Last June, I received this book from eight amazing women. I was fortunate enough to spend four years working beside this truly talented and gifted group. Soraya, Mary, Katherine, Peggy, Genna (Mary), Amalia, Melissa (Monte), and Patty will always hold a special place in the chapters that are my life.
I have saved this blank journal. My plan is to fill its’ blank pages the day I embark upon finding my #LifeMeant. This new path will become the grandest part of life’s great adventure thus far.
You see, I still find something inherently beautiful about scripting the written word. I find the scratches, the corrections and the free flow of thought, unhindered by the delete key, cathartic.
I once wrote when asked to describe myself, “To write about my life would be nothing less than a book as thick as War and Peace.” But, isn’t that life? A book with many chapters of stories to numberous to count.
War and Peace, in my opinion, is one of the most complex works of literature ever written. Isn’t that similar to a person’s life? A complex work crafted by your choices.
If you are brave enough to attempt its’ 1300 pages and get past that it is historical fiction set in the Napoleonic wars, you will be surprised to find that Tolstoy creates a world of complex, fascinating, unforgettable characters. It mirrors life, as it is filled with friendship, love, parties, betrayal, tragedy, failure, success, comedy and truths.
That is what my story is and will continue to be – a novel as thick and as complex as War and Peace. As I fill the pages of this journal, it will become a personal memoir of sorts. A way to document the life changing decision of letting go of all that is familiar to discover my life meant.
In War & Peace, Tolstoy wrote:
Each man lives for himself, uses his freedom to achieve his personal goals, and feels with his whole being that right now he can or cannot do such-and-such an action; but as soon as he does it, this action, committed at a certain moment in time, becomes irreversible, and makes itself the property of history, in which is has not a free but a predestined significance.
A sandstorm refers to a high amount of wind occurring in sandy areas, usually in deserts, where the wind speed is able to lift the top layer of sand from the ground, and push it in every imaginable direction. The sand involved in the sandstorm can reach heights of approximately 10-50 feet (3.05-15.24m). Usually, the height of a sandstorm corresponds to wind strength. Dust particles associated with some sandstorms have been found at 5000 feet (1524 m), though these are more rare.
When deciding to move abroad, there are many details to consider. While handling each one as they come, I discovered my first major concern…sandstorms.
I thought it’s no different from dealing with all the crazy weather one expreiences living in Florida. But, this particular weather has raised a concern for me.
I AM ALLERGIC TO DUST!!!
Reading Bahraini news has become a morning ritual for me. A way to continue my excitement about the big move. At the beginning of April and this week again, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the Bahraini local news have all shared images of the sandstorms dusting the country. (Pun intended!)
One sandstorm was as big as Saudi Arabia.
I look at this and all I can think is….achoooooooo! Or, my poor eyes.
Once I discovered this new “challenge” to overcome, I began to Google. There is always a danger in Googling because it can feed fears. All that came to mind were those gas masks used in WWII. Luckily for me, I didn’t let this get the best of me. I did some research and all is well. A simple dust mask or scarf will suffice. I also spoke with the eye doctor who gave me some advice.
So while I am worried, I am positive it will all be fine. Just a bump in the road. I am still excited about this whole new life. This will not deter me in any way.
I always wanted to be a ninja!!!!
I can’t believe it. Two months to go! By June 17th, everything that can not fit in my four oversized suitcases will be moved to storage.
The thought of packing….AGAIN!
Ugggggh! It was only 10 months ago that I sold my home and most everything that needlessly filled five bedrooms. I kept enough to furnish a two bedroom apartment. The mere thought of living amongst boxes and doing it all over is daunting. I really could care less about the “stuff” that fills each room. I need none of it.
So, what do I bring in the suitcases?
While most people would be worried about moving to the Middle East, I’m worried about whether my huggable hangers will fit in my suitcase or not. It’s ridiculous, I know! But over the last few weeks, I have been staring at the walls and my “stuff” — trying to decide what is important. Keeping in mind things I can and cannot buy in Bahrain.
Think about it for a moment. What is really important? What would you bring?
Endless questions filled my mind. Questions that you wouldn’t think are important, but are. There is no Walmart or Target, only souks and overpriced malls.
Plus the exchange rate of $1 is only worth .38 BD (Bahraini Diner) That won’t go far. While groceries and various other items are comparable, many other items are costly. That goes for shipping too.
I have made many decisions already. I WILL find room for my huggable hangers, my bedding (very expensive there), my pillow (I seriously love my pillow), and of course my dresses. I love my dresses.
London was my dream, but isn’t it funny how dreams change when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself. It all began the night before I was to fly to Boston (a.k.a night before my 38th birthday). I received the following email… I immediately clicked the link to Riffa Views International School. I was quite impressed until I realized it was in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Of course, I went straight to Google and typed in this place unbeknownst to me. The images were breathtaking. I must admit, the idea that it was an island in the Persian Gulf, sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and across from Iran, gave me pause. The Middle East? Not exactly the place I had in mind when I pictured myself living abroad.
