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.