Any of you who have been through one of those really difficult, almost soul-crushing transitions in life – whether job, relationship or geographical – those tough times that nobody really talks about out loud, unless they’re brave – like really brave – will fully appreciate this interview with the lovely Aussie life and wellness coach at Practise Glow, Sarah Tamburrini.
On a mission to help gorgeous women unleash their glowing self through ditching diets, eating and enjoying food again (dessert included) and breaking up with their inner Skinny Girl, it’s not surprising that this is one of the most honest, heartfelt interviews I’ve read in a long time. Sarah’s openness about the testing emotional challenges that she faced moving from her native Australia to a country so different from home will warm your heart and soothe your soul.
So if you’ve ever thought of leaping across an ocean and want the full story (the good, bad and the ugly) or if you’re feeling the loneliness traversing through one of life’s big transitions at the moment, this advice-packed interview is a must-read.
Over to you, Sarah…
Tell Us A Bit About You…
Hi there, beauties! I’m Sarah – a talkative, high energy Virgo, who’s wild for the sounds of the ocean, unleashing my creativity in the kitchen and travelling the world. I’m crazy (in a great way!) about food, especially avocados, fresh coconuts and cashew nuts. Oh and I love nothing more than munching away on a delicious raw vegan ‘cheesecake’ with friends and cuddling on the couch with my partner watching a good documentary (or a rom com!!)
My biggest passion of all is working as a life and wellness coach. I’m a diet rebelle + body love warrior + food freedom seeker and my work centers around guiding and supporting women to stop being crazy about food, so they can enjoy a kick arse life.
Whether through my 1:1 coaching, unapologetically honest blog posts or my upcoming ebook, I love creating spaces where women can ditch food fears, stop fad dieting and learn to accept and unapologetically love themselves now.
Tell Us About Your Move Abroad, Sarah. Where Did You Move To And Why?
My partner and I moved from Sydney, Australia to Singapore in April 2014. I will never forget the day we were joking about moving to South East Asia, mainly for my partner’s career prospects, but also because we thought it would be fun to be more central. I had never really lived too far from the ‘nest’ though – moving from Melbourne to Sydney for my own career was a significant move for me! But let me tell you: words have power, because it wasn’t long until we actually did move to Singapore.
When the time came to move, I remember being far too busy packing up my life, my house and saying goodbye to my friends and a city that had stolen my heart to fathom what exactly was happening. I had no brain space to process where I was moving to nor get a feel for what to expect (I didn’t even know that Singapore was one of the most humid countries around – just to illustrate how unprepared I was)!
Almost 18 months on and we are still in Singapore, with our sights set on the next part of the world we will add to places we call ‘home’.
What Were The Hardest Aspects About The Move?
I can honestly say that moving abroad was one of the hardest and most painful times of my life. It made me feel incredibly vulnerable, fearful and scared. For many people, these reasons alone explain why this kind of move just isn’t something they would do.
Moving abroad was the catalyst for some pretty radical lifestyle changes that I hadn’t foreseen.
To paint the picture properly, I was in the midst of getting help for disordered eating, which was being carefully managed by my supportive nutritionist and naturopath. But when I moved to Singapore I felt like I was hit with a sand bag: many of my favourite foods just weren’t around (or if they were they were incredibly expensive – I like to call this extra expense the ‘expat tax’!!) I didn’t realize just how much this move was going to crack me wide open (especially when I didn’t think I could crack open any more!)
Every little thing, even the seasons, were different. It’s one long, hot day in Singapore, so rituals I was used to like snuggling up under a fluffy doona with an electric blanket, exercising outside with a crisp breeze, splashing away in the ocean, suddenly disappeared from grasp. I felt naked.
But what really hurt – aside from the food, the weather and the creature comforts – was feeling so segregated from my friends and family. I could no longer just jump on a plane and be ‘home’ in a matter of hours. It was only then that I realised just how much my emotional regulation and happiness is dictated by things external to me. So when I found myself in a position without these things, you can imagine how raw and vulnerable I felt.
What Caused Such Bad Homesickness?
