Citizenship Application is IN!

This last week I finally qualified to apply for citizenship in Australia. I’ve been here 8.5 years, and the amount of relief that came when I paid and submitted my online application was tangible. My shoulders relaxed, a smile broadened across my face, and tears ran down my cheeks. I have wanted to have the stability of being here in the world that I have created for myself and my family and now I actually have that chance. It’s so much more than having Permanent Residency as I could still technically be asked to leave with PR, and have to apply again in 5 years to get a Resident Return Visa, and wouldn’t have the right to vote. I want to be a contributing member of society in this beautiful country in which I live, where my family lives, where my life is. I love Australia and I honestly feel like change is possible here and that votes count. I feel like there is so much opportunity here and I want so badly to be able to participate freely, and soon, I shall.

The process of applying for citizenship was eerily easy compared to applying for the various visas I’ve had over the years. Also we’ve spent at least ten thousand dollars on visas until now, and citizenship cost a mere $288. Wild. Also the most tricky part was finding someone that knows me personally for at least a year, who also works in an occupation that the Identity Declaration Form 1195 deems is worth enough. Thank goodness I have a friend from Mother’s Group who is also a police officer as she is the only person I could think of that I know personally who would be able to fill out the form for me. The rest was straightforward. I know there’s still the interview and the test, which come later, but even this preliminary process was so much easier.

The relief though… I can’t even begin to fully describe what it feels like to finally get to this point. I am thankful that my partner has stuck by me in all of this as well, as he could have easily chosen a much easier path and chosen an Australian wife rather than a foreigner and would have avoided all of these years of headaches, heartache, and expense. I so look forward to becoming an Australian citizen and it’s closer now than it’s ever been.

Living Abroad for the First Time

A friend is living abroad at the moment and going through some blue times. Sometimes I get weird about sharing myself in black and white, and say the bare minimum. However, this makes me feel like I need to expand it out. Not sure if she’ll ever read this, but I have to share it.

When I moved abroad for the first time, not just traveling but living in one place intentionally with another person, I was so in over my head. I didn’t realise it at the time. I had left a good life but one that I wasn’t feeling fully fulfilled in anymore and decided that I wanted to do something different. I had just ended a long term relationship, had a health scare with precancerous cells on my cervix, and had become very cynical about corporations and their role in capitalism in the world at a time when I was moving more and more towards a more balanced view of living and using one’s resources. Then came along an attractive, charismatic alpha male foreigner who had me in his sights, and him in mine. It started fast like most fires do, and in a short time, even though there were some warning signs, I dismissed them, and soon he was back in his own country. I missed his energy and the way I felt around him, and questioned why I would stay where I was when this whole other life could be mine. I went on a holiday to visit him in Brazil and loved it. I was enamoured by being around him and allowing the flames to engulf us, I enjoyed the lush life he was accustomed to, and he wanted me to return. Within a very short few months, I resigned from my job after being with the corporation for 9 years, gave away everything I owned, and moved to Brazil with two suitcases. I was just 27 and had only lived in low population areas where everyone knew everyone, where I was the big fish in the small pond with a small exception when I was at University where I joined a sorority to counteract and become a big fish again. I had no experience with big city people and he was the epitome of big city and I had no idea what I was really getting into.

The beginning was fun, I enjoyed myself, it was all new, and I would share with family and friends back home about my new findings, the life I was now living which seemed like it was out of a movie, and it was incredible. After a while, the newness started to fade away though. I couldn’t easily find a job like I had before, I didn’t speak Portuguese, I realised that he was a lot different in his regular life than he was when he was traveling, or when I was traveling to holiday with him. It took me a while to understand that society people are very different from country people like myself. I hadn’t realised fully how many masks are worn, or how people associate with others just because of the benefits that they may get, or because they are the right people to know. I didn’t wear the right clothes, the right shoes, the right whatever, I hadn’t grown up in it, and that outward superficial appearance of things wasn’t important to me, maybe a bit, but nothing in comparison to the people I met and socialised with on a regular basis. I joined the “club” and did my best to make the most of it. However, it started to break at the seams.

