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):
This applies to everyone but is especially true for expat SAHMs.
4. Community (really) matters.
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 😏
This includes taking a shower before 10AM otherwise, good luck with the humidity! 😄
Everyone is just happier that way.
9. Have fun marking the passage of time.
Set goals, take on projects, schedule stuff in your calendar to look forward to, and then blog about it.
99.9% effective against the doldrums 😁
Absolutely golden advice.
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 😃 ❤️
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
~ Psalm 139:14 (KJV)
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.
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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?
I love this week’s SYW questions ❤️ Here we go:
Complete this sentence: I want to learn more about …
- Aromatherapy and how I can use it at home. I’ve already finished an online course but it seemed to have just skimmed the surface.
- Gardening, particularly container gardening, taking care of flowering plants, herbs. And by extension, making terrariums. One at a time of course 😄
- Photography. I’ve put this off for ages and ages now. This one’s probably for next year considering I’m about to give birth.
- Cooking/expanding my culinary repertoire. I’m afraid this one’s reached emergency status now. I keep cooking the same 5 or so recipes and relying on take-outs for variety. (My family’s been very forgiving because I’m pregnant and all). Then I got really bored with my recipes and my yen for cooking just went out the window as a result. So I’m seriously thinking about this and WILL BUY AN OVEN. Because, can you believe it? I’ve NEVER even owned an oven in my entire life! 😱😱😱
- Close on the heels of previous bullet point – baking!
- Crochet – Filet, Irish, tapestry, thread, and creating warm weather garments.
- The Indonesian language. I’m gonna give birth any time now and perhaps the only word of relevance that I understand is “dorong” (“push”) 😅. I also took an online course for this – which was actually pretty good – but the problem is the retention. I’ve since observed that I retain more if I learn the words that I need at the moment – like when I have to ask the housekeeper to do something. My brain just won’t give space to something I don’t need. In addition, there’s a notable difference between the Indonesian you learn formally vs. the Indonesian actually spoken. Another reason I prefer to learn from the housekeeper 😁
- Basic sewing. So I can make my own sassy pillowcases & curtains and anything else that’s just a rectangular piece of fabric with just a little embellishment ❤️❤️
On a vacation what would you require in any place that you sleep?
Comfortable bed & temperature. No noise. No lights. No unpleasant smells.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Online shopping and having it shipped via DHL📦📦. Although this one’s straddling the fence between extravagance and necessity because this has to do with our present location.
For instance, when shopping for clothes, my 10 y.o. daughter has to look in the adults section already. Never mind me and my husband. Finding comfortable footwear is difficult at best, so we’ve taken to buying ours in Singapore. Last night we couldn’t find self-rising flour in the grocery department of their biggest, most recognized as high-end, mall. I mean, maybe they ran out of it but that’s my point, there’s not one single place where you can safely say they have everything, sometimes you have to explore other stores in search of an item and even then it’s hit and miss.
There are no English books here so I have to have them shipped from Amazon/Book Depository. I buy our supplements online as well, all the maternity clothes I’m wearing ….
What inspired you this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I wish I’d bookmarked it! It was an article from a homemaking blog that talked about the reasons why the author makes herself up even when she’s just at home for days on end. That piece really spoke to me because I have been wallowing in frumpsville for the longest time now – thank goodness nobody from my previous corporate life can see me! 🤣
She made all the right arguments, including the very true fact that it sets a positive tone for the day and makes you more productive.
So now I take my showers in the morning before breakfast, get out of my sleeping clothes into nice daytime wear, swap my glasses for contacts, fix my hair, wear liner, lipstick, earrings and perfume 😁😁😁
Well, that last part might be overkill but then again, why not? 😘
Now give me YOUR answers! 😀 Comment below or just click the badge to join the fun.
Howdy sexy people! 👋
I’ve been under the weather this past week – cough and colds but, fortunately feeling better now 😃 Glad to come back to the blog with this week’s installment of Share Your World.
Would you want $200,000 right now or $250,000 in a year? It’s safe to assume all money is tax free.
Right now so husband will have fun making it grow through his day trading.
Is it more important to love or be loved?
Oh good, it only asks which one is more important, I don’t have to choose between the two 👍 ☺️
I think to love is more important as long as you love from a place of giving and not from sacrifice or with the expectation of returns. If love is freely given like this, there is happiness and contentment that is independent of external circumstances.
I also believe that if you give love, love comes back to you as well.
List things that represent abundance to you.
Money (I mean, hey, just being honest here 😂 😂). If you have money then you basically have the ability to take better care of yourself and loved ones.
I would also list having (a) family, true friends, good health of course, freedom, safety and being able to live where you feel the happiest.
What inspired you this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
Oh, I got a few really nice blessings this week:
- I got a visit from 2 good friends (from Batam) who happen to be pregnant too and we got a good laugh out of it.
- My daughter had her period, which was a surprise to me because she’s only 10. I thought it was a good time to talk to her about how babies are made and well, at the end of the talk her reaction was an emphatic “eeeeeeuuww! GROSS!!!” 😅 I’m just gonna savor that for now 😁
- I got a long distance call from my best friend from home and it did wonders for my soul. It’s very difficult to maintain friendships when you live far far away and already a few have sorta gone cold. Fortunately this one has endured till now and hopefully we can keep the bond strong ❤️
- One of my plants is coming up with blooms! Yay 💃💃I’m not too hopeless after all 😄
- My stomach is giving me some relief from indigestion and acid reflux. I still need to be careful, but I’ve been able to sleep better. I tell ya, ya haven’t known misery until ya’ve experienced the tantrums of a 3rd tri pregnant woman’s tummy 🤢🤢🤢
Now what are YOUR answers? Write in the comments or better yet, join the fun 👉 here. We’ve got plenty of room for you 🙂
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