…A little different…

“Elicia, ever since you were a tiny little girl you always had this joy of life. It was relevant in your laughter and excitement as you went throughout each day. I remember shortly after you learned to talk I would call your house and you would answer the phone. Your excitement was such a joy. You would have so much to say that you would not let me talk to your mother. It is so wonderful to see this beautiful woman you have grown up to be and that you have not lost that joy of life. To see you be so excited about each day’s adventure.”

Being happy always came easy for me. It was something I never ever had to think about. It didn’t mean that life was always easy for me, but somewhere along the last year I felt like that part of me got temporarily masked. I was still smiling, but I felt like stress, hardship, trials and tribulations of Morocco began to really wear on me.

Most of you know that my life with my husband Tom looks a bit different than most of our peers. We moved abroad to South Korea soon after marriage & then we moved to Morocco where we currently work as teachers. People often ask when we are going to move “back home” and settle down. & while trust me– most days I really want to move back to America things have looked a bit different for us. You may see adventure, a fun & easy life, and maybe even wonder how we are able to do so much traveling when you look at our life through social media, but the reality is that we struggle just as you do. We have stress, anxiety, or worries just like you. Often we feel like outcasts because almost all of our friends have had/been having kids for years, own homes, and have stable jobs. We don’t quite feel like we fit in “back home” and as much as we try–we definitely don’t fit  in when we are overseas. People often ask why we chose to live abroad and while we do I think that it kinda chose us. Initially for adventure, excitement, and something new. We saw opportunity and we took hold. The reality though, is that when you make a life abroad it isn’t all just fun and games. We have real life stuff we have to try navigating in a foreign place in a language that we speak maybe 30 words of! Like buying a car, trying to decipher foreign banking, or you know, when your car breaks down on the side of the road in the middle of the night. When you just want to chat with someone familiar and you can’t find stable wifi to do so…just to name a few!

I’ve referenced that life the past year in Morocco has been extremely hard. I’ve personally struggled with how to share the challenges that we face without sounding like a negative Nancy– but I think there comes a time when you’ve got to be honest and you’ve just got to put your story out there. So here it is. If you’ve ever felt different, felt like an outcast, felt like giving up… this one is for you. This post is for those who are hanging on and who just want to throw in the towel. Who want to share their story, but haven’t found their voice. Where happiness is still there, but feels a bit far away. We’re all humans and I think that life was meant to be shared. Sometimes, life simply can’t be shared in person and so we do what we can to connect.

Here are a few ways my husband and I have found that you can encourage someone who might be struggling whether that is someone abroad or someone near to you. We’ve all had times in life where we need a little extra boost.

  1. Remind them that you’re there. They might know it, but maybe they just need that simple reminder!
  2. Regularly connect. We look forward to that consistency and that connection. We understand you’re busy. We are too. Try to reach out when you have a free moment. Even if it’s a quick text, sending a quick verse, or sharing a funny moment during your week.
  3. Listen. Sometimes we don’t need advice, but we just need to vent cause gosh dang it sometimes it’s HARD.
  4. Share. Your life stories help us feel like we aren’t alone in this thing called life- it’s likely that you’ve been through something similar.
  5. Spend time. Tom recommends that men don’t always need to hash out every detail– but rather a fun outing like surfing or something as simple as a quick hike to logically process and bounce ideas can be extremely helpful!

The reality is that life is messy- but I think that God’s greatest gift to us is each other. I think we’ve only got so much time to live here on Earth and I think it’s time we start opening up & living a little differently. My grandmother wrote the quotes at the beginning and end of this post, and I wanted to share because it’s my hope not only for myself– but for each and every single one of you too. Have you ever struggled before and what are some things that helped you?

“May your journey be fulfilling. May you both always have your joy of life, your laughter, your love of God and family. Always remember near or far, you are in my heart, on my mind, and in my prayers.”


Holding on.

It’s been almost a year now since I have updated my blog. I can’t believe how fast that year has gone. Since then Tom and I have traveled Asia, went back to family and friends for a summer in the USA, and moved to Morocco. Whoa.

There are many excuses I could give for not writing. I needed time away, I felt uninspired, I felt stressed with our recent move and in our jobs. The real reason is that life happened.  And I feel like it should.  I haven’t decided if I will write regularly again, but the last couple of weeks I have been really missing writing. Writing for me has always been a way to process and reflect. When we moved abroad to Korea it was a place that I could share our adventures and experiences with friends and family in a convienant way.

The last year of my life has made me stronger. The last six months have been extremely challenging to put it lightly. There have been times I’ve doubted our decision to move to Morocco. When I take a step back and look around it’s then that I realize just how beautiful our life here really is. Morocco has challenged us in ways we find hard to describe. I have sat on my couch sobbing wondering why everything feels so hard here. Then just a  moment later it all comes together or something great happens. When we left Korea we so desperately yearned to FEEL something. We wanted a culture where people felt PASSIONATE. Where people told you how they felt instead of keeping it all inside. We desired to be challenged in the work place and we were seeking a place where people truly wore their emotions on their sleeve. Morocco, is all of this ,and more. I have never lived in a more openly passionate place. From the daily interactions between people, the driving, the food. Everything feels like it’s lived just a bit more loudly here in Morocco.

