Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Adventures: Part Deux

A little insider's tip.....
Email me if you want to find out where the next phase takes us...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The End.

Holy crapping hell, I'm leaving Brazil TOMORROW.  Ah, where to start... what to even say!  My journey started nearly three years ago and for so long there was no end in sight.  Well, here we are.  How quickly you have arrived, End. 

Looking back on my first blog, my fears at that time were real and they eventually did come true.  Language barriers, sharing a house with parents, not making friends and so much more that I hadn't even expected... What was most surprising, though, was the joy I would find in overcoming all of those fears. Living with Ro's family for the first year of our life was tough - but without them I wouldn't ever have learned to speak Portuguese (at least at the level I speak it today). I'm so grateful for that experience because it brought me closer to my husband - I was able to understand his family, his upbringing... be an actual part of his family.  It's pretty amazing to have a true second family who think of you in that way too. 

I didn't expect the amazing relationships that would come after the bumpy part of my solitary life.  I needed to experience that time alone so I could appreciate even more when the friends eventually came.  I will miss those friendships incredibly.  Unlike any connection I've had - we bonded over our common experience of being a foreigner.  And then we bonded over deeper things.  We learned to be more open to different people in our lives.  We learned to explore our own cities, and each others' cities, together and venture outside of our comfort zones.  We learned that it's actually not so scary and it's 'cool' to be different. 

What I complained about so much I know is all part of Brazilian 'charm'.  How is it that what you once hate you grow to love? Even 'Brazilian honesty' just became a part of life and in the end, I appreciated it more than the alternative - silent opinions and insincerity.

Today I'm changed. I'm going home the same woman and an entirely different woman.  More love in my heart, eyes much more open to the differences in the world, an incredible appreciation for family and my 'home'.  The truth is I feel like we have two homes now.  I feel a deep need to keep the Brazilian connection strong once we arrive, just as I worked to keep my Canadian one alive during our time here. 

After all, I literally have something that is half Brazilian growing inside of me. 

I guess what I have ultimately learned at the end of this journey is about creating my own happiness.  There are moments (sometimes really really long moments) that seem to just drag you down and work against you.  We all have the strength to get the hard times and the other side is often so much brighter.  I've also learned that despite all of our worrying, things ALWAYS work out. 

Because as the saying goes,
"Everything works out in the end... and if it hasn't worked out yet, then it isn't the end."
Happy travels to you all!  Thank you for all of the love and support each of you has given me.  I couldn't have done it without you. 

.... stay tuned for my new blog 'After Brazil'...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nobody Told Us to Fall in Love...

I just woke up from a distressing dream.  (I'm sick, which is why I'm sleeping at 2pm... just a side note).

In my dream,  I had arrived at home in Canada (without Ro - I think he was coming later) and my sister was going to meet me on a bridge to take me back to our old house (which was actually the first house I ever lived in).  I was really excited and anticipating the moment I would arrive.  When we arrived home we passed some relatives on the stairs on the way into the house.  My aunt commented that my face had changed so much, that she wouldn't have ever recognized me on the street.

After being in the house for a little, I realized I could hear this drilling.  This loud, brain rattling, drilling.  My mom said my dad was scraping something off the walls in the basement.  My first thought was why hasn't my dad stopped his drilling to come say hi to me?

I ran upstairs, trying to get away from this drilling sound.  I closed all the vents and windows, but I couldn't get away from the sound.  I realized it was snowing outside.  I remembered all the times I had said while I was in Brazil that I hated the hot weather and missed the cold winter so much.  As I looked at the snow I felt that deep coldness inside and I thought, but I don't like THIS winter... 

Later, I was in the kitchen with my sister and she brought out a box of desserts.  I said, 'oh great!  I can't wait to eat all of the desserts I couldn't eat while in Brazil!' but when I looked at the dessert in her hand I thought, but I don't like THIS dessert...

