Time... What is time? By definition time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. You think and hear everyday about the word time, and it feels as if we are racing against the word no matter where we are in life. Although the moments where we "stop... and smell the roses" for me always seem to be the most precious and memorable moments of my life. The last year has been this period for me. It has been that "TIME" to stop and smell the roses, and it has been ever so delightful. I wrote in an earlier blog of my discoveries about myself, and developing new self affirmations and goals. Now with only 2 months remaining of our adventures abroad and preparing for our departure I wanted to feel, process, reflect and share this particular moment. Not to mention my mother, the english teacher, thought this would be a great blog post to aid in finding my inner voice, and passion for writing again. (Thanks mom!)
When we first arrived I had many occasions to think, and although a lot to process, my first reaction was to create more for me to do. I had a conversation with my employer and now one of my best friends Raquel, and I was in tears because I felt like I wasn't "doing" enough. When she said to me, "Chelsea take this opportunity for you, because you will never get this time back." I didn't quite understand at first, but now I can honestly say my perspective on the subject has changed quite immensely.
The element of time had manage to become one of my best friend from my worst enemy. "In my past life" I would stress and complain about not having enough of it. Now I choose to embrace ever moment and do the things I choose to do to continue to work on the best version of me. It's not as easy as it sounds. Of course in many instances, I revert back to my old ways, especially with preparing to go home. I think about all the things I have to do to prepare and get sucked into a whirlwind of unnessary anxiety, but then I remember a little saying one of the Three Amigos and dear friend, Kathryn said to me one day that altered my thinking..."you have to do is so harsh how about replacing "have to do" with you "choose to do". That simple change in phrase made a world of difference. I choose to...
As it gets closer and closer to departure a sense of homesickness lingers. I guess that's a good thing because if I didn't feel all the positives of our future, I wouldn't want to go back, but it has also given me perspective. I have had a period to reflect on my "past life" and change the things that I can control, and I am learning (a constant journey) to let go of the things I cannot. Learning to let go of the past is a challenging, liberating, and life altering practice. In my "past life" I never chose to forgive myself and let go. I would often worry myself and fret over things I couldn't control and remember telling my father on different occasions, "Oh, _____ made me feel so sad!" His response, "Chelsea no one can make you feel anyway other than yourself. Only you can make you happy." Not understanding this, and still to this day I am practicing this mantra. My solution in the past, was to suppress these feelings, and to make myself busy busy busy. Instead of actually coming to terms and accepting my feelings. This opportunity and experience abroad has given me the vision to understand, breathe, learn to accept, let go and work on making myself happy. I'm not sure if it's the Spanish culture, the fact that I am learning the language, that I have had the ability to listen more than talk, or the lifestyle we are leading while here, but I intend to take every bit of what i've learned back with me. Embracing time instead of pushing fast forward on life. This is a beautiful trait the Spanish seem to have figured out and that I value.
Part of the fear of the unknown is when we return. I fear that now that I have learned this trait, will it be easily forgotten? Will I sucum back to the "past life" thoughts and feelings? That however, is just the the thing, I would have done this very thing in the past... feared the unknown. Although, with this era I have left here in this beautiful experience I choose to embrace time in it's exsistance and live in the moment. When I do this it almost feels like everything has slowed down. Like slowing down long enough when you are out on a walk and a rain cloud moves over you. Instead of running for cover, I chose watch the clouds roll in and, feel the large droplets of rain hit my forehead, trickle down face, cooling me down from the warm summer heat. In that moment one might say to themselves "urgh rain again" but I choose to bask in its glory. I have been given the opportunity to feel things I never knew exsisted. One way I learned this was to listen and I mean really listen.
My grams used to ask me after a job interview, "Did you listen? Because I am not very good at it and sometimes I just talk, and don't listen. Truly listening, my darling is a trait everyone wishes they had." It was wonderful advise, and although I said "Yes of course Grams I listened," I never knew the meaning of her words of wisdom, until I have had the opportunity to take notice in what others were saying. Listen inwardly, outwardly, and to my surroundings. Trey is an excellent listener, so is my father, my grandfather, even Trey's father. We women have always been the talkers in my family..."talk enough for the both of us!" Grams would say. I admire the men in my life because they are such wonderful listeners and never understood why at times they would be completely silent and not give feedback. When I would ask in a frustrating tone "Why aren't you saying anything", a simple response from all of them in some form or fashion has been "I'm just listening." I used to think it was cop out, but oh how I was wrong. Not everything needs feedback or a response and sometimes people just want you to listen. While living abroad, not speaking the language has certainly had an impact on me in this aspect. Its amazing how many people will talk to you and carry on a complete conversation with you, even when you can only understand bits and pieces of what it is they are telling you. With a nod a smile and the "time" one spends with an intent to understand can make someones day! Cash our canine companion, is a prime example of this. He may not understand what it is that I am saying. However, when I have a hard day, he sits next to me and lays his little head on my lap,he sighs, and I can't help but cuddle him and thank him for listening. Listening a dog? Why yes, his response is the best feeling and I feel one of the happiest and wondrous ways to really listen.
I of course am not a self-help book writer and don't intend to start (although I am a strong believer in many of them). However, I felt the need to write on this particular subject because I feel it is and forever will be an on going process for myself and for many others like me. When I was mid writing this I told Trey some may read this and think "Oh sure Chelsea was able to live abroad, to discover these things. Thats not reality." One thing a very good friend and fellow expat, Stephanie quoting Picasso, said to me " Everything you can imagine is real!" One thing I have taken from this experience, is all of these things were there all along and that in itself is the reason for my sharing. If nothing else, as a reminder to myself to...
Take the "time" to "choose" to "listen" to what "makes myself happy" because "I will never get this time back"! These are just a few of the realizations that I have come to on this adventurous journey. My fear of the unknown, and whether or not I will be able to continue this way of life and thinking when we return state side, has subsided. How? Why? Because in the end, I simply just need to remind myself to stop... and smell the roses.