Final Thought: June/July Update 2019

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This post is the continuation of my recent June & July 2019 Newsletter’s Final Thought:



Since I last wrote to you all, lots has happened. Personally, that is. In retrospect, maybe that’s part of my disappearance from your inboxes; it’s not that I didn’t want to share what I was up to, professionally, but sometimes the personal gets too complicated and I rarely share one without the other. That’s the thing with songwriters; our hearts are on our [album] sleeves ~ (Haha! That joke would work great if I were preparing a vinyl release.. but I’m not!) Anyway, my point is that I have to be in a grounded, clear-headed and stable place, or else I’m the kind of Cancerian crab who would rather just go about her business under the sand…  I also recently found out that I’m an INFJ, if that makes any sense to anyone.

I think the summary is just this: I needed some time…



Nevertheless, a lot has happened that makes me feel proud:

In October of last year, I got formally divorced (hurray–both parties much happier for it!). The journey of my marriage, separation in 2015 and formal divorce in 2018 was a long one and it’s the primary storyline in my book. (Click here for a fuller blog about the divorce experience.) I feel really good about the decision to move on from that relationship but it was not one made lightly. When there are kids involved and a cross-cultural, international situation, it all has to be done with grace and deliberation, strategy and harmony.

My kids, Echo and Paz, are now 7 and 5. They’re doing great. They’ve known life with a “Mommy’s house” and a “Daddy’s house” since before they can remember so nothing is out of the ordinary for them. They’ve both done extremely well at the French International School here in Beijing and are officially tri-lingual. Echo is reading now, everything and anything with words on it. Paz is a chess wizard and especially loves his jumpy knights. They’re my ultimate muses.

Being in my 11th year of living in China, I’m at the stage where I can finally see some benefit arising from my knowledge of Mandarin and Chinese culture. That isn’t to say there’s not an enormous amount yet to learn for an outsider like me. The deeper you get into this language, for instance, the more you realize it’s an ocean of information you’ve only just learned to snorkel in. Nevertheless, last fall I was asked to be an interpreter at the UN headquarters here in Beijing, which was an enormous honour. Later that same month, I interpreted for the Senior Vice President of a huge media company here in China called Phoenix New Media. As a willing freelancer, I don’t do translation or interpreting often, but some jobs are worth accepting immediately, no matter how nervous I was. (You can be sure I spent hours preparing for those gigs…)

Of all of these markers of growth, as I said, I am very proud.

But, really, the greater truth is that all of these accomplishments are rarely what make me happy. I’ve come to a place in my life where it’s not the big changes or great successes that bring me joy anymore (and nor do they bring me despair–thankfully); it’s more the day-to-day smooth survival and sustainability and continued good health (knock on wood) that regularly slap me with a smile of gratitude. I see my kids take their dishes to the sink after dinner without being asked; or I feel strong after a work-out rather than wanting to collapse; or I find myself having balanced a day of single-parent-freelance juggling instead of letting everything fall to the ground around me (which happens sometimes too); or when someone I love just hugs me because they want to…. These are the moments when I actually feel the most happy. It has nothing to do with success on a grand scale.

So, here’s to day-to-day survival and gratitude. Here’s to appreciating the little moments. Here’s to some peace and lightness with ourselves in the face of so much pressure and expectation that social media helps generate. Forget it, I say. Not every day is a good one. People rarely post about the crappy times.

I tell my kids stories at nights when they sleep at my place. They always want the stories to be funny, but sometimes I’m just not in a funny mood and I can’t think of anything that will make them laugh. I tell them how I’m feeling, but they’re often so eager for me to start, they sweep aside my self-doubt and disclaimers and say this, wisely:

“Just try your best, Mommy.”

Gotcha. Every day.

~ es

Final Thought: Nov Update 2019
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