“Babe, we got Amman!”
I wrote the same prayer over and over again in my 2022 journal. Asking God about our next steps, asking Him to guide us on where we are to go. We had a few options, three actually. But Amman had been on my heart since the previous Summer and secretly I was hoping we would get it!
Yes, it wasn’t going to be as glamorous as Vienna or Canberra. Amman has so much history. I am fascinated by the idea of walking in the literal footsteps of the people from the Bible. I want it more than anything, even if it meant living in the desert!
Like most things we had a wave of emotions that we cycled through during that 90 days period.
As we packed up our belongings and made that final trek to see family. I never could have imagined that the next four months would play out the way that they did. They certainly didn’t go as I had planned. But God had a lesson for me and like it or not, Ashleigh was about to learn those lessons!
Nothing Will Go as Planned
Five days before we left for Amman. We learned that our house was not going to be ready for us when we arrived. Despite being told that it would be ready. No big deal right, these things happen. They just need a few more days to make sure it’s move-in ready… not the case at all.
Three months, we would not be able to move into our house for another three months! Was this a new situation? No, they knew when they offered us the place in late June. It just didn’t get communicated to us until five days before leaving.
Here I was riding a co-pilot in the mountains of OH. About to move across the world learning that my entire plan was now out the window. I had strategically planned out every aspect of our move. I organized our household belongings to ensure success for myself and my family. I had packed our suitcases with specific items based on my research that we would need with us upon arrival. I had pre-sent Amazon packages to our mailbox that awaited our arrival with additional items from that research. I had planned everything that we would need before our 1st shipment would arrive. I packed the 1st shipment based on what we would need to be successful until our second shipment arrived.
All of my planning went right out the window. It lay on the side of the road in the mountains of OH. I began to realize that we were now moving across the world with no game plan at all!
Stress was the least of the emotions that I could express at that moment. It was more than I could take. I felt like the world was falling apart around me. I felt like I was making the biggest move of my life on a whim!
It all worked out in the end and frankly it was better than I could have planned. Were we prepared to live in a hotel for three months, no? Was I able to quickly adapt and get my feet back under me again… yes!
Sometimes the plan you didn’t have for yourself ends up being better than you could ever imagine!
Check out more about our first three months here.
You can only control how you respond
I’ll never forget that first drive through Amman. We had been traveling for over 3 days at that point due to a 12-hour flight delay. I am serious y’all it was a really rough week leading to us setting foot in Jordan.
I could feel that something was different. I was trying to process what I was feeling. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
That next morning after a series of realizations I finally landed on the feeling… I was scared.
I was in a new country, I didn’t have a cell phone. I was having difficulties accessing our money (despite my efforts prior to leaving). I had no way of getting food for myself or our family and I just wanted to collapse in a puddle and cry.
Crying was obviously not the best answer and I would love to say that I handled those moments in the most mature way possible, but that was not the case. Let’s blame jet lag.
The first week in Amman was stressful as I began to navigate the first initial need: feed my family. I quickly learned that I had a major learning curve ahead of me, hello metric system!
Check out my first attempt at ordering some basics for the family. Hello, 4 kilos of cucumbers!
As the weeks began to unfold I started venturing out past my initial needs which lead me to navigate the streets of Amman first in Uber then driving myself.
If you want to go from 0 to enraged in a matter of minutes just take a little drive through Amman. Here they are missing a few vital needs – 1. rules on the road and 2. police officers to ensure those rules are followed.
It’s Lord of the Flies out here people and when on the roads anything goes. From people making left-hand turns from the far right lane to the locals making a 2-lane road a 4 or sometimes even 5-lane road. Don’t get me started on the fact that you can just park your car anywhere you want without any consequences. Want to park in the middle of a traffic circle… why not? In the middle lane of a three-lane road… of course! In the lane of a major highway causing people to have to transition to a one-lane road – just an average day here in Amman.
Road rage became my go-to and I could feel my anger boiling any time I had to get into the car which was like every day! Something had to change and I was quickly learning a moto
“You can change the culture Ashleigh or you can change how you respond.”
