Well here we are, 365 days later. We have arrived at my last post for the year. It is a little terrifying because I feel that I have to be profound and descriptive and draw all previous posts together for a grand finale. Or not as the case may be…..
Avoid being a Miss Haversham - the expat recluse is a lonely creature...
In actual fact I have drawn my inspiration for today’s post from the author of the book from whose title I borrowed to name this blog. I have consulted with Mr Charles Dickens – himself not an expat although he moved from country to city at one stage in his life. I looked at his characters, and wondered how their personalities would survive the expat experience… I looked at some of the well known quotes from this book and considered how they relate to rising above a life interrupted and some of my favorite tips this year…
I never had one hour’s happiness in her society, and yet my mind all round the four-and-twenty hours was harping on the happiness of having her with me unto death.
Be surprised by the diverse Star Wars Bar friends you tend to meet and keep – even though they may not be as you would have chosen at home-home their strange behavior will make you feel normal again.
So now, as an infallible way of making little ease great ease, I began to contract a quantity of debt.
Try not to use money as a cure-all, as a comforter or as a distraction when there seems little else to do. It doesn’t work and time would be better spent with above-mentioned Star Wars friends.
…feeling it very sorrowful and strange that this first night of my bright fortunes should be the loneliest I had ever known.
If your partner is more like GE's Joe, your expat spouse gripes just may fall on deaf ears...
Very often, the night is darkest before the dawn. Sometimes it might feel like nothing will ever seem normal again. I promise you, it will be.
. . .suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.
Everything you learn, overcome and integrate into your inner self as a pioneering expat will serve you and your family well – if it doesn’t kill you first.
We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us.
Someone, somewhere will always try to rip you off if you are a foreigner. There are worse things that can happen. And of course, there are somewhat better things.
We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did.
If this is, has been for many years and continues to be your expat experience, you may suck at this. Perhaps it is time to call it quits.
Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts
Cry when you need to cry, laugh when you need to laugh and keep moving forward. Avoid doing this in front of small children, wild animals and those who have the capability of locking you up. For a long time.
But that, in shutting out the light of day, she had shut out infinitely more; that, in seclusion, she had secluded herself from a thousand natural healing influences; that, her mind, brooding solitary, had grown diseased, as all minds do and must and will that reverse the appointed order of their Maker.
Do not aspire to be Miss Haversham – you do have an amazing opportunity to live, love and grow differently. Be careful not to fall, and stay, in big holes.
My guiding star always is, Get hold of portable property.
An expat Estella would remove herself from the experience, never engage the locals and never feel at home anywhere...
Create an identity that you can take with you anywhere – one you can mold and re-evaluate and one that is open to whatever. And change your hairstyle in every country you go to.
All other swindlers on Earth are nothing to the self swindlers.
Don’t fool yourself that it’s always going to be easy or always going to be hard. Just learn how to see it as always amazing.
That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.
The day you took your first step towards this life in a new world was the beginning of everything. If you didn’t have the guts and the ability to do it, you wouldn’t have. You are challenged, but you are lucky. Very lucky. Someone in an HR apartment somewhere wrote the beginning for you, it is up to you to write the ending.
GE's PiPip resembles most expats I know ... a powerful conscience, expects more of himself than others and is always working the self-improvement....
Rising above a life interrupted requires a sense of purpose in everything you do, deep connection with others and a structure in your day and life that includes both connection and purpose. Those of you who have followed my journey, know my love of singing has been a constant during my expat life. It has and does give me all these things. I recently started singing lesson with a new teacher who said I am singing at 20% of my capacity. And that I have sung the ‘wrong’ way for 50 years. The old me would have been devastated but the new me is excited – I get to find my voice, my new voice all over again. Just like every time I move.
I wish you well in finding, tuning up, reinventing and reinvigorating your voice wherever you are in the world – keep in touch, I have loved your company.
And to all a good night…..
Tip 365: My final gift to you – long before you write your New Year’s resolutions, write your past year’s successes. Every single glorious one of them.
Check out Rebel Women Cafe for a great template to help you with 2011 New Year’s Evolutions.
Grateful and enormous thanks to those of you who have been beside me on my journey this year… Naomi, Maria, Grazia, Richard, Jennifer, Marie, Catherine, Rachel, Haether, Laurel, Vanessa, Earl, Marina, Anastasia, Gwen, Judith, Andrea, Evelyn, Kirsty, Judy, Sarah, Las, Alejandra, Mirko, Benito, Dimitrina, Deirdre, Nicola, Arwa, Comtese, Theresa, Julia, Louise, Nicola, Aida, deirdre, Don, Crystal, Piter, Karen, Cindie, Zaria, Alaine, Zander, Christina, everyone I have missed who read or commented, and mostly Tim.