Professional surfer Daize Goodwin and her husband, Aaimon (also a pro surfer), embarked on an 18-month-long journey around the world with their two children, a very loose plan, and a documentary film crew. The resulting movie, called “The Goodwin Project,” will be released in June.
Kids: son, Given, 6; daughter True, 4
Parent Co: What can you tell me in general about The Goodwin Project? It feels funny to call it that because I know it’s also your life.
Daize Goodwin: It’s funny because we didn’t think that was going to be the name. We just went forward with that. Now, it’s stuck and so many people love it. They associate it with the two kids.
We just really wanted to implement with our children the love of learning and the love of other cultures and compassion and to realize that this world’s a big place. Even though it’s a small world after all, it’s also a very big, beautiful place, with lots of nooks and crannies to learn and explore. That’s kind of why we did it.
Also, True was only five months when we left, so it was neat because I could just put her in my little Ergo, my little Baby Bjorn or whatever I was holding her in, and take her all around. I feel like both of our kids are pretty evolved from doing that, from taking that journey. They can read people pretty quick, and they’re comfortable anywhere. It’s pretty special.
What part of your and your husband’s collective past really triggered this adventure?
We were both pro surfers and loved to travel. That was our job. Even before we had kids we said, ‘Gosh, it would be so fun to just go and document what we find and not really have any real plan. Let’s just go for it.’ That’s kind of what happened with this movie.
We knew where we were going, but we’d come to a country and not know what we were going to do. We’d find out when we got there, and meet the locals, and learn about what would be good to do. Our children were probably the best catalysts to a successful journey because everyone would just invite you in. When you have kids with you, everyone is just welcoming and they know that you’re not a dangerous person or anything.
I feel like that was the only way to do it for the kids because they saw people’s best sides right up front. People wore their hearts on their shoulders when the kids were around. That was neat to experience, for them especially, because they’re little and all the energy, they soak it in. That was pretty special.
Would you say that the adventure was primarily an educational trip at the beginning? I’m sure it took on multiple purposes and lives as it was happening, but did you set out mainly with the education of your children in mind?
We just really wanted to show them the big picture and let them know in the formative years, the world is your canvas. You can see whatever you want. You can do whatever you want, as long as you respect and love people along the way, the world is your oyster.
It was kind of an experiment, too. We didn’t really know what was going to be on the other side as far as how it was going to affect them. Our son likes to sit and talk to elders. He’d rather sit and talk with 40, 50, and 60 year olds than hang with kids a lot of the time. Our daughter is so love with the purity of animals, and the purity of being home. She likes to travel, but she wants to be right back to her animals. She likes the compound of our property where she can do whatever she wants.
It’s interesting with the different ages. When she was a really young baby going around and soaking up all this energy, now she really just loves to be at home secure with all of her animals. Our son is ready to go. He’s like, “When’s our next trip?”
I was curious with so much in flux, just the nature of traveling around, did you have or did you develop any family habits or rituals to maintain continuity no matter where you were?
Totally. That was a really big one for me. My kids need to know what’s coming next. They need that ritual and scheduling… We traveled with a Baby Bjorn crib – a quick little fold out thing. There was parts of me where like, ‘Gosh, I just want her to be next to me.’ But I also knew that being in different beds sometimes every few nights, I didn’t think that was smart. So, we had a Baby Bjorn crib that was True’s spot. She had her own spot, and it was her little comfort zone.
Every night we’d do the bathing, brush teeth and then read books. We had probably six books that we read over and over and over again. (And) we’d always have family time twice a week where it was just us. We were all together a lot, but we had the crew with us too, so we would disengage from them and then go and do our own little thing off somewhere. That was so fun and incredible. The main thing was that every night it was the same thing. It was bath, brush your teeth, and then go to bed, and read books.
It’s really cool to hear you say that it was just a pretty normal family routine. It’s just you might be doing it in Fiji instead of Topeka.
Well, we had to do that because for my son, for the first two years of his life, it was crazy routine. I was like, my first child, I was probably a little crazy. I knew as soon as he yawned that he was going to nap. All of his food was amazing. It was all slow cooked, and ground in the little grinder.
For Given, because he had that solid foundation, he could sleep in a different bed every night when we traveled. He was fine. He was thriving. He was literally just thriving while we were traveling. He never asked to go home once, where True now because now when we travel she wants to go home. She’s ready to go home after a few weeks. She’s like, ‘Okay, I want to go home.’ It’s just interesting, the difference – the difference in having that solid foundation – so we really try to do everything we could for her when she was a baby.
Do you believe that we all just have a personality that we’re born with, and almost regardless of experience in those early years, that’s going to be your core personality?
I think everyone obviously is born with who they are. I feel like if we can nurture a certain part of them, and everyone’s different and you can do that in the formative years, then that just gives them confidence in certain areas. Or, you can do the wrong thing and make them feel uncomfortable and not safe, which happens sometimes in certain situations. Which is unfortunate but that’s a lot of people’s ways.
That’s how it was for me growing up. My parents could have sheltered me in certain ways instead of exposing me to things that weren’t necessarily what I should have seen. I think that it goes both ways, but I think for sure even traveling with True we nurtured her. We saw that she didn’t want anyone to hold her. She wanted me to hold her, so I did. I held her, and her dad held her, and some of the crew, but that was it. Where Given was like, he’d go with anyone anytime, and we nurtured that too when he was young.
