Rainy day in the city

“Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass “

~ Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)


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My first week in Zehngzhou and Ma Nature doesn’t dissapoint!  She blesses me with incredible weather, sunsets and sunrises, the music of crickets, the flight of the butterfly, and the beauty of the familiar Trumpet Vine.

I’m walking round my new neighborhood, finding my way, becoming familiar with the lay-of-the-land, and finding my way to work!  It’s incredible here and I’ve always wanted to live in the heart of the city, and to walk to the hardware store, to walk to the market, and to get take-away and eat in the park or with the view from my flat.  I’d been asking for it, I just didn’t know it would be here, 6300 miles from my roots in California, to this beautiful city here in Zhengzhou, China!

Mornings come early for me as I’m adjusting to the time change.  I have always woke early, but here, I am waking round 3:00 am and from my perch on the thirteenth floor, the city is still asleep, under a gauzy haze and the promise of the day ahead.  On my first Wednesday, there was an unfamiliar feel in the air, an even more humid feeling and a swirly nature to the sky and low and behold it’s my first rainy day in my new city.  Ma Nature wasn’t satisfied with a few sprinkles, she sent a chorus of blustery wind accompanied by thunder and lightening in the early evening that lasted into the night!

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ZZ skyline during a rainstorm.

My recollection of rain back home is an indescribable smell of rain as it is arriving, it’s initial moistening of the sidewalks sharing a most familiar scent that always transported me to childhood.  Here in China, the rain didn’t arrive with that familiar scent; like everything for me these days, it is an entirely new experience. The city doesn’t drain well, so there is standing water in the streets, at the curb corners, and people do not like the rain.  They dislike it so much that many things stop to avoid the reprecussions of the rain and all the water.  Imagine the creative orchestrating of automobiles and e-bikes and pedestrians on normal hot humid days, it’s a modern dance version of a ballet with an exuberant orchestral accompaniment of horns and the whir of electric bikes, and the occassional screech of brakes.  When the streets are wet and there’s standing water, and hundreds of people scurrying about, it requires even more creative correography than usual!

 

The streets in my city are tree lines and shady, which provides needed respite during the heat of the day and on this day, I enjoyed a sweet walk home, just barely wet thanks to the same leafy cover of the trees on the boulevard.  I was properly entertained with lightening strikes brightening the evening sky, cymbol like crashing thunder, view of e-bike drivers balancing umbrellas in one hand with one handed steering!  Streets play host to numerous restaurnats and on this rainy night, their windows revealed packed houses of people avoiding the rain!  When I reached my flat, I hurried to the outer staircase on my floor that overlooks the city, to catch a view of this performance above the trees, which didn’t disapoint!  Building construction is such, and me being on the thirteenth floor, I couldn’t hear the clapping thunder indoors nor the rat-a-tat-tat of rain on the roof… Still, the experience was immensely memorable.

AACN6958The following day, I was greeted by the clearest morning sunrise and the most beautiful blue sky day one could imagine!  It rivaled my most favorite Summer day waking early morning in San Francisco with a view of Union Square!

I’ve arrived here in ZZ at just the right time, I’m told; the hottest of days are past and we’re moving in to Autumn with cooler days, and the changing of leaf color, and trees baring their branches, and then into a cold, icy, snowy Winter.

Meanwhile, you’ll find me enjoying the moments, the sound of the crickets, the flight of the butterflies, and the shade of the large oak trees…

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“Hello. I am happy!”

“I love you without knowing how, nor when, nor from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you this way because I know no other way to love,”  ~ Pablo Neruda


“Hello. I am happy!” This is the resounding response of seven and eight year olds to the questions, “Hello. How are you today?” This uncensored, sincere response touches my heart for sure!

I’ve now been here in Zhengzhou, China for five days.  I’m finding my way around and am successfully navigating my neighborhood walking to market and to my work.  I am comfortable hailing a cab or taking a mobee (a ride on an e-bike). The streets, every bit of them, sidewalks and roadways are packed. There are no formal laws for navigating e-bikes on the streets, so drivers head the wrong way on one way streets, and horns of auto drivers are sounding all the time.

I am working in a private school setting where the students come to the program after school and on weekends and holidays.  My first impression is that parents are parents and families are families the world over.  Parents and grandparents and aunties and uncles are snapping photos of their little ones taking part in on hands learning activities and graduation ceremonies.  The love in the eyes and the pride on their faces reflects the same as any other parent.  The parents meeting and greeting each other in the hall ways, feels the same as when I had my children in school and after school programs.  Even with differences in culture and language, love remains the same.

