I have had this homework from Bec for a few weeks now so here goes…
I have always had an inner yearning for the freedom and adventure that only a trip around Australia can bring. Perhaps it is just how ‘opposite’ all that a trip around Australia promises to be against the ongoing grind of normal life. I am sure part of my yearning came from the distant memories and often retold stories from my trip around our great country as a child with my parents. When I was about seven years old my parents packed up our family (Mum, Dad, myself and two sisters - mum pregnant on the trip with sister #3) and took four months to travel around Australia in a second-hand campervan. I still have vivid memories of that trip and often recall some funny things - smells, sights and sounds that become powerful links back to that trip when recounted (in surprise) in adult life.
I would love to be able to say that the decision to embark on our own Big Lap was mine and mine alone and came from some epiphany that bubbled up in one of those 'trumpet' moments. The reality probably is our decision to 'draw a line in the sand' had a much slower burn than that. Bec and I had often talked about how great it would be to travel around Australia and feel the freedom that time and an open road permits. It was Bec who resurrected those earlier conversations one afternoon on the lounge after was what no doubt a tough week. I recall it was one of those conversations that could easily go either way - get brushed off as the never-to-be-realised pipe dream, or, with some deeper reflection and a fair dose of courage, one of those moments in your life where you deliberately choose to take the road less travelled. For us it was the latter.
The last few years have been BIG. Big on all fronts. Bec and I had transitioned from a carefree couple who were fortunate enough to pretty much do what we wanted when we wanted - to a Mum and Dad of two beautiful kids that bring us both so much love and joy but at the same time, as kids tend to do, take so much of us. All the while Bec had transitioned from an incredibly talented and successful sports administrator to a stay at home mum, and my career had taken off again and saw me working in an amazing role with wonderful people in a wonderful organisation.
My gig is big but I love it. It challenges me every day and teaches me something new every week. It allows my wife to be a full time mum to our kids and it has supported a fortunate lifestyle for my family and will support OUR BIG LAP for the next seven months of our lives. It is however one of those gigs that can take up as much of your head as you let it... and I had let it. It is one of those roles with “Chief” in the title. One of those roles that for most people who want it, reflects the end of the road or the top of the tree. I was there in my early thirties and loving the role… but I was buggered. I was working long hours, spending hours each day getting to work and was struggling to get work and home to 'add up'. I was very aware that whilst I was trying my best at being the best husband and father that circumstances permitted, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for my wife, it wasn’t enough for my two very young kids and it wasn’t enough for me. You may have heard that old saying about work/life balance - the one with the rubber balls, the glass balls and juggling. If I reflect back honestly, I was lucky that on more than one occasion one of the glass balls bounced - defying all laws of physics. I knew things needed to be better, to be different, and I knew I (we) needed time and freedom to reconnect with clear heads.
What better way to get to know the husband and father I can be 'unplugged' than to literally unplug and hit the road with the scratchy memories of a seven year old, a map full of scribbles, a spreadsheet of loose travel plans (I couldn’t help myself), my beautiful wife and our two beautiful kids in the caravan of our dreams. No emails. No meetings. No phone calls. No dramas (or at least not the work ones).
The 'yes' decision was BIG but it felt right, and will hopefully prove to be one of those decisions that with the benefit of hindsight becomes 'that' moment in your life that was the start of something new. No pressure!!!
Here’s to OUR BIG LAP in 2017…