New blog post on www.onlyjoyonlylove.com

Hi Shanghai or Bust friends,

I’d love it if you’d come follow me on my new blog http://www.onlyjoyonlylove.com.

Hope to connect with you there.

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

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Putting this blog on hold…come follow me at www.onlyjoyonlylove.com

Last post here for a while. Would love you to follow me at http://www.onlyjoyonlylove.com

Writing is therapeutic for me. It helps me process, appreciate, learn and connect with people. I truly love it. I have been desperately wanting to write over the past few months and tried but could not get more than a few notes down. Total writers block. It’s like I was in a bit of a fog. That fog is finally lifting. I think I was too busy and my brain has been in overdrive. Let’s face it….we’ve had a bit of a shit year but we are coming out the other side of it. 😁😁

We have moved back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada for an undetermined amount of time. Could be a year or could be forever. Either way, we are so happy to be home. It is a beautiful and special place and we are surrounded by the love of our family and friends here. Our daughters are adjusting really well and loving their new school but they do miss Shanghai. Last week, I asked Georgia if she loved being back in our house and she said “Yes, I especially love it when it is filled with my friends and cousins”. How sweet is that! ❤️❤️ This time home is a gift for us all.

For those who don’t know, St. John’s has a population of about 250,000 people. Quite a difference from 26 million in Shanghai.  Here it takes minutes to get everywhere and I love driving again. Grocery shopping is a joy and I have a full size washer and dryer. After three years without one, we finally have a dishwasher again. Oh and the glorious clean water from the tap and the ease of washing fruits and vegetables in that tap water. I have gained hours in my day from reduced travel and vegetable washing time. It’s incredible. My friends in Shanghai will appreciate that! 😂😂

Since we are no longer in Shanghai, I have decided to put this blog on hold and start writing on my new blog www.onlyjoyonlylove.com. Although there are parts of this past years journey that make me really sad, I cannot be sad about the journey itself. The experiences, the joys, the tremendous growth, loads of laughter and plenty of tears and swearing but most importantly, love. So much love and kindness. I feel like this is a new chapter for our family and I am choosing to focus on what brings me joy and love in my everyday life. www.onlyjoyonlylove.com will be my space  to do that and share snipets of some of my favorite people, places and things that bring me joy, make me laugh out loud or sometimes shed a tear.

And I fully realize that life is messy and there can be a lot of shit in between all that joy and love so you can expect some humour as I deal with all that as well.

A huge thank you to my friend Monica who encouraged me to get the domain http://www.onlyjoyonlylove.com months ago. It’s just been sitting there waiting for me to be ready.

Hope you’ll follow along with me there. Sign up for posts to be sent directly to your inbox 🙂

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

Welcome back!

I am back after a long summer break and hope everyone had a beautiful summer. I took some time away from the blog to enjoy the time at home with my family. But I am happy to be writing again and connecting with so many of you.  Thank you to those of you who have reached out wondering how we are doing and where the posts are. It’s nice to be missed. 😁😁 We all really miss our friends in SH. To update you all, in short, we are doing fantastic. Our return date to Shanghai has come and gone and it turns out that we will be staying in St. John’s for the next while. I’m excited about that but we are definitely working towards getting back to Shanghai. Our time there is not done but while we put the pieces together to make that happen, we plan on enjoying every minute of living back home. And as I’m learning, in crisis there often comes opportunity. In the meantime, I look forward to sharing posts of our life here in our beautiful province, Newfoundland and Labrador, until we return to Shanghai and I can share those adventures again.

This has been an incredible but busy summer filled with all the wonders that summer has to offer. Finding treasures on the beach, bonfires and smores, swimming at Bannerman park pool and in the Atlantic Ocean (brrrrr….it was warmer when I was a child!), special time with grandparents, family and friends and a lot of time hanging out in our home together. And the weather has been incredible! It’s becoming the tropical island of Newfoundland. It has been a restorative summer perfect for strategizing and planning but also resting and taking the time to reflect, heal and learn from the incredible experiences we have had. It has been an uncertain time for us and I have definitely had times of doubt and fear but it is not the norm. Being strong, peaceful and productive…that’s my goal. I am grateful and ready for routine to start and have time to dig in. There is much to do.

