The Year That Didn’t Suck

Around this time last year I wrote an article where I got personal and shared why I was looking forward, quite eagerly, to 2011. In that post I proclaimed 2011 to be the Year of Adventure. Did it live up to its name? Well, if you’ve been reading my posts before today you might have your own answer already formed. As a new year approaches, though, I tend to reflect over the current one. The last few years I’ve been more than happy to wave goodbye to, but 2011 has proven to be a VERY different one.

It’s had its own challenges for sure. Can’t really get through life without having some challenges after all, and it helps keep life interesting. Compared to the last few years of rollercoasters, however, 2011 has been a standout for sheer awesomeness and some great lessons learned and reaffirmed. Some highlights:

  • We began our new lifestyle in Cozumel, Mexico. And despite my initial misgivings of beginning our journey in Mexico (I had already spent a lot of time in Mexico and really wanted something totally new), it proved to be the PERFECT place to begin our new life. It might sound ironic for a Zen Buddhist to state he has a hard time doing nothing, but I’ll admit it. Sure I enjoy my moments of silence and do-nothingness for a time not 24/7. I’ve never been a person who enjoyed just sitting on the beach for hours while reading a book. Cozumel was a great place to force myself to be more comfortable with . . . well, myself. I was able to rediscover that it is possible to spend the day relaxing on the beach, playing in the waves, frolicking with my son and still getting to call it productive. Cozumel remains our #1 choice for places we would live more long-term.
  • We got to visit a place few Americans have been to, and I’d go back to Cuba in a second. I only hope as tourism increases from the US that the country is able to retain its charm and energy. Minus the Old Havana touts.
  • A year ago Tigger was so riddled with anxiety from the public school environment that he ended up hospitalized. He is now off all medications and is doing phenomenally!  We’ve had some short visits from preadolescent ‘tudes, but most of the time he lives up to his namesake and is my happy, joyful, ball of constant sunshine. The beginning of our journey found us sharing a room. Attempts to have him sleep in his own room were futile. However, for the last few months he’s had his own room and loves it. When we have Couchsurfers we share a room, and he looks forward to when he can return to his own room. Such progress!
  • We have met some truly amazing people, some of whom have left a bigger imprint on our hearts than we would’ve anticipated. Two standouts are Erica & Shaun, the incredible OverYonderlust.com duo, and Ellery, a young man we met on our way back to the island from Guatemala. They all have spent at least a month on Utila and have become family to us.
  • I finished my divemaster and instructor certifications in Honduras, a place that tried the hell out of me in the beginning.  Tigger joined the diving family as well by getting his junior open water certification after his 10th birthday (which he says was his highlight of the year).  After 5 months I can honestly say I would have no problem calling this place home for a longer period of time. It’s a VERY small island, but what it lacks in amenities it makes up in heart and character. We’ve been to other places in Honduras, and Copan is the only other place I’d consider staying put for a while. Whenever we leave Utila, it doesn’t take long before we’re looking forward to returning to our island.
  • One of my constant joys is seeing the world through Tigger’s eyes. I love to hear him reminisce.  The other day he was watching something on TV, and they said they were in Havana. He looked at me like something was wrong and said “That isn’t Havana.” I love that he knows that. I am filled with joy every time I hear him say “In Mexico [or Belize, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras]. . . ” It’s an absolute riot to hear him teaching people about marine ecology and sea life. He’s taught me about some sea creatures I had never heard of.  As one vacationing teacher said facetiously: “Yep, there’s no learning going on here.” I also get a big kick when he uses meters instead of feet. I don’t know why, but it just makes me happy.
I could go on and on.  But besides getting comfortable with “doing nothing,” the biggest life lesson that has been reaffirmed for me is this:  Life is truly what you make it. It truly IS all about perception. I was determined that this year was going to be awesome, and it has been.  And now instead of telling the universe what kind of year 2012 will be, I’m totally comfortable sitting back, putting my legs up, opening my arms and saying “Show it to me!”
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35 Comments

  1. Just
    found your blog today thanks to an RVing friend on Facebook. I started
    here, read the year ago post and am truly in awe (and jealous). What a
    wonderful life for you and Tigger. I look forward to many more posts
    from you both.

    BTW, have you thought about Tigger getting his own blog and writing
    from his perspective? Good teaching tool, too. I know I’d read it!

     

    Post a Reply
    • I’m so glad you found us and will be following along. Welcome!

      When I began the blog, one of my goals was to have Tigger doing some posts. Unfortunately, he currently detests writing so has not been open to doing any posts. I’m hoping that will change with time because I would really love for that! There’s even a category already set up for his posts.

