Why we all should live the life of a traveler, even in our home country
You notice it in our home immediately, the different styles fit well together. Our Swahili furniture stands perfectly alongside the Vietnamese red lacquer cabinet, a painting by Damiano Msagula hangs perfectly alongside the artwork of Do Tuan Anh, etc.
Also, each object comes with a fabulous story (at least that is what we think), that is somewhat different than the Ikea furniture in many homes in Flanders. Not only our house breathes that rich multi-culture, you can notice it in everything we do or say. By combining different cultures as it were, we have created a third culture or a shared culture and this is our new normal.
Our twin boys are real TCK, Third Culture Kids. After the conception they spent the first months in their mothers’ womb in Zanzibar. Seven months after they were born we exchanged Belgium for Kenya. Four years later we moved to Vietnam and after that we lived for 3 years in Zambia.
Since July 2012 our TCK are back in Flanders. They are getting to know their own culture, oops, I mean, they are getting to know a new culture. They are adjusting to the Flemish culture like fish to water. We, the parents, need a bit more time to adjust to the culture, previously know as our own. In fact, expats and repats tell us that it takes the time you spent abroad, to adjust to your own country again. In a decade we will let you know if this is true.
On return from such a rich experience, people often fall into a 'dark hole'; it’s like you loose your mirrors and no one yet understands you from your own culture. Think about the sperm whale that stranded in Koksijde in 1989 and was buried in the clay. When they wanted to dig up the animal 24 years later, they found the animal remained intact, the clay completely conserved it.
Friends and family might think that we have not changed after all these years living and working abroad, they act as if we are exactly the same people as when we left. They continued living the life in Flanders, they built up a valuable network they can turn to for a quick chat or some support.
We are having difficulties getting access to such a network, we feel we cannot (yet) get deep into the social fabric in Flanders. We find it difficult to understand what some people are talking about, for example when they make references to world famous Flemish TV programs we have never seen, or world famous Flemish people we have never heard of.
We also find it difficult to understand the irritations or the stress some people have here, for example when the bus or the train is late again. It was freezing cold and snowing, so you should be happy there is a train in the first place! Living and working in third world countries made that we have a different outlook at little things like that. There you plan your day ahead but you know that a lot of your plans will not materialise. Hakuna Matata, you can always try again the following day.
Moving from one place to another has allowed us to taste different cultures and more than that, being a global nomad allowed us to grow personally. Negotiating with yourself and society at large on what parts and aspects of culture you integrate or not is a process that can be a key factor for personal growth.
In a newspaper article about whales I read that they have lost the ability to taste sour, sweet, bitter, savory and kept only the taste for salt. Scientist can only guess why whales have evolved this way. Maybe if you stick too long to one habitat you loose the full taste of things? "The great gift that the members of the human race have for each other is not exotic experiences but an opportunity to achieve awareness of the structure of their own system, which can be accomplished only by interacting with others who do not share that system"(1).
Written by Bart Cornille & Sarah Neirinckx
(1) Hall T.E., 1989, p. 44
My twin boys just turned 14 years. We are in the midst of puberty oeps I mean they are. A confusing period for them and also for the parents. It is a threshold for them, they are on their way of becoming man. It is a transition phase for all of us. My kids have travelled the world with us.
They have lived, since they were born, in 4 countries, that means 3 to 4 years in one country and then moving to the next. We are now 3 years back in Belgium, for them a new country to explore. For us, the parents, a country filled with our own childhood memories.
As a family we were very used to a mobile life style and we were getting pretty good at it. This 3 to 4 year rhythm of change is still somehow in me. I feel the urge again for a big move, however we are staying. Now we have a new challenge and that is learning how to stay!
Learning how to stay
From reaction to action
How come so many adults stopped dreaming?
Is there an expiring date on dreams?
And how come that most people who stopped dreaming, seem not really awake?
Or do you perceive someone who is trying to live the life according to his dreams as unrealistic?
And is being realistic then a good or a bad thing and what about dreaming then: is that good or bad?
My whole life I have been trying to shape reality to fit my dream. And dreams always come a size to big so you can grow into them.
For me dreaming and making your dream part of your reality is what life is all about. I see life as one big safari (Swahili for journey). I have been looking out for the big 5 to help me fulfill my dreams.
