Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries: Strength

A few weeks ago it was announced that Dan and I had each been chosen to be sling diarists for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume V: All the Love, and it was a dream come true. Over the course of the next six months I'll be sharing my sling diary posts right here on the blog, and Dan will be sharing his over on Instagram. Today I'm really excited to share with you all my very first post for the sling diaries on the theme of strength. Thank you all, new readers and old alike, for following along on this journey with us.

My sweet little Oswin, 

When Papa and I moved from the United States to France four and a half years ago, before you were even a twinkle in our eyes, we took a leap into the unknown. For me, it was first time ever on an international flight, let alone living in a foreign country, and for Papa, it marked his return to living in Europe after several years back in the United States. It took courage for us to book those tickets. It took courage for us to pack our bags. It took courage for us to say our tearful "see you laters" to the friends and family we would miss so much...but it has taken strength to remain here for almost four and a half years. For you see Oswin, courage is what is necessary to make a monumental life change, but finding strength within yourself is what enables you to sustain that change.

It may not seem, that on the surface, it would take a lot of strength to live in a quaint little french village. We live a pretty charmed life here in SwitzerFrance: we are privy to some of the best cheese, chocolate and wine in the world, we live less than a mile from the Swiss border, we have a beautiful mountain with hiking trails in our backyard, and we're less than a two hour drive from the Italian border...but pretty surroundings don't make up for the void that can be left in your heart from missing the people you love. Choosing the expat life is a fulfilling and wonderful choice to open yourself up to new lands and experiences, but it does not come without consequence.

One thing that I've learned from my time abroad is that you will find out who the people are who really care about you, and who you really care about as well. It's disappointing to see those who drop off, but it's heartening to see the relationships that have strengthened in our time away. This is true for people of all walks of life, that some relationships may fall by the wayside as we get older and change, but I've noticed the change very significantly since we've moved across the ocean. Figure out who the people are that you really care about, surround yourself with positive people who support you, and don't let them feel like you've taken their friendship for granted. Work at the relationships worth keeping. Have the self-respect and inner fortitude to let go of the toxic ones. And never underestimate the power that a simple phone call, postcard, or letter can have to keep friendships alive and strong.

One day you may choose to live abroad, and continue on with the life that you were brought into. You may meet resistance from those who will miss you once you've gone where your heart calls. You may meet resistance from those who don't understand the way of life that you choose. I hope that you hear your own voice above that of the crowd, for in the end you are the only one who has to come to terms with the life that you choose. Find your voice. Answer to no one but your own heart and conscience as they will be with you forever.

The expat life is a fulfilling one, but not one without some bouts of loneliness and homesickness. The same can be said for anywhere you choose to move that takes you away from the place you consider home. I hope that wherever you find yourself in this life, whatever continent or living situation, that you know that you are not alone. We are always here for a shoulder to cry on. Being lonely or homesick, shedding a few tears, none of these things make you weak, they make you an empathetic person. Being a strong person doesn't mean that you have to become hard and unemotional - allow your feelings to flow. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, acknowledge the feelings, write them down, cry it out, do some yoga, and take those experiences with you. We all have to fall down and fail from time to time to appreciate how strong we really are.

I hope that one day you will fall madly in love with someone who loves you the same, someone that will treat you as an equal and their best friend. I am so unbelievably lucky to have met your Papa that night in an old karaoke bar on a tiny little street in Philadelphia. He is my rock, as I am his. He brings out the best in me, and helps me to find my strength when I can't find it. I hope that one day you too will find someone to love who will remind you of your strength when a reminder is needed. You deserve all the happiness in the world and are so worth loving.

I hope you find the strength to live the life you love, with the ones that you love. Have patience in finding what that means for you. Don't let others rush you, because you can't force or rush being authentically happy. Some may try to pressure you down certain paths, because it may be what they expect of you. Don't let them. Have the strength to say "that way is not for me." It may take time to find out what route is for you, so try some other routes along the way. Live in those routes until you find what fits. And what makes you happy. Have the power to go a different route, and live your passions. What I want most for you is to be successful in the pursuit of your own happiness. Finding the strength within you to be true to who you really are will help you to do that.

I hope that one day, if you decide to have children, that you travel with them, as we do with you. It is not easy, but it's worth it. In just over 8 months of your life, you've been to five countries, and have traveled by plane, train, and automobile. Traveling with children is empowering after the fact, but requires great patience, strength, and the ability to laugh at yourself while it is happening. But I promise you that it is worth it. Every bit of it. This past weekend we took you to the Italian Riviera, to explore a new-to-us city (Levanto), and a city that is like an old friend (Vernazza, Cinque Terre). There were moments where my strength lagged behind my fatigue. But between Papa and I we did it. And we're so proud of the little adventurer you've become. I'm very sure that you're already a better traveler than I am.

And if you do choose the life of the expat, or wander far from home, just remember to drop Mama and Papa a line when you can. And maybe some pictures of your adventures. And a nice box of the local delicacy. Preferably chocolate.

I can't wait to see what you do with your one wild and precious life little girl.



Sling pictured: Simple Silk Baby Sling in Sandstone by Sakura Bloom


  1. Beautiful mama!!! He will cherish this forever!!

  2. You all survived! Hurrah! Lovely post.

  3. love this, so beautifully written. oswin is the COOLEST, too :)
    what karaoke bar did you meet your husband?! going out in the city tomorrow! yay PHILLY
    love, taylor


    1. We met at McGillin's at 13th and Drury. It's right by El Vez on a scary little side street! Have so much fun! I will live vicariously through your Philly pictures (as always).