I’ve had an odd kind of week, where the ending made a lot more sense than the beginning or the middle. But I’m back to the thought that I am in the middle of Daring Greatly (yes, Brené Brown, I’m back with you…)
Hubby was away in the land of the pandas for a couple of days, and so for the first time in a long time, I had some time to sit & think – about where I was, what I was doing… and more frighteningly, who I am… And when I started thinking about that, I had no idea at all. Without work, which has been my full-time focus for as long as I can remember, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t sure who I was – which as a mother of three small children, is actually a pretty terrifying thought.
Cut to hubby’s return and a great Sherpa’s dinner in, I tried to explain this week’s mid-life crisis / breakdown issue to him (bless him, he did a great job of patiently listening and nodding thoughtfully in most of the right places) and he said something entirely unexpected. That we wouldn’t be in Shanghai if it wasn’t for me. This suddenly petrified me. I didn’t know if this was a good thing or not, or if somehow this meant I was ‘to blame’. But then thankfully he elaborated… (not always guaranteed, from the man of few words…)
Go back 10 years – and we had a short lived, not entirely successful move to Beijing. Many a wonderful memory created yes (in hindsight) – but all I knew when we left Beijing was that ‘that was it’. Never again. No. Asia, and China in particular, was just TOO DAMNED HARD. And so that door shut. We moved to the States, where everyone spoke English (albeit it with far too many zed’s in their words) and I had some idea of what I was attempting to buy in a supermarket.
And then we returned to good old Blighty (sorry, dear Hubby) and found a nice little village to settle down in. Great for the kids. Commute really not too bad. Great pubs (some of the very finest!) But then the itchy feet started itching again…
We had both worked (very) hard for as long as we could remember, but I can be honest and say that I had lost a lot of the love and excitement about my day to day work. There were moments, immense ones, of joy and genuine pride, but… There had been a growing feeling of me desperately wanting ‘something else’ – I just had no idea what that something else was.
And so, at the beginning of the year, courtesy of an intriguing article in The Guardian, I decided to investigate what the something else could be and decided I needed some support – hello my very own Wonder Woman. A few things clicked into place, from my day to day work and random thoughts I’d been having over the years, and I decided to start retraining as a Co-Active Coach. Bingo. Lightbulb moments a plenty. Bags of enthusiasm. A genuine feeling of excitement again, as to what might be… But the one thing I knew was that… not China. Never China.
Itchy feet had been troubling the Hubby too, and so conversations had been had at work about what other possibilities might exist for one, or other of us – somewhere else.
My boss had said Shanghai. I had said no. Other people had said Shanghai – China’s the place to be – and I had said no.
But then one day, after a conversation with my Wonder Woman, or after a reading a chapter from Brené Brown, my no suddenly changed to a ‘well, why not?’
But the funny thing was, I didn’t even remember this turn of events. Hubby really did point it out to me last night. And then the past week of mid-life crisis / breakdown all came together.
When I worked through what I wanted in my life, when I really sat down and thought about it – I wanted adventure. I wanted fun. I wanted to put my family first – and I wanted them to be proud of me and what I did. I wanted to be courageous. I wanted to develop perseverance and never to think that I had to give up the dream (whatever that dream might be). I wanted freedom, flexibility and to make positive choices about how I spent my time. And I wanted to feel grateful and joyful for the life I had created.
And so, this is what Shanghai is to me. It is offering me the chance to try and be & do all of the above. I have no idea what will happen, or how it will turn out. But I dared greatly 10 years ago – and things turned out ok in the long run. And I am Daring Greatly again now – and I’ll find out who I am along the way. And I think that’s ok.
(& then Hubby nodded and said – shall we just go to sleep now?)
Can I just talk about Dr. Seuss?
So the kids school has a great library – and I can take books out (hurrah!) And I’m a HUGE fan of Dr. Seuss. But had never read this book. But seriously… The Lorax is probably the book that has had the biggest immediate effect on my children ever, and I just loved it. Everyone should read it. Everyone…