August, 2013

15 Aug 2013, by

Reflect & Renew

Landing back "home" in New Zealand

Landing back "home" in New Zealand

Landing back “home” in New Zealand

Three states in three weeks – from one coast to another: my family and I have just returned from a whirlwind visit to the United States. It’s been almost two years since we left, and it was time to go back and see our loved ones. Even though we’ve had a string of visitors, we can’t expect everyone to try and make the trek to see us all the way down here in New Zealand.

Of course I knew we’d enjoy our warm welcome back in the US, but I was really curious about how we’d all feel when we flew back to our new home in the southern hemisphere. And not just because it’s still winter down under! After being reminded of our comfortable life in California…would it be harder to say goodbye again? Would we end up feeling less “settled” here, and restless to return permanently to America?

The sun was out on the day we landed in Wellington and we could see very little that wasn’t soft and green and inviting in the view from our airplane windows. By the time we squeezed ourselves and our suitcases into the car (we’d done a “wee bit” of shopping back in the land of bargains) we felt, above all, a sense of contentment – to be back home. Not “more” home than the USA, but as much at home. I don’t think I could have hoped for a better reaction. And life lesson. Change can be very painful, but also very rewarding. And really the only way to learn that is to live it.

So what has changed over these last two years? Little things. Apparently I can be comfortable living in an earthquake-prone region – even though we’ve been having a lot of them. My husband has worn out several pairs of shoes from walking to and from work, after years and untold hours wasted commuting. We have all apparently picked up the Kiwi “a”, which has slightly changed our accents. And bigger things: my kids have widened their view of the world, which ironically makes it feel like a smaller place. They’ve also learned what it really means to be American – how we are seen by the rest of the world – which is far more nuanced than how we see ourselves. It’s soon to tell though, if they’ve become adventure junkies like their parents. Not such a bad fate, if it does happen.

As for me, I’ve succeeded in my goal of repurposing my life. It’s now centered on what matters to me most: my family (the little four legged one included), my community, my love of the outdoors and my drive to both learn and create.

And I’ve created something brand new – a company we’ve named Personal Branz. “We” includes my Dutch business partner – a kindred performer and adventurous spirit. She’s an opera singer by training, whom I met when I joined the community choir she directs. We have blended our talents to offer personal and team brand coaching. We now have a locally-designed logo, a facebook page and twitter account and are close to launching our company website. Oh and we’ve also had a few clients and held a few workshops. It seems any intention I may have harbored of leading a life of leisure is (willingly) over.

When I moved here, I really had no plan or clear idea of what might happen next. Embarking on any adventure, it’s important not to have rigid expectations. I did know I desperately needed a re-set and I wanted to explore life rather than just go tearing through it at a breakneck pace.

My father might argue I still do that. He visited recently (world travel has always been his passion too) and was surprised to see that I was still rushing around, involved in various school-related and work-related projects. It didn’t take long before he summed up the situation very fittingly, announcing “busy is who you are!”. And I embrace that.

I do like to reach out and get involved. I like to learn new skills and say yes to new experiences. How else would I have ended up moving halfway around the world? And while I do get busy, I now have the luxury of pulling back a bit on the reins when I start to feel overwhelmed. Even though it’s taken me a little while to learn exactly how and when to do it. Half-jokingly, I describe my former career as “the job that ate my life”. That will never happen again. I’ve earned my right to balance – which includes slower moments as well as busy ones.

What else has this re-set taught me about “me”? Walking – in nature – is the only exercise I really will do consistently. It is a true passion. I’ve learned that I really can cook, but I actually only like to mess up the kitchen when I feel true inspiration (which is not that often). I’ve learned that it’s perfectly reasonable to indulge my love of watching movies – even on a rainy Monday morning – and then be able to rally the energy to spend all afternoon and into the evening working. And I’ve learned that I still have a long way to go before I master the patience to meditate. On my “Eat, Pray, Love” journey – I’ve just shrugged my shoulders and moved on to “love”. I am either reminded or I find a way to remind myself daily how much I love my new home, my family, my new friends – and now my new profession.

I promise this isn’t just navel-gazing. I may be in a reflective mood, but this is also my core philosphy. I like to share it with others – in my writing, speaking, and in my daily life. Life is about saying yes, going through open doors and then getting involved, but it also demands time to reflect on your journey.

When was the last time you took a quiet couple of hours to reflect and renew? What do you think you might discover about yourself if you did? What would you commit to doing differently if you slowed down enough to consider the possibilities?

I know I’m blessed to have this unique opportunity to recreate my life – but I’ve also learned that you create opportunities in life. I’ve done it over and over and over again. That drive to create is just as much a part of me as being “busy” is. But it requires quieting down enough and slowing down enough to allow those opportunities to reveal themselves. And when they do – watch out!

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