It’s hard to believe 2013 is over already. It seems like just yesterday when we were back at Mooloolaba Beach Caravan Park on the Sunshine Coast in our little old caravan, sitting outside under the stars watching the fireworks over the beach that heralded the start of 2013, and for us brought to an end the toughest year we had been through together.
Looking back now on 2013, it was a year of utter extremes …
✗ After years of putting so much blood, sweat and tears – not to mention money – into what we thought was our dream home, the first few weeks of the year were spent in total agony. This agony wasn’t from the fact that we were now selling our house (and I use the term ‘house’ here instead of ‘home’ very deliberately); it was from the fact that we weren’t sure for a while whether the sale would actually go through. And the thought of being stuck in a place that no longer brought us any joy at all, but instead bad memories and reminders of things we’d rather forget.
✔ Words truly can’t express how excited and relieved we were when our house sale finally went through. We were both at work, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon. As soon as we received the call, cheers went around the office (they had all been through it with us, after all) and we packed our bags and headed home to spend some time together. At that stage we had moved into our temporary home – our caravan – before being able to move into a rental house. At that stage, we thought our life was beginning again!
✗ We were truly blessed to have two wonderful Golden Retrievers, who during the few days we were in between houses had to stay with our adoring petsitter. Being summer, a trip to a beach for the two of them was a normal venture, but sadly one that went wrong for all of us that day. Our beautiful champagne girl, Shampaz, only 14 months old, was stung by something in the water. To this day we don’t know what it was. An urgent visit to the Vet Hospital initially had us hopeful, but calls throughout the night and into the early morning showed that nothing could be done for her, and so we sadly said goodbye that morning – only 12 hours after that first awful phone call. What happened that night changed a lot of things for us, and we started to question things we hadn’t questioned before – our beliefs, our faith, our hopes for the future.
✔ While it resulted from such tragic circumstances, the loss of our baby triggered me into doing something I’d sworn I’d never do – get a tattoo. After we lost our 11yo Golden Retriever, Amber, only 12 months earlier, the thought had been there in my mind, but I just couldn’t find the right expression to do something permanent. Now, I knew it was what I wanted. Something to remember our golden angels forever. So later that week I got my first tattoo, on my left foot – a love heart, with two pawprints and the words “Siempre Contigo” – Spanish for “Always with you”. Not for one second have I ever regretted that decision and every day I see the reminder and remember all the wonderful memories they gave me. They always remind me of the song “The Dance” and one line in particular – “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance”. I wouldn’t want to have missed one second of the time I had with them.
✗ I started struggling with work at this time. Working for Queensland Police in any capacity is difficult, simply due to the nature of the work and what you are surrounded by each and every day. I started struggling every day to deal with the crime, the loss, the sadness, the victims, and the thoughts of those left behind. Sitting down at night to watch the news was no longer relaxing, and the collection of movies I enjoyed watching shrank to consist of only cartoons that always had a happy ending. It became more and more difficult to want to go to work each day, and harder to put the memories of what I’d seen and read out of my mind, such that it started interfering with my sleep and my ability to function and deal with things like most people normally would. Ultimately, it was through this and as a result of this struggle that we knew things had to change.
✔ By things having to change, we mean everything had to change. We made the conscious decision to change our futures, by selling all our worldly possessions and packing up to travel Australia. We did this for the sake of our health, our happiness, our relationship and our future. Everything we owned went on the market – clothes, books, DVDs, TV, furniture, appliances, cooking wares, tools – right down to the cutlery in our drawers. A massive garage sale was organised, and people turned up in droves. Our trash really was someone else’s treasure, and by the end of the day we had nothing left but the bed we were sleeping on, which we ended up giving away the day we moved out. The first step on our road to freedom and fulfilment was taken, and it was the best we’d felt in a long time.
✗ Even though we have created so many great memories on our travels, there are times when it’s hard to forget the past and you struggle with what you’ve been through. Some days are harder than others, and the nights especially. It does get a little bit easier as time goes by, but it still sometimes feels like you’re on a rollercoaster of ups and downs and just when you think you see the end of the ride it starts up again.
✔ That rollercoaster ride has given us some of the most magical memories:
- having lunch in a hilltop café surrounded by snow
- sitting on a quiet oceanscape watching whales migrate nearby
- going for a drive and stopping on the water’s edge, only to see a dolphin feeding frenzy just offshore, with ripples across the water’s surface as far as the eye can see
- experiencing a nudist beach for the first time (when in Rome…!)
- driving over the Snowy River
- holding a snake for the first time
- meeting other like-minded travellers, and being able to inspire others to take the plunge and hit the road.
Goals for 2014
To make sure we made the most of this New Year, and did things that some might think are slightly odd or just so basic but to us mean the creation of all-important memories, we created our #52things Quest. You can find out more by reading our post: http://www.thejuniornomads.com.au/2013/12/14/52-things-to-do-this-year/. We’d love you to join in with us, so make sure you Subscribe to our mailing list (if you haven’t already) and keep up-to-date with our travels here and on Facebook. 2014 is our year – and yours – to make it count!
Our Motto for 2014
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.