Have you ever wanted something badly but didn’t know how to make it happen?
Then you should find inspiration in this post. My husband, Bryan, our three young boys and I recently returned from three months of travel in Spain, something I dreamed about for years but didn’t think we could swing. This is our story.
How It All Began
My father had an unexpected medical emergency. He was having major kidney issues in July 2016, and he didn’t look good after two surgeries in two days. As he laid weak on the hospital bed, my dad said, “Deb, you’ve been a good daughter.”
My only thought? He can’t die now. I returned home that night and sobbed. I prayed for dad’s healing. He awoke the next morning and started the recovery process. Yet I know that isn’t always the case.
Fast forward to January 2017. I wrote a blog post, “New Year = Fresh Start.” In that post, I briefly revisited the feelings from July 2016. Afterward, I started talking to my husband about my dream of taking our family to Europe for seven months before our middle son started kindergarten in August 2018. Bryan’s first reaction wasn’t positive; it seemed like too much work.
Yet “work” doesn’t deter me from following my dreams. Researching and planning are my forte.
Sometimes, the riskier thing is inaction. Not making the decision or deciding to “keep things the same” isn’t necessarily safer.
In February 2017, my husband’s grandmother, the matriarch of a very large, close-knit family, unexpectedly passed away. Grandma Pat was the only grandparent Bryan was close to. Something profoundly changed inside him, and my “big Europe trip” idea didn’t seem so crazy anymore.
Time for Change
Here are some of the reasons Bryan and I felt we both needed a change:
1. The Emotional Health of Our Family Was at Stake.
Our oldest son (then 7) was having difficulties at home and school. Our middle son (age 4) constantly complained that preschool was too long, and he wanted to stay home instead. We knew our youngest son (nearly 2) would be our last child, so we really wanted to make every moment count. Bryan suffered from tinnitus, a constant “ringing in the ears,” for the last two years. And I was a giant ball of stress — worried about my family while trying to grow two businesses.
2. Our Life Was Hurried.
Every minute of every day, we felt rushed. Running late became the norm. Eating dinner together as a family on weeknights was difficult. Bryan and I had to divide and conquer responsibilities on weeknights and weekends alike. We rarely rested! All these things that should be joyful (birthday parties, extended-family gatherings, sports) felt like burdens. There wasn’t a moment of breathing room in our calendars.
3. We Lacked Quality Time as a Couple.
When you are newly married with no kids, you and your spouse have ample time to spend together. But as you have children, dedicated time is increasingly hard to find. I was so overwhelmed managing our household and running two businesses that I started working nights and weekends. On a good night, Bryan and I would spend 30 minutes watching TV together in the family room — one of us in the recliner and the other on the couch on the opposite side of the room.
4. I Fell in Love with the Spanish mindset.
In 2001, I studied in Madrid for four months. “No te preocupes” was the Spanish way of life (meaning “do not worry”). I learned through experience that Spaniards took siestas daily. They frequently ate dinner together as families. They worked hard but played hard. The culture, music, food and natural beauty of Spain struck a chord in my heart. I vowed to return one day. Not for a week but hopefully several months.
We became serious about planning the seven-month journey in March 2017. We even booked one-way flights to Barcelona for January 2018. Then, summer 2017 came. My mom, a normally healthy 65-year-old, had even more severe medical issues than my dad. She spent several weeks in the hospital and had numerous medical procedures. Again, through God’s grace, she recovered.
Last fall, Bryan and I discussed at length whether to continue with our 2018 travel plans. We decided that three months abroad would be more manageable than seven months for many reasons:
- We could use passports rather than apply for visas.
- My clients would be more understanding of meeting virtually for a shorter time span, and Bryan would have an easier time finding new employment if he was out of the workforce less.
- It’s more affordable. Accommodations, dining, and excursions in Europe add up the longer you’re there.
- Our kids hadn’t traveled much, and our oldest son hated the idea of leaving his friends for any amount of time.
- I continued to have concern for my mom’s health. A last-minute flight from Missouri to Florida is much more manageable than one from Spain to Florida.
- We’d return in time for baseball season!
Our fate wasn’t officially sealed until Bryan gave notice to his employer, Airbnb rentals were booked and return flights to the U.S. were secured. We did all of this in December 2017 — one month prior to our departure.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
In retrospect, we should have finalized our Spain plans earlier. We kept my dream private and didn’t tell family or a handful of friends until late December 2017. We knew people would react differently and did not want others’ opinions to impact our decision to travel.
But now, having traveled, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It brought my family closer together and challenged us in ways I couldn’t imagine. Stepping outside your comfort zone isn’t easy, but it’s worthwhile.
So, what BIG, HAIRY, AUDACIOUS GOAL (or dream) do you have? What’s preventing you from taking the next step to fulfill it?
P.S.: Stay tuned for Part 2 of our trip to Spain with my post on how we were able to swing our dream adventure financially.
Deborah L. Meyer, CFP®, CPA/PFS, CEPA and AFCPE® Member, is the award-winning author of Redefining Family Wealth: A Parent’s Guide to Purposeful Living. Deb is the CEO of WorthyNest®, a fee-only, fiduciary wealth management firm that helps Christian parents and Christian entrepreneurs across the U.S. integrate faith and family into financial decision-making. She also provides accounting, exit planning and tax strategies to family-owned businesses through SV CPA Services.
Does Your Child Need to File a Tax Return This Year?
Tax Filing Here’s how to tell if your child needs to file a tax return in 2024 and how it can impact your tax liability.
By Katelyn Washington Published
Yes, Air Canada Must Pay A Partial Refund For Its Chatbot Error
A court ruling has sided with a passenger who was offered false information via AI about the airline's bereavement policy.
By Jamie Feldman Published
Workplace Financial Coaching Has Become Ever More Important
Employees face growing challenges to their financial wellness today, so it’s more critical than ever that employers provide the help they need to navigate them.
By Greg Ward, CFP® Published
Looking into Leasing Solar Panels? Think Twice
Leasing solar panels hasn’t turned into the great deal that many expected as solar companies go out of business and tax breaks and incentives get slashed.
By H. Dennis Beaver, Esq. Published
How Does a Gray Divorce Affect Social Security Benefits?
Can you claim your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits? The answer is yes, as long as you meet certain criteria.
By Andrew Hatherley, CDFA®, CRPC® Published
Four Keys to Budgeting for Travel in Retirement
Get more out of what you spend on travel by investing it appropriately before you need it and being flexible with your travel dates.
By Evan T. Beach, CFP®, AWMA® Published
How to Age-Proof Your Career as Workplace Ageism Increases
Diversifying your networking, staying on top of advances (tech and otherwise) and sharing what you know can help protect you against age discrimination.
By Terry Weber Published
Thinking of Getting a Pet? What Costs to Expect
In addition to receiving lots of unconditional love, you should be prepared for vet bills and lots of pet supplies. Also, did we mention the unconditional love?
By Vincent Birardi, CFP®, AIF®, MBA Published
Three Steps for Couples Navigating the Money Maze
Whether you’re combining your finances or keeping them separate, being on the same page and communicating often and regularly are key.
By Kelli Kiemle, AIF® Published
Why Can’t You Ever Use Your Timeshare?
If you find yourself with a timeshare that never seems available to you, that could be because your bookings are competing with non-timeshare-owning customers.
By H. Dennis Beaver, Esq. Published