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Facing your fears and following your gut = exciting new things!

If a fortune teller told me this would happen, I would have never believed her. In fact it still feels a little surreal. Am I really going to do this? It’s funny how I’m such an adventurous person, acting very free-spirited, while at the same time always wanting to have control over situations. These two character traits don’t seem to go together, yet they somehow do for me and I end up living a life full of excitement.

When people lie on their deathbeds they don’t tend to regret the millions they never made or the material stuff they never acquired. It’s the ‘what if’s’, the fears they were too scared to conquer and the opportunities they didn’t take.

For the past 5 years it seems like I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’. My whole life is centered around following my dreams, achieving goals and really just being happy with myself and the life I live.

Of course I have bad days and am far from perfect. Like I said in my last blog post, I sometimes have a lot of trouble letting things go and not taking it too personal, but when I compare it to how I was 10 years ago, I can see what an amazing journey I have had already and how much I have grown as a person.

You may remember me talking about my dream job. It was something along the lines of being a ‘workshop giving – public speaking – counsellor – social worker – teacher’. A few weeks ago I finally made the decision that in January of 2015 I would move to Wellington to become a Primary School Teacher. After spending several days in different schools, classes and with different age groups I figured it was the right thing to do, and so I enrolled at Victoria University.

Then life threw me a curve ball!

But let me start from the beginning.

A while back my mum posted a link on my Facebook page about a webinar on Life Coaching. I’d heard about the profession before, but I didn’t know too much about it, so I decided to give it a go and listen in….

A friendly voice welcomes everyone and starts telling us all about The Coaching Institute and what it is they teach. Halfway through I realize that this really vague dream job of mine actually exists! And it’s called ‘Life Coaching’.

Feeling a little stunned, gobsmacked and excited about this thought, I sit behind my laptop, thinking to myself “why have I not researched this profession earlier?!” I knew about it all along, but for some reason I was so focused on other jobs and ideas that I never clicked that this might be my thing.

After an hour or so of listening, Matt, the guy running the webinar, tells us about the opportunity to sign up with the Institute. With only 15 or so applications available and over 200 people listening in, I decide to take a chance and see what happens. It all sounds pretty cool and even though I’ve just enrolled at University in Wellington and am not thinking about studying this right now, it’s not like I have anything to lose and would love to know more about this course for future purposes.

The next week is a bit of a whirlwind inside my head. I’m one of the lucky few to sign up in time and the following evening I receive a phone call from Sam, who works at the Institute. We talk for over an hour. He tells me all about the school, the courses they offer, exactly what life coaching is and I tell him about my dream career and that I’ve just enrolled at Uni to study Primary School Teaching in January, but that Life Coaching is something I would definitely be interested in for the future. “So why do you want to be a Primary School Teacher?” He asks me. Damn that question again. I thought I had figured everything out. Don’t confuse me Sam!! I give him the same answer I had given the lecturer at Victoria University on the Open Day, but this time I also add that it seems like a stable job with guaranteed pay. As soon as I say it out loud I know it’s ridiculous.

Eventually we finish our conversation and I tell him I need some time to think things through and discuss everything with my family and friends. Of course I already know the answer, but I don’t want to say it out loud.

That night, as I lie in bed, wide awake I think to myself “Why don’t you just study Life Coaching instead?” But immediately my head tells me: “Because you’re about to move to Wellington to become a Primary School Teacher?! Plus, if you’re a teacher you’ll always be able to find a job and have a stable income. You’re crazy to even remotely consider it, giving up the opportunity to get your Master’s Degree!”

So I try to convince myself that it’s a ridiculous thought and to forget about it, but deep down I know that I’m not being completely honest with myself by going for the ‘easy’ and ‘safe’ option and that becoming a teacher would be more of a stepping stone to get into the education sector, gain experience in order to eventually have a career teaching children/teenagers about the importance of following your dreams, being you and accepting others for who they are. Deep down I know that it’s not the teaching English or Maths that I’m interested in. However, becoming a life coach would mean having to set up my own business and not having the security of a 9-5 job with guaranteed pay. And that sounds scary as hell!!

For about a week I go back and forth. One moment I tell myself that if I want to teach others to follow their passions and do what makes them happy, conquering their fears, it’s a little ironic if I don’t practice what I preach, but the next moment I start feeling anxious and tempted to go with what sounds the least scariest.

And that brings me to today.

