Tag Archives: Environmental

Societal cultural differences – where does the influence come from?

I took a trip to Canada during this summer vacation and even though I only spent a total of six days and only visited two cities (Montreal and Quebec city), I was struck just by how different two neighboring countries can be from each other.  A couple of examples:

  • In Canada whenever we bought anything we were asked if we want a bag.  In the US, no one asks you – they simply pile your purchases into as many bags as they can and sometimes you need to point out to them that you don’t need that many bags.
  • In Canada, when buying coffee in a café you are asked “for here” or “to go” and if it is “for here” you are served in a ceramic cup. In the US, it’s always a disposable sippy cup and if you want ceramic, you have to ask them yourself.
  • We drove through quite a few rural areas in the province of Quebec and hardly saw any churches.  The minute we crossed into the US, there were as many churches as there were fast food restaurants.

Now, I am not passing any judgments here, but it makes for a curious inquiry – how can two countries that are geographically and historically (we are not talking about Russia and Finland that are neighbors but have had a very different historical course in the past couple of centuries) so close be so different?  What are the major influences that create these differences in societal cultures?

Your thoughts?

Expat lifestyle or how to de-clutter in a most effective way

At a recent coaching summit one of the keynote speakers – Lynne Twist (whose book, The Soul of Money, I recommend highly) spoke about one of the most destructive and yet most spread myths of the modern world: more is better.  We are encouraged to consume more to “help” the economy, we are constantly sold things we don’t need through very clever advertising campaigns, and we are doped into believing that the more we have of anything the happier we will be.  Meanwhile, the constant race for more creates stress, frustration, and feelings of never being able to catch up – while depleting precious natural resources.

In the course of her talk, Lynne Twist mentioned that the storage industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States and the fact that we are building houses for our stuff makes absolutely no sense when there are so many homeless people.  This got me thinking that as expatriates, we are actually lucky because we get to go through our stuff every few years when we move and we get to de-clutter on a regular basis.

Of course one of the hardest things about organizing a move (apart from saying good-byes…) is deciding what to take and what to discard.  Those decisions not only take time, but also force us to say yes to some memories and no to others.

So how do you decide which memento of the past still deserves a place in your life and which doesn’t?  How do you decide which one of your possessions to donate?  And what is the ultimate test that helps you determine what will stay?

I have a system.  It may or may not work for you, but I found that it works wonders for me.  When I begin the moving process I ask myself the following questions about those things that I consider keeping:

•    What is the energy behind this thing?  What feeling do I get from it?
•    What does it represent to me now?
•    How important is it to me now?
•    How important is it to my future path?

Many objects that we hold on to may represent who we were long ago and not who we are now. Some may come from times that have been difficult and resonate with memories of sadness; others may have been symbolic to us in the past, but no longer carry the same meaning. Why hold on to them then? Why drain yourself and your house of energy with clutter that is not useful for who you are becoming?

When people, who have not experienced expatriate lifestyles, say to me how difficult it must be to move every few years, I usually respond that it’s a blessing and an opportunity.  It allows me to part with the old and invite the new into my life.  And I find that very inspirational.

The things that don’t make it on the moving list find their next owner in 99% of the cases.  Internet has allowed us to connect with people who may want and need the stuff you have – so before you add to the ever-growing trash pile out there, consider tapping into those resources!

Speaking of resources… Global Coach Center has recently started a resource of its own — an International Directory of Expat Coacheslisted by country. We started it because we get a lot of requests from people looking for a coach in a country where they are living.  So if you are in need of a coach, please visit it.  And if you are an expat coach, list yourself!

People who read this post also enjoyed:

How green is your move?

Expat Coach — where art thou?

Third Culture Kids — what’s in the programming?

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

How green is your move?

I packed out this week and once again, just as it happened during several other pack outs, I watched the movers use a lot of paper, carton, plastic, bubble wrap and tape. Now, of course, I want all for my things to make their way safely and in one piece across the ocean. But sometimes the amount of packing materials that’s being used for any one move is just staggering.

I give you an example. Everything — really everything — gets wrapped in paper. Be it glass, ceramics, plastic, tapper ware, silverware… anything. And most often it gets wrapped in several sheets of paper. I completely understand this necessity when you are sending glass or other easily breakable things, but plastic? Or metal? Really – how necessary is it to wrap it in several sheets of paper?

We’ve all witnessed the amazing proliferation of packing materials on a store shelf. Sometimes things are packed so well that it takes a muscle and well-sharpened knife to open them (toys are especially known for their hard-plastic packaging). Why do we need so much packing? Do we really think a doll won’t survive its voyage from China to the US without being wrapped up so well that an adult, let alone a child, cannot open it?

I protest the packing craze in the stores by not buying the products with excessive packaging, but what do you do when your own things are being packed? Well, ever since our first move I go around my rooms and specifically request each mover to use less paper or, if possible, not use it at all. And while I know that moving half-way across the globe is definitely not green, I at least feel better that I saved some of the resources they were going to use.

What about you? What would you do to make your move greener?

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!