There is a week or so of summer holidays left before the girls start school. We are not sure where they will attend as registration does not start until next Monday but I am hoping to get them into the school where my sister’s 3 kids and my girlfriend’s 3 daughters attend. It would be nice for them to have some familiar faces. This will be the third new school for Julia to start and she is nervous about meeting friends. Fortunately, Julia loves school but Georgia really wants no part of it so I’m hoping and praying G gets a teacher that she connects with and they both meet some nice friends. As I say to Georgia, attending school is non negotiable so you might as well try and enjoy it.

I have not had much time to myself this summer but on a typical day, I try to get up before everyone in the house wakes up so I can have a quiet coffee and get organized for the day.  Sometimes I go for a walk and take in some of the incredible scenery that St. John’s has to offer. Here are a couple of shots from two of my favourite places. Both of these places are a 10 minute drive from my house.  Incredible, hey?

Outer Cove Beach
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The sun rise from Signal Hill
 

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Tim Horton’s Dark Roast is pretty good….especially with the view.

Our girls are at the cabin with my parents this weekend. I love the fact that they are enjoying the place where I spent every summer growing up and making memories with my Mom and Dad. It’s also wicked that Glenn and I get to have a weekend to ourselves. We are like teenagers here…..and so are our friends. It’s a riot. 😂😂 Thanks Mom and Dad. ❤️❤️

Stay tuned for more regular posts. I have missed it.  

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

I feel free!

I feel free.  Free some stress, free from work, free from children saying “mama, mama, mama” 18 million times a day and free from packing and unpacking boxes. I am here in my house in St. John’s and my daughters are having a fun sleepover at their grandmother’s house.  Thank you, Maggie! Glenn arrives home in a few hours and he has not been home for 2 years.  It’s time for a rest. My house is still in the slings but I don’t give a rat’s ass. It will all get done. I feel free that the chapter of the past 7 years is closing and a new experience beginning. I also feel grateful that we even experienced that chapter because without it, there could not be the next one. I am so pumped for our future.

Over the past few days, the front door of my house has been opening and closing so frequently it feels like I live in an old-time saloon. It’s been wicked. Friends and family dropping in for a coffee while they are out running errands and kids running around like crazy people. And while there hasn’t been much “spare time”,  I have stolen a few moments here and there to sit and relax and just be.  Summer is here!

I also feel free because I went to Costco today.  After being in China for three years, I almost wept with joy when I entered Costco today.  It has everything…no hunting and gathering like it can sometimes feel in Shanghai. Especially when you have nothing in your pantry and no cleaning supplies. Oh I have missed Costco and I avoided it like the plague before I left for China.  I had both of my girls with me and we had a cartload of stuff (I could have bought a ridiculous amount more but I had to remain focused on essentials!)  and it was still a pleasurable shopping experience. Bonus – there were no dried pig faces and not one person banged into me with their cart and they still apoligized. I love Canadians. The Carrefour in Shanghai has given me perspective.

Here are some photos from a couple years ago of my oldest daughter. The progression of photos says it all.  haha

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That’s all for now. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are having an incredible day/night.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

Holding Pattern

For the past few months, our family has been in a holding pattern. A holding pattern to find out the future of the company that my husband has worked for the past 7 years. It is a small Canadian environmental company that has been building its business in China. In hindsight, they entered the market too early as it is only now that the market is opening up.  Unfortunately, those 7 years cost a lot of capital and there were a host of hard lessons learned.  The company is now filing for bankruptcy and the company, as we know it, is coming to a close.

We have not been paid personally for many months.  The company did pay us some money a few weeks ago but it was less than half of what we were owed and we had to pay our rent and the girl’s school tuition, which the company is contractually responsible for paying. We were left to pay for our flights home and they also cancelled our medical insurance without notifying us and left our family in a foreign country uninsured. Man….that was a scary couple of months.  While the company says that it was an administrative error by the insurance company, it was still a negligent mistake that was not our fault….and no one notified us. After 2 months, we did get reinsured but the rub is that we now have preexisting conditions that are not covered.  So it is still a stressful time but at least I don’t panic every time our daughters get on their bicycle or cross the damn street.  Talk about heightened anxiety!

The girls and I flew back to Newfoundland on June 21.  We have been surrounded by our family and friends and it is the much-needed break that we required.  A breath of fresh air. Since we moved to Shanghai 3 years ago, our house has been rented to a family from Australia.  They loved the house and Newfoundland and left it in perfect condition when they moved out on June 30. Dream Tenants! I spent my 13th wedding anniversary, July 1, unpacking boxes that had been stored in the basement. We don’t have a lot of stuff but what we have is so special. There were a few tears shed and a lot of excitement about my huge washing machine – it fits at least 8 china loads in 1 – and my amazing dishwasher. I have not had a dishwasher in 3 years. But my piano and our music room. The piano is so out of tune but I am still loving it and the space. I have been unpacking our life here for the past three days and it really feels like home. It is a beautiful space and I am savouring the memories we have already made and am so looking forward to the memories we will make here this summer. Glenn will be back in a few days and we will take this time to rest and heal and laugh with the people we love.  All will truly be well.