It’s been a crazy 2 weeks inside my head, but after a lot of research and conversations I have made a decision and I know it’s the right one. All of a sudden everything seems to fall into place and it’s like I just found the final piece of this particular puzzle, the one I’ve been looking for for so long and I’m so excited to start the next 10,000 piece puzzle and see where life takes me.

So….not only have I decided to study Life Coaching instead of teaching, but since I don’t like doing things by halves, I figured why not move to where the coaching institute is located: Melbourne, Australia!!

At the start of 2015 I will be packing my bags once again and setting off on my next adventure. Even though it’s only been 2 weeks since I listened to that webinar I have already signed up with the Institute, done my research on Visa’s, income, accommodation and everything involved with crossing the ditch. In fact I thought why not chuck in another one of my goals in life and work as an au pair (nanny)? I have been on the phone with some amazing families who are very eager to have me work and stay with them and I’m really excited that everything starts to come together again. Twenty fifteen is going to be another year full of adventures for me and I can’t wait to see where it leads me!

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chasw orson - October 21, 2014 - 14:30

Fleur please don’t go your the most beautiful soul in levin I’ve only recently met you but you are amazing #stay

Fleur - October 14, 2014 - 12:06

Hey Jess! Thanks so much. It’s so exciting to face those fears and follow your dreams. Can’t wait to see where I’ll be at this time next year :) p.s. I just checked out your blog and love it!! xx

Jess Bovey - October 14, 2014 - 08:51

So awesome to read and hear about others following their dreams! I look forward to watching your journey and wish you the very best! :)

Stop being so damn hard on yourself!

My whole life I have strived to be the perfect daughter, sister, granddaughter, classmate, friend and person. I was the girl who stood up for anyone who got treated unfairly. I was the perfect child growing up. I would often hear people say “Oh Fleur, she’s such a sweet girl, so polite and always there for everyone else.” I was hard working, I had good grades, teachers loved me and so did my classmates. I didn’t talk back, I listened to my parents, didn’t smoke, drank alcohol, or did drugs.

Over the years I created a habit of maintaining this “perfection” and although it was nice to be liked and receive compliments, I subconsciously started to build a barrier between the person I was perceived as and the person I deep down wished I could be. I wouldn’t say that it was all an act or that I was being fake, not at all, what I was doing, was pleasing others, acting the way I wanted people to see me, so it’s really quite scary to say out loud that I’m not as strong as I seem sometimes, in fact I might be pretty insecure.

Writing that word, insecure, almost feels like poison. It makes me cringe and I’m tempted to delete it all, because I don’t want anyone to see me as “weak”. It’s been my way of surviving for the past 25 years, but I’ve started to realize more and more that I can’t expect to be liked by everyone, because it’s affecting my happiness. There will always be people out there who disagree or judge me and it’s important that I learn how to deal with that, to stop being afraid that if I don’t clear things up that people might think less of me, to stop wondering if I deserve the words coming from their mouths and to stop trying to “fix” myself.

A good example is when I received a bunch of flowers a couple of weeks ago. At first I was flattered, but when I found out I had never met the guy, I became a little creeped out. How did he know where I lived? I had a big rant on facebook and soon after, realized I sounded like a right b*tch! I knew very well that it had had nothing to do with the flowers or the guy, but something I’d been dealing with, but I felt so very guilty that I had acted the way I had that it stuck with me for days. I couldn’t get over it and all I could think was: “what will people think of me?!” Chances are, after seeing my post, people went on with their lives and no one thought anything about it anymore, but in my head I imagined groups of people, huddled together to discuss what a horrible person I was. Even though I know how ridiculous that sounds, it kept me up several nights in a row and got me extremely down for a week.

And so it’s not just what other people say, in fact what seems to affect me even more are my own words. I’m always so extremely hard on myself. Guilt and disappointment seem to be my biggest enemies. And the crazy thing is I know so very well how powerful words are, so why do I keep practicing them?

A few weeks back I watched a webinar called “Happiness for Worrywarts”. After an hour and a half of listening to a lady called Toni Powell, I felt so great and light, as if that heavy blanket was lifted off me. To be reminded of what’s important is all you need sometimes. I’ve been wanting to do a recap about it ever since and I feel that right now is the perfect time, because it seems I need a bit of a reminder again.