In my city of Zhengzhou, English is not a language spoken in shops or on the streets.  An application called WeChat is widely used for everything from texting and free calling cell-to-cell, to paying utility bills, scanning QR codes to order food at restaurants, and to pay for car and driver, and within this program is also a map and a translation tool!  I’m finding that everyone is curious and wants to connect and to help.  Shop owners and restaurant owners are curious as to where I am from and they want to help me.  There is mostly a curiosity and a need to do business, though a bit of altruism, too.

My city is also largely a commuter city and in most families both parents are working.  The scenario really isn’t much different from America, with perhaps the exception of a broader extended family at hand for pick-ups and drop-offs of children at school. And kids will be kids!  There is a sweetness and an innocence in the children and young people here in China.  Off the cuff and comparatively, western children have bit more of a sophistication and street awareness that I don’t sense in Chinese youngsters.  My time here is so new, I will surely learn more and be exposed to more, though initially there is a sort of naiveté, a humility within the people I am encountering, a genuineness that is refreshing and reassuring in a pleasant way.  There is always a quick smile, if not a wave of a hand, and always a curious look my way.

I am adjusting to my new surrounding mostly the time change, so my posting has been a bit erratic here.  I promise to be more connected and to post more snaps of my lovely city and my experiences! Thanks for visiting…

 

Love Remains the Same

My reflection in your eyes

Your touch on my heart

Hand in hand, little and big

Reassurance and support

Giving peace and guidance

Your reflection in my eyes

Hearts in hands

Love remains the same

SB © 2016

Finding joy in change…

 

“I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can
begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.”   ~ Judith Minty


Thank heavens for a couple of days to acclimate to all the newness and to feather my nest! I am beginning my third day here in China, in my new city Zhengzhou.  I have ridden on the back of an e-bike through the city, opened a bank account, set up my cell, shopped for my new apartment, and cleaned and organized my space.  I’ve unpacked and stowed my suitcases, so I think that means I’m staying awhile!

My first day out n’ about was exciting!  I’ve been generously shepherded by a kind woman named Elsa who has assisted me in establishing a bank relationship, setting up my phone service, organizing maintenance in my apartment, and taking me shopping!  It was a damn it full first day!

First, I rode through the city on the back of Elsa’s e-bike, which is the preferred mode of transportation through the city.  It is economical, quick, and doesn’t take up lots of room anywhere – parking or motoring through a packed city!  I loved it and it gave me a chance to see the sites and to hear the city, too.

Banking in China is similar to banking in the States.  I actually felt like I was at a Wells Fargo bank where the greet you at the door and direct you where to go for the services  you need!  The only difference is that you ‘take a number’ and queue up in line.  While we waited we went across the street to the cell provider and set up my cell phone.  We also took a number for assistance and interestingly both were the number seven, so when I chose my cell phone number I chose one with several sevens and eights!

We met a couple of maintenance fellows to attend to a few repairs and then Elsa took me shopping at a local merchant that has everything from sundry items to food stuff to household things… a one-stop-shop.  Elsa was kind and used her family’s store registered card (just like our Safeway loyalty card) to get me the discount on items I purchased!  I was amazed at the service in the store, very attentive and helpful… there seemed to be someone on staff about every other aisle.  Items in the store are different of course, though I was impressed that most bed linens and bathroom and kitchen towels are multi colored.  Because of the high temperatures here in Asia, one can find a woven mat to place on top of the bed for sleeping on, which keeps you cooler than a fabric sheet! There was a big selection of chop sticks (duh), flatware was limited (and no butter knifes) and you had to purchase by the piece.  Dishes are not sold in packages but rather by individual piece and interestingly I didn’t find flat dinner plates, everything seemed to have a bit of a rim or curve to it.  I did find the absolutely best pillows ever and the most effective degreaser I have ever used!  Oh and another interesting point is that in China now you have to bring your own bags to the market!  They are beginning to implement some recycling focus among the people.  There is still a whole heck of a lot of plastic water bottles out there, though.  My Grayl filter water bottle is one of the best things I purchased for moving to China!

I live about a 20 minute walk from my school, which is perfect!  I will begin working sometime in September and in the meantime I will be training and observing how the interface is with teachers and students and then I will work alongside another teacher for a few weeks.

