Why do I feel lonely and lost these days? Why can’t I seem to figure out what my professional contribution to society can be? Why do I not seem to have friends here that I really connect with, who get me and who I get? Why am I so homesick?
I have three beautiful, happy boys who bring me joy—they truly do. But as any parent knows, they also whine a lot, they seem dissatisfied with much of what I work so hard to do for them; the two older ones argue with almost everything I say and with each other, seemingly constantly sometimes. I find myself stopping to listen and smile when I hear them playing well together—it seems more rare these days and I can’t seem to defuse their frustrations with each other effectively, no matter what parenting articles I read.
Unlike so many mothers whom I have always greatly admired and felt somewhat jealous of, I need more in my life than full time mothering. I lose myself when I only attend to everyone else’s needs. I need appreciation for a job well done. I need recognition, measurable progress in what I’ve accomplished each day. I wish I didn’t, but I can’t really get around the fact that I do.
I think that’s why my work/career/professional struggles are getting me down so much lately. For 14 years before this move to Australia, I worked in retirement communities. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. I was respected in my field and I made good money.
Since I’ve come here, I just can’t figure out how to get back into that field. Now, I realize I haven’t tried as hard as I should. Life gets in the way. I’ve sent online enquiries to senior living companies asking about their jobs in marketing and sales, with no response. I’ve sent a few online applications for activities/recreation/volunteer positions, with no response. I’ve called one nearby community and asked to volunteer—no return call. I’ve asked the few people I’ve met who work in the field about the positions, and they don’t seem to know anything about them—maybe they don’t exist here?
I keep telling myself the best way to find out is to just drive around and walk into communities and ask. But, I’ve always had a kid in tow, or was about to have a kid in tow, so I just never got around to it.
Friends at home say I’m awesome for moving to a new country and learning a new profession and starting my own business. But it doesn’t feel very awesome. I learned the new profession partially out of necessity. I never wanted to run my own business. I don’t enjoy it and it’s not going well. In fact, right now, it seems to be failing miserably. I’m paying to do it. Try as I might, I can’t get people interested in it.
I do love yoga—it’s been a passion of mine for years, and the more I learn about it, the more passionate about it I feel. But people in this area, just don’t seem to get it. Yoga is not as popular around here—I don’t even know many people who do it, or who are physically active as a priority at all. I think that’s partly why I feel disconnected from the friends I’ve made. I’ve rarely been to a yoga class here with more than a handful of people in it, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I can’t get many people interested in my classes, much less my classes for their children.
I just have a hard time fitting in with people who don’t prioritize healthy eating for their families, who don’t prioritize fitness on a regular basis and who don’t get the purpose of yoga. I hope that doesn’t make me sound snobby. I don’t intend it to. I’ve made friends for the past 4+ years with people who are different to me in those core areas, but have other things in common—being a mother, living in a foreign country, but I just don’t feel connected, so I’m guessing that’s the reason why…??? I could be totally off base. I do admit I have met a few people who are health and fitness oriented and am still not clicking with them either.
It often seems to me that people don’t like me over here. I never seemed to have that problem before moving. It is very likely all in my head, but I just seem to rub people the wrong way when I don’t intend to…??
I know I could connect well with my husband, but he’s frustrated in his job, too and we don’t see each other until late in the evening when we’re pretty much too tired to talk about much. He is wonderful and we do try. We both know we need time together. But it’s difficult, because that costs money. And when I’m not making any money, I feel bad spending $80 to go out for two hours together and get a drink each and an appetizer to share—bleah!
I keep meditating and reading about creating my own joy, realizing that my life is just as it should be in this moment and to find peace in the present. I’m honestly trying! For whatever reason, it’s meant to be right now that I’m paying to try and teach yoga, that I’m contributing nothing meaningful to my community in terms of professional employment and that I’m working my tail off for no positive outcome. That’s hard to embrace! But I will keep trying…..For now these musings of a crazy person just help me to get it off my chest.
Where do I even start?! I haven’t updated this in over 3 months. I have a good reason—I have a beautiful, 6-week old baby boy. However, I’m getting ahead of myself….first to quickly recap the time leading up to our little Samuel’s birth:
My brain is mush now and it’s hard to remember. My days are filled once again with spit up, dirty diapers, sleepless nights and the smell of a newborn asleep on my chest. It’s hard to remember what they were like before. It’s as if he’s always been here. I feel strongly that we’ve been waiting for him—as hard as this time is, he melds right into our little circle of love, just like he always had a space waiting for him. He has.