Words alter our reality and our perception of reality. When we start our sentences with “I wish…” or “I’m afraid…” or continually say things such as “I’m tired” or “I can’t”, our brain reacts towards those words and tries to fix it. It makes sense that if I constantly say how disappointed I am with myself; my brain will automatically think there’s something wrong and produce a whole lot of negative emotions.

Listening to the words you use is such a powerful exercise, it can change your entire way of thinking. When people ask you “How are you?” instead of saying “Not too bad” say “I’m doing great”. It has a much more positive sound. Try and listen to yourself when talking about situations, things, people and even yourself, because words are much more powerful than we often realize.

It’s time to get out of victim hood, to get freedom from the monkeys in your head telling you you’re not good enough and to remember that not all thoughts are you or yours.

Toni talked about a whole lot more stuff and if you’re interested in listening to her talk, you can do so here.

I ended up watching it twice and got even more out of it the second time round. In fact I had a bit of an epiphany and I haven’t talked to many people about it yet, but for the last couple of years I have had a dream that I’ve been working on. Up until now it was all a bit vague and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but all of a sudden it all became clear to me and I could finally visualize it. I’ve been wanting to write a book on following your dreams and doing what you want to do in life, to find what you’re passionate about and to get from where you are to where you want to be. I’m so excited about it and although I have no idea how long it will take me to complete it, I’m having so much fun writing, reading and researching about it. I can’t wait to share bits and pieces with you all and hope it will end up as I imagine it right now, if not better:)

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Ellen Verhoeven - September 24, 2014 - 00:25

Inspiring and powerful words, Fleur! As a mum it’s been so wonderful (and sometimes difficult to watch “from the side line” seeing you struggle…) to follow your process and progress! I’m so happy for you to watch you move forward and to see you’re being less hard on yourself; you’re absolutely perfect the way you are! Love you my love! ♡

When things don’t work out, they kinda do (does that make sense?)

“It’s only been three months! It hasn’t been that long. You can’t expect to be ok so soon”. I’ve been telling myself this for the past three weeks or so. Half way through July things started to look up, I wasn’t crying anymore and I really enjoyed hanging out with friends, old and new. I felt confident and had so much energy. The world didn’t seem like such a dark place all of a sudden.

And then that oh so familiar long, heavy, black cape is tied around your neck, too tight, making it hard to breath and dragging you down. You tell yourself that you’re not supposed to be going backwards, you were doing so well, but it’s impossible to take it off and so you sit in your room, you lock yourself away from everyone else and think too much or not at all.

Sometimes you feel so blank, like you’re surrounded by nothingness and it’s a scary feeling, one you’ve felt before. A sense of despair hangs over you, you feel low, you have no energy, no willpower, and while you know that the only way out is to get up, out of bed and do something, you really just can’t be f*cked.

While I’m not one for being negative, I also don’t like to sweep things under the carpet and pretend they’re not there. Actually the best advice I’ve been given over the last couple months is to acknowledge how you feel and that it’s ok to cry and feel shit. You’re allowed to sing sad Sam Smith songs all alone in your room and feel sorry for yourself, just try not to hang in it for too long. (That second part is something I’m not so good at yet, but I’m working on it).

Writing this all down, these feelings and emotions, and sounding quite depressed is actually a little scary and not something I’m used to, at least not the putting-it-out-there-for-everyone-to-read-part, but I figured that by being honest and open, and sharing these raw moments, I might help at least one person realize that they’re not alone, that we all have our own story and that no one is perfect, we’re just trying to figure out who we are and what we’re here for.

Apart from the obvious crap a break up brings with it, I’ve been confused about what to do with myself and life. I like having clear goals to move towards, it gives you a purpose, so when that goal isn’t very clear, or not visible at all, it makes sense that the willpower to get out of bed in the morning is pretty much non-existent (add that to fact that I like sleeping in anyway).

Do I want to be a teacher? Primary or Secondary? Do I want to be a counselor? Or maybe a social worker? What about a youth worker? There’s so many ideas going round in my head and I feel pressured about making the right decision. What DO I want to do with my life?

It was about 5 years ago, when I was watching a program called: “If you really knew me”, that my purpose in life became clear: I needed to work with young people who had trouble getting through school and/or life. I remember sitting in front of the TV, tears rolling down my face, thinking that if I had had someone come to my school and make me realize that I wasn’t alone, I probably wouldn’t have been as depressed as I was. And from that moment on I knew that was what I had to do in life.