My apartment is about seven hundred square feet, give or take, it is in a bustling neighborhood that appears to be typical of city living here in ZZ; there are numerous eateries and retail shops all around with apartments above them.  A funny note is it seems many of the restaurants also sell Chinese wine which of course I will have to try!

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Life is beginning gently for me, here in ZZ… I’m anxious to get my apartment just right with everything in its place, though here’s another lesson for me in really living with just what I need and having patience to discover the rest!  I’ve been greeted with kindness and generosity from coworkers and the community.

I’m optimistic about how life for me will unfold here in ZZ… stay tuned.

Cheers to life beginning in ZZ!

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“Ignorantly is how we all fall in love; for it is a kind of fall. Closing our eyes, we leap from that cliff in hope of a soft landing. Nor is it always soft; but still, without that leap nobody comes to life.” ~ Salman Rushdie


ZZ is affectionately how everyone here refers to my new city,  Zhengzhou!  Being American and of a particular age, ZZ conjures up bearded men playing guitars; hehehe!  Not that there’s any comparison with Zhengzhou and ZZ Top, though there is comparatively great energy here for an ancient city that is full of people and living! It is here in this ancient, historic city, I am taking my first leap into living differently, into living my dream of working and living in a new culture, into understanding how others live everyday, and into becoming that bridge between cultures.

So, I arrived at Zhengzhou airport at 6:00 pm on Monday, August 15, 20016.  I flew business class from Taipei on Mandarin Airlines, an affiliate to China Airlines, which I flew from San Francisco to Taipei.  The aircraft was smaller and older than the one I flew on the first leg, though the ground crew and flight staff were equally stellar!  I sat across the aisle from an elderly Chinese Muslim couple.  They didn’t speak a word of English, but were delightful to engage as much as we could with one another.  The flight was around three hours in duration, and though I was a bit tired, my anticipation at arriving in ZZ kept me from catching those zzzz’s, however, Ma Nature didn’t disappoint with the most incredible cumulus cloud display I have every seen!  We flew at about twelve thousand feet and the apparent depth of the clouds was amazing.  I kept thinking of my friends in South Asia with their drainage problems and likewise my friends back home in California suffering drought, since these clouds surely held some amazing amount of precipitation!

We must have circled Zhengzhou airport a couple of times and when we finally landed, my excitement and anticipation were at a peak! We disembarked quickly into one of the most massively big airports I have every been in!  The one hundred plus passengers on my arrival plane were dwarfed in the wide open space of the gate area.  As I got off the plane I had to stop at the ladies facilities and dontchaknow it was my first introduction to the traditional squatty potty!  This is common in many parts of the world where the toilet is in the floor.  I had myself a good giggle and thought it perfectly appropriate that here I am, straight off the plane and  into my new way of life!  Without too much detail here, all went well, and I was off on the moving walk way in the massive gate area on my way to baggage claim and customs.

My flight mates and I moved along through the gate area, up an escalator to a large area, much like the TSA check stations in the States, but wide open (not segmented or roped off as we’re mostly familiar with) and people fell into various lines, behind a yellow line on the floor, waiting to be called forward to the government official checking all passports and travel documents. For our viewing pleasure while waiting in line, there were videos overhead of the Chinese military doing good works around the country and a public service announcement to the young people to come and find their future in the military. I also noticed military lined up around the hall.  This branch was in green fatigues, perhaps the Army.  They weren’t wearing flak jackets and holding automatic weapons like I experienced in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, though I think the soldiers here at the airport had gun belts on.  They seemed to be posted there and simply observing arrivals.

I had filled out my customs card on the plane, and as I was called to move forward across the yellow line, I wondered if I would be questioned about my intentions while in China, who my employer is, etc.  The agent greeted me with a smile.  There are cameras at chest level directed at my face and there is a bank of observers directly behind the agent in a separate glass enclosed room, I would guess reviewing those of us on camera.  The agent was quite pleasant, smiled at me and welcomed me to China and to Zhengzhou!  He asked me if this was my first visit to China and then also to Zhengzhou.  He asked me what I was doing here, what sort of school I would be working at and then he stamped my passport and wished me a nice visit. My time in line and with the agent wasn’t any longer than any of the native people I observed passing through.