Anyway, I digress, again. Get used to it! June was quite uneventful, other than preparing for Sam’s arrival and wrapping up my kids’ yoga classes. That was very bittersweet. It’s always hard to leave behind the known, the routine, and prepare for the unknown, the loss of control. I know at the time it’s happening that I want to return to teaching, but it’s also in the back of my head that I really don’t know what the future holds and I can’t say anything for sure.
We had our last little getaway as a family of four–a weekend in June on beautiful Stradbroke Island with friends. We saw lots of unique wildlife and enjoyed the busy two days immensely. Then we had our treasured friends from Boulder in town visiting their family, and got to spend quality time with them as well.
I had my first three nights and four days ever away from my little crew of men in early July for my yoga teacher training retreat. It was wonderful, although very demanding physically and mentally. It was great to be able to have that time to be away, and the boys enjoyed themselves immensely during their “vegetable-free days”. 😉
The retreat was over the 4th of July weekend, so for the first time in my life, I had to forgo celebrating the holiday, which was also bittersweet. It was a great reason to miss it, but also a little sad. Several people wished me a happy one, though, which is so kind.
We enjoyed a relatively slow paced two weeks of school holidays that included our first Disney on Ice. Also, thanks to the help of dear friends, Steve and I enjoyed our last date for a while—a low key breakfast out in Brisbane one morning. It’s funny—we were both enjoying each other, but could also feel the apprehension in the air as we were well aware of the uncertainty and changes to come, getting ready to meet the new member of our family.
My sweet friends threw a beautiful baby shower for me on the 11th of July. I have missed family incredibly throughout my pregnancy, so it was great to feel such an outpouring of love from my “family” here. It was my first truly girly baby shower, complete with a color scheme, games, fancy food and decorations, and I loved it! I am so humbled by the work they went to and the turnout.
It’s ironic—when I was pregnant with Drew I thought baby showers were completely lame. We bought our house a few months before he was born, so instead we had a combined baby shower/housewarming for all friends, men and women. It was fun! Then Zach was born so soon afterwards that our friends instead organized a meal delivery system, diapers and groceries for us, which was just what we needed. Now I cherish time I can sneak in with girlfriends and relished every minute of that shower. J
On July 23rd, my sweet Drew was officially diagnosed with asthma. It is nice in one sense to finally know for sure and learn how to deal with it, but also always sad to find out your child is less than perfect. I have to wonder if there’s anything I could have done to prevent it, if there have been times I didn’t help him enough when he was struggling to breathe. I am really bad with “What Ifs” and mother’s guilt. I’m working on it…..Hopefully, he will grow out of it, and even if he doesn’t, there are a lot worse things in life and we are very fortunate. It doesn’t slow him down–the two of them ran their 1st 2k race the Sunday before Sam arrived.
As for my pregnancy, it got a bit bumpy in July. On Sunday the 5th at my retreat, I started to worry about the baby’s movement. I remember being paranoid about that in my previous pregnancies so I ignored it, knowing that odds were that everything was fine and I was being psycho. I was still a bit worried at my next appointment that Wednesday, the 8th, which the whole family attended. They put me on some fetal monitoring and then reassured me that everything was fine.
I started to worry about movement again on Friday, the 24th, (37 weeks) and thought I was noticing quite a few painless contractions and feeling very nauseous. I figured labor was starting, but then nothing happened. I was about to call the doctor on Sunday if things hadn’t changed, but then I felt better. Monday and Tuesday were up and down. I was worried about all of the above, but then I’d feel better.
Wednesday morning, the 29th, started out good. I had an appointment and was worried about driving the hour each way alone with how tired I’d been feeling, so offered Zach a special “Mommy and Zach” day before baby came, which thankfully, he agreed to (he almost refused me!). We walked Drew to school and back and then I started feeling sick again. We drove down, had a nice morning tea and then went to the doctor. I told them how I’d been feeling and my doctor saw me have a contraction on the exam table (turned out I’d been having more than I thought I was—some of them, like the one he saw, I just thought were the baby sticking out on one side) and noticed baby’s heartrate was low.
He put me on fetal monitoring, which ended up lasting for about 2 hours, instead of the initial 30 minutes. They told me I was having regular contractions and baby’s heartrate was getting low often enough that we needed to do the C-section now. I was in labor.
Then everything started happening! My doctor’s office is connected to a hospital that I hadn’t planned on going to, because it was so far from home. Steve was near home, at work, and Zach was with me—what to do?! I have to say that in my teens and twenties, I would never have believed someone who said they could find comfort and companionship in a 5-year-old, but I absolutely did. My little Zach was an absolute gem during all this and it was wonderful having him with me. During the monitoring, he found a soccer game on TV (he’s a sports nut) and cuddled up next to me in the hospital bed to watch. When it all got chaotic, he was patient, well-behaved, unquestioning, trusting, helpful and concerned. It was beautiful and I will remember it forever.