I would need this motto in all aspects of my new life as I began to interact with a new culture. From the driving to the interactions, I was slowly and I mean slowly learning that what I mistook for insults and slights was in fact just language barriers. Not spoken language but unspoken. The way that Americans use words in a certain way to mean something else.
“Dear” was the one that got under my skin the most! Here language is flowery. When I express “Thank you” in Arabic it is not a literal translation. I am actually asking that God bless them. When the locals express the term “dear” it is not the same way we use it in America. They want to be respectful but to Americans it is passive-aggressive.
I take a deep breath each time I hear it and remind myself that it is not meant the way I was taking it, the meaning is lost in translation.
“You can change the culture Ashleigh or you can change how you respond.” So I choose to not allow it to affect me and took the high road.
For about a month I was in this rut of anger and depression. I hated everything about Jordan. Every day the smallest task would take hours to complete and I was on the verge of rage or a major cry fest weekly!
Something had to change and I knew what it was. I need to adapt to the world around me rather than trying to change it. I need to accept people for what I think they mean and not try to read into anything.
I also realized that month was the one month since moving to Amman that I had found myself truly isolated.
You Need People in your Life – Good People
We just moved out of the hotel and I was swamped with our new adjustment and getting the house ready. From unpacking our first and then a few weeks later the second shipment to doing what I could with what I had available to make this house a home.
That month I missed three pizza nights at the embassy which meant that I had not seen my friends in three weeks.
To me what takes this place from a cool place to experience for three years to my loving being here and dreading the day I have to leave – is my group of people! I learned that month that community is what makes it or breaks it here and without mine, I felt alone, and isolated, and was easily slipping down a steep hill into a major depression.
I need my community to remind me that I need to “Remember where I woke you this morning” when I attempt to apply American logic to situations or express frustration with a situation that I would never find myself in other than here in Jordan.
When living amongst a completely different culture – like the polar opposite – you need the occasional “yes, this is insane, you are justified in wanting to be outraged, but you also need to remember where you work up this morning.”
Only your true friends are going to be able to speak those words of truth right to your face and in a place where your world boils down to a small compound you find and make true friends in a matter of minutes vs years.
But what they really bring to my life is the reminder that I am not alone here, others are struggling right along with me and I need only to reach out my hand, speak up, or just say yes to experience complete joy in moments that wouldn’t be otherwise.
The same is true in business. Much like life, there have been times in my business when I have felt alone and isolated and I can tell you looking back to those moments it was when I was attempting to go at it alone, I had isolated myself, and I was saying no to every possible avenue out of those moments.
How I can apply this to Business
Business is much like life – you need good people around you to help remind you that you are not alone and that while you may be surrounded by people, they don’t get what it takes to build your own business nor can they relate to the struggles that you are going through. You need to find like-minded people that will help you grow your business, that you can bounce ideas off of, and that can support you in a way that only they know how to do.
If you haven’t found your people, reach out! I would love to support you and help you find more like-minded people! Seriously, reach out!
Just like in life, I cannot control much of what goes on. I can only control how I respond. From my emotional response to the choice that I make in business, those are the only things that I can control. I want to make sure that I have all of the facts about my business before I make any decisions. But when life is rough or business is stressful I remind myself that I cannot control my external factors, I can only control how I choose to respond.
This brings me to my final lesson.
You don’t need much to be truly happy and successful
We make life and business more complicated than it needs to be. When we moved to Amman we went through a major downsize, really trimmed the fat, and got down to the bare bones of what we needed to live. It came down to the essentials and each other! Everything else was just extra and when it came down to it, we really didn’t need much to live and be truly happy.
As long as we are together, we can be happy anywhere!
The same is true about business. It all boils down to those simple facts. Be flexible, the end is usually better than you planned. Control what you can and let go of what you cannot. Find good people to support and lift you up. Find true happiness in the minimum!
That is what I have learned since moving to Amman.