Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down. Just kidding…but seriously. I grew up in sunny Orange County, California and had a childhood dreams are made of. The only experience I had with snow was watching it on Hallmark Christmas movies. My favorite place on earth is the beach. Sitting there, feeling the sand between my toes, and hearing the sound of the crashing waves brings me to a place of peace I find no where else in this world.
I am so blessed to have the most wonderful family I not only love but choose as friends. All of my cousins lived within 30 miles of us and holidays and birthday parties were a huge gathering of chaos and pure joy. I always imagined raising my kids in the same setting, next door to my sister (I know, unrealistic and a little unhealthy but the heart wants what it wants).
Fast forward to my 21 year old self falling head over heels for a guy that lived in a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. If you don’t know anything about SK, let me fill you in … it’s flat and cold. Like -45 degrees in the winter, cold.
When I was dating my (now) husband and we discussed getting married, we both knew moving away from California – to a small town where the nearest Costco was 2 hours away would be an adjustment for me (to say the least). We decided we would give it two years and reevaluate. Well, 8 years later, and we are still here with a thriving business and 2 beautiful kids. I’m going to guess that a lot of people have lost money betting I wouldn’t have made it here this long and honestly, I would’ve been one of them. I have countless stories of me getting stuck in the mud ankle deep, my umbrella flipping inside out from the wind, being 8 months pregnant and having to pee on the side of the road on our way home from “the city” because there were no bathrooms within miles, and my hands getting frost bite going to the grocery store in -50 with no gloves. So many I don’t belong here moments.
I wanted to write this to encourage all of you who may be in a season of sacrifice, grief, frustration, or sadness. I’ve been there. I am still there at times now, especially since this pandemic has hit and I have no clue when the next time I will be able to see my family will be. I wanted to share some hope. Some helpful tips that have gotten me through this season of life.
First thing I would suggest is getting plugged in to your community. If you have kids, go to mommy drop ins at the local library to meet other moms in the same walk of life as you. Find a church, join a gym, go to McDonalds and sit there until you find someone to talk to for all I care – just make an effort. I know all you introverts are starting to sweat just thinking about going to new places and meeting new people. Its ok to start slow. The point is – life isn’t a Hallmark movie where everyone notices you are new and invites you to their family gatherings. You have to seek people out and make making friends a priority. Will they replace your family or your best friends back home? No, but having a community of friends is essential to making life sweeter.
As a feeler myself, I think it is vital to say that its ok to be sad sometimes. You are going to have a day, a weekend, or a whole week where you are on a rollercoaster of emotions and thats OKAY. Leaving behind friends, family, a home, a city, or a country that you love is hard and it can feel like you are grieving the loss of a life that isn’t how you imagined it would be. For me, its often the little things that are the biggest triggers. I expect to feel sad on big holidays or events I am missing out on so I brace for them. What catches me off guard is when I am at a coffee shop and I see a mom and daughter chatting about life over a chai tea latte and my heart literally aches. When I hear a friend say they are going to their nieces dance recital and it feels like I’ve been kicked in the gut. You see, it’s the little, everyday things you ache for the most when you miss the ones you love. Life is not how you dreamed it would be when you were a little girl and you have to feel that to really embrace it. My life, in so many ways, is even better then I could have dreamed but that does not take away from the the fact that sometimes it’s just plain unfair. It’s ok to feel these things, but don’t stay stuck there in your sadness and frustrations.
This brings me to my next point – watch your mouth. You’ve heard the saying, you are what you eat. I think you are what you say- and think. There have been studies that show that the more negative you talk and think, the more miserable you become. Ok, I paraphrased that, I’m sure the studies use different verbiage but you get the picture. Like I said before, It’s ok to have a day where you go on a rant about how much you dislike living where you do and if only you had a Costco nearby your life would be complete (my exact words if you can’t tell), but if you live in that negative state, that is all you will see. You will be blind to the beauty of life around you. I suggest you write down one thing a day you appreciate about where you live. This is a good practice for anyone in any stage of life! Bringing your heart back to an attitude of gratitude is so important especially if you are struggling with negativity in any area of your life. It’s up to you what you chose to dwell on.
Help others. Volunteer somewhere, be a listening ear to a hurting friend, save the turtles, I don’t know, get creative! Just do something that takes the focus off of yourself. The more you sit and feel sorry for yourself, the harder it will be to fight off depression and sadness. There are so many hurting people out there and it helps just to know you aren’t alone and sometimes it puts your situation into perspective. Life could be worse. Always.
Here’s the thing. At the end of the day, home is a feeling – not a place. Life may not be the way you envisioned, or where you envisioned, but I challenge you today to grow where you have been planted. Don’t be afraid to dig in roots where you are because you can miss out on so many blessings God has for you in this season if you refuse to accept where He has you today. Once I stopped believing the lie that I will be happy when…(fill in the blank) it gave me freedom to live in the moment and enjoy the now. Don’t let focusing on the arrival rob you of the journey. Wherever you are, give it all you got and as Dory says in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming”.