Hi everyone! I’m still here, in case anyone’s noticed 🤭
I’m still living life in 2-hour sleep-deprived increments and experiencing post partum hair loss as we speak (eeeek!). But I’m doing quite well under the circumstances.
So what’s new?
Among my goals for this year is to take better pictures and to (finally, finally) use my DSLR as I go along. I’ve always wanted to improve my photography skills and I bought the thing to seal the deal – you know, very much like buying a treadmill or a lifetime gym membership to affirm the veracity of your intentions 🙄
However, after leafing through its manual like it was some distasteful magazine, the DSLR turned into a pricey paperweight, gathering dust as the limelight went back to my ever handy, lightweight & uncomplicated iPhone. (Which reminds me of my treadmill which also became a pricey clothes rack & laundry hamper station, but I digress… 🙄🙄).
2018 will be a year of ‘more doing and less hair twirling’ for me though so the DSLR has been exhumed and together we will be bonding over some photography courses this year. To help get me started, I’ve decided to do WP’s Photography Developing Your Eye 1 course rrrright now.
The 1st assignment is to get oriented with your camera (gulp!) and to take a photo representation of what the word “home” brings to mind for you. Right away I think ~ hmmm, how fitting for someone who is all but home!
However, it didn’t take long for me to decide on a subject: our living room.
Okay, I do know that you’re supposed to take pictures with the light behind you, but that view just wasn’t as nice as these ones so …
I chose our living room because it’s one of my pet projects in my quest to making Batam work. I love this space because it is sunny and airy, and I want to build on this by turning it into something cozy and fun.
I still have a long way to go [because I get distracted] and have only managed to add everything else that’s not the black couch, the 2 black sofas and the square table. (Unfortunately, they come with the house so there’s nothing I can do about them). On a good day I’d put a few of my potted plants here and there but I was too lazy to get them for this shoot so you’ll just have to do with fluffy-huggable Anais and Mr. Piddles instead 🤭
So anyhoot, this space represents the concept of home for me. Familiar, pleasant, comfortable, fun.
A friend from home recently told me she was feeling depressed. She was doing an end-of-year review and was feeling morose about the year that was 😕 Which got me thinking about my own experience of 2017 ~~ hmmm, certainly not bad and definitely with a big bang 😁❤️
The good thing about having a blog is that it makes a year-end review quite easy. Even if you didn’t blog everything, the posts will be enough to jog your memory. So here are my take-aways from 2017 (in no particular order):
And I’m talking about the village of support you create for yourself in the shape of friends, neighbors, your go-to hairstylist, even your favorite book store. Let’s just say this is one thing I didn’t know I missed until it was gone. Unfortunately, I still have to find a way to fix this (if there is one!).
5. Never under-estimate the power of retail therapy on not-so-busy weeknights (or wherever the malls are open till 9 or 10 PM).
Much lesser people makes the whole process unhurried and, actually pleasant.
6. Schedule a real change of scenery from time to time. (As in, anywhere but on this island)
Short reason: so that problems don’t seem larger than they are.
Long reason: otherwise idyllic, the sleepy atmosphere of this place (that permeates everything) can drive me nuts at times 😏
11. Never run out of Re-Mag & Re-Myte supplements.
I didn’t blog about this but this has to have a spot on this list because the difference it makes is just too obvious to ignore. I have more energy, I sleep better, I am in a pleasant mood, I have better cognitive function, I even have more breast milk. When I was pregnant, I would experience those pregnancy-related swollen feet & ankles whenever I did not take these supplements.
12. Everything looks better arranged on a tray.
(I absolutely love this one!) I mean, seriously! Just give it a try! 👍👍
What about you? What are some of the lessons you learned in 2017? Let me know in the comments section, bet I can learn from you too 😃 ❤️
There’s only about 2 weeks left of 2017 and I guess everybody’s gearing up for maximum holiday enjoyment, right? Unfortunately for us, we have to stay in sleepy Batam for Christmas since the baby has no passport yet ☹️☹️ This really is a bummer for me who, unlike the eldest and the hubs who get a break from school and work, could really benefit from a change in pace & scenery.
Oh well, all the better to make up for this in 2018 then.
