I've been mulling this post over in my head for the past few days. Not sure what exactly to say, or how to say it.
So I'll be as honest as possible.
I mentioned in the last post that this has again been a great year of growth for Surviving in Japan, and it was exciting to see.
Except that I've been too burnt out and exhausted to enjoy it.
Some of you have asked me before how I do everything, and I always laugh and say I don't. Or if I do get things done, I'm not sure how. I've been dealing with culture shock, postpartum emotional/mental stuff, taking care of a spirited baby all day and working at night. Even if you love your work, and I love writing and blogging, going at this constant pace without any sort of break can really get to you. Not just mentally or emotionally, but physically as well, considering the fact I've been sick every two-three weeks since September.
This last week I got one of those nasty stomach flu bugs (as did husband and baby) and we were all puking and I couldn't move (literally) for two days. A few weeks ago I had bronchitis.
Along with all of this, our finances took a turn for the worse after moving. We haven't been able to cover all our needs, not without a credit card. We were doing all right before we moved, and though we didn't have extra money, we had enough for all of our needs. David took a pay cut with his new job, but we had worked out a budget. We knew it was going to be tight (rent was going up a decent amount), but we thought we could manage while I still worked part-time and tried to find some more freelance work.
In reality, the cost of utilities in our new city was exorbitantly more than our old city, which we weren't expecting. We thought it might go up a little, but, for example, water in our old city was 2000-3000 yen every two months, whereas in our new city it has been 15,000 yen a month, and we use the same amount of water as before (we're conservative with water).
So, with all this in mind, plus a few other things, David and I explored all of our options, including him finding a new, better-paying job and me getting more writing work I can do at home. But teaching jobs just don't pay well in Japan, and there's not much else David could do to get us a salary we need. And my body continues to tell me I'm doing too much, no matter how hard I try to do more and help out our family.
So we looked at the last option that we hadn't been considering at all: moving back to the US.
We had wanted to stay in Japan for a while. It feels like home here in a lot of ways. We haven't been wanting to go back to the States (although after having a baby, I had been thinking more and more how nice it would be to have family and friends, support, around). But the more we talked and thought about it, the more we realized it's the best option for us at this point. We need a fresh start and a way to get ourselves out of this financial hole we're in.
And we're leaving January 30th. It's sudden, I know. I'm not prepared for it at all, emotionally, or in general (so much packing and getting rid of things to do!). And it's going to cost us quite a bit to get out of here, but in the long run it'll be cheaper than staying here.
What about Surviving in Japan? I'm not sure. I don't want to shut it down or anything like that. I would love to keep it going somehow, although right now I need to step back from it a bit and breathe. I need to rest. I have a guest post to put up this month along with a few other posts, but I'll be doing that along with regular work and trying to take care of our moving checklist.
However, I don't like to think of Surviving in Japan as "mine", but rather ours. Yours and mine and anyone who's an expat in Japan.
So if you have ideas on what we might be able to do with SiJ, I'm all ears. I've considered continuing to write content, but I'm not sure how often I'll be able to, as I'll be starting some new projects and also, of course, won't be living in Japan. I've also considered seeing if someone might be willing to act as editor/main writer, or to see if anyone wants to regularly contribute content, but at this point in time I can't pay anyone. I would love to hear your thoughts. I want to keep SiJ around and maintain its level of high-quality content.
All that said, I want to say how grateful I am for how supportive you have been over these past few years. Thank you for reading, for sharing all of your ideas, offering support and encouragement, and for sharing SiJ with people you know. You regularly put a smile on my face and even bring me to tears to think of how much you care, through your comments, emails, tweets, etc. It means more than you'll ever know. And it has kept me going through many of the difficult times I've had this year. So, thank you.
Some of you have asked if there is a way you can help out, which has truly humbled me and made me realize in a new way the depth of love and kindness and generosity. I write Surviving in Japan because I want to help -- that has always been the core reason why I do this. I have never written content and expected anything in return. I don't believe something is a gift if you expect or ask for something back.
That said, and I'm hesitant to write this, but because a few people have asked, one of the many wonderful friends I've made from SiJ, Kimberly, has generously set up an account with GoFundMe for my family. You can find that here, with information about our situation.
Also, if you're in or near Shizuoka and want to buy some stuff or take it off our hands, we're having a sayonara sale. I've added some of our items but have a lot more to add in the coming days. See the album on Facebook here.