Life lately has been all change. New country, new home, new schools for our girls, a whole new life to get used to, and goodbye to the sweet life we lived in paradise.
And my writing has been quiet for a while because of all the noise that’s been going on in my head. And my life. And my soul. All the push and pull of emotions that come with upheaval and newness. All the intensity of feelings when we’re living not just our own challenges, but every single moment of our children’s as well.
And it’s been hard! On my good days I imagine that this season is building a wealth of material for writing in the future, but recently all the feelings have left me empty. Spent.
Which isn’t what I want! I love positivity. I love looking forward instead of back – choosing to see the joy in every place and space. We’ve moved a lot over the years and I’ve learned that life is too short to approach it any other way.
And how could I not love Switzerland – it’s so beautiful. How this Capetonian heart has missed mountains! And there are flowers everywhere and coffee shops and SHOP shops! So why have I been walking around feeling deflated for weeks?
It was as I scrolled back through my Instagram feed last week (often a mistake, by the way, if you’re feeling nostalgic), that I realised what heightened, glorious technicolour we were living in in the Bahamas. I’m finally able, with a bit of distance, to put my finger on exactly what it is that has been making me feel so ambivalent, so misplaced…
It’s the shift in the scenery.
The Swiss mountains, the leaves changing colour on the trees, the beautiful buildings and flowers, flowers everywhere have filled me with such joy, but at the same time I’ve been feeling uneasy, and only in the last few days have I worked out why.
My subconscious has been hankering after what had become our normal: for more that two years the Bahamas was home. The bright sunshine, the palm trees, the white beaches and turquoise waters became the backdrop to our everyday life, and although I never took them for granted, I definitely didn’t realise how much their presence impacted me on a daily basis – and how unique and ridiculously privileged an environment it really was. I thought I was just living life, but in fact it was a life that was rather less ordinary.
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite now: in my writing I’m always reaching for appreciation of and presence in the ordinary – I look for magic in the everyday – but I see now that my “everyday” was hardly conventional.
It feels petulant that I should find myself feeling a down and out of sorts because here our Sundays are no longer spent jumping off a boat into crystal clear waters in paradise. It seems I may have landed back in the real world with a bit of a bump and if I don’t do something to shake myself out of my funk I’ll be sorry…
So I’ve made a deal with myself not to look back at old pictures for a while and to instead really root myself in where we are now as a family. I’m putting sadness in a box – taking Scarlett O’Hara’s advice and “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” For now I’m going to let the slowness and soft colours of autumn wrap themselves around us and pay attention to the moments that are quieter, more subtle – less impressive perhaps but no less precious.
On Sunday we went for a walk and Annabel discovered for the first time the joy of climbing a tree (palm trees not being best suited to climbing!). “Mummy, how have I been missing this all this time?!” she cried from the top branches.
I had to choke back tears as I thought, “I’ve been asking myself the same thing baby girl…”