It has been almost three years since we packed up our lives in the US and moved to the other side of the world here in Malaysia. I had promised my grandma I would journal so this blog was created for the sole purpose of keeping her and my grandpa up to date with our travels and life here. No, she didn’t have a computer, but my mom would read them my blogs just as soon as I would post. The blog later became a way for me to detail not only our adventures, but also my struggles. The way you responded enabled me to push through all the sadness and be reminded of all the good. This blog became a huge support system and I could not have made it through those first 6 months (perhaps the first entire year) if it hadn’t been for the kindness I was shown in my most vulnerable moments. And I know without a doubt I never would have made it without the kindness of support of my friends here – my chosen family.
No one can prepare you for being an expat or living in another country. Until you experience it yourself it’s all just a fantasy, or nightmare depending on how you accept change. I had a friend tell me before I left, “your life is going to change in ways you can’t even imagine”. And I couldn’t. I was almost offended at the statement. I loved my life in the states. I had no desire to move and no reason to believe my life could have been made any better by moving away from those I love those I loved the most. But now I get it.
I agreed to move to Malaysia in order to get three more years with my kids. I did get that, which would have been enough for me, but I also got so much more. I know for a fact that there is more good in the world than bad. I know that life is what you make of it and sometimes making a choice to be happy is as easy as loving Kevin Bacon. I feel so extraordinarily blessed that I have met such amazing women who have been my everything. Never again will I surround myself with anything but positive, supportive, loving people who encourage me to be better, motivate me to want to be better, and show me strength and kindness. I have changed in ways I never could have imagined, and it will be what drives me towards how I live the rest of my life as a mother, wife, friend, and person.
To our girls, Olivia and Eleanor – we ultimately did this all for the two of them. My only hope is that they have opened their hearts to a greater understanding of the world, its people, its diversity, and the need for kind open hearts to continue to make the world a better place. Maybe cliche, but ever so true. At such young ages they know what a refugee is. They have seen the homeless in the States, but they have also seen villages in Vietnam that have no running water but yet the kids are still outside running around with huge smiles on their faces because they have the only thing that matters – their family. They’ve been to China to witness the world’s worst pollution and appreciate fresh air and blue skies. They have asked questions about other cultures as they have learned beside each other. Over 60 countries are represented in their school and that is the most awesome part about this whole experience. To them it’s normal, to much of America it is terrifying. My wish for them is that they will always be brave enough to meet hate with love, fear with sensitivity, and differences with curiosity.
Where do we go from here? You can’t leave a place like Malaysia and all the experiences it offered us and go back and pick up where you left off, can you? I’ll be trying to find my place, but I won’t be blogging about it. All I can tell you is that our doors in Chicago will always be open to all our friends, whether you’re from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, London, Denmark, or Houston Texas. I will never stop supporting refugees and I will passionately speak in support of my Muslim friends. I will go back changed forever, with a bigger purpose, a softer heart, and a much more open mind. I will continue to listen without judgement and accepting of others, always.
Here is a montage of our last three years. It’s about 20 minutes long so if you’re interested in watching it grab your wine or coffee and let it take you back through to some of our biggest adventures here in Malaysia and around the world. We will be forever grateful and appreciative of this amazing experience.
Thank you, Malaysia, for welcoming us, teaching us, accepting us, and learning with us. Thank you to our friends here for being our family abroad – for the laughs, adventures, support, and for all the memories we’ll carry with us forever. And thank you to our families and friends back home, for checking in daily or when you could and for being so excited about our return home.
|Another free slideshow design by Smilebox|