One year, done! One year ago today we ended our long vacation that started in the states, and went to Hawaii, to Tokyo and ended here in Okinawa. It feels like an eternity ago, but at the same time this past year has flown by. It doesn't feel like it's been a year, but it does feel like forever since I've hugged my family and snuggled my puppy. It does feel like I'm comfortable here and have settled into my job, home life, friendships and life on the island. We did SO MUCH the first year we were here. I got 3 new country stamps on my passport. We did a ton of sightseeing and events on the island. I've worked my butt off at the barn and totally love it. We got a new, tiny and spiky member of our family. This has been a year of firsts for me. I haven't' lived in a place for longer than a year in a long time.
Last night I went back and read some of my old posts from around this time last year. I read my journal entry from one year ago that I wrote on the plane over here:
I am on the plane bound for Okinawa. I have long awaited this day and it is finally here. (I then went on and on about Tokyo...) I am tired. After a long trip I always feel like - well, that was fun, but I'm ready to go home. This time there is no home to return to and I feel so homesick. I long for home and normality. But, what awaits is another hotel room, a new unfamiliar place and more transitions. I am tired of floating. I cannot wait to be settled in one place again. I am tired. We are on our way to that, closer than ever. Soon we will land in our new home - I so hope I love it. We have a lot to do in the coming days and weeks. Welcome briefs, housing briefs, getting drivers licences, buying cars, getting a place to live, making that place a home, getting phones, getting comfortable.
I thought I would be more excited, more nervous maybe, but I am calm. I am ready. I just want to get there. I know I will need to give myself time, time to get used to the change. Feel it. Take it all in. I just haven't had much time to do that yet. This is really happening. I'm going to live in another country for 3 years.
It kind of surprised me how kind of whiny and homebody-ish I sound. It was me after all who wanted to experience living in another country and it was me after all who wanted the adventure, the travels, the excitement. I do remember thinking it's not how I thought it would be, or what I had imagined. I remember wishing things could just slow down. It was a lot harder than I imagined to uproot myself and transplant to another far away place. I learned a lot about myself. I learned that while I wish I was the spontaneous and adventure seeking person, I like being comfortable. I like my little fuzzy, warm comfort zone and leaving that was shocking and difficult. I remember how the transition was exhausting. I remember hating living out of a suitcase for so incredibly long. I remember the frustration of not having control of the situation - any situation. I felt like I was tossed into the ocean and needed to swim myself to shore. I had to do it on my own power, my own determination.
I was determined to love it here. I was determined to make where I did not want to live (the Kinser towers) our home. I was determined to try and make this island home. Looking back makes me see my own weakness, but also my own strength. I may not have known what I was truly getting myself into by volunteering to come here, but this experience has made me honest. It has made me come to terms with just how much I do love my family and the special closeness we have. It made me realize so many things about myself. Coming here has made me realize in a really big way that horses are one of my life's greatest gifts. It took me coming half way around the world to honestly reflect on who I am and what I want out of life. The personal growth I've experienced here has been monumental.