Reflecting on my journey to Asia, seems a surreal feat. So much has changed and shaped me inside and out. Move my scope further out to the past year and the change, the shaping, the experiences and emotions are even more overwhelming! Furthering my reflective expansion can leave me in awe of what I have experienced, traveled through and embraced-marriage, motherhood, travel, international living, learning languages, earning degrees and certifications…the life Im living is not perfect. More like raw and real and evolving.
A critical piece of evolving for me is (obviously) change. In embracing and evoking change in our lives we are faced constantly with a choice to let go or hold on…I am advocating for both. With each experience, each learning curve, each change or challenge hold on to what speaks to you. The lessons learned and the value earned. The impressions made are important words in the story of our life. Hold on to them. Savor them. Likewise, those experiences and life shaping events often come with trauma, feelings of attachment, disappointment and sadness-suffering needlessly. Learning to let go of these negative side affects of living, growing, changing and thus evolving can only strengthen our very soul and serve to edit the chapter we are currently living.
Learn, grow and use the understandings and wisdom gained and hold on tight to the knowledge and self awareness these experiences- your journey has manifested to be able to let go of the experiences and events and even people that hurt us-along with the suffering itself.
So I write this for you as much as I wrote this for me. Hopefully these ideas, ideals and words resonate within. As I change countries, homes, jobs, languages, and a life in general-I hold on tight to all that serves me, all that shapes me, all that warms me up and lights my very soul on fire all while striving to let go of what ails me, drags me down, weighs on me, depresses me.
Happy New Year. Happy New You…Happy New Me!
It is not always easy. Its certainly not perfect and it IS A JOURNEY- wild ass ride!
Traveler. Wanderer. Gypsy. Expat.
One of these things is not like the other.
Yes, I am wild. I am free. I'm sure, just like you, I encompass a variety of opposing characteristics and 'oxymoronic' qualities - the struggle is in finding the balance. (Im writing more on this topic later).
The expat club is a world in its own, shrouded in allure and riddled with complexity. It has taught me more than I could have imagined and even can articulate. Two qualities seem at the forefront of this experience for me: Humanity and Humility.
As I hear of vacations, tours and travel plans on the horizon all while Im preparing in less than 7 days to return to the land I was born and raised in-I cannot help but reflect on this topic of HOME.
Of all the stark and obvious differences between travel and expatriating is the idea of HOME. While traveling, this concept of HOME can be a motivating, energizing, uplifting and gratitude-filling force. One can use the glory, the comfort, the sheer symbolism of HOME to triumph or at least ‘deal'. Whether it is less than desirable travel conditions or uncomfortable cultural experiences; it is perceived quite differently because soon it will be over and one will soon (or eventually) be back at HOME. A bad meal, a dirty hotel room, a miscommunication can all be comical and memory worthy to the traveler. To the expat, these incidents are not highlights of travel, but humbling lowlights of living. It takes faith in humanity and a breath of humility to rise above the frustrations of now and see the lasting value these experiences will have. And yet, for the expat, these conditions and cultural experiences make it HOME.
Honestly speaking, the USA , is anything but HOME. Earth is. My family- my children are. Now that in itself is unfathomable to some. I get that. So if one cannot fathom leaving one’s HOME country for a bigger, more textured view; then how can one possibly be able to relate to me? I am living in the WORLD, not in a small town and certainly not in a big city. The whole world is MINE. HUMANITY is MINE. It is OURS. My family’s. My children’s. I am sharing an extremely broad fluid and open view of the world and of current humankind with my children-and with my soul. As an educator Im interacting and thus impacting hundreds of children each year often expats or 3rd culture kids themselves. I am not just raising the future, but the world. The lessons in international education are often less about skills and more about strategies. Often less in the head and more in the heart. Often a marriage of humanity and humility.
Its not just about orienting yourself on a map, seeing the major sights and trying out some key phrases in a foreign tongue. Expat life is about paying bills, buying a car, and reading ingredient labels in a different language. Expat living means finding doctors and hairdressers and domestic help. It means these services will be undeniably less than in the US but will certainly come with a gamut of frustrations from language barriers to quality to expectations. It means determining how these positions and people are defined and valued culturally, monetarily and even emotionally. Expat life could mean marrying or birthing abroad; weaving new cultures and nationalities forever into the very fiber of your family. Expat life means connecting and meeting people from all over the world, and all walks of life. It truly expands your notions of reality and yes, humanity both individually and in a general capacity. Expat life can mean operations, disease, treatment, surgery and even death with different customs and practices in a foreign system and land. Expat life means not owning an opinion about local politics, despite the implications it has to your very own safety, success and/or stability. The humility of being misunderstood, or unable to communicate is a transformative in letting go of our egos. The humility of being lost and without a friend is a soul strengthening force that feels isolating yet refreshingly grounding as well. Expat life means understanding and trying to meet the norms of a community, culture and nation day to day. Everyday. Often from the comfort and sanctuary of what we currently call HOME. Until it is HOME no more and we prepare for our next HOME.
