Friends in EST and CST time zones - this message is for you! As part of my training to become a Senior Facilitator in the Personal Leadership program, I'm on a serious mission to iron out the kinks in my 12-week online Personal Leadership program - Finding Your Way: Everyday Mindfulness for Critical Moments.

Please consider joining my beta-testing group and help me get this up off the ground! You won't regret it. This program teaches easily accessible, simple mindfulness tools to support you in dealing with whatever life throws your way. I'm looking for 5 participants and while there is a fee it's a total steal! Click over here to read all about it and register to let me know you might be interested (Don't worry - you're not locked in. Dates are TBD). Please feel free to share with friends!

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I'm so pleased to be contributing to the I Am a Triangle website. It continues to bring me great joy to be a part of this incredible community of individuals living between cultures.

If you haven't already joined the conversation - you totally should! You can register on the community platform (like a better, more focused Facebook-type program) here or check out the website along with other third-culture-focused bloggers here.

Read my latest article in celebration of International Day of the Girl here.

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I was looking back at some past World Tree Coaching birthday posts and it turns out I write pretty much the same things every year! Seriously. Year one. Year two. Year three.

It's clearly a birthday blogging tradition and all of it's still true, so why change now?

Here's what I'm saying (again):

Yay! I made it!

I love this work!

I love my clients!

This year I'm doing super fun new things (read about some of them here and here and here).

Gush, gush, gush, gush, gush – this job makes me so happy and I’m gonna’ do it forever!

Work With Me! Working with a life coach is awesome! Don’t take my word for it though – check out what my clients are saying. Or read this recent post from another coach friend and learn a bit more about why working with a coach is absolutely something you should do.

I’ve got a couple of clients wrapping up and that leaves 4 individual coaching spots open between now and the New Year. Wait! World Tree Coaching is turning 4 and I've got 4 spots open!? What are the chances!?

Seriously – what are you waiting for?

Wondering what exactly I do? Here's an excerpt from this recent blog post:

As a coach and expat support professional, I help people find home. I whole-heartedly believe that the answer to what home means to each of us is already with us. With age and time and conditioning, we lose our ability to get up close and personal with what we think and feel and that affects our ability to see clearly what home really means. We shy away from the messy parts, we hide the ups and downs and we downplay the things we’re totally rocking. My theory is – it’s all material! I help people learn to be okay with what’s working well. And, I support people as they honestly and gently, refocus towards their inner sense of home when they find what they’re currently doing has stopped serving them well.

How do I do all of that?

I bring optimism and compassion into the space in which we are working together. I believe in my clients – they are whole, capable, experienced and brilliant. Through a lens of love and curiosity, I invite them to step into the space where they can use those traits to get where they want to be.

That pretty much sums it up. Join me and help me celebrate yet another year of supporting people in finding home no matter where they are.

Read more about my one-on-one coaching programs here.

Click here to schedule a FREE, no obligation consult session to see what this coaching thing is all about.

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A couple of nights ago we faced a life-threatening health emergency with one of our children. Our middle son has Type 1 Diabetes. It’s well controlled and even though it’s a big part of our lives, it mostly now feels like a background fact. It’s been almost 4 years and, except for his initial diagnosis, he hasn’t faced a single emergency or hospitalization…until the other night.

One of the most upsetting things about what happened is that it was a simple mistake – picking up the wrong insulin and injecting him with fast-acting instead of short-acting insulin. He was fine in the end, but the whole thing was really scary. I won't mince words here - it was potentially fatal.

I hesitate in some ways to make this statement - it seems so cliché - but mindfulness totally saves me in moments like this. In looking back, I can see how having spent years practicing more mindful responses to stress (as opposed to my old way which was full-freak-out) has helped me even in the most critical of moments.

When things like this happen, the definition of mindfulness comes into vivid focus. And I'm reminded that this is why we practice, practice, practice at tuning in...even when we don't always feel like we're "succeeding."

I'm in no way different from anyone else. Next time I might lose it. But the practice comes to you when you need it. It's like running a marathon. Even if you haven't trained, you'll probably be more prepared if you're running a few miles every day than if you're sitting on the couch watching movies.

