When Home is Across the Globe…

My dawn view from our condo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

When the kids and I left Manila on March 14 in the face of the city-wide pandemic lockdown, I had packed for about 3 weeks, (naively) assuming that we would be back shortly after Spring Break.

How little did I know.

Seven months later, we are finally home.

A lot has happened in 7 months, especially with our household being split across the globe- Mark here in Manila and the kids and me in Colorado. I’m still trying to adjust to it all. (In fact, I’m writing this from the dining room of my new house, in our new neighbourhood, where we moved due to Mark’s new job.) It’s a lot of new.

At home in Makati, and yes, my hair is long enough for a ponytail now!

Needless to say, Spring Break came and went, although we did get snow and loved every minute of it.

The kids attended classes virtually (at night to stay on schedule with Manila time), and we watched the weeks tick by. Theda’s last day of high school…

We celebrated with Tommy’s homemade fried chicken

Her GRADUATION…

The celebration began at 3:30am local time and didn’t stop until evening

Tommy’s, Sara’s, and my birthday (and it was a big one for me this year!)…

Theda & Sara made this beautiful cake for me

… our 23rd anniversary. Theda’s summer employment at Walmart, where she experienced the “best” of the American public and reaffirmed her college plans more than ever… Mark’s new job…

Mark joined Reed Elsevier Philippines September 1

and moving to a new house in Manila. Sara’s driving permit…

Tommy’s running camp…

This boy logged some amazing times in the Western Colorado mountains

and his and my made-up triathalon, complete with handicapping to bring us down to the finish line together. Running… hiking…

We hiked Rabbit Ears on my birthday

watching the sun set over Emerald Mountain…

seeing the changing fall leaves…

And finally, our return to Manila…

Complete with masks and face shields

Life moves on, whether or not the family is separated. But even though we wouldn’t wish to repeat these past 7 months apart, we wouldn’t change it, either. Amidst all the hardship of separation and uncertainty, was countless blessing. I guess we learned a whole new way of living, when home was across the globe.

For one thing, we learned what was really important: family, the love that we share, and God’s faithfulness. In the face of severe restrictions, extreme uncertainty, and knowing the kids and I were locked out of Philippines for the foreseeable future, we clung to this knowledge like a lifeline. Mark and I connected every day via FaceTime, WhatsAp, and Marco Polo, and I’ve never been so grateful for social media. To not only stay connected, but to grow our relationship in trust, support, and reliance on each other, has been a beautiful gift that I would not have expected during this time of physical separation.

Family happy hour

Number two, I realised that I would never, ever have this kind of time with my teenagers under any other circumstances. Teens are never home, what with school, sports, activities, and social life… until the lockdown forced us all to stay IN. While I would never wish this on my kids, or any teenagers, I will always hold dear the massive amounts of TIME we had together. Teens are cool people! Listening to their ideas, discussing controversial issues at the dinner table, and realising that all of my kids have way more open-mindedness, generous hearts, and giving spirits than I do, made me want to be a better person- mom, wife, friend. I would never give up this time I’ve had with each one of them, and I’m grateful that they were willing to engage with me on a level that brought my heart so much joy.

Number three, I broadened my view of “healthy living” to encompass not only good (not perfect) nutrition and consistent (not perfect) exercise, but also adaptability, the ability to be gentle with yourself, knowing when to say “no”, laughter, sleep, and the willingness to accept (and ask for!) help. Life these past several months has been challenging enough as it is, without us putting extra pressure on ourselves.

Now this doesn’t mean that I ate junk food for 7 months (I didn’t!) or never worked out (I did!)… it’s just that I added the elements of adaptability and gentleness to my underlying philosophy of health. I ran instead of lifting. It felt good and I got faster. We played in the snow and hiked and swam in the lake. I didn’t weigh myself. We made cakes, lots of cakes, for every reason and no reason. I didn’t take pictures of anything I ate. I skipped meals. I ate too much chocolate while binge-watching Survivor. We laughed hard almost every day. In the midst of the challenging times we were facing, healthy living meant embracing joy.

Now that we’re back together in Manila, it seems like no time has passed, even though nearly everything tangible about our lives is different. But the important things remain the same: trust, that God’s ways are higher than mine, and He has a good plan for our lives; farsightedness, knowing that whether we’re in the midst of a challenge or a joy, it is fleeting; and the knowledge and acceptance that I’m not the One in charge, nor am I responsible for every outcome. Praise God for that.

If you’ve made it this far, my friends, thank you. Your support means the world to me. I pray you are well and that you have hope and joy during these times. Cheers!

Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello

And just like that, it’s the end of another expat “season”…

School’s out!!!

Bootcamp is on summer holiday! (I think we’re both happy and sad about that… it’s been SOOO hot lately!)

And we are just a few days away from getting on a plane to spend the next 7 weeks in Colorado, USA!!!

I stood on the school track Thursday, the kids’ last day of school, and imagined what it might feel like to be standing there for the last time….

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