My Theory On Blooming

LIFE OF AN AMERICAN EXPAT LIVING ABROAD

We’ve made it through our first 3 months in South Africa. I’m not going to lie and say it’s been all rainbows and roses (I hate when people do that). It has definitely had its ups and downs. And, we’ve definitely had our fair share of smiles, tears and good wine already. But, I do feel these first few months have been a real success.

We safely arrived in Joburg without any issue, and remarkably ALL 14 bags arrived too! The only travel issue I will admit was waking up after a lovely evening of wine drinking with my favorite Mexico City friends. Luckily, we flew business class, which allowed me to sit back, relax and SLEEP. But, the greatest thing about flying business class was this – my kids never had to lay on me, ask me for food or drinks, and never had to touch or look at each other for 16 hours…they even managed to actually get some decent rest as well.

We arrived to our new home which felt like a gymnasium with all the echoing and empty space.  The most uncomfortable rental furniture had been delivered, we didn’t have cable or internet, and of course there was no food. It was amazing. Our only win with the house was that our not so great relocation agent did manage to pick us up some toilet paper, cereal, milk and bananas per my last minute request.  So, at least we could use the toilet and eat breakfast (and dinner).

My husband had to leave for a business trip two days after we arrived (which kind of annoyed me, but was totally necessary), and that first week was crazy and seems like years ago already.  The kids were on a school break…Which meant no school and no friends with kids who have jet-lag and won’t wake up before noon. Our new housekeeper had started, but realistically there wasn’t much for her to do…considering I found her ironing my underwear. Chica and Paco (our rambunctious dogs) were delivered safely, and were released from quarantine within a few days of their arrival. They quickly acclimated to life with a yard again, and began digging up their new territory and hunting the Hadidas (AKA an annoying bird who wakes one up at 4AM with an ear-splitting squawk).

I was petrified of driving on the other side of the road, so I had a driver for the week…Which was fine, but in the end was annoying. He was nothing like my trusty Mexican sidekick, Ricardo. After the first week, I was driven to a rental car agency to pick up a car.  The Hyundai i10 (I’m not kidding you) was the size of a postage stamp, and had the pick up of two old hamsters. The best part…my husband was delivered the exact same car too, so we had a matching set.

After the first week of only visiting grocery stores, home stores and warehouse type places…The girls and I were ready for school to begin. My girls had actually been remarkably well behaved our first week, and were delighted with our new swimming pool. The dynamic duo had even managed to meet a couple of kids from school at the neighborhood playground. After the first day of school, they were immediately back to normal. Seeing smiles on their faces again made life a lot easier. They were happy to be playing, laughing and running around with their own kind again…and not their stressed out monster mom!

The first 12 weeks of our South African adventure were the busiest weeks of my life because they feel like they flew by faster than the Daytona 500…

In a period of only two weeks…We celebrated my birthday, I had arranged gymnastics and riding lessons, set up after-school golf lessons, found a new gym, had a sleep over, met a couple of new people and got invited to a braii (AKA barbecue). 

Within a month…We had celebrated Halloween, broken a wrist, found a babysitter, captured a pigeon in the house, and joined a book club. 

And after 6 weeks…I had survived a flat tire, celebrated our first Thanksgiving with new friends, gone on our first safari, made it through a gymnastics display, and the kids had attended pony camp.

Before I knew it, the holidays were upon us and we were traveling back to the US to celebrate them with a WHITE Christmas! The kids were SO excited for the snow, and secretly I was too.  We enjoyed seeing family and friends, indulged in our favorite things, and were just plain lazy!  I think we all needed the break. It was a relaxing three weeks, but I was again faced with a heavy heart to be leaving my home again.

I had one thing to look forward to when arriving back to Johannesburg…Our sea shipment was to arrive, and I was going to get MY stuff! Luckily, my mother-in-law travelled back to Joburg with us for a 5 week visit…She is a task machine, and her Type A combined with mine was going to make unpacking a container of boxes a breeze.

Well, I was right about the unpacking theory…My MIL and I shredded those boxes with the help of my housekeeper, and we’ve only got about three random ones left because I don’t know what to do with the contents inside them! I consider this remarkable progress, and the house is really starting to feel like home. I’ve even managed to get a few things on the walls in such a short time.

I find the first few months of anything to be quite an undertaking…a new workout or diet plan can be full of struggle and strife, a new job has a big learning curve, and moving to a new country is no different.

Sometimes you sit there spinning your wheels in the sand, and sometimes you’re winning on the first try.  Failure doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up with disappointment and give up if you don’t succeed on the first try…You just have to keep trying. It can be horrible, it can be terrifying, and it can all be totally overwhelming.  But, it can also be thrilling, enlightening and mentally stimulating too.

I promise it usually gets easier…at least from my experience. Let me rephrase that…It may not get easier, but at least you’ll know how to react and what awaits you. Changing your expectation and perspective can help to guide yourself to a better place.  You just have to give it a try and see.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

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