Monthly Archives: June 2012

Home is not forever

It used to be easier.  The moving crew would come, box up everything we owned, and a few days later we would be gone.  Gone on our way to a new adventure, a new place to explore, a new home to build.  Sure we’d be sad but the excitement of things to come would overshadow the sadness in the same way a new infatuation makes people forget their past heartaches.

This time, however, I am finding it very difficult to let go.  Second day of the pack out and I am still fighting the urge to cry.  This isn’t like me especially considering that our next destination is on my top-ten-places-to-live-in list.

After careful examination of all the reasons that can be making me sad, I finally figure it out. I realize that I am in love.  In complete, total, and, alas, unrequited love with … my view.

And my apartment.

And my building.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve lived in some amazing places over the years.  I’ve lived in historical downtowns of some great cities, I’ve lived among fascinating civilizations, I’ve lived in centers of great culture, and I even once lived across from the zoo where we would wake up to the sound of monkeys playing catch. Yet this was the first time I can say that I lived in a dream.

  • I woke up every day to the sight and sound of the ocean from every window of my apartment.
  •  I never had to wear anything more than a light cotton sweater.
  • My skin, which isn’t prone to tan, became and remained the color of golden bronze.
  • My office faced the water.
  • My terrace was perfect for coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, and dinner in the evening – not to mention reading and writing during any time of day.
  • Looking out through our windows always made me feel complete, no matter the weather.

And so as I leave our now empty apartment and as I say good-bye to every room and every angle of my view, I feel extremely grateful and inexplicably sad at the same time.  Grateful because I was fortunate to live with this beauty and sad because this dream home wasn’t forever.

But I also know dreams are never forever. Dreams come, go, and evolve. They grow and change – and we grow and change with them. My years in this dream home were not only full of breathtaking views but they were also filled with an intention to see, smell, feel, and taste the life around me every waking moment of my day. This intention was only a shadow when we moved in and, thanks to my home, it became the way of life.

So I guess in some ways a home can be forever.

Making friends abroad… the non-intuitive way

How do we choose our friends? What do we take into account when we begin the process of making friendships in foreign countries?

We look for common interests, right? We search out people who have something in common with us, people who share similar passions, and people who make us feel like we have at least some degree of familiarity in a completely foreign to us place.

But what about the others?  What about those people who are very different from us and who at first glance do not look like friendship material?

Interestingly enough our ability to overcome our friendship “bias” – the bias that makes us search for that thing we want everyone to have – is the ability that allows us to overcomes loneliness and lack of connection.  Because when the bias is gone, we begin to open up to possibilities of having many different kinds of friends in our lives.

How do you know if you have a bias?  Think about what has attracted you to the friends you’ve had and write the qualities you discover on index cards.  Imagine that those index cards were pinned on people who are mingling around in a large room.  Those are the people you’d probably approach right away.

Now think of possible human qualities that you have not written on those index cards and imagine there are people in that room that have those cards pinned to them. How likely are you to approach them? How much chance would you give to the possibility of those friendships?

Then try it in real life.  Next time you end up in a room with people who don’t seem to have anything in common with you, consider the qualities they carry – and decide if you want to extend your friendship range by giving them a chance.

Thoughts?  Ideas? Experiences?  Share them!

Remember — enrollment is open during the summer for September 1 start of the Expat Women Academy. a one of a kind program that provides expat women with strategies to overcome expatriate challenges.