Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wise words from my brother

When Kristen and I decided to start a series about our lives "Swappin' Countries" as expats, I asked other bloggers to give us some questions and prompts to help kickstart us.  Welllllll...life happens...so, Kristen and I haven't been superb at keeping that series alive just yet, but we have a post in mind, coming soon...

I started answering one of those questions months ago (from Dani from Faster Than Forever) who asked:  "How did your family/loved ones take the news?" (that I was moving to the other side of the world) 

But, that post sat in draft unfinished.  Until I read Audrey's post "Get Out of There" because it got me thinking about our life choices about where we live and who we live life with.

When I announced that I was moving from Texas to Australia, I received varying degrees of support from loved ones.  Most of the family was less than thrilled. 

My mother cried and cried and didn't really know what to say except "please don't go."  This was the one and only time in my life that my always supportive father told me that I was disappointing him, and he meant it.  The conversation included me trying to be strong through tears streaming down my face, and I was collapsing inside.

My brother suggested that he and I go for a walk around his neighborhood. 

Back story: My brother met his wife when he was 18, got engaged at 20, and married at 21.  He worked at a big international accounting firm in a big city for a few years...then moved back to raise a family in College Station, Texas (a town of about 100,000).  He has 3 glorious children.  The family is close.  Top priority.  Their social activities revolve around school, church, and extra-curricular activities.  He and my sister-in-law have been married for 25+ years, and their relationship is an inspiration.  Their relationships with their children is a beautiful thing to witness.  Nobody, no one, no family is perfect.  They are the first to admit this.  But, they are as close to perfect as a collective whole as I've personally witnessed, and I am in awe of them.

So, when we took a walk around the neighborhood...I mentioned something about him being the "golden child" and the one that always made our parents proud and was never a disappointment.  He discussed that his life made him happy and fulfilled...but, he said he knew that if I led the life he had, I'd have been bored.  He said that he knew we were different.  The things that excited me or fueled my zest for life weren't necessarily his.  But, that there was nothing wrong with that.  There was nothing wrong with me wanting to take risks.  There was nothing wrong with me wanting to live in a different country.  Sure, I'd be missed, terribly, but I needed to live my life in a way that would be fulfilling and make me happy.  And, I was always welcome to come home.

Tears are falling as I remember this conversation from over 8 years ago.

In an ideal world, my loved ones wish that I lived closer.  But, it's the words of my brother, knowing that he "got me" that still fill my heart. 

Eventually, other family members have come around.  No one likes that I live so far away.  Heck, I don't like that I live so far away from them.  Sometimes, I think that me living so far from home actually encourages communication with some family members.  You know, the ones we take for granted that live close, yet we still don't see often?  I hear from some aunts and cousins more than I did when I lived in Texas.  Others, I don't hear from as much.  But, we all have to make an effort to maintain connections and relationships, regardless of distance.

The support from my brother, his calm and wisdom, will always be something that I cherish.  We don't talk much.  We don't have to.  He knows I am filled with imperfections and flaws, but I know he loves me unconditionally.  I do not take this for granted.
My mom says this is her favorite picture of us, so I recycle it every now and then.

Have you received wise words from a loved one at an important time in your life?  I encourage you to reflect on them and share them (if you feel moved to do so).


  1. Your brother sounds absolutely loving and supportive of his sister. This resonated with me so much "He knows I am filled with imperfections and flaws, but I know he loves me unconditionally. I do not take this for granted."
    I have family that live like so-very-close to me and I don't have what you have with your brother that lives miles apart. That relationship that you have with him is a wonderful thing. In life you do what you need to do to be happy and the people who support you along the way are the best gifts we have. I really love this story this morning.

