You only need 5 things to be happy
I (Jenny) know the smells, sights and sounds well that encompass a relocation. The familiar aromas of our home are quickly dispelled by the smell of cardboard and whatever that weird chemical is in packing tape. The trash bin in the kitchen is filled with take-out containers along with the contents of a now obsolete spice cabinet. The sound of the packing tape being pulled and firmly secured to hundreds of labeled boxes is both unsettling and hopeful. Soon the house will be empty, filled only with the echoes of the life we lovingly built and are now deliberately dismantling in our quest for a new family adventure. We will clean our way out the front door, turn the key one final time, and I will find myself as if on a page being turned. The previous chapter is complete, but what is spelled out next is beyond focus. We no longer have an address, a place to call our own. Our belongings are stowed in an ocean container which, however unlikely, may be swept overboard during its passage. (even after all our relocations, I still insist on putting the irreplaceable handmade Christmas stockings in my carry-on.) Now, in so many ways, our lives will need to be rebuilt. In the midst of all this moving chaos, I find I am both thrilled by the new challenges ahead and beyond apprehensive of the many unforeseen ways we will need to adapt. This is my palpable definition of “unsettled”.
The good news is that embracing this unsettled feeling can precipitate incredible growth as a family. Stepping away from your current home and into a new culture, maybe even a new language, is more than an exercise in managing time zones and a new currency. It is inviting your family dynamics to shift, stretch and strengthen. It is welcoming a chance to reprioritize your agenda, taking advantage of this moment to really look at those most dear to you and their needs and desires. It is curating a positive environment in which to launch your family into this life-changing experience. None of this is easy. You are intentionally tossing familiarity and community out the window to embark on a journey that will test your resilience as well as many of your preconceived notions about how life is to be done. Be encouraged, for it is in this space that many we have interviewed say that the big payoff occurs. The challenge is ardent but not insurmountable, and from your resilience a stronger, more unified, family will burgeon. A transient lifestyle may not provide you with a parcel of land into which your roots can grow deep, but it will provide you with the opportunity to let those roots grow deeply into each other.
In this chapter, we will look at the challenges sure to be found while transitioning into your new life abroad. I urge you to be gentle with yourselves, but be in a hurry. This journey will not be tread on a straight and even path. But take your first steps with every intention of being open to learning new things and enjoy the opportunity to expose yourselves to varying perspectives.