We should have known what was coming, but as Tom always says “you don’t know what you don’t know.” The first five months in Morocco tested our patience (mine more than Tom), our perseverance, and my sanity.  Just last week was a perfect example of Morocco summed up exactly for me. I had a mother SCREAM at me in a parent teacher meeting like I have never encountered before (remember, I said passion.) and then the next day she sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to my classroom.

Morocco, has shown me that there is beauty in the little things like endless amounts of sunshine, ridiculously cheap and delicious produce, and silent moments by the ocean. Mostly, it’s taught me how to love through the hard. Loving is easy when life is good, but what about when it all seems to be falling apart? The hugs from my amazing first graders, the guardian at our old apartment, the young guys who worked at our favorite fruit stand, my incredible husband who I DAILY thank God for. Friends, who love me at my absolute worst. A church to call home.

When I am able to still my mind I think about how whenever I haven’t been happy in life that I’ve always “fixed” it. If I was unhappy in a job- I left. If I was unhappy with a place- I moved. But, maybe there is something to be said about holding on when all you want to do is let go. Maybe there is something to be said about plowing through. Sticking it out. Maybe the person that needed to grow… was me.


Leaning Forward.

English winter camp is finished for the day. The screams and chatter of the students fade out as they trickle out the door to head home. After cleaning up the fun we’ve had at camp from our baking soda and vinegar food color explosions I am left with some time at my desk to just “think.” The silence brings clarity when there is so much noise in my head. I have time to write, read, plan, and dream. Being in Korea has given us so many beautiful gifts. Some of which we may never have again. As our time here draws to a close  I am left with an abundance of thoughts/emotions swirling in my head.

Thoughts of our very first journey as a married couple moving abroad bags packed.Saying Goodbyes. Relying on each other. A new country, continent, new friends, and new jobs. New food, a change of pace, and a new life together. My oh my, what a journey it has been. We’ve grown in ways that I never could have imagined and although our life looks quite different than many of our friends back home- I think I can speak for both of us that we wouldn’t want it any other way. For me, when it comes to making choices  I have always been a quick decision maker. I stand by my decisions and I JUMP OFF THAT LEDGE. I leap, because I crave that leap. I thrive in the unknown. When a place becomes comfortable- I get antsy and seek new adventures. When the balance creeps in I begin to crave  the “off balance” again in my life. Tom, the logic to my crazy, brings me back down to Earth & evaluates our next steps logically. We both feel our time here in Korea has been complete. So it’s probably not surprising we are off onto a new adventure again very soon.

Trying to sum up all that South Korea has given us can be quite the challenge, trying to convey it in one blog post is nearly impossible. Trying to break up two years of your life in a few bullet points just doesn’t do it justice, but let me try my best, because it’s important that I share this.

Time- Time for ourselves, time together, time to explore  the heck out of Asia! Our recent vacations to Vietnam and Cambodia will mark our 7th and 8th country we have visited together during our almost 21 months here. Close proximity to Southeast Asia & cheap flights have allowed us to get out and explore the world. We have this little thing called time that I’ve never felt like I had before… and we’ve embraced it with open arms.

Korean Kindness- This is a for real thing, and besides Fiji, there is no place in the world I have better experienced it. Koreans, although often timid at first, have the biggest of hearts. They often go well out of their way to help a stranger. Not speaking the language in a country can be extremely intimidating upon arrival, but Koreans make it so easy to fall in love with this place. This is something that can be easily overlooked after two years here, but in the beginning so many small acts of kindness helped us get through the hard days.

New perspective– Although this might sound strange- being away from the holiday hype in the states can be refreshing. Do we miss family time and traditions? Absolutely. BUT being away from the holiday craze really helped us to focus on the importance of what each holiday meant to us, and create our own meaningful traditions together.

Our Foundation -Sure, we could have built a solid foundation for our marriage in the states like many do. For us, for our journey in marriage, living abroad was just what we needed. You quickly see what someone is made of when travel plans go astray, communication with coworkers and the community around you is limited (if even possible at all!)  You learn how to work together because you have no other choice. When you get in a disagreement with your spouse where are you gonna go? Well I will tell you where you’re gonna go & the answer is that you’re going nowhere!!! BUT FOR real. You can’t run to your favorite place down the road or run to Target to shop. You can’t pick up the phone and call your best friend or your mom. You’re forced to face the facts, communicate, and work together.

Simplicity- When you have your entire life in a few suitcases- life becomes simple real FAST. You realize you don’t need a lot to be happy. You live simply, think simply, and you save your money to become debt free, travel, and for your savings account. Suddenly that couch on the corner of the street that is in perfect condition looks a lot more appealing than it ever would have before. AND you’re proud of it. Korea has shown and reminded us that “stuff” doesn’t make you happy, people do, memories do, and that couch on the side of the road for free will do ya just fine.

Charades- This one is sorta just for fun, but it must be included because it’s truly our life here. We’ve lived in what those in Seoul would call rural Korea & because of it we’ve gotten really really good at acting/charades. Imagine me miming having to pee, trying to act out the word “NO” (arms across chest in an X shape) and also miming sitting in a chair trying to explain to the students “sit down” – and now you know how I spend my days.

As we begin to say goodbye to Korea we start a new chapter in our lives together. Pausing for reflection helps me remember to thank God for every moment here on Earth to experience this life with my husband.