The Always Evolving and Partially Unwritten Five-Year Plan

Cheap Therapy for All

Normally we blog about funny/cool/weird/frustrating things that have been part of our adventure in Asia. We don’t really write a lot about feelings or anything that would be featured on Oprah. But living abroad does change some things (besides the obvious change of where you live) if you stop and take a moment to think about them. Having the change in habits/locations/routine something is bound to give, right? So, I thought I would share. If you want to skip this blog, because its not our usual fun traveling stories,  feel free. I won’t be mad at you. And, don’t worry, I’m not writing a self help book anytime soon. 

I would not call myself a reflective person. Obsessive, yes. But reflective, not as much. I do like to be reflective about what others have done, but then I believe it’s called judging. That’s different.

I like being busy and pretty much have been my entire life, and busyness tends not to breed reflectiveness as a general rule. Our lives in Atlanta were crazy busy, and as much as we loved it there, we could feel things getting a little out of control, which I think was part of the reason we decided to move abroad. A change in routine and habit, time to breathe slowly and deeply ponder all the mysteries of the universe…

Or something like that.

I am also a person that doesn’t really like to open up to a lot of people. Ask me how I am and you will get a polite, “Fine” or a funny face, leaving you to guess what that face really meant, but no real answer that might get you to the root of how I truly am doing at that moment. I don’t like to burden people (besides my husband) with my problems and under no circumstances do I want you to think that I can’t do it. (whatever “it” is?)

Living abroad has somewhat changed both of these things about me. Having the extra time of not working constantly allows for a little more time to really think and wonder about what is going on with me, family, the past and the future. It has caused me to think about the past and wince at words spoken in anger or in an egotistical manner and really think about what we want our lives to be like when we go back to the states. In all that quiet time, it becomes more conducive to be a tad more “Wal-DEN” (a la Henry David) and a little less “Wal-MART” like the store on the day after Christmas, you know?

Having to trust people, branch out and be uncomfortable has been good for me in the way that exercise is good for you. You hate it while it is happdon’t really realize it is until it’s over. But then you notice the effects and know deep down that you should do more of it.

All this being said (I know you were wondering where I was going with this one), this past weekend, I had a lovely Sunday brunch with some of my friends in which we did some deep introspective thinking, wondering and questioning out loud. And ate some delicious sausage and Quiche. That’s right. It turns out that a bunch of us were struggling with some of the same issues and didn’t even realize it.

Issues that we kinda felt guilty for bringing up.

Or crying about.

Or even having the audacity to think.

Questions of happiness in relationships, careers, with ourselves.

Questions of fulfillment.

Questions of simplicity and clarity.

Questions of how to keep those darn ants off the counters overnight? (Seriously, the ants are killing me.)

You know, just the light stuff. Oprah would have had a field day with us.

And you know what? It felt good and healthy and helpful. To open up to this group of women that didn’t judge me (to my face!) and in fact had similar questions and themselves. Women that I haven’t known my entire life, weren’t in my immediate family, or the proverbial “circle of trust.”

We didn’t really come to any earth shattering conclusions, but I left being with them refreshed, calm, and reassured. I think I just have to remember that the ebb and flow of life doesn’t leave you happy or fulfilled and simplified all the time, unlike television and movies have shown us since birth.  Having the courage to “sit and be” in that feeling, however unpleasant, is how you deal with that emotion, not to freak out or break down or worry endlessly. (Or do all three. At the same time. Not that I have or anything.) Maybe the trick is to just be a little more reflective, take a deep breath and move on down the road, no matter what road you are on. Or country you are in.

It just took me moving across the world to realize that.

Image by Ginger Oliphant

and can be purchases at her etsy shop:


2 responses

  1. To me, this post seems part and parcel to living overseas, and I think it’s wonderful you shared it. It seems as a culture we don’t give ourselves much time to slow down and reflect unless we somehow back into chance (moving abroad, becoming a mother, losing a job). But when given the opportunity, reflecting on life can be so healing. At least, it has been for me. Great post!

    March 24, 2012 at 5:34 PM

  2. jgmcrew

    I appreciate your comment for several reasons:

    1) You left one.
    2) You found a practical use for the phrase, “part and parcel”
    3) You understood where I was coming from!

    Thanks Justine!

    March 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM

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