Growing up, the most my family dealt with the outdoors was around our Mississauga neighbourhood with bike rides by the Credit River, or horsing around with our friends at the nearby park when we weren’t too busy with cartoons or video games. Some reasons for this were obvious — even as a Black family without a huge Black community surrounding us, it still wasn’t “something we did”, spending what vacation time my parents could cobble together on other local attractions, like Niagara Falls’ Marineland or Vaughan’s Canada’s Wonderland.
I mean, sure we changed it up sometimes — we spent time at Myrtle Beach with our aunt and took a family trek down to Jamaica to better appreciate where our parents came from, but we were city kids. We knew bus stops and suburb blocks, shopping malls and streetcars… we grew up with the frenetic pace of The Big Smoke, thinking that was just how life was supposed to be.
Sarah, however, sees different.
If I hadn’t married Sarah, whose family’s hugely into the outdoors with mountain climbers, lifeguards and dragonboat racers in their midst, other than a short grade trip to close the 2000 school year off, I don’t think I’d have ever found my way to a campsite.
Long before she met me, Sarah’s family camped regularly. Visiting dozens of sites across Ontario, they put plenty of mileage to their minivan with tent trailer in tow, spending plenty of quality family time in close quarters as they travelled.
Fast forward fifteen years, where we’re attempting our first camping trip as a family with child at Sandbanks Provincial Park, continuing the traditions Sarah knew so well in her youth. Despite the chorus of shock and doubt we got every time someone heard we were taking a 21-month old toddler into the wilderness, we knew how important it was to set expectations for quality time with family now so it’d become part of how the Palmers operate later.
I was admittedly hesitant at first, raised to cherish my comforts and keep wary of nature, for it’s filled with things that could end me. But with our gear from our 2011 glamping trip in the back of a truck and the humbling experience of our 2012 trip to Tanzania in my soul, I knew I was more than ready to get on board — somewhere along the line, I grew up a little, going beyond my comfort zone to build the experiences my family can love today instead of trying to play catch-up tomorrow.
We need to practice what we preach.
“Goodness Starts Today” — A motto to help you remember to get your act together IMMEDIATELY… not wait for when it FEELS like the right time!
It’s like I said in last week’s post with Quaker — “Goodness Starts Today”. Sure, the world weighs heavy on our souls, making it hard to see the rays of hope through everything else designed to keep us distracted, but ultimately, you are responsible for yourself. No one else can make you a happier person, better parent, or an award-winning employee. You have to want to make your life a better one and seize the opportunities to do so whenever they’re put before you.
It’s too often I hear complaints that there’s not enough time; that someone’s not good enough to do this or get that; that it “must be nice” for certain people to be lucky enough to live life the way they do. I spend too much time on subway trains seeing my city’s tired and weary, life beating them down too much for them to bear, resigned to taking whatever life’s dished out for them instead of fighting for anything better.
But Goodness Starts Today — today can be the first day of a new direction for yourself, focused on making every move you make count rather than feel stuck just going through the motions. And it doesn’t need to be anything big — you could play a board game. Go for a family walk. Have a picnic in the backyard or send someone a handwritten letter just because.
Too often do we spend our time focused on the grand, sweeping gestures and the big expenses that keep us hustling that we forget it doesn’t take much to spend time with the people who matter most… we just need to make it happen!
In case you missed it last week, I’m giving one lucky reader a $250 Visa gift card to spend on building memorable experiences with people they care about! There’s no excuse — get off of your butt, break away from those chains that’re holding you down, and do something amazing with the time you have.
You get one shot at this life.
Until the next,
Disclosure: Again, this was a compensated post via my benefactors at Quaker Canada who wants us all to remember that there’re things we can do today to improve our lives — it’s not worth waiting ’til tomorrow to regret the poor decisions we made in the past.