Mr. and Mrs. H....a new adventure

In a snowy forest glade...

A Quiet Place

Take me to a quiet place,
with earth under our backs,
cradled, in a forest glade.
There we will point out things we see.
And acknowledge 
those things we do not.
In solitude
we take in the wisdom
offered in each other
and take in the hum of the forest.

Phoebe Wahl

Well hello!

I hope everyone is gliding into the holiday season feeling like they have everything under control. My holiday season is going according to plan, I am spending too much time on the "stuff" I shouldn't be doing and not enough on the "stuff" that I should. I expect that this time next week I will be frantically pulling things together, like I do every year, but for today, I am happy to think about the other "stuff" and snowshoe along our Poetry Trail.  In my case it's big "stuff" because it's big news!

Feeling sentimental..
I have been writing Collage of Life for ten years and many of you have been with me from the beginning. When I started the blog, I was already ten years into our expat journey, having moved from Connecticut in 1999 to Australia and then New Zealand where I pushed my first "publish" button on this blog in 2009. Since then we have traveled together, through England, Vietnam, Hong Kong and the journeys in between. We have shared life stories, books, postcards and best of all...friendships.

Snow covered fields..Tahilla Farm

Some of you may recall the day I wandered down a dirt road and found Tahilla Farm and the eventual purchase and construction of the main house, barn and Carriage House. Over the years, our children have grown, we have a grandchild, I have written about the trials and tribulation of expat life, midlife and you have been astounding readers for which I am very grateful. We would not be in this latest chapters of Tahilla Farm if not for the friendships forged through this blog.  It has been quite a journey my friends and I am so glad we connected along the way.

A new snowshoe unmapped adventure

Changing narrative...
Twenty years on, Mr. H and I are changing the narrative on the course of our lives. This is another way of saying he is retiring from expat life to the woods of New Hampshire. I really dislike the word "retire" for many reasons but mostly due to the finality of the word. In truth, we are simply changing course and embarking on a new unmapped adventure. See...doesn't that sound better? ;)

 It feels like yesterday, when in fact, it was about fifteen years ago, in Australia, when a friend turned to a group of us at a book club discussion and said she had "news"....her husband was retiring. I wasn't ready for the responses around the room. There were a few condolences and gasps of dismay. Tales were told of husbands home for lunch...every day and the expectation that lunch would be made for them...every day. Tsk Tsk's and shaking heads startled me. I had three teenagers and a five year old at home....I didn't do lunch for anyone but them. I was lucky to make my own. I stored this tidbit of information for another day...and that day has arrived.

Lucky for me, Mr. H is perfectly capable of making his own lunch. He has had to do that for the past three years. Expat life sent us in different directions. I was based in Sydney the first year and New Hampshire for the last two.  Mr. H has been in Hong Kong during that time. Over the past three years we managed about ten weeks of each year together. Like any change, you adapt just as we will when he settles into New Hampshire full time. It will be the first step in our unmapped adventure!

Along the poetry trail today...A Quiet Place

Questions have been flowing in from family and friends. All eyes are on Mr. H as they wonder what he will do. Moving from an international business life of 30 years into small town rural life in New Hampshire will be interesting. We anticipated this when we bought Tahilla Farm, renovating it for this eventuality. Now we get to test our theory. We  are both excited and ready to channel our energies into this new path in life. I say, bring it on!

I have had my fair share of questions as well. With this new direction, what does it mean for me? I have been the Lady of the Farm for three years, how will it change? How will it impact Tahilla Gatherings? With the expat journey coming to a close, will I continue to blog? Will I be traveling more or less? All very good questions which I continue to ponder.

I am more than happy to pass some of my Lady of the Farm duties to the Gentleman of the Farm. Shoveling snow, lifting 50 lb bags of salt into our water purifier, collecting kindling and stacking the wood pile are just a few of the chores I am more than happy to pass on.

Most of all and as always, I am happy to be a fellow traveler with Mr. H in this next chapter of life. We are both excited to spend quality time with each other and our children and grandson. We have all been like ships passing in the night between countries for the past ten years. We will have more time to spend with them and connect with family and friends around the globe.

For me, expat life may be coming to an end but what is ahead of us is equally exciting. I am moving onto a new chapter in life, as we all do. I am still articulating in my mind what it will encompass and trust me...I will be here to tell you all about it. It's when I enjoy writing the most.

This is not the end, but a new beginning.

From my kitchen window...unmapped adventure

Thank you for sharing the journey with me!

Jeanne xx

If you would like to share your thoughts 
on this next chapter of life,
please write to me! 

PS..if you asked for a Christmas postcard, they are underway. 
I picked the top three favorites...a sheep, a tree and a house. the world turns, 
my first blog post in October 2009

As an expat, you learn to live 
with saying goodbye
 and the feelings that overwhelm 
you with each move.

It starts with the family and friends 
from your home country
 and then it is for the 
friends and countries you have 
lived in and left behind.  

The 'feeling' reaches in 
and sits heavy on your heart. 

I felt the best way to 'let it all out' 
was to create a painting 
representing everything I felt.

It was a challenge, 
as I had never painted before.
Finding an art studio 
and an art teacher to help me 
set my ideas onto canvas 
was no small task..
but I did it.

As I progressed, 
I discovered many things about myself
and through the months 
I slowly began to feel at ease 
with my new home

The images and words 
in the painting above
represented my feelings 
about 'home' New England.

I called on poets, 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 
Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson 
and used their words as inspiration. 

A few free word associations came about. 
"A boys will is the wind's will"
written in "My Lost Youth" by Longfellow
" A women's will is the wind's will"
for me.