I moved forward to the baggage claim area, which was also a massive room with free luggage carts, and then the bags began to slide down onto the carousels.  I lugged my very heavy bags off the carousel and made my way to the exit.  Here the bags arranged on a conveyor belt and x-rayed.  I again lugged my bags onto the luggage cart and then made my way to the greeting area, which was another doubly massive area and there was a hand written sign on bright purple paper “Susan Bradley ~ Welcome!” and two bright and happy faces there to greet me!

As I sat at the Taipei airport awaiting my connecting flight, I thought about how I was feeling and realized I felt peaceful and calm about this whole new adventure of mine.  I had no sense of trepidation nor did I feel afraid of what was upcoming for me; I found I felt this next step, this traveling to unknown places, to be exactly what I am meant to be doing. I share this because as I greeted these two lovely ladies, Emma the Controller and Elsa one of the teaching assistance, we hugged and they shared how excited they were for my arrival.  We took some photos, for which I must have looked a fright after over twenty hours of travel with possibly 6 hours of restless sleep sitting up!  It was as we found our car and driver and were leaving the airport that Emma said she thought it was destiny that I was here with them and our company here in ZZ!  This very moment in this car, the cool air from the from the car’s air conditioning cooling my very red cheeks, the conspiracy of the Universe, God’s plan for me, gave me a reassuring glimpse that I am in good hands here, and on my correct journey’s path here in ZZ!

As we drove from the airport it was around 7:00 pm; I’d actually made it to my final destination, through customs, baggage claim and was now traveling to my new apartment in what felt like record time, really!  We chatted about the ZZ and I was pleased that I’d arrived before dark so I could see the city scape and to be able to gather a first impression of my new surroundings.  The road from the airport is super wide with many lanes and a toll booth.  It is a long highway, feeling almost like an extremely wide boulevard, new as well, and quite clean.  The driver did a great job, and I realize the driving here in China is of a selfish nature, not defensive type driving that we learn in the States, but rather one of out of my freakin’ way, I have somewhere to be.  So there are quick and deliberate lane changes, and it feels as though drivers are just looking for the next open space and it is those behind that are watching out, so to speak, as they are looking for the next open space as well, and so on and so on.

We approached downtown ZZ and the street is still quite wide and lined with big trees with high-rise businesses and apartments just on the other side… we drove past the Culture Business District.  I asked whether ZZ had its own symphony and opera and the answer was yes to opera and that most Chinese love the classic opera and know all the tunes. There are many colorful lights on the buildings, big Chinese characters with the business names.  A tall cone-shaped building pulls your attention to it, and first impression is that I’m entering a large modern city.  As we exit the freeway and make our way to my apartment building, real life in ZZ begins to emerge… there are people on electric bikes (e-bikes like scooters) zipping in and out of traffic, again that sort of selfish, non defensive driving style, cutting in an out in front of us, loads of pedestrians and cars, too.  The streets are set up with retail shops (apartments above) a deep side-walk full of parked e-bikes, a curb with cars and pedestrians, a metal fence of sorts and then two lanes of traffic and then the same repeated on the other side of the street. Traffic lights are universally red and green with left turn arrows, cross walks with curbs for handicapped or wheeled vehicles are at each corner, too.  The e-bike riders are just zipping all over all the time as are pedestrians! Our driver, pulls up to my apartment and it takes the two of us to pull my bags from the trunk, and we three ladies make our way in to my apartment building.

The entry is large and looming, dimly lit with a security desk and four of the friendliest security people there, and the opposite side is lined with packages I’m told are goods ordered on-line and waiting for pick up by apartment dwellers.  There are two banks of elevators, one going to the eighth floor and the other form the ninth to the fifteenth floors.  The apartment building is separated by two sections, A and B.  I reside in section B on the thirteenth floor.  My space is small, maybe 800 sq. ft., with a small galley like tiled enclosed bathroom, with a nicely tile floor and kitchen opposite of it.  These are on the outside wall of the apartment which is a glass wall looking into the city… this is the place I will set up my writing desk!  The kitchen reminds me of an Ikea kitchen, modern cabinetry with soapstone counter top, no cook top though an over head hood.  There is no gas in this apartment so cooking is done on an electric hot plate or something similar.  My apartment has a small dorm sized fridge and a washer/dryer combo (nice and lucky to have this dual unit, I am told).  My apartment has a reasonably sized closed with mirrored doors that reflect the light from that full wall of windows in the kitchen!  I have a full-sized pedestal bed with two drawers and space to store my suitcase(s) as well as a lounging/fainting couch, side tables, and a couple of metal desks that I will use as areas to dress and do make-up and the other as a side table to house laundry supplies and possibly a cocktail area. I also have a wall mounted television.  The walls are wallpapered in coordinating gray  striped and floral paper, in fact the apartments colors are a conservative gray and white combo.

