Well hello there!
Holy smokes folks - 2020 - this year, how on Earth are we already at the end of August?
As you know, I am a super stickler when it come to keeping plans. And well 2020 has certainly made that difficult even for me to do!
I can hardly believe that I have not traveled outside of the USA in all of 2020.
Nothing is going to stop me
Well I wasn't by any means gonna let 2020 get in the way of my traveling domestically and throughout the states over and over again - both with and without my big kids.
My kiddos (who are now young adults) had always traveled with me everywhere that I went and it was their decision if and when they preferred to stay at home with the fam bam, which included my mom and their dad.
While I'm not sure if you've read OUR STORY you may or may not realize that I've been separated from the kids dad - Dave C. for over 14 years!
I've been traveling with the kids as a single mom since then.
*Not that Dave C. had even been an avid traveler even when we were together.
Crazy thing is that we (the kids dad and I) still live together and occasionally (about twice a year - which is occasional in my book) even still travel together as a family.
Keeping the kids well being at the heart of it all, we've learned to make it work.
Of course most of the time and for the majority of the past 14+ years I have been traveling as a single mom, toting along my 2 favorite humans.
Change and Uncertainty
For those of you who are new to the scene, there is lots more...
For 10+ of those 14 years I was in a long term relationship with yet another Dave - their stepdad. He was a HUGE help when he participated.
But even though he found my traveling lifestyle to be quite exciting, eventually even he could not keep up with the hectic busyness of my crazy addiction to traveling!
And then as life happens, things in that relationship kind of went sour last year adding to my 2019 blogging challenges.
*I'll spare you all the gory details and drama.
Picking up the pieces
So now on top of everything that we are all going through with this utterly crazy year. I've also been spending 2020 figuring out how to make it all work while balancing and fitting together all the very many pieces that I have in my life.
With family being my number one priority!!!
Another thing the balance has brought is me and Elisa working together closer than ever on our blog...
As I'm sure that you - our beloved followers have noticed. :)
Thanks for sticking by our side through the crazyness that is our Travelin' Cousins lives. And stay tuned as we have big plans for so much more!!
Catch up with you on Wednesday.
A brand new week...and month - is upon us! Hope you are looking forward to it!
Well, I sure had an interesting weekend, to say the least. Lots of drama and lots of resolution. But, I digress...
As a result of my experiences this weekend, I got to talking with Tanya yesterday and realized that one of the things we love about our blog is how Travelin' Cousins differs from many other travel blogs out there on the internet. We are both single moms.
Starting our Blog
Our main goal in starting our blog and writing for the past six years is to share our travel journeys near and far, many of which included our children.
Single motherhood is also a defining characteristic of who we are and has had a significant impact on WHAT we blog about regarding travel but also on a personal level.
And while both me and my bestie cousin are both single moms now, it was not always the case for either of us. This leads to today's query - how can one be a travel blogger and a single mom at the same time?
When Tanya and I first launched our blog back in May of 2014 (Mother's Day to be exact!), I was still married, whereas Tanya had been long separated from the father of her children.
Being a travel blogger while married was relatively easy for me since I was able to roam around the state, country and world with and without my kids without much worry about money and even care taking for that matter.
My life as a married homemaker was pretty darn sweet and trust me, I never took it for granted. I traveled whenever I wanted, where I wanted and this almost always included the kids.
It's important for me to note that while I was married, 50%-60% of my travel was just me and my daughters. We did have the "mom and kid" travel thing down to a science, but, my married status did allow for me to enjoy this wonderful (and often costly) perk!
Life Changes and Blogging Challenges
Like many things in life, great changes followed after 18 months into starting our blog, I filed for divorce and with this bold step, my world took a very different turn with many new challenges and adjustments.
Adapting to my new way of life in the wake of my divorce had an impact on being a travel blogger requiring me to alter the way in which I had become accustomed to embracing this beloved calling and the rhythm to which Tanya and I had worked together up until this point.
The new reality from this point forward would require a new plan of action for traveling since travel at the same frequency and to far off destinations would not be as easy or financially feasible.
Four Years of Change and Uncertainty
So, this all leads me back to my "interesting weekend" as I mentioned above.
Keeping in mind that my divorce, which started with a physical separation in September, 2015 was filled with nearly four years of change and uncertainty up until me and the girls final moved into our new home in June, 2020. This period was filled with a great deal of emotional pain, physical changes and loss - more than this blog will allow for me to detail. But I'll do my best to hit on some of the important highlights that culminated with the events of this past weekend, which I believe stemmed from the stress of these past four years.
What I had hoped would be an amicable breakup since it was mutual, turned into one of the most contentious situation of my entire life. All of which was 100% unnecessary since it was my goal to co-parent and still remain friends after nearly 17 years of marriage.
Unfortunately, things did not go that way and as a result, the next two years wreaked havoc and divided our entire family. Divorce does not mean that people have to hate each other. It merely means that two people cannot make a marriage work or have grown apart. Memories and mutual respect for the good that transpired should keep both parties from needlessly trying to be purposefully hurtful and destructive to the other and the children involved.
