Feb 27, 2014

It's Coming...


I don't mean to sound dramatic, but my heart feels like one giant gob of worry pudding. I've spent all winter trying to come terms with our impending move and now, any day now, we'll have to hike up our proverbial bootstraps and finally start putting this move back stateside into motion. We will know the day, we will know the where, and we will have to start working on the how, but I'm not sure I'm completely ready for any of it. I've been praying feverishly to know all these variables…for the Lord to prepare our hearts for this big change...but with every day that passes by, we get closer to the inevitable and I find myself still clinging tightly to our life here. I have cereal boxes with expiration dates stamped after our time in Germany is over. Even my food knows it's coming.

 There are days I get sad. Real sad. I look at my inbox filled with travel bookings and trip itineraries and I die a bit inside. Over the next 4 months, those common inbox adventure confirmations will disappear, and I'll return to the life I knew pre-travel. Back to the life that was good, but lacked spice, spontaneity, and engulfing wonder. I had no idea I even wanted those things for myself, but now that I've tasted them, I'm addicted. I know what you're thinking, "You don't think you'll travel when you move back to the states?" My answer is yes. I DO think we'll travel. My gosh, I'll die if we don't. We're going to try our hardest to keep travel as a sub-priority, but we're positive it won't be as prevalent in our lives as it is right now...as it has been these last 3 years abroad. It can't be. We have other goals, other priorities we're equally as passionate about that have started needing our attention. One can't live the selfish, carefree life forever.

 I think the loss of a life focused on travel is what I'm having the hardest time coming to terms with. Not the fact that I won't have a job (although that's a whole other beast of a worry), not the possibility of still living a 12 hour drive from our families (I don't love that, but I think we can handle that), not the idea of having to make new friends and get new doctors and new hair stylists in whatever town we end up in. These things I can handle. These things are challenges we endure every 3 years or so. Old hat, if you will. What's not come so easy is the thought of leaving behind the freedom of jaunting off to "X" destination on a whim. The excitement of throwing suitcases in the car and driving 2 hours to Belgium for a beer, just because. The thrill of combing through travel books on Sunday afternoons, planning our next great adventure as we listen to our towns' church bells ring in the distance. The memories D and I have made exploring Europe childless, completely on our own, and adapting to daily life in foreign country. All those perks of expat life make this transition HARD. We can still do some of those things in our soon-to-be life back stateside, but they'll be different. Jury's still out on whether they'll be good different or just different. It's all relative, though. We'll get used to our pre-travel life again (or at least that's what I keep telling myself). But what this experience abroad has given us has been so unique, so special, so good different from our life stateside, that I'm feeling rather lost about being forced to give it up in just 100 days or so.

There are so many challenging moments in expat life and travel...language barriers, learning new customs, driving new terrain, deciphering new foods, avoiding gypsies and evildoers (just to name a few)...but I'm finding that the hardest part of expat living and traveling is being forced to leave it. There's always been an expiration date on our time abroad. From the day we stepped foot in Germany, our time started ticking down. At first I couldn't hear the tick…now it's so loud I can hardly think straight. But that's the way it goes with the military. Many expats don't experience that certainty of expatriation's end. They stay however long they want...or however long they can stay in school or keep a job, renew their visas, or heck, even move to a new country. Lately I've been pretty envious of those kinds of expats. As much as I miss home and long for Target, my sweet puppy dog, and expansive parking lots, I can't hide the fact that even though we're not typical expats, I've developed a strong attachment to our expat way of living. It's a double edged sword; finding somewhere you feel happy, comfortable, and settled, but having to let it go not out of your own free will. I know we chose this life. I know I married a man who has a love for his country and a need to defend it. I know the day I said "I do" to him, the Air Force became my life, too. But no matter the circumstances that brought us into the expat world, I can still be sad about it ending far too soon. I'm sure every expat who's had to leave expat-dom can relate to that, at least.