Everyday mindfulness is about seeing life as it is. It is about paying attention to what is really happening, taking in what we witness there and moving through that experience to the next place. It helps us to live more in tune with ourselves and with those around us. It helps us move closer to being the people we really want to be in the world and it supports us in getting back on track when we've lost our way.

It does not mean avoiding stress. It is not about pretending everything is okay when it’s not. It’s not about making yourself feel calm or relaxed all the time. It's not about being perfectly happy with every moment. It's about living fully aware of the way things really are and responding from that place so that we live more fully.

Mindfulness also helps me to recognize that my natural tendency is to chase worst-case scenarios, to imagine endless what-ifs. It helps me get up close and personal with that fact of my personality. There were certainly moments the other night when I thought - "What if...!". I know I'll mess up and fail and feel overwhelmed a million times in my life. Sometimes I worry that the next big "catastrophe" will be the final straw to stability. We all do...right...just me? When I'm mindful, I'm freed to see that that's only one part of the story.

When things are well, mindfulness helps me notice and be grateful. When things are tough, it provides the little bits of light in the woods.

The good news is, none of this is rocket science. We can all practice becoming more mindful. These are skills we all have – listening to what our bodies are telling us, naming and honoring all of the emotions we feel, seeing the ways in which our assumptions get in the way of more creative solutions to the problems we face each day.

Often, we’ve simply unlearned these abilities. Moments like this really remind me of why it’s important to keep relearning. It’s like going from black and white to full color again and again and again.

What if you could face all sorts of challenges and still hold yourself together enough to come out the other side wiser, stronger and still laughing? Maybe not every time, but at least some times...or even just a bit more than you are now.

It sounds impossible and yet these skills exist. Mindfulness is not the cure-all for all of the things that we face in life and certainly, many life events are so painful we can’t even bear to consider them. Trust me, my brain has gone there.

But what if you have an entire toolbox of abilities that you’re not accessing? What if you could rediscover those tools, learn when and how to access them and put into place the habit of using them every day?

You know, it might even be simpler than you think.

Want to learn how you can bring more mindfulness into your life?

Join me for my upcoming Mindfulness Skills for Parenting Workshop. We’ll be using the very practical and totally accessible methods outlined in the Personal Leadership program. Read more about PL here and check out my reflections on becoming a PL facilitator here.

Or, check out these resources below. Note - this list is far from exhaustive. These are some of my favorites.

Websites/Apps

Headspace (website and app)

Insight Timer (app)

Soundstrue.com

UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center

University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness

Mindfulness/Meditation Teachers to trust:

Tara Brach

Jon Kabat-Zinn (Google him for more info)

Jonathan Froust

Jack Kornfield

Sharon Salzberg

Pema Chodron

Books

Making a World of Difference: Personal Leadership a Methodology of Two Principles and Six Practices - Schaetti, Ramsey and Watanabe

Wherever You Go There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living – both by Jon Kabat-Zinn

10% Happier – Dan Harris (This is a great, easy to read book for people who find themselves somewhat skeptical about how to go about living more mindfully.)

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin (not specifically mindfulness, but still a good resource)

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Last week I tuned in to this exciting Facebook Live video with Amel Derragui of Tandem Nomads. I had the pleasure and honor of being interviewed by Amel almost two years ago (time flies!) when she was first starting her Tandem Nomads podcast.

Since then, she has brought together a great support community of expat spouses bringing their own individual passions, flare and dedication to fruition through a wide array of entrepreneurial endeavors. And – her work has paid off! Tandem Nomads has really made a name for itself and it continues to be a fun, supportive and educational place to connect over what can be a really unpredictable way of living all while shedding light on the unique position of being a “trailing spouse.”

In addition to some exciting news about Tandem Nomads (watch the video!), Amel shared the three words (The Three Cs) that have been the foundation of her success with Tandem Nomads. As I heard her talk about these key elements of her business success, I realized how applicable these key points are to anything we undertake.

The longer I’m in business (World Tree Coaching turns 4 next month!), the more I realize that the personal and the professional are intimately intertwined. Who we bring to our work is the person we are each day. And, as anyone who’s ever had to clean baby puke off of their work shirt before seeing a client will tell you, the personal always has an impact on how you show up each day for your clients and colleagues.