  2. oh goodness, tears! he's so right - you have to live the life that works for you and what brings you joy. sometimes i feel the same way, only i just went to florida, not australia ;) so, not too far for the parents haha. but yeah, my brother def did things differently but also he and i are so different. my mom always gives me wise words i must say, though. she is so great and not one to pressure (like to have kids or anything) just wants me to be happy. oh and if that isn't just all i need :)

    xoxo cheshire kat

  3. I'm so glad you decided to finish this post, Erin! I think it's definitely related to the point I was trying to make on Thursday :) Your brother sounds like a fantastic person. I love when siblings are emotionally close and just "get" each other. I'm fortunate to have that with my brother and I hope that he feels similar support from me. (He doesn't live in Australia, but he moved 2 hours from home so that makes things a little difficult for the family that ALL live here around me.)
    I LOVE to travel and I think it'd be fun to immerse myself in another place or culture for an extended amount of time, but I like being here best and I have so much respect for the birdies that need or want to spread their wings :)

  4. Oh gosh, what a sweet brother. Honestly, I felt like I was constantly comparing myself to my sister growing up. She was a better tennis player than me. She was way more fit than i ever was. (Still is). She had the brains. She had it all.
    But I realize now - looking back - she did have a lot. But I was so focused on me not having the things SHE had, I never paid any mind to what I had. What made me special. What set me apart.

  5. This is a great post. I'm so glad that your brother was able to share these words with you and make your decision to move so far away easier. It's nice that certain family members are more easily "reached" these days too because they know they can't just come to your door.


  6. parents like to say they know best, and maybe most of the time that's true. but i think you're happy there. i know this wasn't always the case; i know that you struggled there. i know that you miss home something fierce sometimes. but i think you might've found yourself a good man, erin, and if you hadn't moved to australia, that relationship would never have been.

    i like to think that fate (or god, whichever you prefer) moves us where it wants us and when. but it's hard for me to do that sometimes. i wanted to go to a&m. i'd wanted to go there since i was in fifth grade, since we moved back to texas. i wasn't sure i could get in because my grades were shit, and i bombed my sat and act. and i'd never been accepted by anyone so i figured that would be the case here, too. but it wasn't. i remember feeling so glad when i got my acceptance letter.

    but my mother panicked and laid her worry on my shoulders. she was terrified i would get lost there, in such a big school. i wish i could've told her that i wouldn't've minded that, having been so seen by so many because of who my father was. i would've loved being just a girl. i would've loved being one in a sea of many, bleeding maroon. and there's the football and the tradition and that gorgeous ring.

    but that's the thing. that's why i wanted to go there. it had nothing to do with the kind of education i wanted to receive. maybe it would've been good. or maybe being in that sea would've killed me, bashed me up against some rocks...

    i'll never know. and that's okay. maybe if i'd gone there, i would've met my guy. probably not, though. maybe not going there saved me from enduring some godawful circumstances.

    but my mother doesn't know me as well as she thinks she does. when i got that job at the paper two years ago, she was worried i wouldn't be able to interview people. that i'd be too meek. and i can understand why she thought that. i can be meek. pitifully so.

    but you should've seen me bulldozing through the crowds at the waterway arts festival to get to the people i needed for my stories. :]

    people give the counsel they know to give based on what they know, or think they know, of you. your parents said what they knew best to say. your brother did, too. i'm glad you chose to let his counsel be the wisest, his voice be the loudest.

    also, that's a fantastic picture of his family. and that one of the two of you is precious. and i'm gonna stop rambling now.

  7. I'm so happy you have such a wonderful relationship with your brother and that he encouraged you to follow your own path! We all need someone in our court who just gets us and is our voice of reason when everyone else is trying to steer you a different direction! And I absolutely love that picture!

  8. Ahh - I love this. I love a good sibling relationship - & that includes a good balancing of each other. That's priceless

  9. What a great memory and brother. When I moved from Minneapolis to LA, which is no ways near the distance of Texas to Australia, I was a bit surprised by the reaction. I expected my Mom to be more upset and my Dad supportive and it was the opposite. He did come around, fairly to quickly to be honest, but I think he was more scared than my Mom about being more than a few hours away from me if something happened. I'm glad your brother gave you the support and courage to follow your heart and live as you.