 So, I spend my days waiting for the other shoe to drop, that phone call from D that will start this whirlwind of change again. The musings I had in this post are still the same…only littered with more visceral panic, mourning, and melancholia. I feel weird telling my family I'm so excited to move home when I also feel so distraught about leaving Germany. What's weirder is that I can't even say home because we're not even really moving there! Layers of crazy cake, I tell ya. I've never understood the many facets of confusion more clearly than I do now. In fact, I'm not even entirely sure what I was hoping to achieve in writing this post. Transparency, maybe? To remember these feelings when I'm back in America scarfing down Krispy Kreme and Chick-Fil-A? I once loved and thrived in another way of living...mustn't forget that. I guess I'm writing this to tell you the condition of my heart through all this waiting, through all the thoughts of moving back to a life that once was familiar, but now seems hard to grab hold of with all my heart again. I'm happy, I'm sad...somedays, indifferent. The Air Force gave us this amazing, life changing blessing...one can only hope lightening will strike the same place twice. 

Until then, we're still waiting. Prayers appreciated. xo

62 comments:

  1. Hope it all turns out well for your guys! I understand what you mean about living a life with travel then going to not traveling as much, can be hard! Best of luck!

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    1. Thank you so much! It's definitely going to be a tough transition, but I'm trying hard to look forward to the challenge! :)

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  2. What you and D do is so appreciated by so many. I can't imagine having your time cut short in a way. There's always more to see and explore. I hope you are happy with your next destination. And I hope it's reeeallly close to an airport. ;)

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  3. Got to love military life. If by chance you end up at Keesler let me know!

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  4. Oh my god Casey...how did you get inside my head?! That is EXACTLY how I've felt and have been feeling since I repatriated a few years ago. No more Easyjet, no more £95 roundtrip tickets to a foreign country, or weekend trips to European cities. Are we sisters? Lol. But that being said, there are so many amazing things to see here in the US. My list is so long. I've laid on the beach in Mauritius but I haven't even seen the Grand Canyon! As Laurie said very well "there's always more to see and explore".

    xo
    Life+1
    New Post: How a Giraffe Drinks Water

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    1. Great minds think alike! We might be sisters…just might. ;) It's so funny…we've seen more of Europe than we've seen of the US. I'm excited to fix that, but Europe will always have my heart!

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  5. From an outsider perspective the USA seems full of travel opportunities within its borders as well. There are so many different cultures just from one state to another. And all the super weird roadside attractions too. We don't have as many of those in Canada. Don't get sad! Get excited to explore your home!

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  6. The waiting is the hardest part! I hope that your next duty station is awesome and I'll pray for a smooth transition. Big life changes are so hard, hang in there <3

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  7. I completely understand your sentiments here, between being incredibly sad to leave but also excited for some of the comforts of home (Target!). Just remember your memories, and think of how fun it will be to visit in the future! Life is one big opportunity, and I'm sure you will have great ones ahead!

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  8. thinking of you! I was just going to email you today to see if you've heard where you're going (I'm impatient like that), but you beat me to it with this post. This life is such a transition, always a transition, and always something new. You and D will find your new adventure and it'll be fantastic.

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  9. All the best in this time of transition for you both.

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  10. Hoping it all goes well! Hugs!

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  11. Oh girl! Will def pray for you!

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  12. You wrote this beautifully - and even though I've not experienced the same expat life as you, I feel like I understand what you are going through. I have not long been an expat myself, but where I moved is now my home and mine is a permanent move. I should imagine that if/when I return to visit the UK, I may well feel some of what you have described, even though I will not be moving there to live.
    Really interesting post.

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  13. I remember those feelings very well each time I have moved back home after being abroad for a year or two. I always felt guilty because I was so sad about leaving my life abroad when I felt like I should be excited to be returning home to friends and family.

