It was on December 28, 2004 when we arrived at San Francisco Airport. With ‘we’ I mean my husband and son, our dog and 10 pieces of luggage. I will never forget this day which was the beginning of challenging times filled with tears, hope and resentment. I had lost my belongings, my identity and my life. Recalling this day and the following months hurts even now, and for nothing in the world would I ever want to go through that again. Leaving my old life behind and entering the world of the unknown was tough. At that time we did not know if we wanted to stay in San Luis Obispo County or move to the Sacramento or Santa Barbara areas. It did not really matter, but somehow our path led us to where we are today. I am pretty sure that the universe guided us in the right direction.
Today I am happy about our decision to leave Germany. I do not want to go back to my old life. Yes, I miss my mother, my friends and even our house, but my life is here now and this is what matters. Listen carefully, this is someone talking after more than 8 years in a new country, which I now call my home. I belong again. I have finally arrived. The price was high but it is totally worth it. In the meantime, I was able to secure dual citizenship and I can proudly call myself an American.
Soon after coming to California, I was sad and worried, sitting in our vacation rental (we stayed in a vacation rental for over a year before we were able to purchase our own house), all I could think about was what I had lost. I mourned the loss of our beautiful house in Germany, family and friends, my career in the business world – simply everything! Mourning the loss was so painful that it prevented me from enjoying the present. I could not adapt to my new life because I could not let go of my old life. It was not until the day when a good friend sent me a little note that said: Don’t look back, look forward and enjoy what you have in the now.
I looked at my cute little boy, my loving husband and the beautiful countryside. My friend was right. There was so much to be happy about, and the only way to find my home again was to accept what is, instead of complaining what was no longer.
During this period of my life, I also learned that it is not the material belongings that make you happy, it is everything else. All my “stuff” was left behind on the other side of the world in Germany, and it did not really matter. What mattered was the love in our family, making new friends, creating a network of support and building our new life; like a big puzzle – piece by piece.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for the puzzle to be finished to feel that you belong. The moment you accept that life’s puzzle will never be finished, you can enjoy collecting the pieces, and that will be when you have arrived, wherever it happens to be in this world. It does not matter where you are located. What matters is what you do to create your little heaven, your home.
Once you master the skill of embracing your life for the way it is and are willing to take life’s challenges with a smile, you will be home. I must confess that it took me many years to learn these essential lessons in life, and I am glad I have done so. The reward is happiness. If someone had told me 8 years ago what I know today and that I would be a published author, I would not have believed it. I was not ready at the time, but I am ready now. I now belong. I am happy with my life. Perfect, it’s not (and never can be), but my new life is totally different from my old life, and I accept and love it.
What about you? Do you recall what it felt like when you went through a major change in your life? Maybe you had to give up your home to move to another city or state to follow a job offer or your future husband? What was it like and what did you learn?
Please share your story about belonging. Be a woman and act like one.