Steve got moving and this is when the incredible outpouring of love, support and help from our friends began. It would go on for the next several weeks. I arranged friends to bring Drew home with them from school. My doctor is a friend of ours and his family offered to take Zach and so did one other friend in that area. However, thankfully, we reached our dear friend’s mother, who lives an hour away and who was set to come watch the boys on August 4th, the date my C-section was scheduled. She dropped everything and left right away to come get Zach, and then headed off through rush hour traffic to our house, where Drew met them and she stayed the night. She made them lunches for school the next day and took excellent care of them. The same friends that kept Drew that afternoon, picked up the boys for school the next day as well, and then this dear woman cleaned our house and did our laundry before heading back home. Just incredible!
After Zach left, it wasn’t long until I was prepped for surgery. I have to acknowledge that preparing for the C-section was terrifying. I will never go through that again. With the one I had with Drew, I had been in labor for so long that it was all a blur. This time, I was alert. Everything is so sterile and medical. It doesn’t feel like you’re about to bring life into the world; it feels like something bad and scary is happening—you’re about to be cut open. I hated it. Thankfully, yoga and meditation helped me—the idea of impermanence. I focused on breathing through the scariness, remembering that it was just a brief time and at the end of it I would have my baby.
The surgery itself, body being cut open and stitched up again aside, was the most beautiful, peaceful birth I’ve had. They lowered the sheet so I could see my precious boy just as he came out, and then I was able to watch everything else that happened, including Steve cutting the cord. I didn’t get sick from any of the medications this time and my arms were not strapped down. Therefore, they were able to bring Sam to me and I held him on my chest while I was stitched up. He even started eating! That’s the only time I’ve been able to hold my baby to me so soon after his birth and I will cherish the experience.
The scary part is that our precious Samuel Sullivan Charles was small, too small for so late in the pregnancy. It turns out my placenta was not in good shape—much of it was dead or inflamed, and they were surprised the little man was getting any nutrients at all. He was also covered in meconium. It is just perfect that I had such excellent care and I had my appointment that day and he came out when he did. He is our little miracle and we couldn’t be happier to have him with us.
Because of his size and because he was slightly early, he had a bit of trouble with his blood sugar initially and some jaundice, but nothing major. He was able to stay with me the entire time I was in the hospital and the stay was pretty uneventful. Sam was born at 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29th and we brought him home on Monday, August 3rd.
We Face-Timed Patti and the boys as soon as we could that evening after Sam’s birth. They were thrilled about their new brother and couldn’t wait for their visit the next evening to meet him. We called the next morning before school as well and she told us that all morning they had been talking about Sam, wondering what he was doing as they got ready, how he felt, etc. Gorgeous.
Several people have asked me to compare the birth and hospital experience here to the ones in the U.S. I received excellent care in both countries and overall it was much the same in each. There were a few minor things that I preferred over there, and a few little things that were better here. We are very fortunate to be able to live and give birth in such safe, wonderful places, so we have nothing to complain about.
I had been worried that by having the baby in this farther away hospital, I would be lonely during the stay with it being too far for friends to visit. I was pleasantly surprised and touched to find out this was not the case. For one, my stay included a weekend, so Steve and the boys were able to be with me more, which was great. We made sure the boys were our first visitors on Thursday evening and Steve and I enjoyed the time before then to get to know our new son. A couple friends did make the hour drive to see us, and then a couple others that we knew in that area were now able to come as well. Steve’s family lives in that area and was able to be more involved this way also.
In the hospital and since we came home, as I said before, we have just been overwhelmed by the kindness and help from friends. We have had numerous home-cooked meals and baked goods brought to us as well as gifts. People have been helping me with the school runs, so I have not actually had to do them too often this term. I have had visitors, friends giving advice, listening to me cry, helping me to get out and run my first errands with Sam and even trying to do my chores. They’ve also watched our big boys for us to give us extra time to rest.
As I said, my friends are now my family and I am so grateful for them. I had been so nervous to have a baby without my parents around and I have really felt their absence. So many little things that we never even realized they were doing at the time to make things easier for us, are now apparent in their absence. Therefore, the fact that we have been so surrounded by love, support, kindness and generosity has been an even bigger blessing.
