One Year, Looking Back

One year ago I was excited to see all of my friends again and live with my family after 3 years of seperation. I was anxious about the transission, after living in New Zealand for that long, but I was happy none-the-less to be back home.

Looking back feels weird to me. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been back for 365 days now. The time feels more like months have passed rather than a full year. I have made good use of that time being with friends, traveling to places I’ve never gone before, meeting new people, making new friends, reuniting with old ones, continuing old traditions, and eating ALL the good food, haha. Continue reading “One Year, Looking Back”

A Christmas Scene

Hey y’all.

I wrote a Christmas piece for the season. But I wrote it on behalf of another site I write for. So if you want to read it, check it out here: http://howwelostthemoon.com/2014/12/06/a-christmas-scene/

Enjoy, thanks!

Eric

Thanks4Giving

Well, it’s that time of the year again where I celebrate something that New Zealanders do not. Thanksgiving is such a huge part of my childhood. Growing up in my family, Thanksgiving consisted of giant family dinner’s, complete with all the relatives, smells of stuffing, green bean casserole, and turkey, catching up on a years worth of activity with aunts, uncles, and cousins, playing football in the backyard, kids running around the floor and into the basement, and either Detroit or Dallas playing on the TV. Also there is laughter…so much laughter. My family is a laughing family. We indulge in a good story, embellish for the chuckle, and deliver for the howl that resonates our walls. Usually we end the night with a board game, which my Dad does not like. Still, it’s a tradition to play one every year.

I love my family. This has to be said. I miss them like crazy and I know that they miss me too. They are the most caring, loving, thoughtful, hilarious, wacky, and joyful group of people that I know. If you’ve spent any time with a Peterson, Birkey, or Soraich, you would know. You would know because our family is one of a kind. They have supported me through thick and thicker, and I have been blessed beyond what I deserve when I was raised by Sharon and Russ Peterson. As a kid I always wanted a brother, but I now know the true gift in growing up with two sisters. For one, I have been exposed to the…rougher sides of living with women, haha. But in all seriousness, I am thankful that Robyn and Nicole have been there, no matter what, encouraging me through school, through moving, and through distance. I know it hasn’t been easy, but I love you so much. I am thankful for family that doesn’t change, regardless of the miles in-between.

Such solid memories were made in those years when we all got together to eat, talk, laugh, and reminisce. They were happy times which I take with me everywhere I go, no matter the distance. It’s in times like these that traditions hit me the hardest. I know that this year will be different, just like the last. There’s nothing I can really do about that, other than making new traditions. Life moves and turns and grows when we’re not looking. Don’t blink. Which is why I am thankful for the now. I’m thankful for my flatmates, friends, and mentors who are making it easier for me here, now.

Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving where you are, don’t let that get in the way. I started a tradition with some friends a few years back called “Friendsgiving,” where we gather to give thanks as friends and enjoy a meal, conversation, and each other. Make it happen where you are and remind each other that you still have things in this life that are worth noting and worth saying, “I am thankful for you.”

If you feel like it, let me know what you are thankful for in the comments and why. Share it around and spread the cheer. And thanks to everyone giving. You are the backbone of altruism and the human spirit. I love you and thank you.

Here’s a typical Thanksgiving night in the Peterson household:

The Early Leanings of a Traveling Warrior

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In the time that I have spent in the country of New Zealand, a few things have raised to the surface as clear: The driving is not the same, the food is not the same, the humor is not the same, the culture is not the same, and the weather is not the same; The same as my little hometown in Northern Illinois. I knew these to be true before I checked my luggage and boarded the flight into Auckland. What makes them real is having experienced them. Having lived in the shoes, heard the stories, tasted the delicious and not so delicious, talked the local, steered the left, laughed and laughed, and stopped laughing, the picture becomes more clear. Like a photograph out of focus, or staring at a painting with your nose on the canvas, you won’t see the full picture as it is meant to be seen. You need to really take some steps back to bring everything into focus. Then take that leap, with humility, and what is revealed will be beautiful.