The next day, I boarded a plane to Boston. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about that email. I would later learn, an email that would inherently change my life. The entire plane ride, my thoughts shifted from London to Bahrain. This felt like one of those unexpected opportunities that presents itself when least expected. You know the one I am taking about – the one you kick yourself later for not taking. I knew that I had to at least meet the principal for coffee and hear her out.
After settling in, I awaited Jo’s arrival from Bahrain via London. Around three o’clock, I received a text from Jo. It said she would be wearing a pink scarf and sitting by the fire in the lobby. At five o’clock, I entered the hotel lobby with steaming cup of Earl Grey and searched for a blonde woman wearing a pink scarf. I found her easily. Her warm, gentle smile and soft Australian accent greeted me like and old friend. We shook hands and settled into two comfy chairs.
She began the conversation by saying the director, Kurt, would be unable to make it because he was snowed in and stuck in Iowa. The rest of our conversation was easy and flowed as if we had known each other forever. She spoke of the school and the life there — sharing stories of the people, the students, the teachers, the collaboration, the technology and all the activities. I asked many questions which she answered. I felt at ease. It seemed as if she took kindly to me too.
I am not sure when it happened, but suddenly I knew my life was about to change. Of course, I would still have to formally interview. But, I knew that RVIS fit my vision for how children should be educated. As we continued chatting, a gentleman walked up to us. Jo introduced him. He was the Vice President (I think.) of the ISS (International School Services) and was one of the key players in charge of the entire ISS Recruitment Fair. He thought we were friends and began giving me tips for interview day. (Which, I am forever grateful for receiving.)
Then his wife joined him. This is when I discovered that they were the founding members of RVIS. Without knowing I was even being recruited, they spoke highly of the school, the location, and the people. Further solidifying what I already thought…this place sounds amazing! As he left, I thanked him for his wonderful advice.
Jo and I sat down and we continued our conversation for about an hour total. When we parted ways, she didn’t shake my hand. She actually hugged me. I thought that was awesome because I totally wanted to hug her too. She already felt like family and considering I would be moving very far away, I thought that it was important.
The next day, I attended all the UK and Middle East schools’ presentations, even a few in China. My heart sank going to the UK schools because I discovered about 50 people interviewing for one position. In my head, I knew, not having international experience, it would be tough to get into these elite schools. Competition was fierce, even with my stellar credentials. But, if you know me, I never give up and a little competition isn’t going to stop me.
Overall, it was an exhausting day filled with information, so returned to my hotel room to make some decisions. Spreading out every brochure on the bed, I pulled up my laptop and begin my research into each school, location, salary, and various other aspects. But something kept bringing me back to looking into RVIS. I don’t know why, but I got distracted and checked my email. There was…an email from Jo. I jumped up and down on the bed like a kid, sending all the brochures flying. The only one that remained was large booklet of life in Bahrain. Settling back into the pillows, I read it cover to cover. This was where I wanted to be. The only problem, I had to get my family on board.
I dialed the phone to mom. I led with all the amazing details of the school, benefits and finished with the location. The long pause came from the other end. I waited for her to freak. But in my amazing mothers style, she supported my decision and told me to go for it. She told me later, her mommy brain was screaming, nooooo. But, she knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
My dream of traveling the world was right at my fingertips. All I had to do was reach out and grab it. Without hesitation, I began to type my reply email. I accepted the invitation to interview. Then I sat back and made a plan for the next day. Since it was my birthday, I headed off to the North End for a celebratory dinner.
I capped the evening off with an ameretto cannoli – minus the birthday candle.
I caught a cab back to the hotel before the blizzard hit. When I returned to the room, I sat in the large winged back chair in front of the window and cityscape as the snow began to fall. Diving into my decadent dessert, I recalled my mom saying I was born in a blizzard. As Boston was blanketed in yet another storm, I knew tomorrow would be lucky day. A huge smile spread across my face as I said…
“Happy Birthday to me, now go grab that dream!”
I only need grab hold of my dream.
It has been seven long months since my last post. The boxes were packed, house was sold, and I settled into my temporary life.
During that time, I was caught up, settling into a new school, and new apartment. As well as an entirely new way of instructing students in writing, which required countless hours of professional development, planning, coaching, and creating school-wide model lessons, I had to put my dream of teaching abroad on hold.
Around Thanksgiving, my first chance to breath since June, I realized I was losing sight of my goal. It was a year to the day, that I made the difficult decision to embark on the dream to teach internationally. I continued to go back and forth with my decision to leave it all behind.
Until a few weeks ago, I had not made a decision. I woke up one morning and realized that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t follow through.
So here I sit at Tampa International Airport, on my 38th birthday, waiting for a flight to Boston. I am attending the International School System (ISS) recruiting conference.
I will spend the next three days interviewing, competing against some of the brightest and talented educators in the world for my dream job at the American School in London. (That one I am keeping under-wraps for now, don’t want to jinx it.)
I am also interviewing with four additional UK international schools. The UK was my first and only choice of where to begin my career abroad. But after deep reflection and other recruitment offers, I have decided to keep an open mind as to where in the world I will be living and working next year. After all, the world is a big place. Why not be open to possibilities?
So, how am I spending my 38th birthday? I am going after my dream.
A dream to travel the world, educate internationally, and live abroad!
Happy Birthday to me!!