There are so many more details to add here, but in short, I realised that I was in the wrong place. I was headed down this path with someone who wanted me to marry him, and I had already given away my entire old life. My ego was so big that I didn’t feel like I could go back, I had never actually failed at anything, and there was no possibility that I was going to admit freely that I had made the wrong decision. So I continued my best to make it work. I was depressed. I was living in Sao Paolo, the third largest city in the world, and I felt so utterly alone. I felt like I couldn’t talk about it with friends and family either, not deeply, not fully.

In this time of feeling out of alignment, I was in search of finding what was right for me. I did some dream therapy, taught myself to meditate, even fasted for 28 days to gain clarity. I wasn’t even that happy when I was at the weekend holiday homes on the island or in the exclusive private beachside community on the weekends. I was so out of it. I traveled a bit from there to Argentina for a short stint away, and the message I received when couch surfing with this amazing family near Patagonia, was that it’s not always easy but you make it work. So I returned and tried again. The day before we got married which I only agreed to for health insurance reasons and thought I had made that perfectly clear, I called an Aunt of mine back in the US on a payphone and calling card, and she told me that I could mould him into the person I wanted him to be and essentially I’d be a fool to give up the life I had in order to return to the US in any capacity like I had before. Horrible advice. I even got in contact with some old friends from Yosemite who basically were just like, “what do you have to lose?” I cried the day I signed those papers after the ceremony was performed in Portuguese. I cried and cried. It was like I was on a fast moving train and I just couldn’t get off.

I started indulging in more drinking than I had in a long while, I would smoke a lot of cannabis, and still none of it made a difference. I would go to acupuncture weekly and then listen to this jazz band every Tuesday afternoon and that was like a salvation for me. Eventually I felt afraid to continue being there with him but didn’t feel like I had an out. I had transferred all of my money into his name, which was a ludicrous thing to do but I was so naive and trusting especially when I first arrived.

About ten months after the marriage, my grandmother fell ill and I took the exit opportunity. I told him we were separating, and I left. It was emotional. I got back to the US, and I felt so completely broken. I wore my wedding band and tried not to talk about it with anyone, I just couldn’t. My ego was shattered. I lost my once tangible level of confidence, and I was lost. My grandmother wasn’t doing well, and I spent time with her, and I bounced around from place to place because there wasn’t any room for me to stay at my parents house, that was never a backup or fall back plan for me in life as they never really had it together enough on their own to offer such stability or security. Eventually I made my way back to Yosemite to stay with a friend. My heart was back in tact or at least starting to mend. I learned about Vipassana meditation, and enrolled in the next available course. There was a blip in there where the Brazilian came to the US on a work visa for his American based corporation and terrorised me, but I don’t want to get into that now, but it was so scary as I hadn’t told him where I was staying and he still found me. Meditation helped me to reset, my grandmother passed when I was in between sessions, and I was the most level emotionally I had been in a long time and was able to act as support for my family.

I got offers to work back in Yosemite but I couldn’t I couldn’t go back to a life that I had left. So I traveled. I roadtripped with friends, learned about my own country, went to Burning Man, just lived and experienced life like a rolling stone. It was exhausting. By New Years a year later after returning from Brazil, I was on this three day party bender, and I knew I was also not in the right place. I wrote down that I wanted a flight someplace else in a journal, and an email showed up from the Brazilian saying he had bought my ticket to Australia and to just get on the plane, no expectations, just to come and stay a year. Up until the day of the flight I wasn’t sure if I was going to go, this same person who scared me, was offering this opportunity, he had all my money still, and was promising no expectations of what was to come. I had offered up to the universe what I wanted and it came in a way that I hadn’t envisioned, which does happen often. I took the flight, and soon after separated from him again, and it brought me to Australia. The story continues as does the scariness but it’s all resolved now. It took a very long time and a lot of internal strength to get through it all.

