It’s Time To Get Started On 2018

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!).Β  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.Β  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 πŸ™„

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… πŸ™„πŸ™„).

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 ofΒ  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.

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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.

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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.

(1 down, 9 more to go πŸ‘Š) πŸ€ͺ

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Share Your World – November 20, 2017

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? πŸ€”) 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 πŸ‘‰ here).

Image result for best minions quote about life

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….

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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! πŸ˜‰

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Β Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.Β 

Image result for funny quotes about newborn babies

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 πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

Now how about you? πŸ˜ƒ

How To Cope With Expat Blues

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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.

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live, noisy ‘gargoyles’ poised to raid our garbage bins

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.Β  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.

happy minion

Create the future

I read somewhere – again, I should’ve bookmarked it! πŸ˜•- 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 πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ

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!

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Create Happiness Within

This one is what I’m all about at the moment πŸ€— 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 treatΒ  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 πŸ˜€ 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?

 

Finally Getting Around To Doing It

Today is a sunny Sunday over here at my small, sleepy corner of Indonesia and as usually happens when I’m not alone in the house (the hubs and daughter are home), I get a burst of energy 😊

So up I went to my potted plants to finally start the repotting process I’ve been putting off for about 2 weeks now.

repotting

But first let me introduce you to them (no names because I don’t have a clue πŸ˜€):

need repotting

This is how they look now after I transferred them away from direct sunlight.Β  They looked so much worse a couple of weeks back due to my ignorance 😟 I thought as long as they weren’t in direct sunlight for an entire day and they got enough water, they’d be good. Well, as you can see from the 2 in the front row, the Indonesian sun is just way too much for them.

Bigger Homes

I was able to repot 3 (back row) and salvaged a 4th that had died but had these little off-shoots that seemed like they wanted a chance to live 🀞 (3rd from left).

batch one repotted

I’m going to do the rest sometime within the week as I believe they are the most challenging.Β  The pink one has a broken stem that produces weak and sickly looking leaves. But it keeps producing new leaves so I take that to mean it hasn’t given up yet. 😘

I don’t think I need to repot the aloe vera but it’s borne children so maybe they should be transferred to a separate pot.

The 3rd one is giving me some blooms – so maybe it’s happy where it is? But I do feel that the pot is too small and I might have to divide the plant because it seems there are 2 of them in the same pot.

The last one (partially hidden) has an ugly pot and I might as well move it to a bigger one to anticipate future growth (here’s hoping πŸ˜†).

Brawns Vs. Brains

OF COURSE, I don’t have a clue about the proper repotting of plants, I just mimicked what I saw the lady selling the plants did. As usual, I read up about it after the fact 😁  And now I have to go back up and water them. Duh! 🀣

Oh and before I go, did you know that plants can make your brain work better? Here are 14 more reasons to add plants to your life. Me, I just wanted a new active hobby that would beautify my home at the same time ❀️

~~ oOo ~~

July Reads: Happy At Home

July found myself wanting to get back to reading again, a favorite hobby which I sorta left by the wayside when I experienced a preference for more active hobbies – exercising, knitting, crocheting, blogging, trying out new recipes when lightning struck (ha!).

After sorting out how I wanted to balance my preference for physical books with the convenience of downloading on my Kindle, I started my bookish adventures with the following:

Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin (non-fiction)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI truly enjoyed Gretchen’s Happiness Project when I read it several years ago and, since this time around I’m a SAHM on a mission to create a happy home, Happier At Home was an easy pick.Β  I enjoy Gretchen’s writing style, and the fact that the act of pursuing happiness is approached as a personal experiment. Therefore, not everything will stick, and just because it makes somebody else happy doesn’t mean it will do the same for you. But you do get to learn about yourself & what works along the way.

The book is chock-full of practical lessons a few of which that I could apply immediately are:

“When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy”.

Respond to the spirit of the gift. How wise this is! How many times have I responded to the gift instead of the spirit of the gift, and been a scrooge for it. For example, if my daughter makes up the bed but doesn’t fold the blanket just perfectly so, I should not respond with criticism or re-do the whole thing the way I want it.Β  I should be happy about the fact that my daughter wanted to help, that’s the real gift.Β  Ditto for when my husband tries to cook and leaves the kitchen an amazing mess πŸ™ƒ

Everything looks better arranged on a tray. Just try this one out, it’s true! 😁

Celebrate holiday breakfasts. This one made me think about how my family usually does not plan for special occasions but sorta just wings it. I decided that henceforth and at the very least, celebratory cakes will be available for enjoyment on-date, ordered beforehand, and not just some random, yummy-enough sounding cake that we buy whereabouts dinnertime on the date itself. (We can do better!πŸ™„)

Embrace good smells. This motivated me to enroll in an online aromatherapy course.  My husband and I are absolute suckers for nice smells. We are never without perfume, room-specific fresheners and deodorants of all types.  I make doing laundry enjoyable by finding the freshest, cleanest, loveliest smelling detergents and fabric softeners I can get my hands on.  An aromatherapy course would promote going natural on some of these fumes for better health without compromising on the happiness factor 😁😁

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (fiction)

An absolute page turner, I read it in 1 day, it was just difficult to put down.Β  The topic of teen suicide made me think back to my own teenage years and made me appreciate growing up under strong Catholic influence.Β  “There IS a God watching over all of us and He strongly disapproves of suicide”.Β  Bless those austere rosary-bead stringing nuns and stern, disapproving priests we used to secretly poke fun of, they at the very least instilled in us the habit of praying for even our most worrisome problems that were too embarrassing for human ears.Β  In my darkest moments I never felt alone.