The urge to mope is very strong but I’ve chosen instead to end the year strong by doubling down on some goals for the remaining 2 weeks:
Break-fast like a champion
This book said that if you find yourself procrastinating on a goal, chances are, that goal is too big and must be broken down into smaller pieces. So wise! 😏
For weeks now I’ve attempted in vain to do something about my diet (or lack thereof). I am saddled with post-natal weight (& cellulite! 😱😱😱) that I am anxious to be rid of. Unfortunately, all my strategies and tricks in the past just won’t work – sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and buying food from the outside (instead of hiring a nanny I chose not to cook instead) undermine my efforts.
But there must be something I can do, right? If only to feel some semblance of control?
My initial goal was to start cooking again so I’d have more control over what we ate. But this is just not something I want to take on at this time with the baby basically running my day. Then I thought of cutting out carbs later in the day and well, anybody who’s breastfeeding probably knows how crazy that is. I think I thought of cutting out junkfood too but I don’t really eat that much of it so the move didn’t feel like enough …
Anyway, I finally had the brilliant idea of focusing on one meal instead, and doing that right. And since mornings provide the most self-control and sets the tone for the day, breakfast was a logical choice.
So the goal now reads: eat a solid breakfast before feeling ravenous every single day.
2. Do Post natal abdominal-muscle-recovery exercises every Monday, Wednesday & Friday
I’m already past the 2-months waiting period for getting back to exercise and I’m rearing to go. Luckily, I came across the idea of post-natal abdominal strengthening/recovery exercises before starting anything (well, this isn’t 100% true! 🤥) or else I’d have set myself up for some self-inflicted damage.
I’m not a big fan of 1) slow exercises and 2) those that you do lying down, so this is a real challenge for me. But I want to get back to my original shape and this is standing in the way so … big girl panties on!
3. Seriously Bond with Eldest
I’ve been nagged by a feeling of having neglected my eldest since the baby’s arrival and still feel that I can do better in this area. A recent incident at her school (we’ll talk about this in a separate post) drove this goal to the top of my priority list.
Fortunately today marks the start of a 3-week school break which gives us plenty of time to bond. The bonding activities might be partially motivated by something juicy (like I said, I’ll tell you later!) but it’s there and I’m taking advantage of it.
So for these 3 weeks, Eldest gets a lot of spotlight.
Aaaaand yes, that’s all for now. Wish me luck! I better do those exercises while baby is still slumbering 😁 Updates in the next upcoming posts! Mmmwah! 💋
I’m baaa-ack! 😁 Or at least, I’d like to think so. My world is still upside-down what with our 1-month old baby – but she’s absolutely the cutest so she has VIP pass to do so 😘😘
Sleep-deprived me (or is it, I? 🤔) however, have been missing blogging, so I thought I could warm-up via this week’s SYW. (By the way, you can participate in the fun 👉 here).
If you were having difficulty on an important test and could safely cheat by looking at someone else’s paper, would you do so?
No. If the test were that important then I’d rather find out through failing that I lack mastery on the topic & do it over again.
What things in nature do you find most beautiful?
Verdant blooms, mysterious forests, bewitching bodies of water, fierce rains, noisy thunderstorms, gay rainbows and the wide open sky.
Complete this sentence: When I travel I love to….
Watch & soak. Most people want to take pictures and I’ve tried that, but found that it takes away from the experience of being in that place and enjoying the moment. So I usually just take a few pictures as souvenirs and then sit in a cafe or someplace public and just watch what’s going on. I love it! 😍
Oh, and buy keepsakes of course! 😉
What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I absolutely appreciate my husband and eldest child for being so supportive of what new moms go through – sleep deprivation and its not-so-pleasant effects.
My eldest, who enjoyed 10 (yes, ten!) amazing years as our only child, has gracefully accepted the fact that there’s a new baby in town. We thought at first she’d act up as she never seemed that excited while I was pregnant, but she’s been very sweet to her little sister instead, and helps out whenever she can.
My husband takes over without prompting upon coming home from work and on weekends, and is always ready to pitch in during night feedings (we supplement) or when the baby is just fussy.
