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expat insecurities: how moving overseas turns you into a middle schooler

This post has been marinating a while in my mind (often around 1 or 2 middle of the night: time to wake up and worry about things you can’t control. yippee!). A variety of factors have appeared on the radar recently that I’ll attribute to a storm of culture shock brewing off the shore. An extended commute where I was stuck in a car in a land where I don’t speak the language (where is a restaurant where we can stop for a quick meal where we actually fully understand the menu without a million Google acts of translation?). My Read More

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arrival journal: days five through seven

It’s hard to believe today marks one week we’ve been living in Brazil! The past few days have been a whirlwind of continued professional introductions to the school’s systems as well as more delicious wining and dining. Wednesday’s orientation provided time for a Portuguese 101 class with one of the school’s most charismatic Brazilian teachers. Her wide smile lights up a room and her warmth makes anyone feel at ease. She taught us through lively action made even sweeter by a table of delicious local candies. I also had my “appointment” with the school’s doctor to make sure I was Read More

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arrival journal: day four

For the last ten years in Colorado, my commute has been extensive. In Telluride, we had to drive roughly an hour over the Dallas Divide,  which literally took my breath away: both from the astonishing beauty and the sheer frightening anxiety of a snowstorm. In Evergreen’s foothills, my commute averaged about 45 minutes but could take two hours during snowstorms. When I think about how much time I’ve spent in the car over the last decade, it’s a bit depressing. Today, however, I walked to school. Up hill. For less than 10 minutes. The birds were singing and the sun Read More

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arrival journal: day two

I could write about so many wonderful experiences today. For example, I could write about how we slept so soundly almost to 11. Or about how we were so worried about hearing the sounds of birds, yet we hear them throughout the day. Or about how sometimes we are awakened from our naps by the sounds of children playing and laughing in the streets below. Or about the conversations I had at dinner that lifted my spirits. Or about how we had this really cool tour of a local soccer stadium. Or about how awesome our shower pressure is. Or Read More

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arrival journal: day one

A hard goodbye to family yesterday was swallowed up by the effort to unpack and situate all of our luggage into the airport, where a friendly–albeit nervous–Delta counter agent got us ready to go. It was clear he didn’t have much experience with people traveling to Brazil as he was reading the prompts coming up on his computer: yes we have a visa, yes we know the maximum amount of days, yes we get more baggage than normal. Regardless, we were on our way through security to Chili’s to celebrate with some Patron. All in all–way easier than we thought Read More

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you, too, are welcome here: the anxieties of change

When I was in high school, I lacked the finesse required to to discern my own levels of stress. Instead, in alignment with what I was taught and that which I believed, I held tightly to the safety net of God: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. In my world: anxiety = atheism. But as much as I ached in my deepest soul to believe this, my body said otherwise. I was plagued with random stomach pains that I could not identify. Sometimes they were Read More

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prepare for liftoff: culture shock

In 2010, I spent three weeks in Puebla, Mexico to finish up my master’s program in ESL. Amid ancient cathedrals and extensive teaching units and luxurious welcomes and late-night plaza dancing and studious students and chocolaty mole dishes and open air markets, I found myself–in the air conditioned safety of my hotel room–having a meltdown. My skin crawled. I was overwhelmed with exhaustion. My brain was tangled between two languages. My body felt like it was walking in the twilight zone. My heart ached for home… for comfort, for ease, for freedom from having to work so damn hard to Read More

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homelessness: the space between

One month ago yesterday, with weight in our eyes and wings in our hearts, Dave and I handed over the keys to our beloved home’s new owner. Since then, we have slept in five different hotels, two different AirBnB’s, and one cottage across a total of eight states. This does not count the many other nights throughout June we spent sleeping on our best friends’ floor on an air mattress, floating, unanchored in a homeless sky. The transition has been sloppily packaged, wrapped in soft cloth of denial. Our friends shared private glances, eyes asking the question Dave and I Read More

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breath. earth.

Lately I’ve been stepping on a lot of crap–cords and belts and shoes and brooms and oh, there’s my underwear. This is because the beloved chipping-green-and-red-refuge we’ve called home for the past eight years is currently in the process of being dismantled and divided and donated as we prepare for our adventure to Brazil. I’ve gone to heat water forgetting the microwave is sold; I’ve gone to eat takeout on the plates currently in our friends’ homes; I’ve gone to sit at the table that’s no longer there. We are living in a construction zone: the construction of a new Read More