My Mom isn’t even approved to fly this distance since her hip surgery until sometime this month. I keep hoping they’ll just show up on our doorstep, but I know that won’t happen. Just 12 ½ weeks until we leave for the U.S. and in the meantime we are all so thankful for technology. Face Time and texts get us through.
A positive for me, is that this experience has made me feel like a big girl, a grown up. As with the move overall, having a baby in another country has made me realize that Steve and I are a good team and we can do anything. Our little family (well, not so little anymore!) has become a tight knit unit and we are there for each other and help each other through whatever life brings.
Along this line, I have been so impressed by what big boys my big boys have become. They are so helpful and amazingly understanding about how I need to spend my time right now. And the love! The love they have for this little baby is unbelievable. I have to say that’s been one of my favorite parts so far about having another baby, watching the unconditional love and devotion they show to this little person. They make it clear that he is truly a part of our family that just hadn’t arrived yet. He belongs with us and we love him to bits.
So there we have it. It’s been three months—6 weeks of preparation and anticipation, and 6 weeks of complete whirlwind and adjustment. Sometimes I can’t believe that a vegetarian yoga teacher is a mother of three boys—in 10 years they’ll likely be getting into fights and wanting to eat steak all the time and I’ll be telling them to meditate and offering them green smoothies! 😉 We just don’t know what life will bring us—heck, it’s also hard to believe that I’m even 38-years-old, a mother at all, living in Australia, teaching yoga—all of it—who would have known?! But what a beautiful life it is.
2015. Another year begins. It’s amazing how many differences a year can bring. We rang in 2014 with sweet friends in a little mountain cabin in the snow. We rang in this year with different sweet friends at a poolside BBQ. Wow. We are blessed.
We spent the first 10 days of 2014 in Colorado enjoying the familiar comforts of close family and old, dear friends. The rest of this year afforded us two short camping trips—in April to Girraween National Park and just two weeks ago to Springbrook National Park. It’s wonderful to watch our boys develop the same love for the outdoors and for travel and adventure that we both have.
July gave us a long weekend in Noosa, one of our favorite places on earth, where we enjoyed family time exploring in the sea, on a river and on land—fantastic place. And in September we were able to spend a week up in Cairns, exploring rainforests, beaches and the Great Barrier Reef. That’s pretty incredible, I think, to be able to have getaways like that within one trip around the sun. We are very fortunate.
In March of 2014, I had a miscarriage (it is still tough to say that). In May, I became a children’s yoga teacher (it is still cool to say that). In July I ran a half marathon (who’d have ever thought?!). I also lost my part time job in a construction firm, a job I have not missed for even one day, but the loss of which has raised a slew of uncertainties and financial instability. In October I began teaching yoga at a beautiful studio in Samford, one of my favorite places around here. And in November, I got pregnant.
Yep, we are crazily expecting our 3rd child in August this year. I am only 8 weeks along, but after hearing the heartbeat and seeing my little blueberry at the doctor this week, we are starting to break the news to family and friends. I guess a few of you will find out this way (and I ask you to please only share your feelings about it with us at this time—thank you, dear ones). All 3 boys came to the ultrasound and as I watched Drew look at the screen to decipher what he was seeing, I was overcome with emotion, remembering the 1st time I saw him in those pictures, and thinking about how he now reaches up to my shoulder. A big grin spread over his face and he jumped over to the bed I was in and wrapped me up in a hug—precious little man. Steve was holding Zach, who was overwhelmed and stunned by it all. He’s not too happy to be getting a baby, but if he has to, he at least hopes it’s a boy. Drew wants a girl.
My little Drew turned 6 in 2014. He celebrated with dear and generous friends around him. In June he was hospitalized for asthma—one of the scariest experiences of my life. In September he held a treat stall to raise money to help save the Great Barrier Reef and then he got to snorkel for the first time in the waters he now cares so much about. He’s grown about 6 inches, learned to read and write, and loves to tell us facts about animals—in the water or on land, living now or from prehistoric times. He completed 1st grade, ran his first 1k, has become an excellent swimmer and discovered a great enjoyment of gymnastics. His enthusiasm and love of life inspire me; his energy amazes and exhausts me, and his bossy and sometimes downright nasty side scares me. I love that child.
Zach, our cuddly music man turned 4. Not to be outdone, he also got his first ambulance ride this year, for croup. It’s a wonder my hair’s turning gray. He completed preschool. He loves every sport he can learn about and is pretty much always singing. If there is someone in the room to cuddle with, he is with that person, and he adores learning about anything with a motor. I adore watching the new and imaginative Lego creations he brings out. His big heart and love for his family fill me up; his appreciation of the littlest things humbles me, and his rudeness and tantrums bring me to my breaking point. I love that child.
