I’m still playing catch up in sharing great things I’ve been reading lately, so this is mix of new posts and posts I read in the past month or so. There’s so much good stuff being written every week! This includes a lot of topics that are especially helpful at this time of year, where so many expats are dealing with transition – whether they are leaving, or friends are leaving. Which brings me to the first post I’m recommending today…
We’re moving…again! Our big news about a big adventure
And then we moved to
While this is a post about one family announcing an upcoming move, it’s also so much more. In her typically wonderful style, Mariam invites us into the difficulties of making the decision to move – the ideas, the suggestions, the possibilities, the living in limbo, the offers, and how to make the decision. Her “Three Phases of ‘We Are Moving'” are brilliant. There is so much here to help any family who is in the process, or knows it will be coming their way in the future.
To My Adult TCK self: I See You
A Life Overseas
This is a hauntingly beautiful piece, reflecting on some of the hidden layers of an adult TCK – the ways an international childhood overlays an adulthood in which those experiences may be invisible. So much of this echoes words, phrases, and feelings I heard in many interviews with ATCKs for Misunderstood. A highly recommended read.
The Magic Quilt of Expat Life
Wine and Cheese (Doodles)
Lovely post reflecting on the sadness of saying goodbye (repeatedly) in an expat context, and one woman’s change of mind – that crying during these sad times is good. She beautifully captures how those endless goodbye parties can feel, but also that there is such beauty in the recognition of relationships that have become deep.
“These ritual goodbyes and all the emotions they evoke is a kind of exquisite torture. It’s incredibly poignant to hear stories and reminiscences, to look at years worth of pictures, to see the evolution of expat friendships play out in celluloid. It’s like watching a time-lapse of a child growing up. . .So many times those stories start off with feelings of loneliness and isolation, feeling stranded and out-of-place, nervous, unsure footing on choppy seas that are taking you far away from everything you know. And then the magic: one day, one coffee, one conversation, one friend. The tide begins to turn. The seas calm.”
HALT – Four Simple Questions for Expat Stress
I Am A Triangle
This one hit home for me! Frequently in the past few months of transition and upheaval and never being quite settled in anything I have hit huge emotional speed bumps. The temptation to question every decision and hate everything comes on strong in those overwhelmed moments! I’m definitely planning to keep Jodi’s HALT acronym in mind for next time. It will be good to have a few tools in my toolbox beside telling myself “it’s transition, and tiredness, you’ll feel better tomorrow””.
So, You Want to go Back ‘Home’?
Communicating Across Boundaries
Marilyn penned a beautiful piece about the inherent tension in visiting a place you once lived, and place that is an important part of your story. Trying to pick a single quote was impossible, so instead of trying to explain how valuable this post is, here is just a handful of many powerful words from it:
“The words ‘Visit’ and ‘Live’ are worlds apart. . .While in a sense we are going ‘home’, in another sense we are just visiting. We have changed, as have the places that we love so dearly. My daughter once wrote that we belong to these lands where we lived, but they do not belong to us. . .Going back is a critical part of your story. Embrace it, don’t waste it, Because this I know, and I know it well: More difficult than a visit would have been no visit at all, far harder than facing my current reality would have been dreaming of the past in a country far removed and never getting to experience my beloved places again.”
Expat Life: Where is Home When You Live Abroad?
I really like this little reflection on ways overseas experiences change us, and change the way we experience the world. There are lots of good little lines I considered sharing, but this is the bit that stuck out most as something I think many of us (myself included) can relate to:
“I find that being an expat can almost be like being two people at the same time. Each life feels comfortable and familiar when you’re in it, but there’s always a little something missing too. It’s an otherworldly feeling to think that your two lives can never ever merge into one, no matter how much you wish they could. . .Each home I’ve had abroad has changed me in some way.”
Self-Compassion and Helping your Child Thrive During a Relocation
Expat Kids Club
I appreciated this little post from Kate about self-compassion for TCKs. “Helping expat kids build self compassion not only has positive effects on those around them, but also helps to build their own ability to be kind and resilient in the face of life’s challenges.” I especially appreciate her recognition that in this, as in so many things, it’s vital for adults to model the emotional tools we want our kids to pick up.
How to Drive an Expat Crazy: 10 Ways to Irritate Someone Who Has Lived Abroad
The Culture Blend
And here’s a somewhat lighter (but all-too-real) note on which to finish: another brilliant piece from Jerry Jones. (Honestly, if you aren’t already a regular reader of The Culture Blend, you probably should be.) A tongue-in-cheek look at the well-meaning but ultimately frustrating things many expats experience at the hands of loved ones during a visit ‘home’. Such as number six:
“Ask, “How was that?” That’s it. One simple question. It’s like magic. “Wow, Zimbabwe for 12 years . . . how was that?” Then stand there and watch them try to summarize ALL of the joy and pain before you lose interest. They LITERALLY CANNOT do it. Classic.”
But the real beauty of this piece is the alternative advice offered – “Ask smaller questions that leave room for nuance. Find out about a typical day in their lives, their struggles with language or what community was like.”
Well that’s it for this edition of Recommended Reading – more coming next week!