There’s just one little thing…. What exactly is that job called and how do I go about becoming a workshop giving – public speaking – counselling – social work – teacher?

That brings me to Friday the 29th of August. After no more than 2 hours of sleep due to an over-thinking brain, the alarm goes off at 5.55AM. I get dressed, hop in the car to pick up a friend and the two of us set off for a day in Wellington, visiting the Open Day at Victoria University. After a 45 min drive we pull up to the train station at the exact same moment the train to Wellington decides to head off. Luckily the next train leaves only 20 minutes later, which means I only miss the first session. We hop on and an hour later we arrive in the capital. We grab some breakfast and start looking for a bus to take us to our destination. Wellington is buzzing with young people and I can’t wait to move here and explore the city with my camera one day. The University is packed with people, some by themselves, some with parents, others with friends, but all trying to gain a little more insight on what they will be doing in 2015. I’m excited and hopeful that today will give me that little nudge in the back and reassurance that Primary Teaching is the way to go.

The first seminar I had planned to attend starts at 10AM. We find the right building and walk into a lecture theatre full of people. A lady hands out pens and paper and I pick the pretty pink one. At this stage I should have looked at the writing on the pen, but instead I sit back and wait for the lecture to begin. Looking around me I think to myself (not making any judgements of course…) “these people don’t look like they would want to be teachers”. I turn around and ask the guy behind me what this lecture is about. As he says the words: “School of Accounting and Commercial Law” I look at the pen I’ve been given and mutter a quiet “Ah damn!” We quietly sneak out, trying not to laugh as we’d just been talking about how boring that degree would be, and manage to find our way to the right room just in time for the seminar to begin.

A man with a goatee, probably in his late thirties, early forties, stands in front of us. I immediately like how he looks a little alternative, not your typical lecturer. He comes across as extremely passionate about what he does and I feel like this is exactly what I want to study. The 45 minutes fly by and at the end I go up to him to see if I could ask him some questions later on and find out if he thinks this is the right way to go for a future workshop giving – public speaking – counseling – social work – teacher.

After another seminar, lunch, music and a whole lot of people watching I catch up with him and try to explain what it is that I want to do in life, which isn’t the easiest thing to do when you don’t really know yourself. He listens and eventually asks me why I REALLY want to be a teacher. “Well, because I want to work with children and help them when they need it and be that person they can talk to and feel safe with” I say. “So you want to be a social worker or a counselor?” “Well I don’t know…maybe…I guess, but I’ve always thought I wanted to be a teacher”. “No you don’t” he replies and deep down I know he has a point. Teaching Maths and English isn’t what I had envisioned myself doing, it’s the 20 minutes at the start of each day where we sit on the floor talking about what we’re grateful for and the inspirational quotes I have all over my classroom walls. It’s the dealing with bullying and teaching equality and respect. It’s the visual diaries I hand out at the start of each year that we use to envision our dreams and goals in life. Those are the things I want to do.

I thank him for his time and end the day feeling a whole lot more confused about what to do than when I came here this morning. I had hoped to be ready to enroll that same day and start planning accommodation and finances, but now I feel like I’m back to square one.

Things don’t always work out the way you had hoped, but it’s important to try and see the positives. At least now I knew I needed to put some more thought into what I wanted to study instead of making a decision I might regret later, plus, I’d had a great day, the sun had been shining and I felt lucky to even have the opportunity to go back to school and work on a career of my choosing.

And yes, I had been feeling pretty low for th1 last  weeks, but accepting it and knowing that things would get better were the first step forward.

Everything happens for a reason and as long as you believe that something good will come out of it you’ll be ok. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or the week after that, but eventually.

In fact, my day got a little better today, but I will save that for the next blogpost:)

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The art of being truthful

Starting over, creating a new life again has always been something that has intrigued and excited me, like finishing a book and knowing that when you close it that’s it, you can’t change the story. You can always look back at it, but it’s done, finished, and you now get to open a new book with endless possibilities.

When I think back about the last four weeks, I realize they have been full of joy and happiness with only fleeting moments of sadness. I’m feeling alive, confident and happy. This new chapter in my life has been one filled with new experiences, people and emotions.

I’ve been traveling a lot, going from one place to another, staying at friends’ places, lugging around my suitcase with only the essentials. I’ve never been a materialistic person and living the life I am living right now has made me realize even more how little you need to live a happy life.

