Sunday, September 02, 2012

A pause from the K trip....and thanks!


I just wanted to take a few minutes out of my day to pause and say thank you to YOU (all the readers of my blog).  Whether you are just popping into my blog world now or you've been on this journey with me for the past 7 years, you ALL matter.

Every morning I wake up and I check my blog.  I hope that I will be greeted by one comment, just one.  You can only imagine how excited I feel when there is more than one person who has taken time out of their day to say something to me.  I am happy that you leave your little foot prints here.

Since my return to Canada two years ago exactly, I have been struggling.  Struggling with trying to find my place in this world.  Struggling to achieve some sort of balance.  Don't believe me?  Read this, and this, and this and this.  This struggle has no doubt been exacerbated by the fact that I was an expatriate for 5 years.  My journey in Korea was an unforgettable experience.  It changed me as a being.  I saw the world in a different way.  Then the repatriation process, when I came back to Canada with my immigrant husband, was an emotional roller coaster.  I just didn't fit in.  My expectations were different.  I wasn't the same Jennifer when I left for Korea 5 years prior (DUH! anyone could have guessed that).  Navigating my way back into a life in Canada was difficult.  Reverse culture shock and I became best friends.

My husband's transition to Canada was easy.  It made me jealous.  How could he so easily slip into a comfortable lifestyle in a land that was supposed to be familiar to me?  Why was I struggling so much with my myself, relationship, money, friendship, work, school...(the list goes on)?

In times when I was so lost Sung Hyun would pull me back down to reality and remind me of all our accomplishments:  I got my Canadian accredited ESL teaching certificate, Sung Hyun holds 4 specialized welding tickets, we both own a car, I started my Masters, we purchased a house and filled it with stuff, I got a scholarship.

WOW!  That's a lot of be thankful for.  And to be honest I wasn't thankful.  Sung Hyun would have been happy with a job and a room to live in, yet we've accomplished so much more in only two short years.  Sung Hyun was so happy.  And me, I was deciding what vase would look better on my living room table.  How unappreciative.  How vain.

The reality check came when I returned to Korea this past month for a 3-week visit with Sung Hyun.  The third day into our trip when Sung Hyun and I were out exploring he made a comment that really shocked me.  He said "I wanna go home".  At first I thought he was talking about returning back to his mom's apartment.  But he wasn't.  Instead, he was speaking about the home he created in Canada.

When I met my Korean friends I showed them pictures of our condo.  They were all so surprised and shocked that I had such a nice place.  As I looked at the picture of our living room, while my friend glanced at the photo in amazement, I thought to myself "do I really live there?"  It was a strange experience.  It was like I never sat on that grey couch or cooked in that kitchen.  This feeling is hard to portray in words, but when I returned to Korea for our 3-week vacation it was like my two-year life in Canada slipped through the synapses in my brain; to me it didn't exist.  I never created a life in Canada.  And I was getting a little annoyed that my husband kept saying he wanted to go home.  I had to stop myself from saying "WE are home, silly!"

It was then I realized that Sung Hyun created a home in Canada.  I didn't.  Sure I bought a house and stuff to fill it with, but it never felt like it was a home.  It was a space in a place that I didn't want to be.

When my 3-week Korean adventure was complete I was sad to leave, but ready to go back to Canada.  Weird, I thought.  When I entered the door in my house I stopped and paused for just a minute.  An overwhelming sensation tingled my body and things just 'felt right'.  I kept saying to Sung Hyun "우리 집 여보! (translation:  this is our house, sweetheart!)

It was this sensation that washed over my body when I entered my house, that I first realized I've created a home in Canada.  It took two years of living here, in Canada, to feel that.  TWO YEARS!

And although travel, and adventure, always linger in my mind I know that for the next two years (while I'm in grad school) I will be HERE -- living in this home, with my husband, creating a life together.  I've accepted that.  I want that.

It is through this acceptance that I am overwhelmed with a great amount of appreciation.  Appreciation that I am healthy, that I have an awesome family 5 minutes down the street, that I have nurturing friends and caring readers (like you!) and a husband that I absolutely adore.

And for the first time in a very long time I can say finally say I AM HAPPY.