Other words written into 
the painting...

Return the traveller to the shore.

Often I think of the beautiful town 

that is seated by the sea,
And my youth comes back to me.

I took the road less travelled by 
and that has made all the difference.

A Quietness Distilled.

Shape the thoughts that stir within. 

It was 2003,
and I named the painting 
'Collage of Life'

In 2009, 
when I started to write 
outside my journal,
it  seemed a natural for the 
name of this blog as well. 

Another outlet to 
shape the thoughts that stir within.

Welcome to my first blog post on
Collage of Life.

Collage of Life 
by Jeanne Henriques
October 24, 2009


  1. Congratulations to you Both!
    Hunting the planet for the perfect chair (that's been waiting to be found), an old spacious wood desk , and a tray table for snacks away from the laptop are the thoughts I have when folks say they are retiring. Wishing y'all happiness!

  2. Jeanne dear - was thinking of you when Bob told me of the huge snowfall in Manchester a few days back and of course we realized you were probably experiencing it also! Thank goodness you had your snowshoes at the ready.
    Tahilla looks so fabulous - wonder if it will be a White Christmas for you.
    Well that's awesome news - not unexpected as we had chatted about a possibility back in the Summer. Every time we watched newsreels from Hong Kong we were concerned for Mr. H and hoped he would soon be away from there. Knowing now that he will be enjoying his well-earned retirement in your beautiful part of NH, we wish him well. I know the two of you will still be traveling though and he, like most of us who worked for many years, will soon be wondering how he ever had time 'to go to work' haha!!!!! Life will be busy I assure you. Have you made up your 'honey do' list yet!!!!?
    Have a marvelous holiday season - and very best wishes for the coming year.
    Mary xx

    1. Thank you Mary!! I love how you call it the 'honey to do' list! I am so inspired by the traveling you and Bob do, I tell Mr. H about it frequently...hint, hint! Wishing you both a Happy New Year!! xxx

  3. Congratulations JEanne and Mr. H on your new and exciting adventure!!!! How wonderful that you will be together and spending more than just quality time together and with your children and grandchildren. I think I remember once you mentioned that you and the family will spend part of the year in Australia in your other home? Won't it be fabulous to be back in your "home away from home" closer to your grandson and to have a base to travel a country you spent so much time in. At the same time how fabulous to have Mr. H back where he can spend time with old friends, his mom, your siblings, etc. I am excited for your next adventure(S) and happy that Mr. H will he out of HK, each time I have read or watched a story about the goings on there I have worried for his safety. Have a wonderful holiday and spend time doing all of the things you love JEanne even if they are the things you are not supposed to be focused on, everything will be ok . Sending you a hug from the warm South and wishing I was walking along side you in my snowshoes. One day.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! Yes, we will be back and forth to Australia. :)) Wishing you a Happy New Year!!

  4. Many words carry much baggage and yet do not convey much at all about whatever it is they are used to describe. I think "retirement" is one of those words.
    Congrats to you and the Mister on the newest phase of your journey :)

  5. Hi Jeanne Hooray for Mr. H! I love how you are approaching this as a new chapter in your life. My husband and I are getting closer to that journey as well. We both have lots of hobbies so I would say we don't look ahead with dread but as a new chapter in our lives together. Figuring out where to land is the hardest part. I am so anxious to hear how your journey goes! We too look forward to more travel and more time to spend with our precious Summer. Congrats and enjoy!!

    1. Thank you Cindy! Stay's turning our to be quite a journey. ;)

  6. Rites of passage – this is a big one for Mr. H. There must be small everyday treasured moments that his profession has caused him to miss...and now he will bring his life well lived into a new adventure. Doing whatever one can to remain in good health and staying active are the keys to opening doors that have not been accessible. And you, Jeanne, have your own space carved out at Tahilla Farm where you will continue to dream and create, and I imagine that Mr. H. will also find a place to claim as his, while together you can embrace and enjoy all those moments in life that are poignant. Best wishes on your new journey.

    1. So well said Rosemary...a rite of passage it truly is. He is an early riser, exercising first thing. I have been tagging along so I have to admit, it will definitely be better for our health. Another rite of passage, another road to travel. Without a will be an interesting and entertaining journey! Thank you for your wishes... :))

  7. I think that you and Mr H will be just fine. I am sure you will have all sorts of adventures together. Think of all the travelling you will be able to do! I think I would be very excited at the prospect.

  8. Retirement is wonderful! Welcome to it, Mr. H! There is so much to do. You may want to teach - "real" college or adult learning. A friend of our taught until he was 94 and loved every minute of the prep and the presentation. I took classes in Horticulture at the local community college and then launched myself into art classes - taking, not teaching. Now, my previous employer has asked me to work a few hours a week for the next couple of months, and i am looking forward to it. My husband has taken a different path. He worked a series of part time jobs that simply interested him. Now he is the unofficial greeter at our neighborhood Starbucks, i.e., he resides in a chair every morning reading the Post, drinking his coffee and talking with whomever has a few minutes to sit and chat. Lunches are "on your own" at home or out. We are both adults. We do spend much more time together than during the past 40 years (movies on Tuesday afternoons are particularly nice). All you have to do is choose what you want to do, and do it. Most of all, enjoy this new journey. It can be wonderful.

    1. Thank you so much, I am so encouraged by your thoughts. I love that your husband is the unofficial greeter at Starbucks and that you are both staying engaged and stimulated in so many ways. It will be what we make it. I have't showed him my list of 100 things to do in our local town...yet. Baby steps...and then giant leaps!! ;)


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