A Return To What Matters Most
One year ago today on the 10th June 2017, my husband, son and I returned from our fairly brief, attempted permanent migration to Australia, a twenty month immersion into life down under.
We can confirm living somewhere and being on holiday there are two very different things. Now, we were not naïve to that fact, but we genuinely thought, having spent a significant amount of time in Australia over the years that we could make it work. Well, it didn’t work in the way we expected it to, but it worked very much in the way that it changed our direction in life on many levels and has led to the path we are now on.
To some and perhaps at times to us, it could have been considered a big FAIL.
If we had stayed stuck in perceiving our return as such, we would have wallowed in self-pity and victimhood. Thankfully we chose the mindset of the Victor and one where we focused on the lessons to be learned and faced our obstacles head on armed with support and love for one another and from our allies under the guise of family and close friends.
The toughest lesson was the one that affected our bank balance. Having had great financial freedom for almost two decades, due to nothing more than hard work in developing our businesses, our Australian adventure became the most expensive holiday ever.
I totally believe that life happens for us, in other words, everything happens for a reason to wake us up to what is important, really important.
In our case, my husband, Declan, had been sponsored into the country to do a job that appealed to him greatly, offering excellent financial prospects that would have allowed us to maintain a lifestyle we had become accustomed to. My son Finn, who was nine years old at the time of our emigration, loved golf and we saw an opportunity for him to play more often, as the weather there allowed. Not to mention, the incredible educational benefits of experiencing another culture, school system and lifestyle.
I, on the other hand was the most nervous before leaving Ireland. My parents were both alive and my bond with my mother was very special, it was heart wrenching saying goodbye. I’m sure you can imagine, the thoughts circulating incessantly in my mind, the dominant one being, “What if I never see them alive again?”
Guilt consumed me daily, but I chose to stay focused on settling Finn into not one but two schools within the first three months following our arrival. I remember the first day he started in the first school. The staff were absolutely lovely and welcoming, however, suddenly Finn was now one of 1,500 children on a campus on the Gold Coast in Australia, as opposed to being one of 150 children in a rural, village school, where he knew everyone in the West of Ireland.
Everything was different, there were new subjects to be learned, such as Japanese, ice blocks to keep his food fresh and chilled in his stainless steel lunch box, sunscreen every morning to protect his skin from the daily sun, a new approach to growing up with great emphasis on becoming independent and self-reliant, which I’m in favour of, but, considering my only child who was already showing great signs of home-sickness had to go on a school camp for two days within two weeks of attending this new school, life in the far away green fields, or more accurately, white beaches, was proving challenging.
On a day to day basis, we were living in paradise and I constantly focused on what lay outside my window, the blue ocean, the white sandy beach, the clear sky with that golden ball, dutifully warming and tanning our bodies but failing at times to warm our hearts as the yearning to be with our loved ones back home, left us cold and doubtful.
Talk about the contrast, well there it was in all its glory and we had to make the best of the situation every single day especially when very early on, after our arrival, the job Declan was to do was withdrawn due to circumstances beyond the control of his employer. After that, things were very uncertain, we knew there was no job security and opening our own business was not permitted under the visa restrictions, we felt trapped.
In my own case, getting work was proving elusive. It was the general consensus that I, as a yoga teacher and life coach would slot right in on the Gold Coast. The truth is there was yoga everywhere, so that would suggest there was a market for it and there was. But, without boring you with the details, it was difficult to get into studios to teach, clients were often non-committed to one studio and reflective of the relaxed and transient lifestyle of the location, people liked to try out different styles and places all the time. This was alien to me, having had a dedicated clientele for so many years and of course having been independent with my own studio and timetable.
Now back to Oz, there is no denying the wonderful lifestyle Australia has to offer. The beaches are like extensions of the home, where families come to play, work out, swim, socialize, listen to music, eat at the many BBQ units, drink coffee, eat bliss balls and have fun.
