I worried a bit about the summer holidays, and the Christmas holiday leading up to summer. I’m always on high alert when it comes to my kids – will being away from family on Christmas be too much? Would it feel too lonely here? Would they be sad?
And so we decided to go away, to a French island called New Caledonia, to “change our ideas” as we say in French and to see a new country.
In reality, I had nothing to worry about. As Chloe shared, we had a wonderful week away, and the kids adapted to Christmas in New Zealand and in New Caledonia. It was the most low-stress Christmas I have ever had and I loved every minute of that!
And just as we do in the US, the summer months have settled in and we are all in a low-key kind of mode. The kids sleep in, bedtimes run later, and except for surf lifesaving class on Sundays, all other activities are on hold until Feb.
But it’s more than just the long summer days that has brought about a change around here. It’s that every single one of us, including me (probably the one who fought it the longest,) has completely transitioned to life here and it feels good to be settled.
Over the last few months, I have become influenced by the slower pace around me. And other than my work schedule and work commitments that I continue to manage just as I would in the US, the rest of my life has downshifted.
Downshifted and downsized. New Zealanders really frown on excess, of any kind. Excess consumption, excess stuff, excess house, excess cars, and excess waste – it’s all very unattractive here.
I keep coming back to an American woman from Chicago whom we met when we first arrived. I was asking her about her transition and her adjustment from Chicago to the small town of Gisborne. She told me that at first, she missed everything about the US. She would fly home and come back with suitcases of “stuff” – clothes from the Gap for her kids, shoes from the outlets, cosmetics and beauty supplies. But that one day she realized she had everything she needed here. And that while it has a different brand name, she didn’t need all that “stuff” from the US anymore. Gizzy was enough, she kept saying. It’s enough.
And so this is where I have landed on the back end of my transition. We don’t have flashy cars or a big house or Bloomingdales or the Mandarin Oriental Spa here. And we don’t have Chipotle and Whole Foods and Trader Joes. But we have small boutiques, and great stores for the kids, and a cool chain called Tank, and ridiculous local produce on every corner. And we have the mountains and the ocean and gorgeous hikes. We have no traffic and no heated arguments or tones about parking and politics.
And finally I understand that while it is different, it is enough.
Less is not just more.
It is enough.