Swiss Family Stender – The Opportunity

My friend Dave made a great suggestion recently regarding this blog. It can be hard to take a step back and think on it, but the past year has been an eventful one for our family. We moved from America with 3 kids under the age of 5 to Switzerland. A lot of words come to mind as I think about the last 12 months – fun, insane, exciting, exhausting but mostly awesome. Dave’s point was that our situation is relatively unusual and there might be other folks out there contemplating something similar. So why not share how it’s gone thus far, how we did it and all the other things that come with it? I love it, so I’ll kick it off with The Opportunity.

Open Door

There’s a book titled The Secret by Rhonda Byrne that at first glance seems a little hokey – ok, a LOT hokey – but once you get past that it’s solid. The content is serious and deep. My brother Tyler and I listened to the audiobook version on a cross country road trip. In and of itself this is a regular coup d’état for us given the time not listening to it was spent blasting BPM house music on XM Radio, leaning out the window and screaming or discussing the finer points of how much your head spins from an 11% barrel aged imperial stout. We weren’t exactly reciting Shakespeare.

The secret of The Secret is that what you think about is what you get from the universe. For instance, in the parlance of the narrator, if you’re constantly thinking “I’m fat”, the universe hears “I’m fat and want to be fatter!” And so you will be. More relevant to this article is that thoughts of “I can’t do XYZ for ABC reasons” will result in that opportunity never materializing. This concept is nothing new. It was pioneered by a small boy wearing green tights named Peter Pan and his refrain “Think happy thoughts and you can fly!”

Peter Pan Wendy Flying 1953


It’s easy to say that things happen the way they’re going to happen regardless of what you think. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 – an early adopter of The Secret – notes “There is no fate but what we make”. The idea here is that focusing on what you want instead of what you’re afraid of increases the likelihood of it coming to fruition.

When the opportunity to move overseas first arose, I’ll be honest, my immediate reaction was something like “Not a chance. How could we possibly move with 3 little kids to a foreign country?! That doesn’t speak English! And has terrible cheeseburgers! We’re so busy! Ohhhh, there’s no time…whine, whine, whine.” Then I got over myself and spoke about it at length with my wife Sarah and we agreed that if the opportunity was real, we would go for it. We continued discussing and thinking about it and here we are.

I don’t spend too much time getting philosophical or having conversations about the meaning of life. But I do think that your attitude has an effect on your reality. If you had asked me a few years ago whether we might be living in a foreign country with our kids in a bilingual school, I would have said it sounds nice but that it would be a long shot. Then Sarah got a new job and suddenly there was a very slight chance of an overseas move. And we started focusing on and considering it…so you never know.

If you’re of the mind that living abroad would be exciting, don’t dismiss the idea out of hand because current circumstances point towards it not happening.  Channel your inner Peter Pan, or the ass-kicking mom from Terminator, and make it happen.

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