Here’s a look at what’s on my nightstand these days. Can you sense a theme? When I first imagined our four months here in Australia, I had some lofty goals. I was going to:
- travel (anywhere and everywhere that our schedule and wallet allowed)
- spend lots of quality time with my daughter and husband
- redo my website
- enter all of my business accounting into Quickbooks
- read novels (on the beach. with a fruity drink.)
- update my client contracts
- go to bed earlier (yet it’s past midnight as I write this)
- blog three times a week
- spend time away from my phone and the television
- work out every day in my gorgeous coastal surroundings
- photograph for fun
- cook delicious homemade meals
- keep a daily journal/scrapbook of exactly what we did each and every day (a la my beloved Parisian study abroad journal of 2001).
If it sounds like a dream more than a reality, you’re right. If actually did all of that, this four month journey would be well documented, we’d see as many new and wonderful places as possible, I’d be extremely fit and toned, and my business would be in ship-shape form for our January return. So how is that all working out for me?
I have made website progress, but by no means as much as I’d hoped. I still stay up far too late. I do oceanside yoga once a week and try to run or walk on the coastal path at least twice a week, but I have not developed a lean six-pack. I am still reading the same book as when we arrived in August. I dream up all of these hilarious blog posts about Aussie life in my head, and then never sit down to write them, and certainly not three times a week. I still have images I’d like to post on this blog from August. I haven’t entered a thing into Quickbooks. I watch much less tv, but still don’t put my phone down as much as I should. I photograph for fun, but then pressure myself to upload, edit, and post much sooner than I’ve been doing. I cook more, but we also order pizza (the only thing that delivers). And the daily journal? I bought a beautiful journal, pasted an Australian flag sticker to the cover, and have been collecting ticket stubs, etc to add into it, yet still have not written a word in it about our daily adventures; this is most likely destined for my to-do pile in NY.
But there are two clear winners: travel and quality time with my hubby and daughter. Back in our real lives, we will never have this much time together–ever–and we certainly won’t be exploring so many gorgeous new places. So rather than reading novels, I only read travel books. I live and breathe on Trip Advisor. I mark up calendars with arrows, flight numbers, hotels, car rentals, and activities. I feel like a (happy) full time travel agent…hence all of the books that are currently on my nightstand. I am filled with a wild sense of urgency to see it all/do it all/document it all before we move back. We are still heading on adventures to Tasmania and New Zealand before we leave, and the details are finally all planned out.
In retrospect, I should have pictured our moments abroad as a time out from my life. Creating a lofty and unrealistic to-do (never to reach ta-da) list steers me toward feeling like a failure when I return home without much of it done. Before we left New York, I was doing two jobs, which got a bit too crazy last spring; thus, these four months have really been a gift. In reality, learning a new city (even English speaking), helping a homesick toddler adjust to new surroundings, making new friends, taking/editing photos, travel planning, and hosting family visitors has filled my days. And no matter where you are in the world, you still need to grocery shop, do laundry, and abide by a toddler’s schedule. My husband spends a lot of his time at school and my daughter is only in school two mornings a week, so it’s hard to accomplish even a website tweak in five hours a week. But c’est la vie. It’s been a fabulous experience thus far, one that can’t be judged by a list of accomplished–or unaccomplished–tasks.
Here’s to soaking it all up for the next five weeks before we return to the tundra (gulp) of NYC.
Do you ever set unrealistic goals for yourself? I’d love to hear what they are and how you handle accomplishing or altering them to jibe with reality. Let me know in the comments!