And by the way, it really doesn’t mean that just because I am wondering that I am lost.
New year has always puzzled me. What is new year? When does it start and when does it end? Is it just that moment when we reflect on what we achieved so we can reevaluate and start again trying to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves?
Can we just step from the old into the new overnight? Or is new year just the summon of our attempts to grow through life’s’ transition stages?
Celebrating new year is a joyful moment where we make time to reflect on what we have been doing and make plans for the coming year. We start the next round, the next phase, we get ready for the new challenges or we once again tackle old challenges. The rest of the coming year we will have our goals to work through.
In my head it looks something like this:
On paper it all seems so easy and logical while in reality it can be quite messy. In reality it looks more like this:
It is not so much your starting point nor reaching the end goal that matters most, it is that bit in between! That is exactly where the magic happens.
Making the most out of the ‘in between’ will make you grow, increase your consciousness, build up your resilience, expand powerfully and transform across all levels.
How you deal with that space in between and how you use this adventure to nurture you, will make the difference.
It can learn you how to absorb life’s ups and downs, heal yourself, integrate everything that happens on a deeper, more profound level.
In the end overcoming the difficulties on your path will give you gifts you can treasure for the rest of your life. These gifts are called experiences!
Making a clear roadplan to achieve your goals will increase the likelyhood of obtaining your goals.
Beeing clear and realistic about what your goals are, will keep your focus. One powerful tool to do just that is the outcome model.
Contact me to find out more or join me on the outcome model workshop.
See you soon,
Especially now when winter is coming up, I would like to share some thoughts and tips on happiness. Everybody is looking for happiness as if happiness is hidden somewhere and we need to go on a treasure hunt to find it.
If you observe a truly happy person you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness like it was a collar button that has rolled under a radiator (W. Beran Wolfe). Be very honest with yourself and ask yourself when were you most happy?
I am convinced that you can learn everything, and that includes being happy. I lived as an expat in many different settings and I met so many wonderful people, rich, poor, happy, unhappy. I came to realize that wealth and status have nothing to do with happiness. Happiness is an attitude, a habit, which you can cultivate. Because of positive psychology we now know that the skills of happiness can be learned. The two important pillars for cultivating happiness is how you deal with setbacks and how you cultivate positive and loving relationships.
How to deal with setbacks
From a live chat with the author and philosopher Alain de Botton I learned:
"A lot of happiness is created by things outside our control. This is very worrying in a way - but should lead us to humility and an acknowledgement of how much we rely on fate. This should teach us compassion for ourselves and others at moments when the context lets us down".
When something goes wrong often we tend to internalize the problem. When you experience a setback rather then seeing it as "all your fault", look at what part was out of your control, know that it is temporally and do not internalize it.
* make it specific
* know that is temporary
* make it impersonal
* and most of all take steps to improve your situation
A second pillar of happiness is cultivating loving relationships. And as usual it always starts with you! First of all love yourself, be as a best friend for yourself. It is the relationship you have with yourself that will reflect in the outer world. Love yourself first.
Get out of the realm of wanting to be right. If you want to be happy let go of the notion of being right. Relationships are hard wired. Letting go of wanting to be right is a first step in a better connection with the people around you. Being open to the otherness and taking the interaction with the other person as a chance for you to get to know yourself better and the other, is very valuable for your happiness.
If you think you are enlightened try spending a week with your family on Christmas and you will know what I talk about. You love them dearly but they do push your buttons. Be aware that every irritation can tell you something about yourself and can help you to grow and to become better in building relationships. A beautiful way of doing this is through the core quadrants of Daniel Offman.
Just remember that life has its own way. Dance with it.
Enjoy the festivities.
My name is Sarah Neirinckx and I lived abroad with my family (my husband and my twin boys) for 1/3 of my life.
I created Bloom because I have taken my own ambition - being a constructive factor in the society- to a different level. I have worked and lived for 15 years in different development countries.
I have a keen interest in development and personal growth. The main difference with other coaching practices is that I work with a development-oriented framework, where personal development is at the core.