If I have learned anything from all of this is that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to say that things didn’t work out. It’s okay to return. It’s okay to try again. The beauty is that every moment contains the seed of something new to become. It is because of these experiences that I have grown in ways that I have, and I have no regrets. Also, I listen to my internal voice a hell of a lot more than I ever did when I was younger. I don’t know everything, and am open to seeing what presents itself. Life is a wild and glorious ride.

Rekindling a Sense of a Freer Version of Myself

Recently I was listening to Dave Matthews Band after a huge hiatus of hearing them. The feelings that arose were those of freedom, ease, happiness, romance, and fully living. It was unexpected and it felt so very good. I realised that I haven’t had much room for those feelings in the last stretch of time. I wouldn’t change where I am as I know I left all those other places, people and times in search of something more, or better, however, I do miss the nights where I danced with reckless abandon under the stars of the Sierra Nevadas in Yosemite National Park and just lived life as I wanted to. It’s been so long since I’ve felt so expansive and easy go lucky.

The years that I have been in Australia have been intense and full in a completely different way. Having a head on collision, a stalking highly emotional stalking ex partner, the restriction of going through the very long immigration process, the near death experience of giving birth and the trauma the ensued after, all the while moving from an area that was progressive, free thinking, open, and inviting, to Western Sydney which is nearly the opposite of those things I value, caused me slowly but surely to close myself in more and more and more. Then choosing for various reasons to stay at home full time with our child just compounded this. Thank goodness for my Mother’s Group because they have well and truly been the support that I have needed in a time when I needed community, connection, and a feeling of having people around me who understood me in some way and what I was going through.

Listening to Dave Matthews Band rekindled something inside of me, something that makes me realise that as I continue to grow this second child inside of me and expand our family, that I must make myself a priority. I must make room for me to feel like I have some freedom and choice in my life. I must make room so that I can  feel alive and expansive, and independent, and strong, and capable. When I feel those things then I feel sexy, I feel accomplished, I feel intelligent, I feel invincible, and that is what I want in my life on the regular. I want to feel all of these things because when I do, I live in my full expression of who I am, and who I am becoming.

I know I needed these last years to go inward, to restrict myself so intensely so that I would know the feeling of breaking out of it. I MUST incorporate ways in my every day daily life where I feel more free and easy go lucky, and healthy, and smart, and strong. It is essential to my personal well being. It is essential and it is something that I MUST cultivate because I am reminded now that it is a part of me. I may not be the free dancing young Jennifer that I used to be, and I don’t want to be that person again as I’ll never be again and I understand that I left those places, those people, those experiences for a reason, and I’m not looking back in the sense that I want to recapture that youth, or that way of life, I just want to cultivate those feelings again and let them fly high and in every direction!! I want to be that force of life, that joyous force of life that brings light and energy to every experience and don’t apologise for it, but completely one hundred percent owns who I am and what I want and need in such an easy manner.

This is what I need. This is my intention. This will happen. This is happening.

Rise

I woke up early this morning with a sense of urgency after having some vivid dreams about my recently passed away father in law. We were accompanying him to some kind of concert, it was my husband, him and myself. He was still active into his mid 80’s before having to go into the home due to Parkinson’s, and up until that time was still pretty sharp. It was great that we were out because of him, and we were happy to be there, just needed a little inspiration apparently.

I woke with the words “rise” in my head. “Rise, Rise”. Also with the strange internal dialogue that I need to be bigger than I am right now, that I have been hiding, that the pain and trauma that I’ve gone through in the past few years is coming to an end, and it’s time for me to shine my light brightly again, it’s time for me to be back in the public, and back inspiring and making a difference. Rise, Rise.

The Immigrant Process

I am an immigrant. I chose to leave my home country in pursuit of a new adventure, a new life, with new opportunities. It’s taken a considerable amount of courage, bravery, and resilience. Being an immigrant is a hard road and comes with many challenges, especially as the global powers tighten boarders and make the pathway to citizenship longer and more complicated than it needs to be.