Steve worked so hard this year, supporting all of us in every way he could. He received a promotion and will head back to school this month as the Head of Special Education. He sure deserves it.
And, to close out our year, we bought a car yesterday! We spent 1 ½ years here as a one-car family with our little Corolla and the year and a half before that as a one and a half car family, with Steve using a scary, loud contraption that I wouldn’t let the kids in, to get around, mainly to work. We now have a modern Subaru outback and are just thrilled. The boys feel like rich men when they push a button and the window goes down! What I find most ironic about it, is that after leaving Boulder, I take up running, become a yoga teacher and buy a Suby—all those “typical Boulder” characteristics and I don’t get them until being out here—crazy!
So, it’s plain to see that we are blessed in every way and lack for nothing. We have just closed out a year full of learning, growth, beauty, family, friendship and love, and 2015 looks to be full of the same, as each year should be.
That is why I’m ashamed to admit that I want to go home. I know my emotions are a mess right now and I’m exhausted just getting through each day, so hopefully this will all pass. But right now, I believe that after a couple more years here, I need to be back in the U.S. I don’t even know what home looks like anymore, or if any place will ever really “feel” like home, which is ok, as long as our family unit is there, healthy and together. I just want that home to be in the U.S. somewhere.
I’m tired. I feel like I’ve done all I can do, worked as hard as I can, and it’s just too hard. It’s too far. Weddings, deaths, new additions, milestones—-sharing them virtually is just not enough. We’ve pretty much decided that the best time for us to visit this year is Christmas, which is two full years since the last visit. That’s too long. I don’t like it. It all makes me too sad.
I guess I just feel like I’ve proven myself—I’ve shown that I’m strong and that I can create a happy life for myself and for my family anywhere. But now I’ve realized that I want that happy life to be in my home country, not on a small island on the opposite side of the world. Can I live here forever? Sure, I can. I’m a mother, a woman. I can do anything. Do I really need to though?
But on the other hand, there’s so much I love about life here and would miss. The slow pace, the naturalness of it all, the time people make for each other–all of that really suits me. It’s a beautiful part of the world. But is it for me forever? If it was closer to the U.S., it very likely could be. Geographically and logistically, though, I unfortunately don’t think it should be.
My feelings worry Steve. And they scare me, too. The economy has improved in the U.S., but we’d still make so much less money and both need to work more and be around our children less to make ends meet. Is it worth it? Plus our children could get shot a school!!! Seriously?! Or have to pass through armed guards every day just to walk in and out of school. Just thinking about that makes me blood pressure increase. Why would I knowingly put my children in that situation, when I can protect them from it? Am I being selfish?
But I also believe they’d have more opportunities over there in several ways, in school and sports and opportunities for learning and exploration. I know they have roots here, but it seems like they have more there, more connections. They’d get to experience all four seasons, the mountains and the beach.
I don’t know. I understand these are the ravings of a hormonal lunatic. And it’s nothing to act on now anyway—I would never deny Steve’s new job opportunity, and have decided with him to evaluate how we both feel about it all in two years. He of course is hoping I’ll change my mind. I’m hoping for gun control and continued improvement in American teacher’s wages!
For now, I just need to get back to living in the moment and treasuring my beautiful life. This year, this month Zach starts Prep, Drew 2nd grade and Steve a new job. Hopefully, I will begin my adult yoga teacher training in March and grow professionally in ways yet unrevealed to me. And, most importantly, I get to enjoy the miracle of new life growing inside me for the last time, and prepare to meet this little one in the flesh later this year. Cheers to 2015!
We have had a pretty groovy, happy, blessed month around here, just enjoying the little things in life and time together. We all seem generally healthy and happy, for which I am so grateful. I have officially taught seven children’s yoga classes as a professional and have been learning SO much! This new business has added significantly to my “busy-ness” and I have spent quite a bit of time over our current 3-day holiday weekend (more coming later on what this particular holiday is) working on promotional materials, feedback forms, signups for classes beginning next term, etc. I could potentially be teaching four classes per week starting next month. Currently, I am teaching two per week. I still feel weird saying “I’m a yoga teacher.” But I am! How incredible this all is!
The weekend after Mother’s Day, I had the fantastic opportunity to take my first girls’ overnight trip since having kids. Three other wonderful women I have met through my kids’ schools and I went down to an awesome little beach town called Byron Bay. We spent the better part of two days relaxing, shopping, chatting, walking and eating. It was great! I feel so blessed to have met such wonderful people here and to feel part of a community.