People will tell you not to combine work and life outside the “office.” I disagree – when you’re fortunate enough to do something you love, using work experiences to inform home life and personal lessons to guide work life can mean a deeper engagement all around.

So, I’ve decided today to get a little personal and share with you my own reflections on what Amel’s Three Cs – Clarity, Consistency and Conversion – mean for me professionally and personally.

Clarity

Get clear about what you’re all about! This one hasn’t changed for me since I started World Tree Coaching four years ago. In fact, it is the fundamental reason why I know I’ll do this forever.

As a coach and expat support professional, I help people find home. I whole-heartedly believe that the answer to what home means to each of us is already with us. With age and time and conditioning, we lose our ability to get up close and personal with what we think and feel and that affects our ability to see clearly what home really means. We shy away from the messy parts, we hide the ups and downs and we downplay the things we’re totally rocking. My theory is – it’s all material! I help people learn to be okay with what’s working well. And, I support people as they honestly and gently, refocus towards their inner sense of home when they find what they’re currently doing has stopped serving them well.

How do I do all of that?

For my individual coaching clients, I bring optimism and compassion into the space in which we are working together. I believe in my clients – they are whole, capable, experienced and brilliant. Through a lens of love and curiosity, I invite them to step into the space where they can use those traits to get where they want to be.

It is my goal that no person living this nomadic life ever feel like they cannot find home. It’s in there somewhere - for all of us.

How does this relate to my personal life?

Three words are my compass of clarity – Peace. Love. Family. At each turn, whether it’s engaging with family from afar, cultivating relationships with friends, nurturing my marriage or supporting my children, I ask myself, “Does this bring peace? Are my actions undertaken in love? Does this strengthen my family/community?” Let’s be honest – sometimes I totally fail, but having clarity of vision on where I want to be is a lifesaver over and over again! When I get off track, I know exactly how to get back in the right direction.

Consistency

Be consistent with what strategies you’re implementing to get where you want to go. Yikes! On the professional front, this one is a bit harder and without a doubt something that’s a struggle for me.

I am a naturally high energy, optimistic person. I have so much fun with all aspects of my business. I’m a bit like a puppy dog with a new toy – easily distracted into doing something that looks fun! Today Facebook live videos, tomorrow Instagram, next week....who knows! What about groups…workshops…online courses! It all sounds like so much fun.

When I'm able to harness this energy, I can definitely say there are a few consistent strategies that rarely fail me and I am committed to following through with them. These are areas in which consistency has definitely paid off.

What are those?

First, I look for opportunities to talk one-on-one with people about what I do. Sometimes this means I have to go out on a limb and ask to share my work. Other times, people ask me questions that enable me to clarify how I can support them in their endeavors. Either way – I engage people directly as much as possible.

Second, writing. I love to write and it comes easily for me. I use my writing as a way to share my work and connect with others and I seek out opportunities to include my writing on platforms outside my own personal blog.

Finally, I engage on social media. This is one that I’ll admit is a bit of a love/hate for me. I absolutely love the way in which social media connects us to our larger community. At the same time, I find that sometimes it can become a stressful rabbit hole. Therefore, I allow myself to be flexible with my engagement. I interact in ways that feel natural by commenting, liking or sharing only the things that really speak to me and by doing my best to filter out the stuff that just feels like noise.

Interestingly, consistency in my personal life is a whole lot easier! But, it wasn’t always that way. I had to find myself feeling rather lost in our nomadic lifestyle. There was a time when I was over-worked, stressed-out and quite a bit lonely. It took that experience to remind me that consistency can be the key to getting out of a funk. So, in my daily life consistency looks like – going for a run most days, meditating most days, eating clean healthy food as much as possible, limiting (although not eliminating) my alcohol and caffeine consumption, date nights with my husband, and never missing a chance to talk with a friend. At first this was hard, now these things take a major place of priority in helping me feel capable of facing our adventures head-on.

Conversion

This is about turning what you do each day into real, meaningful work that affects the lives of the people you work with. Amel talked here about the difference between going “viral” and actually connecting with people and I whole-heartedly agree.

