Thursday, November 13, 2014

About Face - The Beginning of A New Life Abroad


That’s what I heard just hours after we received the news that our assignment to Nanjing had fallen through. “About face”.. do you know that term? You may recognize it as a military command, but essentially what it means, is to make a sudden and complete change of one’s plans, ideas, actions or physical direction. BAM!

Let me tell you what happened…

In January, my fiance, Jerry and I started to explore putting into motion a longtime dream that we shared and that was to immerse ourselves in a Southeast Asian culture. 

We had a friend involved in a teaching English in China program and we started to explore the possibilities of tapping into that community for employment for Jerry. 

With an assignment on a high educational level, not only would we have entry into the world we wanted to experience but fully sponsored, we would have the support we would need for that kind of assimilation as well.

Within a few months, Jerry landed a primo position at a University in Nanjing teaching Business English on a graduate level. Everything was set! 

He signed his contract, was given whatever exemptions he needed as a foreign professor.  We were assigned housing, given a start date, arranged for his training and started the daunting task of ‘folding up’ our lives in Prescott, AZ.

All systems were GO! As you know, my HeartShift Coaching business is completely mobile and I have to tell you, I was really looking forward to those creative juices flowing through me that are unleashed whenever we put ourselves outside of our comfort zone. WooHoo!

And then, about 5 weeks before we were scheduled to leave, we got this email from the university liaison…….Wait until you hear what it said. You’re just not going to believe it!


Just 5 weeks before we were scheduled to leave the United States for China, we were shocked to receive this email from our ‘card carrying, party member’, university representative…

When he went to the immigration office to obtain Jerry’s work Visa, he was denied because they said that Jerry exceeded the age limits for teachers! 60 was their point of retirement and with Jerry just over that limit, he was not eligible to teach. 

It didn't matter that he had been invited to teach there at the university, that he had already been given his exemptions, that he already had a signed contract, a start date, a housing assignment and had wrapped up his life and business in the states to accommodate them. His Visa was denied. Talk about being ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go'!

Both of us were stunned, shocked and dismayed! It made no sense to us. It had seemed that all doors had been opened for us only to have them close again.

And then, I started to observe a shift in the way I was feeling. Even through my shock and dismay, I realized that I felt lighter…like a big weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. What was that about I wondered?

The moment I asked myself that question, the answers started to flow in.


The truth was that when we accepted that position, we had resigned ourselves to the fact that aside from being an exciting opportunity, it would also be a year of great hardship.

There is a romantic lure of foreign cultures for people who have a bit of wanderlust in them, and Jerry and I have both been bitten by that bug. Exotic? Bring it on. Challenging? Bring it on. Monumental? Bring it on!
In other words, inasmuch as we would never put ourselves in danger, we love adventure and moving to China for a year fit that bill perfectly.

China would be forcing us outside of our comfort zone for sure. We would need to learn the language, which we wanted to do but there were other pitfalls as well. 

We would be living in University housing (and by the way, universities in China are a far cry from universities in the states), in a one bedroom, fifth floor walkup, meaning there were no elevators, with no guarantees of a standing shower or cooking facilities.

We had already been given the three ‘T’s” or topics that were never to be discussed; Taiwan, Tiananmen Square and Tibet. 

Jerry had also been informed that there would be a ‘party monitor’ in his classrooms at all times to protect the students from propaganda or information that would “hurt them”.

In addition, we would somehow try to live without Google or Facebook or Amazon due to the firewalls placed on their internet services and surveillance practices. To tell you the truth, that was almost a deal breaker for me right from the start. But we thought, somehow we’ll manage.

As for my work, there would certainly be no workshops, no speaking engagement and no opportunities to teach. That was a given. 

We had also been warned not to engage in conversations surrounding religion, spirituality or personal philosophy. And even though I knew that ‘The Universe’ would somehow get around that and those creative juices were going to produce so many more programs and books, I also knew that it would be particularly difficult for me not to be able to speak, especially from my heart!

And then, there was the pollution…

As I started to add all of this up in my head, I immediately understood why this could never work for us. Our Spirits, which are so free, would have had no place to fly. 

As always, the universe had a greater panoramic view than we…IT knew we would never survive under those circumstances.  


There was no turning back! We had already sold our furniture, most of our belongings, our cars, had said our good-byes to our dear family and friends and now we needed just one thing…a destination! 

We looked at our list of places that we intended to visit while on holiday during our stay in China and Thailand was always top on the list. 

In fact, it had been on the top of my list since as long as I could remember. I Googled it once again…’The Land of Smiles’ as it’s known, and there it was shining back at me. 

I could see the scale tipping in my mind’s eye; let’s see, the Land of Smiles or the Land of frowns, spiritual mecca or a spiritual barren land? Which one was life supportive, which one was life diminishing? 

Clearly, there was a reason those doors to China had closed and it could only mean one thing; that there were others ready to open.

We turned our faces towards the sun and bought our tickets to Thailand, right there on the spot. (along with lots of sunscreen) We had no plan, no job, no housing, no directives, no connections, just a gut feeling that said yes, this is right.

Bangkok, here we come...and here we are!  

Keep following my journey as I unleash my spiritual energies over Thailand.

I'll post beautiful pictures, fascinating adventures and so much more for you to enjoy and to get inspired to start  your own new adventure in life.

From my heart to yours,