I have an integrative approach to coaching; I work with different international coaching models. I support people on their journey connecting the inner purpose to the outer goals so they can bloom. I believe that every human being is wired to make a positive contribution to society. I have a strong belief that personal development is the key to make that contribution. We all feel happy when our qualities are being put to use in the wider society.
Bloom organizes workshops and personal coaching sessions to stimulate and enhance personal growth.
Because it all starts with you and the relationship you have with yourself. Learn how to F.L.Y so you can bloom and the world around you can bloom as well.
The aim is to reconnect with yourself so you can truly be there for yourself in connection with the other.
To truly know yourself you need to learn about yourself first by looking at your own behavior through neutral eyes and with compassion.
You will learn to really be there for yourself and learn to deal with your less pleasant side so you can become the best version of yourself.
Every human being has its own unique set of qualities. To be able to bloom you need to know your qualities, pitfalls, challenges, allergies so you can overcome your limits and start to grow. Acknowledging that we are limited set us free and opens the gates to grow.
In our programs you learn:
- how to reconnect with yourself
- how to work with yourself
- how to work with your own emotions so you can truly be your unique self.
Once you've established a real connection with yourself it will be easier to stay true to yourself in connection with the other.
In our programs you learn:
- how to build genuine and warm relationships
- how to express yourself in such away that the other truly hears you
- how to listen to the other and the otherness
We all have contrasting and conflicting parts. Dealing with these parts means taking leadership or inner leadership, to be there for yourself in a powerful and clear and honest way.
If you want great, be great; if you want change, be the change; if you want to belong, be the longing.
How liberating to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then?
The one who sees that. – Eckhart Tolle
I have always loved the sea and I am still hoping one day I will live near the sea and walk along the seaside watching the ebb and flow of the tides.
What I like so much about the sea is that its natural way is change. Every day the sea and the beach are different. It is like the sea clears of the beach when it is ebb washing away shells and other treasures left there at the shore and adding new treasures in its flow. To me it stands for the natural rhythm of change.
The sea is a bit like our mind, the waves being an ever-shifting bundle of thoughts, feelings and memories. Be aware of the shifts in your thoughts and be open for new thoughts to replace the old.
If we see the self as the essence of who we are, we also need to take into account that we believe certain thing about our self. What we need to realize is that these thoughts, feelings and memories can hold us back or stimulate our personal growth.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. -- Lao Tzu
We believe certain things about ourselves. The art of change is not to get stuck in these thoughts but let them come and go and just be aware of what we feel, sense, hear and understand at the moment, let it run through you like a river flowing to the sea. Some of the assumptions can be liberating and some can be keeping us from growing and changing. For change and personal growth to take place it is important to let go of some of the beliefs we have about ourselves and add new beliefs so we can grow and change. This rhythm of change is so vital to us humans and is key to personal growth.
If you keep believing that “you are the way you are” change and growth cannot take place. The same if we hold on to the belief we have about others we do not allow them the growth and change. Like in nature change is an essential part of growth. Do not deny other persons’ path to growth, let go of your fixed set of thoughts about them and keep an open mind or growth mindset, so they also have the opportunity to change and grow.
The funny thing about change is that we suffer and resist it when change happens where we don’t really want change or doesn’t happen where we really want it to occur.
It is like the contest between the river and the rock, the river always wins.
Be like a river and follow your natural call and destiny, which is to merge with the ocean.
Do not be like the rock in the river, stuck in one place, resisting the natural flow of the river. Every morning when you get up you can decide to be the river or to be the rock? Which one shall it be?
“Choosing not to act on an angry impulse and to feel the pain that lies beneath is a very powerful thing” - Gary Zakov
Anger is one of these emotions, women still learn to silence, to deny it entirely or to vent it in a way that leaves us feeling helpless and powerless.
Space is important for us and it tells us a lot about what is important to us. The space we occupy, the space we need, the space we envy, the space we feel good in…
‘Give me some space to think about that’ or ‘I need a breathing space before I can take that on’.
When living in a city, having space becomes a luxury. As we all know the outer environment has an influence on our mood and way of thinking.
What do you like most: full spaces or empty spaces?
Space & emptiness
Grief is in two parts. The first is loss.
The second is the remaking of life.
- Anne Roiphe
I have always loved graveyards as they have a peaceful atmosphere. This week I dropped off my son at the diving school, just around the corner is the graveyard where my grandparents were buried.