The following weekend our family enjoyed having absolutely no plans and just getting to hang around. We ended May by meeting up with some fun friends for a rainforest walk in a lovely area where you are allowed to feed lorikeets, parrots and rosellas and they land on you. The boys think that’s just fantastic.
I had another full day yoga training last Sunday and we are now wrapping up a 3-day holiday weekend that has been mostly free of plans. Last night we met some friends for a “combined dinner.” We have started just getting together somewhere and just making what we would have made that night anyway. The kids play; we eat and chat; it’s not too much work for anyone and it’s fantastic. To make it even better, one of our friends is French so I am not the only one who doesn’t get most of the jokes and takes a few minutes to figure out what people are saying.
I have been training diligently for my upcoming half-marathon. It’s on July 20th. I got up to 9 miles yesterday, the farthest I’ve ever run, and I felt pretty good and darn proud! I am really enjoying the time outside, on my own. Yesterday I met a friend for lunch and shopping and rode a boat all by myself! Haha! The ride lasted all of 4 minutes—it was a ferry that brought me from my side of the Brisbane River to hers, but I tell you, those accomplishments are big for this landlubber!
In other news, I have been made redundant at my job. That is the awful Aussie way of saying I have been laid off. I think Aussie terms for many things are just terrible—being told you’re redundant is not nice on the ego at all. Telling a 4-year-old that he’s going in for “his needles” instead of a checkup is downright scary! Anyway, the terminology is the worst thing about it, so once my ego can get past the sad idea of being asked to leave a job because my contribution is “redundant,” we can be happy that this is really a best-case scenario for us.
I have not liked that job at all, but feel so grateful to have had it. It’s helped my family get settled here and be able to do fun things and save money—neither of which we would have been able to do without it. It’s been my first time working in a new country and it’s taught me so much about the Australian workplace, work life and culture in general. For instance, I asked a coworker recently why we are celebrating the Queen’s birthday this weekend, when her birthday was actually back in April. She looked unsure and then told me, “I’m pretty sure it’s because April didn’t suit us. We already have enough going on in April with Easter holidays and ANZAC day, so June just works out better for us.” Only in Australia! That’s just awesome!
The other good part about being made redundant is that not only am I asked to leave my part time job, but I will be paid to leave it as well. They are keeping me on until late August if I want to stay that long and allowing me to look for other jobs during work time to some degree. After I leave they will pay me for six more weeks plus any vacation time I still have. Much different than good ole U.S.A., eh? There, I would have been told, “We don’t need you anymore. You can leave now. Thank you for everything.” And that’d be it!
Steve and I discuss sometimes that the support available in this country to live a family-friendly lifestyle and the lack of gun violence are the main reasons we will likely always live here. The difference is sad and striking. I SO wish the U.S. could offer this high of a quality of life and standard to all citizens!
Although I am a bit panicky about what this job loss will mean for us financially, I honestly think we will come out ahead in time. Our government assistance will increase as our income decreases; I can make up part of the difference through my yoga classes—depending on how well they do, it could be a substantial part. I can put more effort into writing, which I hope should translate into some decent income as well. I may even look into one of those direct/home sales businesses, as a side to yoga and a side to writing. I also may visit some retirement communities and inquire about some super-part-time work.
I don’t think I will look hard for another job outside of these ideas until next year, however. With Zach only in school two days per week and teaching yoga during part of that time, a job would be quite difficult to find I think. Next year he is in school full time (No!!! My baby!), so I will have more flexibility.
Otherwise, everyone around here has been busy and happy. Steve has been getting out quite a bit and is enjoying footy (rugby) season. His job has been a bit stressful, but he thinks he’s through the worst of it and has been handling it all well. He will be looking for a new job later this year and already applied for a couple. He didn’t have any luck, which while not ideal, is not a huge issue because he has a good job and for that we are thankful.
Zach has really been blossoming in kindy and also just loves his Friday morning soccer program. He also is happy just hanging out running errands, visiting friends, going to playgroup, etc. Whatever we are doing, he’s generally happy—unless it’s dinner time and in that case he is an absolute nightmare! Oh well…….We help in Drew’s classroom every other Friday and both boys just love it. Zach acts like one of the big boys and thinks he has arrived and Drew is proud as punch showing off little brother. I love it, too. I get to read one on one with the children and they are just precious. Zach, through the unending patience of Steve, has also been learning how to ride his bike without training wheels! He is doing well, although he has a long way to go. He is our clumsy kid and he is in his own world, which is not great for safety awareness! He desperately wants to keep up with the big boys, so Steve keeps working with him…
Drew has been so busy in school and it is all just amazing. In first grade, at six years old, he had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class! Beforehand, he had to write out the poem and add cues to let the teacher know when he would raise/lower his voice, speed up/slow down, etc. Crazy! His reading just blows my mind—he now helps read to Zach at bedtime.
