(By Lise Floris, Published by Global Times on 5 February 2018)
I can still recall exactly how I felt at my going away party at work - standing there in my new stilettos, all teary-eyed while listening to my boss' speech. I felt my colleagues' love and support as well as the recognition for my work and a profound sense of fulfillment. I couldn't help but wonder if I would experience that fulfillment again anytime soon as a stay-at-home mom in Beijing. The story starts two and a half years ago when I was a full-time working mom with three kids. I had been working for the Council of the European Union in Brussels for seven years and loved my job, which involved traveling and organizing meetings for the ministers of agriculture of the 28 EU member states. Apart from my job and my role as a mom, I was involved in music and musical theatre, and I struggled to find the perfect balance between working, being a good mom and doing what I liked. Then, after 13 years in Belgium, my husband got a job in Beijing. The thought of having more freedom was appealing to me, and I could finally see some "me" time on the horizon. After the kids settled in at school, I started to study Chinese, explore Beijing and make new friends. Still, as time went by, I realized how much I had always relied on my job as part of my identity. I missed being able to "hide" behind my identity as a full-time working mom. However, I was by no means ready to look for a job. But by following my new-found passion for writing, the job came looking for me. I launched my blog ninemillionbicycles about everyday life in Beijing in early 2016 and quickly noticed the joy of having an outlet for my feelings and to share my Beijing experiences. The blog led me to more writing, and pitching ideas for magazines became the next step. A few magazines and papers, as well as a Danish media platform, have now taken me on board as a contributor, and after two years of mumbling "um, I do a bit of freelance writing," I now have the courage to call myself a writer. Self-reinvention is a process and doesn't happen overnight. I am on leave from my job in the EU, and one day I might go back and hopefully have time for my writing on the side. Whatever brings me that all-important sense of fulfillment.