I don’t deal well with change. I’m rarely on board with a new move or opportunity, and frequently I worry how it would affect us financially. Sometimes, this causes me to become anxious, and I start panicking, which usually means I become more controlling with my environment and my husband. I turn into someone else, and it’s not pretty. For the last few years I’ve been trying to process my past more and figure out what made me so fearful of change. Its not as easy of an answer as I’d have hoped for. Some of it is just the way my brain is wired, some of it has to do with my family dynamic growing up, and some if it has to do with my country and the time in history I was born in. Watching the Moldovan economy collapse and destroy my parent’s savings helped create a neurotic fear of instability, especially financial instability.
This summer we are planning to visit my family in Moldova as well as take a tour of Ireland and Italy. At first I was thrilled, but now that we are sitting down to plan everything and buy the tickets, I am becoming more and more anxious. And, although I have been working on this issue for years now with Clayton by my side, my old fears still frequently find their way into my head. What if we come back and we have no money? What if we have a medical emergency while we are traveling? What if we run out of money? What if I loose my job while we are gone? I know it sounds irrational, but these are concerns that won’t allow me to look forward to my trip fully, no matter how much I push them into the back seat.
Two weeks ago I came across Ariana Mullin’s book Pruned. I love all of Ariana’s photos of her life as an expat in Europe, as well as the lovely and relatable stories of her husband and her little girl that she posts on her blog And Here We Are. But this was different. I got to see a different kind of Ariana in this book, and her story moved me to tears. She writes:
“Were we devastated? Yes. Definitely. I grieved the loss of our “dream life”. I meditated on staying soft and flexible, and I believed that we would live in Europe again somehow. Jeff applied to many jobs in Germany and around Europe, but none of them would be able to meet our needs soon enough. We had to repatriate (move back to the USA) within three weeks off Jeff’s termination in order for his company to pay for it.. So, we went back to Portland feeling empty and aimless, yet believing that there was a purpose for this season. We slept in 20 different beds between March 1 and October 1, and during that time we had a few disasters to kick our butts just a little harder: I had a medical emergency for the first time in my life– and landed in the ICU; financial disaster followed us and, we had to file for bankruptcy; I tore my ACL with no health insurance; and the feeling of misfortune, at times, was almost comical. The waves of uncertainty kept washing over us, and we focused on just staying afloat.”
Pruned, Page 9
I get a knot in my chest just thinking about how STRESSED I would be if that happened to us. And yet Ariana has found a way not only to cope with this, but find meaning and joy in this transition time in ways that I found refreshing and helpful. One concept she emphasizes that is so comforting to me is that life consists of seasons. Some seasons are more difficult than others. Embracing each for what it is and appreciating its significance in your existence is a valuable lesson.
The book is very inspirational, quick to read, and it covers topics like facing fears, avoiding common thought traps, and coping with stress. Each brief chapter contains a number of thoughts broken down in an easily-digestible way, and ends with a list of Questions for Reflection. My favorite part is how much comfort she takes from her experiences and the lessons she learned through them — and continues to learn from them as her family faces yet another huge change.