Sometimes you need to be reminded.

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I wrote these words March 10, 2015 while traveling to India. On my way back, visiting Oman and Dubai, I had a revelation about the life I wanted for myself and my son. I went looking for these words today on my Facebook page because I needed to be reminded of why I started this journey. Why I keep pushing through each day that wasn’t as easy as the last. I needed these words today:

I know who I am. Deep down. Even when I’m in my dark places and I can’t feel it, I always know.

And I seem to always return to myself while traveling. In a strange way, I feel most at home when abroad. Among all the chaos, culture shock, new sights, smells, and energy, something seems very familiar about it all. Something I remember and I recognize myself in all of it. I connect with the language and with the people of the country. In a crowded Souk in Oman, a little girl can lock eyes with me, identify with my spirit, and greet me “As-salamu alaikum” and I, instinctively, respond “Wa-alaikum salaam”.

I can feel myself returning to myself. In a conversation the other day, I could hear my words and know they were my truth. That I am beginning to see my light, whether I want to or not. But for the first time in a while, I’m searching for it, craving it’s warmth.

Still very emotional over my time these past couple of weeks. And this past year. Loss, sacrifice, and grief have occupied too much space and I have struggled to see any beam of light, much less my own. But with an open heart and hopeful spirit, I boarded the plane with a prayer to Egun for strength and to Oya for change. And they both have been answered.

After each bout of travel, I never return home the same as departed. But this time, I was determined not to.


I have to go back to those words from time to time and remember why I started this journey. Remember why I wanted to leave all that I had ever known to come to this new place where everything is unfamiliar. In those difficult moments, when I am frustrated and wishing I was back where things were easy.

In those small instances I need to be reminded of why I started. And why I continue. I strongly feel that if I weren’t meant to be in this place, in this exact moment, I wouldn’t be. That the entire Universe conspired to get me here and I am here for a reason.

Adjusting to live here hasn’t been easy. It seems that way, but it’s been challenging. But remembering why I wanted to come here has kept me going and pushed me through those moments when I want to question my decision.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

Making space

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Last night, I called the sitter and went to see Janet Jackson in concert. I’m glad I did. At one point I had to sit down and take it all in. Give myself permission to be an adult for the night.

I feel like moving here put me back in the place when I was first navigating being a single parent. Figuring out how to find the balance between giving the boy what he needs and also taking time for myself. It was a difficult transition and it’s challenging to be back in that space where I’m struggling to figure out the juggle of it all.

Part of the challenge for me is having to get used to asking for help. As a single parent, you get used to doing things on your own. You learn how to hustle and make it work. I got used to figuring things out on my own back home. Here, it’s been hard for me to let others help me, but I’m learning. It’s new to me also to ask for help. I’ve had to realize that I can’t always figure out things on my own and I’m learning how to navigate single parenthood here in Tokyo. Learning how to make space for myself while making sure the boy has what he needs as well. Still a learning process, but I’m making it work.

Last night, I danced and sang unabashedly. I screamed and cheered Janet on while she slayed the stage as her waist-length weave blew in the wind of her strategically placed fans on stage.

I forget to do that sometimes, and I miss it.

I’m trying to figure out how to make last night happen more often. I know that taking care of myself is part of taking care of my child. I know that I am no good to him if I am all over the place and have no means of an outlet. It’s time I make space for myself again.

I am proud of myself and the tiny accomplishments that have happened since moving here. Life here is still a work in progress, but we are making it work.

Things they don’t tell you when you move abroad.

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I moved to abroad in August and in preparation, I read a lot of articles and blog posts that I thought would help prepare me for my move. It is a huge transition and I wanted to be well informed. But some of the things I have experienced over these last few months were not included in those posts and I feel like I should share them. If only to properly inform others who are considering the same path.

1. You will not learn that language as quickly as you thought. Possibly never. You will, however, rely on Google translate more than you ever thought was possible and freak out when the data on your phone runs out just as you are asking a grocer if that package of meat you are holding is beef or pork. You will smile and nod pretending to know what the nice old lady that lives next door is saying, but will awkwardly end up asking her for more water (which is the only phrase you are confident with at this point) when you meant to say “sayonara” and then she’ll be polite and pretend you actually said what you thought you were saying. But you will still use that well-known phrase every chance you get. You will be one hydrated mofo.

2. You will think your new country sucks when you realize there is a butter shortage. Actually, you won’t even realize just how much you love butter until you find out there is a shortage. And this will rock your entire world. You’ll think about all the ways butter saves lives (not really) and ends world unhappiness (possibly true, tho). This goes for every other food you really like that you thought was available in each and every country of the world until you move away from your home country. You never thought you would utter the phrase “I could really go for some brussel sprouts” until you can’t find them. My theory is the Universe is conspiring against me and Karma has input because of something I did when you were 13 years old that I have yet to resolve. And Mercury in retrograde. Retrograde always fucking my life up.

3. You will poop more. And less. (Yea, I said it!) For some reason, the food will have either effect on you and both will happen during your first few months of moving. And you will notice and it will become the topic of discussion for a couple days, if not weeks.

4. You will walk and ride a bicycle more but won’t become more in shape. I have no idea how this is possible, but you will remain just as fat and unhealthy as you were when you were driving everywhere and parking as close to the entrance as possible. Including double parking in the fire zone when it’s raining. You will walk the steps to your apartment and wonder how, after three months of walking up the same steps, is it that you are still just as out of breath as you were when you first moved in. It never changes and you stop wishing that it would and enjoy the hell out of that donut.

5. You will never get the time difference down. Especially when daylight saving happens back home. You just have to make sure you have the world clock on your phone or one of your clocks set to the time back home. You will never stop asking, “What time is it there?” Ever.

6. The littlest things will bring you the greatest joy. You will get super excited and almost to the point of high-five when you reach the register when you realize that your favorite snack/beauty product/underwear can be found in your new country. The sight of Krispy Kreme will make your heart skip a beat. Dove body wash will make you sing outside the shower. You will do a happy dance when you find Haribo Gummi bears at the grocery store. And on that day, you won’t even care about the butter shortage. 

7. Relationships will change. You will have friends and family more supportive than they ever have been and become the mother/sister/friend you need right when you need them. Your friendship antennae will become more focused because of the distance and you will have more meaningful conversations with them. But, there will be relationships that will succumb to the pressure of the adjustment and won’t survive. As a result, you will appreciate those connections you make, both in your new country and your home country, even more.

8. You will eventually realize that you are more resilient than you ever thought possible. Things will become not-so-overwhelming. You will have less frequent meltdowns over the lack of Chipotle and Trader Joes. You will eventually navigate your way through the rail systems and find new adventures. You will love being a tourist in your new city and learn just enough phrases that will politely get you through a crowd or ask for the bill when you are out for dinner. Your sense of accomplishment will begin to shift and it will surprise you just how proud you are at how far you’ve come.