Dear Mum & Dad

To my Mum and Dad, without whom I would not be here today. 

Friday 2nd of February 2018, Fuzhou, China.

Dear Mum & Dad,

Today is a rainy, cold winter day in Fuzhou and the sad weather always makes me feel nostalgic about the old times. Maybe because of the yellow and grey colours that give the surroundings a vintage look and feel.

I’ve never told you why I wanted to write a book about the memories of my childhood, but it seems pretty natural to me that the main reason comes from you. I owe my beautiful childhood to your loving parenting and deep in my heart, I want to pay tribute to the most meaningful moments of having been this shy little girl of yours.

I want to remember the child I used to be. The little things I used to do, the walks in the woods with you Dad, the smell of your perfume Mum, or the love letters I used to write to a boy who never noticed me at school.

Despite my bold decision to leave everything behind and go venturing on the other side of the world, the woman that I have become today has never ceased to love you and think of you.

I know the worries that I have caused when I left and I try not to think about it too much because it makes me very teary-eyed. However, by giving me your unconditional love and support, whatever my decisions are, you have helped me to fulfill my dreams and to be at peace with myself.

Sometimes, I wish I could travel back in time and get to know your young selves. Fleeing a country at war in your twenties and building a new life so far away from your homeland is the ultimate act of courage. I can’t imagine what it was like, and I feel so lucky and grateful for the life you’ve given me.

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My heart will be forever filled with gratitude and admiration for both of you. As parents, it is hard to let your children spread their wings and fly. You’ve allowed me to be a free bird, exploring the world to find my own tree and build my nest.

You’ve respected my decision to choose a different path for my life. Even though I would have loved giving you what most parents expect from their children, somehow, you knew that I was different. A safe path and safe choices were not goals to fulfill anymore. What is the point of your life when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait to lurk to surprise you?

Sometimes I feel selfish for thinking about my own happiness. But this is the price to pay to enjoy my freedom to the fullest. I feel the urge to enrich my life with as many experiences as I can. I am passionate about learning, discovering and facing new challenges. This is the fuel that makes me move forward and keeps me forever young. I want to share my appreciation for life with people, and spread inspiration around the world.

I know you want me to settle down and I am, but at my own pace and staying true to myself. Don’t worry too much about me because everything I do, I do it with a good balance of wisdom and boldness. I am using what I’ve inherited from both of you: Dad’s voice of reason and Mum, your romantic heart. The mixed culture I’ve been brought up with has had a huge impact on my perception of life. The wisdom from my Asian heritage fused with my passionate French free spirit have shaped my mind clearly. I’ve always loved and have been inspired by my Philosophy class at school. No wonder why I got my best mark writing an essay about Liberty.

Freedom to me is being able to live my truth and listen to my instinct and my guts. It has led me to live the most enriching experiences so far, the kind of adventures I will remember until the day I die. It has helped me to be stronger and brave. From this shy and reserved little girl living in a small French village, I’ve become a determined and fearless woman exploring what the world has to offer.

I hope you are proud of me as much as I am proud of you. I want to thank you for everything you have done for me and for our family. Even during tough times, we all stick together to face and overcome the challenges of life. I might be far away, but my heart will be forever with you, no matter where I am in the world.

I love you both deeply.

Your loving daughter,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Day 14: Dear Australia

 Monday 25th September 2015,

“My name is Julie Do. I am 30 years old and I come from Paris. After years of a quiet and comfortable life, I have exploded, literally, like a volcano that has been asleep and has suddenly woken up. I have decided to leave everything behind me; my home country, a good job, a caring family, trustful friends, a loving fiancé, my small world and safe path…

This life may sound alluring and kind of what you are expected to do but it was not. A routine largely made of insane working hours, unhealthy rhythms and loads of stress. A routine in which you lose yourself, without any purpose, a routine that makes you unhappy and embittered, where quality time has become too rare. And sadly this is what is happening in France. People have lost hope in their own country, people are scared. Unemployment has reached its highest rate, insecurity is rising, politics are useless, the economy is going down, our ‘Douce France’ as Charles Trenet, a famous old-fashioned singer used to sing, is not sweet anymore but bitter and sad…

However, I have not decided to leave my country because of its decline, France will always remain my home. I have done it for myself, I have done it to see how far I can go into the great unknown, to be challenged and put myself at risk to achieve the best outcomes. I have done it to feel alive and breathe in all that life has to offer. I am trying to follow the great words of a very inspiring man who decided to be the master of his fate and the captain of his destiny. Someone special once told me that life is a birth, a death, and for the time in between it is our duty to make it count as we only live once. I do not want to get older frustrated, with my heart and mind eaten by regrets and remorse, with my adventure dream left unpursued.

