The Introvert Expat SAHM Diaries

Not This Year


When I was still climbing the career ladder I was a very goal oriented employee. I would reverse engineer the annual performance review by picking out in advance the areas I wanted to stand out in, and proceeded to take on the shiniest projects that would showcase my excellence in those areas.

I had this system so well down pat that when I became a housewife I experienced some sort of crisis. It felt like I was let loose all of a sudden and all that freedom was just confusing, I didn’t know what to do with it.

For maybe a year or two I had a notebook and pen and wrote down monthly goals such as “learn to cook 2 new recipes”, or “learn to knit beginner’s level”, or “lose X number of lbs”.

But there was no annual review to prepare for, no boss to wow, no gold stars to earn & show-off on my imaginary wall of fame that I slipped into nonchalance. I set vague goals that I forgot the following week. Or, I didn’t follow through, or I list so many that I overwhelm myself into catatonia all the while thinking that I have all the time in world to do them anyway.

Lately though I have become conscious of it and I do not like it. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that I’m not even showing up for myself. I say I will do something but I don’t even honor my word.

So I went back to my notebook, looked at the goals I set for this year and decided to re-commit. It’s not yet too late, I can still hunker down and make a dash for the finish line.

My goals for this year were/are:

  1.  lose post-pregnancy weight – but I didn’t specify how much and how to do it (because, who cares except me, right?)
  2.  learn Indonesian – I bought an online course & some books that are now just gathering dust in some nondescript drawer
  3. start a separate blog dedicated to crafting – I did partially discuss this here, but I failed to clarify that I wanted a separate, topic specific blog because I want to do something with it later

I still wrote down a couple or 3 more but that’s just my sneaky brain trying to overwhelm me again and disperse my focus.

I am deciding to take deliberate action on these goals for the remaining 6 months so that at the end of 2018 I will have finished the things I set out to do. This matters because I don’t want to have to do them again next year, I want to create space for new goals in 2019.

And perhaps, even more importantly, I don’t want to excel at quitting, I want to excel at staying committed.


Photo by han song on Unsplash
Monthly Reviews & Blog Updates

Lessons from 2017


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):

1.  Man plans, God laughs.

2.  Create happiness within your own 4 walls.

This applies to everyone but is especially true for expat SAHMs.

3.  Happy people are good people. Good people are not always happy.

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 😏

7. Dress and make yourself up for the day, even when you’re just staying home.

This includes taking a shower before 10AM otherwise, good luck with the humidity! 😄

8. Let the breadwinner earn bread the way he wants.

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 😁

10. Break it down into bite-sized chunks.

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 😃 ❤️

Tuesday Trivia

“Profound Wisdom” Gained While The Internet Was Down


A little dystopia, anyone? 😳

No sooner had I declared my first weekly challenge for April when the internet – my connection to the outside world, my muse, my source of everything – went out. At first I thought it’d be for just an hour or two but – it lasted 27 agonizing hours.

The horror! 😮

I experienced withdrawal symptoms, I’ll tell you that. I rely so much on the internet for everything – even the radio station I listen to every morning – that when it was gone it felt like I was in real solitary confinement.

Battling severe annoyance I resolved to be the bigger person (or thing) and use it as inspiration for a blog post. (Ha!)

So please find hereunder listed the profound wisdom I gained from those debilitating 27 hours sans connection o_O

  1.  Don’t get everything from one provider – landline phone, cable TV, internet.

Getting everything from one provider is just plain s#*&! … err, not smart. It’s like your friends decided to abandon you all at the same time and you’re left there with just deafening silence.

 2.  This is for those who, like me, are on prepaid mobile phone credits: make sure your phone is loaded. Or know where to buy some. And make sure you have money on hand to do so.

So you can call or text somebody and know that you are not alone.

3.  Always download unto laptop whatever it is you are working on that is otherwise internet dependent  – crochet projects, exercise videos & such.

I could only work on my crochet project up to a certain number of rows before I found myself unable to proceed because the pattern was on the net.  Ugh!

I could not do my wheel pose exercises because there was no YouTube.  Ugh!

