So firstly - changes and the plan moving forwards. After much thought, talking, research and consideration, we've decided to postpone the Berlin trek/cycle (again!) until 2018. The decision was pretty simple once we started looking at things, and is based around 2 key features - Cost and Time.
We decided a while back that the best way to do the Sword Beach to Berlin cycle and walk, would be to hire a camper-van as a back up vehicle, allowing us to take all of our gear, and have a back up vehicle we could call home for the duration. The cost of this is going to work out somewhere around £3,000....so in short, we need some time to save to be able to save enough to pay for the van - putting that much away by next Summer (2017) is probably doable, but wouldn't leave us any spare for emergencies.
The time factor was (and is) slightly different. This boils down to allowing ourselves enough time to fully plan the route and how we're going to do it, but also allowing us some time to be us...as a family. I loved the walk over the Summer, but it took 3 weeks of our time - which i'm more than happy to give, but equally, it meant we didn't get a chance to just be, as a family, together, without knowing we had to move, had to walk, had to shift....and the simple fact of the matter is that given Will's age, time is running out for us all to spend time together on holiday - so we want to be able to do that, just once, before coming back to the walk.
Rest assured it will definitely happen in 2018 - we just need the time to plan, to be ourselves, and of course to save up for the main event so we're not at risk of getting stuck somewhere in Europe!
So that's that - hopefully everyone reading this understands our motives behind this, and understands we're not "chickening out", something like this just takes time to get in place.
So that's looking forwards....how about looking back?
It's funny, but I didn't realise how much of a change the walk this last Summer would have on me on a personal level. I said to a mate whilst he was out with me that it had put a lot of things into perspective, and given some of the experiences we went through, it had been a learning curve which showed me what I should be focusing on in life - but when I said it, I think I was being quite blase and didn't fully understand where it was coming from.
The path was so peaceful and calm, that I spent every day pretty much in silence (other than when people joined me) - this allowed a lot of time for thinking about life. One of my biggest realisations was about what's important, and what's worth getting stressed out about. I'm really quick at getting stressed about work, worrying about work and taking on the stress and work load for everyone around me - and the result isn't good. I lose sleep, I eat too much, I smoke, I probably drink too much at the weekends occasionally, but most of all, I dedicate so much time to worrying about work that I neglect my family and friends.
I've got friends that I used to see daily at one time, then even when we moved apart, at least once every couple of months - I've not seen some of these guys for years now.....literally.....which is wrong. I come home some days, have a cup of tea with Sian, then start working - break for dinner, then go back to working, then stop, go to bed (not sleeping well), then repeat that process. I'm here with an amazing Son, and an incredible wife, and I'm doing that on a daily basis some weeks....
Simply put, one of my biggest realisations over the Summer was my eyes being opened to how much I've neglected people I call friends (who I really have no right to do so about given my constant excuses of "work's a bit busy at the moment"), I've neglected spending time with my family when I could have been going out for a walk, playing tennis, going for a bike ride, or simply just sitting and talking to them, and I've neglected my own mental well being - resulting in a head which is jumbled, unsure of my own abilities, and uncertain about my "purpose of being" if that makes sense. Sure, there were the other realisations about the need to have a healthier lifestyle with regards to what I eat and my more unhealthy habits, but without a doubt, the one about what's most important was the biggest.
All because I've gotten the balance wrong.
OK I admit that I have a job which does require time being dedicated to it outside of the working day, but even still, I need to learn to shut down more. I need to find some clarification in my own mind about what to do moving forwards - stay put, push forwards, or step back....but whatever decision I make, it will be based on what's best for myself, and my family.
The simple truth of everything is that we're here for a limited amount of time, and the most important thing about life is making the most of it - living, laughing, loving, and not spending time worrying about things which in the greater scheme of things, don't matter.
So that's that - I guess my message behind it all is to say to everyone to take some time to be, take some time to see the people you care about, and take some time to reflect. I always say to Sian that when I'm on my death bed I'd rather regret the things I did do, than the things I didn't do - and part of that outlook now will be to step back from work and instead spend time doing the things that I want to do, the things my family want to do, and the things which are actually important in life.
Yeah....told you it would be a long one...