HL said...

Dear Jennifer,
I think I stumbled across your blog three or four years ago, mostly as a lurker. I've always appreciated your honesty and your frequent blogging. Thank you for this post! It resonates a lot with me. I'm glad you're happy. Good luck with graduate school!

David said...

I love this quote, Mark Twain once said "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
This is why everyone should travel. I am happy you found happiness. Now, maybe a baby for your parents. :) just kidding.

Anonymous said...

This was a wonderful post! I love reading your blog - havent popped on here for awhile!

ashattack said...

I'm so happy to read this post! Enjoy your newly awakened life, and forge the path ahead for when I get there some day. I'm sure I'm going to need your support and expert advice. :)

Jen said...

Thank you, J, for sharing your realizations, your struggles along the way, your conclusions, your life! There is something about Korea that I think 'grabs' all of us who live there and I have had similar thoughts of 'i will make due here in Canada'...only *just* beginning to feel like I am 'at home' here, although I (like you) have lived here all my life (i.e. pre-Korea days). Just wanted to say thanks for a candid and great post. Saranghae from Toronto! <3

Why am I here??? said...

Hey thanks HL. Even though you are a lurker I'm happy you pop your head in once in awhile to say 'hi'.

Hi David, you had me with that quote (a new one for me). I think you're right about the travel. I live in a small city and 'travel' means that you book an all-inclusive trip to Mexico. And yes, this is travel but more of a vacation, rather than an exploration. So I realize that not everyone holds the same view I do. I just feel lucky to be in a position where I can experience something different. Your baby comment had a laugh out loud. might not be too far off the mark ;) --> more on that later!! (how's that for a tease?)

Hey thanks Tammy. You're one busy gal...I'm keeping tabs on you on FB (hehe).

(newly awakened life) --> Nicely said Ashley. I'm not sure I'm an expert but highly experienced....hehe. I hope you are enjoying your adventure abroad. You'll look back on this one day and that's when it will really sink in. What an experience of a lifetime.

Hey Jen, it takes a long time to adjust doesn't it?! You've been back a few years before me. I hope you're still doing well at your job!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written Jenn. . .sometimes we all need a nudge to appreciate all the things we have. . . and if you believe in God, I'd say, May God Bless your home;-)

Why am I here??? said...

Thanks a lot anonymous! A nudge indeed..

*Krista* said...

I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying the realization of all the fruitions of yours and SH's hard work. I remember saying something similar to you a while back, about the importance of perspective and recognizing all the wonderful things you have to be grateful for - not that you haven't earned them, because you have, but still, it's good to take time and appreciate the work that you have put in to get what you have. And that doesn't just go for stuff, you have put a lot of work into developing yourself, your marriage, and your friendships. And those efforts have also paid off, as you are happy in all areas of your life. Sometimes a little perspective is the most powerful gift we can receive. Miss you friend and hope to talk to you soon! xoxo

amy said...

A feeling of happiness and contentment is an awesome blessing and I am so happy you are in that place right now!
- Your ex-co-worker :)

Why am I here??? said...

Hey Krista, I know it's about time. You've been reminding me of all the wonderful things along the way (thank you for that) but I just needed to feel it for myself. That trip to Korea was the best thing that could have happened. First off, Sung Hyun and I got to spend a solid 20 days together doing anything we wanted. Also, it gave me a little perspective to all the things I should have been thankful all along. I'm one lucky gal. The only difference now is I'm smiling ear to ear. Yes friend let's meet up soon!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAMYYYYYYYY!!!! Ahh, I've missed seeing your face daily, but I did have a dream about you two nights ago. You need to come over this week. Let me know what works for you!

Foreigner Joy said...

Yep. I can see your trip to Korea helped you understand your life in Canada, which is quite blessed! You have more than one window!

Tanya said...

Love this post. and love reading your blog. The excitement you get from having someone comment on your post is the same excitement I get when I see you have put up a post. Keep up the good work.

Also don't be so hard on yourself. you do post frequently. More than most I know so don't think you are letting anyone down by not posting every day!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I can't believe you have been blogging for 7 years! That's amazing. Loved this post - you two have experienced so much together :-)