Thursday, December 7, 2017

Anatomy of a Move

Arriving in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on St. Patrick’s Day, 1997, I was simply toast – as they say.

Four moves in four years, two domestic and two international had squeezed some light out of me.

Like a body each move seemed to take on a unique life of its own.   Some of the moves were flexible, others fixed.  Watching the two huge red moving trucks leaving our new house, I felt like the blood was draining out of my system – again.  They had delivered and dropped all the worldly possessions which we were destined to move around the globe.

Where to start?  Checking in and getting grounded, feeling connected to the earth came first. With large trees, ten acres of open space behind us – yes, we were in the desert, but we enjoyed a bit of the garden of Eden right there it seemed.

Exploring the geography of the cul-de-sac was the first order.  Walking followed by more walking helped me to feel like my body had started to arrive, now to get my head around desert living in a compound much larger than the one we just left.   

That was the moment it occurred to me that checking in with our bodies could make moving so much easier.  Being connected and physical was very grounding and it helped to center my thoughts and focus.

Could using my body as a signaling tool help with moving? Could I take a tour of the body and apply it to this new geographical location? What was happening to my
  • Head
  • Shoulders
  • Heart
  • Back
  • Stomach
  • Legs
  • Hand & arms
  • Feet 
What was I thinking?  Getting those thoughts up, out and on paper was helpful.  Our minds need that daily dose of attention and clearing out.  
  • How are you using your head? 
  • What are you thinking? 
  • What thoughts are filling your mind?  
  • How organized or chaotic are your thoughts?   
  • Are you paying attention to your headspace? 

Sitting at the kitchen table in our new home after two decades away from the “home” was a treat.  How much time do you attend to your heart to simply daydream about what’s next?  How often are you are encouraged to follow your heart? or to focus on your own unique and unrepeatable personal dream? 
  • Give yourself a healthy dose of permission – listen in to what your heart is longing for.   Let your deepest-seated desires rise to the surface, record them, bless them, mull over them and learn to dance with them.  
  • No matter where we are in our moves we can move the needle from surviving to thriving by taking time to dream.
  • If you are back home, are you loving it – or not?   Be honest. Or are you upset by your return?  If overseas and moving somewhere else, what do you love about your current life that you want to continue in the next place? Creating rituals, traditions and patterns that you love in life is a way of developing pace and rhythm. 
What burdens was I taking on?  Culture shock and geographical displacement had frequently left me feeling out of sorts. 
  • Imagine an iceberg.   It lives mostly under water, floating on the sea.  I was towing most of my experiences, feelings, perceptions and memories of how good life was before we moved like an iceberg, everything meaningful under the surface, hidden from sight.
  • Fun gets forgotten. If we are not having fun we are not lighting ourselves up.  Where could I find that spark of inspiration – that “I love my life” moment? Our brains work best when they are lit up – just what was that to look like.
  • What are you shouldering?
  • What is weighing you down? 
  • Are you taking on some burden that could be given away, shared or postponed?

The back or back-pain can be related to our most unconscious or subconscious worry. Deep seated feelings are a favorite thing to stuff during a move.
  • What is getting you down?
  • Is there something you are not telling yourself?
  • What is in your blind spot? 

There is nothing like indigestion to stop us in our tracks – that includes digesting life experiences.  
  • What are the stressors that might be upsetting you?  What can’t you stomach?
  • Isolate the most torturous parts of the process – whether it is financial, physical or emotional. Focus on the area that challenges you most, find a way to have a mini-win in one of these. 
My most favorite mentor, Mary Morrissey says:   “Inspiration without action is merely entertainment”
  • What actions are you taking that are coherent and congruent with where you want to go?
  • What are you moving towards?  
  • What are you running away from?  
  • How much ground are you covering?  
Arms and Hands
Holding onto the past, the great life we have enjoyed is a natural reaction to the stimulation and growth that we often naturally enjoy overseas. 
  • But what are you holding onto that you need to let go of?   
  • What can you hand over to someone else?  
Finally!  Our amazing, beautiful and often-overlooked feet. Our feet are wonderful tools and mostly we are unaware of them until they hurt.  Take those steps, be they baby steps or giant leaps, each one is necessary to unlock your next action.
  • How grounded are you?   
  • What activities lead you to feeling the best grounded and centered for you?  
  • Are you taking the best, most appropriate steps to reengage yourself in your new life?  
By scanning our body-map and asking a few pointed questions we can gain some perspective.   No matter where we are coming from or going to a new destination, we are going to participate in a transformative experience.

