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 😃 ❤️
It’s the weekly SYW again which is always fun and a great reason to stay blogging ❤️ You can join anytime by going 👉 here.
Here are my answers to this week’s questions:
Would you prefer a reading nook or an art, craft, photography studio?
Oh definitely a craft studio 😍 How wonderful to walk into an entire room and be greeted with things that represent and inspire your creative side. I mean, merely walking into the space would probably be enough to lift your mood, you don’t even have to create. Over here would be my knitting and crochet corner, over there would be my aromatherapy stuff (I’d make it look medieval because it’s kinda like mixing magic potions & such 😁). And there’d be my potted plants strategically positioned here and there …
Tell how you are feeling today in the form of a weather report. (For example, partly cloudy, sunny with a chance for showers, etc.)
I’m partly cloudy but sunshine is breaking through. I want to be completely sunny, but I’m sleep-deprived and flabby, so … Just keepin’ it real 🙄 Oh and there’s definitely a chance for showers because I also feel weepy, they call it post-partum blues and it just sneaks up on me out of nowhere 😭
If you could witness or physically attend any event past, present or future, what would it be?
Hmmm .. I’m stumped on this one 🤔 Sorry but right now all I can think of is a date in the (hopefully) near future when everyone is sleeping beautifully through the night and I no longer look like a cloud 😁
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’ve been feeling down about my shape recently. When the husband takes pictures of the baby I always want to be out of it because I look so … round 😟 I mean, I expected this of course but I’m like, dear God, will I ever get my former glory back? And when?
On the local E! channel, I saw a snippet of an interview with an Asian celebrity/model. She was talking about her life and stuff but I wasn’t really paying attention because I was noticing instead that she still looked flabby in spite of giving birth about 2 years ago. She was wearing a lot of make-up to contour her face to look slimmer, she was still very beautiful, but her face was undoubtedly plump. She wore black and hid her arms with strategically placed jackets, and throughout the interview there wasn’t a full shot of her, it was always just from the waist up.
And seeing her that way, knowing that she gave birth about 2 years ago already, put me in a better mood. I mean, she’s practically living in the spotlight and she’s still carrying excess lbs. So why be so hard on myself?
I felt so good I gobbled up 2 McDonald’s apple pies immediately, in one sitting! 🤣
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?
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!
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.
Participating in this week’s SYW prompt 😃 It’s already Tuesday here in Indonesia but this is when I get to see the questions, so … and technically it should still be Monday evening in some parts of the world anyways 😁
So here we go:
What colour do you feel most comfortable wearing?
Right now in my pregnant state almost all pieces are black. There’s one blue, one gray, one white and one silver – because they did not come in black and I really needed them. A dress for special occasions is green, but this was lent to me by my cousin.
The moment I learned I was pregnant I right away chose black to be my colour because I didn’t want to invest in a lot of pregnancy clothes. Nobody can truly be sure that today I’m wearing the same top that I wore last Saturday. And that’s my point! 😆 😆 Black also does a fine job hiding the flab and making me look pulled together somehow 👍
What is your favourite type of dog?
One that can take care of itself 🙄
List at least five favourite flowers or plants?
I can’t! I don’t know their names 😆 Besides, I love all plants as long as they’re healthy, happily blooming and have no desire to take over my house with their roots and unwieldy leaves. Flowering plants are the best, but they’re also high maintenance in my experience.
This is a very timely question because lately I have become interested in buying (and caring for) potted plants. The picture at the top of this post was taken when my plants first came home. I don’t have a green thumb, so by now of course, a few have already given up all hope of survival and still a few are struggling to make sense of their situation 😆
These 3 beauties I just bought last Saturday after my doctor’s appointment:
I hope they bloom instead of giving up on me right away 😆 The 3rd one on the right is my favorite – it seems to be a very resilient plant and I usually see them at resorts, al fresco restos, hotels and golf courses in various lovely colors:
What inspired you this past week?
These plants I just featured. It’s always exciting to be at the start of a new hobby 🙂