and how a lot of those are more “busyness” than business. Yes, I realize there is hard work to be done to truly have a lifestyle business. I do. But I also realize that life is short and that if you have an opportunity, you need to grab on to it for dear life.
And that is what hubby and I are doing. We know we have an amazing opportunity for the adventure of a lifetime, even without a “lifestyle business” to fund it. And there is where we are headed next summer. To experience life adventure as a family, and to share that adventure with you. To hopefully inspire you to stop keeping up with the Joneses and to do things your way—let the criticism come. It’s worth it.
Stay tuned as we reveal the steps we are taking to get ready for the biggest adventure we’ve ever embarked on, as a family, doing things our way—fulfilling dreams wildly, but also responsibly.