Being in a foreign country, I certainly do not have the luxury of friends and family to call on for help when I need some time off. This does bother me but I get a second wind each time I think of how wonderful my eldest and husband are to me and the baby. I feel very blessed indeed 💖💖💖
Prior to coming back to Indonesia, I was reading a lot of expat blogs focusing on feelings of displacement, homesickness, sadness and other such expat woes. It helped a lot in bringing the size of the problem down to ordinary proportions. Knowing that what I was going through is normal for expats, and reading stories of those who have gone before me and flourished despite the homesickness & displacement put me in my place, so to speak.
I was also surprised to find out that even those who’ve moved from one Western country to another (for example, US to Australia) would still feel depressed! Truly, I couldn’t relate to this because my ‘problems’ seemed bigger in comparison. For instance, the language, the lack of things to do outside the home, the sleepy nature of this whole place, and quirky things such as still having to eat with your hands at the local KFC outlet, finding squat-type toilet bowls in the malls (scary if you’re pregnant and not used to it), wait staff at restaurants forgetting your order or delivering the dessert before everything else (annoying if you order ice cream or lava cake like we do), and people freely jumping queues at an international ferry port without regard to others or authority.
At this time though, I’m over it. It’s old news. My eyes have glazed over. This hot momma is moving on ….
I’ve since come to a peaceful acceptance of all these things as simply part and parcel of my environment. Getting irked over them is choosing to be ignorant. Besides, focusing on things you have no control over is a recipe for misery. Sure, I’m still homesick, I still feel uprooted and have even come to accept that I might never find belonging in this country. That’s okay too. All the more reason to find ways to foster happiness any way possible.
Here’s what I’ve learned from all those blogs I was reading
In order to help cope with expat depression, we need to focus on these 3 things that are within our control –
create the future
create new routines
create happiness within
Did you notice that they all start with “create”? There’s so much power to that word, so much authority. And it doesn’t mince words, the ball is in our court.
Create the future
I read somewhere – again, I should’ve bookmarked it! 😕- that the future is not something you step into, it is something you create. And if all we have, honey, is an internet connection, then we’re ready to play ball.
Is there something you want to learn? Do you want to become something in the future? Chances are, there’s an online course or video tutorials for that and an online community too. If you’re fortunate to be in a country that offers live classes (in a language you speak), then use that as a platform to socialize and make new friends as well. Let’s get busy learnin’ and let’s amaze ourselves a year from now!
I keep a list of things I want to get into. Here’s a short version of it. I also have becoming IELTS certified, becoming a book editor and becoming a daycare owner – and I just keep adding more (I’ll narrow the choices down later). I’ve put all the major ones on hold though because of the (coming) new baby but once conditions become conducive, I’m going to tackle that list with gusto 👍😃
Create New Routines
Something about having routines that involve as much of our new environment as possible helps to anchor us to the new place.
I have to admit though that this is somewhat of a challenge for me because I haven’t found anything worthwhile outside of the home to ‘latch’ onto. But examples would include identifying a new favorite coffee shop you could visit every morning or twice a week for some ‘me time’, a restaurant you go to for dinners with your husband every Friday night, maybe a park to jog in, a church to hear service at, a library or hobby outlet to lift your spirits … Go out and explore. Let’s find those nooks and claim them!
Create Happiness Within
This one is what I’m all about at the moment 🤗 This is very easy to do and has the most impact, in my opinion. Simply ask yourself what would make you happy and do that. Or buy it. Like in my case, it’s real books that I can hold and inhale the smell of. I have to buy them online because there are no English books here, so buy them online I do.
It could just be as simple as creating a mood boosting morning routine. A personal treat every month to look forward to. Dance exercise videos. Throw pillows & curtains in favorite colors. Blogging. Starting a new hobby.
I’ve begun a project at home of surrounding myself with things that, in the words of Marie Kondo, spark joy. I tend to plants and see them bloom (or not!) under my care. I’ve begun buying stuff that help me cook better because -and this is new to me- there is satisfaction in preparing a good, well-thought out meal.
My goal at the moment is to make my my house a place I’d never want to leave 😀 I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve that but the process sure is fun and worthwhile.
~~ oOo ~~
Give me some advice: Are you an expat suffering or have suffered from expat blues? What one or two things can you do right now to lift your spirits up? What have you done to create happiness away from your home country?