I loved the markets at the beach and the variety of goods available, the live music in the background, the sound of the ocean, the intense heat, the thirst for water, the tarot card readers, the outdoor massages, the smell of the burgers and sausages on the “barbie,” the bikini clad natural beauties, the toned, tanned torsos of the male surfers and their long blonded tendrils, the opportunity of taking my bare feet, speckled with sand into the supermarket and beyond. There’s no doubt, I had moments of absolute freedom.
I felt free to explore who I was, within this new domain. I wasn’t seeking employment as I was focused on starting my coaching business, fully expectant of success. My passion has always been in helping people see beyond their limitations and live the best life possible but for some reason this idea was not translating well there.
Being a believer in my ability in turning the most difficult situation into a triumphant one, I kept going. Some days were definitely easier than others, the more demanding ones found me walking bare foot on the beach, facing the horizon, tears streaming down my face as I pleaded with God to show me what he wanted me to do next. I asked questions I had never asked before of myself. I felt like a failure, I felt invisible and I definitely felt like I wasn’t good enough to serve the Australians in the world of personal and self-development. This was the message I believed I was receiving by what I perceived to be rejection.
On my less frantic days, there was hope and I’d hear the incredible Oprah, who incidentally I got to see live in Brisbane shortly after I arrived there, saying “if the door keeps closing it’s time to look elsewhere “ or words to that effect. I felt tested every day and not being able to share my deepest longing to make a difference in the world with fellow humans caused me to feel like I might implode.
I had so much to give and no-one to give it to.
Slowly, things started to improve, I taught yoga for a while and ran some online coaching programs that elevated my spirit and gave me purpose. I started to look to new doors of opportunity and at other ways of helping people as I realized more and more that the mind influences everything and my mind had been holding me back too. This realization has served me well as it led me to Marisa Peer and Rapid Transformational Therapy, which has changed my life and is allowing me to change others too.
At times, I thought these Aussies are too chilled to aspire to more, they have it all anyway, paradise on tap. I realized it was me who wanted more and so I spent much of my time doing on-line courses, meditating, walking the beach, writing, planning and plotting how I could make a difference and where.
Being an advocate of making every moment matter, I filled myself up with the wisdom of the great teachers from the past and present. My appetite for knowledge was insatiable. I needed it to stay elevated myself, as there were many lonely days filled with fear and sadness that made me question my choices.
I knew how to make nourishing choices. I had been teaching others how to make them. Deepak Chopra taught me to ask my heart for guidance. I had done this before we decided to apply for our visa to Australia and the response from my heart was “yum” not “yuck.” Yum means GO and Yuck means Don’t Go. It had been yum all the way, so why now did it start to feel yuck?
That was the question I pondered.
Suddenly, the blue sky, clear ocean, white sand and the sound of the laughing Kookaburra birds were losing their appeal. Cockroaches and huntsman spiders the size of robins were far too plentiful, the rented home near the beach and the landlord next door became claustrophobic, the diminishing cash flow and the accompanying night sweats were unbearable. My Pollyanna attitude was obviously waning and life was waving a ferocious, impatient red flag in my face, usually at 4am every night until one Saturday morning, I couldn’t take it anymore and jumped out of bed, dragging my husband with me, into the kitchen.
“That’s it!” I exclaimed, “we are going home.”
The writing was on the proverbial wall. The yum had turned to yuck, in terms of staying in Australia, the inner guidance to return home had the yummiest taste of all.
Once the decision was made, our hearts were lighter, our lessons had been taught but perhaps at that stage not necessarily learned, time was up, we had paid our dues for our decision, home was calling, family was waiting, the Wild Atlantic Way was beckoning, the mucky football boots and the equally mucky kitchen floor seemed normal and desirable. Suddenly, the rain and cold guaranteed from being the little island on the western fringe of Europe was so inviting. Oh Europe, I felt not only Irish but a full blown European when away.
Perhaps, because I had lived in France and England too and travelled around most of the continent, delighting in the diversity it offered in terms of deep-rooted culture and history. I was craving such an experience.
