Feeling it All: Cold, Warmth, Sadness, Joy

It’s cold! I imagine that to most Americans, it sounds funny to complain of being cold in sunny, warm Australia. That’s because, I am convinced that we are victims of a terrible ruse perpetuated by Australians that this is a warm, sunny country, 365 days a year, which in fact is a terrible lie! Since we have moved to a warmer, better built house, I have realized that the ‘winters’ here are incredibly more mild and warm than winters I am used to in Colorado. I would liken them to winters in Florida or maybe Arizona. The days get up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer; there is no snow ever and it is quite pleasant. However, because it is more humid here, 60 degrees feels much colder than it does in a dry climate, and when it rains and/or is cloudy, it almost feels to me like it is about to snow—it feels that cold.
Plus, the nights get down in the 40s (Fahrenheit again), and without a heater, that is cold! I think people are just tougher here, and us northerners are wimps, pining away for our central heat and warm clothes, while the Aussies walk around in flip flops and boardies and tell everyone that they live where it’s hot and aren’t we glad to finally be able to escape the frozen northern winter? Ha! Yeah, right! 😉 Having completed my rant about being duped about the cold, I am sure I will freeze my buns off when we are back in Colorado this year in December. However, at least I know that all I need to do is go inside and I will be cozy and warm!
As to our non-weather-related news and updates from the cloudy, chilly southern hemisphere, I am enjoying having all my boys off and home for the two-week school holiday winter break. I have been putting some time and energy into figuring out how to become a yoga teacher and feel excited that I have made decent progress. It will be a long haul, but it is fun to think about learning something new. I have taken the boys to a couple children’s yoga classes that I found through a program that trains new teachers. We all really liked the classes, so I am going to sign up to take their first course towards becoming a certified teacher. If all goes well, after three full weekend courses, I may be able to teach some classes sometime in the early part of next year.
The last day of Drew’s term was called “Under 8’s Day” and it was basically a mini-carnival at the school for children under 8, including the school kids through 2nd grade, and their younger siblings. It was a super cold rainy day, but such a neat concept and a fun experience just the same. We also took the boys to Sea World again this past Thursday on another cold, rainy day (they do say that this winter is rainier than is typical and I don’t remember last year being this wet and cold in the wintertime—summer seems to be wetter typically, but this year is just wet all around!), which of course they still loved and we were able to use up our short-term passes.
We have also had a few lovely “small world” moments, mixed in with a few others that make me feel a million miles away. Last weekend I was able to meet up with one of my former sorority sisters for brunch—how cool is that?! We attended the University of Colorado together back in the 1990s and it just so happened that she moved to Sydney a month after we moved to Brisbane in 2011. I counted their short weekend trip up to Brisbane and meeting for brunch as getting a visitor! It counts; it does! It was so cool to reconnect with someone who shares that past commonality and is also sharing the experience of making this kind of a move.
Buffs meet up Down Under
I felt a million miles away when I found out this past Wednesday that my sweet sister in law was in the hospital in early labor at 29 weeks. I first felt far when I only learned of it after she’d already been in the hospital for 24 hours, which was bad enough. But then just realizing how helpless I am to be able to do anything to support them was really hard. If they were nearby, I could make them some meals, help out with my niece, but here I am just checking my phone constantly for updates, praying they’re all ok.
So, I turned to technology, as I have come to do since this move, and, as it consistently does, it made me feel closer and more hopeful again. I posted on Facebook asking for prayers, love, support and positive energy for them and the responses I received were so touching. People here and in several American states reached out with support and prayers. How powerful is it for my dear family in Denver going through a tough and scary time to have support, prayers and positive vibes heading to them from so many different directions?! It really is a small world. I was glad that I could at least do that for them. It is just amazing how tied together we all can be even though distances can be great.
She is home on bed rest for the foreseeable future, so, anyone who reads this, please keep the love coming!
That news as well as the time of year have presented me with several conflicting emotions. This time one year ago, we were back in Colorado visiting. We got to celebrate my niece’s 2nd birthday with the family. She turned 3 last week and we haven’t seen her in that entire year. This week will be my first 4th of July out of the U.S.A. We celebrated last year with a lovely family BBQ at my brother’s house, and now it’s been a year almost since we’ve seen any of them. That’s too long. That makes me sad. I want to see them more often.

Alyssa is 2!
Alyssa is 2!

However, in the midst of all those feelings, I am happy and satisfied with our life here and I feel we have made the right decision for our family. The boys are thriving (all 3 of them); I am accomplishing some personal goals and am finally channeling my restlessness in terms of career in a positive direction. We are saving money every month while still enjoying fun experiences as a family and we are not as financially insecure as we were previously (granted, we don’t have as much ‘stuff’, but I like feeling more comfortable, and we have always chosen to put our money towards experiences over materials anyway and have never regretted that decision). Our social calendar has finally been decent and we are thoroughly enjoying the incredible friends we have here.
I am going to see the counselor that I have been going to one more time. Last week, I told her about these emotions and she said that the sadness I feel related to my relatives is normal grief that will always be there when thinking about missed milestones and special occasions. She noted that when I first started seeing her, I seemed to have that grief intertwined with my feelings about living in Australia, and that now I seem able to acknowledge that they are two separate things. I can still feel that grief and sadness while knowing that we are in the right place for now for us as a family. She is right. I couldn’t have described it that way myself, but it’s true. I miss my loved ones tremendously, so much it hurts, but it doesn’t make me feel I should be back there. If only I could just have them here with me……then everything would be perfect. But life is never perfect, is it? We can only hope to be happy with who and what blessings we have, no matter where they are physically. Location does not matter more than cherishing our blessings in general.
I think sometimes that it’s a shame it’s such a trade-off. For me this move comes down to deciding whether it makes more sense to live near relatives or to live in the most positive location for us as a family unit. I wish those two places could be the same, but it’s not looking that way. That means we all have to find ways to show our love and remain connected and a part of each other’s lives at a distance and acknowledge our grief as a feeling that’s acceptable. It’s not a feeling to try to surmount or push away; it’s a feeling to embrace and work with.
I am so interested, as I believe I have mentioned before, by friends who are Buddhist and what I have learned about that faith. From what I can tell, they teach to accept all feelings for what they are, good and bad. Not to fight any experience, but to celebrate them all. Celebrate the pain along with the joy, because all experiences and feelings together define our human experience. I love that. It makes such good sense to me. It is so much easier said than done, but that’s what I want to strive for in my life.
Ok. I’ll end today with the biggest news for the Charles family this past week: Drew started riding his bike without training wheels! That is huge! That alone brings conflicting emotions to the surface for me (am I an emotional mess or what?! Good thing I see a counselor, eh? 😉 ). I am so proud of him and yet so scared of him getting hurt at the same time! So happy watching him master an important, incredible skill, but sad watching him ride away from me, all on his own. I have said often that my kids are my heart, right out there in the open, and watching your heart ride away from you on a wobbly bicycle is not easy! But still that heart swells with pride…..isn’t humanity amazing?

One thought on “Feeling it All: Cold, Warmth, Sadness, Joy

  1. Ah, Kathleen you are getting me choked up! Good going Drew! What a big boy you are!! You are creating a beautiful life for your family day by day with your love and remarkable commitment and sacrifices. Stay well, mama and thank you for sharing!

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