We could not have gotten through this time without the support and understanding from the people in our lives.  The girl’s school, our landlord in Shanghai, Lucky-our incredible ayi and our people all over the world.  You know who you are. This year has been the most challenging one yet but we are surviving, growing, grateful and stoked for the future.  I do not know exactly what the future holds but what I do know is that it’s going to be amazing and we are not done with China yet. But right now, I’m thankful to be home for a rest.

And some pictures of my beautiful home province, Newfoundland, Canada

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

Back on the rock


The girls and I are back on the rock for the summer and absolutely loving it. Jet lag is still brutal, as I write this blog at 4:30am, but we are doing fabulous and loving seeing our peeps. We are surrounded by love. It feels amazing. I cannot wait for Glenn to join us soon. We need to decompress and regroup in our home. It’s going to be a beautiful summer. 

There are many things I notice and appreciate when I return home. Drinking fresh, cool water from the tap is incredible. I can’t get enough of it. 

The air is so clear. Can’t get enough of that either. 

There is so much less tension all around me. No busyness and so much more calm. It doesn’t take the same work to calm my own energy. It’s nice to have a break from that. 

But the thing I notice most about being in Newfoundland is the people. My friends in Shanghai consider me to be a pretty funny person but what they don’t realize is that I’m on the low end of the Newfoundland funny spectrum. People here are so quick and every encounter I have with people, random and otherwise, involves busting a gut laughing. That has been so good for the soul. 

So here’s to a summer of busting a gut laughing. Looking forward to sharing some of our experiences with you all. 

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

❤️❤️

Happy Father’s Day

I have three amazing fathers in my life. My dad, Kevin Smith in Newfoundland, Glenn’s dad, Poppy JJ, who is already on the other side, and the love of my life, Glenn. 

I’ll start with my dad. I was dad’s buddy growing up and still am. I was the third daughter so he was really hoping for a Michael but it wasn’t mean to be.  Even so, I was kind of the boy he never had. Always hanging out with him, chopping wood, camping out in torrential rainstorms and out on the water in the boat fishing. Most of my favorite childhood memories are at the cabin in Spread Eagle, NL, with my dad.  (and yes, that is what it’s really called and is my dad’s birthplace 😂😂). He bought me a tomahawk for Christmas one year and gave me my first tool kit. Even in high school I would call him every afternoon at work just to chat…..so much so that I still remember the phone number. You are so loved, Dad. Thank you for being an incredible role model in every way to me and the girls. 

Glenn’s dad, Joe Antle, was a kind and loving man. He owned a gas station known as “Antle’s Irving” and I knew him as a child when I regularly visited there with my dad…..again, hanging out with dad. Joe worked hard his whole life and raised his beloved family of 6. I really loved him and always knew how much he loved me. He told me once to never loose my spark. I can still hear him saying it and it helps me when that spark is dimming slightly. We miss him but talk about him regularly and will visit him the summer “where he is planted”. That’s what the 4 year old Julia called his grave. 

And to my partner in crime and absolute love of my life, Glenn. This roller coaster of a life we are living is made better every day with you by my side. After 16 years together, I am proud of our life we are building and the way we are living it together. With so much love, respect, laughter and growth. And our girls….we made them and they are pretty darn incredible. You are an amazing father and husband. Thank you for all you do for our family. 

All 3 of these men have many things in common but the biggest one is  the strong love for their families and the people in their lives. The girls and I are blessed to have you all. 
Father’s Day is well underway here in Shanghai. Glenn enjoyed a sleep in while the girls and I cooked breakfast. I basically just watch now while the girls prepare it. They love being in the kitchen. Breakfast in bed, morning cuddles and giggles were a perfect way to start the day!  Julia even ran to Starbucks, by herself, to pick us up coffees. This was a first to go by herself and she was so excited…and a little bit nervous. They are growing up so fast! Glenn and the girls are gone to hit some golf balls now which gave me some time to write this blog. 
To all the incredible fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!  Keep rocking on. 

I wanted to share some photos of these 3 dads. 







Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

❤️❤️