Wednesday, January 1, 2014

From "Outside" to "Change"

"Outside" was the right word for 2013.  For me, it's good to have a word with multiple angles... outside in the physical sense, which I tried to do within our travel: geocaching around Ireland, hiking through Petra, riding camels through the Sahara in Giza... yet I failed miserably within day-to-day life. How hard is it to get outside and do a 10 minute walk to clear the mind and re-center?  Apparently too hard for me.  But there's also outside my comfort zone, outside my routine.  That side I did pretty well.  I was hired as CLO in April and the rest sprouted out from there.  Talking on the phone is part of my job, how much more outside my comfort zone can I get?  I'm around people All. Day. Long.  Where I used to have plenty of alone hours of comfy and quiet, I now urgently seek out a couple hours on the weekend and that's usually a retreat to my bedroom, inform everyone I'm taking a nap, and close the door.  I'm not used to being pleasant and (hopefully) helpful all day, that's for sure, and many days I can feel how drained I am by the end of it.  I do like my job though, so I'm trying to make it work for me and my family.

Now that 2013 is done I won't say farewell to "Outside," that's not how this word thing works.  Each year is an attempt at improvement or trying something new, making it a part of your life, and adding something new the following year.  I prefer to go with something concrete like Outside versus something like Patience.  Patience is a great word, but every time I screw up (and I will) I'd feel like a failure.  I don't need a year of looking ahead to failure.

For 2014, I'm going with  "Change" because like it or not this year is a huge year for change.  We're not moving.  We're not getting divorced.  Hopefully no one I love will pass on.

Katherine is turning 18 in a month.  Our first adult.  And she'll depart to college this Fall, dropping our family down to 5.  The first to leave the nest.  She's so excited about it, as are we, but I have the feeling the actual farewell will be quite a bit harder than any of us anticipate.  She'll be awesome.  We'll be fine.  But wow, what a change for the Globehoppers.

Rebecca will get her first summer hire position at the Embassy.  A real job with real hours and real pay and real experience for her resume' and college applications.  She'd like to get a position in the Consular section but unfortunately that's not to be.  She'll do some college touring this summer too.

Nicholas will become a high school kid.  He's hoping he'll grow some this year, but if he follows in his father's footsteps he has a year or two to wait.  But, um, Nicholas as a high schooler?  Can anyone imagine that?  I sure can't, not yet.  Ask me in August.

Jonathon will turn into a teenager.  This will leave our Hopper family with no more "little" kids and we'll be "That family with 4 teenagers."  Hopefully the biggest challenge with having 2 teen boys is making sure they shower on a regular schedule.  A mom can dream.

And one more big, expected, heart-wrenching, change: just about all our friends are leaving. This summer will mark our 2 year anniversary here in Amman and it's far too much to hope that the friends you make at Post will be there your entire tour. But folks, our friend pool is going to shrink considerably come June.  It's definitely not a change I'm looking forward to.  At times like this I hit that Foreign Service wall of doubt... Why fall in love in with a Post that is yours for such a short time?  Why bother making friends who will leave gaps when they move on to new adventures?  Why put your heart into things that will go away on a calendar we can see 6 months or a year out?  The answer, I know, is always Why not? If we didn't enjoy our home and connect with people then truly we would lose out on the very fabric of the Foreign Service life. It's still hard.

These are some of the things I know.  These are some of the things I can expect and plan for.  "Change" suggests much more, all those small and big things we can't see coming but are expected to manage with swift calm and diplomacy.

Change is hard, but it's what we do, what we all do in every country and town and home around the world.  Kids grow up.  Friends leave.  Tastes shift.  Needs adjust.

We grow older.

The world spins.

And life throws things at us that changes our perceptions, our plans, and our family.

Hello 2014.  Show me what you've got.

Ready or not, here I come.

1 comment:

  1. Change was my word last year. It for the year with changing posts. Kids going for homeschool back to a traditional school setting. I'm not sure how well I did with it on a personal level, but I tried. Haven't decided on this year's word yet, I have some ideas, still typing to find the right fit.