Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy 1st Anniversary world!

One year ago, I made the move that would forever change my life. And not to discredit any past romantic relationships, but that marks today as the single best and most meaningful anniversary of my entire life.

You see, if all had gone to plan, I'd currently be on my way back to Wisconsin. I'd have gotten "travel out of my system", be ready to settle down, and creating my path toward the 'American dream'. I'd be buying puppies, and houses, and be back to paying bills (NOoooOOOOooo.. no no no).

But of course, that's clearly not what happened.

What happened was a reawakening that I didn't even know I needed. What happened was me falling in love with life, the world, and all of the beautiful new people in it. What happened was a longtime dream made reality.

If I had headed home, I'd be figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life, only to realize that it's all right here.

Because what I want is this. What I've always wanted is this. I just didn't know to what degree until I left. And because I believe whole-heartedly in fully committing to yourself and your own happiness, I am instead creating a future that I actually want, instead of the future that I "should" want.

And that is a future of meaningful and indefinite travel.

And today, I'm celebrating 365 days of making new friends, creating new lives and new homes, and being happier than I have ever been. I'm celebrating 365 days of travel, taking care of babies :)))), and making some of the best memories of my entire life. But even more than that, I'm celebrating 365 days of slowly letting go of a life not meant for me.

Since I arrived in New Zealand just two weeks ago, a lot has happened. And I mean A LOT. I arrived on a Monday night, physically and emotionally exhausted, overwhelmed, and ready to settle in. I spent the week starting work, setting up accounts, getting a new phone number, unpacking, and then REPACKING for our first family holiday (vacation).

The next week was spent in New Zealand's south island, which is dramatically different from where I live in the north. In Auckland, I'm surrounded by warmer weather, beaches, and a big city. The south is colder, mountainous, and during this time of year (winter), it is also quite snowy :).

So, we spent the week eating good food, drinking good drinks, and (happily) getting caught in blizzards at the top of a mountain. In other words, in just 5 days, I went from living in a country where winter means 70 degrees and stunning beaches, to moving here and seeing snow for the first time in 18 months. It was a bit of a change to say the least, but my Wisconsin heart is just radiating happiness here.

And during this trip, I quickly realized that rushing my time in New Zealand would be a HUGE mistake. That leaving early, in favor of traveling somewhere else, would mean I'd be missing out on heaps of wonderful opportunities here.

And so, my life until June will be spent here working and exploring. I intend to see New Zealand in it's entirety and make enough money to spend a few weeks exploring Fiji and Hawaii, before living a completely work free life at home for the summer.

YES, you read that right. HOME.

After nearly 2 years abroad, I will be spending summer 2015 in Wisconsin FINALLY reuniting with all of my loved ones. That means an entire 3 months of unemployment in favor of fireworks, concerts, beer, cheese curds, weddings, lakes, bbq's, and traveling the good 'ol USA. And although, I have my eye on some amazing opportunities after that, I'm also making sure to squeeze in a few football games as well. Excited is an understatement.

A special thanks to a few readers of this blog for reaching out to me as friends in this new city. Fast and easy friendships are just what I need as a newbie :). And as always, thank you to my loved ones from back home for all of the love and encouragement along the way. This journey would not have been possible without you.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Kiwi life: My first days in New Zealand

Well, I did it. I made it to the beautiful New Zealand!!! It's everything I expected, and more, but it sure wasn't easy getting here.

In fact, it was sad, stressful, and one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Leaving Australia really broke my heart. Saying goodbye to a city, a family, and a life I sincerely loved, was a royal pain-in-the-ass. And since I'm clearly a pro at nursing heartbreaks, I spent a great deal of time eating ice cream for breakfast, and shutting out the world, in order to cope.

Just kidding... that only happened once (or twice).

In reality, I spent a lot of time catching up with friends, playing with my little girls, and drinking my favorite pale ales. I also had to manage repacking my entire life into one suitcase and a backpack. You know, your basic typical nightmare. It was a lot of ups and downs those last few weeks, and beyond not having a lot of free time, I just didn't give a shit about writing.

On my last day, we had lunch on the water complete with beer, chippies, and my precious chicken wings. It was a beautiful and perfect day, aside from the fact that it was by far one of the hardest days of my entire life. I tried to stay positive, tried to smile, and tried to be excited for my new adventure. Instead, I spent the day desperately fighting back tears every time I opened a gift, read a letter, or hugged my little girls. And I failed.

But somehow, with no other choice, I powered through as best as I could, and made it to the airport with my entire life in my hands. I was back to being alone, with two bags, a passport, and a one-way ticket to New Zealand. Up until this point, I hadn't even had time to think about the fact that in 12 hours, I'd be moving in with complete strangers, in an entirely new and foreign land. Although, that seemed easy after all my heart had been through in the last few days.

And it was. In fact, it was the easiest part of the entire process.

After 37 hours with no sleep, and lugging all of my shit around, finding Amanda at the airport was such a relief. I moved in 30 minutes later, and life has been good ever since. The house is beautiful, the kids are precious (and I mean seriously precious), and I finally have that bay window I've always wanted.

Oh, and did I mention they're both phenomenal cooks and I live just blocks from the beach? Perks y'all. Perks.

And to top it all off, I'm writing this on my first family vacation at a Starbucks in Queenstown!!

Because they booked my flight after I was hired, I had to fly down solo. It gave me heaps of time to finally chill (pun intended) out, listen to music, and ear-to-ear smile for two hours as I flew over the beautiful mountain views. Seriously, how or why does anyone sleep through this?!?!

I sat in my perfectly positioned window seat, feeling completely overwhelmed with emotion the entire way down, which says a lot considering my emotionless and somewhat jaded state just over one year ago. I've now become an emotional, thankful, and life loving, crazy hot mess. You know, the kind who almost cries at the sight of mountains from a plane. The kind who somehow loves snow in August, because she hasn't seen it in so long. Or the kind who is somehow getting paid to drink hot cocoa, write, and obsessively stare outside at this incredible world.

I'm just so ridiculously grateful for all of life's amazing opportunities. I'm thankful to the universe for being so incredibly good to me, and to everyone who has loved and supported me along the way.

Looks like I'm back to revamping my travel plans, so that I can now stay in New Zealand longer than I originally anticipated. This country already has my heart, and I now have zero intention of rushing my time here.

This country is my home and this is right where I'm supposed to be. For now, anyway.