I’m not lucky!

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Today was my second to last day in my favourite place in the world, Bali, or more specifically Ubud. I’ve been here for a 31 blissful days, got quite a lot of writing done, hosted a writers retreat, had lots of down time, and started some exciting new projects.

I booked myself in for a full spa day today as a final treat to myself. I’m all about extreme self care and this was a beautiful way to wind up my trip.

At lunchtime I met another solo traveller who’d been travelling for the past three months and over lunch we got to talking about life, as you do. She mentioned that people had commented on some of her posts that she was “so lucky”. We discovered that we both object strongly to the term.

Let’s look at the term luck for a moment. The dictionary states: Luck is success or failure brought by chance rather than one’s own actions. 

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No wonder we both objected, it implies that our good fortunes have nothing to do with our hard work or tenacity. She worked long and hard to make her trip happen and was proud of her achievements, and rightly so. Luck has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we are both following our hearts and dreams.

Here’s some other examples I hear and you may too.

“You are so lucky to have a good husband, marriage, relationship.” No, I’m not. Yes I do have a great marriage to a wonderful man, but luck plays no part in this. We both took a chance on love and made some crazy impulsive decisions when we met, and they worked. Our marriage is happy and strong, but this also has nothing to do with luck, we work at it and are both equally committed to making it last forever.

“You are so lucky to be able to travel so often”. No I’m not. It’s a lifestyle choice we made, based on how we want to live our life and our definition of happiness and fulfilment. We choose to live a simple life, with flexible working arrangements that afford us the ability to travel. I’d rather have a plane ticket and my passport than all the fancy things in the world.

“You are so lucky to work for yourself”. No I’m not. I worked in corporate, government and not for profit for over 35 years, and was blessed and grateful for the success I had in my career. I chose to work for myself. Self employment is not an easy path to follow but I wouldn’t change a thing. Self employment has no guarantees and I never know where my next dollar is coming from, but it provides me with the lifestyle I choose and freedom for travel.

“You are so lucky, you’ve lost weight and look good”. No I’m not. I battled my food addiction demons for over 35 years and this year I finally did what was necessary for my health and to save my life. This was not an easy decision and one that was permanent, with ongoing implications, but I’m so incredibly thankful I did it. I’ve never felt better and can look forward to the future with more enthusiasm than ever before.

“You are so lucky……insert the blank”.

I left school at the age of 15 and every single thing I’ve ever achieved has been the result of my own hard work and decisions I’ve made. I am not lucky.

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Next time someone tells you that you’re lucky, or before you say it to another person, stop and ask yourself if it really is so?

Most of the time the people we see as lucky, have worked long and hard to get where they are.

Here’s to the “lucky” ones.

The risk takers.

The dreamers.

The believers.

The adventurers.

The artists and creatives.

Those who chose to live life on their terms.

May you always go where you heart wants to take you.

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How we do cross cultural marriage

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My husband and I have been together for just over 6 years. He is Ghanaian, I am Australian. He has never married before, I was previously married for 28 years. He has no children, I have 2 children and 2 grandchildren. I am 50, he is 42. He was a muslim when we met and I’m an atheist. I was a vegetarian and he a butcher. We had less in common than anyone I can think of.

We have a very happy marriage because we make it work. We have our moments that’s for sure and believe me when I say it’s not all sunshine and rose petals but we’re incredibly happy and in love.

We moved interstate just 17 days after meeting each other and moved to Africa less than 5 months later, so we really did it the hard way. We took a brand new relationship where neither of us had experienced a cross cultural relationship in the midst of a ridiculously ugly divorce and threw it into West Africa! Who does that? We always say that if we can survive that, we can survive anything.

I have seen many relationships begin and end in the time we’ve been together and sadly cross cultural relationships are notorious for not lasting the distance. There are many reasons why this happens and while I’m no relationship expert, I’d like to share some things that I feel have helped us.

  1. Try to get a handle on each other’s cultures and what each of you values the most. This takes time and patience and you can’t possibly cover all of the things that are important to you until they crop up. Patience is critical here as things that come up for both of you will be in the moment, often unexpected and full of emotion.
  2. Compromise compromise compromise. You both won’t always be able to get things your way and you will both have to shift to accommodate each other. The pendulum might swing one way in some things and the other in others. When trying to work out which way to swing it, discuss what’s really important to you on this particular occasion and decide which of you can be more flexible, if it’s more or less important or not such a big deal to you or your partner. Establish your non-negotiables very clearly. For example my husband doesn’t celebrate christmas and we do. Our compromise is that he’s part of our family celebrations, enjoys the family day and eats with us, but he doesn’t participate in gift giving. This one was simple, others are much more complex and take a lot of discussion and negotiation. Compromise.
  3. If you have a misunderstanding, always assume language first. So many things can be misconstrued and miscommunicated and the slightest change of a word or two can completely change the context for the other person. Early on we had several misunderstandings that occurred simply by the use of one word. Always get clear on what your partner is trying to say or what message you are trying to convey before either of you take offence or heated emotions come into play.
  4. Family values are SO different that it could fill a book. Western family expectations are incredibly ridiculously crazily amazingly (get the idea?) different to those of developing countries. Get a handle on it and really understand the expectations of each others families on the both of you. Trust me, this one is HUGE.
  5. Did I mention compromise? Oh yeah I did, but just in case the point wasn’t clear – compromise, BOTH of you. Too often it goes one way and that’s why some relationships don’t work, it has to go both ways.
  6. Expect to be challenged. All relationships take work and are worth the effort, no marriage is easy but cross culture adds a whole level of complication that others don’t.
  7. Expect to be happy. Just like any ordinary relationship, you were attracted to each other for a reason and that reason doesn’t change no matter the pressures you each face.

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I could write a whole lot more, but I like to keep my posts brief and these are just a few things that I’ve found work for us. The key to success is to find out what makes you both tick, what ticks you both off and doing the best you can every day.

Life is short. Live well. Love hard. Kiss lots. Love is beautiful. ❤

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