01 August 2014

Donuts and Gratitude. And Feeling Inadequate. But Mainly Donuts.

The expat life is generally awesome and exciting, and often somewhat perk-filled. As an ex-expat I do sometimes miss that awesome, exciting, perk-filled life (I especially miss the someone-else-paying-our-electricity-bill perk...). However, there is one big thing about being an ex-expat that I am very grateful for. And it's such a big thing that I think it makes up for missing all the good stuff that comes from living in another country. 

When I was living in Seoul, my family were a nine hour plane ride away. I managed to get back to Melbourne pretty regularly, so it was okay. But there were times when it really wasn't okay. I remember getting a call from my sister a few years ago, when we in the Korean countryside somewhere, skiing. Our Dad had had a dizzy spell and a fall. He'd been working on a loft bed when he fell (he's a - now retired, sort of - builder), so it was quite a big fall. He was in hospital and they didn't really know what had caused the dizziness and I was worried and a bit scared. I felt frustration and helplessness too, at not being there. And I felt guilt - my sister's a pretty busy lady, and she was dealing with all of that stuff whilst I was a millions miles away. Skiing. 

The annoying thing about getting older is that your parents get older too. And whilst my Mum and my Step-Dad and Dad are all in pretty good health, that phone call from my sister really made me think about being so far from home. I think it's something every expat wrestles with at some point - weighing up the benefits and joy of living abroad with the guilt and heartache you feel at being so far from the rest of your family. You feel the distance more as your folks get older, I think.

These day I live in Sydney and my family are only a 90 minute plane ride away and that is something I am so grateful for. I recently flew down for a weekend, partly to hang out with with my family, partly to eat donuts, and partly to take my Dad to a few specialist appointments. It was the first time I've been able to go with him to these appointments, to ask questions and hear what the doctors were saying to him. And I was grateful for that. Selfishly, it felt proactive (not helpless) and reassuring. The world isn't going to end tomorrow, provided this pill is taken and that thing is monitored. 

On the flip side, sometimes you get serious FOMO as an expat. Sometimes it feels like your family is doing all this cool stuff, all this exciting positive stuff, and you are not part of it (cue violins). If your brother graduates or your sister gets a big promotion or your Mum has her first art exhibition, it's not always easy to find the time or the money to get back home. But now, it's pretty easy for me to jump on a plane and feel a bit more a part of things. Which is good, really good. Although it can also make one feel just a little bit inadequate... 

The weekend I was in Melbourne my brother-in-law was in the midst of successfully opening yet another delicious business (see donuts) and he'd just received an advanced copy of his cookbook (which I am so excited about getting my hands on - I had a quick flick through and wanted to immediately cook everything I saw...). Meanwhile, my sister was finalising the photos and words for her third book (yep, third) whilst doing all her usual amazingly amazing commission work. Oh, and she launched the home wares label of which she's the creative director and pretty much broke the internet. Even my Mum had managed to learn how to play Big Yellow Taxi on the ukelele.

Meanwhile, I was feeling pleased with myself for blogging more than once a month and getting to the bottom of the ironing pile the week before. Helloooooo inadequacy. See, there is a dark side to having such wildly talented and driven relatives only a plane hop away. 

But I wouldn't have it any other way. Sickness, health, achievement, inadequacy and donuts - I'm so grateful it's all just a state away.

*Disclosure: As part of Kidspot's Voices of 2014 competition I've been lent a super awesome Olympus OM-D E-M10 for a few months. I'll be writing three challenge posts during that time and I'll have a chance to win some really awesome stuff. I'll be telling you a bit about the camera in each post too.

You all know I adore my DSLR, right? So the question is - am I loving this compact version? 

Well yes, I am. I already told you last time about how lightweight it is, which means I've been carrying it with me everywhere (even to donut pitstops on the way to doctors appointments...). Now I want to talk to you about the clarity of the images. Which is pretty incredible.

The OM-D E-M10 has a number of fancy things that lead to super fancy, super clean images (a lot of these have come from the flagship E-M1). First up, there's the amazing image stabilisation (check out this video to see a fairly dramatic comparison between having the image stabilisation off and on). Side note - kind of makes the camera even more awesome for video than I realised! Note to self - make a video. 

Then there's the 16 megapixel LiveMOS sensor. Sounds a bit tech-y but this is basically the thing that lets you shoot clean, crisp images in all kinds of light conditions. See the roaring fire photo below, for example. Clean? Check. Crisp? Check. Lowlight? You betcha. And lastly there's the TruePic VII processor, which is super advanced (and yep, pinched from the E-M1). This helps you achieve sharp photos at all ends of the f-stop spectrum. Nice. 

Still not sure about image clarity? Check out the pics below (full size image at top, zoomed in crop at bottom). It kind of blew my mind. Just look at the sharpness of those petals, the detail is really quite incredible. Makes me realise that my DSLR is basically a relic in terms of image capturing technology...


  1. this is beautiful Em.
    and I totally get it. I have been in your position. sometimes the distance feels like a blessing. mostly it can be so so heart-achingly hard.
    so happy for you that you are seizing the opportunity to be with your family.

    1. Thanks Ruth...and yes, the distance is exactly as you describe x

  2. So clean! Love your images and your story x

  3. Mmmmmm, donuts. They are one of the things we miss living overseas (and milkshakes and fish and chips).

    I am loving your ex-ex-pat posts, as this could be me one day. I'm not yet ready to give up our life in HK, but for the first time in 3 years, I can see us moving back to Australia. Today I saw my Grandma and said goodbye (we head home to HK in a few days) - and wonder will I ever see her again? I was so teary saying goodbye - so was she, joking that she may not be here my next visit. It breaks my heart.

    Cat xox

    1. Oh Cat! That must have been so hard...feeling your heartache xox

  4. FOMO- feelings of missing out... I totally understand this. After having the baby and having the family visit me here in Munich I felt a kind of reverse guilt. That by living here my mom misses out on being a grandma. We do a Skype chat with the baby every Sunday, but the baby's added a whole new layer of FOMO to my expat life here.

    1. Oh god yes! The guilt! Grandkids do make it tricky... Hope you find the right balance x

  5. Gosh. I loved reading this and I love those pinky flowers A LOT! You are doing ace stuff with that spunky camera, Emily!!

    1. Awww, thanks lovely Pip! I am thoroughly enjoying learning the ins and outs of the new camera, and I am super happy with the results too! (I like those pinky flowers a LOT as well...) x


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