Happy New Year!

Since my first experience studying abroad nearly 30 years ago, I’ve loved to travel. Part of it is the exploration, part to reflect and appreciate what you have at home. To us, this year is equivalent to “living a dream” which is not always easy but does provide great perspective on life. To that end, I want to take a moment to reflect on how proud I am of my family and to encourage you to live your dreams in this New Year.

This Christmas Eve on the small remote island of Gili Gede, we celebrated with a feast among travelers. There were a dozen of us and we shared fresh fish, mashed potatoes (Leticia’s request), and plenty of healthy vegetables with Indonesian sauces including spicy peppers! All of us were at home last year for Christmas and none of us knew that we would be traveling here this year; thus, the human planning concept is short lived based on this small survey. Similarly, Leticia and I had talked about this dream trip for years but even last Christmas we didn’t know or plan on this to come to fruition but we’re certainly glad it did!

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For our children, however, it has been 5 months total since we informed them about our family dream. A considerable shock that you aren’t going back to school, that you’ll be without your friends, that your life will be turned upside down for all intensive purposes. To an adult, it may sound glamorous but to a young developing person, it can be devastating. Despite the brief time to digest and the losses of a normal day-to-day lifestyle, these two wonderful children have explored, grown and embraced our travels in a wonderful way.

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Our high energy, full of friends, and busy as a bee daughter, Louisa, has been the most affected. She has sacrificed her first year at a new school (although several friends of hers say she is not missing much), her team sports, and, most of all, she has had to shelve her daily interactions with her friends. Yet, this young woman embraces our travels in a way that would impress anyone. She has jumped off bridges, read more books, planned and served meals, volunteered to help the environment and adapted to different cultures in a life changing way. I am excited to see what will become of Louisa as she continues on this journey and thereafter because I’m confident that she will accomplish great things in life.

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Now Sebastian is a different breed. When we told him about the trip, he paused, thought, and proceeded to ask several detailed questions about the trip for him to better understand our goals. At the end of it, he said, “This sounds great. I’m in!” His demeanor has not changed since; in fact, he is our spiritual leader in a way as he carries the optimistic attitude that is much needed when things go wrong (and right). He takes the edge off tense moments and has a natural ability to get along with others – he has easily adapted to playing with other boys everywhere we go. On top of all that, he loves the virtual school program and has performed better than ever; he attests it to the fact that he doesn’t have the other student distractions! Regardless, we are proud parents as Sebastian carries his loyalty strong and practices the Camp Dudley motto: The Other Fellow First.

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Now before wish everyone a Happy New Year, I’d like to mention my lovely wife, Leticia, who has steadily come into her own on this journey. I compare it to a drive down to Key West in that the farther you go, the more relaxed you become. Leticia, of all the people in our family, needed a break from the jet setting corporate world. I can’t say enough about the quality time the rest of us have enjoyed with her. On top of which, I’ve seen this bubbly warm and curious personality come to life. If it’s not family time, then Leti’s enjoying a new book or exploring the culture, speaking to locals, and absorbing the experience to its fullest. In my opinion, she is going to return with so much more to give in her next endeavor that whatever she decides to do will result in pure success and greater happiness for her and those she touches.

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It’s a challenge to express in words these life experiences and the unity of our family. You see photos of sunrises and sunsets, Mother Nature and wildlife, the hikes and scuba diving, but it amounts to so much more when we share the experiences together. I am thankful to my wife, Leticia, and our love connection that continues to grow. I am thankful to my children, Sebastian and Louisa, for being much better children than I ever was and I look forward to seeing you both continue to grow.

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Happy New Year to you and your family!

may you live your dreams in 2015!

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