I have been back in the U.S. for just over three weeks now. When planning for this summer trip home, I thought I would have only two and a half. We made the decision to extend my time at home to almost SIX weeks in late June, just one week before I flew out… It was a flurry of wrapping up work projects, putting our apartment on AirBnB to find a renter to take my place while gone (bless my wonderful roommate for dealing with the bulk of that), cleaning and organizing my things to the max, purchasing gifts to bring home, all the while trying to recover from an awful cold… Yep, it was a doozy. And now I’m home with more time than I had imagined or hoped for to once again be a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and friend, to work on personal projects and make progress on those many career-oriented (think LinkedIn and online portfolio) to-dos that I have been putting off, and most importantly to reevaluate my work in Beijing, my career and education goals, and my general life trajectory and how time in Beijing fits into the big picture. It has been fantastic, and much-needed, and I feel clarity and focus as to where I am now and where I am headed in a way that I never have before. It’s great. And while there’s still obviously wiggle room for the future – I won’t post here an announcement of my big life plans, not just yet – I will say that I expect to be in Beijing for some time longer (1 to 2 years); probably head to Seattle next for a good chunk of time to work in education, continue to dabble in different pedagogical philosophies, and build my skills as an educator; fit in grad school for an official degree in education relatively soon; and work toward affecting change in the American education landscape in a more impactful way. I have some dreams a-brewing, even some BHAGS (a term my coworkers introduced to me – “Big Hairy Audacious Goals”) that I don’t really want to announce in blog or Facebook posts but that I am currently obsessed with researching, mulling over and refining, and will chew your ear off about if you give me the chance to talk about it. I am ultimately so happy I had the chance to be home for this long time span, allowing me the space and time to arrive here. I expected to be happy to have the family and friend time, but the benefits are more than that. There is something about being at home, and being with the people who know me best, that leads naturally to seeing things more clearly for what they are, and even facing myself and what I truly want with more open and understanding eyes. So bless the circumstances that prolonged my home visit. Bless the people I have gotten to visit and chat with longer, feeling more at ease and present than I would have during the originally planned two and a half week stopover. And hurrah for my remaining time in Beijing, the people there and the experiences yet to come, and the time I will have to continue to reflect and plan the next stage of my life, Stateside. There are so many exciting things to come! And thank YOU for riding the waves with me!