Last week he had Sports Day (the equivalent to Field Day) and was very proud to get a 3rd place ribbon in his 100-meter running race (he ran against four other kids—haha!). He also sang in a school-wide concert, which was super cute. He has been doing gymnastics weekly and he thoroughly enjoys that.
And, of course, they are my sweet, supportive yogis—all three of my boys are my biggest fans and I depend on them more than they know! Life is good.
On Saturday, the 21st of September, we hit the two-year mark for life in Australia. That means—I did it! When I left, my goal was to survive two years without crying uncontrollably on the way to catch a flight back to Colorado, saying “What was I thinking?!” I didn’t do that! I have lived outside Colorado, in another country, in another hemisphere with my family for TWO FULL YEARS! Yay! Go Me! Yes, I know, so have thousands of other people, without quite so much drama, but I am just enjoying my success here, not focusing on how insignificant in may be in the grand scheme of things.
I’d like to take a few minutes to reflect on life over the past two years. Packing up my house, selling all of our furniture, saying good-bye to everyone I’d ever known and transporting my two babies along with my rock of a husband to the other side of the world was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. I actually don’t recommend it. Live outside of your home state first. Move to another part of the country. Test those waters before changing everything. But, this is the way I did it.
It has definitely not been without some trauma. I have found myself meaner and darker than I used to be; somewhere along the way I lost my “happy.” I’ve done some things and acted in ways that I am not proud of, that I will have to carry with me in my heart forever. I’ve hurt myself and I’ve hurt those I love the most in this world.
But, thankfully, I have dear friends and family, and even when they are on the far side of the world, they remain a solid support system. They helped me realize something was wrong, and once I absorbed that I truly missed my “happy” and that I wasn’t handling all this change too well on my own, I am grateful that I had the wherewithal to seek professional assistance. I never thought I’d need professional help to deal with something as common and ordinary as moving, but I did. And I’m thankful that I got it, because I got my “happy” back and am coping much better.
That’s not to say that I’m no longer a cocky American who bemoans how things are different here and over there they were better. I still am. It’s not to say I’m perfectly content with our situation and am happy to stay at this very address for the rest of my life. I may be. I don’t know yet. How can I predict how I will feel next year, in five years, in 20 years, when I have seen so much change in myself and in my perspectives in just two?
I miss my family, and Colorado, and friends, and my former conveniences a LOT. Still. My youngest son has now lived the majority of his life in Australia and I still have heart strings tied to another continent. I still can’t understand complete conversations that go on around me, or ones that I am directly involved in. I still feel like a misfit many days, and he is a true local with the accent to prove it. How can that be? It feels odd.
However, overall, I am so grateful for this experience and so proud of myself and how I have grown stronger and better in the past two years. I really have. I believe I left Colorado a shy, judgmental, insecure girl with a limited perspective on the world and now I have changed into an outgoing, more tolerant, more confident girl with a broader, wiser perspective.
I didn’t necessarily change willingly, but more so by necessity combined with circumstance. I used to think I needed quiet time and enjoyed being alone. I still do. But I now know that too much alone time is not good for me. I have learned I thrive on socialization and connections with other people. If I remained shy through a move like this, I’d be alone and isolated WAY too much. So, I’m not shy anymore. Simple as that.
I judged people way too much before. I got angry and annoyed with other drivers on the road, with other people’s parenting choices, lifestyle choices; you name it, I judged it. Now, I’m not suddenly perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I can still be a royal pain and I’m probably the least tolerant with my three boys, the ones who I should be the most tolerant with.
It’s just now I understand that the person struggling on the road may be learning to drive on the left side for the first time, trying to find her way around in another country. Maybe her kid is sick and she hasn’t slept in a few days and she’s scared and lonely. Why honk? Why tailgate? What does that really accomplish?
I have no right to judge another parent, another woman, another human being, because I know that I have made some horrible choices myself and acted in terrible ways, but when it all comes down to it, I’ve always been honestly doing the best I could in that moment. I want acceptance from my loved ones and those around me; so naturally, others should get that same acceptance, no matter the circumstances.
