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Archive for April, 2009

One of Jenty’s recent posts inspired me to pay attention to my blog again. She is sad one of her really good friends is emigrating to New Zealand very soon.

I’ve emigrated twice, first from South Africa to the UK and then from the UK to the USA. Ten years ago last month, Jenty said goodbye to me too. It’s taken me years to fully understand what that leaving did to the friends and family I left behind.

I very nearly lost a dear friend forever (not Jenty) because of the resulting sadness and anger. We fixed it though and reached a new level of understanding between us and our relationship has grown because of it, but it was scary for a while.

I bitterly disappointed my Dad and Step-Mom when I left the UK – they were in the process of emigrating from South Africa to the UK to be with their newly born grandkids and all us kids who had made our way to the UK – and then I left to go to the USA. Of course they “understood”, but the feelings were raw and I think still are to a degree.

In many ways, it’s easier to be the one leaving. You have so much to look forward to, so much to think about, you don’t have time to really dwell on anything. It’s sad for the person leaving, but even sadder for the people left behind.

But it changes.

The people left behind get drawn back into their regular lives and although they miss the person, their lives are pretty much “normal”.  Slowly, the resulting gap is filled back in, albeit with tiny air holes.  Because, let’s face it, that’s life.  People may not leave an area, but interests change and friendship dwindle and new friendships start.  It’s a natural process, but generally a slow and relatively easy progression.  The hurt may always be there, but it gets mixed in with normal life.

For the person who left though, those gaps are never filled in.  Because it’s not just one gap, left by one person.  It’s a whole family gap, a whole friends gap, a whole time gap, a whole history gap, a whole philosophical gap, a whole culture gap, sometimes even a whole language gap.  You no longer have the attitudes, beliefs and norms, which you pretty much absorbed as an infant, as your security of being and assurance of your place in the world.  You have to learn all that again, as a conscious adult.  You likely sound different from the people around you.  Your difference is always noted.  Your loss is always there, just under the surface, waiting to have its scab picked at by people around you who are excited by your different-ness.  You try to fit in and do fit in – mostly.  But there is always a difference and beneath the difference lies the pain of homesickness.

Of course, I speak from my own experience.  Others may not have experienced emigration this way, but I have also observed it time and time again with other expats.

I never expected this.  Ten years after leaving my homeland, the pain is more bitter, more intense.  I regularly break down in tears because of it — like now.

So why, you ask don’t I just go back?  Because I can’t.  Physically, I am safer here than in SA.  My kids will have a safer and happier existence here than in SA.  I have made a life here – I have fought for a life here.  By the time I realised this pain would intensify and not diminish over time, it was too late.  I was too deeply entrenched in life here with my american husband, step-kids and wonderful soul-sister friends.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the US – for so many reasons that will fill a few posts one day.  But my heart aches and yearns for stark, raw Africa, the land of my birth, childhood, teenage-hood and early adulthood.   And even though I only lived in the UK for 5 years, I miss that precise shade of green that I’ve only ever encountered in rainy England and the ancient European history that just oozes from every town and village.  But mostly, my heart justs aches to be with my immediate family who all live in the UK now and my friends who are now scattered around the globe (OZ, NZ, SA).

Jenty, I am so sorry for your pain.  I know that every friend or family member who leaves just adds to the hurt and amplifies the old hurt again.   As someone who commented on your blog said, at least we have the internet.  It doesn’t make it all the way better, but it does help some.

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Today is a really, really big day for me!  Today is the day I post my first photo online taken with my brand new camera!

I love that it’s for the Earthmosaic project.  And I love that I have an image I’m relatively happy with.  But please, I am no photography expert, in fact, I wouldn’t even call myself a photography amateur, so please feel free to critique the shot.

After threatening for the longest time, I finally bought my camera on Saturday.  And I love it!  It’s a Olympus E-410 DSRL, my first SLR camera — the smallest SLR on the market.  It takes pics so fast!  No horrible delay like from my digital point and shoot.  And I can take action shots from within a moving car and actually get a halfway decent shot.  Awesome!

This pic was taken from my back deck, looking out over our townhouse development.  We just moved here and I haven’t yet found a permanent place for my chimes yet.  So for now they are hanging from the birdfeeder pole.

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From today’s Daily Kabbalah Tune Up email:

Just as you are certain that your life will be filled with abundance in the future, appreciate what you have right now.
Focus on five things you are grateful for today.

During this hectic time in my life (a story for another day), I’m finding it tough to just stop and smell the flowers.  It’s a real pity seeing as we’re at the start of what promises to be a glorious spring.  Just today, the petals from the blossoms of the cherry blossom trees began drifting to the ground beneath them, ironically mimicking the snow falls of a few months prior.

So today’s reminder was timely indeed — and now I find myself blogging again after a long, dry hiatus — miracles truly never cease.

So then, what am I grateful for — right here in this precise minute?  In no particular order:

  1. My insatiable curiosity for knowledge and the intelligence to process and integrate it.
  2. For my current career, web creation.  Not only does it satisfy my technical brain needs, but it fuels and drives my creativity.  I get to work with colour!  And design!  A far cry from my first 10 years in IT where I programmed investment bank back office transactions in a dry, old mainframe language.  Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for my dry, old mainframe days; heck, it enabled me to move from South Africa to the UK and finally to the USA.  But the work I am doing now, speaks to my soul, in a way the early days never did.  What more could one ask for?
  3. A wonderfully understanding, supportive and loving husband!  Saturday we celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary and words cannot describe how grateful I am to have him along with me on the strange journey we call life.
  4. Friends and family, old and new, near and far.  I am especially grateful to my longstanding friends who have seen me through 2 country moves, a divorce and numerous other stressful life events.  Thank you for sticking with me, even though you are so far away.  You’re always near in my heart.
  5. I am eternally thankful to have found my connection to spirit.  Many seek, few truly find the way.  I found it through Reiki.  I am not always connected every minute of every day, but I how how it feels and I know how to get there.  I just need a reminder and a nudge every now and then to go to where I need and want to be – my spirit home.

So there you have it, my “Grateful For” list.  What are YOU grateful for today?

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