Emergency Weather report:
February 1st-February 5th, 2021
Who am I, if I'm no longer Sydney-Cory?
This is the thought that came into my mind, late one night on a hard week of missing my former home.
These existential questions and residual bouts of nostalgia might be emblematic of something. Is it the five-month mark since departing from Sydney? Was it the uncharacteristically touching few words from my old housemate Rupert on our recent phone catch-up? Maybe these feelings have been amplified by the dermatology appointment I had this week (causing me to reminisce scarier moments of diagnosis Down Under), or my encroaching 32nd birthday.
It most definitely could have been the letter from AU immigration, which arrived in my inbox Monday morning. My visa has been cancelled - due to my lack of employment in Australia - and while months have gone by, it reminded me that the chapter on Oz is finally and officially closed. Closed forever? Not necessarily! But this symbol, in a time of limited travel and pandemic constraints, made me yearn for access to the door into Sydney simply because it's locked -- for now.
Over the past three years of living abroad, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what made me feel at home while living halfway around the world. That self-awareness is helping me now as I attempt to cultivate the life I wanted to create upon moving back to Cali. As an avid loyalist to my journal and nerdy goal-setter since childhood, I have determined eight areas that I want to cultivate in particular. I think they'll help me feel intentional, cozy, comfortable in my own skin, and supported along the way.
These are the versions of me I want to be.
As I "cultivate," I realize that I'm still Sister Cory, connector-Cory, yogi-Cory and so much more.
1. My wellness. My daily wellness rituals make me feel so much stronger. I'm grounded, self-aware and more relaxed going into my work day. I'm also more self-compassionate, a better sleeper, and more focused when I start the morning with a short breathing meditation followed by my living room yoga! Doing things like yoga or even home-cooking also give me quality time with ME to notice my thoughts and cuddle with Simba (see below).
2. My home! I have looked forward to this milestone of living on my own for a while now. It's finally here - I'm in my own apartment! With the help of my sisters, parents and bro-in-law, I am nearly set up for the coziest homey space of "hygge" ever. I can rest, exercise, lounge, or host. I can bake, blend, create and even sit outside! Finally, I have countless blankets, candles and essential oils that will help me quite literally infuse Sydney into my home.
3. My community - both old and new. I could not be more grateful to be minutes from the Welsh fam. Weekly dinner with the Brocks or routine backyard catchups have been the soul-fuel for my transition back home. While I am back in my home county and surrounded by friends from childhood and USC, it's been hard to reconnect with as many as I'd like during a pandemic. Luckily, I have Zoom trivia and Jackbox TV game nights lined up with my closest friends so I can stay in touch with them from around the world.
4. My creativity. Something I've been missing is the hobby of embracing my tactile, analog creativity! Especially after long days of virtual collaboration and screen-time, I long to leverage my creative juices in the evenings. I can do this by way of crafting or puzzling. I've even started sorting my Sydney prints for a scrapbook-gallery wall, and assembling a photo collage on my fridge was a simple pleasure. My friend Sue sent me a jewelry-making mandala kit - which fittingly fits into multiple goals like my wellness and this one!
5. My relationships... and maybe even romance. Beyond the community I know and love, I am open to meeting new people and want to invest time in dating. Little things like going outdoors for a (safe-distance) walk with a new coworker make the biggest difference and FUEL me while working from home.
6. My consciousness. This one is about being aware of those around me and intentional with my choices. Being back in America, I want to be politically engaged and environmentally conscious in the face of a climate emergency. I want to be mindful instead of reactive, and this starts with doing one thing at a time with greater ease and love. I'm reading the news, listening to podcasts, and talking with friends who make me smarter. I can't help but think of Jimminy Cricket on my shoulder, reminding me to let my conscience be my guide.
7. My service orientation. From helping someone with their LinkedIn profile to donating when I have the means to support a friend, I am living my purpose when I am giving back.
