The two-year milestone passed with barely a whimper in May. Maybe we remarked to one another on the day but we didn’t sit down and reflect.
Busy, I’d guess. I was finishing a Back For Business course and a Diploma in Personal and Business Coaching
Now, here in August, as we prepare the children for the return to school, I am feeling reflective. So I’ll pause and go with it. Reflection, how and wherever it arises, is always useful.
So where am I? Where are we? Just over two years in. Anne-Marie is very happy. She has settled into her new life and her new roles – loving us as she always has but now present for everyone at home, supporting us all. She doesn’t miss work at all. This surprises me as she was always keen to return to work (and adult conversation) after each of our children was born. Not now though. She maintains strong memories of her Gran always being there when she arrived in from school. She loves that she can do that too. Not everyone is fortunate to have that choice but she has made it happily.
Not unrelated, Ava, Erin and JJ have settled well. They even look forward to school. (“It wouldn’t happen in my day!”). They’ve been swept up in the GAA net, and all three are now in sea scouts. I’ve joined as a leader to help me settle and to spend quality time with them. During this summer, they’ve even been up later than I most nights. Normal childhood stuff. In truth, they would be happy anywhere. I envy their ability to live in the moment.
Me? I wish it were so simple. It’s easier to know my family are settled. There is no doubt that we live here now. A return to Australia in the short-term is not remotely on our collective mind. But I do have fleeting moments. I don’t understand how they arise. But somehow – in a moment that passes quickly – I wonder where I would be if I were on my own? The answer is that I’d probably share time between Ireland and Australia – and maybe a few other countries too. Then again, who knows? Maybe, without the comfort of Anne-Marie and family, I wouldn’t be brave enough! I know this. I need more blue sky and warm sand than Ireland can provide. It seems so superficial to say that. So…first world.
Ironically, I’ve given myself – and others – plenty of pep talks over the last couple of years that happiness is an inside job, the weather unimportant. And I believe that. Everything I need to be happy is here. But that didn’t prevent the struggle I had towards the end of THE LONGEST WINTER EVER!
Maybe I would’ve breezed through it without going overseas for some sunshine. But I didn’t have to so I went for a week. Just a vitamin D booster!
So those moments happen – every day – when I miss Australia. Not the country as a whole. Specifically, I miss the warmth, how easy our life was there – the ability to throw a towel over my shoulder, to wear just shorts all day, to feel my feet touch the warm ground, to stroll and immerse my head in the ocean. Every day.
From Emigrant’s Ache to Returnee’s Doubt to Settlers Yearning.
I purposely spent the first year completely switching off Australia and everything happening there. Rightly or wrongly, it was my initial way of focussing on making Ireland work for us – and perhaps to avoid grief. It worked to an extent. But now is time to open up again, to reconnect to an influential and significant part of who I am. To grieve if I have to. Now is the time to face into, to examine, to get specific and to understand what exactly I miss and then to either accept it or to figure out a way to find it here, closer to home.
I’m both daunted and excited by the idea. The possibility of creating a life that has warm sand when I want, closeness to family, a feeling of being surrounded by friends and kind people, freedom of choice and an overall contentedness – if not easiness – of living.
Life has moved into a new phase – more purpose if less pleasure – than before. I’m here now. There is a reason I’m here. I was brought here to do something. Now is no time to settle.
James now helps emigrants settle in Ireland, as a launchpad for designing the life they want. Check out our Returning Emigrants Programme here.
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