A few weeks ago was our first-year anniversary of arriving in Brazil. Coincidentally, I’m also on my first trip back to the States since we left. It’s worth taking a few minutes to look forward and look back.
Some things I’ve learned that haven’t been mentioned before:
Slow food is healthier. Both of us are more than a few kilos lighter than when we arrived. The farm work probably helps, but I’ve exercised lots before. We both eat crazy amounts of food and Brazilians love their meat and beans, best when cooked in lots of pork grease. Despite an enormous calorie load here we are, skinnier than ever. Best that I can figure is that it must be the amazing local food and basic ingredients from which everything is made. There’s no fast food to be found in this small town. We eat a processed frozen pizza or hamburger maybe once a month, and other than the sausage that we buy everything else we know the farmer who produced it.
Be true to your style of moving through the world. God help me, I’ve wed into a family of non-confrontational introverts. Y’all, this is just not my way. I suffered in silence for a few months until I decided to charge out and do my own social planning. Much better. The tribe of friends is small and growing nicely. Recently I also decided to buck the curve and speak my mind when push comes to shove, ’cause I just ain’t the sort of gal who’s going to be able to swallow inequalities for too long. And y’know what? The universe didn’t explode. In fact, no one even stopped being my friend. And again I felt much better. Be true to yourself, even in another culture.
It won’t happen unless you plan for it. That great vacation you’ve always talked about doing? Start saving, even if it’s just $5/week. That dream of a new business? Make sure you sign up for the class you always meant to take. There’s the other extreme where you plan to the last detail and I’m not talking about that. I’m saying make a flexible roadmap and checkpoints. Otherwise life has a way of running away with you, and the ship will start steering itself if you’re not at the tiller. Even more so when your opportunities are endless.
It’s the little things. When you get homesick, it’s for the little things. Your favorite dish, just the way mom makes it. The smell of pine needles and damp earth in the forest. When you get back it’s the little things you notice–was that store always there? Who repainted my old school? How did those young cousins get so damn tall? Why does it take leaving for us to notice? When people miss you, it is for the small things. I actually love my Facebook app just because it helps me to chat daily from a distance with friends about the small things of life–their latest, greatest recipe, politics of the moment, their kid’s latest tantrum, or how their day at work was. This is the stuff of life. Your day is made of many small moments, all strung together. Savor them.
Pick up the phone. Add together the two previous points and you have a recipe for staying in touch with your loved ones. In some ways I am more present in friends lives these days because distance requires that I be deliberate in my connections or else I will fade from memory. Now that I am in Brazil I talk to some college friends more than I ever did while in the States. I make a habit of working through a list of loved ones, and my rising tide of communication raises all boats. I’m also of the age that friends are falling prey to cancer and other illnesses. You don’t know if that person will be around tomorrow. Don’t leave your love unsaid. Don’t miss the small details that are central to their daily lives. Call today.
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