Tell me 5 things about yourself.
Mmmm only 5? Ocean or mountains. I’ll take both thanks. But give me summer all year long. If could only eat one food for the rest of my life it would be mashed potato. Hands down. I grew up in a big family and never ever imagined I had what it took to be the Mum in that scenario. Turns out God had other plans for us. Proud Mama to 4 amazing babes and can not imagine it any other way. I’ve been married to my long-time love for almost 26 years this year. Marriage – it’s the hardest and easiest journey we’ve been on. I left on my first overseas trip ever, the day before my 18th birthday. I camped across Canada with friends and I’ve been dreaming of and wandering this beautiful planet ever since.
You and your husband and some of your kids are currently living in Singapore. How did that come about and what made you take the plunge to make an international move?
That is a hard question to answer! Like I said, I’ve been dreaming of travel since I did my first trip.
We married pretty young and I had Kiara when I was 21. I remember more than one person asking us when we married and then again as we had each of our children – was it time to settle down? You know, find a house, get a mortgage, a stable job. It just never felt like us. We did do all those things at different points – house, mortgage, and stable jobs. But it never felt permanent. More just a part of the adventure.
We ended up moving to Japan (on a whim after visiting my sister. Decisions on a considered whim are a bit of a recurring theme with us.). At that stage, it was just us with our one-year-old daughter Kiara. We loved it. We loved the adventure of it. We returned home to have our second daughter Elie and about 12 months later moved to Malaysia to teach at an International School in Kuala Lumpur.
Both those moves were teaching jobs and it was actually pretty awesome for Steve to have the chance to be the stay-at-home Dad with our girls. Right throughout our family time we’ve switched around roles, depending on what our family needed and I’m super thankful to have that kind of flexibility in our marriage.
We ended up moving back to Australia and I got my first teaching job in Australia! I worked in two amazing schools. I look back and honestly, schools with the kind of teachers I worked alongside are pretty precious. It was so good in fact that we ended up settling in for a while and having 2 more precious babies, Ewan and Annie, along the way.
When I look over those years, I can see God’s hand weaving in and out of it all. I couldn’t be any more thankful to be placed where I was, with the friends I made along the way, for those years.
However, the ex-pat dream had never really left us. With 4 children, pets, and careers timing is everything. The time became right again in 2019. As life would have it we had the opportunity to move to Singapore and for me to teach here. So we sold off most of our things, said a VERY teary goodbye to our eldest daughters (who planned to stay in Sydney and finish Uni), and jumped on a plane with 4 suitcases and a deep breath.
What do you love about living and working in a foreign country?
I guess at its core we love the adventure. Being in a new country is challenging on a whole different level. Even the mundane. You should have seen us trying to figure out the buses so we could get groceries! We also love giving our children the opportunity to see life a little differently, and hopefully tou grow a broader perspective and heart for the world and its people.
Working in an international school is challenging! I had to learn to lead a team with a whole new curriculum and teaching lingo. Some days it felt like a whole other language. But again, it’s the people that make it. In an international school, it’s the norm for people here to come and go in cycles. We’ve found everyone welcoming, quick to befriend, and willing to help us build the support network that you need when you start from scratch again.
What does simple living mean to you? How has it helped your own mental health?
I think at its core, simple living to me means stripping things back to the essentials. It’s getting real and intentional about what you value, your actions, words, and thoughts. After that, it kinda just spills over into how you live.
For a long time, I just lived life. I’m a bit of a go-with-the-flow kinda person and while that’s fine – in the midst of busily raising a family and pursuing a career I loved, I lost sight of who I was in the decisions I made. It made for a rough few years dealing with my mental health in a way I hadn’t anticipated.
But getting really clear (and brave!) about what I/we value allowed us intentionally to strip back, and start making decisions aligned with our values. What we consume, where we live, who, and what we make time for. It all counts. It sounds a bit woo woo but living in a way that aligns with what you hold true goes a long way toward being healthy on all levels.
(And yes – as cliche, as it sounds living in a tiny house on some land, is part of our ‘one day dream’ )
Well, we’re in Singapore for the next couple of years at least. One of the things about moving back into international schools is the unknown element of where we’ll live for any length of time.
A worldwide pandemic wasn’t on our radar either, which has complicated travel. We haven’t seen our big girls for more than a year, so we are praying for travel to open up just enough that we can get to them (or them to us!)
As opportunity would have it the pandemic opened up a whole other pathway outside of teaching. I’ve started writing again and designing digital products for my Etsy store, which I am loving. It gives me the opportunity to design and create and also to encourage women on a wider level to live with intention and purpose and to be just a little bit brave.
At the moment, we are content where we are. Grateful for this time and season, to be in a country that is safe, and for technology that keeps us very in touch with the people we love most.