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    1. Yep! That's the same place my head is. Conflicted between home and home. Tough spot to be, but I'm also feeling pretty blessed to even have two places to call "home." :)

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  14. I talked to my 91 year old grandpa last week and he was still reminiscing about his time spent in Wiesbaden (small world, huh?). You'll never forget these amazing memories - they will be something YOU tell your grandchildren too :)

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  15. You are so beautiful to share your heart:) I know the feeling. I did NOT want to leave Nepal. The travel, the wonder, the meaning, the relationships were all so difficult to part with. And yes, life is different back here in california, but I think it has been lovely to figure out the meaning God has for me here:) I am praying for you sweet friend! xoxo Katie

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  16. this is a beautiful post casey. I really can't imagine what that must be like, the hardships of changing your whole life around. but I just know things will come together. and you will be able to find passion in other things- even if it's not travel all the time.

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  17. I'm sure you'll be fine - now you can apply all the travel-skills you have learnt in Europe to the US and have fun discovering your home country. And who knows, you might even end up overseas again with some toddler and experience the expat life from a totally new perspective :)

    Anyway, I know how you feel and how hard it is. It was hard to go back home after having spent a year in Belgium partying and travelling (oh, and studying from time ti time). It was heartbreaking to leave Maastricht behind this summer and even after half a year I still don't feel totally comfortable in Switzerland and miss my old life. And just when I thought this was for good, now there's the sudden possibility that I might relocate again to another country ... life can be crazy! So just enjoy everyday as it comes.

    Thinking of you and wishing you all the best for your upcoming destination - I'm curious where it'll be!

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  18. Right now, we're starting our transition out of the military and I have a lot of similar feelings to this post. Yeah it's a big adventure and change is good but what is happening right now is good too! It's hard to not be sad or scared when the known has been so much fun. Of course we didn't have the same travel adventures you two have had but our Navy life has been such a good life! It's tough to think about leaving it behind. I hope though that when you do move, you find yourself having new and different adventures that won't be the same but will hopefully be just as exciting :)

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  19. My heart really goes out to you, I am sure I fall into that catagory of expat you are feeling a bit jealous of and let me tell you I have been a bit jealous of your expat life from time to time too. In 2008 I spent 7 1/2/ months traveling and working in Europe before I went back to California and I will not lie that the transistion was very hard for me and it took me a long time to come to terms with my new life in the states. What I had to learn though was finding my old life in the new me, living abroad is always going to change you and remember that having new ideas and feelings towards old things is ok and very very good. The thing is though that anyone you used to know will have a hard time with a new version of you but if they are really meant to be in your life they will come to love the new you just as much as they loved the old you.

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  20. I could spew out some encouraging words, but all I will say is that truthfully, I don't know how you feel, but while reading your post, my heart aches. I feel your feelings through your words. All I can do is wish that I could give you the biggest bear hug EVER and hope that you can feel the LOVE I'm sending your way through this teeny, tiny screen xo

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  21. I felt that way when leaving Okinawa. I knew it was coming, but we didn't have orders, so I really didn't know when. We had an idea though. I did my best to not dwell on it and continue crossing things off my bucket list. We got orders 30 days out. I was so busy, I still didn't have to dwell on it. It hit a few weeks after we moved back. At first, I felt like I was on vacation, but it slowly sank in that we weren't. I'm not a fan of where we are now, but I'm trying. I've still got a huge list of things to do and see and I do my best to keep the kids busy crossing things off that list. I know it's hard, but it's part of the lifestyle.

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  22. Prayers for you... I lived in Munich for only four months during college, but even that was long enough to create these same kinds of feelings in me, so I can only imagine that living there for three years would make it that much harder.

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    1. Thank you for the prayers, Heather! It's amazing how even only being abroad for a short time can really grab hold of your heart. No matter how long or short the time here…it wouldn't be enough!

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  23. I had NEVER considered what it felt like to be an expat in the way that you are - this was such a wake-up call! I know I was closed-minded about how being an expat in the way that I was was the only right way for me to be an expat (did that make sense?) but I just... didn't stop to think how hard it could be to leave if you didn't choose it. I'm SO sorry that you have to deal with the leaving and, on top of that, the uncertainty. It must be unbelievably hard. But know that you have us going with you no matter where you end up or when!

