Thoughts on moving


Well, the big move is underway.  Two days ago the shipping container was loaded and locked and shortly it should be on it’s way to Australia.  Now we camp out for awhile until returning.  This is my third international move with children and I was prepared for the fallout but it’s still hard.  We are exhausted, we are stressed and on edge.  The children returned home from school on Monday to find their home (the only one they remember) empty of all their possessions.  Miss 3 had tears in her eyes for hours, Mr 5 was full of nervous energy exploring every cupboard and Mr 7 got angry.  In my experience we should expect six tough months but by the year mark we should be back on track.

I can already see the behavioral issues.  Everyone is fighting and bickering ALL. THE. TIME.  The loss of anything (taking away a plate before they’ve finished) results in hysterical tears.  I am having to stop myself from taking them to the toy shop every day.  I want to see them happy again.  I want to stem the tears and stop the fights.  But all I can do is try and explain, try and be patient (I’ve had my post-move meltdown, it wasn’t pretty) and try to keep life as normal as possible.  But what is normal about this nomadic lifestyle?  That’s not a path I should venture down at this point.  It’s a dangerous spiral.  My silver lining is that in our mid-thirties we have realised that this lifestyle is not for us.  We are still employable, we have time to claw back our family life.  I know my husband will forever mourn the loss of these three years that he only saw his children on weekends (he has worked LONG hours Monday-Friday) but I hope that they will forget and it will be replaced with memories of a Dad who does their homework with them, a Dad who is home for dinner every night, a Dad who isn’t late for everything no matter how important it is because work ALWAYS comes first.

I hope that I forget too.  I hope that these three years go fuzzy in my memory.  That I remember the brilliant colours of New Caledonia, the smiling faces in the provinces, the precious friends that I have made.  Those friends that have taken my kids into their homes so I could pack up our life without them watching, the friends who rang to see if they could drop over dinner, the friends who judge me on my actions and not on what others may say.  I have had some very dark days here in Nouméa, I tell myself that great artists have to suffer for their work.  It’s a kind of sad joke.  It makes me wonder how much you have to suffer to actually make great work.  I’m not asking for pity, but I’ve written and deleted this story so many times without publishing it.  I don’t want to be negative in my happy place but these three years have had a huge impact on me as a person.  I have lost so much of my confidence.  I have suffered social anxiety to the point that I won’t leave the house other than to collect the children from school.  I have had moments where I was ready to walk out but I didn’t even have the clarity of mind to know where to walk to.

To me, quilting is like meditation.  I focus so wholly, with every fibre of my being, on a small area of fabric.  The rest of the world, my thoughts, the doubts, they disappear.  And then I produce something pretty and amaze myself.  And then I share it and other people like it and I feel human again.  Thank you dear readers for commenting both here and on IG and Flickr.  Your comments and ‘likes’ have helped me regain my confidence.  You’ve helped me feel human again.  My very good friend told me yesterday that you don’t need hundreds of virtual friends that you never even meet, that you only need a few diamonds (he -and his family- is definitely one of my diamonds).  I disagree.  Yes, my awesome ‘diamond’ friends are amazing and prop me up, but the online interaction has shown me that complete strangers care.  That is really powerful.  I can’t tell you how much it meant when Dasha emailed me late on Sunday night to wish me luck with the packing on Monday (we’ve never met and only started corresponding in January over thread/tension issues), I ‘chat’ everyday with the ‘Wombat Stew’ bee girls, in the last hours of packing they were cheering me on.  Those kind words and all the lovely comments on my blog are no less important.  So thank you very, very much.

I’m sorry this post isn’t really sewing related.  And I’m sorry if it’s negative.  And I know it doesn’t tell the whole story of what really happened (let’s just say bullying doesn’t end in primary school and leave it at that).  But this time I’m going to hit publish and I hope you don’t mind.

Tomorrow we’ll be back to quilting.  I’d love you to come link up to I Quilt Thursday.  I haven’t visited last weeks linkers yet.  I will, but it has been chaos here and my feet have only just hit the ground.

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35 Comments on Thoughts on moving

  1. Ms Midge
    November 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm (5 months ago)

    You know I’ll be cheering you, well, forever! You are a super human being, and you are just about to enter the BEST part of your life! Promise! Keep breathing xxx

  2. Kristy @ Quiet Play
    November 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm (5 months ago)

    Difficult time all round – but at least there is an end in sight. You have done well to manage the past few years (and thank goodness for quilting for sanity!). I guess it’s that old saying “This too shall pass!”.