As is par for the course for me, my new living space requires my hand at cleaning, which writing this post, I took a break from doing! One of my new Chinese friends and I, had a good conversation about perspectives, specifically on what clean is.  I learned that, interesting to me, Chinese people are typically focused on what they use, in other words at the surfaces they use, so the counters in my space were cleaned but, soffits and lights and corners of the floors, and walls in my space not so much and could use a good washing from my perspective (this whole thought of what is square in front of us, or what we use, being priority is every so true in what I can see as I get out n’ about here in ZZ, too).  There were a couple of things in the apartment that required attention and correction and the team responded immediately  to taking care of these things straight-away! My friend told me further, that they all just want me to be as comfortable as possible and that they were sorry these things needed addressing… they just saw things differently.

Awe, cheers to the first lesson, and reminder, for me in my new surroundings on how we all see the same things differently… an age-old lesson and reality the world over, to be sure, though my heart was touched with the expressions of love and support from new friends here in ZZ.

 

 

 

 

 

Joyfully losing a day…

“No matter where you go, there you are.”  ~ Buckaroo Banzi


I will travel for nearly thirty hours by the time I reach my flat in my new city, Zhengzhou, and basically I’ll have lost an an entire day traveling to the East from the West. Tearful good-byes, well wishes, encouragement, and lots of love as I head out on this next chapter in my life.

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… courtesy of Angie Santamaria

I waited for my flight at San Francisco’s international airport conversing with travelers moving between domestic destinations and south America, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, China… doctors, students, business men, some were harried and stressed with the security process and others were celebrating with me in the moment.  For me, it was a peek into the life of others, as mine is moving forward in a new direction, into a new country, and a new and better me.

Flying China Air the airport staffers were incredible and generous!  Daniel at the ticket counter gave me a wink and a wave on by without charging me for overweight bags!  I had priority boarding and the most comfortable international flight, with a pleasant fellow for a seat mate.  A Chinese national, my seat mate spoke about the transfer of the financial center of the world moving to Asia in the coming years, and cheered me on as an American lady heading to a ‘small, conservative city in China’ not knowing the language or customs. He giggled telling me a bit about the food in the province and teased me with a good history lesson on China! He and his family were traveling to Taiwan to volunteer in a refuge for elephants!

IMG_5220.JPGThe flight crew on the first leg of my trip were superb!  I decided to go vegetarian with my food selection, sort of thinking about salt intake on the flight.  The food was delicious!  The plane was new to the CA fleet and it was beautifully appointed and absolutely packed!  The Premium Economy seat selection was ideal for the twelve plus hour flight, and I actually slept for six or more hours!  I’d definitely recommend China Air.

I arrived here in Taipei with the sun coming up, appropriately greeted with a new day to match my new direction and adventure in life!  The airport was quite sleepy as we disembarked and made our way to the various gates, etc. The temperature outside was already a balmy 33°c, which would be over 90°f!  Lucky inside the airport it was cool and comfy which made it a pleasure to walk through, giving my legs a good stretch after the long flight.  As I made my way through the airport I was amazed at the vertical garden walls all throughout; incredibly refreshing and beautiful!

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Love from Taipei!

I quickly found out the airport has free wifi and so was able to connect with my loved ones.  I found a perch at an Italian cafe to catch up on correspondence and writing!  My VPN is working like a dream, yay!

I have a bit of a lay-over here in Taipei… I’d like to peruse the many duty-free shops housing everything from designer bags to exotic liquors, with a large number of whiskeys next to a myriad of beauty products.  Just a few hours from now, traveling from the West to the East, and after loosing a day, I’ll be in Zhengzhou, heading for my flat, and my first night under the stars in China!

 

Humbling Wisdom

“Because you're always learning, the chief lesson remains: 
you still know nothing.”             
 ~ Criss Jami

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I’ve written previously about all the preparation and research and all I’ve done in the last couple of months to prepare for my upcoming China adventure.  My lesson recently has been a gentle reminder upon my imminent departure, that no matter the preparation I make for this trip to a new country, there will be surprises and tests and a myriad of things I do not know. Specifically, what I think is important to know now, I’ll find won’t in fact be important when I arrive and am living there.  Equally, what I think I know about where I’m going and the people, isn’t anywhere near the awesomeness of what is before me. Bottom line, I know nothing.

