Monday, August 20, 2018

Repatriation: An Ugly Word or a Beautiful Process?


“Everything works out in the end. if it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end.”

― Tracy McMillan

 On a cold winter’s day last February, I found myself roaming around the grassy cemetery of an ancient English church.  The tiny village with thatched roofs kept careful watch.  White snowdrops thrown like magic carpets by a ghost gave me a profound sense of hope and joy in this green grassy corner of the world.

Ancient burial stones tumbled, lopsided and barely appearing from moss covered mounds were everywhere.  A jumble of death.

In the midst of this a tall stone monument stood on a plinth, newer, built in 1922 and erected in memory of those who died in WWI.

The sign read “as there was no repatriation of bodies during the war, it was important for the villagers to have somewhere to come and remember the fallen”.

Heavens to Betsy!   I was struck by the word “repatriation” and the sense of loss.  I imagined the village looking for their loved ones and having nowhere to turn to find them.  The very language we use is like a minefield, fraught and jangling to the nerves.   Time and time again folks tell me “I hate that word – repatriation.”  Well, no wonder – it’s associated with death, the end, finality and not anything like a bright future 

That word, the very arrangement of those syllables and vowels kind of makes my skin crawl slightly.  A dictionary definition for the word is "The process of returning an asset, an item of symbolic value or a person - voluntarily or forcibly - to its owner or their place of origin or citizenship.”  

No wonder we hate it with a passion. The one word that describes the returning home process is associated with loss, sadness and perhaps in olden days the idea of death. Certainly, in modern-day America, repatriation continues to be linked to deceased military personnel and return of their remains. A sacred and silent moment of arrival which is hidden from cameras, film crews and the press, as if the rest of us need to be protected or shielded from the reality of war.

Is it any wonder that around this subject for those repatriating from foreign assignments, there is an attitude of “don’t worry you will survive”, “never mind, just tough it out” or “everyone goes through it”?

It’s as if repatriation is an infectious disease that we catch for a short time then shake it off. 

Yet, it is absolutely critical to spend time in reflection and contemplation after losing or moving from a place.  For some people, it can be like losing a loved one.  Telling the stories, debriefing ourselves and rearranging the experiences in our mind’s eye can help with the process of arriving well.

I discovered that when we align our purpose with the people and activities we love, life starts to re-arrange itself in happy new formations.  Yes, there is the possibility that repatriation can transform itself into a revival or a revitalization of life.   A new life recipe can be created.

It seems like it’s time to create new language, new conversations and new behaviors around repatriation – both the word and the process.  Because, what if this could be an opportunity to not only move home but to create a new mindset in the process?   What if in moving home you could build an entirely new life that you love even more? What if you could actively and consciously choose a new identity in the midst of this process?  What if you can build that essential sense of belonging with ease and grace?   What “iffing” ourselves can move the process along and create space for something we would prefer.

Together, let’s approach this word, this topic and this sacred process with some positive language or at least some whacky out of the box creativity.

Call me Pollyanna, but I for one believe that this stage in one’s life, when handled well, can be the most wonderful, joy filled transition.  While returning home or repatriating maybe the conclusion of a previous dream lived overseas, it can also be the brand-new baby beginning of an adventure back home.

Here’s to dreaming, here’s to life!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Reimagining Re-Entry - Super Self Care




Reimagining Re-Entry - Super Self-Care

How much Self-Care are you administering in the midst of the Re-entry or Relocation Journey?

Time and again, I end up in conversations with people - mostly women I have to say - who are simply working on auto-pilot and tending to everyone else's needs while quietly whining inwardly.

Ultimately that bubble bursts out, often at inopportune moments: What will it take? How bad does it have to get before we build ourselves a bubble of nurturing self-care.

The following list came from a group of women who juggle families, travel and careers. It might behoove each of us, whether recently arrived or a veteran of Re-entry, to try one or two new habits on for size and then examine the results.

1. Start to develop friends and your tribe by aligning yourself with people who have either navigated this journey or have experience in moving.
2. Find people to laugh with at the absurdity of what you are going through, or people who understand your tears, fears and frustrations - online communities, IAAT or others.
3. Make the details of life easy - use Amazon Prime, have stuff delivered.
4. Drop several of your daily tasks - replace them with some sort of pleasurable activity; I recently took up Pickleball - which meant I had to give up something else, but I found a new tribe who are more interesting.
5. Meditate in the morning and when you feel like the world is crashing.

6. Keep your best mates around the globe up to date with your life…with technology we can still meet face to face on Facetime.
7. Schedule your hair, makeup and nails…..put them on the calendar for months ahead;
8. Consider getting coaching or counseling through the darkest moments;
9. Do only what is required - nothing extra;
10. Distance yourself from toxic people and their problems, 

11. Join a Mastermind group….allow yourself to be supported;
12. Get sufficient sleep;
13. Work - pause - take time off, play, then work again….give yourself time and space;
14. Allow yourself to grieve - build in some time for it on your calendar - yes, really, really!
15. Simplify your commitments;
16. Develop a sanctuary for your soul. A comfy chair, a cozy corner, a favorite journal, give yourself a safe space;

17. Eat on schedule, work out, make your bed a haven of comfort and joy!
18. Imagine yourself being the person who has successfully navigated Re-Entry and won;
19. Listen to books on tape, only read positive materials for a while;
20. Travel with comfy socks, a satin pillow-case and lavender oil - I call these my trifecta of travel;
21. Pause - when you are about to react, go off the deep-end or lash out - just pause, take a deep breath;
22. How much water are you drinking?
23. How many steps per day is your goal? - they say that sitting is the new smoking;

24. Visit your vision every.single.day;
We all have unique signature-care-taking patterns - whether we are aware of them - or not. What are yours? And if you are about to embark on the journey of Re-entry or Relocation or are in the midst and riding the waves, write down some of your very best self-care practices - then take action to do them - all in one day if that's what it takes to feel better, or sprinkle them throughout your week.

