Dealing with Stress in my Forever Life

On this day, two years ago, we arrived back in Australia after living in other countries for the prior ten years. It has been exciting, wonderful, and fun to be back, but much to my amazement, it has taken me the best part of these two years for me to settle into life here.

I now see my expatriate life as a Temporary Life. Even though I made friends and a life for myself in each country we lived in, everything was done with the subconscious knowledge that I wouldn’t be staying in that life forever. My Forever Life would happen when I moved back to Australia.

So I fought against the notion that my dreamed of Forever Life was making me stressed. I touched on this in a previous post, Repatriation can be Hard.

That stress peaked a few months ago, forcing me to examine why it was happening. My life has been blessed and it shamed me to complain when I’m very aware of  how lucky I am, but shame just added to my discontent, so I asked myself three questions:

  1. How can I share my time among all the things I want to do without getting stressed?
  2. How can I replace the close friends that died while I was away.
  3. What is my purpose?

The answer to question one came to me when I took a step back from all the high expectations I placed on myself. My tendency towards obsessive compulsiveness means that I spend far longer on tasks than most other people. Recognising this, I gave myself permission to ignore my To Do List for a week. That helped me discover that when I didn’t stress about what I wasn’t achieving, I had more time and energy. My stress was the problem, making me too tired to manage everything. Since then, I’ve learnt to let myself off the hook when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I’m now achieving more. 

Which brings me to question two. I was seeking replacements for the friendships I had before I left. Friends that lived close to me, people I could drop in on at any time and know I’d be welcomed. I was looking for a particular kind of friend to fill the hole that wasn’t as obvious in my Temporary Life, but was a gaping wound in my Forever Life. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, my problem was that I didn’t have THOSE friends.

Then, I read something that resonated with me when I altered the words a little to this:

Instead of trying to find the perfect friend, find the perfect in the friends you have.

The close friends that died while I was away are irreplaceable, so I grieve for them when I miss them, but it’s okay because I have other wonderful friends who now fill me up and make me happy.

And it was one of those friends that guided me to question three when she told me she was reluctant to retire because she feared feeling purposeless. She’s a nurse, as I was, and thinking about what she’d said, I realised that we had both felt our lives held real purpose as mothers and nurses. We were carers and we still are, but I now care for my family, friends, and grandchildren. It’s not a purpose that engenders the same level of appreciation that caring for strangers did, but acknowledging that the role is important to me has stopped me from resenting the time it was taking from the many other things I wanted to do. Caring is my purpose.

These questions helped me to be a little more forgiving of myself, and to pay more attention to what I have rather than what is missing from my life. My stress was caused by imagined problems.

My Forever Life isn’t perfect, and it’s bound to present me with further worries from time to time, but I hope to keep these lessons in mind. 

What do you do to relieve your stress?

Let’s Inspire Each Other

Inspire

Whenever anyone has told me I inspired them to take some positive action in their life, I felt rewarded and highly satisfied. It’s a good feeling, and one that is easy to pay forward.

Some time ago, I was told about how one woman’s day was brightened when my brother–in–law waved to her from across a busy road. She obviously admired my brother–in–law because she recounted the event to his wife years later. It had changed her mood that day, and made her feel better about herself. It really brought home to me how easy it is to make another person feel better about themselves, or to brighten someone’s day in some way. It’s so simple that most of the time, we’re not even aware it’s happening.

Recently, I was nominated for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” by Hugh, of Hugh’s Views and News, which was very nice of him, but the best part of this award was the reason he nominated me. Here it is –

Juli was the very first person to send me a message saying “well done” after I declared to all my classmates that I had Dyslexia.  Her message gave me the confidence I was looking for to get serious about blogging.

I know I typed those two words because I meant them, but I had no idea they would add to Hugh’s confidence. I didn’t do anything special, I was in the right place at the right time to be the first to give Hugh what he was bound to hear from others anyway. Once again, I was reminded of the privilege we all have, every single day, to be able to make someone else feel better in some way. And it’s so easy – an email, a phone call, a comment on a blog or Facebook, or maybe just a smile at a passing stranger.

Thank you, Hugh for honouring me. You’ve inspired me to respond to your award.

Blogging is a curious past time, because you begin to consider some people you’ve never met, as friends. I find I read many posts purely for this reason – I want to know what’s going on with my blogging friend.

Hugh is one of my newer blogging friends, and I don’t want to disappoint him, but recently, I’ve not been involved enough in the blogging world to give justice to the requirements  of this award. Still, I’ll do what I can.

First and foremost, I recommend you check out Hugh’s posts. Most are amusing, all are entertaining. He also writes short stories that take seconds to read, but are often thought provoking, stimulating, and fun.  Go on, go have a look at his site by clicking here.

I was also nominated for this award in January 2013 by Cossette at Stumble Down Under. I can take a while to get around to some things! Sorry, Cosette.

Stumble Down Under was one of the first blogs that caught my eye when I began blogging, because Cosette was undergoing a very similar life change to mine, except in reverse.  She lived in Miami. Florida before moving to Melbourne, Australia to be with her partner. It amazes me how often her experiences are the exact opposite of what I lived through when we moved to Florida. It is proof of the power of the culture we grow up in, and how it can be difficult to accept a different one.

