My Theory On Blooming

LIFE OF AN AMERICAN EXPAT LIVING ABROAD

Summer is coming! FullSizeRenderWell, actually…winter is coming to South Africa, but I don’t really plan on being here to see it.  Besides, autumn still feels like summer since it’s been a consistent 30º C (86º F) for like 6 months straight (see today’s Instagram post). I’ve not worn shorts this much in my entire life, and I’m in dire need of hitting a GAP or J.Crew to spice up the summer wardrobe ASAP.

I digress.

I am in the midst of summer vacation planning. Remarkably, I’ve already got quite a bit booked…and I’m scared how quickly my time back in the good ol’ US of A is filling up. This summer we will only be in the US for 8 weeks. I realize this sounds like a long ass time for some of you, but we return to our own house…so I’m not living in my parent’s basement. It makes me so sad since we’ve decided not to travel back for Christmas this year…it’s just too far of a trip.

You see, living in Johannesburg causes a bit of a travel nightmare. I mean it takes like 25 hours door to door, which basically messes up 4 days because you are traveling over two days to the US and another 2 days back to South Africa. Plus, there’s that sneaky bitch waiting in the wings…JET LAG. I seriously fucking hate jet lag. The whole loosing a day whilst traveling when returning to South Africa creates a real mindscrew on your internal clock. My children turn into club kids at a rave who won’t go to sleep until 5AM, and then sleep till noon and wake up with a major hangover. Did I mention I hate jet lag? So, we’re returning 4 days before school starts in hopes I can overthrow the club kid zombies into waking up at 6AM to catch the bus for school.

At any rate, I’m really trying to keep this summer low key. Other than the fact that I’ve already booked my kiddos into two separate week long sleep away camps that I planned back in December (mommy vacation), and a couple side trips planned here and there to visit family and friends…we have plenty of time for golf, beach, pool and Target (I cannot wait to grab a Starbucks (the only one in our town) and peruse the aisles in pure mommy bliss).

And, speaking of shopping…I’m already preparing for my Amazon Prime membership to pay for itself with all my stocking up of random items…you never can have to many of your favorite brand of tampons or packets of Lipton’s french onion soup mix. I’ve already got a shopping list started, and am pretty sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things I NEED to bring back with me. As much as I love to shop (and believe me, I’m really good at it), I don’t want to be wasting my precious time with the tedious task of last minute shopping…I’m too Type A for that kind of crap, and I’m going to try to minimize my cray-cray with some upfront online binge shopping.

But, the things I’m most looking forward to doing include rooting on my nephew’s at their baseball games, eating coney island hotdogs, long and lazy days at Lake Michigan with my feet in the sand, and riding my bike across town for dinner and drinks with friends. It’s the simple things in life that I miss the most about home…The faces and places I don’t get to see often enough will be on overdrive during my short return to my happy place.

These 8 weeks will be time for me to recharge my expat battery pack. It kind of sounds a bit cheesy when I say it out loud, but going home to Michigan is when I reenergize my mind, body and soul, so I can return to my home in South Africa and continue to kick some ass. Do you see how both places are now my home?

The word “home” is so dynamic. It has so many definitions. I don’t know if I will ever truly feel “at home” any where on the planet ever again…I’ve left too much of my heart around the world, and the memories I’ve shared with the people in those places are scattered over almost every continent. Here’s my theory…HOME is a feeling, not a place. The feeling of home allows me to smile at a memory or a familiar scent. Those are the small energy bursts I get from my sense of home. It what makes me remember how I’ve gotten this far, and helps me realize things are only getting started again. 

One thing I’ve learned while living abroad is how to quench my thirst for home by recreating the feeling of it within myself. For me, home is where my family comes through the front door after a long day, it’s where my dogs snuggle up to me on the couch, and it is the fullness of my heart every single day. Longing for home means there’s something pulling you back to where you are at ease and comfortable…It can also be the road less travelled and an opportunity to open yourself up to the unknown. 

It’s finding how you can feel at home in two places at the same time. 🙂

Untitled-design-11I’m such a slacker. I mean seriously. I’m normally extremely type A, but lately I can’t seem to get my shit together. In my defense, I’ve had friends in town from the USA…Which means there was a lot of debauchery, laughing, eating, drinking and fun being had for two straight weeks.  So, I’m really doing my best this week to get my rear end in gear, and get my life back in order.

While I was in mid-swig of my G&T a couple of weeks ago, the lovely Emily, from The Expat Mama (www.theexpatmama.com), nominated me for an award! If you haven’t read her stuff yet, you should. She’s honest, interesting, sounds like a ton of fun, and what I love most…Emily is someone I can relate to, so I think we could be pretty good friends in real life.

Anyhoo, I never get awards…except for maybe “Best Sarcastic Comment” or “The Potty Mouth” kind of awards…Geesh, what does that say about me?…well, I digress. So, I’m totally humbled by the idea of someone feeling connected to my thoughts. Because, realistically…I’m just writing what I’m thinking…whether it be good, bad, or ugly. It’s my theory.

I started blogging as an outlet for myself alone. I was feeling a little bored and lost, so I decided to do something for me. And, I still think that is a true comment. I write for me…I love the idea of people reading my theory on expat life or whatever topic pops into my head…but I still do it for me. I wish I was better at putting my thoughts to paper when ideas explode in my head, but I sometimes think it’s better if I keep some things to myself. I’m pretty sure you’d all think my Twitter feed would be hysterically funny and bad-ass.

