TiresI once owned a 1969 Pontiac Firebird.  It was the first car that I purchased with my own money.  This car was dark green with a black vinyl top, Muncie 4 speed transmission with a Hurst shifter, Posi-track rear, and a Pontiac 350 full-throttle lay on the G’s kick-ass power plant.  I loved driving that car, looking out over that long hood, the smell of the leather seats; the feel of that Hurst shifter in my hand; the throaty roar of the engine and the comforting rocking of the cam as she idled. 

I invested a lot of time and money into that car; rebuilding the engine from the block up.  It wasn’t cherry by any means but this car had power. This car had so much power it was actually scary.  In fact there was so much power that I could easily spin the wheels and make the wheels smoke.  This was actually one of the “fun” aspects of the car.

Preparing for a 1 year sabbatical is a lot like driving that Firebird.  There are so many things to do, so many things to consider, so many things to resolve that it’s extremely overwhelming almost to the point of paralysis at times.  Now I could rush head first into all these seemingly complex tasks (put the pedal to the metal) but I think what I would find is that I just spin my wheels and nothing would get done.  A better solution is to feather the gas, take some time to get organized, prioritize the steps and then move forward.

And that’s what I intend to do over the course of the next several months.  Create a plan of actionable steps that lead me to the point where moving overseas and creating a new life doesn’t seem that scary or overwhelming.  Here are a few of the bigger items that we will need to work out:

  1. Financial – need to pay off all debt and save up as much as possible.  Answer the question of how much we will need in order to feel secure financially. Work out details of ways to make money while living in Indonesia (contract work, teach English, pursue my photography more etc.).  Learn how to bank while living overseas.
  2. Health Insurance – what can I afford? Where do I purchase it from? What does it cover?
  3. Education – the kids still need to get an education even though they will learn so much living around the world.  What schools are available and affordable in Indonesia?  Would home schooling be an option and are we as parents up for that?
  4. Safety – will we be safe when we travel? I imagine that my feelings about this are skewed based on things we see in the media.  But personal safety is a concern of mine.  I will readily admit that all the times I have been in Indonesia I never feared for my safety and always felt welcomed by the people there but the fact remains that there have been terrorist attacks there aimed at people of Western heritage.
  5. Culture Shock – I worry that both myself and my kids will have difficulty adjusting to living in a new culture.  My wife is Indonesian so I’m not worried about her, it’s her home land.  But the kids and I will need some time to adjust.  This may be a non-point of concern but it’s definitely something to be considering.

Of course there are many more things to think about and consider but those 5 are the big ones on my mind.  I’m sure that there are things that I haven’t even considered or thought about.  But I try not to worry about things that I know nothing about.  This is all an adventure and a learning process.  Mistakes will be made, that is a given.  But that is how we learn.

I can’t do this alone though.  I need your help.  You see making these kinds of life transitions isn’t easy.  I’m not trying to fool myself in that respect.  I need your support.  I need you to stick with me between now and June 2011 and beyond.  I need you to push me and remind me when my resolve starts to waver.  When the going gets tough the tough rely on their base.  I would love for you to be a part of that base.  You can become a part by signing up for the 1yearsabbatical mailing list (take a quick peek over on the right).  You’ll be privy to all kinds of updates from the sabbatical front lines.

The next 10 months are going to be really exciting.  Let’s enjoy them together and move forward into a new life adventure.

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