A Home Divided.

I’m currently sitting on one of my balconies (yes, our new apartment has more than one– it’s delightful!) while Donnie grills chicken for our burrito bowls we’ll soon eat for supper. It’s absolutely lovely here: 27 degrees (80 fahrenheit), sunny, with a nice breeze coming off the ocean, and our friendly Cockatoo hanging out on the roof. It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago we were in the middle of winter!



We had a fabulous time visiting home over the holidays. I got to spend nine days in Carlsbad, CA (just north of San Diego) with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew at their new home having a blast at Sea World, Disneyland, and exploring their beautiful neighborhood beaches and hangouts. I also got to meet up with one of my best friends from college for a day of living out high school dreams in Laguna Beach.




I missed my niece’s eighth birthday on December 2, so I took her to Disneyland for a belated celebration. She’s been to Disney over a dozen times, but she still was so excited when we got off the shuttle that she couldn’t stop squealing and we ended up sprinting to the ticket line. It was a truly magical day.



After a week full of laughs, games of speed, trampoline time, and snuggles with my fave little ones, we all headed to Nashville the day before Christmas Eve. We walked off our flight to the best welcome home committee ever, including a giant poster of my face. (Funny side note: I saw the face as we were walking up and thought “Hah! That’s so funny and also embarrassing for whoever it is on the poster…. wait… that’s MY face!”)


Donnie got in later that evening after 17 hours from Sydney to Dallas and a quick 2 hour flight up from DFW. We all rendezvoused at our all-time favorite Mexican place, Las Palmas, for some much-craved cheese dip (which sadly does not exist in Sydney) and the always delicious LP Special (chicken, peppers, and onions over a bed of rice and doused in cheese dip). Donnie and I went back to his parents’ house to spend the night and have a reunion with our little black pup, Lucy. My in-laws are graciously keeping Lucy while we are in Australia and I miss her immeasurably. She was very happy to see us and promptly snuggled up on the couch with us, even when there wasn’t really room for her. All the puppy kisses and snuggles helped make up for all the tears I cried when we had to leave her.



Christmas was a whirlwind of family time, comfort food, and presents. We got to celebrate with both sides of our families which was such a treat. The highlight of my day was waking up to Ally and Burton (8 and 3) digging into their stockings and trying to hold off until all the adults made it downstairs for presents. My nephew gets unusually excited about clothes, and when he opened the t-shirt Donnie had picked out for him he squealed, “It’s got a kangaroo AND a koala!” Later in the day at my aunt’s house he paused while tearing into a giant package, looked around the room and asked, “Is everyone enjoying their presents?” He’s pretty emotionally tuned in for a three year old.

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After Christmas we got to spend time with our parents and siblings– enjoying game nights, a Preds game, more delicious food, shopping, and just hanging out. Donnie got to go to a Titans game with his buddies and we got together with one of our favorite couples to watch our only Vols win of the year when they trampled Nebraska at the Music City Bowl, followed by some fun out on Broadway downtown.



We rang in the New Year with some of my college besties and their husbands and friends, really fun games, too many jello shots, a music note drop, and a Keith Urban concert. (I was pretty convinced that if we told Keith Urban’s security guards that I lived in Australia he would let us meet him. Luckily, I didn’t test out that theory.)


Being home felt surprisingly normal. At one point I remember thinking, “That was fun when we used to live in Australia.” Falling back into old patterns felt seamless. And now that I’m back home (Australia home) it also feels surprisingly normal. The day we landed in Sydney we collected our bags (and our two amazing backpack beach chairs with headrests and cupholders that recline- thanks Mama and Daddy!) and took a cab back to Dee Why. We dropped off our stuff, grabbed bacon and egg rolls, showered and rested for a minute before heading to the beach. It was a perfect day and we soaked up the sun until we were too tired to stay awake and promptly fell asleep at 6:30 pm.


