Being authentic and honest in the moments of struggle, the moments that aren’t pretty and won’t make the highlight reel. Isn’t that what the human experience is all about? At the end of the day, aren’t we all just trying to do the best we can?

So, let’s get a little honest. Last week sucked.

If I sat back right now and pretended like everything was sunshine and roses, it wouldn’t be true.

It has been 4 weeks since we arrived. I knew there would eventually be these moments in this journey, after all we did just change everything in our lives. Moments of struggle are expected and part of the process.

In the difficult moments, I keep trying to remember how lucky we are to even have this opportunity, but the sadness of everything unfamiliar finally set in this past week.

I found myself scrolling through photos of the kids at Christmas in our home, a place we had worked so hard to find and make our own. Christmas was always my favorite time of year. We had high ceilings, which allowed us to put up a massive tree. Late at night, as the glow from the tree lit up the entire living area, I would sit there alone and just breathe, remembering to be thankful. I don’t know what it is about that picture in my mind, but it is so vivid. The tree stayed up for an entire year a few years back simply because it was so pretty and well, taking it down is such a pain!! With every passing holiday, the décor would change as well. October rolled around and at our daughter’s birthday party that year, everyone thought I was ahead of the game and had the holiday decorations up already! I didn’t have the heart to correct them.

I came across photos from our time back where I grew up, where we go each summer and rent a cabin on the lake. Time with family and friends. So many amazing memories. Teaching the kids how to paddle board this past summer. Catching dragonflies and reminding the kids that anytime one would land on them, it was a message from a special angel. Since it always happened back home where I grew up, I would tell the kids it was their great-grandparents saying hello.

I found a card from one of my dearest friends inside a bag that had yet to be unpacked. Her sweet words reminded me of all the life we lived with the friends we held close to our hearts. The people who held us up during some difficult times and who were there to celebrate with us when we made it through on the other side.

A phone call with my brother to chat about life reminded me of morning drives into the office where I knew I would have at least 20-30 minutes after dropping the kids off to catch up with either my mother, my brother, or both if the conversations went quickly. It never failed that I would arrive to the office and spend at least another 10-15 minutes sitting in the car finishing up the conversation. Exchanging advice, venting about work, talking about life.

It all reminded me of the life we left behind and it made me sad.

We had a good life. For us, leaving was the most selfless thing we could do for our children.

I scratch my head at times when people respond after I have made a comment on American politics and their knee jerk reaction is a snide, “you left!” as though leaving was the easiest decision we could have made. Leaving doesn’t change the fact that my entire family and dearest friends are still there. Leaving doesn’t turn off my heart and make me immune to injustice, racism, sexism, and inequality.

In fact, removing myself from the epicenter of the conversation has given me a bird’s eye view and the view from here is just as heartbreaking and frustrating.

Where did we go so wrong as a society that this has become our normal? That we can look at our brothers and sisters with judgment as opposed to compassion? That we can put certain classes of individuals on a pedestal, while making it next to impossible for the next to get ahead and simply make a decent life for themselves and their family? When did it become okay to refuse someone the right to feel safe and embrace their own identity?

My sadness spans far deeper than missing friends and everything being unfamiliar at this point.

My sadness is for the state of our planet and humanity, wondering when we will stop for just one minute to breathe and take in all that life was intended to be. To realize that life is about  human experience and growth. Life is about connection yet we live in a world of disconnection. Technology allows us to be connected at all times, in all places but it misses the mark in terms of true connection.

I am certainly not going to bag out on technology because lord knows it has been a saving grace for me these last few weeks as I have found myself thankful for the ability to send a text, make a call, have a Skype date with loved ones. But I do want to challenge all of us to connect. To stop for a minute and breathe, all while taking in the moment.

Something I used to do was that from 5 to 8PM each night, I would turn my phone off and leave it somewhere out of reach. This was my time to simply be with family and allow myself the space to breathe and decompress from the day.

I used to say to my team, we aren’t curing cancer and we aren’t sending rockets to the moon. Nothing that we do is so urgent that the world will blow up if it doesn’t happen until tomorrow.

So, I challenge you this week to step back. Even if it is only for 20 minutes. Allow yourself to put the phone down, breathe, and connect with something or someone: your child, your spouse, nature. Whatever it may be that helps settle your mind and reminds you to be grateful.

This week, I am finding myself breathing through a lot of tears and sadness, the unknown. At the end of each day, I am thankful that we are together and that is what I hold onto in those difficult moments.

Allow yourself the space to do the same, whatever might be getting the best of you this week. Make your gratitude list. Breathe.

Happy Monday and cheers to the rest of the week.


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