Do you have a person in your life that challenges you? I person that does not let you sit with the easy way out? I do. Jan. I have know her for a few years now, we met working on a project regarding educating potential adoptive parents about parenting and HIV positive child. Right from the beginning I realized Jan was someone always ready to take on a challenge and find solutions. She was and is an avid traveler and was ready to jump on a plane with me to Vienna to attend the world AIDS conference a few minutes after we met (We should have gone).
Over the years I have been able to spend more time with Jan both personally and professional. She knows my desire to live abroad. She always checks in and wonders how my progress has come along. Living abroad (specifically Ethiopia) has been a dream of mine for years. But there are dreams and there are DREAMS. And living abroad is a capital letter DREAM. It is not a I want to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon dream. Sure, that is a grueling hike that takes a lot of prep and planning. It involves a cross country trip and a lot of cash. But I am confident it will happen.
Jan sees my “living abroad dream” as something I can do. Every time I tell her why it is not possible, she challenges me. “Why not?” So I say “I don’t want to disrupt my children” and she says, “don’t you think it is good for children to be disrupted?” Of course I do! I have said many times I want my children to live in this world and understand many perspectives and cultures and ways of life, yet here I sit in Dutch CRC W.Michigan…
You know, I don’t believe I will live abroad, at least not in the next 10 years, but I am challenged more. I do think through my easy excuses and challenge myself to find away around them. And, in being challenged about this I have to really think about what is important to me. Why am I o.k. staying in W. MI…. Well, I love being close to family, I love my job, I enjoy the lake, the great spots with in a few hours from home… tend to joke that I can’t go anywhere because I have a mortgage and kids and that makes me feel trapped by my mortgage and kids. But when I change my perspective and realize there are a lot of great things that keep me here, I have a better outlook.
Also, in being challenged “Why not” I have to think about “why” Why do I want to live abroad? Because I want to be outside my comfort zone. I want to be unique. I want to have challenging, earth shattering and eye opening experiences. I want to contribute. I want all of this for my kids. I want my kids to realize what the world has to offer before they have to make huge life decisions. Do I need to live on another Continent to do this? No. Do I need to seek out these opportunities here? Yes. Is it easy? No.
I hope you all have a Jan in your life. I hope you are challenged “why not” I hope you can become uncomfortable in your comfort. And maybe I will see you on the bottom of the Grand Canyon someday 🙂