I recently had a friend suggest I include some less than flattering photos of this adventure to show that it’s not one big 24/7 party in the Kelley’s Aussie Adventure! Well, I don’t think you really want to see those photos but before I write a post about our most recent American friend’s Aussie adventure with us, I did think I would share a bit about what has been going on behind the pretty pictures from instagram or here in the blog I know for me, I see others beautiful photos and I imagine a life that flows perfectly all the while knowing that we are all human and all struggle. Funny isn’t it how we all do this to some degree? I always assume others have their act together far better than we do!
I think I have already written pretty honestly about the terrible start we got to this year with the loss of Lawson’s mom and his siblings planning the funeral before he could get there. Grief and being sucker punched aren’t ideal ways to start the new year. I think I have also shared that Lawson has had some health issues. I have probably downplayed exactly how much all of this has impacted our year and this experience. We have been so exceedingly blessed all our life with good health and have never taken that for granted but this year has been full of fear, confusion and seeking as we try to get to the bottom of why Lawson has felt so bad. He has had intense abdominal pain the entire year. Under normal circumstances this would be stressful but in another country it is all the more challenging. We have been really lucky to find a GP who listens and comes along side as Lawson has gone through and continues to go through a battery of tests. As we eliminate one major thing after the other we repeatedly come back to stress and its toll on our bodies. As yogi’s, we are pretty darn in tune with our bodies but sometimes life throws you things that just leave you totally untethered and confused. I have spoken a lot about grief as it has become this close friend over the past decade or so. In spite of me being the “quiet one”, my grief process has been one of talking – a lot- about loss. Lawson’s has been more internal, a quieter processing. We all have our own ways of moving through grief but there is not doubt it does change us in ways we might not recognize at the time. And, I do believe the more deeply we love the more intense the grief process no matter what shape it takes. And, all that can impact our bodies in ways that can be totally unfamiliar and scary. We await another appointment to go over a calcium heart scan but being able to eliminate certain things like colon cancer has allowed us to breathe a few sighs of relief! We know from the results that were sent to us after the heart scan that Lawson’s numbers hold some concern. What we have come to recognize even before that appointment is the number of things we need to change – stress and sugar reduction are at the top of that list. Digging into what causes stress in our lives is not always easy. There are the obvious things like living abroad of course, but then there are the more subtle things we just assume are how we are made – things like sensitivity, putting others first, people pleasing, the list goes on….This part will take a lot of focus, a lot of letting go of things that drain us and a lot of filling our empty cups back up!
In addition to Lawson’s medical journey, we have been trying to get Eve the help she needs for attention related issues. If you know our girl, you know she is a ray of joyful sunbeams. If you know our girl, you might also know that school has been somewhat challenging. She is smart as a whip but there are so many joyful rainbows going on inside her and emanating out of her that school details can be challenging. We finally feel like we are getting the right kind of help for her here. It seems to us that there is a gentler, more holistic approach to dealing with ADD here. Eve’s school is providing lots of support and we have found a helpful doctor here too. Don’t worry, I asked Eve if I could write about this and she said sure. That’s our girl! This illustration below makes me think of Eve and the extraordinary beauty radiating out from both her spirit and mind (illustration credit to one of my favorite illustrators, Aimee Sicuro).
If there has been any part of doing this medical journey from abroad, it has been the reasonable medical bills we have incurred (at least by US standards). I can’t even begin to tell you how that has helped with the stress we feel. Our monthly insurance rates for private insurance here in Australia are maybe close to what we paid back in the early 1990’s in the US but with better benefits. The amount we pay for private insurance here is staggering by most Australians standards because they have public medicare. During Lawson’s corporate years, we certainly had excellent insurance, albeit far more expensive than here.. However, if you are self employed in the US or have had an aging parent with extreme medical costs, maybe you have a better understanding of exactly how expensive things are in the US. Another thing we notice here is that in our doctor’s office there are no advertisements for pharmaceuticals, nor are there on television. For us, this makes us trust our doctor just a little bit more. I don’t think the Australian medical system is perfect at all but they are doing something right with keeping the cost of both insurance and medical procedures reasonably priced. I don’t believe the number one reason for bankruptcy in Australia is from medical bills like it is in the US. Maybe we could examine how other countries are doing things and integrate that into the really great parts of US health care?
And then there is the stress of our home in Florida. We are trying to decide if switching to a long term lease might be a better choice for our home. We knew this was going to be super challenging having our home open to others. We knew others would not care for our property like we do. The degree to which this is true has been harder to deal with than we expected. People put any manner of things down the toilet because why? Because it’s not theirs? It is disheartening to say the least and expensive for us as well. We, of course, learned a lot in our time living at the beach about how people seem to lose their minds when they go on holiday. For the first time, I came to understand what people meant when they said “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Yeah, what happens at the beach stays at the beach and the homeowners pay for it! We know we are blessed to be able to keep our home and yet the stress is real in trying to do the right thing by our home from afar.
So, no ugly pictures here but lots of words on how our life is not perfect. Behind those beautiful pictures of Australia, behind those pics of us smiling, there is concern and worry just like everyone else. There are days I just want to go home. It would be easier in lots of ways but we press on knowing that even in the midst of life’s concerns we will never regret having this expat adventure with our daughters! People have said we are courageous.. Maybe, we have courageous moments but most of the time we are shaking in our boots trying to figure things out as we go. We are constantly rerouting this whole thing (illustration credit above again to Aimee Sicuro). Thanks for joining our perfectly imperfect family as we continue on this expat journey!