  3. Vera
    November 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm (5 months ago)

    I hope everything settles down as quick as possible. Fingers crossed.

  4. Adrianne
    November 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm (5 months ago)

    Gemma, I think you are fantastic. I’m glad you found quilting because you inspire me heaps and I am in awe of your plans to take on quilting as a business! I lived in France for a year in my last year of high school (that was 2003, so 10 years ago now) and it was HARD. The thing I took from that experience is that no matter how rubbish things seem at a given point in time, they will always get better eventually. You know that, so it’s just a matter of getting through this tough time and holding on until the good times arrive.

    Keep quilting! xx Adrianne.

  5. Jessica
    November 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm (5 months ago)

    The online support that is there for us creatives is unreal, we all cheer each other on and care for each other. Virtual friends don’t understand the connection we have to people we have never met but I have found it to be a very valuable source of unity, compassion and inspiration. Be strong!

  6. Jess
    November 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm (5 months ago)

    Gemma, I totally understand your desire as a family to have your husband around more. Until February this year, my other half worked in a job (for seven years or so) where he was away interstate about 50% of the time, and missed a whole lot of our kids growing up. We had behavioral issues galore and I ended up really depressed last year. Since starting a ‘normal’ job this year we are all SO much happier. The move will be totally worth it, I promise. I hope you get through the next few months okay!

  7. Emma Hill
    November 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm (5 months ago)

    I think you are amazing – especially the way you manage to do such fantastic quilting while juggling all the things involved with three kids! Hope all goes well with the move back home.

  8. Kate
    November 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm (5 months ago)

    Best of luck with the rest of the move. This post struck a chord with me. I too have discovered that bullying doesn’t stop after primary school and find crafty pursuits meditative. Just wanted to add another voice to the ‘ you make lovely things and I appreciate being able to see them ‘ crowd.

  9. Abby
    November 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm (5 months ago)

    I read your post with tears in my eyes. I’m sure you will remember the beauty and friendships you have experienced over the last few years and the rest will pale into insignificance.
    We look forward to welcoming you home to Australia.
    See you soon, travel safely.

  10. Maria
    November 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm (5 months ago)

    So sorry to hear things have been so hard for you over the last few years. I’m sure your children will adapt very quickly to their new life and it will soon become their normality.
    Years ago people used to form friendships through pen pals and letter writing and online friendships are just a new version of this, at least you can have more of a ‘conversation’ with someone with the immediacy of emailing even from the other side of the world.
    Quilting is such a wonderful relief from the harder things in life. I used to nurse on a critical care unit and saw lots of suffering. Patchwork and quilting and the online community were such a wonderful, colourful, happy place to escape too. During the winter months when the days are short and the weather grey in the northern hemisphere it makes me very happy to create with bright, cheerful fabrics.
    Best of luck with your move.

  11. Susan
    November 6, 2013 at 11:15 pm (5 months ago)

    Gemma, this post touched a nerve with me. I know what you mean about bullying not stopping in school. I found somewhere I fit in when I started blogging. And it gave me confidence to step away from unhealthy situations in real life so that I now have my friends who I know are my friends and the rest can bog off. Sharing my sewing and having online friends who were more supportive than people who were just up the road gave me back a balance. And with it a lot of my confidence returned. Who would have thought blogging would help make me a better person?! I hope you find the balance too. And that the move goes well, the children settle quickly, and your sewing machine is the first thing unpacked.

  12. Lorna McMahon
    November 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm (5 months ago)

    We are here for you. We appreciate you and how you inspire us. And I am praying for you and your family as you transition through this difficult time.

  13. Catherine
    November 7, 2013 at 12:04 am (5 months ago)

    I’m so sorry for the rotten time you are in at the moment and hope that when things have settled you will feel much better. It was brave of you to talk about your troubles on your blog and a good reminder that every blog has a real human being behind it. I’m sure you know there are also lots of real human beings reading it who are sending you all positive thoughts!