I chose to go with the title that I gave my post today because I feel as if I came into this foreign land, to fight a war…in a sense. There are some serious problems in this country that are “too taboo” to talk about. When entering a new country, it is important to be culturally competent. The last thing you want to do is automatically apply everything you learned in the United States to New Zealand. Rookie mistake. One cannot assume that because one method works with one population, it will work with another. This is what Aurora University taught me, and it is a very important lesson. Still, if there are young adults, teenagers, and even younger, who are dealing with suicidal thoughts and don’t know where to turn or who can help them, that is a problem. I feel that there are some things in this country that need to start changing, and if no one will do anything about them, then I need to step up.

I love this country. In my travels, everywhere I have gone, New Zealand is the most beautiful. This land captivates me. There is something that saturates me and doesn’t let go. The people are kind, the food is exceptional, and the sights aren’t bad either. This is a beautiful country. It can be easy to notice the beauty and overlook the hurt. It can become convenient to only notice the working and neglect the broken. I am fortunate to be working in such an incredible country with incredible amounts of freedom (more so than the U.S.), but I follow a Father who realized that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy. It was difficult getting used to this new life, but I am on my way to truly calling this home, and making my home a better place to live for everyone. And I will warrior on until that day comes.

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Homesickness, & The Thoughts of Someone, Leaving Everything Behind

Hello readers. Today’s post was conceived when I started to think about the near future that awaits me. Very soon I will be moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan to live with some buddies and get a job paying off my unforgivable student loans. THEN, when my paperwork for moving to New Zealand gets passed, I will be moving to NZ and working over there for as long as I am needed. I am a Social Worker, it’s what I do. New Zealand needs Social Workers to help the youth and the ever growing epidemic of depression and suicide.

All of this has caused me to think about everything. Everything: What I wont have when I’m gone, who I wont see when I’m gone, what I wont get to do when I’m gone, what I wont be able to buy when I’m gone, TV programs that wont be featured, food that I wont get to eat, American clothes, my favorite little places that I now will not be able to go to, streets I wont recognize, rules I wont know, customs I have to get used to, culture I have to memorize, slang I have to attempt to understand, shock I have to overcome, on and on it goes…

Some of the things I mentioned above are trivial, but they are running through my mind none-the-less. I feel like these are common thoughts that any rational person would think if they were too moving far, far away to a new country. I just know that I am trying to pack as much “U.S. life” into these last few months that I can, in hopes that it will leave a mark long enough for me not to miss it. I’m not very big on homesickness. I never really have been, but it comes in spurts every 3-5 months, where I start wanting to see family again. For this reason I’ll let you in on a little traveling secret I learned many years ago. This will help you with homesickness wherever you go:

Home is where the “family” is.

This may seem confusing if your family is nowhere near you. Let me explain. Your home is going to be wherever you have “family” and friends. I put family in quotes for a reason. When I went to Calvin College six years ago, I started missing home bad. What helped cure my homesickness? I made some serious, lifelong friends in a matter of weeks. Soon, I was off having adventures with them in strange and amazing places, making memories that I will keep with me for my entire life. In 2006, I made a “family” at that college. A family that I still keep in contact with to this day. One member of that “family” asked me to stand up in his wedding as his Best Man. We really helped each other in that time of need…away from our families and homes we knew dear.

Listen to me. Go out and make this happen. It rarely happens on its own.

So if you are ever far, far away from your family, don’t look at this idea as “replacing” your immediate family, but more along the lines of “creating” a new support system for yourself to carry you through those tough nights you wish you were in the comfort and stability of what you know and understand. I am NOT telling you to forget your family. Skype them, write them, call them, but don’t mourn them like they are dead. Trust me, this little life lesson is something that will drastically change how you look at leaving everything behind to experience something life changing. Don’t let homesickness get in the way of something that can mold you into who you were meant to become.