My strength training exercises were only half as fun because my workout music is a playlist on YouTube. Ugh!

4.  You will experience symptoms of withdrawal – do not go into the light!

Read, organize closets, do not sulk or dwell, just divert attention anywhere but on the problem at hand.

Easier said than done but really, what else can you do?

5.  Cultivate a life away from your internet-dependent tech gadgets so that you are prepared when it happens.

I do try 😳

So there – learn from my experience, people!!! 😲

Now where was I?

Oh, the wheel pose – I’m behind by 2 days now for Pete’s sake! :/ :/


They Had Me At ‘Best Online Knitting Store’


I’m pretty sure they don’t do it on purpose, but for an online store that prominently displays a “Best Online Knitting Store 2015 Winner” badge, they sure have a lot of opportunity for improvement.

Wanting to finish Blush Cherry Jam and Black Widow, I placed an order for additional yarn on November 29. After placing the order, I go and read their shipping policies – I know, I did this backwards, right? And I am immediately alarmed that I am allowed to cancel within 14 days from placing the order.  14 days?! What the …!

But the order was already placed and they are the best online knitting store winner and the holidays were coming up and my brain was already covered with tinsel … Wait! The holidays were coming up?  Fart!

Brain tinsel now scattered all over the floor in alarm, I google “Deramores” and “deramores delivery problems” immediately pops up. “Oh no, oh no, oh no” goes my brain as I read all the rants and disillusionment, a lot of them quite recent.

I should’ve just cancelled that f…. order!

So they say that due to “festive delays” (I didn’t know there was such a thing as a festive delay!) dispatch on orders only resumed yesterday and that – sweet Jesus – my first order (because they promised me a replacement parcel on the assumption that the first shipment got lost in the Bermuda triangle) had not shipped yet because they ran out of stock.

After over a month.


They had me at Best Online Knitting Store 😥

Home & Heart

Paardje’s Preoccupation of the Week: The 10-Item Wardrobe

Do you have a closet full of clothes and yet still have nothing to wear?  Then maybe the 10-item wardrobe is your knight in shining armor.

The 10-item wardrobe is a concept I came about when I read Jennifer L. Scott’s Lessons from Madame Chic.  According to Jennifer:

The point of the 10-item wardrobe is to free yourself from a jam-packed closet full of ill-fitting, underused, or poor-quality clothing. Your ultimate goal is to create a wardrobe that you love, in which every item of clothing speaks to who you are, and to create a space for your clothes to breathe – by eliminating clutter.

Here’s Jennifer discussing how to start on your 10-item wardrobe – essentially:

  1. clear the clutter – I did mine earlier this year
  2. store all seasonal garments
  3. write a list of what you’d like your 10-item wardrobe to consist of

And here’s one more discussing how to go about creating a spring 10-item wardrobe:

A 10-item wardrobe might seem scary or too drastic especially if we’re used to having a lot of options (clutter? 😉 ) in our closets.  But the 10 items do not include outerwear, occasionwear, accessories, shoes and under shirts.  It also needs to be reviewed every season, and items exchanged accordingly, to keep us looking fresh and relevant.

After cleaning out my own closet – and before I came across the 10 item wardrobe concept – I didn’t know what to do.  I definitely did not want to go about blindly accumulating more clothes again that weren’t gonna play nice with each other.

Working from a well-thought out list has been liberating. I’m no longer slave to attractive displays and bargains! 🙂 Plus,knowing that I’m only going for a few choice pieces allows me the budget for higher quality items.

…. but probably the best part of it is that I no longer stress out about what to wear 😉

Monthly Reviews & Blog Updates

March Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

What a strange time the marvelous month of March was for me! If I had words for it, they would be restless, bored, pensive. March was my birthday month.  Aside from that I also felt that I was holding my breath for April.

❓ The birthday I did not celebrate.

It’s one of those milestone birthdays. A decade older and totally clueless about what to do with it.  I had asked myself several times how (aside from the special dinner) I wanted to celebrate but ended up with a blank each time.

