~~ Hello ~~
My name’s Sian, and this is my very first post for my new blog livethewonderful.life
For as long as I can remember I’ve been passionate about self improvement, always looking to learn, to grow, to be the best I can be, and live the best life I can. This blog is inspired by my quest to livethewonderful.life, and I hope that it inspires you to do the same.
On this quest to live a fulfilled life, I’ve taken on various challenges to try and grow in the right direction. Four months ago I took on my biggest challenge to date, moving from South Africa (my home country) to the eternal city of Rome.
I’ve now been here just under 4 months, and want to take you on the journey I’ve been going on. The challenges and discoveries along the way. Over the next 4 weeks I’ll be playing catchup, with 12 diary-inspired posts from the day I left South Africa, leading up to Monday the 15 August when I’ll have caught up, and will ‘go live’. I picked 15th August because this is the day Italy celebrates it’s wonderful festival called Ferragosto – The fireworks go off in Italy, and they’ll be going off in my world too, as I would’ve caught up my blog. It’s so important to celebrate our achievements, big and small.
I’m so glad I’ve started this blog and so happy to have you join me on this journey.
~~ Be Brave ~~
22 March 2016
I’ve always taken on challenges in life, to push myself, and this was my biggest one to date: moving continents. We’d decided to move from South Africa (my home country) to Rome a few months before. Today was the big day, we were off.
Sitting in the plane next to my partner, Luca, I gazed out the window at the night sky. As we rose higher and higher, I watched my familiar life grow smaller and smaller in the distance.
I sat there, thinking back on the past few months leading up to this point. It’d be one heck of a day too, a complete madhouse. I can honestly say that I’ve never had such a busy day in my entire life, and I seriously mean that.
I felt as though I’d been in a tumble dryer, and as it reached maximum speed, it had spat me out, with me flying in the air at breakneck speed with my big green suitcase, and me landing in this plane seat. I was glad to finally have some time to myself in this comfortable seat, without all the madness.
I’ve always done a lot of soul-searching, trying to figure my life and myself out so to speak. Since turning 30 (3 years ago) I’ve been doing a lot more of it, feeling a certain restlessness. I realised that, for me to be happy, I needed to experience more, see more of the world, expand, explore, discover, break free from the monotony we so easily find ourselves in. I’d been thinking about living in Europe for years, and everything seemed to be pointing me in that direction now.
Rome wasn’t my original choice years back, but after visiting the eternal city on a family trip in 2014, I’d formed a connection, and wanted more. And two years later, on a summers night in Johannesburg, as Luca and I sat together looking at oneway flights to Rome on his computer screen, we knew we needed to make a decision. I remember jumping up ‘wait, wait wait, let me just… just… think…‘ as I bounced around our flat in anxiety but also with a huge smile.
And then… ‘Okay, do it! Do it! Book it! Let’s go!‘
There is just never going to be the right time for your big life moves.
When you make big changes, you get that fish-out-of-water feeling, and it never feels comfortable. At some point, you need to prepare yourself to walk the uncharted, if you want to discover something new.
One of my favourite quotes is ‘It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are‘. I kept remembering this quote. I was growing up and becoming me, and to be truly happy I needed to do this. I could wait another year or two, but it’d likely feel just as crazy then and it did now.
At the time I was reading the brilliant Richard Branson’s book ‘Screw it, Let’s do it‘ – and that’s how I felt at the time. Screw it, I’m doing this. No matter how tough it is, no matter who looks at me like I’m a little crazy or reckless, I know that this is the right decision for me. I knew I’d be happy in the end, and I was excited.
After bravely buying the ticket, I planned out my weeks and days carefully, as there was a lot to get done in a short time. From the bigger things like seeing family and friends, visiting Swellendam to see my grandparents, uncle and sister, visiting Cape Town to see friends, selling my car, getting out of our flat lease, getting my braces off, leaving my job, finding work and a place to stay abroad – to the million other smaller things like bank accounts and new cards, getting certified birth certificates, phone contracts, packing up all my belongings, trying to fit everything into my one big green suitcase, finances, learning the language a little… The list goes on.
Whenever I take on something scary, I just think to myself ‘Sian, you are terrified of the deep sea and fish, and yet you have been scuba diving and you always come out alive and with a smile. You can do anything!‘
We are capable of so much more than we think we are.
