Over the years I have been writing and posting to my blog, I’ve had a goal which has guided my content. It is simple. I want the words to be fashioned in such a way so that the reader and the writer feel good at the end of the piece. This practice has been a therapy of sorts. In fact there is a term for this way of thinking. 

The definition of pollyanna is – a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. 

This does not mean I do not have negative thoughts or feelings. It just means that I do not feel a cathartic need to post them online. Like everyone, I am involved with all kinds of situations where life does not seem very happy. But all of that stuff involves other people. While my family and friends are very interested in my writing, they do not appreciate appearing as regular stars. For sure my husband and children do not. They are even strict about which kind of photos and videos I can use. I must get their approval. Yes, tough crowd I hang with.

The problem becomes that I appear to be curating my life to make it look exceedingly wonderful. In so doing, it can be perceived as a little unbelievable. As if, by some kind of miracle I am walking on water, a bit. For those who know me, this is not at all what is really going on. I mean, yes, I am only writing about the good stuff. The result is a carefully controlled view of only the best of my life. So, what to do about that?

I asked my husband if I can start airing all the dirty laundry? He said no. Hmmm. How to solve this problem then? His idea was to select some of the situations we have gone through over the past 9 months and give a commentary about how we overcame the challenges. This might be a long post, so tuck in. You were warned!

  1. We had barely arrived in Europe when we got word that our family pet had run away. Our beloved rescue cat – Lynch. He was the best cat I had ever owned, for sure. But, as male cats have been known to do, he wandered off when the living circumstances changed and was never seen again. We hope he has found a nice place to live, but also accept we may not see him again. This did not help us get into the groove of travel, but rather pulled our emotions back home.
  2. One day, in front of our apartment in Barcelona, a woman was found dead. We were living on the 3rd floor and there was another two floors above us. Did she jump? Was she pushed? How did she end up in a really contorted way in the concrete lane? We will never know. What we could overhear was all spoken in a foreign language. It was the first time I had ever seen a dead body and I’ll assume the same for my teenagers. I suppose this can happen in a big city when there are so many people living close together?
  3. I really struggled to adjust to life on the road in the fall, last year. I was doing all the same jobs for my family as I had done back home. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and laundry. My husband wanted the kids to be left to their studies, so each day felt quite routine for me, largely filled with domestic responsibilities. The kicker of that was our kids had pretended to be keeping up with their studies. Instead, they were playing video games, chatting with friends, sleeping late and generally having a great time! We didn’t learn the truth of that until much later. By the end of our stay in Europe I decided that everyone had to play a role in food procurement and preparation as well as keeping our living spaces tidy. Laundry was a case by case situation. We eventually found a good rhythm.
  4. My Grandfather passed away last fall. It looked like I might fly home to attend his funeral. Instead the gravesite service was postponed until the end of June, when we will be back in Canada. That was hard. I only had the last visit with him in the summer and even then, I feared it would be the last time. I hope he knew how much I enjoyed all the time we spent together, particularly when I had just moved out on my own and he continually helped me fix my car.
  5. I’ve never been as scared as I was when my children both came down with Bali belly. We had been warned about this and I’ve suffered with something similar myself, but when you stand by helplessly watching your kids be so sick, it is heart breaking. I had to force myself to leave them to sleep and recover, after the doctor’s visit. But I had a hard time with a knot in my stomach the whole time they were ill. I kept wondering, what did I let them eat? How could I have prevented this? 
  6. There were times over this year when we experienced profound homesickness. It would hit each of us at different times. Luckily it didn’t happen all at once or we might have decided to go home! The feelings were tough to overcome. It is hard to pinpoint what causes this general feeling of sadness. Adding to the mix was the missing cat and the fact that our house was rented out anyway. We could not really go home if we wanted to. We had to charge ahead. On those days, we each needed more TLC and a good nights rest. That always did the trick.
  7. I do not like making mistakes. And not organizing the kids birth certificates and then being denied boarding our flight to Cape Town, well that was a big one. Then we had a large change fee with the airline to pay. Luckily my friend who was loaning us her apartment in Hong Kong was away for a few more weeks. Until we had the birth certificates in our hands from Canada I barely slept. I was so worried about what might happen if we could not manage to get them. It was a ridiculous thing for me to obsess about, but when your mind gets really fearful like that, there is no reasoning. 
  8. Accidentally driving through the township/settlement on our way back to the airport in Cape Town was the most frightened I have ever been in my whole life. I must have looked like it as well. We had heard so many warnings about not doing what we did, for the sake of our safety. I had that in the back of my mind, but I was even more heart-broken by seeing just how bad the living conditions were for all the people residing in that area. Those were super heavy emotions.
  9. Raising teenagers is hard enough, but when they give parents attitude, on a regular basis….well my teeth were grinding together often. I do not have any means to force my offspring into appropriate behaviour. Taking away their phones and computers when it is the middle of the night back home, means nothing. They could care less. We had to try a more mature approach. We have had a few big family meetings, getting everything out on the table and discussing our feelings, like grown-ups. This has been an adjustment for all of us, but has worked much better than being authoritarian parents. I think we are closer, as a family? Hopefully…
  10. For some reason travel days put my kids on edge. Getting through the airport, being where we should be, filling out forms, all of it makes them act really stressed out. They seem to feel the need to practically run to the boarding gate, leaving my husband and I behind. They talk to us in a really short and terse tone which is very strange. All of this is made worse if we have to get up early, have a long layover or are going through many time zones. So pretty much every time we fly, in other words. Not to mention that every time we leave the house for day trips or travel days, our teens refuse to bring snacks or water. So they are always taking ours. Sigh, you would think they would have learned by now? I guess when we are not with them, they will manage somehow?

