If you’ve read through our “intentionalism entry series" (see here), you’ll know that values played a big part in how we established the way we live.
Values that drive “out of the box” ideas and turn inner dreams into reality.
One such idea was this – could we do a larger, dare we say “educational”, trip every year that tied into our values and enabled more time to focus on our passions?
The first trip had been percolating for a number of years and was given a boost by another family who took the “intentional living” plunge years before us.
It was Livingstone, Zambia and with a family of 6 who have been sacrificially giving 6 months of their lives every year to 52 children who need to know how loved they are.
Our initial goal was to have our kids spend time in a place where they had to give more than they received. For them to spend enough time away from the familiar that they may see there’s a world that exists outside of them.
As we looked at our values we noticed an extra bonus. We realized we could “value stack” and thus squeeze as much intentionalism out of it as possible.
Here’s what that looks like for us:
Value - Adventure
Of course, any overseas trip for us was going to be an adventure.
Our kids had never spent 2 days traveling and sleeping on airplanes, nor had they seen any of the eastern world.
But on top of that, we landed in a location that was just begging us to explore.
Livingstone is home to Victoria Falls, which is the largest waterfall on the planet and one of the wonders of the world.
It’s also in the land of baboons, elephants, and many other animals that can only been seen in zoos where we’re from.
Adventure was going to be an easy target to hit.
Value - Connection
This goes a bit deeper for this trip than home as we are purposely putting ourselves in an environment where there will be limited escape from annoyance, bad attitudes, and each other.
We recently sold 3,000 square feet of living space and now get to learn what it’s really like to live in 400 for the next month. We go from 4 bathrooms to one, a shared kitchen, and zero privacy.
Uncomfortable? Yes. But uncomfortable can be a gift. Utilized as a tool to strengthen resolve amidst life’s unexpected curveballs.
I love easy, quick, comfortable, but they’re often married to complacent, entitled, impatient.
There’s a level of connection that we bring into this trip, but shared experiences, extended time together, and being purposeful in certain areas that we have yet to make time for at home will hopefully help us hit a new level.
Value - Rest
Simple often equals rest.
The more we create jam-packed schedules the more we find ourselves being dragged through them.
Because of this, we purposely didn’t fill up our schedule.
We built in what we needed as to avoid getting to the end and realizing that the trip never really accomplished what we wanted.
Other than that we left time to be present, enjoy the moments, to explore, to be spontaneous, to rest.
Value - Skill/Passion Development
The problem with this value for us is we don’t lack in our desire to learn new things. In fact, we probably need to tame it down.
I want to do so much. I’d love to learn a language, how to fly a helicopter, become a skydiver, painter, writer, producer, musician…the list is greatly hindered by time.
But the “taming time” part for us, is allowing us to pursue these interests and stacking this value into an annual extended trip provides us with the opportunity to take a bigger bite out of the passion of choice.
For this trip… we chose photography.
Nine years ago we bought a half decent camera. Our thinking – let’s learn how to take great pictures before we start a family and be grateful for the assortment of quality to scan over in our older age.
Unfortunately, at this point it doesn’t exist.
However, it’s not too late for us and the amount of online tutorials and low cost of quality equipment has made it even easier for us to reach this goal.
We’ve committed to go through a “you don’t really know what you’re doing, but let us help you” photography course and watch 1 video before bed. Then the next day, we apply what we’ve learned as we’re out and about.
To add to the accountability and education of this, we’re going to be posting our favorite photos of the day to our online community (LINK) so that they pick a winner and (for those who know more than us) can comment on what we could have done to increase the quality of the picture.
Anti-Values – Materialism and Entitlement
These were the big ones.
It’s tough getting kids to realize that life isn’t all about them when it pretty much has been since they entered it.
We carried them, changed them, fed them. We’ve cleaned, packed, prepped, chauffeured, cheerleaded, and celebrated.
So when does the necessity for their survival turn into the training of their selfishness?
Entitled, materialistic attitudes make us cringe, but our attempts to defuse them have had limited results.
Don’t get me wrong, we really do have great kids, but you only have to put one item between the two of them to see that we have yet to eradicate this thinking from our home.
To encourage “seeing” others we decided to have them helping others.
And the others on this trip happen to have far less than them...but less is not necessarily a bad thing.
We're not against toys and tech, but don't believe that more stuff equals more happiness. It often decreases it.
When “stuff” outweighs “appreciation” there’s an issue.
And it’s hard to appreciate everything when you have so much.
If I had 10 iPhones a phone wouldn't hold 10x the value for me, but actually less than if I had 1. Maybe it's just me, but excess often feels gross.
Of course, the answer isn’t to only give your kid a single toy for their entire upbringing, but limiting isn't a bad option if you're wanting to teach them how to be happy for what they have instead of upset for what they don't.
And we were aware that we had overfilled our kids and were reaping the results.
Restricting them from toys and tv’s for a month while surrounded by an environment of giving, simple play, and laughter was one intentional action towards seeing a shift.
So that’s it. That's how we created a trip of intention.
As with everything we do, some of it will work and some of it will show us what to tweak or abandon for the next time.
But we're excited to see where this all goes and are enjoying the simple things along the way.