I wasn’t feeling sorry or sad for myself or anything like that, it was more like options paralysis – I was feeling very grateful for all the things I already have that I couldn’t think of one particular way to celebrate. (I warned you this month was ‘strange’!).

Plus I realized that if I truly wanted to celebrate outwardly, then this entire year is a celebration of my birthday – starting with finally quitting work back in January.  Now top that! (Ooops, I smell a year-ender blog post in the making!) 🙂

❗ Nervous energy galore.

Sweeping generalization: all I could really focus on in March were my video games because I was restless. I even took to exercising twice a day (and we all know how this turned out!).  March was undoubtedly affected by the family’s upcoming move to another country.  It’s exciting, and I’m so looking forward to it.  But I also feel sad for the things I love that will be left behind 😦

❗ The clutter in our lives.

The process of ‘leaving behind’ has my thoughts going to all the excess ‘stuff’ that we accumulate in all or most areas of our lives. There are tonnes of books and websites about getting rid of excess but I have yet to find one about avoiding the accumulation of ‘stuff’ to begin with.  (If you know of something, please let me know).

So right now I have things like creating capsule wardrobes, making lists of essential bath/toiletry/make-up items and this golden rule of “you only need one” that I’m hoping will help ward off clutter moving forward. I also find Gretchen Rubin’s happiness quote very helpful:

If money is to enhance your happiness, it must be used to support aspects of life that themselves bring happiness to you.

❓ Boredom and hobby-envy.

I knew when I quit work in January that a time of temporary boredom would befall me as part of transitioning to becoming a domestic goddess – it came to me in March. Finally the infatuated bliss of freedom I felt in January and February settled down and I was confronted with time and opportunity.

Rather unfortunately though, I am also faced with limited time in the sense that the family will be moving to another country pretty soon, so anything I want to get into is shot down with a “you’ll just be accumulating more stuff you have to leave behind“. 😕

It’s not a fun place to be in, truthfully.  It feels to me like I’m putting the present on hold for the future.  I’m still feeling envious of a friend who’s enthusiastically throwing herself into terrariums, dream catchers and watercolor painting :/

💡 Blogging reflects what is going on in your life (to a certain extent at least).

Another lesson learned 🙂

I was (admittedly) a lazy blogger in March because:

1) coming off of my self-imposed post-every-weekday challenge in February, my immediate reaction when March rolled in was to relax, and

2) pretty much nothing interesting was happening in my personal life because as mentioned, I am in a ‘waiting to exhale’ mode.


That said, I still managed to rake up some shimmering stars for my birthday month:

⭐ I reached 500 likes on the 13th 🙂

⭐ I received another blog nomination on the 16th 🙂

⭐ I reached 200+ followers on the 18th 🙂

⭐ finished and passed the Origins of Crime online course (Open2Study)

⭐ finished and passed There’s No Place Like Home online course  (Udemy)

⭐ came to terms with the role of diet and exercise in my life

⭐ learned that my natural inclination is towards physical and mental hobbies as opposed to creative hobbies

 ~~ O ~~

And now on to you 🙂 How was March for you? You must have accumulated some stars too!  Bring my comments fields alive by sharing them – pretty please! 🙂



Reverse the Bucket List, Find Out What You Really Want

In the flurry of looking forward to accomplishing novel things in 2015, this reminded me to stop and appreciate the blessings of 2014 too. I think you’ll like this post a lot, just like I do.

Yoga with Morgan Webert

imagesWe’ve turned the corner on yet another year and based many of the conversations I’ve had it sounds like 2014 was a big one for a lot of you. Let’s just stop an appreciate that!

If you’re like me and get super stoked on new visions, ideas and plans, it’s easy to race into the next thing full speed ahead, heels on fire with the feelings of possibility and hope. But if we race past our chance to digest the experiences we’ve had, we can miss the whole point of racing toward them in the first place.

At a conference I went to recently I was introduced to the idea of a reverse bucket list as a way to practice greater contentment, happiness and gratitude. I love the idea!

Basically, instead of making a bucket full of things you want to accomplish, you create a bucket list of things you’ve…

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