I have felt an acute loneliness since we’ve been back that I hadn’t really felt before. I miss my friends, my family, my niece and nephew. I miss being able to drive anywhere I want to go. I miss being surrounded by people who know me, who just get me, who speak the same and grew up the same and share my cultural identity. But I also simultaneously crave the slightly uncomfortable growth that I experience here almost daily. While in Tennessee, I really missed being surrounded by various accents and languages at all times. I missed the ease of jumping on a bus and being driven wherever I need to go. I missed being able to walk to the grocery or to shops. I missed my little apartment and my new familiarities. I felt a sense of relief the first day I boarded a bus, tapped my Opal card, and sat down to listen to a podcast while riding the 15 minutes to the mall. I suppose what I’m trying to describe is the bizarre reality of truly having two homes– two distinctly different places in which I feel both comfortable and also like some integral part of my reality is missing. While living here is not our forever plan, it really has become home over the last eleven months, and I think there will always be a little piece of my heart here.


America Votes: 2016

I have cried so many tears tonight my eyes are all squinchy and red.

There will be no cute koala pictures in this post, but there will be a lot of honesty.

I proudly cast my absentee ballot for Hillary Clinton. I am not ashamed and I do not feel like I chose the “lesser of two evils” for our nation’s president. I believe that Hillary Clinton is a brave, strategic, educated, intelligent, shrewd politician and I believe that she was the best option for president of this nation. Full stop.

After today’s (or last night’s) election, it is apparent that my candidate of choice did not win the election. Donald Trump, a racist, xenophobic misogynist has won the election. I am in disbelief. But I also accept the democratic process we have in place.

After the 2008 election, my newsfeed on Facebook was littered with both excited and distraught posts. Some of my friends were energized by the new President-elect, and some were dismayed. I saw so many “I’m leaving America” posts and too many “that’s not my President” posts. Tonight, however, I witnessed something different. I read post after post (the election ended much earlier in Australia, albeit on the 9th, so I read pretty much everything once all my Americans had gone to bed) about hope and love and the importance of fighting for love and acceptance and freedom. I saw so much sadness, and a lot of fear, and more than anything, I saw love.

Tonight I cried so many tears for so many different people. I cried for my friends who are minorities. I cried for my friends who are LGBTQA. I cried for my friends who are women. I cried for my friends who believe in freedom. I cried for my friends who believe in the love that Christ taught. I cried for my niece who, at seven years old, sat in front of a TV and chanted “Hillary! Hillary!” for the girl she saw who had a legitimate shot at our nation’s highest office. I cried for my country.

Donnie and I had so many conversations over the course of the evening– how did this happen, what are different demographics showing in the polls, what does this mean for us and how long we stay in Australia, how do we talk about this to those around us, how do we pray and what do we pray for? There is an unbelievably large amount of information and reality that we must sift through over the coming months and days. There is much to process and decisions to be made that will have long-term effects on our lives. But above all, we must acknowledge that Donald Trump, a man who stands for nothing I believe in, will be the President of our home country. I do not take this lightly. Michelle Obama, in her eternal eloquence, said it best, “When they go low, we go high.” I will not go low. I will not join in fear-mongering or spreading of hate or disparaging our elected leader. Do I believe he was the best option for President? I 100% do not. But I do respect the democratic process and I will never stoop to the lows I’ve seen others take during President Obama’s tenure.

I will reach out to each and every person I know who may be feeling scared or threatened or endangered by this election to let them know that I love them, value them, believe in them, and will hold space for whatever emotions they may be experiencing. I will continue my fight for equal education rights and the ability for every student to go to college, regardless of their economic status, ethnicity, or zip code. I will pray for our country and our leaders and I will trust that God has a plan that is greater than all of us. This is all I can do right now.

I am unbelievably encouraged by the strength, unity, and hope I’ve witnessed in the amazing people I call my friends and family. There is no hiding the fact that I am devastated and terrified by what tonight’s vote said. America stood up and cried out against a large percentage of its population and this is not something I take lightly. There is so much work to be done. But I believe that we will process, we will grieve, we will fight, and that ultimately, we will rise.