Sunday, November 3, 2013

The day that changed everything

It's the 70th day in a row now that I've woken up and said to myself, "I'm the luckiest person in the world". Maybe it's because I am, or maybe it's because I've finally discovered the difference between simply being awake and truly feeling alive. Either way it's safe to say that I am without a doubt the happiest I have ever been. And I owe it all to the one day that undoubtedly changed my life.
We all have defining moments that forever change our normal reality. Like the day we graduate from college, get our first job, get married, or conceive our first child. Some are planned, and some aren't, and some are completely random, and seemingly meaningless experiences. 
My life before my defining moment consisted of a long time very unhappy relationship, 3 jobs, and a exhausted and quickly dwindling spirit. I didn't hate my life, but I surely didn't love it either. In fact, the love for the kids I worked with, was the only thing keeping me going. 
And then came the experience that jolted me back to life. 
I met someone. 
For me, it was an undeniable, instant, and effortless attraction. In fact, it was the closest thing to love at first sight that I had ever experienced. Sure, I'd been in love before. In fact, I'd been in love for pretty much the last 10 consecutive years of my not-so-long life. But this was different. He was different. I was settling, and now I knew it. It was time for me to leave.
So, with that, I bravely faced the realization that my 5-year relationship was failing, and that I was longing for freedom and independence. BUT I had no idea what to do next or how to start over. I had no sense of direction, and at the same time, I had the entire world at my fingertips. 
So, on a complete whim, I decided to search for international au pair jobs. I had always loved traveling and taking care of children, so maybe this would be my ticket out, I thought. 
I found the perfect family in Australia and thanks to my newly rekindled and adventurous spirit (and some good references), they offered me the job! I felt like I had just been given the opportunity of a lifetime, and smiled more on that day than I had in months. If I said yes, I would be committing to moving there for a year and leaving my life in La Crosse, WI, behind forever. I thought about it for a mere 5 minutes, and then I terrifyingly, yet happily accepted. I booked my plane ticket that very week, before I had the chance to be rational and back out. Leaving everything I know and (kind of) love to live with strangers? Putting all of my trust in people I met online whole-heartedly? People said I was crazy, and I agreed. But, “No risk, no reward”, I kept telling myself.
Reality of course began to set in as I said goodbye to that long-time boyfriend, my jobs, my family, my friends, 95% of my belongings, and the place where I grew from a scared college Freshman to a hopeful 25-year-old. I shed many tears as I started to really comprehend all that I was leaving behind, but decided to be brave and take the leap of faith anyway. After all, the biggest growth in yourself comes from doing the things that scare you the most, right?
So, just two months ago, I hopped on a plane feeling completely isolated, sad, terrified, hopeful, and excited, all at the same time. I arrived and was greeted by my new family, and somehow, from 10,000 miles away, I instantly felt at home! 
So far, I've spent my days swimming in the Indian ocean, learning to drive on the opposite side of the road, petting kangaroos and koalas, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and falling in love with two amazingly beautiful little Aussie girls. 
And everyday I wake up happy and thankful for the moment and the boy that brought me here and forever changed and reawakened my life. The moment that taught me that people come into your life just when you need them. And for the friendship that still remains.

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