"The best thing about memories is making them"
Rather than making new year’s resolutions this year, we tried something different. We, as a family have made a first start to filling our jar of memories.
Since we like to make an effort to adjust again to our new life style in Belgium, I decided to start to collect nice memories of our ‘new’ home country experience. Because I noticed that after the first excitement of returning “home” was over, I started to refer to the nice memories of our life abroad.
Every day we are collecting new memories for a later day . So while enjoying the ‘present’ moment I also am aware that I am collecting memories for later because precious memories are like an open fire that warms you during the cold winter.
I try to be much more aware of the beautiful and precious present moment while being aware that this moments will be treasured later in life. The jar of memories will help me to remind me that life is what you make of it and we are living in the present while collecting memories to enjoy in the future.
On new year’s eve we all wrote down the nicest, most treasured moments of 2013. These papers were folded and put in our memory jar. At the end of 2014 we will read what we have written and add new memories of 2014.
I will start 2014 as a memory collector!
All the best for 2014!
What should I do about the wild and the tame?
The wild heart that wants to be free,
and the tame heart that wants to come home.
I want to be held.
I don't want you to come too close.
I want you to scoop me up and bring me home at night.
I don't want to tell you where I am.
I want to keep a place among the rocks where no one can find me.
I want to be with you.
-Jeanette Winterson -
Painting by Beatriz Martin Vidal (www.beavidal.com)
Most of my friends, colleagues and clients who have had expats experiences when asked to describe the feelings that pops up when thinking back on how it was “the expat life”, say: “it has double feelings”. And that is exactly so, a lot of mixed feelings are involved when living abroad and also upon returning home.
I often refer to that part of me that longed for home when I lived abroad as “the tame” and that part of me that longed to go abroad and to be free as “the wild”.
Having mixed feelings on how you are living your life can cause internal conflicts. It is good to take time to look at internal conflicts, untangle these conflicting parts, name them and ask about their intentions. Allow both parts to be here and give them the attention, love and nutrition they need so they can co-operate with each other rather than fight each other. Feeding both parts will help to solve internal conflicts and so can help you to live a happier life.
Being able to hold two opposite ideas at the same time in my mind reminds me that I am so much more than these two opposites.
We all have parts in us that need attention and need to be fed. Do not neglect these parts of you that help you to become the person you truly inspire to be. Do not be freighted by paradoxes but find the strength to hold both in your mind and heart so both parts can enrich and feed you to become the whole person you inspire to be.
"Only in the presence of compassion will people allow themselves to see the truth". -A. Hameed Ali
Image: Nicoletta Ceccoli
Back from a beautiful first series of workshops by Brenda Davies.
I feel inclined to write something short on compassion. Thank you Brenda for showing us what compassion is and that compassion is a necessary stepping stone for healing.
What is compassion?
Compassion is different from empathy in the sense that empathy is the ability to understand, recognize and feel the emotional state of another or oneself. It has a lot to do with our mirror neurons. While compassion adds the desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another, to take action towards the reduction of that pain.
Its’ origins comes from the Latin, meaning co-suffering. To me that can only be completely integrated if we are willing to understand the other completely. It also comes downs to the willingness to look at the other with a different perspective. A perspective that whatever the other does, the person does this with a positive intentions for himself or herself. Instead of assuming that the reason someone has done something that hurts you is because they are selfish or unconsiderate, we replace this with the perspective that this persons behaviour serves a purpose for him or herself.
The positive intention behind 'aggressive' behaviour, for example, is often 'protection'.
The positive intention or purpose behind 'fear' is usually 'safety'. The positive purpose behind anger can be to 'maintain boundaries'. 'Hatred' may have the positive purpose of 'motivating' a person to take action. The positive intentions behind something like 'resistance to change' could encompass a range of issues; including the desire to acknowledge, honour or respect the past; the need to protect oneself by staying with the familiar, and the attempt to hold onto the positive things one has had in the past, and so on.