  10. This post on Cup of Jo today (http://cupofjo.com/2017/04/moving-away-from-home/) kind of reminded me of what you are saying here. I know where you are coming from to some extent because I moved across the country for university, but it's not the same because I wasn't anywhere near as far as you are, and I am lucky that I had family on this end of the country and my parents eventually moved here too. It's so true that your relationships really evolve in different ways when you are far away from loved ones though. I can only imagine how homesick you must feel sometimes, especially if/when missing big events but so glad you are living an adventurous and happy life right where you are, too!!

  11. This is such a sweet story! It's hard to spread your wings sometimes without feeling like you'll hurt/disappoint others.

  12. Awwwwww your brother sounds so fantastic and supportive.I think if a family member of mine moved to another country I would be selfishly sad, but support their decision. I think when we live close to family, it is taken for granted sometimes. I can go months without seeing my dad who lives 45 minutes away.

  13. What a courageous decision to move! If I were your parent I would be so proud, but also be begging you not to go. :)

  14. Your brother sounds AMAZING! (And his family really does sound pretty close to perfect. I hope when I eventually have my own family we can be even half as fantastic as them!).

    I kind of fell into living abroad so there was no real decision and my family didn't have a chance to tell me not to go ;-) The initial plan was to move to Austria for a year, then I decided to move from there to Germany and since my relationship didn't fail I never came back. I think my dad is proud that I spread my wings and did what I wanted to do. My mum always says she misses me and wishes I lived closer (but oddly only visited me once the entire time I was in Germany... she came to Switzerland twice last year though!) As for my sister... she couldn't care less where I live. I wish my relationship with any of my siblings was as good as yours and your brother's, but sadly the only thing we really have in common is that we're related. If my sister wasn't my sister I doubt she would ever even have spoken to me.

  15. That is so awesome that you have his support and words of wisdom! I know that has to be hard!!!

  16. I love this. So sweet. It's nice that your brother had your back and was so calm and wise when you needed it most. Moving had to have been so hard, and sometimes still is, being away from family (like you said) isn't ideal. It's good to know that you guys have worked through and gotten more used to it over time. :) It's interesting how different siblings can be, isn't it? XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  17. It's amazing in the world that we live today how being literally thousands of miles away on a whole other continent can actually not feel super far away. I mean yes you can't drive to see your family in Texas, but I love that technology makes it so easy to stay in contact with friends and loved ones. I literally don't know what I'd do if I couldn't text my friend that's living in Italy right now.
    I seriously love what your brother said to you. Even though y'all are siblings, everybody is so incredibly different and what's right for one person isn't right for another. From everything that I know about you, your brother was totally right that living in College Station wouldn't have been for you, and that you're so much happier now living in Australia!

  18. What a good, wise, supportive brother!! Such a great post! I've never left my state, but I'm so thankful for social media because it's kept me in touch with family members all over the country that I probably would have stopped talking to. I'm sure it's incredibly helpful for you too.

  19. that is an adorable picture of you two.
    your brother is awesome.
    i have a similar story, from a cousin that i wasn't super close with growing up - though i did idolise him. he moved away to perth like 10 years ago and came back a few months before i went home in 2014. he said he understood how i felt and how awful some of the cutting remarks from family can be. the little digs here and there. but then he said something, and though i don't remember the exact words, i remember the a-ha! and the feeling of peace it gave me. something about making yourself happy and sometimes families are better when there are states/countries between them. he ended it with the cliche but true you have to make yourself happy, and i try and remember that. of course if we both could, we would smoosh everything and everyone we love in one teeny tiny town, but that's just not possible.
    whenever i feel extra down about being away, i think about the opposite. going home and staying there, with or without KC. it always brings the same feeling of pain, you know? we can't win, we hurt people and feel guilty either way. so i just create my own winning, you know? that probably doesn't make sense.


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