A new view. A new season in a new country. A new place to wake up every morning where the days are mine to design. And slowly, the realisation that the life I imagined is happening and it's better than I could have dreamed.
And I'm just getting started.
The goal, in the beginning was to simply gain dual citizenship. Partly to honour my ancestors, partly to give me the opportunity to live in a country I have grown to love and a little bit to have one more chance to reinvent myself.
But it turns out, it is so much more.
After years of sorting through the ashes of a life I spent forgiving myself for things that were not my doing, I realised a few important truths.
1. We get to have the life we want. And while I am all too aware that my privilege and the opportunities it provided helped me find the definition of what I wanted- part of what I want this next 'season' of my life to be will include helping doors open for those without that privilege. How will I do that? By helping those who want to design their own definition of the 'dream', through what I've learned. By teaching English to young men and women in my new community to help them rise in the work they want to do, both here and abroad. And by using the lessons I've learned to help them see a future beyond their own mistakes, or failures.
I learned all of that through my own failings and some fairly rocky detours.
2. We don't need to be forgiven for what we didn't do.
It only took me 47 years to learn this one. Like many women, I spent a lot of time apologising to people who hurt me. Without even realising that many of those people never acknowledged the injuries they inflicted. Until I realised that I was only responsible for my own actions, my own words, and my own mistakes. And apologised for the times I hurt someone, no matter my intention. When I saw the impact of my part in these moments, I made sure to show up and take responsibility, and make amends. But I stopped beginning any other conversation with the words. " I'm sorry". Instead, I have learned to say " What you (said, did, inferred), hurt me. I want you to understand the impact it had on me." I'm grateful I've not had to have too many of those conversations. Because I also learned to walk away from what doesn't serve me.
3. All adventures begin with a brave heart.
I'm so happy that despite all that got in the way of this dream, it worked out. I had wonderful teachers along the way who helped me understand the two most important ingredients for that bravery. The first is to surrender to what is ... the pandemic forced a lot of us to learn this fast. I was able to lean in to the circumstances and direct my frustrations into more positive actions. Educating myself about our true history in the US, working for the campaign to rid America of a tyrant president, learning how to be an ally for people of color, and using my skills to help others who struggled with surrender. Every single action helped me grow into who I am today, and helped me to keep my faith in the future I wanted.
I am thinking about 'fall' today. Autumn, the season were so much change happens in nature, where living things fall to the ground in glorious demise, where creatures stockpile food for the uncertain months ahead and animals and humans alike find ways to stay warm, to find light in the brief hours of sunlight, and to keep the faith that winter will lead to spring, and new birth.
As I walked down the hill today and stopped to admire the beauty around me, I wondered if the universe didn't plan the wondrous colours of this season for simply this reason - to remind us that all life has seasons, that each one has merit and beauty, and that all we need to do is stop and breathe it in, realising we are just falling leaves ourselves, turning and evolving in every moment, finding our place in the landscape. Grateful for every breeze that helps us find home.