My niece has asked me about my experience as an immigrant and specifically my pathway to citizenship as there are bound to be many similarities that I have faced that immigrants to America would also face. I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time, I talk about it a lot, but haven’t fully put it in to black and white, and I welcome that chance now.

I read somewhere a line that went something like to be an immigrant, you will always have your heart in two places, and that’s as true as it can be. My heart has always been torn between forging a new life for myself in Australia and leaving behind my family and everyone I have known before now in order to do so. It’s a compromise that has to happen when you venture out into the unknown of anything, and absolutely applies to traveling and making home abroad.

The process to citizenship here in Australia has been very long and convoluted. I still, after being here for more than eight years, being married to an Australian, having an Australian child, owning a business in Australia, and having gone to University here in Australia, I have still yet to be granted citizenship. I’ve had various visas that always cost a lot of money, and I’ve had to learn to live with the instability that comes with not being fully allowed to live in a country. Honestly the stress that this has caused, I’m certain has negatively impacted my health and also my first pregnancy. The stress that you can be asked to leave at any given time because you don’t have the right to stay is ever present. It’s like holding your breath, and wanting to give all you can to the country you are now living in, but at the same time holding back because why set down roots if you will have to cut them off and move again anyway.

When applying for Permanent Residency which precedes citizenship, there are typically requirements that need to be met like being in the country for a certain amount of time and not having any issues with visas before. For PR, as it’s commonly called, you have to submit so much paperwork not only about yourself, but you also have to give information about your friends and family as well, private information like their birthdays, their occupations, their own families, their marital status. It’s incredibly invasive, and asking friends and family to do this feels like one additional barrier that we have to go through. There’s a thorough health check, at designated immigration doctors offices, and you are treated like just another immigrant, no bedside manner, all matter of fact, and then you’re on your way awaiting the results. There’s character checks that happen from your original country, then within the country you are trying to immigrate to, along with any other country where you have spent more than a year. If you’ve married a citizen then you have to prove your relationship, which feels so false, and the things they ask, normal couples wouldn’t do. Specifically, who opens a joint bank account with their boyfriend or girlfriend the day they decide they’re going to be exclusive? If any regular couple did that, it would be a huge red flag, but for immigration, that is one of the ways to prove your relationship, and if you don’t have that you get knocked back in the queue.

The hardest part of all of it, beyond the utter lack of privacy, beyond the inane requirements that normal people wouldn’t do, is that the government is always changing, and with that, their stance on immigration changes. So you can call up and be told one thing on Monday, and then call back the next Monday and be told a completely different thing. For us, we were advised to wait until our three year anniversary before applying for PR because it would go right through, no more than six months the immigration agent said. So, we waited the additional year and a half and when we applied, the rules had changed, and had to wait an additional two years, not six months, to finally hear back, which gave another waiting period of a year. So it took a total of three years from the time I applied for PR to the time of being granted it, rather than six months, and that was after waiting for the full three years beforehand to apply. In this time, the fees go up, the waiting stretches out, and you find yourself checking your email account every single day, and every single day you feel disappointed and feel like it’s not going to happen.

Also in this waiting period of seeing if you will be accepted, and this could only be me, but I felt completely restricted about what I could say online. It was during a time when America was changing greatly, and Trump had been granted President, and the whole world was in shock and disbelief. Even before then with whistleblowers being outed and vilified, I didn’t feel like I could speak freely about this. I didn’t feel like I could even seek help with dealing with the dark feelings I had after having a very traumatic birth because all of that would be linked to me, and all of that would go into the decision making of whether I got to stay in the country where my entire world existed now, and I didn’t want to do anything at all to jeopardise that.

