On January 12th, 2016, my husband and I boarded a one-way flight to Wellington, New Zealand. We had two hiking backpacks, our plane tickets and our newlywed bliss.
We planned our move for over a year – getting our finances in order and starting to save more, slowly getting rid of all of our material possessions and stowing away the most important things in one big Rubbermaid container.
Our spare time was spent Googling the best things to do in New Zealand, hanging out with friends and family, and planning our wedding.
I think people started to believe we weren’t actually moving because we had planned for so long; honestly, I think WE started to believe we were never leaving. It just seemed like business as usual…
That month, it started to hit me that I was saying indefinite “see ya laters,” to all of the people I love and the comforts of home I had grown so accustomed to. It was a month full of going away parties, get togethers, “final stops” and every emotions imaginable.
But the excitement of the unknown and our upcoming adventure still had me too amped up to be truly sad. After all – we’d be back to States at some point, so this wasn’t goodbye forever…right?
The day we left the States, we cleared the last few things from our Lakewood, Ohio apartment and said goodbye to the first home my husband and I shared with each other. We still had lots of last minute stuff to do (in typical Chelsea fashion), so it was a whirlwind morning.
Once we were all packed up and the place was completely empty, my sister-in-law took us to the airport. That’s when it hit me:
HOLY SHIT. We are moving out of the country indefinitely, with no real plan and two bags.
I bawled my eyes out most of the way to the airport, and had a full-blown anxiety attack as the plane took off from the Cleveland Airport. There were 24 hours of flying ahead of me – this was it.
It took a couple hours, a movie and an airplane wine to calm my mind, and eventually I started to feel better. Again, the excitement outweighed the uncertainty.
Finally, we made it to our Airbnb in Wellington on an unseasonably windy and rainy day and didn’t have an ounce of jet lag. We explored the city for hours, checking out the local shops, restaurants, attractions and monuments.
This continued for weeks!
We ate food from every nook and cranny of the world, saw street performers, drank wine on lawns, heard live music, got tattoos, walked along beaches, made friends, took hikes and saw the most breathtaking views in the world.
Eventually, we got jobs and an apartment, and we transitioned back into “regular” life. I was working at a bakery (I later moved on to a different job in the non profit world), and Mac got his job at the spouting company (which he still works for). We moved out of our initial apartment to a nice house on the outskirts of the city, in a small town called Lyall Bay that’s right on the water.
We settled into our new digs and felt like royalty.
You might be reading this thinking, “what a freaking dream.” And it was in some aspects; but the truth is, a move THIS big comes with trials and lots of emotions, too.
A few months into our move, I hit a rough patch. I was feeling like I was doing the same old stuff, feeling the same old way about myself…but even worse because I had none of my typical comforts to cling to.
I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way when we were on the adventure of a lifetime, doing what most people only dream of.
Was this it? Was this how I was going to feel forever? Was this just who I was?
I took my anxieties out on my husband. I was constantly worried about our money situation because of what we were making in comparison to what we were spending. I would lie awake at night thinking about the chunk of money we spent out of our savings when we got here.
I didn’t want to hang out with our new friends because they weren’t our old, lifelong friends. I didn’t like my job, but had no idea what I “should” be doing.
On top of all of that, I felt guilty for feeling the way I did because I was living such a “non-traditional” life; and that’s what I always wanted, after all.
I was…stuck. And as much as I didn’t want ANYONE to know, I was miserably discontent.
My rough patch caused me to do some long, hard thinking about the person I was and the person I wanted to be. I was stripped of all the things I was used to – my “crutches” and vices.
This meant I had to dig deep, and really get to know myself for the first time, maybe ever.
So, for weeks I would dive into personal development books, TedTalks episodes and YouTube discussions to try and set my mind right. I started saying YES to things I would’ve otherwise said no to, like long hikes with my husband, going out on the water to windsurf, or a night out with our new friends.
I took a serious look at what I was passionate about and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It was clear that the kind of work I was doing was not what I wanted to be doing forever. I felt stifled, disengaged, unmotivated and like my creativity was being covered by a big, dark sheet.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that a “job” defines a person. But like it or not, I had to do something to make an income, and if I was going to do it for the rest of my life, I sure as heck better love it. You know what they say – if you love what you’re doing, you never work a day in your life.
After lots of thought, going back and forth in my mind knowing how quickly my passion for things has fizzled out in the past, I turned to health and fitness coaching. I was surrounded by little slices of home (my team and my challengers), I was helping other people and I was helping MYSELF.
The cool part? I realized very quickly that this wasn’t just “another thing.” THIS was what lit my fire. This was what drove my passion. This was, without a doubt, what I was meant to be doing.
In that time, I also had to accept how I had been treating my awesome hubby. Disclaimer: it wasn’t stellar.
Sure, we always take our emotions out on the people closest to us; but just like me, he was taken away from his comforts, too. So when I was giving him a hard time, he didn’t have anyone to turn to.
Not only that – he didn’t deserve being treated that way. He had done nothing wrong. In fact, he was always listening to me, and comforting and supporting me when neither of us knew if I’d ever stop crying.
Through all of this, he was my rock. My very best friend. And it was time I started treating him that way.
I had to get clear on what success, both mentally and financially, looked like to me. I started making goals and keeping track of the things I was doing that were getting me closer to them. I celebrate every win, even the small ones!
Luckily, I was able to make these transitions in time for me and husband to enjoy New Zealand…together.
Now, my hubs and I laugh together; we spend time with our friends, talk about my big aspirations and the things I’m doing to achieve them, windsurf, hike, watch shows, cook and enjoy long walks on the beach (I know, cliche, but it’s actually so nice).
New Zealand has been (and continues to be) a beautiful place, for so many reasons. First, the obvious ones – the views, the people, the scenery. Maybe not so much the weather 😉
We’ve made amazing friends that will follow us no matter where we end up. My relationship with family and friends back home has grown stronger as well.
The relationship between my husband and I has grown so strong that I truly believe we can brave anything, as long as we do it together.
This move has been an adventure to say the least, and a learning experience in many ways. My husband and I know what we will do differently for our next move, and what we will hold with us for years to come.
No doubt we will continue on with our journey (stay tuned)…
But I will forever hold New Zealand, and this first move, near and dear to my heart, because it’s the place that I truly found myself.