Since my early twenties I haven’t been much into New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions, yes. But once a year, on a specific date, no. When I was practicing yoga intensely in my early twenties I found an excellent studio, at the time it was one of only two in town that offered a holistic approach to teaching yoga. What this meant was there was a good sprinkling of other lessons within the classes aside from physical practice.
In one practice, when we were approaching December, my instructor brought up the topic of New Years resolutions. Seemed a bit early to me to be talking about them, but inhale, exhale, I listened to his words. Until this time, I had always made a few New Years resolutions each year. However, on this day, what he said was “If you decide you should do something, don’t wait to do it.” He continued “If you know something is right, that it’s good for you, that you want to set an intention for a full year toward it, then it’s pretty important. Right? So why are you waiting another month, week, or day to start?” He was so right! If I know in my mind and heart that I need to do something, change a habit, dedicate myself to a new project that’s so important that I intend to resolve to do it, well, then I shouldn’t neglect it for another day. I need to start now! Since that day, when I’ve come upon a moment of resolution, I’ve not let myself delay.
Because of this perspective, I haven’t been one to write a long list, or even a modest list, of resolutions each new year. I just start on them as they present themselves. Of course, I’m not perfect, I don’t implement my resolutions perfectly, but I think you get the point of what I’m saying: Don’t delay. Nevertheless, being present on social media for the last two years, I’ve read and heard a lot about other people’s resolutions and reaffirmations, and I can’t help but reflect on myself and what I can improve, what I need to change, how I can do more good with my energy, when I read these.
And so, in the context of social media and conversations with a new friend, Erynn, this year I made a few New Years resolutions; one’s I hadn’t made before. First, travel more. I don’t have a budget for travel, but this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t dream. And it doesn’t mean I have to travel far. It could be travelling to new places within my city. But putting the intention out there is important. Second, take better care of myself. No one will question how much I care for my children and family. I’m wholehearted and unconditional, I give them as much as I can every day. I love to. But in this mix I don’t take exceptional (or even good) care of myself. My friend Erynn who is organizing a Yoga Retreat in May, helped me re-evaluate how much attention and care I give myself. I need to be happy, healthy and balanced to be a good mother. But, truthfully, I am a good mother (I’m riddled with self doubt in most aspects of my life, but mothering is not one of them). However, I’m not the best role model when it comes to taking care of myself. In falling in love with mothering, I let my yoga practice slip, reduced to a very light practice, sometimes going weeks, months, without stepping onto the mat. I realize now that I wasn’t modelling the type of self-care I hoped my children would one day exhibit when they left our nest. The environment in which children grow up, the patterns and habits they observe over time become their baseline. I decided that I needed to shift my baseline of self-care if I wanted it to have an impact on them before they left home. So this year, in 2016, I am returning to my regular yoga practice and running more often, and generally taking better care of myself. I’m also going to travel more, even if it’s only within my own city.
I wanted to share an interview with my friend Erynn. Erynn is a creative entrepreneurial mother who maintained her passions in the midst of raising four children. I’m always inspired by women like her. How did she do it? Erynn has a passion for travel and humanitarian work and fortunately found a creative way to combine these interests with work and family time. Erynn runs a high end travel company, but also runs Tropic of Candycorn a great information resource for people interested in travelling with families, especially the more adventurous types of travel. I hope you enjoy hearing from Erynn – I especially love that she knew early on that she wanted to prioritize experiences over stuff! Go Erynn! And I hope that travel and self-care are part of your ambitions for 2016.
Erynn, please tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?
I love raising my four daughters. Before children, I served as the President and CEO of a humanitarian organization helping impoverished South American communities. I traveled a lot and loved meeting different people in many cultures. As my husband and I awaited the arrival of our first child, we swore we would continue to make travel a priority. We started a boutique travel company that designs custom trips for top-tier clients. I find the most joy traveling with my daughters and inspiring other families to go places together.
What part of the world do you live in?
I live in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of the United States.
How many children do you have and what are they like?
Rather than list their unique qualities – because they are each so different and special, but changing constantly – I’ll share their names and how you would know who is who if you met them for the first time. Cora is 11. She would be the first to engage you in conversation, which would typically have a lot of smiles and giggles involved. Hero (age 10) would give you a steely gaze at first, disappear into the pages of a book, and then engage your son or daughter for hours of physical play. Philippa (age 6) is a sprite for whom you will willingly offer anything sweet you may have brought with you. Finally, Minerva (age 3) will listen carefully to everything you say so long as you don’t look directly at her. She will occasionally interrupt our conversation with hugs and kisses on my cheek in order to secure my attention.
What are your core family values?
We value time together – near or far. We value an exploration of the world with open hearts. We value learning and experiences. Above all else, we value kindness.
Kindness is the trait I hope to instil most in my daughters. I do not want them to be naïve, or docile, or even sweet. No. Sweet people, especially women, can be taken advantage of. What I want is true compassion—for them to be mindful of others and to understand a wide range of life circumstances. I want them to barter fiercely for something, but leave a little more behind than what was agreed upon. I want them to see the beauty in different ways of life, compare it to the life they have, and then create something new based on their own ideals. I want them to reach out to others and make a difference, and then allow people to reciprocate.
