The virtual campfire is a month of prompts to share stories of our lives abroad and our experiences returning (to wherever) with other global nomads. It is designed to be a welcoming space to swap experiences and learn from each other.
With my life as busy as it has been these last few months I haven’t been writing blogs but these prompts feel manageable.
If you enjoy these, please also check out #mayonthemove 2021 for a similar experience.
I’m a little late arriving to the #virtualcampfire2021 because I’ve been busy walking the dog and putting the kids to bed, running another load of washing and straightening up the kitchen while composing this caption in my head.
This is my life. But now I’m here, red wine in one hand (thanks, hubby), marshmallow on a stick in the other.
I don’t have any recent photos of just me because I’m always surrounded by kids (of the two- and four-legged variety). I both love this and feel dragged down by it sometimes, simultaneously. But that’s ok. I know how important this unity, these bonds are for our children, for our family, for their future, for stability, for comfort & love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love being outdoors – alone or with my family – it’s healing for mind, body & spirit and is my happy place and something I can do anywhere in the world. I don’t mind sun, rain or snow. It’s all about the right kit, attitude and timing – and having a comforting place to return to. Kind of like #expatlife, come to think of it.
My founding principal is that healthy, strong kids will change the world for the better but they need healthy, strong parents to raise and support them. This is why I support moms – to learn about the challenges #expatkids face & to put themselves first – because we have to model #selfcare if we want our kids to do it, too.
The Little Things - What are you longing for?
I guess my answer today is: calm, quiet, orderliness.
It’s been a busy few months and November won’t be much different. And then Christmas.
I’m feeling a distinct need for clean lines & clarity in my physical space – this will help with the busyness and restless energy that comes with a houseful of people.
Thinking about it…maybe I will remove stuff and reduce #christmasdecor to the minimum. #selfcare for me starts with my physical space and comfort.
So why ever not?
Re-entry and the "New Normal"
#Repatriation. I’ve done it a few times… I’m familiar with the ups and downs, what works and what doesn’t and what can be done to ease the #transition for children, too. I’m so confident in the process that I hold workshops about it.
But what comes after most of the dust has settled, the kids are integrating and routines have set in (2-3 years after the actual move)?
I’m waiting. What’s next? This is the whiplash that comes back at me when I think we’re doing pretty well. As an #expatfamily on assignment there’s always a deadline, always a sense of urgency to see/do/experience the host country and all it offers before you leave.
But when you’re “back home” there is no date looming when things will change. There is no project to finish, no change to prepare for. Just time stretching ahead without big “markers”.
I don’t know what to work towards – no end of assignment, no exotic vacation in a once-in-a-lifetime-location to plan, no next trip “home”. I really miss having deadlines and dates “to do things by”.
I don’t know how to live in one place for an indefinite time and it makes me uncomfortable. So I’m practising “sitting in” the experience to see where it takes me.
Connected - How do you stay in touch?
I’ve been part of a #distancefamily since I was 4 years old so this is something I have thought about a lot.
In the old days phone calls were rare (and expensive) so we relied on mail to stay in touch. I loved getting those letters & packages 💌.
In 2021 we have many more options but have learned that whatever medium we choose…
➡️scheduling is the key to making the connection and sticking with it ⬅️
It helps me as a busy mom and I know it gives the grandparents on the other end something to look forward to, too.
Our favorite activity together has been playing games via zoom. Quizzes, Pictionary, escape games, it’s all fun!
If you want to learn more about distance families I highly recommend Helen Ellis’ book ‘Being a Distance Grandparent’ (follow @helenellis.author for more on her upcoming projects).
I also put my thoughts about staying connected into a blog last year (includes a list of ideas for staying connected, too).
don't miss part two
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WordPress – Global Mobility Trainer
What did living abroad teach you about tolerance?
The short answer: lots
The longer answer: the world is a beautiful, diverse place and living abroad can teach us to appreciate these differences both in other countries and right at our doorstep.
However, sometimes we need a bit of distance to see clearly.
To see that there is more than one “right” way to do things.
To see that familiar food can be cooked & presented in radically different ways.
