Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Variable or Focus (you choose the title)

I am having an impossibly difficult time writing these days. I have far too many things on my mind as there are far too many variables in my life. Am I in the US or am I in China? What do I focus on and how do I begin to focus? With so much on my mind, it is difficult to prioritize thought and put it into any sensible form. So there- that's my blog for today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Repatriation: Pause

The landlord agreed that we could stay an additional month here in our apartment... so it's official. We will be staying in Shanghai for a bit longer. May 13th is our new repatriation date.

Just as I was imagining life in Michigan and focusing my thoughts in that direction, it all changed. I'm not surprised and I'm not all that upset either...just a little frustrated by the back and forth and the certainty followed by uncertainty.

I will just look at this as a little pause in the process and added time to accomplish our "Bucket List".

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Shanghai, so I am going out to lunch with some friends at a Xinjiang restaurant; and if I have time I will follow that with a visit to the camera market.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Repatriation: Change of Course

I'm not sure if it's a coincidence or a message from above, but I do find it amusing that less than five hours after I decided to shift my thoughts slightly more toward home, we got word from Phil's boss that he wants us to stay in Shanghai for an additional month. At this point we're not even sure if it's possible, but we have to try.

This sort of last minute change is nothing new to our experience here; in fact, it's been the norm. This is yet another reminder to me that being present in the moment isn't just an important element in savoring life's moments, but also in maintaining sanity.

Now let's see if the landlord will let us stay an additional month...

Repatriation: Tension

We had our first phase of meet, greet, and assess- the- belongings with various moving companies yesterday. They descended on our home eager to seem competent and capable and ready to quote the job. With each new face came a growing dislike for the process and a reality that we were in fact moving; and very soon. 

I have spent the better part of our time left here in Shanghai focused on living here in Shanghai. I have been so entirely present in this moment, so focused on living up the last moments and doing all that I can before I leave that I have completely ignored the major moment in my immediate future. So when moving company number one came to assess our items for shipment, a slightly sick feeling grew in the pit of my stomach. By the time moving company number three arrived, the poor guy could have served me chocolate dipped strawberries while rubbing my feet and I still wouldn't have liked him or his company.

I have a dilemma and I am trying to figure out how to approach it. Currently, I find myself in a very strange place emotionally; stuck in a tension between wanting to remain in the moment here, and a desire to start planning for our repatriation to the United States. There is a grieving process involved with repatriation that seems like it will sting slightly less if I start to sever ties, focus on the US, and grow more annoyed with the things about China and living here that many of us struggle with. These are the things many expats tend to do as they prepare to leave. It just seems to make things easier. Whether it truly does or not, I don't know; but I am tempted to think it might and more tempted to give it a try.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In the Moment

I've been trying to write this post for well over a week now. Every time I sit down at the computer and prepare to share our big news, I get "side tracked". I realize that I am avoiding the inevitable so I have committed to getting this written today. (I won't mention how many days ago I wrote that sentence.)

Several months ago we decided that it was time for our family to move on from Shanghai, and as a result we have accepted a position that will take us back to our home country. In short, we will be repatriating to the US in less than 2 months.

It’s difficult for me to fully grasp that our time in Shanghai is coming to an end. And while the temptation is to begin distancing ourselves from the people we love so that we can somehow "soften" the transition when we move, we are doing the exact opposite. With only 6 weeks of our journey here remaining we are focusing on spending time with our friends and completing our "Shanghai Bucket List". Being present in the moment is a discipline I have found very helpful in maintaining perspective on life and growth in relationships with people- particularly while living the expat life.

So for now, I live in Shanghai China with my husband and our twin sons.