Growing up I never had many friends, in fact, as a teenager I had none. I had trouble accepting people into my life, but over these past couple of weeks I have started to realize how valuable friendships really are and how much the people in my life mean to me. They have made me appreciate the things I have rather than focus on what I lost.

So as I sit here, with the rain coming down hard on the tin roof, my brain is bombarded with thoughts and things to write about and I have trouble trying to piece them all together. I start writing and end up with a whole lot of mismatched paragraphs.

It seems that I have been so focused on wanting to write something other people would enjoy reading that I forget the true purpose of this blog: writing for the love of it and staying true to me. It’s an on-going ‘issue’ I’m not sure I will ever get rid of, wanting to please others, for them to be happy; forgetting about what it is that I want.

After weeks I finally had a whole blogpost ready to be published, because I felt like it was about time I posted something again, but I wasn’t feeling it at all, because it wasn’t me. I was writing for the sake of it.

Somewhere along the way things seemed to have changed. It’s not primarily about my photography anymore, it has grown with me and I need to continually remind myself that it’s ok, because it’s about having a place to express myself and document my life in all its honesty in a way that suits the new me.

So, maybe honesty is a good topic to talk about. Although the first story that comes to mind is about how I went for a swim and forgot my towel, but being too lazy to walk back home and grab one, I jumped in the pool anyway and did laps only to realize that my bikini had stretched so much the bottoms kept filling up with water making it seem like I was swimming against a current and my good intentions of doing some exercise became an annoying battle of trying not to flash anyone and not giving up, but that’s a different kind of honesty I guess.

I think when I use the word ‘honesty’ I’m talking about being true to myself and accepting who I am and the situation I am in, good or bad. Sometimes these moments can make you feel very vulnerable. For me it was asking for help that was tough, but also a decision that strengthened my character.

After a month or two of being at home I knew I had to start organizing some form of income. I had seen my doctor and had explained to him my situation and the struggles I had faced over the past year and a half. Knowing about my history with depression, he gave me a medical certificate, stating that I wasn’t able to work just yet. I immediately felt a sense of guilt, like I was asking for something I didn’t deserve, but because of that little voice in my head, which told me that I needed a break, I went ahead and booked my appointment with Work and Income to discuss what assistance they could offer me.

It was cold outside as I walked to the WINZ office. With all the necessary paperwork with me I was prepared to face an uninterested person who would ask me a whole lot of questions and treat me like most unemployed people get treated, with a lot of disrespect. I was wearing my brave face and told myself over and over again that, whatever happened, not to take it personal.

Expecting to talk to someone one on one I was told to head over to a room and wait for the seminar to begin. Walking in the room, seeing a whiteboard with the words “how to create a CV” and “how to find work” I felt like I was being hit in the face with a brick. Tears welled up and I was tempted to walk out. What was I doing here?! I had worked many jobs before; I was not lazy and had a pretty impressive CV. I felt like the lowest of the lowest. This was so extremely degrading.

I managed to stick it out, but as soon as I left the building tears were rolling down my cheeks. If it was going to be this humiliating I would rather find a job than take the much needed break. Eventually, once I was convinced by others that it wasn’t personal, but a way to get rid of those who just wanted some easy money, I decided to give it one more go.

My next appointment was a lot nicer. Apart from the grumpy lady at reception who so clearly felt more superior to those who had to come here, I wasn’t treated with any disrespect. I was greeted by a friendly man and together we went through all my paperwork. At the desk next to me another lady was going through the same process. As she looked my way I gave her the “I know how you’re feeling” kind of look and she smiled back at me. After two hours I finally left, feeling happy I had gone back and not given up. After all, I did deserve some help.

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Fleur - September 1, 2014 - 19:55

Hi Evi,

Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it. I’ll make sure to check out your blog :) xx

Evi - September 1, 2014 - 16:59

hey, I’m here via documenting delight.. I really like your photography, especially your pictures of children.
And I like your honesty. I only readone and a half posts, so I don’t know much about you, but I’m sure you’ll find your way! I wish you all the best!

1 month of highs and lows

Growing up I always said that there was no way I would ever have a boyfriend or get married. I mean, how embarrassing is that?! Eww yuck! No way! I’m not a ‘sheep’, I was different from my classmates and people my age. I was a misunderstood little girl, who lived in her own world, a dreamer, a thinker, an old soul. It would often have me in tears, but at the same time, deep down, I liked being different. It made me feel special and unique.

