This Saturday morning my family will drive 10 minutes from our house and join a number of other people for an amazing moment in time. We will stand side by side with people who have come from all over the world seeking a better life and become citizens of Australia.
Now the fact that I am American and my husband is English means we have not fled from anything so terrible to seek this “better life” – no poverty, no dictator ruling our countries, we did not get on a boat and pray we would arrive alive. We were blessed with an opportunity to come here thanks to the boom surrounding the Olympics in 1998/9 as this country needed more workers in certain industries and my husband filled that need. Thanks to Australia recognising common-law marriages I was able to get a visa as well before we actually married.
We did not know if we would be here more than a year – our goal was to be here long enough to enjoy the Sydney Olympics and see a bit of the country. Fast approaching 14 years we have progressed from those visas to permanent residency to citizenship. We still feel connected to our past, but are firmly entrenched in Australian life- raising two daughters, making friends, working, putting down roots every day.
This week I thought I would note some of the things I am grateful for living here in Australia for 13 1/2 years – my own little memory lane pausing and reflecting on some of the goodness as we take this big step.
all the years spent living by Balmoral Beach in Sydney: my first suburb and the happiest time of my life – walking everywhere, wonderful shops, the art deco cinema in Cremorne, fabulous restaurants and BYO, the best RSL club in Sydney that had the usual cheap drinks with the bonus of million dollar views, down the road to the zoo, down the road to the beach, walking hand in hand on the pier at Balmoral – where we finally decided to try for our first baby
the hideously ugly apartment (brass, marble, archways – shudder) we rented at one stage – where we got pregnant with Alice: it was one of the only tall apartment buildings in the area (most were 3 stories high) and we lived on the 8th floor just below the penthouse. Our bedroom was high enough that while laying in bed with the curtains open all I saw was the ocean in all it’s glory.
our first house (rented): I grew up in apartments, dorm rooms, and my little space on the kibbutz where I met my husband. In my entire life I have never lived on my own and until we rented this house in Wahroonga (when I was 7 months pregnant with Lulu) I had never had a house and backyard. We were blessed with a backyard that had a massive magnolia tree – irresistible to kids for climbing, had a tire swing on it that was a big part of the kids early years, and when in bloom made me smile so wide. We also had a jacaranda tree and to this day nothing makes me happier in October than the sight of jacarandas in bloom all over town – first in Sydney and luckily here in Brisbane as well.
all the beautiful wine regions – over the years we have visited most of the great wine regions of NSW, SA and WA tacking them onto all sorts of holidays including camping trips – with a slight detour to a tasting room. I came here knowing nothing about wine (and shared before the story of the terrible wine we bought by the case) but was educated real fast.
the outdoor lifestyle – it was great enough when we lived in Sydney (even a windy Winter day saw us walking down by the beach), but up in Queensland it is even more so thanks to mild Winters. Our kids are outside year round and only have to contend with the humidity and rain storms of Summer. There is always greenery and flowers in bloom as only a few select trees go bare.
The great climate also means endless supplies of fresh fruit and veg. I shop at a farmer’s market and buy in season and there is always a huge bounty to be tasted.
Healthcare and support services have been very kind to us over the years and I only hope they don’t continue to dwindle
BBQs year round – and what would it be like without a sausage sizzle every chance you get
wildlife even in the heart of the city – just the other day walking my kids to school we saw a few boys staring up at a tree on school grounds – a young possum was curled up in the tree snoozing away.
I could go on but am happy just knowing my own gratitude and blessings here. My kids are getting older and have recently started expressing sadness at the lack of family here which makes me question our choice of homes. No matter where we live we would deal with being away from one side of our family (at least) so I take comfort in raising them in this wonderful country. And they get the bonus of passports to three of the most amazing places!
What are you grateful for this week?
Find your simple,
Image credit: by flickr user Stephanie Lefferts