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  24. Praying for you guys! I've never lived outside of the states, although Alaska seems a world away, but I can 100% relate to this post. Thinking about you love and you know I'm here to chat anytime.

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    1. Thank you, Mal!! Alaska is TOTALLY a world away. It basically is Germany, just colder. I know exactly where to find you, girl xx

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  25. I was stationed in Germany for 3 years and Loved. Every. Minute. Except for the times I was deployed, of course!

    The transition back was a little jarring, especially going to central Kentucky from there. For the first few months, you'll miss the wienerschnitzel, gutes Bier, trains, and the like. But, you will adjust. The human mind has an amazing capacity for adaptation. The benefit of living in Germany? You've stoked the fires of wanderlust that will never die. It makes you not only appreciate what we have in the U.S., but also what others have to offer. Now you have a goal: do what it takes so that when you retire, you can get back to the traveling wanderlusty expat lifestyle.

    You might enjoy my friend Doug Nordman's blog. He's a retired Navy guy who surfs on the beach every day. The link is http://www.the-military-guide.com.

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    1. Oh gosh…deployments. No fun! Thankfully we dodged those while we were here. Can't say that'll happen stateside, but that's military life!

      You've just captured exactly what I think life back home will be like. Like, reached into my brain and took out all the thoughts. We adapted SO WELL to Germany (mind boggling how quickly it happened), so here's hoping we have a smooth transition back stateside. I'm going to miss Germany every.single.day…but we'll make it just fine. When retirement comes along…you better believe we're traveling non-stop (God-willing, of course!).

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  26. To be honest, I don't want you to leave Germany either! I've loved reading about your adventures. Because of you I now know I must visit there someday :) You and D are so young and you will find your new place wherever you end up. Babies will come and you will have a new focus. I know you already do but try to focus on your blessings and how fortunate you are to have had these past 3 years. You have all the memories and photos and many of the things you love about Europe will be there when you are able to visit again. Hang in there Casey!

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    1. HAHAHAHA oh don't say that! I gotta go!! WAHHHHHH! Yes, you absolutely must visit germany. It's too cool for words. Not even I could write of its awesomeness to the fullest! Thank you for the encouragement, Janet! I'm hanging tough! :)

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  27. A beautiful post! Kudos to you for handling these changes that you have little control over with grace. Even though travel may not be a focus as much for you, I have a feeling now that you've been bitten with the bug it will be hard to stop...at least that's what happened to me! ;) I don't think your more carefree life in Germany has been selfish, though! You've obviously enjoyed your time there, as anyone can see in your gorgeous photos, and the thankfulness you feel for this incredible experience is evident in your writing. Definitely not anything I would call selfish:) sending good thoughts your way as you work through this transition...I can't wait to see where you go next, abroad or closer to home!

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    1. Oh yes…that travel bug has been us HARD and we're going to do our best to make it as much of a priority as life will allow! I guess the selfish part of my thoughts come from the idea that we should start settling down (and by settling down, I mean having kids). It's been just the two of us for almost 7 years (13 if you count dating!) and it's starting to feel like we should move towards a new chapter. Just hard to to close the other one, ya know? We have enjoyed our time here to the fullest, that's for sure!

      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement!! You guys are totally filling me with some good vibes!