The weeks had built up to this final day in South Africa, a day I’ll never forget. I got up so early, wanting to get a head start. We were leaving the house at 6:30pm, and I still had so much to do. I needed to see family, go with the movers company to store our boxes, get my braces off, get a new bank card from the bank and activate it for overseas, pick up some clothes from the seamstress, finish packing, fix my laptop, clean the house… Seriously!? In a perfect world, everything would’ve been 100% done, and I could’ve just spent time with family and packing. But no… Oh no… I spent the day flying from one place to another, desperately trying to tick everything off – All I could do was keep on going, no thinking, just go go go, the clock was ticking.
I’ve been compared to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland before in my life, with it’s watch, in a hurry. Oh! If they could only see me now!
It was about 2:30pm and I was driving back home from the optometrist. I’d had the worst time getting my braces off. They’d sped up the process over the previous 3 months, and it was incredibly painful getting them off. I’d spent most of the time crying, as they got each brace off my loose and sensitive teeth. Racing back home, tears streaming down my face, I was going over my to-do list in my mind, panicking about everything else I needed to get done. The day had gotten out of control, and I felt like I was about to have a breakdown.
You know, we never really know what other people are going through. On this day, I felt like no one knew what I was going through. I reasoned that, this whole time I’d been on a mission, tending to my lists, trying to spend time with family and friends, and hadn’t once taken any me-time, giving myself a chance to take it all in. Saying goodbye to family (even goodbye-for-nows can be heart-wrenching), leaving my job and the colleagues I’d become close to, giving away so much of my stuff including my very precious plants. Saying goodbye to my grandparents was definitely one of the most difficult, as they are 92 and 83 years old, and being gone even a year is a big deal. All these things had been happening, all in a short time, and I hadn’t, for once, actually dealt with any of them.
In hindsight, it was a blessing that it was a 30min drive back home, giving me some alone time to think. After some time freaking out in my mind, I did some deep breathing. It’s incredible how well this works. In, out, in, out. After some time, I found myself smiling and then eventually laughing at myself. Just seeing all this unfold, and how upset I’d become over a to-do list. As I chuckled at the madness, I just thought, ‘You know what, what can be done, will be done, and whatever can’t, won’t‘ Just those words lifted a weight off my shoulders, and I could feel a kind of letting go.
The rest of the day carried on in the tumble dryer, but I’d let go of at least half of what remained on my list. I gave in to the madness and just let it be. Goodbyes to dad, and then goodbyes to mom and sister. While hugging my mom and sister, I remember wishing that time would just stand still, so that I could just have 2 or 3 more hours to say goodbye, but I guess that you can’t always get what you want. In that moment though, I realised the bond we have with our families. No matter what happens along the way, we’re always connected.
All my goodbyes were done and it was time for last minute packing.
Sitting on top of my one green suitcase, trying to close it with a good friend, and then discovering something else I wanted to take, my running shoes, then my towel, then my Branson book… That’s it, bring out the cable ties, no more! Everything else is staying behind! I had reached that point of absolute letting go, and there was something liberating about it. Even my three beautiful bowls of Chia seed pudding I’d lovingly made for my sister, Luca and I for breakfast, that I hadn’t even gotten around to taking out the fridge – even these delicious treats were left in the fridge for the landlady (who likely threw them away, thinking ‘what on earth were Luca and Sian eating, and why are these the only things in the fridge, weirdos!?’
No more time. No more stuff. No more. I zipped up, cable tied, and rolled my almost-exploding green suitcase to the front door, along with my guitar and backpack. I stepped back. There it is. That’s my life for now.
I had 20 minutes before we were leaving the house for the airport, and I was going to spend it on the balcony with a cup of tea. I could finally just be. Luca and I knew that it was going to be a crazy last few days, we’d both been going through a lot of stress. We also knew that, as soon as we left the house for the airport, we would be in a new phase of the adventure, and our exciting journey would begin.
Sitting here on this plane, I feel as light as a feather. One green suitcase, one little backpack, and my guitar. I’d given away and sold so much, including my laptop, which I’d been attached to for over 4 years. I’d truly let go, and it felt weird and wonderful at the same time. Perhaps this is what life is about, for me anyway. Letting go of the material things in my life, and having the courage to finally try something I’d been wanting to do for so long. Of course I was feeling a little sad, anxious and scared, but I was more excited than anything. I was feeling a new sense of adventure, the thing I was craving. I did it, I was off!
It takes a lot of courage to make big life decisions.
The first step is knowing what you want. What sort of life do you want to live? What makes you come alive? From there, start drafting your life plan – Start mapping out the steps you need to take to get to your wonderful life. Then just do it, step by step, little by little, and slowly you’ll see that plan come to life.
Be brave enough to acknowledge when you need a life change, and find the courage within you to make those big decisions.
Don’t wait too long for the right time, the right time may be right now.