Wednesday, February 19, 2014

There & Back Again

   I've put off writing this post because I know it will be difficult. And the end result will probably be a confusing read. But in an effort to sort out my swirling thoughts, I'll make the endeavor.

{All these words . . . }

Today marks one month since our return to America, and I'd be lying if I said I don't still achingly miss England. Back when the move was in process my mind was swirling with words and thoughts. I couldn't think straight for all the words. Now that I've had several weeks to process it all, I find I've lost the words but some of my confusion and struggles remain.

I have such mixed feelings about being home. On the one hand, I'm so excited to be back with all my dear friends here and to be living in my house again (my own bathroom). I have lots of projects I'm inspired about and parties I want to host. But on the other hand, I've had to say goodbye to Cambridge. Say goodbye to all the amazing people I got to know (including the ones I basically lived with for six months). Say goodbye to the town centre with all it's shops and restaurants. Say goodbye to all the walking and the freedom to go anywhere I liked. My time in Cambridge was so special, and it is so hard for it to come to an end.

{What I miss . . . }

Sometimes I close my eyes & walk around my Cambridge. I can go anywhere. I can walk down Sedgewick. I can visit Aromii. I can call on Zuzana & little Andy. I can go pick up bread in Newnham for mum. I can bound down the stairs from my flat to check the mail. 

   But I can't. And that hurts.

I just miss everything about England, the walking, the stores, the accents, the fashions, the old buildings, the people, Tyndale House, the food, everything!

   My family & I, here in America, are trying to implement some of the lifestyle choices we enjoyed in England. There are things here we can not change, but there are choices we can make to enrich our lives. We want to slow down. Not rush about so much. Linger with friends more. Simplify our lives of all the stuff we own. Recycle paper, plastic, & metal. Eat healthier (more veg). Get more exercise. Limit the things we're involved in & be fully focused & intentional in those things. Don't spread ourselves so thin.

   I have to remind myself every now & then that life wasn't perfect in England. But it sure was wonderful, despite it's shortcomings.

{Things England taught me . . . }

   I have many regrets about how I spent my time over those six months. I wish I'd done less Pinterest and more journaling. I wish I'd watched less Netflix and took more photos. I wish I'd been more intentional about reading deep books. I wish I'd done some drawing & painting. I wish I'd written more letters. I wish I'd blogged more. (Sorry to you on that account.)

   But I don't want to focus on my regrets. I will use them to encourage myself in making wiser choices, and then I will move on. God taught me so much on this trip!

Being in England has given me fresh eyes. 
   I see things more clearly now. I see what I want to change in my life. I see what I don't like about my culture. I see the things I want to be more intentional about. I see how to love people more honestly. I see how very blessed I am.

Being in England taught me the meaning of temporary. 
   Before our move, nothing much had ever changed in my life. And I liked it that way. But living in a magical place you know you won't be in forever started to teach me how to savor moments. Knowing something won't happen again gives it a bittersweet taste, but it encourages you to delight in the moment & to soak it up while you still can. 
   That's how I should have been, at least. I often took things for granted. I didn't slow down. I didn't write about it. But I am learning. I am trying to savor the moments.  

Being in England taught me to not care so much what others think of my appearance. 
   In England there isn't as strong an emphasis on dressing to please others. People are who they are and that's okay. They're confident in it. 
   I did fall in love with the girls fashion though. The black tights, the casual dresses, the boots, the scarves, the cardigans. And messy hair was in, so I wore it everyday. Before our trip, I curled my hair every morning. But in England my hair curled however it wanted and often frizzed however it wanted. But that was okay, because no one cared. So I confidently didn't care either. It's a very freeing feeling to be confident in who you are.

Being in England taught me God has a grand plan. 
   There are so many things I could write under this one, but I'll just choose a few. Before we left for England I was scared. Scared about leaving the only home I'd ever known. Scared about leaving all my friends. Scared I would be lonely for six months. What if I don't make any friends? What if everyone hates me because I'm American? What if living in a flat the size of our living room is suffocating? 
   I laugh a little now when I think about these former fears. God is so gracious. I grew to love Cambridge as a second home. I developed many wonderful friendships, both in my church youth group & at Tyndale House. We ended up enjoying the small living quarters because of the simplicity of it (though I'm not going to lie, sharing that bathroom was a struggle). I actually felt more freedom living in our flat there than I do in our house here. There I could walk anywhere I pleased, while here we live out in the country far from town. 
   One after another the things I feared were negated by God. They always are, when will I learn?

Being in England taught me to seek beauty in the everyday.
   When you live on less you learn to make the most of it. Why not eat soup out of a pretty mug? Why not display pretty things on a shelf instead of hide them out of sight in a drawer? Why not wear jewelry today? You see, there is so much beauty around! Sometimes you have to look harder for it, sometimes you have to pull it together yourself. But it's there. 
   Now that I'm back home I find myself so inspired & I hope I'll inspire you too. Hang pretty pictures on your wall, (don't worry about the holes)! Eat morning toast off of a fancy plate! Wear your favorite socks! Put on make-up even though you're staying home today! Wear those fancy shoes! Pick that flower for your hair! Wear your favorite lotion, even though there's only a bit left of it! Light that special candle! Today is a special day because you are alive!

   If I had to summarize I'd say this. {Simplify. Be intentional. Make life beautiful.}

   There's really no way I can recapitulate my magical time in England. But this is a start.

P.S. I plan to write several more posts soon. There are several adventures we went on that I have yet to write about! So don't be sad, this is not the end.


  1. Ohh lovely! Very cute blog ;) ;) ;) It won't stop now that you're home, right???

    1. Isn't it lovely? =) And I still have several posts from our last month in England that I want to write about. After that, we'll see! I still have lots of ideas, so I'll probably post random things every now and then!