Suddenly I heard Ro talking on the phone.  He was talking to someone in Portuguese about the price of some item that we are selling at our house.  He gave the person on the other end our Brazilian address which caught my attention, because we weren't living at that address anymore.  Suddenly I realized that in my anticipation to get home to Canada, I hadn't even 'said goodbye' to our apartment in Brazil.  I felt a deep loss.

I began to feel really alone, really sad that we weren't in Brazil anymore.  I thought to myself We came to have the baby here and that's good.  If we aren't happy we can go back.  I asked Ro (who was suddenly, of course, there with me) 'Did we make a mistake?'

His response in true, logical, dream fashion, 'No, you're just sad that we are living in the suburbs now.'

I woke up suddenly still in my living room in Brazil and felt an enormous sense of relief.  I could still say goodbye to everything here.  But I started to cry when I told Ro about the dream.  I asked him, "Are we making a mistake? I'm worried about how it will be for you... I don't want you to have to 'deal with moving'."

His response in true, logical, Ro fashion, "Nobody told us to fall in love with someone from another country...."

Sigh. Somebody always has to 'deal'. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Too many changes happening in my life.  Combine that with the fact that Ro uses our only laptop for his work translating, finding the time to write blogs is rare if not non-existent.  But I do think I need to write SOMETHING, for god's sake.  I owe it to myself to document this very emotional and monumental time in our lives.

First, I am pregnant.

Second, we are leaving Brazil.

Third, we are going to re-assimilate back into North-American Culture. 

While I think about these three things OFTEN, I'm fairly calm and not overly worried about the uncertainty of the near future.  Uncertain simply because we are re-starting our lives once again (ie. finding jobs, finding housing, finding our social circle).  On a positive note, we're going back to a place we've been before.  On a terrifying note, nothing will be the same as it was when we left, 2 1/2 years ago. 

Maybe it's my style to go kind of numb to these changes until I'm actually experiencing them.  I'm so anxious to get them started.  Maybe it doesn't feel as terrifying as I think it should because it's not the first time we've done something big and life-altering.  I know everything always works out in the end. 

So, maybe it's really just the anticipation that's taking me over... To be honest, and no disrespect meant to any of my friends here in Brazil, I'm finding it very easy this time to cut ties.  Leaving Canada was so much more intense, so many tears, so much insecurity.  I'm in an infinitely different place in life this time and know how much I'm capable of... I think all who have made the move to another country can agree that we've been to the breaking point once or twice without actually breaking. 

But, what will my friendships be like once I'm back?  Will they change?  When they change, will there still be common ground?  Will I be able to balance my friendships, a new baby, a new/old life, as a different person? 

Now I'm overanalyzing... the whole main reason we're going back is to have our baby.  Neither of us have jobs that are keeping us tied to Brazil.  Healthcare is public and wonderful in Canada.  I can use a midwife that is also covered under the healthcare system.  I will be close to my mom.  We will have more security, more stability, great local programming... I'm really really looking forward to being back.

Do any of you have fears about moving back to your home countries?  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Next Chapter

Nothing to report lately - except obvious baby stuff but I don't want to fill this blog up with that.  That's what my Facebook is for ;)  Oh, and my English classes, Skype sessions with Mom and every waking second with my husband. 

Clearly I have baby on the mind and it's kind of taking over everything. 

But, well, I also have other things on my mind... like Canada.  So it's official.  We're moving back to Canada.  I'd say permanently, but seeing as our lives will be forever divided between two countries, I can't say that for sure.  I can say for sure that two months from now our bags will be packed and we will be on our way to the airport to close one chapter of our lives and open another one. 

While I'm completely certain that this is what I want, and feel like we're currently in a good place emotionally/spiritually/mentally in Brazil to say goodbye, what I'm having the hardest time with is the actual finality of this adventure. 

The first bit 20/29 months of my Brazilian life were really really really difficult.  I was not very happy, not in a great place, going through a lot of personal challenges... but after we moved (for the FOURTH time in 2 years!) things took an incredible turn for the better.  I actually started to see Brazil more clearly as my haze of hatred lifted.  There are many things I can credit (like our new neighbourhood, finally having friends close by, less travel time, and more culture - and don't forget, I started seeing an amazing psychologist).  But things really did get better.  I am happy now. 

