This year has gone by in the quickest of flashes. Each successive day seems to differ just slightly from the last. When a year’s worth of those days has passed, I find myself in an entirely new place from when I began. While the past must stay in the past – as dwelling will do no good – I think that reflection is an important component of personal growth. Looking back at a period of time all at once, like a snapshot, allows me to see what I’ve accomplished and how I’ve grown – spiritually, physically, emotionally and more.
Reflection can be done at any time – and can focus on any amount of time – but when the end of a year comes around, reflection always seems to join it naturally. With the final days of 2014 making their appearance, I’m looking back on the past few hundred of them – and urging you to do the same.
My family was preparing to move to Morocco. In our preparation, we were visiting ALL the doctors (event the ones we put off seeing) we needed to make sure we are healthy, have all our prescribed medicine and correct prescription for glasses. My son was just wrapping up his eye therapy (with a patch).
Wait, plans have changed. Montenegro job opportunity became available. Really?! Pinch me. My husband is fluent in Serbo-Croatian, and I have some elementary knowledge of the language AND absolutely love the people of Southeast Europe. This journey to expat life had its hurdle (time of reconciliation), BUT I think we really may be moving to Europe. Pinch me again.
We started purging, selling, donating and packing our life for our big move. We actually started doing this months ago, BUT this month I feel like this is all I did. Although, we did make time to celebrate my and my son’s birthday. Side note: The Game Truck is an awesome party concept, especially when your house is all in boxes…or actually empty with just suitcases. 😉
I was humbled by my dermatologist about the importance of getting your skin checked annually. At 37, I had my first visit to a dermatologist, thinking you only go if you have acne (when younger) or sunspots (when older.) Well, I had three spots that were biopsied. People, put sunscreen on (even if you are not pale skin), don’t tan in beds, wear wide brim hats and don’t neglect the largest organ on the human body – your skin. I am so thankful for my planning in January to reveal these spots months later.
Saying good-bye is never easy, especially since I have been so blessed with amazing friends. These people are like family – wait, they are my family. One of these friends also became my first contributor of this site, Jayne. I think one of the hardest part of moving to Europe is not being close to these friends, BUT I am fortunate to be able to have seen each one of these special ladies before I left the country.
Our final month in Texas, and we decided to go out with a bang. The kids camped at Pine Cove for a week without mommy or daddy, watch a dear friend get married on the beach and travel one last time to hang out with friends at SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica. And, my oldest FINALLY had her dream birthday party at the American Girl Cafe.
When moving away, good-byes are not only for you, but for the people that you leave behind. Actually, I would say it is more for those you leave like your family, so it is important to take time to just be with family. This month, we spent quality time with my husband’s family in Arizona and mine in Texas. Of course, we took the kids to wonderful places in US along the way. Even though Europe has much to offer, so does the amazing country of the United States of America.
The transition period is real. This month was a time of reflection. A time where I looked back at all that I had and looked forward to the unknown. During this time, I discovered something about myself; how insecure I am. During all this time of transition, the fear of the unknown also made me feel that people are just being nice to me, but are not truly my friends. The power of fear is amazing – what a waste of time. Taking a leap of faith is powerful and like Dorothy, I packed my ruby red slippers. Because when I miss home, I could put them on and click them together and be transported back home (via Skype or Facetime). 😉
We moved to Montenegro! The kids started school…in Montenegrin! It is only a short walk from our house, which is a cozy place on a hill with a nice large terrace to see the Rumija Mountains and the Adriatic Sea.
Our first month reflections in Montenegro: The people are friendly, relaxed and the cuisine is fresh & flavorful. Unfortunately, the struggle is real for cross-cultural living for my kids, especially for my girl who keeps begging me to go back to America. My son was frustrated that his head hurt so much because of the language. I don’t only expect bright, sunny days here, but I am praying that the transition becomes easier for my kids because when they hurt, I hurt. We truly love it here and love the work we are doing, but this month we transitioned past the “honeymoon” phase.
We are thankful for so much. We are thankful to have a new contributor, Jacqueline. We are thankful to have this job that we have worked for six years to get. We are thankful for our health. We are thankful for the new friends and the old friends who have been there for us this year. We are thankful for our new neighbors, with whom we ate Thanksgiving. But most of all, we are thankful for the loving God who abundantly gives to us, even when we forget Him.
Living abroad is not all beaches and bungalows. Here’s a glimpse into my life of a typical day. As an expat, you have to expect the unexpected daily. Fortunately, there is lots of coffee and laughter that help you get through it.
2014, thank you for all you’ve given me. 2015, let’s do this.