I’ve come to realize that I’ve always been a ‘homebody’ and have really enjoyed staying ‘safe’ in a predictable environment. Clear rules, clear boundaries and a heck of a lot of control. I come from a very involved family and I suffered knowing I was so far away from them.
Going through disordered eating helped me to break free of control, predictability and rules and to learn how to live life without the need for these ‘rules’. So my issues with eating proved to be one of the greatest teachers in my life – helping me to apply what I was learning to ‘unlearn’ some less helpful habits that I’d developed.
How Did You Handle The Homesickness?
At first I didn’t do this too well – simply, because I wasn’t ready to. And that was ok. It took me a long time to realise that it is perfectly ok to lean into my emotions and to have the space to grieve. There were many things to be sad about – missing out on seeing friends’ newborn babies, being there for my grandmother when she was in hospital, even being at my friends’ weddings.
As my coaches said to me, fear is put in its place through action. So action is one way I was able to positively move forward – in my own time (which I don’t feel guilty about). I was so lucky I had a supportive partner who watched me cry, who showered me with positive love and praise and who delicately heard every single word of complaint or otherwise with open ears and a loving heart.
What Advice Would You Give To Someone Really Missing Home?
I strongly recommend the following:
Whether a coach, psychologist, counsellor or kinesiologist – whatever floats your boat. You do not need to go this alone.
I discovered that I didn’t have to do monumental things in life to feel good. In fact the smallest and simplest activities were often the most impactful. Like enjoying good quality chocolate, drinking a herbal tea in the sun before heading to work, rolling out my yoga mat and practicing in the stillness of the early morning or rubbing a gorgeous coconut oil body butter on my skin after a shower. Whatever it is you love, do more of that. It seriously works.
Be Gentle On Yourself
Lean into your emotions and don’t be afraid to cry, to hurt or to be angry. I found that when I stopped suppressing my feelings and ‘felt’ them without trying to cover them up and play ‘happy’, I was able to finally start to make traction out of the stuck position I was in.
Find Some Friends
I did all sorts of things to find friends from meetup.com, to facebook groups, to going to conferences and meetings… but all in good time. First I had to work on opening my mind up to the changes and adjusting before I could meet other people. So when you’re ready, be creative and take advantage of any social opportunities you can.
Work On The Ego
I really had to work on the FOMO (fear of missing out) that was building up in my head around what was happening back at home versus what was really happening. When I travelled home I realized that all the action that I thought that I was missing out on wasn’t actually nearly as fast paced and vibrant as I thought.
How Have You Grown From The Experience?
I have certainly realised that my happiness is now not as heavily dictated by external things as it once was. I feel so much more comfortable, self compassionate and loving in my skin now. The experience of being stripped bare and ‘returning’ home has made me so aware of my potential strength. I see this experience as a courage reference point by which I now have this incredible array of evidence to look back on and say ‘look at what you have busted through’. And if I can do it once, I know I can most certainly do it again and again.
How Has The Experience Changed Your View Of Life / Future Plans?
I can hand on heart say that I value and appreciate travel so much more now. I love getting out and about, exploring and living in a more central location has certainly fed that appetite. I am really looking forward to living in other countries in the future and experiencing more that this beautiful world has to offer.
What Would You Do Differently Looking Back?
I honestly have never pondered this question because it just isn’t an option. I prefer to ask myself ‘what have I learned that I can apply to the next similar situation’ – to which I refer to previous comments on knowing that having moved once and survived, I can certainly do so again. Being a creature of reflection, I can certainly go into future moves now with a road map of sorts around what worked and what might need a bit more of a ‘do it differently’ approach.
The main thing that I would do differently is to take a few trips beforehand to suss the place out – work out a hip area to live in and certainly have a say over the apartment (my lovely partner hasn’t a forte in selecting visually pleasing décor!!)
If You Could Give One Piece Of Advice To Someone Thinking Of Moving Abroad, What Would It Be?
Understand that there will be difficult times and that is ok. Life is not all about having a ‘chin up’ approach. Be kind to yourself and take simple action to make your life that little bit brighter and more self loving.
And If You’d Like More Where That Came From….
Sarah’s Free Ebook ‘Be Free- A heart centered guide to changing your relationship with food and your body’ is now out, so jump onto her mailing list to get your copy first!