I hasten to add that what makes a place is it’s people and we met amazing people, friends for life. I have always loved meeting people from all over the world. I had pen friends as a teenager, I worked for British Airways to further that passion of meeting and experiencing different places and things.
However, we missed our people, our culture, the different accents, the distinguishable humour of the Irish, the casual chat in the local shop, which we did our best to emulate in our temporary home, being understood without any great need to explain things.
I will never forget the look on Finn’s face when we told him what lay ahead, it will stay with me forever.
Wrapping things up was done at the speed of light on reflection. None of our friends there could believe we were going back home and were genuinely sad to see us leave, as we were sad to say goodbye to them. How I wish to be able to put everyone I love in the one place where everyone is happy and well, but of course that is not possible.
Decisions have to made all the time, every single day. We have to choose what nourishes us most. It may seem selfish at first, but with closer examination, we realize we must consider our own needs first and then we can support others around us from a much stronger standing point.
So, we arrived in Dublin airport a year ago to a warm welcome, tears and laughter, to the sound of Ireland, which had echoed in our hearts. We were home.
A new journey had begun. I have no shame in telling you we had to start all over again.
We had no business as we had sold it before our departure and we had no jobs, but we had something more, a determination to get back on our feet. Our resilience and a knowingness that we were back were we belonged has helped us to bounce out of our beds every day and find new ways to express ourselves both in business and in our relationships.
The absolute greatest lesson we have learned has been to appreciate everything, the highs and lows, the ups and downs. It’s all part of our evolution as humans. Declan and I realized that whilst we thought we had appreciated our life pre Oz, we found a much deeper appreciation upon our return.
Thanks to family and friends we were able to get back on track financially. The lack of financial security forced us to become more resourceful, allowing us to delve into focusing on what really matters to us.
For me, it opened me up to doing what I had always wanted to do, empowering women and men and in some cases children, to break free of the bondage of false truths by mastering their minds and changing their lives as a consequence.
This has been accelerated by training with the woman who had kept me sane, walking the stunning Burleigh beach many days as I listened to Marisa Peer on youtube. I feel I come to that therapy table with vast life experience, empathy and love, more than I ever could have, had I not experienced that sense of rejection in Australia and a feeling where I felt like I might expire, if I couldn’t share what I know to help others.
Declan has had a slower return to success but has had valuable time to review himself, his values, his intentions and ultimately the direction he wants to go next. Business has always been his life, working from the tender age of nine in his family jewellery business and never really giving himself sufficient time to explore his own passion. He is on track now and life is presenting wonderful opportunities for him.
Finn has had a blast, rekindling friendships and being the big cousin to the younger and newest members of our growing family both sides.
Australia will always have a special place in our hearts, especially the fabulous friends we have there. It is far away and definitely down under, a spectacular country where at first light, with the sound of tropical birds and the glimmer of another sun shiny day, you could be forgiven for thinking as I often did, that you were alone on a deserted island.
We’re fully settled at this stage in our old home, where much needed attention has been given to the garden and interior, restoring it’s original energy and peace.
In summary, we got the opportunity to try something we had always wanted to do. It exposed us to personal and spiritual growth. It cost us a lot of money and tears but it gave us an appreciation for one another and life itself, for the simple things in life, which happen to be the most important.
I missed calling my mother whenever I got the urge to, instead of calculating the time zone variations, I missed making her a cup of tea and chatting about life.
I am feeling very blessed today as I write this to say that both my parents are still alive and well. My marriage is stronger than ever before. My business is going in the direction I dreamed of and recognizing that love and gratitude for it all, is high on my list of priorities.
One thing I have learned is that things change all the time, the good times and the bad.
Following your heart and being true to yourself is what matters ultimately and it has to be said, it is because of this underlying trust, we can say, we did it, we gave it our best. It worked out in a way we couldn’t have imagined, we’re alive, healthy and stronger than before and have learned patience and prudence to apply to whatever comes next.