Travel to challenge the everyday status quo May 29 2014

The beauty of traveling - it forces us to step away from what we know as a "norm" and adjust to a new way of looking, doing and thinking. Since our recent trip to Yakushima was a relatively long stay (3 weeks away!), we really had a chance to create a life away from home... challenging our everyday status quo in our life that we lead in Los Angeles. 


This was true for family and our Baum-kuchen shop.

I think that the real benefit for our family was for the four of us to be together for the entire duration of almost 3 weeks. Not having to leave the family to go to work felt like such a huge treat. Of course we had a few inevitable hiccups... like Coco dislocating her elbow on early Sunday morning when all the local clinics were closed. Not knowing where to go to get help for a crying baby on a remote island... can be a moment filled with anxiety as parents. Luckily our local friends Makoto-san and Fusako-san helped us to connect with an orthopedic clinic in a nearby town and Coco's arm was readjusted in a matter of 3 seconds (I am not kidding!). We were all smiling by 9am on that Sunday morning but Frido and I definitely skipped a few heartbeats over it.

In order to maximize our connection as a family, we kept our online connectivity very minimum. We carried a Japanese iPhone which tethered with our laptops so I was able to check my emails each night to respond to orders remotely and write a blog post a two... but that was about all I did on my laptop for 3 entire weeks. First it was almost confusing... not knowing what I should do when there was downtime made me realize that I was used to shift my focus to a laptop or other digital devices to keep my mind occupied. Having a moment to (almost forcefully) pause made me wonder: what does this invisible habit of being online do to our body and mind? After a day or two of adjusting, I was happy to pour more energy into analogue documentation of the experience and simply be present to spend time with Frido and our girls. Just watching them play without much else in my mind felt present and just right...

From the Baum-kuchen side, we decided to ask our friend Christine to continue fulfilling online orders while we were away.This might not sound much of a big deal... but it was a milestone for me... only because I had never left our little place opened... without myself physically being there. Until this trip, we always made conscious decisions to close the shop while we were traveling. We also closed the shop when we attended Coco's birth and during the first month with her.

So it was a big deal... in a really good way.

Christine and I had a few weeks prior to the trip to really prepare for my absence. The process gave me a chance to step back from my routine, translate the process into something digestible and repeatable for Christine to step in and most importantly... for me to let go a part of the process. I have been pondering about the idea of sharing a part of my Baum-kuchen tasks including fulfillment and shipment with trusted team and I had hard time making the decision... especially because so much of the real touchpoints with our customers happen through this process and I treasure them.

One of our customer Fred paused the question a little while ago, "how you'll maintain that personal touch and family feel, as your business grows beyond a certain point? In the future, will there be so many customers that it will not be possible to maintain that personal touch? After all, there is only twenty-four hours in a day -- and there's only one Wakako! I suppose, the business can automate and/or scale up such communication, but . . ."

My quest to answer the question will continue as we grow slowly and mindfully... but this trip helped me to mark the very first step to move forward. 

There are different styles in traveling... but I love the kind of adventures that challenge what we believe and make us question what we do everyday. Because a great adventure never really ends. It only becomes the beginning of a whole new journey that fills our life as a everyday! 

Below are some of my favorite pics from our 3 weeks! If you would like to read up more on our trip, you can check out our blog with #yakushima hash tag. Planning or dreaming a visit Yakushima in the future?? I am starting to curate a Pinterest board from our past experience. They might come handy:)