Now after getting through almost two years that felt like they would NEVER END, I can't believe we only have two months left!  It's this bittersweet feeling that I've been grappling with lately.  There are a lot of things that are not ideal about Brazil, but there are a lot of awesome things that I'm going to miss as well. 

Portuguese is one of them. 

Also, farmer's markets.

Beautiful scenery.

Easy get-away weekend destinations.  (and I only just started getting into these!)

Friends who 'get' the difficulties. 

Being 'the foreigner'.  

Teaching English privately.

And especially, being close to Ro's family, and my second family. 

Two months is not long before we say goodbye to these things for a little while.  I think, however, I've become addicted to change so I'm really anxious and excited about starting anew.... As hard as things have been, I'm leaving this country more aware, accepting, patient and adaptable than when I started.  It's been a journey I wouldn't change for anything! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Preferential Treatment

A new cultural experience I'm about to embark on is the 'Pregnant Lady in Brazil' experience.  In Canada, pregnant women exist (obviously) but, in my experience, they aren't fawned over nor do the seas part when a pregnant lady walks into a room.  Pregnant women, in turn, do not expect such treatment (at least I don't think they do).

In Brazil, pregnant women are like Goddesses, carrying the Miracle of Life in their pouches.  The Law even bows to pregnant women, as it's actually the LAW that Preggos can move straight to the front of any line (name a line - the bank? Yes. A crowded 5-star restaurant? Yes. A food bank? You can count on it.)  They get the preferential seats on the bus and they also get to line up in the preferential lines at the grocery store (and probably move to the front of that line even! They can trump any line!)

The reason I've been thinking about this lately is because I just don't have this natural instinct in me, to finally take advantage of this special treatment.  I recently spent the weekend with a good friend who happens to be 7 months pregnant.  She fully pulled out her pregnancy card everywhere we went (btw, if you are with said pregnant woman, you ALSO get to butt the line!)  She even pulled out the "it's the law!" card.  She told me that since the beginning, she has carried her ultrasound photo around with her taking advantage of her right wherever she goes!

I find this shocking simply because I admire her guts!  I guess I've been a little conditioned to believe that pregnancy isn't an illness, and therefore shouldn't award you special treatment.  I had to come to terms with this change in perception after moving here but I can honestly say that I love this law.  I love the way Brazilian culture looks out for its citizens who are a little less-than-able (that goes for seniors as well as pregnant women).  For a culture that I perceive to be so "everyone for him or herself", Brazilians have really pulled together to respect this courtesy and make sure others respect it too.

It makes me a little sad to know that I won't be staying here to fully experience this huge gesture of kindness (we are moving back to Canada to have our baby -  more on that in another blog).  In fact, it was slightly distressing to me to speak to a Canadian friend who told me that she parks in the 'Expectant Mothers' reserved parking spots because "pregnancy isn't an illness."  News flash.  Neither is old age.  Should we take away their spots too?

I'm not taking one opinion and turning it into the opinion of an entire country - I trust my loveable Canadians that they wouldn't do that!  But I'm curious to know if other expats were surprised/annoyed/un-phased by this pretty strict law??  I did find it a little shocking since it's about the ONLY law that all Brazilians really abide by.... I mean, we all know that nobody respects traffic laws!  Similarly, have any Brazilians had any interesting experiences being pregnant outside of Brazil? 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Breaking News

Sometimes things are so unbelievably new and exciting that I can't talk about them here.  Primarily, because it's important that I talk to my family about these novidades in person, so they don't have to find out about them in digital ink.  
So, two months since my last blog.  And in the last two months my life has taken on a completely new direction.  My apologies for anyone who was missing my blogs - I was! - but now that I've talked about everything with our families I can finally go back to putting my thoughts on this hypothetical page.

