Right after Christmas 1993,  I left Brazil with the firm, but slightly far-fetched idea that I was not going back.  Many things made my departure hard.  A marriage. A lovely home. Toby, a dog I was crazy about. I could only take two pieces of luggage with me. Everything else was left behind. Books, dishes, pans, photos. But, much harder than that, family, friends, and the safety of a job at the best university in  the country.

At the time, I had no idea whether I was making the right decision.  I left São Paulo at the height of the summer, I arrived in Paris on a very cold night,  a few days short of New Year’s Eve to face months of loneliness like I had never experienced before.  I quickly realized I was fully unprepared for it, but giving up and flying back to Brazil was not an option I was willing to take. My former husband at some point told me: the struggles you are going through today, one day will be like invisible medals you will be proud to wear on your chest. Wise guy.

Twenty years flew by.  I cannot express how fortunate I feel for taking that risky first step. I do not mean this as advice, it’s rather a personal observation:  the only way to move forward is to take some risks, and to accept the idea of being very uncomfortable for a while. So, when in doubt, take a deep breath, and dive into your dreams!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
(opening line of a favorite book, read in Paris, March 1994).


  1. But to quote ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ further you must have felt a ‘spring of hope’ during that ‘winter of despair’ . . . and twenty years later you know there had been only that one path you could take. Felicitations on an important day: may your future decisions make you as happy and satisfied . . .


    • and in a way we started a new adventure when we moved to Kansas! I think keeping ourselves motivated is key. And some changes do exactly that. Of course, it is much easier to face adventures as a couple than alone 😉


  2. We miss you a lot, but since I visited you 16 years ago, I know you are where you belong to. I am taking yours and Ivan’s words to my present life. The current mess will hopefully be a medal (or 3 in my case) I will wearn in the future! ;-)) Love u!


  3. Without risk, we limit ourselves in many ways. Your former husband’s words were wise, and you’ve come a great distance since 1993. You have many reasons to be proud as well as grateful, but you took the first step, Sally, and you kept on. Risk and perseverance are the keys to your success. Your journey will continue….


  4. I agree with your observation 100%. And your ex was a wise man indeed. What a fabulous piece of advice he gave you. So true as well. Well, I’m certainly glad you made the leap. It’s part of what makes you the wonderful person you are – and I for one adore you and your blog.🙂 Wear those badges of honor with pride.


    • THANK YOU!!!! I remember very well my last weekend at home in Brazil, staring through the window of our dining room, on a beautiful sunny day. I was so troubled, so full of fear and worries about my decision… That feeling stayed with me for a long long time


  5. I know exactly what you mean. I was much older when I left the US for Australia and I was really homesick for a long time. Seeing my family only on Skype was incredibly hard those first years. My kids were kind and would skype bathtime with the babies and dinner and sometimes a peek at naptime.

    Now when I’m homesick I cook something decadently American. It does help. 🙂


    • There was no Skype when I left, and my family did not even have email or computers – my Dad used to write me one letter per week, sending it every SUnday by fax. He did that until the week he died. Those are special memories.


  6. And had you not taken that risky big step, we would not have met, albeit only electronically! I totally relate to your journey, I made mine from Florida to NYC 44 years ago, and while there were some pretty scary times, I’ve never regretted it! I was lucky enough to snag the girl I left behind to join me a year later. We’re still enjoying the journey! Hoping 2014 is all you hope it to be!


  7. I’m so glad it was the right decision for you Sally and that you followed your heart. Trusting our intuitive selves is the way home but the road is often congested with other ‘stuff’. Ah, a Tale of Two Cities… truly one of the best! Congratulations on your 20 year milestone and may the next 20 be even better! xo.


  8. Your energy and committment to life shine through in everything you write and do and I am sure the risks were part of the process. May your next twenty years be just as exciting and enriching xxx


  9. Congratulations, Sally. You believed there was a better life waiting for you elsewhere and had the courage to go after it. Life is all about taking risks and I believe most regrets in life result not from what we did but from what we didn’t try. And it’s been 20 years? You were one precocious 6 year-old to move all the way to Paris by yourself! 😉


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