  14. Renee
    November 7, 2013 at 3:23 am (5 months ago)

    I can relate to so much of what you said, at least to some degree. My family moved from a very large mountain home with lots of land to a small city home with a nice backyard. I don’t miss the old house at all, and the moving and transition was rough, especially on my 3 year old. But what we’ve gained (more daddy time, shorter commute, etc etc) have been worth it. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through so much. This post wasn’t about quilting much, but it was about your life, the life of a quilter, and how that life may impact your quilting.

  15. Deb Quilts
    November 7, 2013 at 5:34 am (5 months ago)

    I’m so sorry to read that you are having a hard time but glad too that you are able to share it. And I do believe that sometimes the very best things can come from the depths of difficulty. I hope the new move brings you a fresh start and you find your feet quickly.

  16. Aoife
    November 7, 2013 at 6:14 am (5 months ago)

    Gemma, I’ve been thinking of you on and off all day since I read this post. That really really sucks. But at the same time these horrible years have given you quilting, a new direction, cemented for you and your husband what you both want in your lives and for your family (and the ability to communicate that, and get through these rough times will cement both of you too), and from some of the quilts you’ve made for friends leaving Noumea you clearly have also managed to make some really good solid friendships! So not all a loss, but definitely a chapter you can be happy to close and move on from. I’m really glad for you that you can share this and also that you’re moving towards a happier life for you all! You definitely deserve it, you’re very inspiring and I really love reading your blog (even if I am mostly a bit of a lurker, sorry!). x

  17. Rachaeldaisy
    November 7, 2013 at 6:50 am (5 months ago)

    What an amazing post. I don’t see it as negative at all. If anything you are being really positive and very human through a tough time. I agree that online freinds really are valuable, it’s amazing how even just a comment can mean so much, and add sunshine to a day. Plus those virtual friends will travel with you to your new home. Take care.

  18. Kathy @ Kwilty Pleasures
    November 7, 2013 at 8:29 am (5 months ago)

    Fill up your “pretty bobbins” with your wonderful family and friends and the rest will find a way to your beautiful memories. If they are some bad memories, perhaps those will just be gentle reminders of your blessings. Glad to know you in blogland…you are an inspiration to many.

  19. Marelize
    November 7, 2013 at 8:33 am (5 months ago)

    We all experience hurt or pain in some way, and although our stories are all different in the end hurt still hurts, what counts is what we do to overcome those obstacles. You have found like so many of us a safe place, a place where we can go, ourselves…inspire and be inspired,..our sewingrooms and blogging is more than just a way to connect and share a little bit of what we are. Its a tiny window into our lives, even if all we share are pretty pictures of what we make, we are all human! Families to take care of, running errands, cleaning, cooking, crying, screaming, laughing, running…..

    We ALL have so much in common, and its great to know that people from all over the world will lend an ear to listen, share a few words of encouragement, or give you a tap on your shoulder saying ‘well done’. I wish you all the best, i hope that rather sooner than later things will take a turn for the better! Sorry for you pain, I am sending you a huge hug all the way from South Africa! xxx

  20. Sue
    November 7, 2013 at 8:41 am (5 months ago)

    Once you’re back home and settled in everything will calm down and it will all be worth it. What could be better than coming home to Australia? I’m sorry to hear you’re all finding it tough at the moment but take it one day at a time and you’ll be one day closer to home at the end of each day. People who make you feel bad aren’t worth having in your life so if you get to leave them behind by moving its a positive thing.

    Until I got involved in blogland I couldn’t understand what people saw in it but I love the online quilting community in blogland and on Facebook. They get me and understand what it is about quilting that fills a need.

    Keep your chin up and do what it takes to get you through. Forget the people who don’t count. A favourite saying of mine (which relates more to the state of my house!) is people who mind don’t matter and people who matter don’t mind. They are the people you keep in your life and the others can go jump!

  21. Quilting Dee
    November 7, 2013 at 8:53 am (5 months ago)

    Hi Gemma, I have followed you for a while in awe of your great talent. Having once made a move from Africa to Australia with three kids under the age of four, I feel for you. Tears as I read your post bringing back so many memories of loss , hope for a better future, sadness and joy! lOL I have never fessed up before! My thoughts are with you. Dee

  22. Kelly
    November 7, 2013 at 11:33 am (5 months ago)

    Sometimes just getting it out makes you feel better, getting it off your chest. You are very talented and I love following your blog, there is always something interesting to see. We “met” last winter doing the Curves Class online.
    Hope the days are a little bit more sunny for you soon!

