The brilliant light of the sun sparkling off the water. New plant shoots the colour of waxy lime green crayons. The honks of a black swans drifting in the water. Spring has come to the South Australian river land with a thunderous explosion of fragrant blossoms and tender buds. 
On this particular weekend, seven courageous and adventuresome woman came together to deepen friendships, experience nature, and partake in all that the Murray river could provide. From airboat rides to nature walks, it was an unforgettable weekend. What we walked away with was life long relationships and a deeper understanding that our lives have changed, for the better, forever. 
Banrock Station is an award winning winery, know for their delicious wine as well as their conservation efforts in preserving native wetland areas. They have taken a once dry and over worked land and given it back to nature to spring forth life again. The result is hundreds of acres of wetland communities that exhibit all the spectacular beauty the river Murray holds. The recovery of this land is a dramatic, and it changes exponentially each day. It is full of life. 
As we seven travelers walked along the board walk I realized we were seven changed lives. Seven changed butterflies that had experienced the life changing experience of an exchange. Each of us had a story; a story that brought us to this point. Our stories have begun our journeys. These precious stories are what made it possible to even begin such a dramatic decision. Each moment of each day we grow more wise and more beautiful. Our lives are changing. Like the wetland areas of the river we are becoming more beautiful with each experience. We are becoming full of life. 
A year abroad brings such a dramatic change that it is almost surreal. Most of all it is impossible to explain. You see, we are still the same people we were when we left our home country; just beyond a year progressed. Everyone on the planet is different from year to year depending on our circumstances. Life brings changes and routine. By the end of a given year each of us has become a new version of ourselves. The life of an exchange is beyond a regular year. There are no words to describe the changes, but to stay…forever changed. 
I have advice for those who read this message who are awaiting family and friends to return. Expect change. Expect to not just see the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly but beyond. Be excited for the return of your loved one, and also be ready to meet the person they have become. You see, we have not been on a vacation, we have been on a journey that changed the very way we think and function. Be ready with arms wide open to greet a wiser version of those you hold dear. Be ready for life. 
The seasons are changing and bringing about a growth and renewal to our very souls. Life has become richer and fuller. We have begun to understand that life is not existence, but a chance to flourish in abundant joy. Our very existence is blossoming.
We are alive. 

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