Hello everyone, we’ve now officially been in Australia for a month. A month of warm weather (sometimes scorchingly hot – it was 37 on Friday!) and a month of settling in to our new home. We’ve got flowering trees everywhere, the birds wake us up at 5 every morning and the scent of jasmine fills our back yard.
We’re doing it – living the great adventure! It’s been a long while since I’ve had an adventure of this type. The last time I moved to another country was 14 years ago. I was single and off I trundled to Korea to teach English to pay off my student loans. I’d forgotten what this kind of a move is like, how you can feel wide open and excited by the adventure of it all and at the same time, completely lost, unsettled and unrooted.
And of course, this is a different kind of move at a different time of life. It’s not just me I need to get settled but Colin (age 8) and Kate (age 5 and ¾). It’s been far more challenging than I’d anticipated. As my friend, the author Joan Flood so eloquently put it, “adventure calls us and we never know the price until we commit.” We are paying the price – trying to figure out a school that has 420 more kids than our last school and is so advanced that our kids are a year behind, missing our friends, and breathing in the smoke of the bush fires to the north and south of Brisbane.
So far, I don’t regret it one single bit. Except for the day Colin almost walked into the web of a giant and possibly deadly spider on our deck, then I wondered just a little if this was the right move.
Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, there are lots of big feelings and fears. But as with anything unknown, we’re living on the edge of our lives and growing – this past month has opened us up and challenged us and pushed us to grow into bigger versions of ourselves so I’ll keep saying a hearty yes to it. The kids now know that they can walk into a new school and make friends. I know that I can drive us around an unknown city on the wrong side of the road and eventually get where we are going. Andrew rode an electric scooter home from work along the riverside the other day. This new landscape with its new possibilities is opening every one of us up in ways both known and unknown.
What I’ve learned about transition:
When we’re going through a big change, even if it’s an exciting one, there’s loss associated with it. And with loss comes grief and most of us want to run fast and far from those feelings. We resist and resist until the tears come and overtake us and then they wash through us and we emerge lighter and easier. If we are going to truly transition, feelings need to be felt, otherwise, we just get stuck.
My kids are teaching me a lot about managing all the feelings associated with this move. Hard days at school, missing friends and family, making new friends, all of it comes with a lot of feelings, for them and for me. And when we let the emotions flow, when we welcome them and acknowledge them, we’re able to move through them far more smoothly than if we try to fight them off. When we can cry or rage, we can move on and then we find it’s not so bad.
It’s been hard to watch the kids struggle with not knowing what they’re doing at school, feeling the pressure of a very academic system and figuring out friendships in a brand new world. I can’t fix it for them, I can only have faith that they will figure it out and hold them when they cry. I wonder if that isn’t all we ever need to do for one another – just to be there in the difficult moments and have faith, in each other and in the world.
What I’ve learned about friends:
As we’ve gone through this massive transition, our friends have carried us. The phone calls, cards and letters from friends back home have helped us ease into life here, held in the safe arms of those far away who have not forgotten us. As I’ve been going through the endless boxes we’ve shipped over here and culling years worth of sentimental belongings that I no longer need, the decision about what I’ll keep and what I’ll toss all comes back to love. If there is love connected with a photo, a mug, a postcard, a book, it stays. We may be far from our family and friends but we carry them and their love in our hearts and it sustains us in the lonely moments, reminding us that when we are loved, we are never truly alone.
What’s happening with work:
Before we left, we did a big book launch and I’m so grateful to each and every one of you who came. It was such a gift to have almost all of my favourite people in one room celebrating the launch of the book.
The book will officially launch on Amazon on January 15th so I’ll be sharing links to special promotions that week and asking any of you who have already read it to write reviews. If you missed the launch but want to grab a copy, Book Warehouse is carrying Working Well so swing by and grab a copy! It’s exciting to see the book preparing to come out into the world and good for me to have a focus as I find my feet here in Australia.
Before I left, I also worked really hard to get some online courses created and those are now available on our website: https://www.managetoengage.com/online-courses/ Please check them out or share them with friends and colleagues if you know anyone who might want to learn more about:
- Communicating Effectively
- Building Positive Relationships
- Effectively Engaging Your Employees
- Working Well
- Having Accountability Conversations
I’ve left our leadership development programs in the capable hands of my business partner, Dave Kidd, and it’s been lovely to get updates on the impact of those programs while sitting on the back deck drinking a cup of tea. If you know anyone who’s interested in a customized leadership development program that creates meaningful organizational change, all the information is right here: https://www.managetoengage.com/customized-leadership-development/
I’m aiming to do a newsletter every month to stay in touch with everyone and chronicle the adventures that life keeps throwing my way. Soon, I’ll start writing more articles so I’ll send links to those in the newsletter as they come out. I’m also planning to do some more creative writing and one of these days, I’m going to get myself to a yoga class!
We’ve been very busy getting life set up this past month so there’s been plenty of work to do – unpacking boxes, setting up bank accounts, getting school uniforms and buying cleaning supplies. In a few weeks we’re going to head to the beach to celebrate my birthday and enjoy some family time. As I welcome a new year, I plan to splash in the surf with the kids, visit with a couple of dear friends I met the first time I lived in Australia who I’ve known for 23 years (now officially half my life!) and enjoy beautiful sunsets from our balcony with Andrew.
I wish you a wonderful November filled with sweet moments, moments that you can slow down enough to savour – that’s certainly one of my goals this month.
Take care, Stephanie