My trip this past month has had me thinking a lot about home and what it means to me at this stage of my life.
As an Idaho native—born and raised in the beautiful city of Boise, Idaho—I love my hometown. The city itself, yes, but mostly the people in it. I have friendships that are more than thirty years strong. My parents are there. I know the twists and turns of the foothills’ trails; the windy road up to Bogus Basin, where there is a ski resort in the winter and trails to explore in the summer; I feel at home in the cocoon of the valley, surrounded by the blue mountains, the river running through town.
And yet I’ve spent most of my adult life elsewhere.
It started with a move to the Dominican Republic at age twenty-four to take a high school language arts teaching job at an international school.
Then to Vietnam, where I taught kindergarten and English to elementary age kids.
Then back to the US for eight years for graduate school and babies.
And here’s where things changed for me. Because when we were in our twenties, we were exploring the world and having fun. We could decide to travel at lunchtime, run home from our jobs, pack backpacks quickly, and hop on a gua gua (bus) to a weekend adventure. We were having fun. Exploring. Forming our adult selves.
But our move to Thailand, it felt different. It felt bigger than when I was a twenty-something taking a job in a foreign country. We uprooted our entire family life, packed our belongings into eight suitcases, and moved our family of four—plus two cats—to Thailand.
That was five-and-a-half years ago. And today, as I write this from my home in Portugal, I have to marvel at the bravery of moving a three- and five-year-old across the world.
I also think it’s complete madness. What was I thinking? I mean, really?
Our time in Thailand was, in a word, a disaster. While there was beauty in that move, and I’m grateful we went, we experienced so many hardships while we were there. It was truly one of the worst periods of my life, when I really reflect on it. (I wrote all about one of the hardest moments here.)
And yet, while it was the worst, it was also the best. Because even though it was hard, even though we struggled and doubted ourselves and ultimately left after just ten months, we did the dang thing.
If we hadn’t moved to Thailand, we wouldn’t be here. If we hadn’t said yes to our big, audacious dream, we wouldn’t be here. If we hadn’t taken a calculated risk, we wouldn’t have learned that Thailand was absolutely not a good fit for us . . . but Portugal is.
Everything I’ve ever done that truly matters was hard or scary in some way. Everything.
Launching a business. Having children. Finishing graduate school while pregnant and with a toddler. Growing my business, even when I hit rough patches. Writing my first book. Moving to the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Thailand, and Portugal. And on and on and on.
This knowledge anchors me, because when I do hit those truly hard moments, I remind myself: This is a season of growth. You’ll be better, wiser, stronger on the other side. You’ll be content and peaceful. It might not be tomorrow, but it’s coming.
This is a mindset of abundance. In the past, when hardships arose, I would often lose myself in a scarcity rabbit hole. I still do sometimes. I am human, after all. But my rabbit hole is shallower now, and I can still see the sun. And it usually doesn’t take me long to crawl out of it, stand on my own two feet, look up at the sky, and see the possibility before me.
Thailand was hard. Portugal has been incredible. I wouldn’t have one without the other. I could have chosen to fold after failure, but instead I asked, “OK, what can we do instead? This didn’t work out. What next choice can I make to live my dream life?”
How about you? Are you in a period of hard? Do you have an unfulfilled dream or something that didn’t work out—a disappointment that feels like it could derail you entirely?
Keep hope, friend. You might be in your Thailand right now. And I bet your Portugal is just a choice away.
I’d love to know your thoughts on my reflection. Please share in the comments. I love hearing from you and personally read and reply to each and every one.