Photo Credit: Tasha Faye
I Went From Corporate America To Living For Me, In Australia
Valerie Weyland hit a wall while living in America. She was burnt out from her corporate job and wasn’t fulfilled. That’s what inspired her to make a change.
“I felt depressed, and I was really unhappy,” she told Travel Noire. “I was trying to achieve the American dream because everyone kept telling me that’s what true happiness was: getting the nice paying job in the corporate world, getting the house, getting the car, getting all these material possessions. When I did get those things, I still felt empty inside. I was sitting in a cubicle and I remember looking around and saying, ‘This is not it. This can’t be all that my life is going to amount to.’”
Valerie was working a full-time job and interning with sports when she told someone about her plans to move abroad. She said it was fate because after asking him to be her mentor, he put her in contact with a private basketball club in Australia which would eventually lead her to a contract with the professional women’s basketball league.
Weyland hadn’t touched the ball in more than three years at the point, but it was ultimately how she made the leap abroad.
“In the United States, there is the WNBA and in Australia, there is the WNBL. I didn’t even know I was good enough considering so much time had passed. I even made it to MVP one year during my contract,” said Weyland.
She began to worry that she would get sucked back into a life that she tried to escape as everyone around her was touting her success. It seemed that everyone was happier about her life abroad as a professional basketball player than she was.
But then she got injured and after three surgeries, was forced to take a step back. It was during that time when she started a spiritual journey towards healing and accepting that she would no longer live her life on everyone else’s terms.
“I fractured my ankle, ruptured my ligament and I had three ankle surgeries. But that was when I began to actually discover myself in that space of darkness and isolation. Many of us usually run from it, but I had to sit in it,” she said.
Her recovery and spiritual journey are what inspired her to begin Brown Girl Bloom. Weyland, who is now a health and wellness coach, as well as a Reiki healer, created a safe space for women of color to focus on their wellbeing holistically. For Weyland, her overall quality of life is better just by making the move in 2012, and she wants other people, especially Black women to feel the same joy.
“The reason why I’ve decided to stay in Australia is because I feel freer here. I don’t know if it is Australia, or the fact that I left. I think it’s just that process of moving and getting away from that soil, where it’s just so toxic and negative. It feels nice to press that reset button here and particularly where I live in Perth, Western Australia,” said Weyland. “Life is more balanced and slower. In America, I feel like everyone’s always hustling to get somewhere. I’m not sure where we’re hustling to get to. But here, I feel more relaxed and like I can have time with myself to reflect and understand what are my desires and what I love. Now I’m rediscovering pleasure. Pleasure for me is having time to read, connect with nature, and meditate with other Black women.”
Moving abroad has come with its challenges, she admits. One of the hardest parts about living overseas is missing her family.
“That doesn’t go away, especially when you can’t just go home when you want. You just try to find joy in the now and find ways to connect with them, but nothing replaces physical connection. I definitely miss my family and that’s one thing that I will say is challenging about expat life. Although there are so many beautiful experiences in it, you get to replace that feeling of home when you sit with your mother or your dad or your siblings or even your friends that you grew up with.”
Weyland adds, “One thing I had to tell myself, while it’s hard, that it’s time to live for me and no one else. I don’t want to transition from this life with regrets.”