My world perspective has changed in profound ways. I always knew the U.S. wasn’t “perfect.” I knew Americans were the only people that regularly used clothes dryers, had more than one car (at least one of those an SUV) and were more into material things than many other people in other cultures. But I still honestly believed we had the best lifestyle in the world. I realize now that Australians also feel they have the best lifestyle in the world, and am sure many other cultures do, too. And that really, none of them do. There is no “best.” There is no “perfect.” There are only differences. And the differences are what make our world beautiful and interesting and what make every day a learning experience.
Take the recent floods in Boulder as an example. Watching that devastation from afar made me so sad. Selfishly, I was glad we weren’t there for it, which is a horrible thing to think. But seeing familiar roads and neighborhoods under water was heart wrenching and hard to fathom in my dry state if I wasn’t seeing the evidence in photos and video.
However, when you put it into perspective, it’s not that bad. The people displaced by those floods likely have another safe structure to live in, even temporarily, and will have the assistance they need to rebuild. I recently read about a flood in Taiwan not too long ago and the people that lost their homes had to live in an abandoned elementary school for SEVEN YEARS. The building had no showers! Something like that could never happen in the U.S., especially not in the Boulder area. There’s just too much wealth there compared to other parts of the world. As my friend pointed out—a first world natural disaster is much different than a third world disaster.
That perspective helps me take difficulties in stride more, to be more thankful for the blessings I have and the circumstances I was born into. But it also makes me not want to belittle the tragedy that those people are experiencing. We donated to the relief efforts. I realize that it’s all relative: just as I am making a big deal of a move that may not be a big deal to many people, it is a big deal to me and that’s ok. It’s also ok that the flood tragedy is a big deal to the people experiencing while it may not be to a 3rd world citizen observing it. It’s all relative and what feels like a disaster is a disaster.
This widened perspective can also make me angry. Hearing about two more mass shootings in the U.S. in the past week makes my blood boil. When are Americans going to decide that enough is enough? When are people going to realize that owning a shotgun and a pistol is enough, and that not everyone needs access to an assault rifle?
I was commenting to a friend today that I really like the rule here that all pools have to be fenced with a latch too high for a child to reach. She explained the law more fully to me and all the regulations attached to it. I said it makes me much more comfortable with my children around pools, because in the U.S., there were several times where they literally could have just fallen right into a friend or family member’s pool. She told me that’s why the laws were enacted—to try and stop the number of children drowning in family pools. Well, that makes sense! I thought to myself—Australians take action! When there’s a problem, they put regulations in place to alleviate the magnitude of the problem, not solve in completely, but save a few lives at least. Why won’t Americans do that? I never had that perspective before.
That said, the roads here need some serious attention and I wish action would be taken on them. They are too congested, narrow and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. We try to walk and bike many places but the conditions of sidewalks when they even are available is deplorable and the willingness of drivers to look out for those on foot and yield is as well. It’s a terrifying experience! (Sorry—just a side rant that needed to come out.)
So, there we go. I’ve changed. A lot. I text now. I’m addicted to technology like crazy. I write for myself professionally. I’ve joined a training program to become a children’s yoga instructor. I have career aspirations now that I never would have thought of two years ago. I run now. I’ve dropped a clothing size. I haven’t gone on a hike in the mountains, been above treeline, or skied in more than two years. How could I have ever thought that possible? I’ve seen an emu in the wild and I go to the beach for the day, sometimes just for the morning. The contents of my wallet are completely different than they were two years ago. I use a different currency—my kids don’t know what I mean when I say to measure something the size of a quarter. So many changes! Wow!
Can you believe I am still learning new words? I learned two just this last week. Tiggy is the word here for the game of tag; don’t ask me why. And snapping your fingers is called clicking. You know who taught me that one? My son. He came up to me all excited: “Mommy! I just clicked!” I gave Steve a blank look and then he told me what Drew meant.
Our lifestyle has changed a lot. We both work less and are home more. I spend a lot more time in the kitchen. I pursue my own ideas more now (as in writing, a yoga training, running), because I don’t have a career that’s engaging my brain and my brain was restless until my counselor helped me give shape to my ideas. We travel less often, but when we do, it’s for longer periods of time. We spend all of our weekends together as a family because neither of us ever has to work on the weekend. But we are always at home on the weekends, because we spend our money on longer trips rather than frequent long weekends away. We haven’t replaced all of our camping equipment, because we are still replacing household basics, so it costs more to go away for the weekend. We are saving money monthly now.
Are all of these changes related to moving? Probably not. Would any of these changes have happened if we had stayed put? Likely, some of them would have. But however I look at it, a LOT has changed in the past two years, including our hemisphere and that’s a big deal. To me. It’s all relative, and for today, I’m relatively proud!