So, it really has been a while. I originally wrote the post below a couple of weeks ago just to get my thoughts on paper not at all planning on posting it. Then this past week happened. The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain hit me hard. They were both inspirations in living a life and having work they loved. Lawson and I had just listened to an interview of Kate and Andy Spade about building their business together. I don’t own a single Kate Spade bag but her story inspires me. While we will probably never know the particulars of why they felt like this was the choice they needed to make, what is clear is that depression does not discriminate based on economics, career or anything else. Lawson has often said he feels like I inherited the Kelley melancholy. I think part of what he means by that is that I inherited a deep sensitivity, particularly around injustice, that can sometimes trip me up. I can barely get on Facebook these days without it unsettling me. The language that is used to describe other human beings with a different viewpoint than one’s own has become dehumanizing, Whether you like Trumps politics or not, I think it is fair to say that how he speaks to and about other human beings is not something we have ever before tolerated in a president and that is trickling down to the rest of society. Civility and decency are on the decline. For those of us who are empaths and who are highly sensitive, I can tell you this has a profound impact.. I can only imagine for those who feel desperate. I share this much personal information because it is more important than where we visited in Australia this week (even though we got a very brief first taste of Sydney and boy was she brilliant).. That is cool, maybe even inspiring for those who want an expat experience but what’s really important is that we can be vulnerable emotionally. Our blog’s readership is mostly just our friends as a way to stay connected and a few fellow expats so being vulnerable here is slightly easier. With the suicide rate increasing dramatically in the US in the past 20 years it seems all the more important to dialogue about it, to bring it out of the shadows. There have been lots of posts since the news broke this week about depression. Some have been helpful, some not as much It is wonderful to offer a sofa as a safe place for someone but only if they really feel safe on the offered sofa. If I feel judged, and many of us as parents, as one example, feel judged by what we are or are not doing, then I don’t feel safe and would not sit on that couch even if I was struggling Words matter. Kindness matters. I particularly like this quote by Anthony Bourdain which encourages us to open our minds and attempt to step in another’s shoes and by so doing we can’t help but become more compassionate. My parents prioritized travel as a way for me to learn and grow and I will be forever grateful for that! It’s not just travel though that allows us to expand our minds. New foods, music, books, listening with an open mind to another perspective…so many options to allow us to step into another person’s shoes!
Now, to the original post which i thought was too much personal information originally – Ha! It is fairly easy to write a post after a new adventure discovering some great place or event in Australia but more challenging to write about the ongoing adventure that is our expat life in Australia. Don’t get me wrong – it is an adventure; it’s just sometimes more of an adventure than I signed up for. I recently read a post on the brilliant blog Wait but Why by Tim Urban about there being two kinds of people (with a large continuum between these two ends of the spectrum of course) – cooks and chefs. Well, I am a cook who follows a detailed recipe and Lawson is a chef who invents his own recipes! This, of course, is part of what drew us to each other! He is magnificent except when _______ (you know what I mean because you too are probably a cook or a chef who can fill in that blank for your partner). For me and Lawson the fill in the blank often has to do with risk taking or lack there of and I bet you can guess which of us is which! We simply have different thresholds for risk taking. The thing is, right about a year ago I took what I believe to be a massive risk and moved to Australia. I get that this isn’t a risk for just everyone but take my word for it when I say that it is for a cook. As the one year anniversary comes near, my anxiety (because I am a cook who also experiences anxiety) has sky rocketed. This adventure has been amazing but I am missing some things that help me feel grounded, namely a home to nest in and my own stuff to nest with. I seriously miscalculated how difficult this would be for me. Strangers are coming and going from my house in Florida which is now a vacation rental and all my things are in storage units. I kept telling myself it would be freeing and to just treat this like a long adventure but a year in I am struggling. The selling of my childhood home in April plus reaching the year mark seem to be taking a toll…and that is why I haven’t felt like blogging. We have three more years on our visa and then we can file for permanent residency and by then our youngest daughter will have finished high school and our oldest will have graduated university. We can then more easily split our time between Australia and the US which is our ultimate goal. Three years seems like a long time from right here, right now even though I know it will pass in the blink of an eye! A year in, things have not unfolded as we expected in many ways but others have unfolded beautifully. Our girls are happier in school than they have ever been which is wonderful! While we miss living at the beach, we love having access to all that living in a city can offer plus we can still be at the beach in less than an hour. We love having affordable health care. On my really hard, missing home days, I have to say having good health care at an affordable price is an important reminder of things we love about Australia! Learning to navigate another culture with our children has not disappointed either. It’s not always easy but we have always wanted to have this experience as a family and it has been a wonderful bonding experience. Learning to drive on the left hand side of the road has been ridiculously hard which is somewhat embarrassing to admit but there it is! While so much is similar to America, lots of things are different – very different! And, sometimes taking a big risk into a world so incredibly different than the one you are used to can leave you anxious (well, if you are a cook it can anyway) and when that happens blogging doesn’t really flow!
Yesterday, we went to a presentation of the musical South Pacific by the Queensland Musical Theatre. This musical has special significance to me personally as it was one of the few albums my parents had while I was growing up and although it was totally warped from my parents storing it in the attic, it is one of the prized possessions I saved of theirs! My dad served in WW 2 in Europe, not the South Pacific but it still makes me think of him and hearing my mom sing these songs around the house! One of the songs, I had forgotten however was You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught. The lyrics seem incredibly applicable to our world today
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid of those who are different than you is the general theme. Do you know there are people who have been afraid, not approved of our family? Yep! Uniformity of skin color in a family matters to lots of people still. This is the stuff that can derail me. And, worse when I have shared this with others they question the experiences we have had.. This is not safety. Let’s be gentle with one another. Let’s listen to another’s story, especially if they seem to be in pain. Let’s not judge one another quite so harshly.
This is the album that my parents used to listen to! I especially remember my mom’s rendition of “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”! My mom was the optimist in our home and was always singing! She would never have washed my dad outta her hair though!
Our next blog will be coming soon with lots of photos of our day in Sydney and will be extra light on the emotional stuff! Here’s to a more gentle week ahead for us all! As always, thanks for your friendship and for following us on this journey!