We think that moving involves locating our bodies and belongings and voila!

We land well!

We arrive well! 

We then automatically thrive well!    Not so much.

A geographical move, any geographical move even if its down the street - involves settling into a new mindset.  Our bodies are wonderful space-time-suits that give us the ability to navigate the world.   Using the body to ground the mind is just being smart, and notice how our mind-body connection grows as a result.   Here’s to your success.   May your moves be amazing opportunities for greater growth and celebration of life.   

 Come join us at RockYourRe-entry FB group

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Orly airport, outside of Paris, France.   A lonely, scared 22-year-old sat on a bench feeling like she had just made the biggest mistake of her life.

Distraught, she barely heard the last and final call for her flight to Yaounde, Cameroon, West Africa.  She bolted into action and ran like the wind towards a future unknown and unraveled.

On that journey to my first overseas assignment in Cameroon, I felt like I had signed away my life to the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, trading breath itself in exchange for adventure.  

Growing up in and around Glasgow, Scotland I had up until that point lived a delightfully provincial, charming, yet small life.

Burning in my bones was this idea that there must be “more."  But more what? more travel, more freedom, more choices?   I just knew something was impelling me forward.

                  I wish that I knew what I know now,
                  When I was younger,
                  I wish that I knew what I know now,
                  When I was stronger

Flash forward to today, 2017 a so-called baby-boomer, living in the USA with multiple countries and cultures under my belt - what would I tell that anxious, frightened adult/child who sat quivering on the bench at Orly?

Imagine I was a fairy godmother, what wishes would I grant her?

I would pack a suitcase full of wishes to carry with her.  I would tell her that a life filled with wonder doesn’t just happen all by itself; a life full of satisfaction and fulfillment requires time, intention and immense focus to dance with adventure.

After four continents, six countries, over 25 moves, four languages and many homes the suitcase full of wishes would be packed like this.

    I wish I had known everything turns out in the end - and whenever it isn’t looking good - it's not the end of the chapter. More intention, more application and a bit of persistence is required to have the successful resolution.

     I wish I had understood the "law of unintended consequences”.  Our decisions have consequences that take us into worlds we never would have imagined – this is absolutely natural and perfect.

     I wish I had applied myself to being more “me”.   I wish I had told the deeper truth more often, spoken up more frequently, been less “nice” and taken much better care of myself.

    I wish I had understood all along that day-by-day and moment-by-moment something was growing inside my soul.  My perspective, my memories, a richer deeper imagination and a more mature appreciation was germinating.

     I wish I had understood the beautiful value of grief and the children it bears along the road.  Leaving a trail of beloved people, cultures and places behind builds up an internal mountain of grief to be processed and loved. I continue to climb this hill.  My steps are more deliberate, more loving and accepting of the new life I give birth to daily.

     I wish I had been more consistent and less impetuous.  I also wish I had taken more risks.

     I wish I had the tools I have now.  Primarily those of gratitude & forgiveness. I would have practiced them more frequently and become more confident in their application.

     I wish I knew that I was smart.

     I wish I knew then that life is precious and portable. Grabbing adventure by the horns gives us the opportunity to create a bigger world-view.

     I wish I knew then that relationships require so much application and work. Building a team requires being global-hearted and open-minded.

                If I knew then what I know now,
                I’d be different, I would slow down,
                As the world spins round and around,
                I wish I knew then what I know now.

                Lyfe Jennings, lyrics

I would also recommend that young adult pack some tools for the journey. 

a)     Look at all sides.  Don’t allow your perspective to narrow down to looking at only one side of a situation.

    b)     Maintain an open mind.  Be willing to be surprised and delighted and prepare yourself for that.

c)    Align yourself with people who share your values, let that be your north star.   And, avoid people who believe they can succeed on their own – success is almost always collaborative.

d)      Ask questions that begin with “what” and rarely ask
        questions that begin with “why”, better answers ensue.