I have been working since I was 22. Big international companies had trained me to be a very good asset, a hard-working, driven, team player, capable of performing to a high level under pressure and entirely dedicated to my job. Working 8 years in international firms like Deloitte or LVMH makes you tougher, ready to handle a huge amount of stress and committed to excellent customer service. It is a wild world where time is money and your position an ejector seat. But I held on and managed to adapt myself to a hostile environment, building my own happy world in a rough place. I found out it is the people that make it count. My job was not easy but the people I was surrounded by were great in helping me to like it.

But then came a day I realised that the safe path and safe choices were not a goal to fulfil anymore. What is the point of your life when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait to lurk to surprise you? Something else much more exciting is waiting for me and the time has come to pursue the crazy adventures I dreamed up while I was a young whippersnapper.

On the 14th of July 2013, I landed in Australia, ready to live those incredible things that I wanted to come true. Australia is an old teenage dream that I’ve always kept in a corner of my head. A mythic land of adventure symbolised by epic road trips, gorgeous landscapes, amazing quality of life, a land where wilderness and nature prevail on civilisation and human marks. A land where I could be far and lost enough to find myself.

It’s been a year now since I came to Australia and all I can say is this country is so easy to fall in love with. I have found my golden land. Somehow, Australia saved me. She pushed me to change my world, to question my past glories, to get out of my comfort zone, to try things I have never done before. I have adventured and explored so much and I am still following the path I choose to embrace. I have travelled, I have filled my epic road trip dream and I have discovered and learnt so many things being surrounded by the extraordinary people I have met during my journey. I have never felt so alive, so happy, but above all, I have rediscovered myself.

It is a true accomplishment to realise you are able to adapt yourself to a completely new environment, to give your utmost for the most honourable purposes, not for money or glory but for the true values we tend to forget; the happiness of helping people, the happiness of making people happy. We are living in such an individualist society, it just feels so good to get out of this world and escape a mediocrity of life I have always feared.

I have spent my year between travelling and volunteering. It’s as if all those years working in the bowels of a money maker pushed me to run away from it. I was desperately in search of authenticity, nature, wildlife, wilderness, breathtaking landscapes, new lifestyles and cultures but I wanted to associate something useful to it. Volunteering has appeared the best compromise to me.

And now here I am, 10 months later, living in a gorgeous organic farm, looking after kids in an Aussie family as an au pair. Who would have thought? Not me. This challenge popped up in my life out of the blue. From a project manager in France, I turned into a nanny chasing 4 hyperactive kids in a 20-acres farm nestled on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, on the outskirts of Sydney.

It may look like a big nonsense but it means everything to me. I needed to experiment with a new lifestyle, very far from my previous world, I needed a return to basics and true values. A simple life but beautiful and healthy, enjoying things I forgot to enjoy, my mind too busy with the turpitudes of my old life. Cooking, gardening, cleaning, doing sport, reading a good book down by the river, enjoying a 20-acre property of a self-sustaining farm chock-full of handmade treasures, animals, veggies, plants. Swimming in the river, playing with kids, riding motorbikes, chasing absconder pigs, fighting with turkeys, collecting eggs, climbing trees, making bonfires…I feel like Tom Sawyer living crazy adventures along the Hawkesbury River.

I am learning so much living with this family. What is interesting in looking after kids is the fact you have to act as an adult but be a kid as well. You have to be a big responsible kid taking care of young little whippersnappers. And I found out it is one of the most enriching experiences I have had so far and a full-time job. It is like being a mother. I am learning to cope with kids and I can tell that they are the most difficult clients to satisfy! They are merciless and push you to your very last limits, but they are at the same time filled with love to give. They have brought me so much just by being bright, smart, naughty sometimes and very, very funny.

Today I would like to get the chance to be a part of Australia, to be a member of its nation. In lots of ways, Australia inspires me, it’s a land of opportunity for people who know how to seize it and are eager to give their utmost. I am one of them. I have decided Australia will be my new home but it is not enough. I know that somehow I have to deserve Australia because lessons from history have taught me there is no conquered land, you must adapt yourself to fit with the country.

My parents are the best inspiration, in 1970 they fled Vietnam to run away from the war and start a new life in France. They struggled a lot but they have succeeded in building a respectable and honourable life, giving a good education to their children. I will always be grateful for that. I am a daughter of migrants and I am becoming a migrant myself.

I am proud of my family background and do believe that migration and diversity are a strength, as long as you respect the country, its values and its people. Australia is giving me so much and I have so much to give to her. I see the next chapter of my life in this country and I am so excited and look forward to writing it.

Who can show more motivation and eagerness than someone who had the courage of leaving a whole world to build a new one?”