That is a top 10 list of sorts. None of that stuff is really in order and there were loads more challenges. The villa in Bali where a cockroach crawled out from the bathroom drain comes to mind. Not to mention the apartment outside Rome where we took a look around and immediately left due to huge mold patches on the living room wall. My daughter has a firm bias against airbnb, due to some of these experiences. No matter how many nice places we have stayed in, she can only remember the few bad situations.

My hope is that we will all be more flexible in the future. Take the time to draw a deep breath. Stay calm and assess the situation at hand, whatever it is. Don’t over react. Stay out of judgement and fear. Be reasonable and kind, no matter if you think someone has not done the same. It is a long life and we only hurt ourselves if we lose our temper and fly off the handle. At least this is the behaviour I have tried to model this year. The common ground and the win-win solutions are extremely satisfying for everyone involved. This is the creative legacy I hope we can demonstrate once we get back to our old life at home.

#creaspatreat – Join me in this creative journey. I am on a mission to start a global movement, focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives. Together, let us see where we can take this. I look forward to hearing from you! Please share your thoughts. Feel free to send an email to: Christine@dailycreatives.com

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Christine Westermark

I am a world traveller, lucky enough to have a loving family who support my dreams to learn, create and give back by designing creative content which enables a lifestyle we don't need a vacation from.

Latest posts by Christine Westermark (see all)

Irrepressible optimism or finding good in everything

14 thoughts on “Irrepressible optimism or finding good in everything

  • June 5, 2018 at 9:41 am
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    This was brilliant, truly, telling the ugly truth is fantastic as we all have experienced these realities on trips and in life and yours are just more interesting !

    Reply
    • June 6, 2018 at 7:15 am
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      Sandi – you are so kind! Thank-you for that. There have been some challenging days, for sure. But the trip has been worth it!
      Cheers,
      -CW

      Reply
  • June 6, 2018 at 10:20 am
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    I really enjoyed reading your post Christine. I too am a bit of a Pollyanna and take a bit of ribbing for it at times. My husband and I are currently on a 3 month odyssey from Australia to Europe, currently in Iceland, and I can relate to so much of what you have written about here. I love your honesty. As a blogger, I too have to to get permission from family to write about certain things
    I take my hat off to your for doing what you’re doing, it’s not always easy or fun but it’s well worth doing!, #mlstl

    Reply
  • June 6, 2018 at 3:32 pm
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    Great post. I do try to post positives but I also post our “oops” moments and how we dealt with them. Thanks for sharing!

    #MLSTL visitor (shared on SM)

    Reply
  • June 6, 2018 at 4:27 pm
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    I love your transparency. I think it is difficult to maintain a positive space on the internet without coming across as “Pollyanna” while at the same time sharing a few of life’s frustrations without whining. You did it perfectly.

    I look forward to digging into your archives and reading about your world travels… and I am all for the new #creaspatreat movement!

    Reply
    • June 9, 2018 at 3:06 am
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      Molly – awesome to see your note about #creaspatreat – I’m going to be adding to that by the end of the month, when we are home!

      Reply
  • June 6, 2018 at 7:16 pm
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    Hi Christine, like you I don’t like to focus on the negative as there is so much of that already in the world. I also don’t usually write about specific family members because they are private people and don’t want their lives splashed around the internet. I do like the way you have written about your challenges and yes with travelling in particular. Last year we were in Naples and when I first saw our ‘hotel’ I told my husband I wouldn’t be staying there. The outside looked very dodgy and we had to pay to use the elevator. However, when we arrived to the boutique hotel rooms they were lovely. If had gone with my first reaction we would have not enjoyed the convenient location and also our hosts who couldn’t do enough for us. Thanks for sharing with us at #MLSTL and hope you join us next week!

    Reply
    • June 9, 2018 at 3:08 am
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      Sue – thanks for sharing your Naples experience. The one thing we must take with us when travelling is an open mind!

      Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 6:07 am
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    No one will ever call me a Pollyanna but I do like to even up my posts between good bad and indifferent. Sometimes I will rewrite a post because I do think it is too negative and I know I need to lighten up. There is nothing easy about raising teenagers and yes they will learn to take care of themselves. lol

    Reply
    • June 9, 2018 at 3:09 am
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      Victoria – yes teens are just as trying as everyone warned me about! Now I really know how my Mom felt!

      Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 7:24 am
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    Hi Christine,
    Thank you for teaching me a new word: “Polyanna”.
    I doubt if I am a Polyanna, but I am an optimist; more often, tend to see the glass half full. I am realistic as well, which help me to plan on how to get around the humps on the road ahead.
    – Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.com
    (Came to this post via #MLSTL. Shared this post on my social media.)

    Reply
    • June 12, 2018 at 12:21 am
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      Pradeep – me too, I’m too realistic to be a complete pollyanna! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!
      Cheers,
      -Christine

      Reply

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