I feel like you just need to be aware of that as a parent. It’s hard because life is busy, but if you can tune in to what they need in life, that will, I feel, make them the best person they can be.
Do you have a definition or a general notion for your family of what defines “home?”
Yeah. I feel like I’ve always felt this way even before I had kids, that home is where your heart is. My daughter’s heart is clearly on our property. That’s where her heart is. When we’re gone, she’s missing her kitties and stuff. With my son, his home is literally wherever he can find something that’s new, he’s into it. He wants to be there.
As far as my husband and I go, I could move tomorrow into a new place and be so happy, and decorate it how I want. I feel like your home is where you’re at really.
How has parenthood shaped your approach to your work and the work/life balance?
About two years ago, we fell in love with this product that really came to my husband’s life, and ended up talking on the business. Actually he’s doing pretty darn good at it. I guess you can say also, I’m a professional network marketer, which is really weird. I never actually let that cat out of the bag because it sounds so weird, but it’s actually really been so amazing on so many levels, and really helped my family to have a little financial freedom and help a lot of people.
What I like about being a professional surfer and doing the network marketing, is that I can be at home with the kids. Yeah, I do go here and there, but I’m home with the kids. I may be on the phone but what I try to do is when I’m with them, I’m present. When I’m with whatever I’m doing, I’m giving it 100%.
I feel like that’s most moms these days, right? Mom’s work and that’s what I had to do for a little while there because our mortgage was so high. I was cleaning houses and doing whatever I could. Waitressing to try and make ends meet. That’s what’s just amazing that I can be home with the kids now. They’re both in great schools and we’re happy and can take a vacation here and there and stuff.
I can imagine you observed so many different parenting styles and different traditions all around the world. Is there anything that stands out in your mind as something you’d like to share with other parents? Any bit of wisdom?
I feel like it’s really important for people to know that – we obviously went around the world twice – but you don’t need to do that to have your children experience the joys of traveling. You could even just go camping for the weekend or make it a habit to go outside and experience nature and be in the moment with it.
I feel like what’s happening in the world, which is kind of heartbreaking, is that it’s an electronic world. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen no matter what. It’s part of our kid’s future. Our kids are going to be attached to computers even if we really, really try our hardest not to let that happen.
I feel like if you can find some balance, and you can say, ‘Okay, you know what, we’re going to balance this out. Sure you can play your iPad for a little bit, but we’re going to go outside and we’re going to spend two hours in nature. Mom and Dad are going to do it, too.’
I feel like that’s something that I’ve learned is that as Americans, we get so busy. I’m to blame, too. My husband as well. We get too busy, and we just let our kids veg out. It’s fun to be busy and to let your kids veg out, but there has to be a balance. That’s what I watched around the world is that the balance is so great on the side of, ‘We’re going to be in nature or we’re going to do things’ … And they don’t even do it on purpose.
We have to mentally adjust our thinking of, ‘Okay we are going to spend two hours outside.’ (People in other cultures) are just doing that. That’s how they live, and they have it right.
I think that’s important advice, certainly for me to hear, because I get so mad at myself. I get to the point where I’m guilt tripping myself and beating myself up for the hour that my son spent on the iPad while I was doing a phone interview. You’re so right that you can at least make a conscious effort to balance that out with the opposite: going outside and just unplugging.
I do it, too. I get so mad at myself. It’s almost like the guilt and how we beat ourselves up about it, that’s almost worse than just accepting it. That what I do. I do that all the time with my work now. It’s like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to get on the phone for an hour. Here’s a movie.’ And then it’s like, ‘Why wasn’t it educational?’ I’m beating myself up, and that’s what I’ve had to really let go of, and just be like, ‘It’s okay.’ As long as we’re balancing it out, and as long as they know that.
And you see the signs when it’s ruining them, the iPad and the phone. You can see when all of a sudden, they’re not the same kid. It’s almost like they’re in this weird trance. It’s just because it’s a lot of energy and a lot of ions. It’s a lot for them to handle.
Yeah. It’s true though. I often wonder where did we get lost? I know there was a time when being outside was just a part of our culture, but it does seem to be so far from the norm now. The irony of it often is that the things you’re doing, the things that are keeping you so busy, a lot of it is for your family, ultimately.
You’re trying to earn a living, and you’re trying to keep yourself engaged intellectually. That’s all benefiting your family, and it also detracts from the time you have with your kids. There’s that inherent dilemma, so I really appreciate you saying that it’s about finding even just a little bit of balance.
Especially as moms. It’s like the role has changed so dramatically now; women are sometimes the breadwinners. I feel like that is kind of the shift that’s happened, but that’s what’s crazy is not only are we doing that, but we’re also doing the laundry and the cleaning and the cooking and the nurturing. We’re also supposed to be these amazing mothers that the kids come home to. It’s a lot for us, so what I’ve seen even with my work, is you have got to do what it takes for you to feel whole before you can give to your family. For me, it’s a massage every other week. And I bought this crazy thing, I bought a BioMat that’s just crazy. It’s so sensitive. Everyday I lay on it and I decompress before my kids get home, so I can be with them and be with them.
To truly be with them.
To truly be with them. To slow our minds down. It’s totally like an art, I feel like, to be able to do that.
It takes mindfulness, and it takes practice. So, thank you for reminding me, and hopefully reminding other people.