In a word, humbling.

As I’ve shared much good company with friends before I depart, their sage advice and care for me have given way to some realizations.  One friend stressed that I will find myself feeling alone moving to a country where I am different and without a common language and not knowing the inner workings of the culture and society.   Things I take for granted in my everyday like money exchange, knowing how to do the everyday mundane things, and simply being able to converse with say a neighbor or a merchant.  These will be the things that will not be available to me, at least at first, simply because I am new and an outsider. The stress of recognizing that I’m an outsider and experiencing the feelings of aloneness will strengthen me emotionally and spiritually for certain.

My friend equated the feeling of the experience to solitary confinement, because we’re creatures that need communion with others and connectedness (that is deeply true for me), not speaking or reading the language will be isolating. Solitude, chosen or imposed, causes us to rely upon our good internal resources, as my friend expressed to me, the struggle will be real. This vulnerability will certainly press me to either retreat inwardly or to be more open in connecting with and receiving from others and sharing my self, too.

Another friend, who is an expat here in America, shared the wisdom with me that no amount of preparation can truly prepare me for arriving in a country and culture so different from my own.  He further shared that Westerner’s, American’s specifically, have an arrogance of believing we know best and we know all, and he reminded me that we don’t. I get this and realize that opening my mind to new ways of being and moving with the rhythm and flow of my new surroundings and home is vital, and, I’m up for it all.

I’m humbled.

I recognize this is my choice to make this move, to taking this adventure, and to see and be with others… and I’m super excited about it all!  This has caused me to reflect on immigrants and refugees and the difficulties that these people have, and many are fleeing difficult situations in their homelands. I’ve been aware of this working with immigrants here in the San Francisco Bay Area, however, my moving and recognizing that I’ll be similarly in their shoes,  has put a different spin and feeling to my earlier awareness. It is difficult being an outsider, being new, not knowing anything, and oh what a difference neighborly kindness can make in someone’s life.

I am definitely humbled, and expect to be even more so as I arrive and struggle to find my way in a new place, with new people, a new language, new currency, new everything.  I am blessed with smarts, and I am willing to trust that I’ll have the companionship of my coworkers, a secure flat for living, and my work as a solid base for me to venture from and build upon. My enthusiasm remains, as does my optimism and open hearted-ness, though all is now properly tempered with a blanket of humility for the unknown and all that is to come. Life has been gearing me up for this experience, for that I am sure.

China in two days and counting…

Anticipation

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“It is so hard to leave—until you leave.  And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”   John Green


This leaving, and this beginning something, is sort of like two ends of the same rope… I don’t know the feelings are mixed, I feel excited and unsure and a bit scared and confident, all at the same time. Mostly, it’s the leaving that is heart pinching and uncomfortable for me.

Leaving, moving forward from familiar things and people and activities, it’s time for me on many levels, though there’s still a heart pinch for me.  I’ve taken time these last few months, knowing I’d be leaving, to reconnect with people – family, friends, some people I’d fallen out of contact with for one reason or another.  It’s been wonderfully positive touching base, catching up, and sometimes clearing up.  It’s not like I’ll not be back or that I cannot be in-touch while I’m living out of the country.  However, for me, this move represents a shift within myself… a shift towards following my inner voice, living dreams, helping people, building bridges.  Yes, these could have been done here, too, though that’s where my dream comes in and that whole idea of living and working with and in other countries.

Gearing up for the beginning and the living solo, which I haven’t done in many, many years , and to living with out pets, whose company I really enjoy.  Mostly excitedly gearing up for deciding in every way the what to do, what to eat, how to be, solely based on my own desires and interests… no heart pinch with this, just genuine excitement!

‘Last minute wrap ups as I prepare to leave in four days.  I decided to review what exactly I was packing and took three checked bags down to two!  Decided to take some additional electronic devices and on the flip side to give local care items a try when I run out there (it’ll be an adventure). Forwarding mail and some final bills…. this is happening, for certain, for real!

There has been a resounding go for it shout from everyone, as I take off on this adventure. This support, this reaction, has meant a lot and reaffirmed what I’m embarking on in this beginning  for myself.

China, four days and counting…