For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.-Jeremiah 29:11
When my husband asked me about applying for an international move for a temporary assignment in Dublin, Ireland. I gave my blessing and didn’t think twice about it. Fast forward two years later (there is a long story there) and we were packing up our home, saying our goodbyes and preparing to say our hellos to a new country. We have learned SEVERAL lessons along the way, some I would rather forget but some are life altering lessons worth sharing.
1. It’s Just Stuff
In the middle of packing up our home that had been ours for over 13 years, my bff (Yes, I am over 16 and I still use this term and I am not ashamed to say so.) simply said, “Dee Dee, it’s just stuff. It can be replaced. Get rid of it and keep it moving.” It’s like the flood gates had been opened. I had just finished reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up so intellectually I had prepared myself for a minimalist lifestyle and I had started a Pinterest board dedicated to simplifying and minimalism. But, actually deciding what goes, what stays and what gets trashed is stressful. I am a minimalist by nature so it wasn’t as stressful as one imagined. But, the husband and the children making these types of decisions…that is another story. When the movers delivered our shipments, my entire bathroom, a couple boxes of shoes and other random items did not make it. To this day, we don’t know if they are in storage or gone forever. What I do know is that she’s my bff for a reason because it was just stuff. We were able to readjust and move on and only missed a little beat. What matters is that we all arrived in one piece and everything else can be replaced. That and the fact that I can still watch all my television shows without missing too much except for a delay or two. Let’s keep it real, I need my drama outlet.
2. Love Your Friends and Family While You Can
We moved 4559 miles away from home and we made sure to say our goodbyes. We hung out with friends and family as much as we could, we celebrated with parties and cake and we hugged everyone as much as we could. But, in the end when we stepped on that plane, it was just us. And one year later it is still just us in the everyday. Not being able to drive to our parents’ house, going out for my monthly MNO (Mom’s Night Out) or throwing the fly by night house party my husband was notorious for “coordinating” hurts. And don’t get me started on the holidays. We arrived in Dublin the week before Thanksgiving, talk about knife in the heart. Those random text messages, those random emails, those random dms, those random phone calls….that is what matters. We certainly do our part to stay connected but having friends and family that care enough to still think about us during this time away is something we do not take for granted and never will.
3. You Can Create a New “Normal”
I did not think that I could ever find a “normal” in Ireland. I mean they drive on the left side of the road and how was I ever going to be brave enough to get behind the wheel. We have no family in Ireland, so how were we ever going to have a date night again? Who is going to do my hair? Will we work out again? The food is different, the stores are different, the people are different, the money is different, it’s just different. I was in a groove in Houston. We had just planted our feet firmly in our community and it felt good. My husband knew the butchers at the grocery store. Bigg Dogg was doing well in school and was finally on a baseball team that he loved and could grow with. The Glitter Princess was on a cheer team, was a proud Girl Scout and had her squad of friends. And then we moved. After about 3 months, when the fog had cleared, we started to create a new normal. We started driving on the left side of the road. I found a slew of referred babysitters. Ummm…I still don’t have a stylist, but I found a store that sells my beloved hair products. Bigg Dogg started playing rugby and has hit the jackpot. The Glitter Princess is taking gymnastics and has found a new squad. We have our favorite restaurants and butchers that know us by name. We have all mastered the Euro system (the €2 and €1 coins took the most time to adjust to). We have a gym that I know is beyond superior to most American gyms and it just makes me want to be great. Needless to say, we have a new “normal” for us and we are in another groove. An Irish Groove. It doesn’t matter where we are, eventually we will have our own normal. With patience on our side, it will happen.
4. It’s OK to be Homesick
Homesickness. It. Is. Real. I never experienced homesickness because if I wanted to go home, I did just that. I went to my momma’s house. But, this homesickness is horrible. I miss so much about home-you can read about it every month in my Dublin Diaries series. In the beginning, I put on a brave face and hid my homesickness-partially because it’s my nature to never let them see you sweat and partially because I had to put on a brave face for the little people and the husband that was braving the cold and foxes everyday to go to work. Needless to say, about two weeks in (right after my birthday and Thanksgiving-go figure), I broke down and cried. Yep, I sat on the floor of our bedroom and just let go. I also opened up to the ladies here and they let me know that I was normal. They had all been there. It will pass. There is no cure. Thankfully with this day and age, we have technology that makes connections from home that much easier. And the ladies were right, the homesickness passed for a little bit and when it creeps up again-I have girlfriends and family at home that will call or text at the right time and the tears are instantly dried up again.
5. Even Adults Can Make New Friends
To be completely honest, we lost friends and let some family members go during this move, we had “friends” literally steal from us and on the flip side we had friends put a lock on their place in our hearts. So, moving to another country where we know no one, I was not at all optimistic or concerned about making new friends. And yet again, God had a different plan. Friends were oozing out of every nook and cranny. We have met some great people that now have a special place in our heart. It is comforting to know that when you are in a bind you have someone you can trust to pick up your little people or offer to babysit your kids so you can celebrate your anniversary. Even having friends you can hang out with or friends that can make bomb salsa and a tingling cocktail makes the move that much easier. I now know that you can make friends at any age. You are never too old or too young.
6. I Can Dance All Around My Comfort Zone
If there was ever any doubt in my mind that I can’t step out of my comfort zone, that doubt is now extinct. This international move has me stepping out of my comfort zone everyday. My blankies are gone-no family, no friends, no community, no local grocery store. Most basic adult tasks are done differently and some are new such as banking and driving to recycling and planning a simple birthday party. I have survived each and every new challenge thrown my way and let it bounce right off my back. I have learned that I can most definitely do hard even in another country. I honestly don’t even have a comfort zone anymore-except tacos and margaritas-I know what that kind of comfort feels like!
**7. (Bonus) I Wasn’t Built for Cold Weather
This is a bonus lesson. I have always said that cold weather is not my thing. I am very cold natured and anything below 75 is just too cold for me. And then it happened. We were dropped off in Ireland. Are you kidding me? The cold here is very different. It is bone chilling cold and my body goes into shock daily. Some people say their tolerance has adjusted since moving here. Nope, not my story. Cold is cold and it is cold in Ireland 90% of the year. But, I know God is testing me and equipped me to handle tropical weather and the sun and I am ok with that. So, I’ll wait. Some people are just built for the snow, ice and freezing temps. It is definitely confirmed…I AM NOT!
Hugs and love,
What experience taught you more about yourself than you ever imagined? Was there an international move involved? Please leave a comment below and I will get back to you.