To be able to have compassion you first have to be compassionate with yourself. It is only then that you can have compassion for others. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honour and accept your humanness. Life will not always go the way you want it to go. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life. The more you accept this the more you are able to see opportunities to grow and to become the best version of ourselves and all experiences will become fertile ingredients that can help us to bloom.
For me self-love is an essential ingredient for personal growth.
Loving oneself is caring about oneself, taking responsibility for oneself, respecting oneself, and knowing oneself, this means being realistic and honest about one's strengths and weaknesses.
Ask yourself the question: “what do I need to love myself?”, so you can be loving towards the rest of the world. Set your own realistic standards so you can earn self-respect from yourself. Evaluate your behaviour, do you live up to the (realistic) standards you have set for yourself?
Find out for yourself where you want to improve or change so you can honestly work on overcoming your problems. We are a work in progress. Don’t be afraid to correct your
mistakes and admit imperfection. Life is not perfect, life is beautiful.
Make the choices that feed your self-respect and feed the best version of yourself so this can be reflected in loving relationships with yourself and with others, in everything you do, so you can BLOOM and the people around you can BLOOM.
Come and tune in, join us in the workshop given by Brenda Davies:
- 22/11/2013: ‘Question and Answer’ FREE
- 23/11/2013: 'Creating the Life you would Love to Live' entry : 60 euro
- 24/11/2013: From Then through Now and into your Future' entry: 60 euro
For registration contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to navigate them "
source image: Rob Gonsalves
If happiness was a country what would it look like?
How would you name the capital of happiness? Who would live there?
Would it be an island, would it have a costline or would it be landlocked?
Happiness is not so much a state of being, rather it is a never ending ability to navigate through life, not avoiding change and difficulties but rather embracing change and accepting that difficulties are part of life.
If happiness was a country it would not be a country without problems or difficulties, it would be a country where people use an inner compass called resilience.
Resilience is your ability to get up after a fall. We all encounter fall backs in life and life changing experiences can be overwhelming, how we react and deal with change is an important factor in experiencing happiness.
Different elements can help to stimulate or develop your inner compass of resilience:
1. Self-knowledge is an important factor. Being aware of your reactions when in difficulty and
knowing your preferred coping mechanism are important factors to deal with change.
Asking yourself the right question: Why am I having such difficulty with this?
Knowing what you want and what is important to you will help to determine which actions
2. Accept reality don’t fight it. Resilience is about accepting your new reality as it is. You can
scream and shout about it or you can choose to accept the situation and take action to
make something good of it.
3. Reframe and choose a different perspective. Looking at your difficulty from different
angles, also called reframing, is a cognitive ability that sheds new light on a situation
in order to creatively look for alternatives.
4. Trust the process. Take appropriate action to deal with the problem and trust the process
that things will get better, not by itself but by taking actions in the direction you want to go.
5. Trust in the goodness of the world. Positive attitude towards life, believing in the
goodness of the world, embracing support that is out there, are key elements to deal with
If you want to know more about how to take your life into your own hands, you are welcome to come enjoy the workshop by Brenda Davies on 23/11/2013: 'Creating the Life you would Love to
Live' or on 2 4/11/2013: 'From Then through Now and into your Future'. For more details feel free to contact us: email@example.com
"Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace"
Many of us have seen changes and have gone through transition periods in their lives. These are periods that leave a bitter-sweet taste with us. These are the phases in our lives where we suddenly progress and literary move on. They are hard but gosh, so rewarding. These are the times we feel like giving up a thousand times but find the courage to keep on walking. These are the times we feel alive.
When we move from one continent to another, this transition period is filled with practical issues which can overwhelm us. And apart from that, there are the emotional aspects to moving places. Saying goodbye and saying hello. A new life style, a new place, for the kids a new school, new customs and new perspectives on life. And sometimes old beliefs and values do no longer suit with this new way of life. These can cause inner conflicts and stress. When going through a transition it is good to look at the beliefs you have and also look at those beliefs that are holding us back to live the life we truly want to live.