 

My So-Called Life As A Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn (non-fiction)

This book popped up as one of the suggested reads on my Kindle and is about a woman’s experiment in trying to be like the biblical Proverbs 31 wife. I thought it would just be a book with suggestions and funny anecdotes, but mid-way through it I slowly started to realize that being a SAHM is not about ME. This stay in Indonesia (which I still struggle with) is about my family being together, being a wife to my husband, a mother to my daughter and being the “thermostat of the home” as Sara puts it.

Where Happier At Home starts from a self-centered place of what makes ME happy that will also make my husband and daughter happy,Β  My So-Called Life focuses on the important role of a wife, mother and homemaker and the huge impact that has on the family.Β  Think of it as being on a team, and you’re the specialist at something and without you contributing your uniqueness to the team (the family unit), it just won’t work.

And it is not about sacrificing either, it is about giving from a place of empowerment.Β  In thinking of myself as a valuable, uniquely contributing team-member, I let go of the selfish & ultimately unsatisfying pursuit of chasing happiness for personal consumption

Hmmmm … definitely a profound lesson for me to learn πŸ€”

~~ oOo ~~

So those are the books I read in July.  Hopefully I can come back next month at about the same time with more interesting titles & lessons 😊

Oh and … have you come across a delicious read recently that you might want to recommend? Do tell! 😍

Honoring What I Love [With An Adjustment]

sunday slow down 2 I have a Kindle fire tablet that I’ve had since early 2012.Β  There are already a gazillion books on there but, honestly, I use it for games 80% of the time 😏

Recently when I asked my daughter whether she wanted ebook versions of the series she’s reading now she immediately responded with “No, I want to be able to smell them” πŸ˜„

The succinctness of her response made me take an honest look at what I have been denying myself ever since I came to Batam- the pleasure of my 1st love: real, physical books ❀️ It might seem silly but the feel of a real book in my hands just adds another level of pleasure to the reading experience.  I also do like burying my nose between the pages for a good whiff! 😘

But getting my hands on English books is costly as I’ll have to purchase them overseas. The bookstores in Batam only sell books/magazines in Indonesian.

A Concession

I examined my reading habits further and found out that I like to high-light when reading non-fiction.Β  And that it not only takes me longer to finish non-fiction because I take pauses to reflect on new ideas, but that I also enjoy re-reading them. Different ideas might find relevance at different times in my life.

Fiction on the other hand, is temporary entertainment, similar to movies.Β  I don’t underline passages in them, nor do I re-read them.

The path forward [to happiness] thus became clear to me: physical books for non-fiction, ebook versions for fiction 😁😁😁

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Bonus

The bonus to this is that now I can share/discuss with you what I learned from my non-fic reads πŸ™ƒ I’m alwaysΒ on the lookout for practical ideas and now I get to blog about them too!

Methinks it’s gonna be fun πŸ€Έβ€πŸ€Έβ€

The Sneaky Little Thing That’s Preventing Me From Finding A Job

I have this friend that is often the hapless beneficiary of my rants and confessions about the isolation of my life as an introvert expat SAHM (in a quiet, small city in a non-English speaking foreign country – sorry, I just somehow feel less maladjusted if I lay out the parameters like that πŸ™„).

For months now she has been passionately encouraging me to find work online. If not for anything but the mental exercise and the opportunity for communicating with more human beings.

I have been tempted many times – my resume is already polished, an online profile has been created, and feeble, half-hearted attempts at answering job postings have been initiated. But I always halt the process before it “gets too serious”.

And I don’t know what to think about the reason why. Sometimes I ask myself if the admission of which now certifies me as a majestic “bum” but the truth is – I have fallen in love with BEING IN THE NOW.

Being in the now – what does this mean?

Well to me it means asking myself at almost every juncture during the day “what do I feel like doing now?”.Β  Sometimes this means washing the dishes, or doing dance fitness videos, at other times learning something new or even just deciding to have tea while listening to the chatter of birds. It’s never the same and there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

But more often than not, it sends me off to bed at night with a feeling of serenity.

Turns out it’s really something that I have come to appreciate about being a SAHM (with no small children to take care of). And I’ve come to see it as perhaps a luxury only afforded to SAHMs (with no small people to take care of) – the freedom to spend the day however you want. The luxury of listening to the voice inside you and letting it be your guide πŸ€—

And I figured, if I had a job I would no longer have this luxury. And apparently it’s something I deem more precious at the moment than mental challenge and increased social contact.

And so I say to all SAHMs like me:

just-be

Enjoy it while it lasts! ❀