What Does 2021 Have In Store For You?
I love the feeling that comes once Christmas has run its course…
After all the gluttony and indulgence, the natural inclination come January is to swing toward austerity. Most of the world tries to give up some bad habit in the New Year… or to begin some good one.
Some years I miss the warm holiday feeling that wraps you up like a fuzzy blanket, isolating you from cold reality for a few weeks… but this year I’m really relishing asceticism.
I spend hours putting up decorations that make me so happy for the last month of the year, but once all the gifts are unwrapped and I’m sweeping away the paper and ribbons, all I want is to sweep away all the rest of the Christmas clutter, too.
I finally managed to get it all sorted a couple weeks ago—boxing up all the déco de Noël, returning the tree-ousted armchair and coffee table to their rightful places, and reorganizing our shelves and closets to accommodate the new arrivals.
With a newly-cleaned home comes a newly-cleared mind. What do I want out of this New Year, I asked myself as I puttered?
What Does 2021 Have In Store?
Let’s face it, 2020 was a pretty bad one for many of us… for some, it was a tragic year. If you’re lucky, the only consequence was plans put on hold.
I managed to give birth right before COVID-19 took hold of the world, and none of my loved ones were too badly affected by the virus. I fall into the lucky category.
But my plans have been put on hold for two years now, first derailed due to pregnancy and then to the coronavirus… and I’m ready for 2021 to be my breakout year.
I moved to France in large part to be in the heart of Europe. I saw us traveling a couple times a month, either to a nearby vineyard or maybe to Belgium for the weekend… and once a month a longer trip to Italy or someplace farther east that we’ve never been.
We’ve made it out of the country exactly once since moving to Europe in 2018: to Greece for a babymoon. Every time we’ve made plans to travel since then, we’ve been thwarted by France’s confinement measures.
What’s been (and continues to be) so difficult about life right now is that plans seem to have no authority behind them. They can be made… but they’ll surely be broken. Whether it’s a trip overseas or a dinner across the street, there’s just no counting on anything right now. It’s hard not to become demoralized.
So, We Do One Of Two Things
We give in to the feeling of hopelessness and we stop making plans, waiting for when things are “back to normal.” Or we continue to make plans, disappointed over and over again, but holding on to hope.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I’ve done both things plenty in the last year… I’ve lost hope and regained it time and again.
But here we are in this shiny new January and I refuse to go forward this year without a positive outlook. Things will change. Plans will be made—and kept. We will travel.
I’ve said it before… and I’m sure I’ll have to remind myself of it all again before the year is out… but the best we can do right now is to keep the dream alive and kicking. Wherever you are in this go-overseas process, don’t lose hope.
Are You Starting Your Journey?
If you’ve just begun to explore these ideas, keep exploring virtually. Luckily, you’re already in the best place you can be to do that—just keep reading Live and Invest Overseas content and we’ll do our best to deliver the world to your inbox every day.
Were You Sidetracked?
If you were about to pull the trigger on some plan and had to sidetrack it over the last year, don’t worry—your new home isn’t going anywhere. Try to take advantage of the extra time you have at home now to optimize your move like you couldn’t have before. Maybe that means taking the time to sell things off… or to spend more time window shopping for rentals in your new city. Start lists or spreadsheets to track your research and anything else you’re doing by way of planning.
Already Done All That?
Then try to discover something of your new home’s culture. If you’re moving to a non-English-speaking country, start to teach yourself the language. There are countless great ways to do so from your living room. Or buy a guidebook to your new home and do some armchair traveling.
Of course, with everything that went on this year, it’s also possible that you lost some steam on this whole idea… I’d say that’s natural. It’s hard to keep anything alive in a harsh environment, even just an idea. If you’re having second thoughts, don’t panic. Give them their due and take them seriously, but don’t let them get the better of you needlessly. Are your cold feet founded in reality or have you simply lost some vim and vigor?
Want to get yourself excited for your new home again? Then try to import your new lifestyle to where you are now. Moving to Spain? Buy a tapas cookbook and some Spanish wine and make a night of it. Headed to Mexico? Elevate margarita night with some South of the Border culture and trivia.
Remember what it is that originally drew you to the place and dig into it. Into birdwatching or scuba diving? Pick up some wildlife books and get prepped for your first outing once you arrive.
Already on Your New Home?
Finally, maybe you fall into the last category—the same one I’m in. Maybe you had just moved to your Shangri-la before all hell broke loose. My dream when I moved to Paris wasn’t that I would spend the better part of a year stuck in a small apartment. I’m sure there are plenty of other new expats who have the same complaint.
Unfortunately, there’s not much more we can do other than bring what’s outside our window into the house… and be glad that at least we have that beautiful new view!
One of my goals with Christmas gifts this year was to bring the world and our new home to us, even if we couldn’t get out to see it in person. To this end, I bought several of-the-month boxes…
La Box Voyageuse brings us a new country every month, with foods, facts, and recipes to make using the ingredients sent. So far, we’ve “been to” Morocco and China and it’s not even the middle of January yet.
I also got us The French Box, delivering a region to us monthly. For December, we got Bretagne (Brittany), the fascinatingly Celtic part of France that I’m eager to learn more about. I love the education that we’ve already gotten from just one month, and I can’t wait to visit Bretagne (maybe next month?) for myself.
Our wine of the month club is ostensibly educational—hey, we need to be wine connoisseurs to live in France, right? But I sense that it may quickly become more medicinal than enlightening.
My most fervent hope is that by the end of this year, the French are back to bisous-ing, taking coffees at the bar, and cramming like sardines into the metro.
Editor, Live and Invest Overseas Confidential