The Realities of Choosing an Unconventional Lifestyle

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When we decided to sell everything and board a plane to Europe, we were certainly taking some risks. We were hoping for the best, confident that this was the right move for us, sure that we wanted to live a life different than the one we had been living, and eager to take on the challenges ahead of us. That was six months ago this week, and we have felt sure that we made the right choice, that the risk was worth it. We have loved living in Germany, and, more specifically, Amberg. I’ll admit that things were really hard when first got here. I had no idea that Jeff would go straight to work in the morning 14 hours after we arrived. I didn’t know what it would be like to live in a hotel room for two weeks with my daughter. I didn’t realize all of the things I’d have to take care of while Jeff was gone every day. We didn’t know a single person, had never been here. Everything was completely new for us. I remember the strange feeling that came over me that first day, when I realized that I didn’t have Jeff’s phone number, I didn’t have anyone’s phone number in case I needed something. I was on my own, hoping for the best! But here we are, half a year later, feeling quite at home. We have friends, we love our home, we are able to communicate well enough, my daughter is happy with her place in life here. Bavaria has been a great fit for us, worth the risk and difficulties, and I love living here.

While life in Europe has been everything we hoped it would be, Jeff’s job has been a serious disappointment. I don’t really “believe” in putting a lot of negative information on my blog, so I will try to explain as simply as possible. Some politics in his office have made his job very miserable. He has been incredibly mistreated for several months now, and after working lots of overtime and making many sacrifices to try to secure his position, he has finally been released from his job. It has been stunning to watch the ways he has been handled, and very painful to see someone ruthlessly try to make him look and feel as awful as possible. I didn’t really know that people could behave this way and get away with it. Maybe I knew, but I had never experienced it first-hand. This part of the experience has definitely clouded our time here for the last few months, but we both decided to just dig in anyway, continue fixing up our home and investing in our life here in other ways. I don’t regret that. Something I feel like I’ve learned through this process is that you cannot be sure what is coming tomorrow, and you just can’t worry too much. We have both done our best to simply enjoy the good things in front of us as much as possible.

Jeff has one month left of work here. We don’t know what we will do afterward. We pretty much “cashed in our chips” when we made the move out here in the first place, and feel like we don’t have much to lose, in terms of money or materials (we don’t have any!)  When the possibility of losing this position first came up, I thought it meant we would simply have to move back to the States. Then I realized, we’re already out here, maybe we can make it work to stay. So Jeff has been looking for positions all over Germany. His skill set involves working with children, birth to five, with disabilities. He could be a preschool or kindergarten teacher, or work as a behavioral therapist, or something along those lines. He is not limited to a specific position, thankfully. So he has applied for some jobs at American schools and international schools.

There is another huge factor in our situation. Jeff is employed by a contracting company that matches therapy providers with the clinics on US bases all over the world. They are a really good company, and have been very supportive of Jeff all through this process. They really believe in him and want to do whatever they can to help us. If there had been another position open in Europe, Jeff would have been able to transfer by now. But there hasn’t been one! The only openings have been in Asia, and I didn’t want to move there. It’s complicated, but after growing up in Asia and sticking out all of the time, I decided that I never wanted to be in that situation again, and didn’t want to put my daughter through it either. However, we have recently been offered the idea of filling a position there temporarily until something opens up again in Europe. This wasn’t a firm offer yet, but a possibility. Initially, I said “no.”  I didn’t feel up to TWO additional moves this year, it all simply felt like too much. As I thought about it, though, I decided that we could do it. As I said earlier, we have nothing to lose! Maybe Asia would be the perfect place to spend the summer! This is all one big adventure, so I might as well take an extra trip, and see what it’s like living in Japan. Of course, we don’t know what exactly is getting offered, and at this point everything is quite vague and complicated.

This is what we know:  We want to come back to Europe and live here. It doesn’t have to be Germany, but we do love this country. We could possibly find a job here on our own, not through Jeff’s contracting agency. This feels a bit riskier. We could do whatever we need to do in order to stay with the agency, which would offer security financially and logistically. This will probably involve moving to Japan, and I am trying to figure out just how temporary this placement would probably be.

Obviously, having Jeff be let go from his position is bad news. We don’t know what’s next. It’s really sad to say goodbye to all of the parts and people in our life that we have only just met. At the same time, I have always wanted an interesting life. I think this qualifies as very interesting. There is a reason that most people go with what’s safe and familiar– they are far less likely to find themselves unemployed in a new country, far from family and friends, almost broke, and not knowing what’s next! But we’re still glad we came. And we are just up for whatever adventure comes our way. Life doesn’t always feel secure and cozy, and we’ve had a LOT of FUN in the meantime. And I’m sure more is headed our way. In fact, our main focus right now, apart from job searching is just to have the best time ever, where we are right now…

Post Script–  Are you on the edge of your seat?  Well, through many ups and downs and hair-pin turns, we have come to a nice, steady place. You can get a summary of the excitement at 2011: The Year We Faced Our Fears, and see how it turned out here: Raising A Glass!

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23 Responses to The Realities of Choosing an Unconventional Lifestyle

  1. Karen Kellerford January 20, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    You guys are a gift! I can picture you all talking about this time in your lives ten years from now, with gratitude and awe! “Oh the places you’ll go…”!

  2. Dana January 20, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    What a testimony that Jeff has suffered a miserable work environment and did all he could to make it work. Despite the obvious upheaval I hope it is a relief for him to not have to show up to an uncomfortable work place anymore. 🙁 I wish you guys the best of luck. I hope this part of your adventure passes quickly and that you soon find yourself cozy and thriving wherever your next destination may be. Hang in there!!!

  3. Linda Kazibwe-James January 20, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Hi Arianna,’
    I am saddened to hear about Jeff’s job and really encouraged by your upbeat attitude. I am hoping that wherever you end up, the transition will be exciting without being overwhelming and that your charming personality and world experience will continue to grow…I am with you in thought and prayer…

  4. Gretchen January 20, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    I really love you guys and I have to admit I want to march over to Germany and grab that horrible person by the collar and give them a MAJOR talking to!… Oh and I would!
    But, that’s not realistic so I will be praying and looking forward to hearing what your next move is.


  5. Willydee January 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Thank you for the update. I see that you guys are walking in simple faith. It is no small thing, I know God is greatly pleased. Know this: the best is yet to come! I am so excited to see what He unveils next.

  6. Anonymous January 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Thanks for keeping us up to date. You are in our prayers.We love you dear ones. Grandma Seelye

  7. ShackelMom January 20, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I agree with Gretchen! And also with Will! God is good, and He is up to something good for you guys. We live in a broken world with broken, evil people, but God can even use evil to do us good. I like the idea of keeping our eyes open, looking for God’s grace, and I think you are doing that!

  8. Aunt Robin January 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    What a beautiful explanation of what’s going on! Thanks so much for spelling it all out so well. I’m glad you’re able to think this way right in the middle of it, that’s a blessing. When everything is stripped away, it’s easier to really see the Lord’s presence, isn’t it? That in itself is a gift. I just read your post aloud to Uncle David and we’re with you in spirit!
    Love you…

  9. Reginald Javier June 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    I wish you well in your travels dont worry this is all part of being a “nomad” (I myself am one). You’ll get the hang of it but it’s no walk in the park. Godspeed.

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