What if this could be easy, way easier than you thought?

I don't know about you, but I find when I am in Re-entry (several times a year right now with international travel), I notice that I need to take much better physical care of myself. Going back and forth between two "home cultures and countries" I am constantly subjecting myself to tiny mini-doses of Re-entry. I notice that when I give up my good habits, my preferred environment and things like eating on schedule, working out and sleeping in my own bed, the disruption can spiral out of control and affect my internal sense of well-being.

Whether you are big time into Re-entry or relocating to a previous culture and country that you once called "home", a Re-entry Reset will happen - no matter what. Be prepared to manage it with better self-care. Imagine yourself into greater self-care and beyond regular health, but into magnificent vibrant health.

Dont forget to drink water, get 10,000 steps or as close as possible every day. I listen to positive books on Audible at every available opportunity, I travel with comfy socks, a silk pillow case and real French lavender oil from an abbey I recently visited in France. I smell it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, it helps me calm my thoughts and collect myself.

Simple signs of self-care give your subconscious mind signals that you are serious about taking care of yourself and putting yourself first.

Deliver some good self-love into your system when you are mid-Re-entry, Relocation or travelling anywhere - you will be glad you did.
Here's to the Re-entry You Dream Up!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Reimagine Your Re-entry by Engaging Your Intentions



 Three Reasons Why Re-entry Can Be Prolonged and Painful


a)    Insufficient support

All the surveys, studies and research point to the fact that everyone enjoys better results in Re-entry when they are receiving some sort of support. 

The support can be a family member who really leans in and listens well, an inter-cultural consultant or a friendly 
heart-centered coach who is trained to ask the right questions. 

The bottom line is, no matter who you are – the President of a corporation, or a returning student – getting the support you want and need is critical to thrive through the process of Returning well. 

 b)   Insufficient intention

When we are hit in the face by disconnection and disillusionment, it’s easy to dilute our intentions.  If we pour on more intention, it acts like fuel to the fire, or moving to another gear on the freeway – we arrive faster and get measurably better results. 

The Latin “intentionem” means stretching out, straining, exertion and effort.  Yes, it takes effort, this is not a passive process, it’s something you have to pour yourself into. 

Like a work-out for the mind.  It’s daily muscle-building.  By working out our minds and brains we build new thinking muscles.  By doing the daily reps you will build to a higher frequency and strengthen your thinking.

Help steady yourself in the wobbly parts of this journey by intending.  Intend the positive powerful life you want into existence….like an Olympic athlete go into the gym of your mind and build powerful and positive thinking – that translates into more powerful and positive actions.

 c)    Insufficient belief

Here are three beliefs you must unpack in order to thrive during the Re-entry rigamarole!

(1)   A belief that you deserve to thrive back home;
(2)    A belief that you are bigger than any of the storms that the 
     cultural adaptation process throws at you;
(3)   A belief that you and your vision are potent and powerful; if you are a person of faith – Use It!!   If not – Build It!!

“You must be willing to do something you’ve never done before,
 to get something you’ve never had.”           Mary Morrissey

Here’s to the Re-entry you dream up!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Re-Imagining the Re-entry of Your Life!





Use Your Memories to Leverage Your Future Amidst Re-entry

Re-entry can feel like a birth canal – that’s because it is!  It’s a process that has pain, relief, trauma and ultimately joy at the end.  You are literally are in the throes of birthing the next iteration of YOU. This is huge.  99% of us dismiss the process and sometimes even deny it exists.  The belief that we disembark an airplane and find ourselves “back home” is a myth of epic proportions.  But like a birth, when we deliver the joy we literally forget the pain.

The dictionary would say a memory is a recollection, a reminiscence, a souvenir, an echo or an impression.   We think in pictures – if I say “your kitchen sink” or “your left thumb” an image comes to mind.  Memories are unstable and constantly changing – like the rest of life – create them well – then use them. The images of our overseas sojourn prompt a “re-membering” an action in our mind’s eye where we put something together that transforms into memory.

By effectively harnessing those images of the past and using them mindfully we can more efficiently process Re-entry.  Just because memory fades doesn’t mean we cannot apply and repurpose them.  In fact, I have found that the longer I am “back home” the more perspective I enjoy. Re-entry is not an event – it’s a beautiful process, take your time, treat yourself like the hero you are – use all your memories, positive and negative, redirect them to leverage your next steps.  Make your memories the engine that drives you to the result you want.

Your stories are pure gold.  Yes, gold.  Save them, revisit them, treat them like they are family, love them – but don’t necessarily share them with your friends, family and neighbors back home.  Which of course is our first instinct …..when you hear in your head “oh let me tell you about the time…….happened overseas”, pause – ask yourself what message do you really want to articulate, and is this moment the time to share?

Find creative uses for your stories.  They might be messy – all the better. They will help you midwife and birth the experience you want at the end of Re-entry. Harness your stories, use them wisely to help even out the roller coaster of Re-entry.


  1. Review your memories and record them;
  2. Harness memories ... how can you use your memories to leverage the results you want both inside and after the Re-entry process?
  3. Love your stories - make them more real, treat them like treasures;
  4. Don't cast pearls before swine - like in the bible - nurture and share you memories as appropriate.  Only share with people who love, value and appreciate them;
  5. Repurpose your story to tell the story of WHO you are becoming and WHAT you want to achieve with Re-entry.


You are the person who created x, y and z overseas, therefore you are the person who can repurpose those memories to create exactly what you would love in the future. 

All the best with your memories.  Let us know your results and how this works for you.

Here's to the Re-entry you dream up!