Looking for jobs as an immigrant is always a trying situation, because employers want to know that you will not be a fly by night, and the time and training they put into you will be repaid by long service. Going to University and further education is also limited unless you have the access to pay for the exorbitant fees they charge international students, and even then only some courses are available. There are restrictions every way you look, and sometimes, it feels like it would be easier to just throw away the dream and move back to your home country. I’m lucky I’m not a refugee and that is an option for me but for a lot of immigrants going home isn’t an option, so they have no choice but to deal with each obstacle, each setback, each challenge, and trying to maintain patience with their heads down, waiting for their time to come and be welcomed officially into their new country.

Lawmakers must be so removed from this process, because I can’t imagine that they would put us through all of this hardship, which ripples out to our new families here, and our friends, and the economy because we are going through unnecessary challenges to gain access to stay in the new country. I would definitely recommend a change that would include having English classes for migrants who don’t speak English as their first language while in the process of immigration because everyone benefits when we can speak a common language. I would recommend each immigrant being issued a clear plan with dates for them to apply and what to do at each step, currently the information is all over the place, and it changes so frequently that making a timeline with a plan is almost a joke currently.

I’m Pregnant!

I knew before my missed period. I could feel the extra fluidness of my vagina. I felt happy, I knew I was pregnant. I logged my “missed period” on day 1 into my app, knowing that I was going to have to do it again the next day. Sure enough a week after my entire missed period I took a pregnancy test to confirm and there it was, two pink lines.

I’m feeling very happy to be pregnant. I feel excited, and that something new and wonderful is happening. I can feel excitement and a sense of calm which is totally welcomed. The last time I had a child, my first child, it was utterly traumatic with lots of complications, and the funny thing is that I forsee this one to be a breeze. I feel so much more confident with the process and if things do go wrong, at least I’ll be prepared unlike last time.

I go in to the doctor tomorrow to take some blood tests and confirm everything, I’m not even 5 weeks pregnant yet, but want to make sure everything is as it should be.

Yay for life progressing. Yay for life! 🙂

Resigned

I’ve let my job go. In part due to truly feeling like I need to have the flexibility to be available in case my family, including my in-laws who have experienced very ill health as of late, need me, and more specifically if they need my son, the golden sun, around to help brighten moods.

It was bittersweet. I know it’s been coming, and I truly do want flexibility, but I also liked that I did have a team of people I was working with and I enjoy the feeling of being productive. I learned a variety of different real estate based systems in a short amount of time and even wrote some Marketing AdCopy, which I definitely enjoyed doing.

My son has just gotten up from his nap and is standing next to me with his hand on my leg, asking for my attention, so I have to cut this short.

Now, comes the entrepreneurial phase and I’m totally open to this.

Job?

What happens when you look at the variety of roles available on job sites and still feel none of them are really for you? What happens when I scroll through them and think that each would be fun for a day or maybe a week, but that would be it? Is it because I’m looking at these jobs that other people are needing, that I’m just going to fill a need for them rather than filling a need for myself? Am I looking at this from the wrong perspective? How can so many other people just say, okay there’s a role, and I am willing to spend my time, energy, and creativity in that role? None of them I want to do full time either. I fundamentally don’t believe in working 5 out of 7 days, where is the time for leisure? Where is the time for personal growth? Where is the time for leading a healthy life? Where is the time for maintaining friendships and being a part of community? What about any time for developing or exploring your faith? Of course, also, where is the time to build and maintain a romantic relationship, and of course, a parental one? I don’t see how that is possible to do successfully, how it’s possible to balance all of those needs and do them at your very best when there are only 3 hours after a long day five days a week, and two weekend days to focus on being a whole person.

So what do I do? I’m in a job that I feel is very constricting and limiting because I have to be at a desk on certain days for this business, I feel chained to it. There isn’t flexibility in the days I get to do this, even though I’ve asked from the beginning. I’ve made it clear that I want more flexibility. I want a job that’s completely flexible. One where I don’t have to be at any one place at any one time with other people relying on me being there, I already have that kind of pressure at home being a mum and a wife, I don’t need it anywhere else in my life, I need the opposite. That’s it, because I already have such responsibilities that I have taken up willingly, I want a job to be the opposite of that, i want it to have flexibility, freedom, movement, change, the ability to not do it if I choose, the ability to ride my own waves of energy rather than force my energy to fit into a schedule.