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  28. I tweeted you my response, but I read this post when Betsy RTed it and it definitely hit home. When we moved to England we knew it was for a finite period and to hit the ground running making the most of our time there. We did, and I was prepared for culture shock, but honestly I was surprised at how quickly I settled into everyday life. We traveled quite a bit and definitely took advantage of the ease of European travel, and I miss that regularly, but what I miss the most (and my husband agrees; we've discussed it many times) is just the every day life in North Yorkshire. I'm not sure if that's why I've had (am having) such a hard time readjusting to life Stateside or not, but I just feel like I've had the blinders taken off and life here just seems… less than. I'm hoping that it keeps getting easier, and the physical heartache has lessened over time, but mostly I'm hoping (and my husband as well) that we can get back overseas.
    Hopefully your transition back is easier; I definitely don't wish this malaise on anyone. But if you randomly burst into tears driving down the highway, feel free to holler in my direction. I've been there. :)

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  29. oh goodness friend, i know exactly how you feel. it's why i was so nervous to move back to the states and why i fought it for so long (just ask jeremy ; ) it's hard to come to terms of the big change that the states is prone to be, especially the travel aspect. but that's when you just think of how close south america is ; ) it's our new playground that we get to take advantage of. and while it may not be as often as we used to be able to travel, at least it's still an option! i hope the transition goes well back to the states. and we'll be parking our RV in front of your house in no time! haha!

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  30. Good luck! The transition might be hard but it sounds like you have your head on straight.

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  31. My dearest SIL, your adventure is just beginning. Yes, the European 'Vacation' may be ending, for now, but you'll be back. Honestly, I'll selfishly admit how much I want you two back here. I long to be an aunt again and this time to children who will ALWAYS know me as Aunt Aimee. I long to share advice about mommy-hood, only to watch you make your own way. I long for Disney trips with the cousins and weeks at the beach. I long for our traditional Christmas and Thanksgiving festivities. I long to take you, Pam, Wendy, and mom to the tea house I discovered right in our backyard. As this latest journey looms in the not-so-distant future, take comfort in the fact that coming home provides another support system...though we truly have always been here and wish we could have been there more...and that this is not goodbye to Europe, it's just a "see-ya in a few."

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    1. Aww thank you, Aims! We're looking forward to family vacays and just spending more time with you and the kiddos, too! That tea house sounds like so much fun!! We definitely have a lot of catching up to do! xoxoxo

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  32. ugh. this one hit me hard. we're heading out later this year - its far enough to still imagine lots of expat time left, but once 2014 hit, it was THIS YEAR and it seems to be going by so fast (um, hello march!). i like to imagine that closer to, i'll be excited for all of the newness and adventure that comes next, but i really don't know how i'll feel. i hate that its affecting you so much...the limbo must be hard. i have started compiling a list of things to look forward to in hopes that it'll ease the last few months here. things like, convenience and warm towels straight from a dryer and quick microwavable meals and then i start thinking about allllll of the food that we haven't had for 2 years. all that delicious, terrible-for-you-but-sinfully-good food. maybe try making your own list? good luck dear!

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    1. It's CRAZY how times flies once you start realizing your time slipping away. Totally not fair! We definitely are looking forward to the conveniences of home…maybe making a list will keep those things in the forefront of my mind instead of dwelling on all the fun we're leaving here. Thank you for the idea and the encouragement!! I CAN NOT WAIT to eat some GOOD Mexican food!! HA!

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  33. First off, this is so well written. I can feel your joy and sorrow and pain in your words. Life is just funny. There have been places in my life I knew I was going to leave eventually and WANTED to leave many times before it was over, and yet found myself so sad about leaving the things I loved behind. That's just life and moving on. It's never black or white. I can imagine being sad about losing the same travel outlook that you've been able to have. It seems like such a blessing. There are amazing things to see in the US, but it often seems harder to get there. And life moves on. Anyway, I'm thinking about you!

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  34. I can't even imagine how it would feel to leave, which I guess is why I have not done it yet. My heart aches for you. I know you will find adventures to look forward to at home, too! You are a mega optimist and home is full of surprises around the corner too, just English-speaking surprises :)

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  35. I completely get how you are feeling, except I'm on the other side of the spectrum right now. Our move to San Francisco can't come soon enough! I can't wait for all of the travel, cultural and Target opportunities in my future. From the words of one of my best guy friends... don't be afraid to feel feelings and stuff! :)

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  36. i am sending all kinds of prayers and happy thoughts your way!!