8. My professional development. Being in a new role during such a heavy period of change, I'm focused on purely honing the skills for my current role - coaching and consulting. I try to learn or read something new every day and reflect at the end of every week. I'm also scheduling mentor conversations twice a month to learn from those who lead teams [in- and outside LinkedIn].
I can do some writing, quick learning or email backlog on the balcony. Simba's not so sure.
Whatever it is that brings the rain, Sydney is etched deeply on my heart. Sometimes her imprints feel like scars - sensitive to the touch. Other times, they're beautiful and joyful tattoos of memories and friendships... not to mention the great scenery! It's melted onto my heart like a screen-print tee that I'll wear forever.
The silver lining about this month's weather report? You know what they say about rainbows - you can't spot them without a little rain.
Abroad in Cultivate-mode
Something I've been thinking about writing for WEEKS is the list of things that people never tell you. Who are "people," you may be asking yourself? The proverbial "they" -- the wiser and all knowing elders, the fellow expats, your friends who did something similar to you and perhaps moved abroad, built a life and moved home to their country of origin in order to be closer to [insert here: family, their calling, aging parents, better resources].
They don't tell you how bittersweet and weird it will feel moving back to the place you used to call home, yet so long ago. They don't tell you that your heart might feel split in two - divided by a chasm only x-thousand miles wide (and an ocean deep). They don't talk about the little things - seemingly mundane and too insignificant to possibly constitute "reverse culture shock." Am I petty for missing my coffee shop? My mattress? The Sydney coastal breeze?
I arrived on a sunny September morning after 15 hours in flight, twenty hours of travel combined. I walked through immigration at San Francisco International, reminiscent of many a work trip and morning spent looking for coffee through the fog of "the Mondays." I felt different this time, and yet immediately felt a piece of me so consumed by déjà vu that I was the same - transported back to age 25. I walked past the familiar terminals, acronyms and hanging symbol of red white and blue, realizing that I was back on home soil for the indefinite time being. It wasn't just a visit. I was moving "home" - but what did home mean, anyway?
My first weeks back as a SoCal resident have been smooth, familiar and yet sticky in the most unexpected places - like an old and comfy sweater discovered stuffed in the back of your closet or uncovered from under the bed after years, covered in dust bunnies. I drove on autopilot from the rental car hub up the 405-N, remembering college days and weekend drives to see my not-boyfriend in my early-twenties years. I connected to Bluetooth and called B, instantly grateful for the literal LUXURIES i hadn't had living in a hip metropolis for the past six years. Bluetooth and CarPlay? Starbucks drive-throughs? Don't mind if I do, I thought guiltlessly.
This year had been about choosing ease, after all.
I reflect constantly that there are parts and costs of traveling that people never tell you; they don't post them on Instagram or shout them from a giant-tree swing on their youtube travel vlogs. Traveling. home. is. HARD. Traveling period is taxing on the body, the soul, friendships, routine, our health, sometimes family, and unavoidably-- our wallets. But traveling home after time away is something that I have yet to read much about, and I want to know more.
I've been through this before. I keep telling myself this in moments of lonely solitude or doubt. I am in a new world with new direct peers, but I've known all of them for some time now and I have a long standing brand and series of work stories that lay behind me. I must have felt the same when I first moved to SF, again when I moved to Sydney, and even when I moved stores, roles and, finally? companies. During some of those moments, other people were new: my cohort were new to that environment of work; when I first went to bookclub that fateful night in October 2017, I wasn't the only one checking it out for the first time.
And so I had friends, courage, vulnerability and creativity to get me through. I am trying to leverage those same muscles now. When I'm in with my boss, I ask a lot of questions; when I am with my peers I still embody the new girl and ask as many questions as I have (rather than hold them back). Yesterday, I asked a question that I'm glad I broached instead of biting my tongue. I did exactly what Brene recommends: I chose to rumble instead of hiding or guarding myself from judgment by holding back and hoping that no one noticed I'm an imposter.
To daring greatly on the road back home.
Abroad Back Home
Who am I?
I am a girl who loves my island and a girl who loves the sea; it calls me.