Had my invisible suitcase been packed with these wishes and tools, I believe the journey might have remained the same, yet I would have been different – perhaps more fun.

Here’s to your version of “more”, what “more” would you love? Where is your next adventure taking you?  For a copy of the Expat Toolkit – An A to Z Guide of Who You Need to Be to Master the Adventurous Life go to EXPAT TOOLKIT

Enjoy the ride, use the tools and keep us updated as to the success you are building through your unique and unrepeatable adventure.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

5 Secrets to Calming Re-entry Conflict

After Returning Home from Overseas

I felt I was choking – the oxygen I needed was draining out of my body.  And yet my body seemed to be alive and well in one country whilst my mind took a detour into what felt like outer space.

No worries – except that space felt more familiar, more normal and more real in so many ways.   I had arrived “back home” and was sitting amid what I had assumed would be my new tribe, my soft landing – a group I had visited and identified with prior to my arrival.

They had courted me, right?   They knew me, right?     They had shared the secret bathroom code, right?   

I was in the arrival stage of Re-entry after almost 20 years’ continuous years of living overseas. A seismic shift felt like it hit me like a bear raiding a campsite of fully stocked cars brimming with food. 

My feeling of tribe changed from a calm, soft landing to feeling like I had slid through a black hole and was once more adrift as an alien with a very tenuous link to reality back home.

Supposedly I was “back home” whatever that meant.  I was in our new chosen destination, a wee town in the Pacific North West almost on the Canadian border.  I was at a community meeting; this was supposed to be my brand-new tribe, having visited many times over the last ten years – they knew me – or did they?

For the very first time I opened my mouth and contributed some ideas towards an event about to occur in the community.   Apparently, they were “too far out, “unimaginable”, or lived in the land of “are you kidding?”  I felt like I was in a space odyssey – again.  Yuck – cultural dissonance – I felt I had been hit by a truck.

In my alien mind, these seemed small, possible and easy.  “How on earth could I be thinking those sorts of things” – was the message I heard on my invisible headset.

Truly I was living in another atmosphere – one that didn’t relate, wasn’t acceptable and me and my ideas were in that moment totally unwelcome.

I felt crushed.   Like the last 20 years away were invisible and the vast experience and learning I had enjoyed was simply a blip on an invisible radar screen, dissolving as I sat there. 

      “Ground control to Major Tom” Can you hear me, Major Tom?
       Can you hear And I'm floating around my tin can
       Far above the Moon
       Planet Earth is blue
       And there's nothing I can do."

I felt like all my experience - the invisible vault within – just didn’t exist, like I didn’t exist. I felt like oxygen was leaking through my spacesuit. I was completely untethered to either my old location or new geographical locations. The joys of inner-space travel.

In that one instant, what would have brought my global world-view into perspective?

Here are a few tips from the playbook of mindfulness to use when healing those cracks, when we feel like a cultural tsunami is about to overwhelm us, grab one of these tips from the toolbox.  I have learned to use and apply frequently.

Take a deep breath – a fast and effective tool for stopping a reaction dead in its tracks; intercept that fight or flight response by breathing deeply and distracting the mind.

Remember you are walking around in a meat-suit called a body.  Take a moment to notice that one common denominator everywhere you have been, is your body. The journeys you have had, the miracles you have enjoyed overseas are lodged in the cells – just gently take a moment to notice and connect.  Wiggle your toes and fingers, notice your body – send it some love.


Choose each word carefully – like you are selecting the best peach out of a barrel at the supermarket. Be selective while being authentic. Get clear you’re in a seismic moment, that you have slipped into a cultural gap and pause before responding.  

Be Prepared

As you know when you have lived overseas and returned home, it’s not a question of “if” you will have these moments, it’s more like “when” and “how frequently”.  To be ready, have some short 20-second-long responses. When people ask me a direct question like, “where are you from”, I don’t answer the question.   I segue into “My home base is in Denver, Colorado – if there is still light in their eyes I add “and I was born in Glasgow, Scotland”. Communicating your life overseas in bite-sized pieces and taking things slowly helps to build your communication. 

