Joanna Gaines, my spirit animal, wrote the most eloquent and genuine letter in the first issue of her magazine, Magnolia. She wrote about her struggle to focus on the now. She said,
“Look too far ahead or behind, and we risk missing the joy intended for here and now. There’s a certain richness in today that may never be around again.”
During the summer months, we long for the coolness of fall and pumpkin spice lattes. During the fall months, we pine for Christmas music and snow. During the winter months, we crave the bright flowers and fragrance of spring. During spring, we ache for the long summer days. It’s a cruel little trap in which we find ourselves.
I am so guilty of this. In college, the Christmas decorations were up November 1. I used to tell myself it was a coping mechanism and I needed the Christmas spirit to get through the last few weeks of the semester. I was really just wishing the last few weeks would hurry up and go away. Because Christmas decorations have time speeding up abilities obviously.
For the past 5 years of my life, it’s been about a countdown. A countdown to a graduation, a countdown to a move, a countdown to see my long distance fella, a countdown to a trip, a countdown to a family visit, a countdown to a break from school, a countdown to a wedding… I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t constantly thinking about what’s next.
In this past season, it’s been worse. Living abroad as a newly wed is not exactly the wonderful adventure Pinterest paints. In the months leading up to the move, I was SO ready. I was ready to be with my husband, ready for a new adventure, ready for new friends, for a new scene. Yet here I am, living a life many women dream about and I’m looking for houses in Alabama on Zillow… dreaming about a kitchen disposal, a washer that holds more than 10 items of clothing, water that isn’t hard and doesn’t leave a residue on everything, neighbors that speak your language, and a Target down the street.
I’ve been so caught up on how hard and inconvenient life is as a foreigner, that I’ve missed out on really experiencing life in Germany. I was content with going to the Commissary and PX for everything I needed. The people there speak English, the products are all American, and it’s familiar. Until I walked into Edeka. The fruit. The wine. The meat. The bread. The WINE. My heart stopped for a minute. It was all so beautiful. I would have snapped a picture, but I try not to stand out as one of those silly Americans. Germans have a culture to be admired in so many ways. And I’m missing it because I’m constantly thinking about what’s next. It took a trip to the grocery store and a stroll down the wine aisle to make me realize this fact.
There is SO much to enjoy in this phase of life… the one I’m in right now. It’s hard and frustrating and at times I just want to go home. But, I will never be the person I am right now again. I will never have the opportunities I have right now again. Joanna’s post stuck out to me when I read it back in October and it’s been on my mind ever since. In the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the things I don’t like about Germany – the challenge it has been to make friends, find a job, feel valued. I blamed it on the people and on the post. I’ve told myself that it’ll change when we move… the next post will be different and will be better. But, it’s not the people and it’s not the post. I’m going to have the same experience everywhere we go if I don’t change. If I don’t learn how to adapt, how to make friends, how to put myself out there.
And change happens here, now. There is so much to learn in this season and so much to enjoy…like this view from our bathroom. If I’m constantly asking what’s next, I’m preventing myself from the change and growth that is meant to happen now.