So again, what do I do? What do I do about this? Clearly the option is to do something online. Clearly it is to stop looking at these jobs that will put me at a desk just in another business location. Ideally I would like to either totally work with people, or not though. I want the money from this job too, because now that I am remembering how nice it is to have money, I like it, and like to see my bank account rising each week. I like this. To replace my current job, I just need to make $350 for a two day workweek. I can do this. I will do this. I will go beyond this.

Oak Ridge Atomic Bomb Secret City

While in Tennessee visiting my family over the holidays, we went to the town of Oak Ridge. The only reference I have of Oak Ridge in my mind is of a country band named the Oak Ridge Boys, and I don’t even know what they sing. It’s a town that isn’t very far from Knoxville in the Eastern part of Tennessee with it’s beautiful rolling hills and deciduous trees. Oak Ridge was formed as a secret city during World War II to build the Atomic Bomb. It was kept off maps, and grew to a population of 70,000 people. It now houses the American Museum of Science and Energy to showcase it’s past. My uneasy feeling that a government can do major things in massive secrecy was only confirmed in this trip. How do we ever know anything is actually true unless we go there ourselves? It might be more transparent now than it was before because we have technology weaved into every part of our lives, but even then, how do we know.

America and Slavery

We’ve just returned from a trip overseas, to my home country of America. This time we were situated near the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, and spent some time exploring through Virginia, and Tennessee as well. Virginia and Tennessee are considered the South, and although Washington borders Virginia, it isn’t considered the south, even though it has benefited greatly from slavery. I wasn’t expecting to have the experiences or to have the illumination of America’s past, but there it was in full glory, obviously something I needed to know about.

A trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello which is the plantation house on every nickel in the currency, proved to be very eye opening. Being from California, we have been removed quite a bit from the black slavery past in America’s beginnings. So heading into the Monticello was like stepping right into it. Thomas Jefferson was an early president of the USA and although he apparently had strong views about slavery being wrong, he inherited slaves like property, and only ended up freeing a small handful which historians now have put together that they were his illegitimate children with one of his slaves. Even for someone with wealth, power, and influence, he still wasn’t able to abolish slavery, could he have tried harder? Could he have changed it within his own plantation? The marketing material touched on how the slaves did have “good” lives all things considered, and had houses built that were as good, or better than the poor white people at the time. The houses were all aligned in a row so they were able to form a community within themselves. Over the course of Jefferson’s life he had a couple hundred slaves, and all I could think when I saw the bells down in the cellar area, was that they had been beaten into submission to spring up to a bell and ensure that the Jefferson household was always taken care of. The feels that swelled up in me when I read that they had better lives than most, made my stomach turn. These poor people who were captured and held against their will in order to serve their masters. They were separated from their families, they had not stability in that sense at all, and that makes me incredibly sad.

I was reading after that Sally Hemmings chose to return to Monticello after Jefferson had taken her to Paris as a slave nurse to his daughter, because in France slavery had already been abolished, because of the promise to free her children, children which she would bear later from Jefferson, and I find that to be a long stretch. I don’t know what it must have been like for Sally Hemmings but I can imagine that her will had been broken like so many other slaves, held against their will, and possibly her ideas of freedom had been distorted due to this. It’s all so sad to me.

After visiting the Monticello, with all it’s beauty and grandeur, I was left with the unmistakable grossness within me that realised all of it was possible because of the slaves, his status and wealth was only perpetuated because of that horrible system. I feel this in Washington as well after I became privy to the fact that the slaves were the ones who erected most of the monuments. They were forced to erect these monuments cherishing their oppressors. Gut wrenching.

White guilt came flooding into me, and I started to realise all of the broken families, all of the heaviness that the African Americans carry with them. Not knowing their origins, not knowing even which country in Africa they really came from, and having the pattern of slavery, even if just at a subconscious level that perpetuates from generation to generation.