Expat living has been one of my greatest joys and a decision I am most proud of. Ive lived in 5 nations for more than a decade and will soon relocate to add Asia and Sri Lanka to not only my travel list but my living list. Expat living has forced me to SMILE EVERYDAY. Smiling is the easiest and best understood form of communication. Simply smiling is an acknowledgment of both humanity and humility. I cannot express what a gift this act alone has been in my life and the friends and kindness it has showered upon me.
Learning new phrases, forgetting old ones, trying new foods, meeting different people, experiencing fresh lands is the splendor of travel. Practicing and perfecting new phrases and connecting them to old ones, learning to prepare new and local foods and share with new friends and family in a new yet inviting land (while maintaining a smile) is the reality of expat life. Expat life is a life. It's not an exotic vacation. At times it can be. Others times it feels like 3rd world hell. All in all it has taught me humility and deepened my connection to all of humanity. For that I am grateful. ALWAYS & FOREVER.
I wrote this to share a bit of my world and my heart, I hope in some ways it connects and resonates respectfully to yours. At the very least I hope this piece encourages 2 things. First, be nice to expats who have relocated to your country and strive to meet them with the same humility and humanity they arrived with. Secondly, SMILE! As the saying goes “sometimes our smile is our source of joy, sometimes it is our joy that is the source of our smile!” Either way, share a smile as often as possible!
Written by Jessyca, With Grace and Joy
MyYogaBody has always loved movement and danced many years. Dance sometimes made me not love MyYogaBody- yet at the same time dance brought me into an incredible relationship with MyYogaBody. Perhaps not always loving how it looked, I did always know how to listen to it. And to others’ bodies as well. MyYogaBody is of stardust but my soul from elsewhere. MyYogaBody has traveled deeply into the lands of almost 50 nations across 5 continents and as a teacher into the hearts of thousands of children. MyYogaBody has only been loved and intimate with one man-with one other soul. MyYogaBody has created and carried life and thus made a family. It has changed, and grown and expanded, and naturally released human beings into this world, with fierce determination and strength. MyYogaBody has nursed and nurtured babies for half a decade. MyYogaBody has lost life, been broken weakened poisoned and tortured. MyYogaBody as suffered injuries, breaks and illness and survived disease and surgeries around the globe. At times MyYogaBody makes me proud and at times I want more from MyYogaBody MyYogaBody serves to connect my mind and spirit. MyYogaBody protects all that is raw and vital within- my very essence. MyYogaBody wakes up and salutes the sun every morning. MyYogaBody believes in the power of standing tall and always smiling. MyYogaBody heals. MyYogaBody is a conduit of good energy and positive vibrations. MyYogaBody is work in progress. MyYogaBody is perfectly imperfect. MyYogaBody is blessed. MyYogaBody is remarkable. MyYogaBody is beautiful. MyYogaBody is light.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao TzuMy time left in this beautiful country called Ecuador is rapidly coming to an end. Every once in a while it hits me...Im not going to the Amazon again for a while. I wont return anytime soon, if ever, to my beloved Banos. No more South American coffee. No more Pacari chocolate (I bought 20 bars yesterday). And then excitement speaks, actually screams SUMMER! Old faces, new adventures and lots of laughing learning and YOGA! The past 12 months have truly been life changing. As in my life has changed. No doubt so has my family's and hopefully so have the 100 or so clients I have taught or connected with here in Quito. Part of the beauty and pure bliss of my yoga experience, these past 9 months as an instructor, stems from complete detachment of expectation. As I made a multitude of personal changes and launched a new professional path I truly kept mindful of the now and enjoyed where the journey had taken me thus far.
Change is a beautiful yet terrifying concept. It truly brings out the essence of people, exposes their raw intentions-their mindset and approach to life. I was recently feeling not just stressed but angry and frustrated about all the work that comes with change-both physical change with my upcoming move and job transfer as well as spiritual change with intense training and practices and changes in my lifestyle and mindset. Then I realized-I have made choices, sacrifices, long thought out decisions regarding not only my life, my spiritual well being and my physical health but that of my children and spouse as well as. Gratitude then shows up and my anger, my silly frustration over little things like packing and reading and communicating across 3 continents in 4 languages and all the scheduling for this transition and how it will affect my children-it all with the power of gratitude, turns into deep appreciation for the luxury of choice I have. I acknowledge that the change in my life, for the most part, is a wave of my wand. Change is natural and inevitable. It is our choice that is not always this case.
I'm reminded of a beautiful letter from Hunter S Thompson written on the purpose of life. He warns "A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” I think we can all agree, should we not choose to make the changes ourselves, our bodies, our environment, our lives will dictate the changes to us. I encourage you each to embark on this journey and miracle of change with me! I also want to thank you for being an instrumental soul in my own transformation. Wherever you are and whatever your daily life is like, I guarantee there is room for change, for growth and for letting go. I also ensure if you embrace the possibilities and let go of expectations; Joy will fill your heart and Grace will guide your intentions! Remember change is a process not an event. Maybe I write this me, but maybe it resonates for you too?
With Grace and Joy