What do you love to do as a family?
We love to spend time together. We love to experience things in nature. We love to read and bake and have tickle fights. We also love to travel. Travel has a way of condensing life lessons. We decided early on that we would rather buy experiences than stuff.
What are you passionate about? And what inspires you?
I love the world and I love people. As an introvert, it’s sometimes challenging to reach out to others, to allow myself to be vulnerable. When traveling, you’re in a constant state of vulnerability – new places, new people, new languages. It can be very overwhelming. Before we make lasting friendships, I typically spend a few days observing people in their own environment. Witnessing what makes them happy inspires me. It’s always the simple things.
Can you tell me about your work as a travel planner?
I think so. It’s kind of a weird gig. Ha. Ten years ago, I co-founded a boutique travel company called Mosaico Travel. We provide custom travel to top-tier clients. Most people, especially in the US, have short vacations. Time is their most precious resource. They want vacations to be special, but they don’t have a lot of time to research the best places and activities for their family. Getting to know people and designing something that will become part of their family heritage is very rewarding for me.
However, I miss my humanitarian roots. I love it most when I can introduce some of my travel clients to the communities that I have served and loved. These experiences always end up being what they remember and cherish most.
What is Tropic of Candycorn?
As Mosaico Travel grew, I noticed something that concerned me. People wanted to travel, but they weren’t sure how to make it work well with children. Unfortunately, as a culture we tend to focus on the difficult parts of raising children: painful childbirth, sleepless nights, crying babies on the plane, etc. Although I admit parenting requires resilience, I have found it to be incredibly rewarding.
I began answering questions, even from very seasoned travellers, about what they should bring or do on a vacation with kids. They didn’t understand how I would travel with my daughters (often without another adult) for weeks at a time and love it!
Although I consider myself a private person, I began to share. I wrote stories that I hoped would inspire. I wrote tips on how to make things easier or less intimidating. I wanted to create an online resource, Tropic of Candycorn, where people could come and learn from our community and discover what works for them.
Most of all, I wanted travel to be accessible to a wide range of families, not just the top-tier. I know that most children’s happiest memories will be away from home and I want those memories to be spent together.
Top three places to travel with kids and why?
Oh wow. I’m not sure I could narrow it down. We love places where we can explore in nature, relax, and have fun. And eat ice cream! I often get asked the question, “Where’s the best place to take children?” My response is usually a variant of “wherever there are children.” Some places are easier than others and some destinations are better geared for individual families, but if the local children are happy, healthy, and safe, I think it’s a destination worth considering.
Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. Most places on your bucket list are safe enough that you’re considering them. If a destination doesn’t make you a little nervous and a lot excited, you might not be trying hard enough. Go for it!
You’ve organized a retreat catering to moms. Can you tell me more about it?
I would love to. This motherhood thing is awesome. But it can be exhausting too. I realized I was giving everything I had to my children, my husband, my work, and had little (if anything) left for me. As I began to talk to other mothers about my struggle, I discovered I was far from alone. We jokingly said, “Someone needs to plan a vacation for moms.” I got some lovely, genuine women involved who I knew needed a break – a way to recharge themselves so they are better prepared to care for the people they love.
The retreat is a way to replenish body, mind, and soul. There will be daily yoga and surf lessons. There will also be daily workshops geared to inspiring mothers: letting go of fears and insecurities; making magic every day and inspiring wonder in ourselves and children; owning your expertise and sharing it with others; living simple, beautiful lives full of meaning and mindfulness.
It will be from Monday, May 2 – Saturday, May 7 at the JW Marriott Guanacaste in Costa Rica and we would love for any mothers who need this to join us. It will be the most epic Mother’s Day.
Did your priorities and life goals change once you had children?
Not drastically. I always enjoyed helping and serving people, which made my transition to motherhood easier since that’s the bulk of the work.
What’s next for you, do you have any fun projects or vacation planned?
My oldest daughter turns 12 on April 2. Long ago, before we realized how quickly our children would grow, we told them they could choose a parent-guide and a destination for their 12th birthday. They would be required to work within a budget, and plan their adventure with some parental input. When Cora realized that I needed to attend a work conference in Switzerland in mid-March, she asked, “Well, if you’re already in Europe, then your airfare doesn’t count toward my budget, right?” She figured out that she could take a direct flight to Paris to meet me. She shopped for the best price and then nervously stood by as I finished the payment. We’re both excited. For Cora, it’s a right of passage – learning to navigate the world with more independence. For me, it’s a chance to spend one-on-one time and create memories that I hope will buoy us during the teenage years.
We’ll be sharing a travelogue on Tropic of Candycorn about our experiences including a daily breakdown of how she’s working within the budget.
What are your dreams for yourself as a mother?
I dream of raising four women who become strong, independent forces for good in the world. I hope to embrace my imperfections so that they can too. Ultimately, I want to leave this world a bit better than I found it.
THERE ARE STILL A FEW SPOTS LEFT IN The Tropic of Candycorn YOGA & SURF RETREAT IN COSTA RICA, MAY 2-7, 2016
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