To see that people live, love and thrive in ways we could never have imagined.
To see that many roads lead to learning to read, write and doing long division.
To see that different traffic rules don’t mean more accidents & chaos (ok, the jury is still out on this one).
#Tolerance to me means accepting & welcoming differences, means holding multiple “truths” in your heart & mind simultaneously and means always being curious about the “other”.
But it also means learning more about myself. What my #values, my likes and dislikes are and at the same time watching them evolve through new experiences.
Much of this can come through living abroad but as parents we can also help our children learn tolerance and curiosity without ever leaving town. We just have to really look and see what’s out there – as if we were exploring a new place with wonder.
Six Word Story
What Is a Six-Word Story?
“A six-word story is an entire story told in six words. It is a short narrative that can have all of the emotional themes of longer stories—from funny to dramatic, sad to scary. While these quick stories don’t have the classic beginning, middle, and end of a traditional storyline, they have a subject and verb that give the reader a sense of what’s happened and a bit of conflict.”
This image was a bit cryptic so after question in the comments on Instagram I clarified what it was about:
It’s a story of sisterhood and being stronger together. Growing beyond what you can do alone when you’re lifted up by other people. In my case being part of Wild Women on the Wall (lifted & supported) and running (soaring) 70km on the Great Wall of China. Thanks for asking 😍
One of my mantras – as an expat and as a parent – is “it’s just a phase”
This is along the lines of “change is the only constant” and serves as a reminder that both the uncomfortable and the enjoyable times don’t last.
We live in the moment and then it changes. Sometimes the moment is scary, sad or lonely and sometimes it’s happy, joyful and dazzling. Enjoy it.
We need the dark to appreciate the light. The sun always comes up after the night. Your expat challenges will get easier, your baby’s difficulty falling asleep will pass, your puppy will stop peeing on the floor, etc.
We can’t ignore the moment and what is happening but sometimes reminding ourselves that things do change, having an “eagle-eye” view on situations and the big picture, can help us get through the tough moments.
Shout-Out to a Friend
Kira has been a friend, supporter and business partner this year.
A fellow TCK and global nomad she understands how important it is for parents to learn more about #thirdculturekids and has given me opportunities to spread the word in her Gravidamiga community.
@gravidamiga is an amazing source of knowledge and support for new & expecting foreign parents in #Germany. Having experienced the extreme isolation of becoming a mom without friends or family nearby I can really appreciate what she and Dr. Christine have built. I am not exaggerating when I say it is a sanity saver for many.
Kira commiserates and advises, encourages and supports me and my business and we had great fun putting together our first in person retreat in November. @me.time.for.moms was all we had hoped it would be and I am already looking forward to our next event in March.
If any was needed, this is further proof that online friendships through social media (we met in @women.expats.enterpreneurs Facebook group) can be real, true and hugely rewarding.
Thank you my friend. Here’s to more fun in 2022 🥂!
Taking a look into the crystal ball
Putting out my #virtualcampfire2021 a little late with this look into my crystal ball. Thank you to @chameleon_coaching and @southboundstories for hosting this insightful little campfire.
So – What’s next? What’s coming in 2022?
This is tough. Who knows what 2022 will hold and what we can plan for?
This much is sure: I’ll be focusing on supporting & mentoring international moms – as mothers and as individuals. These things are planned so far:
I’ll be offering a #wordoftheyear workshop in January. These were a great way to kick off 2021 and having a word to guide me proved really helpful all year. Let me know if you’d like to join me on 6. January!
At the end of January I’ll also be kicking off my new series of talks for international parents. Stay tuned for dates or contact me to get in the waitlist.
I will also be running Expat Family Flight School for #expatkids and their parent again so get in touch if your family wants to join!
The next – hopefully in person – #metimeformoms event is planned for March. Follow @me.time.for.moms to get all the info if you’re in the #StuttgartGermany area. Or check it out at expatwomentogether.com .
I guess Q1 is going to be busier than I thought 🤓
I’m curious what my word of the year will be. Do you have one yet? Have you had one before? How did it influence your year?