And then there comes a day when all of a sudden that fear of having a boyfriend, someone you fall in love with disappears and it falls over you like a blanket. You don’t care about the embarrassment anymore, because it isn’t. Love is bigger than that.

I dreaded the day of bringing the person I had fallen in love with home. I think I associated love with being weak and if there was one thing I feared most, it was weakness.

Fear is a funny thing. I once read that ultimately, all fear is the ego’s fear of death, of annihilation and I guess it makes a lot of sense, but what I have also learned over the years, is that fear makes you feel alive. I wouldn’t say I love the feeling, but being alive and feeling present is like a drug. I have come to a point in my life where I enjoy challenging myself, taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m not sure if ‘enjoy’ is the right word, but knowing that you’re growing as a person and not living your life like a zombie feels very rewarding.

It has been a month since my last day of work, my last day in Africa and my last day with Lance…

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One last hug, one last kiss, one last wave. Saying goodbye to the person you have spent every living moment with for the past 4 years, someone you share so many things with, from memories, to friends, to work, to hobbies and interest, your first love, to call that painful is an understatement.

As I let go I can feel my heart ripping away from my chest, a sick, heavy feeling in my stomach. All I can do is cry. How will I ever get through this?

I knew I couldn’t go straight to the airport, so I decide to stay with a friend for two days, before leaving the country. That night we visit a friend of hers (anything to keep my mind occupied) and I seem to be doing ok, but all of a sudden it hits me again and we are forced to go back to her house. I am a complete mess, sobbing uncontrollably, feeling like I’m going to be sick, my legs literally giving way. I phone home and fall asleep with swollen eyes and my laptop still resting on my lap.

I sleep, eat and watch ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ to make myself feel better about life and eventually it’s Thursday the 29th of May. We drive to Pretoria and pick up my passport as soon as it’s ready, literally hours before having to be at the airport (talking about cutting it close!). Somehow they have managed to sort out my NZ visa crisis and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. My flight is at 20.30 that night and knowing that I still have another visa crisis to face I’m first in line to check in. When I get to customs I decide to just be honest and tell the guy that: “Sir, I think I might have a bit of a problem…” I explain the situation and how I have tried so much to ‘not be illegal’. He looks at me, tells me that it’s ok because I have a new passport and lets me go through. For a moment I am gobsmacked. Did that just happen?! I cannot help but laugh at how ridiculous this situation is and want to tell everyone I see that I am going home! I am smiling from ear to ear and decide to celebrate with a plate full of pasta and a Fanta (only because I don’t have enough money for champagne!).

On my first flight to Abu Dhabi I sit next to a guy from the UK who came over to meet a girl he has met on the internet. I never asked for his name or if things worked out, but we had a vodka and lemonade together, which was nice. Eventually I land in Abu Dhabi where I explore for 4 hours.

My next flight is to Sydney and I am extremely lucky to have a row of three seats all to myself. I roll up blankets around the arm rest and fall asleep. After one last flight and a total of 32 hours traveling it is fair to say I’m a little emotional when the plane touches New Zealand soil. I make my way to the baggage claim area, followed by customs and eventually into the arrivals hall where I fall into my family’s arms, crying.

I’m finally home.

That night I start to write. I often end up with a collection of ramblings, somehow to be put together to make sense, loose thoughts, all interconnected, waiting to be put in order, one beautiful mess. Writing has been my refuge, a place to hide away and let everything out, a place where I can be completely myself.

“I am a mess. I cried a lot today. It was so good to see everyone but I’m feeling such deep sadness for not being with Lance. I miss him so intensely. Today for the first time I felt like I could potentially have made a mistake. Driving from Wellington all the way to Waipawa, a lot of memories were brought back. These were OUR roads, OUR towns and OUR relationship I continuously kept being reminded of. I had to close my eyes, but eventually couldn’t hold back the tears. This is going to be even more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I just need to remind myself that it took a lot of strength to make such a decision, that I am strong and with time the pain will get less and lead me to the road I need to be on”.

I spent the first week with my family. I met my beautiful little niece, Maddie, who I love more than I could have ever imagined and whose cuddles continue to be the best therapy there is.

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That morning I decide to drop the girls off at school. I make them breakfast, pack their lunchboxes and with a lot of excitement we get to their classroom. “MISSSSS, THIS IS FLEUR!!!” they yell out. I go over to their teacher to introduce myself and she tells me she’s already heard a lot about me.