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  37. Bittersweet. I felt the same way leaving Japan!

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  38. Any chance you will get another overseas assignment or an extension in Germany? Or are you guys wanting to go back stateside?

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  39. I think there's usually a mourning period when it comes to moving. While you can be excited to get to a new duty station, leaving that way of life you've known for years can be difficult. I expect some extra mourning when we leave Korea.

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  40. Oh, YES. I am exactly in your shoes, just a little farther down the road. Getting on the Patriot Express two weeks ago to go back to the States was really freaking hard, I'm not going to lie. Life in Germany was amazing, along with all the travel opportunities and expat perks. It sucked leaving, and it sucks that even though I'm returning to my own country, our new duty station is not my "home". Milspouse probs!

    Give yourself time to mourn. It's not a bad thing. You had a wonderful time in Germany and it's ok to appreciate that. Moving back to the States will have its own "culture shock" but if God has plans for you stateside, you can be sure they'll be good ones :) stay strong, girl! I'm right here with ya!

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    1. AHHHH Shannon, bless your heart! You are in the thick of it all! I will definitely be picking your brain as our move day inches closer. Milspouse probs for sure! Thank you for your kind thoughts…I'm hanging tough for now!! :)

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  41. This really struck a chord with me. I understand completely what you're feeling - I lived in London for a time and having to move back to the States and out of Europe was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. And worst because it was completely involuntary. I still ache for my life abroad. I miss it from the bottom of my heart every single day. I wish I could offer words of advice for making it all okay and taking away the heartache, but the truth is, I'm still working desperately on that myself. All I can say is to focus on the parts of "home" that you love and have missed, and hold on to them, because they are the things you don't or even can't have anywhere else, and they are precious. Prayers for you both! xxx

    Melanie
    Style to Stage

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  42. While it's totally scary, I'm sure you will have new adventures to tell! Enjoy the moments as they are all special in their own way :)

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    1. Thank you for the reminder, Nina!! :)

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  43. I totally know what you mean... big life changes can bring on such a whirlwind of emotions, but at the end of the day, the little things around us are what mean the most, our partners, our families and being together. And also remember, just because you'll be living in the States again, doesn't mean you can't travel a lot! :)

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    1. So, so true, Casey! We are very much looking forward to getting back to the basics and enjoying time closer to both our families. And while the travel definitely won't be as prevalent, we hope it will still happen every once in a while! :)

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  44. I totally understand where you are coming from. I felt the same way when we left Germany in 2009. I've spent much of the last 5 years hoping my husband would be given another overseas assignment. We just found out last month that we are headed back to Germany this summer for another three years of European adventures! So, don't count out another European assignment in your future. Until then, enjoy your time with your family and all of the conveniences that the U.S. has to offer.

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    1. I hope you're right! But to be quite honest, I think we'd want to try an assignment in Asia if we were ever gunning for another overseas assignment. As much as I've LOVED living in Germany and exploring Europe, I'd also love the opportunity to see a whole different part of the world! Thanks for your encouraging words! :)

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    2. Funny you should say that, my husband was originally supposed to be filling a job at Yokota. The day before the job list came out the person he was supposed to replace decided to submit paperwork to extend! We were so excited about moving to Japan and are hoping to get there after this assignment. We are blessed to have such amazing opportunities-however, I'm having a tough time convincing our teenage daughters of that!

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  45. I can ONLY imagine what you are going through! Germany is a strong possibility for our next duty station, and If we get it, I just KNOW that this will be me at the end of it. I hope you can soak up every last drop before y'all head back!

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  46. I am in the same situation, we actually DO know where we are moving to, but waiting for the AF to cut orders.

    We leave here the last week of June, and I am both thrilled and sad. So many mixed feelings. It will be the closest we have lived to our families in ten years!

    I will say a prayer for you and hope you get orders soon.

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I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

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