  23. Lea
    November 7, 2013 at 11:54 am (5 months ago)

    I love your open and honest post and wish you and your family the best in your move, your new home and all that you do. Moving is so very stressful (one of the top 10 most stressful things people do.) We’ve done it many times. It is exhausting and seems to go on and on and it’s chaotic no matter how well planned and prepared. I don’t fully understand what happened but it sounds sad. It may not feel like it right now but things will get better. You’ve just taken the first step in the right direction. Take care.

  24. Gina
    November 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm (5 months ago)

    I am new to quilting and discovered your blog a couple of months ago. I follow your blog by email and it makes my day whenever I see a “Pretty Bobbins” post in my inbox. I have never commented before but your post today made me want to write and tell you how much I love your blog and, as many others have commented above, how amazed and inspired I am by your talent. I especially love your “I Quilt” posts and have already learned so much about quilting from reading these. I also loved your post a while back about your passion for quilting and the importance of talking about dreams and passions so that they can become a reality. I know I am rambling here but I guess I just wanted to say that I am grateful for your presence in this online world and I imagine that those who are fortunate enough to know you in the “real” world feel the same. Thinking of you and your family as you complete your move.

  25. Rachel Booth
    November 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm (5 months ago)

    Awww I wish I could give you a hug right now!! You are so incredibly strong to be making such a huge decision for you, your hubby, and your children! i, too, am thankful for the quilting therapy that exists and the virtual friends that are there to cheer us on! remember that you are an amazing woman!!! :) we are all cheering you on!

  26. Ellen @ Peace and Plastic
    November 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm (5 months ago)

    This was a great post. I know and have felt many of the things you are talking about. I hope you find your footing soon.

  27. Karen on Keuka
    November 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm (5 months ago)

    Gemma… I’m a new follower and just wanted to say that your post touched my heart. Sending love and encouragement to you. Everything for a reason… Hugs, Karen

  28. Serena @ Sewgiving
    November 7, 2013 at 6:44 pm (5 months ago)

    We’ve got your back Gemma – just say the word and the quilt blogging mafias will be there! Much love xx

  29. angela jean
    November 8, 2013 at 1:16 am (5 months ago)

    I totally get it. Whenever I start to relive the painful parts of my life, I change my focus- I stir up my stash and get rolling. It is a true virtue to learn to return good for evil- to put something positive into the world when the world has given you something negative. This will pass, and everything will be as it should be. You and your family are equipped and capable- you will handle all things.

  30. Kelli
    November 8, 2013 at 9:15 am (5 months ago)

    I am thinking of your family during this time of transition and knowing that the next stop will be one full of peace and grace. Much love to you all! And thank you for sharing your story!

  31. Jo
    November 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm (5 months ago)

    Lovely honest post. Thank you for being brave to share your thoughts. You are not alone in how you feel, so sharing your feelings helps others feel they are not alone. Looking forward to meeting you one day (I live in Canberra). All the best for the move. I think you are amazing, very family focused with a great sense of humour.

  32. Jo
    November 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm (5 months ago)


  33. ananda
    November 10, 2013 at 12:56 am (5 months ago)


    We just settled after 11 nomadic years…I know exactly how you feel.

    Peace to you. Take your little ones on your lap and let them cry or be angry or whatever they feel. It is a very traumatic experience for our children. And they need your love just as much as you needtheir love.

    Yes I’ve also wanted to call it quits but for together we get through it.

    I am thinking of you in this time. Peace and supernatural strength in this time.

    I look forward to see you and your familysettled and happy.


  34. DeborahGun
    November 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm (5 months ago)

    Moving is never fun, and moving countries is huge. Each of our children will express themselves in different ways – my 5 year old stopped eating rice completely during our last move – it was the only thing he could have control over. Praying for patience and strength for you to keep loving and hugging them in the midst of your own grieving. Lots of love xx

  35. Nurdan
    February 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm (2 months ago)

    Oh Gemma…I know how you feel about moving, packing, losing your self confidence, unhappy moments, wanting to just walk away…I had the exact same feelings when I moved to Australia from Turkey. And my move is for good because my husband is Australian, he works here. I left all my family behind to be with him, I dont regret this, but my first 2 years here were so emotional and it has taken its toll on me. If you dont mind me asking; what does your husband do? Is he working at DFAT? Is that why you were away for three years?


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