These days, what I love most about Cosette’s blog, are her informative entries on what’s happening around Melbourne. I first learnt about Melbourne’s White Night through Cosette, and this week she posted photographs and details from her experience with the Melbourne Open Doors weekend.  She inspires me to visit places and see things in my own home town and I love it. Have a look at her photographs of the places she visited last weekend by clicking here.

Now on to the rules for accepting the award.  Here they are:

1. Thank and link to the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger(s) who nominated you.

Let’s do it.

Firstly, thank you to both Cosette, and Hugh for nominating me.

very-inspiring-blogger-award

Seven Facts about myself:

  1. I’m a Beatlemaniac, have been since I first heard their songs when I was fourteen.  Love their music, loved them, and always will.
  2. I planned to marry John Lennon – not until after his wife had tragically died too young, of course. What went wrong? I have no idea, but I’m really glad Cynthia didn’t die.
  3. I’ve achieved something I never believed I was capable of – written a fictional story. In fact, I’ve written a few. If I can do that, anyone can!
  4. My name is Julianne, which I like, but it always felt too formal for my lackadaisical ways, so Juli is what I’m called. If my parents had lived long enough, I wonder if they would be disappointed that their Julianne was such an informal person. I like to think they wouldn’t mind.
  5. I spent most of my younger years rejecting the so called feminine tasks of cooking, sewing, and cleaning. Now, I wish I was a better cook who could create her own clothes and keep on top of the housework.
  6. I tend to be a bit obsessive about things that I’m interested in – health, birth, diet, nature, writing.
  7. I love dogs and anticipate always having a dog as one of the characters in all my novels.

Now to the part I’m going to fail with. Fifteen is a lot of blogs. I follow a lot more, so I simplified the task by choosing those I still read fairly regularly. I’d recommend you look at any of them if the subject matter appeals to you. The first few are the ones I rarely miss reading any of their posts.

Blogs I enjoy:

  1. Hugh’s Views and News – see above.
  2. Stumble Down Under – see above.
  3. The Cranky Giraffe – G, or the cranky giraffe, is another blog I began following when I first started exploring the blogosphere. She writes about her life as a medical student in Canada, –  she’s a doctor now – her desire to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynecology, her family, her interests, and her past. Initially it was her involvement in obstetrics that attracted me, but she writes well on so many interesting topics, that I’m now just generally interested in whatever she has to say. I’m also a wee bit jealous that she chose to blog anonymously and wish I’d thought of that before I went public. However, as my reason for blogging was to develop an internet presence to help promote my writing, I guess that would have been pointless, but I love the freedom it gives G to write without knowing who her audience is.
  4. Table of Colors –  I also discovered Laila in my early blogging days and was instantly captivated by her beautiful images and intriguing recipes (See fact #5). Laila was born in the US, but lives in rural Finland with her children and Finnish husband. Her lifestyle is very different to mine, but that is why I love her posts. She writes about the customs and traditions of Finland – especially those associated with food – and her photos are always stunning. The images she takes of her cooking preparations look like something you’d find in a top notch foodie magazine, and the pictures of the finished products look good enough to eat. I also enjoy the photos of her children and their family adventures.
  5. An American in Norway – Cindi is, as her blog states, an American living in Norway. There were two reasons I was drawn to her blog. Firstly, I have young friends in Norway and have loved my visits to the country, and secondly, Cindi is an expat living away from her adult children, as I was. But it is her love of nature and her dog, her appreciation for her experiences, and her cheery writing style that keeps me coming back for more.
  6. Cathy @ Still Waters – Cathy is an Australian who lives near where I grew up, and I love her fun take on life, her photos of her garden and the Australian landscape.
  7. Leanne Cole Photography – I’m drawn to Leanne’s photography and her knowledge of photography. She also lives in Melbourne.
  8. Kirstin Lamb’s Blog – Kirstin is a writer who writes clever, amusing posts on writing that I connect with and learn from continually.
  9. Janeyinmersin – Janey is another expat Australian, living in rural Turkey. She writes about the community she lives in, and it’s customs which are far removed from those of her Australian upbringing.
  10. Grace and Space – Sheila’s musings on life and all it throws at her.
  11. Suzanne Egerton – Suzanne is a writing friend and Author of Out Late with Friends and Regrets
  12. Margaret K Johnson – Margaret is a virtual writing friend (I have never met her in person, but we exchange emails), and Author of The Dare Club and The Goddess Workshop. She’s also written many fictional stories for people learning to speak English.
  13. The Jolly Beetroot – Niki posts great recipes created using only natural non-processed foods.
  14. Expecting the Unexpected – Meghan writes beautifully about the tragic loss of her newborn baby girl, a few hours after birth.
  15. Must Be This Tall to Ride – Matt writes about recovering from the break up of his marriage, and fathering his young son.

Thank you all for many hours of good reading, and apologies to those I’ve missed.