As I walk back to the car, I pass people I know or vaguely remember and it makes me think. It’s nice to be back, but so strange at the same time. Anyone who has been away from home for a long period of time, or has gone through a big change will know what it feels like. It’s like the world stood still back here and people are still going about their lives the same way they did when you left. There are times when I have real difficulty with this, because so much has happened in the past year and a half, and no matter how loving, supportive and interested everyone is, no one fully understands. And it’s not that I expect them to or blame them, but it doesn’t help when it comes to taking away this feeling of loneliness and the pain of not being with the one and only person who did understand.

Luckily there are also moments when I know that things will ultimately be OK and that the hurt will go away; when I accept that I did the right thing. Acceptance is a beautiful gift; it blows away the dark clouds and makes the beauty of the world visible again.

I spend the rest of the week catching up with friends and meet some new people who all know about me somehow. I feel like a celebrity to be given so much attention and love. It’s amazing what a good support system can do to you.

Over the past four weeks I have been staying busy. I’ve traveled far North, far South and in between and I have to admit, I kind of like being a gypsy. I like being asked ‘where do you live?” and answering “everywhere”.

Last week I visited Sera, my other best friend and co-gypsy, who lives in Hamilton. As the bus turns into the parking lot and I see her standing there my heart fills with joy. She has been such a rock and somehow always manages to say the right things, even when I don’t want to hear them. I jump off the bus and give her a ginormous hug.

Sera and I talk for hours, go for walks down the river, watch movies and laugh till our stomachs hurt so much we cannot sit up straight. She has a 5-year old daughter who I absolutely adore and admire and lifts my spirits as only children can do.

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On Saturday I go to Auckland for the day to visit 2 other friends. It’s so nice to know people throughout the country who are all so happy to see me and welcome me with open arms. We have an amazing time and for a moment I am able to forget everything. That night we go out to town, but after half an hour we are forced to head back when all of a sudden I am overwhelmed by the whole situation and end up in tears. I have a full on panic attack of which I can only remember bits.

The next day I’m still feeling emotional and a trip to the beach with Gen is just what I need. We drive to Piha where we walk along the water’s edge with the cold wind blowing in our faces. We sit on a large rock and look out over the ocean. I don’t know what it is about nature, but it always seems to lift your spirits.

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As I catch the bus back to Hamilton Sunday night, I’m still feeling a little down and all of a sudden tears are rolling down my cheeks. Soon I’ll get off the bus, one more hour. I find the evenings the most difficult and so the darkness isn’t making it any easier. With the moon high up in the sky, I am reminded of my nights in the bush, when I would look up, knowing that this was the same moon those I loved and missed at home could also see.

I am really missing Lance at the moment and long for one more loving embrace, look him in the eyes one more time and tell him how much I miss and love him. This sucks.

I stay in Hamilton until Tuesday, when I head back home again. I’ve been keeping myself so busy that I have barely had any time with my family. It’s nice to be back, even though I spend most my days in my room, which makes me feel a little guilty, because I know how much they want to see me.

After a week at home I’m off once again, this time to Christchurch. We catch a flight from Wellington and spend the weekend with a good friend. We go sightseeing and witness the damages of the earthquake from 3 years ago in the suburb of Sumner. Driving through the hills, seeing the abandoned houses, furniture still in place, is quite eerie and sad, but despite this, Christchurch is still a stunning city. We walk on the beach, take photos, visit some old bunkers and hike for a good hour and a half to enjoy the sun setting over the city. Later that night we go out for dinner and drinks and laugh till we nearly pee our pants. It’s been such an incredible weekend and I’m sad to go. I can’t wait to come back here!

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It has been exactly one month since I arrived back in New Zealand. It’s been a time of many ups and downs. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve felt confused and at times thought I made the biggest mistake of my life but at the same time also knew it was the right thing to do. I still miss Lance every day and my love for him is still strong. I know that eventually with time things will get easier and better, but right now the pain is still deep.

When I look at people who suffer from even greater losses I feel ashamed, as if I need to harden up, but over the past month I learned that pain is pain, no matter what the cause is. You can’t compare it with other people’s situations. The only solution to getting through a difficult time in your life is to feel the pain, to go right through it and accept it for what it is. And only then will things get better, one step at a time.

I am hopeful.

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