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  2. What a fantastic post!  At first, I was just drawn in by the title because my husband is always teasing me that I should use less flowery titles and simply say “Go Here, It Doesn’t Suck.”  But, I am sure glad I kept reading.  What fantastic stuff!  My husband and I are scuba divers and we have just convinced our kids (with a snorkeling trip to Cozumel) that they want to become divers also.  The Junior Open Water Cert will be in our future too.  I hope 2012 is just as awesome as 2011.

    Post a Reply
    • I love to hear that! Love when families dive together. I’m going to be starting a blog targeted primarily at families that dive together or are considering it. You might find it helpful or interesting. While I’m finalizing it, feel free to follow the Facebook page at http://facebook.com/TheScubaDad.

      We absolutely loved Cozumel. It remains on the top of our list of places we’d live for longer term.

      Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment! Happy diving!

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  3. This past year was a truly amazing one for us. We’ve taken the most difficult step in our lives: we’ve quit pursuing the American Dream and started travelling instead. Right now, we’re in Mexico, but I’m sure we’ll end up seeing more of the World, before we settle in. And travelling with kids is the most fun experience you can imagine. 

    Wish you much luck for 2012! 

    Post a Reply
    • Wonderful! So happy to hear it!

      Post a Reply
    • I’m sure it will! A lot of it really is perspective.

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  4. Miss your face. And our Flor de Cana nights. And Tigger’s curiosity.

    Love you!

    Post a Reply
    • Miss you, too! Those Flor de Cana nights were so freakin awesome! Remember our chat about beavers? ROFL

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  5. I need to hang out here more often. I love to that you travel with your son.

     It seems that i get so much pleasure in watching what my 3 kids get out of our travels. Last year we lived like vagabonds on the east coast of the us and i felt so bad because i ha to rip them away from their comfortable suburban lifestyle in California. But now when i hear them talk about our journey to making it to France for the year i hear the pride in their voice about all the things they did and plan to do now. I’m so glad because it could have gone both ways. Phew. 

    Post a Reply
    • Isn’t that such a relief? I recently asked Tigger would he rather return to the States or continue with our life as it is now, and he said he wanted to continue traveling. Did my heart good!

      A year in France sounds WONDERFUL!

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  6. Love it!  It’s amazing how easy it is to fall in love with the world when you explore and become friends with it.  😉

    Post a Reply
    • Most definitely. And it’s so nice to be able to do it slowly.

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  7. Another “yay” from me!
    It’s been great following your story. I’m so glad it’s worked out well for you. Maybe see you in Southeast Asia soonish?

    Post a Reply
    • Me too! J Not sure when we’ll be in SEA. But hopefully our paths will cross.

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  8. Wow what a great year. I love hearing stories like this!

    Post a Reply
  9. I like the quote about learning.  Why do people undervalue the things he is learning while promoting the importance of history lessons that aren’t even true. 

    Post a Reply
    • Thankfully no one I know is devaluing his learning. It most definitely isn’t traditional, but he obviously is thriving with it and that’s what matters most to me.

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  10. The fact that you’re teaching Tigger to dive is awesome. And I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. I discovered the underwater world a few years back after returning to the States from a somewhat rough deployment. I spend most of my time stateside in the North Atlantic on shipwrecks, but truly appreciate tropical diving nonetheless!

    Congrats on making your instructor rating; that can’t be easy. I intend to do that as well when able!

    The travel aspect is also pretty rad, as I currently have a job that lets me travel the planet for a living (aircrew). Traveling so much has taught me a few things:
    1) The metric system truly is better in every way. (your comment about meters made me laugh)
    2) More people are alike than different.
    3) Those who are different usually get along fine, unlike what the media would love you to think.
    4) Most of my fellow citizens (and many civilians in general) are INCREDIBLY short-sighted. Money, global issues, food/health/fitness, doesn’t matter.
    4a) I am not lambasting my country, in fact I proudly serve as Active Duty military. Whether or not I’m doing the right thing I have yet to truly figure out, but this is the best way to find out.
    5) The simple and lean life is often the better. Some of my best trips have been living out of a flight bag, no-notice missions. When one is forced to improvise is when things get interesting.
    6) Language classes are nothing compared with simply living there.
    7) Money and borders are imaginary, yet some people (arguably many) fight for them more than the things that are real and DO matter! I have fallen into this trap a few times myself.
    8) We’re all pretty confused but like to pretend that we’re well sorted in life.

    I guess I should stop rambling and get to the point: you’re an incredible dad and I wish I had someone in my life like that when I was growing up just a few years ago. I know that as a kid, I loved learning and adventure, but every grown-up I knew was old and boring and seemed to have paperwork and a cell phone in front of them at all times.

    So here’s to me becoming a Dad (someday) at least remotely like you!

    PS – Hi Ms. Vogel! Your blog also rocks 😀

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for such a wonderful comment. Could be a great blog post all by itself, actually. I appreciate and agree with your insights, and I also thank you for the wonderful compliment. I wish more people had such a refreshing view of the world. Which is one reason I have this blog. J

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