When we take these mini-steps to be quiet, to interrupt the pattern, barriers break down and conflict dissolves or dissipates faster.

Returning from overseas can catapult us into feeling adrift. Living a great life overseas required us to change our identity, now we are home we need to pivot to remain global.  Bringing your fresh world-view to the party in every conversation will take some practice.  Be mindful, use the tools and be fully present. Your alien self will be grateful!  Mindfulness is a healing balm which when applied can soothe your soul and keep you calm mid the possible re-entry spaciness.

Keep in touch!  Let us know how this works for you.   Sounds easy - takes practice.  We’d love your feedback.

Join the FB group Rock Your Reentry

Friday, October 6, 2017

Anatomy for a Successful Return Home!    

Anatomy for a Successful Return Home!

I got to thinking about what a great metaphor our skeletal system is for returning home or moving in general.

There are lots of moving parts in bodies.   Bodies do better when they are flexible, strong and healthy.  Our bodies house our spirits and require regular daily maintenance.    They constantly need movement, feeding and watering just like our re-entry does.   If we are flexible and take loving care of our re-entry we get wonderful healthy results.

How is our anatomy a metaphor for a successful Return Home? 


How are you using your head?  What are you thinking?   Which thoughts are filling your mind?  How organized or chaotic are your thoughts?   Are you paying attention to your headspace? 

Taking the time to write down your reflections upon your relocation journey, daily if possible,  will help you become more present to what’s going on in your head.  If you pay attention you will start to notice your patterns, how frequently they repeat and how entrenched or how flexible you are in your thinking.     

              “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.
               George Bernard Shaw       


What are you shouldering?  What is weighing you down?  Are you taking on some burden that could be divested or shared?

If you are reeling from the shock of Re-entry and your relationships are out of sorts, some of you might feel weighted down by this.   Devise a plan to lighten up your load and remove some of the heaviness.  Fun the most necessary part of any day.    If you are not having fun (for at least some portion of the time), where can you build fun into your day?   Our brains work best when they are lit up.


If you were to guess what is your most unconscious or subconscious worry? 

Back pain is often associated with the subconscious mind and with deep seated feelings and beliefs that we are not even remotely conscious of. 


Are you loving being back home?  Or are you upset by your return?  What do you love about your expat life that you want to continue back home?

How rarely we are encouraged to follow our heart, to focus on our personal dreams and aspirations in Re-entry.  Give yourself a healthy dose of permission and take the time to listen to your longings.  Let your deepest-seated desires rise to the surface.  No matter where you are in your Repatriation journey it is possible to thrive, to live and to love your life to the fullest. 

 “Grow to love yourself, you are the person you spend every 
waking moment with."    Brigitte Nicole 

What are the stressors that might be upsetting you?  What can’t you stomach?
Isolate the most torturous parts of the process – whether it is financial, physical or emotional. Focus on the area that challenges you most.  

What are you moving towards?  What are you running away from?  How much ground are you covering?  
Take stock and pay attention to your results.  Create a clearer picture of where you are in relation to where you would love to be.

Arms and Hands
What are you holding onto that you need to let go of?   What actions are you taking?
Move into action so that you can experience momentum and success.  Consider the returnee journey as a game that you are winning.   Every day ask yourself “what one action can I take today that will move me closer to the new life I really want”?

How grounded are you?   What activities lead you to feeling grounded and centered? 
The feet are wonderful tools and mostly we are unaware of them until they hurt.   Are you taking the best, most appropriate steps to reengage yourself in your new life? Take steps, whether they are baby steps or giant leaps, just keep taking them.

I suggest using your body-map to create the best mindset and take the physical steps necessary to close the gap, make the leap and enjoy the journey we call Repatriation/Re-entry or Relaunch.  We wish you the best of success wherever you are in the process.  

Use this tool and let us know how you get on!

Rock Your Re-Entry FB group

At Rock Your Re-entry we have designed signature systems that help you transform your rocky re-entry back home to a rockin' success.

Dream Building Your Way Through Repatriation         6 weeks course (online soon)
Mastering Re-Entry - Enjoy the Voyage                        6 months