So, the big news is I'm pregnant!  Three months pregnant, to be exact.  Turns out that I was already pregnant during Carnaval (albeit only, like, a week - but still... whoops!) Went out with a bang there...

I find it strange that almost every Brazilian person I tell about my pregnancy follows up directly with "Was it planned?"  Pardon?  Was it planned?  What an oddly personal question that does not go against my expectations of Brazilian culture at all.  So, ok, yes it was planned.  And if it wasn't?  Would I get a look of pity??  I might start saying it wasn't, just as an experiment.

I also have to add an aside here:  I know NOTHING about babies, pregnancy, giving birth, normal reactions towards pregnant women, etc., etc.... so if I am slightly shocked by some of these 'oddities' but you think they are apparently normal, please feel free to enlighten me.  I'm really only basing things on how I would react to a pregnant woman.  Not that I have even personally known that many, so therein lies the problem (probably).

The next thing that people almost automatically do is touch my belly.  It's like being pregnant automatically removes your 'personal space shield' and it's a free-for-all for anyone who wants to touch you.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  On one hand it's kind of comforting, on the other hand my inner conscious screams "STOP! THIS IS MY BODY! I AM MORE THAN A GIANT BELLY!"  But people would probably disagree with that so it's best to just let it happen.

So, as I said, I'm totally dumb about pregnancy.  I've never had a close friend have a baby, never even a family member whose pregnancy I got to experience.  I think the last time I even held a baby was when I was about 10 years old.  So, there are some things happening to me that I didn't know to expect...

1. INSANE EXHAUSTION.  Holy freaking hell.  I was so so tired during the first 3 months that I slept at every possible opportunity (and I'm talking for like 3-4 hours, and that was AFTER sleeping 8-10 hours at night).  Another reason I stopped blogging. 

2. INSANE HOT FLASHES.  Meaning the 'flash' lasted all day, everyday.  I was never not sweating like a fat, sweaty man and add to it that Rio has been going through a giant disgusting heat wave for the last 2 months.  I was in my own personal hell and thank god that part is over.  

3. HORRIBLE HEADACHES.  I am having what the doctor (and by doctor, I mean Internet) calls "tension headaches".  They squeeze my head on the sides and leave me feeling totally debilitated.  To make it worse, I can't take any medicine while preggers.  (Also didn't know that I couldn't take over-the-counter medicine... ugggh)

4. MY BODY IS LITERALLY WIDENING.  Yes, Danielle.  LITERALLY.  I noticed it about 3 weeks ago that the circumference of my hips was actually broader.  My husband noticed too (he was totally more excited that I was).  Oh, and thanks to that my pants don't fit anymore.

5. WILD, CRAZY DREAMS.  I repeat, wild, CRAZY, dreams.  Vivid.  Allllllllllll about pregnancy, giving birth, breast feeding, my relationship with my mom and my dad... and are we seeing a theme here? 

6. HAIR GROWTH.  Oh, yes.  We've heard the stories that pregnancy gives you a beautiful head of hair.  I guess they conveniently forgot to mention that the hair grows EVERYWHERE else too.  Even my eyebrows are growing faster than normal.  And where I could usually go 5-6 weeks between waxing, now I'm an every month kinda girl.  (Not that I am going anymore anyway!  It's waaaay too sensitive down there!)  (P.S. Before you say ok TMI Lindsey, I have vowed to give as much information about this pregnancy to spare others from being surprised like I have been!)

7. DOUBTS.  For me, there has also been some guilt because I started to doubt if I was really ready for a baby, ready to be a mother, etc etc.  I guess it's normal, but there is this expectation for women to be SO thrilled and overjoyed all the time at the idea of being pregnant.  Throw some raging hormones into the mix and you're not always so confident in your decision...

For now those have been the biggest mysteries unfolded.  I'm preeetty sure there will be many more fun surprises and I caannnn't wait! (there is a great need for a sarcasm font!)  The good news is, I'm back!

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