It was a sunny day and I was so surprised that the grave of my grandparents felt so familiar, although since I am back in Belgium, I did not have the chance to go visit. While I cleaned the grave, watered the flowers, I sat there for some time feeling really lonely and content at the same time.
While sitting there, looking at their grave, I felt grief for the loss of two beautiful souls and at the same time I felt so grateful for the time we had together. And I felt the pain and grief over so many things I lost or left behind. I realized that we are just here temporally and I felt a deep sense of gratefulness for all those lovely moments in my life.
The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgments – krishnamunti
Life can be so demanding that we can easily get alienated from ourselves. We forget what is important to us while we are busy making a living. It is good to stand still and ask our self the question: is this the life I truly want to live? Finding the way back to yourself is not easy yet it is rewarding. Reminding yourself there is nothing wrong with living a life that is not molded to pre-formulated norms and beliefs. We all have a hidden self which is the reality of who we truly are. In the course of normal personality development we all lose sight of this true self.
Personal development includes activities that improves self-awareness. An important skill for self-awareness and self-knowledge is the ability to observe one’s own behavior and habits. Rather than looking at yourselves what you want to change, fix or mold to what is expected from you, you need to discover yourself and accept yourself in order for personal growth to take place.
When we are our own inner observer we can become a more objective witness of our experience and it can help us recognize and manage your defensive reactions and blind spots.
Nietzsche, the German philosopher, tells us, "One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self: of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be mined."
Self-knowledge is valuable but hard to get. It is often neglected or avoided and maybe one of the last things we seek. If we want to find self-knowledge then it is actually hard work much like the mining for a treasure. The Enneagram is a tool to help you observe yourself and map your core belief system.
The Enneagram is a powerful and dynamic system that describes nine distinct and unique patterns of thinking, feeling and acting, called Types. Like a colored lens through which we view the world, these patterns stem from where and how we focus our attention. The Enneagram can help you to map out your core beliefs.
Our core beliefs determine where we focus our attention and energy; which drives our behavior. If we want lasting change in ourselves, we must be aware of our core beliefs and change where our attention and energy are directed. None of this can be accomplished without the ability to observe our own patterns.
The 'quadrant' is an other system to map your qualities, pitfals and challenges. The Ofman quadrant can help you identify your core qualities, pitfalls, challenges and allergies. You can use this model to find out what behaviors you should avoid (pitfalls) and what types of things you should make effort to do even though they don’t come naturally to you (challenges). It also helps you understand why certain behaviors or characteristics in other people trigger a negative reaction in you (allergies)
What I learned from living abroad and living amongst other cultures is to look at the other not so much with an open mind but rather with an empty mind. An open mind still may be influenced by that outside world and look at the other while comparing it to the self. While an empty mind is open to new and other ideas. We need to be careful that when marching into the world of the other, that we do not only look for those arguments that will help to hold our own position in life and proofs us right, like we are just collecting evidence to bolster our truth.
But if we really want to embrace the other, may it be the masculine, the feminine inside each of us, or your next-door neighbour, another culture, another country it is important that we do this with an empty mind so we truly give the other space to co-exist, so a real encounter can take place rather than a comparison between the two, either this or either that.
The willingness to meet the other with an empty mind can create a new beginning.
When two people meet, it is like two different worlds meet, even if people are from the same country still this person has its' own landscape with its' own capital, its' own mountains and valleys, seas and rivers.
By interacting with the other with an empty mind you are opening possibilities and new perspectives, by seeing the difference and sameness of the other rather than looking for proof for your position. By doing so, you embrace also the other in each one of us, that part of you we do not like to show, that part of us we like to hide, or when we see it in our offspring we say this behavior I truly do not recognize in myself. But is that so? Being open to the other is an important step to be open to that part in yourself that has been neglected or hidden away. Hiding parts from ourself is never good, we can never become whole.
I do believe that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world and vice versa. In our inner and outer journey make sure you also dare to look at these places we rather project on the others. Just remember that light and shadow co-exist, the one can not exist without the other, they are one.
text: Sarah Neirinckx
image: Tomasz Alen Kopera
inspiration: Phd. Brian Riedel
your inner purpose
to outer goals
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