My advice for new bloggers?  Write about what peaks your interest. That’s when the words flow. You can’t force yourself to talk about something you aren’t interested in…I like to think of it as a conversation with the reader. I’m not great at writing reviews…therefore you will highly unlikely find me reviewing a hotel or a service on my blog.

The Smalls Abroad (www.lilliansmall.com) – This blog is stunning. The photos alone can tell a great story, but Lillian does a great job at telling us about expat life and offering great travel info and reviews. You must check out her South Africa posts!

Going American (www.going-american.com) – I love this blog because it’s like a little taste of home for me. Sandra is always telling her readers about things she finds, likes or dislikes…it’s a mix of experiences, product reviews and discoveries!

4 kids, 20 Suitcases and a Beagle (http://kirstyriceonline.com) – Kirsty is a well versed expat with kids born around the world. She’s full of great advice, great observation, and has a great podcast called Two Fat Expats…it’s a super fun listening experience!

Global Munchkins (www.globalmuchkins.com) – This blog is something else, and I hope it’s okay to list it here because they seem pretty big time. Amber (AKA Mama Munchkin) tells us all about her awesome travels with her 5 kids and husband. Her travel and lifestyle sight is full of great information about numerous destinations and tons of lifestyle stuff too!

Okay…so here are the guidelines for the ‘Blogger Recognition Award’…

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide links to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Attach the award to your post.
  • Write a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give a piece of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. (Obviously I cheated, I told you I was a slacker lately…I only nominated 4!)
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them.

Thanks to my virtual friend, Sandra, over at the blog, Going American (you should definitely go check it (www.going-american.com) and her Instagram feed out (@goingamerican)),
main-qimg-84e82e092116a988a67f9dae6c0f873fI was tagged in an Instagram photo to answer some questions about being an expat.  I thought it was a fun and cool idea…below are my answers to her questions.

If you want to join in on the fun, make sure you tag me in your Instagram post, so that I can read your answers! You can find me on Instagram at @mytheoryonblooming.

1. Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan…And now I live in Johannesburg, South Africa!

2. What made you leave your home country?

My husband’s career started our global lifestyle.

3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?

It totally depends…If they barely have a clue as to where Michigan actually is located, the response is normally “Isn’t it freezing there?” OR if they do know where it is, they usually say…”Did you grow up with Eminem?”…um, no.

4. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?

Easiest: Language!  It’s been so awesome to just speak without thinking. Not having to triple think every single solitary sentence coming out of my mouth has been incredibly freeing.

Hardest: Hmmm. Probably driving on the other side of the road!  I’m still hesitant sometimes, but it really just took a little bit of courage behind the wheel!

5. images, words or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far.

There are so many…Let me think.

Geneva, Switzerland – The sight of Mont Blanc from the vineyard in our village and the ringing of cow bells from the field near our home.

Brussels, Belgium – The aroma of waffles and the sight of spring’s first crocuses.

Mexico City, Mexico – The sound of the camote (sweet potato) peddler’s whistle, the call of the junkman, and the smiling face of my housekeeper, Rosana.

Johannesburg, South Africa – The hooting of taxi horns, the sqwuaking of the hadedas, and the floral scent of summer air.

6. Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?

Granadilla – It’s a passionfruit which tastes both sour and sweet, and full of flavor.  It’s good with yogurt, mixed in a drink, or made into a sweet dessert.  My daughters even eat them right out of the skin.  I’ve got a vine growing in our back garden.  So, when they are in season…I don’t even have to pay for them!

7. What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to back home?

I’m not sure about this one.  There’s not much I wouldn’t say yes to back home. I guess we’ll need to revisit this question in a few years.

8. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?

“Just now”…which basically means sooner or later, but not immediately and possibly might never happen…It’s SO vague. And, I feel like I can never figure out when things will actually happen. It’s like the South African version of Mexico’s “horita”.

Kids never where shoes! They never where them in restaurants or grocery stores, walking through the parking lot, or in public bathrooms!  It’s not exactly the ides of not wearing shoes…It’s the where they are not wearing shoes which bothers me! My kiddos never have shoes on in our house or while playing outdoors.  But, their little feet are SO dirty…I wonder if their feet are permanently stained black!?!?

9. What do you enjoy most doing in your new country?

Living an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. It’s so nice to be outside so much.  And, the outdoor areas like the patio or terrace are just an extension of your home.  Even though I’ve only lived here for the spring and summer months so far, it’s been a real treat to have the fresh air flowing through the house!!!  Except when it’s sweaty hot…then I miss central air conditioning!

10. Do you think you will ever move home for good?

I’m having a hard time answering this question.  I’ve been sitting with this document open on my laptop for two days now.

Sometimes, I want to go home. I mean, I have a home in the US…but realistically we’d probably never actually get to live there full time. We spend our summers there, and the occasional Christmas…but realistically, it’s more of a vacation home.

I feel like if I had to move back to the USA, it would be extremely difficult. Let’s face it…when I move from country to country, everyone around me is living the expat life too.  But, when you move home you will become just like everyone around you…and NO ONE will want to hear about your expat adventures because it will sound too exotic or too unreal for most people to imagine.  Your children will not be believed when they say they’ve lived in 4 different countries (this happens all the time now when we go back to the USA). And, most people don’t move around. Yes, careers are more portable these days, but most people stay where they are from…So, trying to break down the walls of the school mom cliques will be tough. 

I don’t know if we’ll ever move home…I assume eventually we will, but I don’t have a clue of when that might happen.  But, until it does…I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on, like a boss.