Expat Chronicles: Four Thousand miles

Have you ever experienced a moment in life when what had seemed impossible, suddenly no longer seemed clearly out of reach? I’m thinking of a paradigm shift, where mentally a door opens, a concept transforms from “not an option” to “maybe” and your mind sort of lurches to land on a new horizon of possibility.

I’ve learned to embrace these moments. They are unsettling and a bit scary, but also profoundly freeing. I’ve seen that more choices are open to us than we often realize, more possibilities for change and growth than we are usually comfortable considering. And usually that’s ok. Until it suddenly isn’t ok anymore, and we’re ready to push out the boundaries toward something new.

I experienced such a paradigm shift fall of 2017. I was reading The Nordic Theory of Everything by Ana Partanen. A book I picked up purely for entertainment, shook me out of my comfort zone. Ultimately, it stirred in my heart a dream of moving to Europe.

At first there was only push back. It was easy to feel the idea was crazy, truly impossible. And anyway, how could we bear to leave our family or our beautiful home? But as the months went by and the research mounted and we talked to friends and family, it became more and more obvious that our family wanted this bad. In fact, by summer of 2018, we couldn’t imagine staying put. Change was coming, someway, somehow.

It was impossible; now it’s true - we’re moving to Europe at the end of May.

I’ve wanted to tell you about this so many times. It is a hugely complex and emotional decision to leave your country of birth, so there’s much to say about why and wherefore and how. At first, it felt very vulnerable to even admit the idea. Then in time I was ready to share. I started my Brave quilt just after I decided to bring you into the journey. Before I did, we realized that for Brandon’s job security, I needed to wait until he was ready to announce his resignation at work. At last, he has, and so I’m free to share! Wow, where to begin? Probably with…



To really answer this, we’d have to sit down and talk for hours. Still, I can give you the Cliff Notes version. Bottom line, we feel that our family is a better fit for the cultural and political environment of certain social democracies. We believe that this change will offer a better life for ourselves and our children.

What? Sorry. I know, that’s vague.

To be a little more specific. We’re looking forward to much better quality public education, free (or nearly free) college education, affordable healthcare, safer healthcare, better work-life balance, less political corruption, less violent crime, more freedom for children to act independently and responsibly, a more secure retirement and the chance to travel and explore in Europe by train. Yes, we realize that we will (eventually) pay more in taxes to support this system. From what we can tell, the benefits will far outweigh what we can buy with that cash here. We also feel good about the ecological impacts of living in a much smaller house and not owning cars. Although these two lifestyle changes are inconvenient, they feel more inline with our true values. If you’re still confused and/or curious, here are some books that factored into our decision:

Yes, we’re moving, but not down the road or across town or even to another state. We’re moving over 4000 miles, across the Atlantic, to a whole new continent. Where we are going and how and all the rest? There was just too much for one post, so I shall pick up the thread in another!

p.s. I hope you’ll be coming with me as I share some adventures via this blog. Just think of all the new photo ops I’ll be finding for my finished quilts!