October is a time of transitions for me. The seasons are changing no matter which side of the planet you’re on–unless you’re at the equator, I guess. We feel it here in the UK as a gusty wind on a sunny day, or a dark moody sky above coloured trees, swirling leaves trailing across paths. It’s the time when we start to turn the heating on, the shops start to tease us with Christmas countdowns, and we generally begin planning for the long cold months ahead of us.
I know, saying ‘cold months’ about winter in Britain sounds kind of funny coming from someone who grew up in Northern Minnesota where ‘cold’ meant your nose hairs froze together when you walked from the house to the car, but all things are relative and the months ahead are indeed damp and cold in relation to the warm sunny days we’ve had in August and September.
And that’s expat life, always comparing your current location to where you grew up or where you lived last, but also just getting adjusted to the place where you are now and understanding what’s real about that place.
We go through our big transitions from place to place but we also go through the small seasonal transitions right along with everyone around us–that’s part of the fun of being there. My transition of the moment is learning to be more mindful. This is a time of year when there’s a lot going on in the American Resident household: my daughter has started GSCE’s and I feel I really need to pay more attention to what’s happening in her academic life, I’m doing a lot more personal writing as well as writing for work, and life in other areas of our family has suddenly become busier as well. I could easily (and do frequently) feel like a headless chicken, flapping around stupidly not getting anything done, but instead I’ve been practicing mindfulness, getting one thing done at a time by focusing on that one thing at a time.
Mindfulness in everyday life seems crazily ineffective at first, especially to someone who is always trying to multitask at least five jobs at the same time to get more done, but actually what I’ve found is that I’m getting a heck of a lot more done and feeling much more relaxed and contented at the end of each day as well. So my advice for periods of transitions is a dose of mindfulness, try it and see!
Transitions in life take all forms; check out these expats from around the world to read about their different experiences and please don’t forget to add a post of yours to the linky if you have a story of transitions (or mindfulness!) to share.
Russell who writes at the popular, In Search of a Life Less Ordinary, is expecting his first child soon and considering a friend’s advice that he should raise his child to speak two languages. In his post he has a really clever infographic on raising a bilingual baby. Drop by his blog to add your thoughts–or see what others think if this is something you’re considering as well!
On the Threshold of Africa is coping with another transition a few years down the road from where Russell is, sending her child back to the UK to boarding school. She is following in the footsteps of over a hundred years of expats before her, but her story has a modern twist that makes this experience so much easier han it must have once been.
Practically Perfect is also in transition. An American who has just moved from New Zealand to Oxford, and is now experiencing her first taste of British plumbing. That’s not fair of me to label it like that, as if all British plumbing has the issues she’s dealing with, but it does seem like a high percentage of rental accomodation that expats live in is like this. Go give her a lovely welcome to the UK and share your own new expat house experiences!
In ‘Centimeless Students’ (yes, that’s the same the world over!), Blog in France tells a funny story about trying to sort out the finances of her university student son via bank and phone. Although this post is not so much about transitions, more about student finances in France, it gets my award for the day for my loudest laugh as she writes about using her ‘smarter-than-me-phone’, which is definitely a big transition for many people. … read it and you’ll see what I mean!
And finally, in ‘r.i.p. frank’, A Vicar’s Wife writes about another transition. It’s a sweet, sad, funny story about letting go (but not what you may think!).
If you would like some more information on Mindfulness, try Aisha’s post on her blog Expatlogue.