As a result of some pretty unsavory behaviors and stepping way over the line of fair and right, me and my girls had to deal with far more than just picking up the pieces and reinventing what family means. The good that came out of it was that my girls truly learned the value of integrity, frugality and self respect.
When I realized that my new lifestyle was not going to allow far off travel to be as frequent, I readjusted the focus of my blogging or as I like to say, "made lemonade out of lemons" and decided to become an avid travel blogger about the NYC outer boroughs.
Strategically, this was one of the smartest decisions I ever made as it allowed me to travel to places close to home, was not a burden on my finances and enabled me to bring relevant travel information to my readership and followers about places that had and continue to be neglected in the mainstream travel industry. It was the best decision I ever made!
As for me and my two girls, this time was nonetheless one filled with great emotional and financial changes in our lifestyle. In addition, we also had the added burden of selling a 19-room house, which required tons of repairs to get it ready for sale. Unfortunately, we could not actually begin the selling process until the divorce was finalized which took two years, bringing us to 2017.
Prep for the move and the move itself were very stressful for the three of us and impacted our free time to travel much. we had to empty an entire house, which included 100% of my ex-husbands belongings since he had left in a hurry (LOL), never to return. The sale of the house took 2 years since were in a tough sellers market. During this period, the monthly mortgage and upkeep expenses pretty much wiped out the support we were court ordered to receive. The search for a new house was also slow and stressful since we could not buy anything until our current house was sold. In other words, I needed the equity from the sale to buy a new house so my hands were tied.
You can imagine the stress on my two daughters, being so unsettled for so long - knowing that we were moving but when and to where was not known. Add to this the constant house showings and open house events throughout this period forcing all of us to keep everything neat and "show-ready" at all times.
With packing, ongoing court battles over money, difficult relations with little to no interaction with their dad for what is now three years, and the uncertainty of when we would move and where we would live, we were fortunate enough to follow through with several trips in 2017 through 2019 that had been on our calendar from the time my divorce proceeding began.
These were the shining light in what was otherwise a very dark, sad and stressful period.
With Tanya and gang, we celebrated Gianna's 13th Birthday together with a pre-birthday trip to London and a side trip to Paris, just me and the girls in April 2017. Then in December, 2017, we spent Christmas in Disney World.
In 2018, I took the girls on their first Caribbean trip to the Dominican Republic for a week of beach-style R&R and we traveled to Disney World in Orlando in February and November, 2019. Clearly nothing to complain about.
Then, tragedy struck in April 2019 when my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. From April to June, my whole family was back and forth to hospitals, doctors, tests and in a constant state of anxiety. We lost Dad in late June which devastated us all and robbed the girls of the only male role model in their lives for everyday love and support.
Fortunately, God was watching over us as a wonderful family finally came along who wanted to purchase our house! As fate would have it, at the same time we also found a new house! That was in the Fall of 2019, when the light at the end of the tunnel was finally becoming visible.
We moved out in January and closed on our new and current home in February. Our plan was to stay with my mom from late January through late April while renovations were done on our new house. But, then COVID-19 hit in March and with mandated shut downs of schools, construction and all business, we had to sit tight.
Letting Go of the Past
I'm happy to say, we moved into our new house in early June (only two months later than expected).
However, there were still some distractions after moving in - getting our belongings out of storage, furniture deliveries, final decorative to-do's, having Kelsey's elementary school graduation, and just plain settling in. We gals were still operating in a state of high anxiety and stress that had lasted four years up until a few weeks ago.
So....this past weekend, we all pretty much had a family meltdown and it was a few days of releasing and purging.
With the constant bombardment of emotional, physical and financial stress behind us and finallyi a safe place, we all needed to break down.
The extraordinary and amazing news is how much we three achieved and accomplished through it all. I had to reinvent my travel life decided to focus solely on blogging about the NYC outer boroughs of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, which has resulted in so many new opportunities, business associates and prospects for the future. I also managed to go back to online school and receive a certificate in content writing from The Wharton School and now working on a second certification in Search Engine Optimization.
As for my girls, they are warriors. Adjusting to a divorce, a change in lifestyle on all fronts, losing their grandfather and moving out of the only home they ever knew, they both have maintained all honors in school the entire time. Gianna is attending high school on a partial scholarship and in all honors classes and Kelsey just graduated this summer, receiving a small scholarship and the Best Citizen's Award! She too will be in all honors classes as well starting high school in two weeks!
They have been my solace and my pride and we are all confident that the best is still yet to come.
That is my story in a nutshell, so if you were wondering why I was not as present or took a few hiatuses over the past four years - this is the reason.
Now, Tanya and I are working together closer than ever and plan to bring you even more enjoyable travel content and hope to you inspire you even more to travel whether close to home now, or to all points around the globe when this pandemic and health crisis is behind us!
Thanks for hanging in there with me and for all of your continued support! I love you guys!!!
Stay tuned - the best is yet to come!!
August 31, 2020 - How to Be a Travel Blogger As a Single Mom | Two Cousins Share their Very Different Experiences
Travel around the world and the NYC outer boroughs every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday!!