Twenty years from now you will be
more disappointed by the things that
you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away
from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds
in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover
I drive a 1994 honda mini van to work every day. Five of us live in a house with one shower and no heat despite a fairly cold winter. We have a used tv bought for $50 and looks like something the Flinstones used and no video game console. Jenny hangs all of our laundry out to dry because our dryer barely works. Life has never been so good. I had high expectations for what life was to be like in New Zealand which is an approach that is most often a set up for disappointment. I am happy to say that my expectations have been exceeded in every way.
I spent a good part of my early adult life living by the carpe diem philosophy. Seize the day, right. Live for the moment, let the future sort itself out later. That works quite well when you are young, single, and only have to provide a few bucks each month to take care of rent, a couple of frozen pizzas and a few beers. At some point I realized that it is the times in life when things are going the best, maybe the easiest, that you should begin to look for the next challenge. One can live each day to the fullest but also should look at where they are and where they want to be in twenty years. We had a great life in Kansas City. Not much for scenery but we had family, a good neighborhood with great friends, and I had a job I enjoyed, working with people I will always love and respect. More than one person asked me why I would want to move my family away from all we had and out of the country. My response was usually something about taking the family on an adventure. I have found that it is the challenges in life that make us grow and become more flexible. This has been an experience we have all grown from both individually and as a family. I have always felt that travel and seeing how others live makes me a better person. Not better than the next person per se but better than the person I used to be, and I can use all the help.
I am very fortunate to have a job that is fairly portable and of some need here in NZ, but I am most fortunate to have an amazing family that was up for the challenge of moving abroad. For me coming here was a piece of cake. I had a job lined up, a schedule to adhere to, doing a job that is ultimately the same as back home. All I had to do was show up on time learn that tylenol is called paracetamol and start seeing patients. Jenny deserves all of the credit for how smoothly things have gone here. I know this is no surprise to anyone but she is truly an amazing woman. She is very good at adapting, making friends and looking out for her kids. Most importantly she worked tirelessly upon our arrival to make sure the kids settled in quickly at school, had friends and things to do. Within weeks she knew most of the other mothers was volunteering time at the school, had the kids involved in some sort of activity, and was coaching the 5 year old basketball team. She also quickly learned how to navigate through foreign grocery stores with unknown product names and has created some of the best home cooked meals I have ever had. With a limited budget Jenny visited all the thrift and second hand stores around to make our unfurnished rental a home. All that and she had time to train for and run a 1/2 marathon on the hilliest course imaginable. I am amazed by her and how she has met this challenge and have fallen in love with her all over again.
The kids too have really impressed me. They walked into school in a new country in the middle of the school year and have really thrived. Owen was a bit nervous at first and even shed a few tears walking into school for the first two weeks because he felt ignored by the other kids. He never once complained and would bravely walk into school trying his hardest to hold back tears. Six months later he is now regarded as the class clown, gets chased around the playground by all the girls and gets invited to everyones birthdays. Skyler was pretty much comfortable from day 1 as she has alway been able to make friends easily. She has taken dance class and with a group of kids, performed in front of a large audience recently and did a phenomenal job. Lindsey too has made many friends and has been to many slumber parties with her fellow year sevens. She has been able to do horseback riding once a week as well. I think she has found something she is passionate about as she will go willingly to ride even in the coldest or nastiest weather. She also enjoys, even in the cold weather, to throw on a wetsuit and go boogie boarding. I have always deeply loved my children but I have a new found respect for them and what they are capable of.
In short, whatever the future holds, this has been an experience that has brought us closer together as a family. We will always have memories of road trips, not all good by the way (see Road to nowhere piece), beautiful scenery and adventures not readily available at home. Wherever they go the kids should be able to look back with pride at how well they adapted at living in a foreign land.
My advice to anyone reading this is to get out of your comfort zone from time to time. You don't necessarily have to move abroad but actively seek out challenge for yourselves and your families. Picture yourselves in 10 or even 20 years. What will the future you have wanted to see or do in that time frame. Actively attempt to do them and you will have no regrets. Granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, new cars or houses are nice but they can wait. What is life but a collection of memories, relationships and experiences, both good and bad. These are what make us the people we are.
Happy Holidays everyone.