Look at this period as a great opportunity to take a beautiful journey inside and look at yourself. Maybe it is time to throw away some of the emotional baggage that no longer serves you. To make the most out of a transition you can take time to get to know yourself better and feed that part of you that wants to bloom.
Take a look at the opportunities and picture the life you want to live, a life where you can be the person you truly inspire to be and live a life that nurtures you so you can bloom.
Take a deep breath and dare to take action towards your goals, so you can start to create the life you want to live. Be open to new opportunities.
"Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming, but we can choose which one we surf"
We all have emotions, some positive and some negative. Depending on your personality you are in favour
of some emotions or you try to hide them.
One thing is for sure, we all have them and we can not delete them. But what we can do, is learn to master them, observe them and then decide if we want to connect with that emotion. Sometimes emotions can be so overwhelming that they strike us down, and sometimes we are ignoring and suppressing them as if they do not exist.
Well, emotions are like waves, you can really see them coming and even more you can choose which one you want to surf. Pick wisely and see where it will lead you. You do not have to surf on every emotion, some waves you can just observe and let them pass. Pick the waves that suits your day and outcome of the day or that emotion you would like to explore. And when you have decided the wave you will surf, do it graceful and in full awareness.
You can tell yourself while looking at a big wave; so beautiful this one I will surf on or this one I let pass because it's not how I want to surf today. You are the surfer and you can decide which wave you choose to surf. There are no bad or good waves they come and go with the tide, it is up to you to decide which wave to surf to get you where you want to be.
Enjoy the waves and enjoy the surfing!
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” -Socrates
Letting go of my expat life and embracing my new life, is not an easy one. I realise now that it was more easy to move from one place to the next that resettling in my ‘ home country’. In my latest post I describe that my home country as changed and so did I. Coping with this change and with changes in general, is not straight forward, we all deal with change in our own way. With every transition, be it changing jobs, changing countries, a part is about letting go of the old, known and the
other part is about embracing change, the new.
Before we can embrace change we go through several stages. Understanding our process can help us deal better with change. The Kubler-Ross research team came up with S.A.R.A.H. This model acknowledging that as people meet with change they generally have the following reactions:
Sometimes one change in your life can lead to different changes, also on the personal level. If you like some guidance in the transition you are going through or you want to make the most out of the changes you are dealing with, feel free to contact us.
The nomadic life of expats brings with it a never ending cycle of
expectations and also disappointments. As you move from one place to another you always have expectations about that place.
I always liked this part most of my expat life: a new country with new hopes, new aspirations and expectations. Dreaming about how it will be and having expectations of a place or a person is not a bad thing it makes you fall in love a bit with the place or person but dealing with the disappointment when expectations are not met is a much greater challenge and maybe the real challenge in life. I quite like having expectation about my own life, and I am very much trying to deal with disappointment when these are not met.
I try to have realistic expectations but as life goes they are not always met. I don’t think I will want to give up having expectation on life in general and more particular on the expectation I have set for myself. Why would I? For me there is a link between motivation and having expectations… If I cannot have any expectation towards my life why would I even bother to do anything to live up to these expectations? They define the life I want to live and what I want to achieve. To prevent disappointment or fear , we may deny anything we secretly hope for. We presume if we don’t have any expectations, we can’t be disappointed. The truth is we all have expectations, some too high some too low.
The key question is: how do you deal with disappointment?
Are expectations not just your beliefs projected in the future?
If your expectations are not met you probably needed that reality check. And this is where
the shoe fits. When returning back to your ‘home country’ the people around you and you upon returning expect ‘a sameness’. When returning to our ‘home country’ the people around us expect us to behave, think and share the same ideas. And that is when the stress comes in, we cannot live up to that expectation. We have lived a totally different lifestyle in comparison to most of the people in our ‘home country’.
Our international experience has made us who we are. For all those years abroad expats were
excused to be ‘different’. When I was living our international life nobody was surprised to see differences because I was not from that place. Now back home we expect to feel sameness with the people around us while reality tells us, you have changed and the people in your home country have changed.
source: Matt Wisniewski
your inner purpose
to outer goals
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