My business is small. I’ve had a few blog posts or articles that have had near a thousand readers and even when things are slow I have a steady stream of work with individual clients or groups, but for the most part, my community feels like a tight-knit group of people on a journey down the same path. And that’s the way I want to keep it.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there are times when I ask myself if I’m doing “enough” and sure, I want to be successful so that I can keep doing the work I love. But then I take a moment to remind myself that sitting across from someone, giving her space to explore and accompanying her as she finds home is where my heart lies. I know I'm headed in the best direction for me. The results might look different than what an outsider thinks they “should” look like, but that's okay. This feels right.

But how do you translate conversion into your personal life?

For me this is most apparent in my relationships, especially in my relationships with my children. Let’s be honest, parenting can be a big fat mystery. None of us really has much of an idea how it will all turn out. We do our best and hope they won’t hate us in the end. This is especially true for those of us living internationally – and even more so when we didn’t ourselves grow up living around the world. The balance can seem so much more precarious and we often find ourselves asking, "Will this (departure, move, tragedy, loss) end up being the final straw?"

When my kids were born, I decided to do my own personal work in hopes that I’d be as good a mom as they deserve. For me, that meant developing skills in mindfulness, setting boundaries, partnering continually with my husband, cultivating honest self-reflection and even going to therapy if it meant shedding some of the baggage of my own childhood.

The process of being honest about what I’m working on, letting them see me cry when things are tough, showing them the value of fun, reminding them that we're always here even if our house looks different and apologizing when I mess up is important. It reminds them that they're free to be whomever they find themselves to be (no matter where they call home). That’s conversion in my personal life – making the deep, consistent commitment for the long-term. It’s the slow, sometimes complicated process of trial and error that leads us to the most meaningful, messy, honest, love-filled and happy relationships.

Who knew when I listened to Amel’s podcast I would find so many lessons beyond the professional! Of course, if you’re a part of this lifestyle, it’s probably not all that surprising.

To me, here’s what’s so great about the amazing interconnectedness of an internationally nomadic lifestyle, from business to our personal lives, we get to learn all of these things together. We get to teach each other and share over our common place of strangeness in an unpredictable existence. There is a unique beauty, I think, in a community of people who support each other in finding their way. In the end, that’s what we all do – help each other find home, no matter where we go.

Be sure to check out Tandem Nomads here or on Facebook.

If you’re interested in working with a coach, I’d love to talk to you! Read more about my work here or jump straight to schedule a free consult session here.

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For most of us, it’s probably not too terribly difficult to consider and describe the ways in which our lives have meaning.

If we are a parent, a spouse, a partner, a child, a friend – then we can recognize that we offer love and comfort to someone. We mean something to the people we love and they in-turn mean something to us. That creates meaning.

If you care for plants or pets or you’re responsible for the upkeep of an organization or the day-to-day workings of a business – your life has meaning. If you weren’t there, the work wouldn’t get done. If you didn’t have the work or the responsibility you’d feel a lack of a sense of meaning.

Most of us can find that sense of meaning without too much searching.

Purpose, on the other hand, can be more difficult to nail down.

Purpose implies a larger reason for why we take time to do the things that create meaning in our lives. For some people, that reason is ascribed to a higher power. For others, it’s simply the awareness that we have a limited time on this sphere called Earth and there’s probably something we’re supposed to do with that time.

I had a client once describe it this way:

She loves her daughter and that is one of the many ways in which her life has meaning. Her daughter needs her and she feels a deep sense of love and connection in being her mother. However, while loving her creates meaning, it does not, in and of itself establish purpose.

My client feels that her life’s purpose is rooted in helping people, in making the world a better place, in teaching and supporting others. She feels as though, in her relationship with her daughter, she fulfills purpose by modeling opportunities for growth, for happiness, for compassion and for empathy. Loving her daughter would probably always be enough for her to feel meaning, but deepening that love through the conscious decision to model the above qualities enables this client to fulfill her life purpose each and every day.

I think this is a great illustration of the difference between the two and the way in which meaning and purpose support and reinforce each other.

It’s really quite a fascinating idea if you stop to think about it.

I find that separating the two enables us to see they ways in which meaning and purpose are and are not connected. The above description also helps us to see that meaning and purpose are related to each other. They don’t run parallel, they are interwoven – one supports the other and vice versa. They are different, but they matter so much to each other.

What I think is even more powerful about this is the way in which recognizing the difference between the two can teach us more ways in which we can consciously choose to live our life's purpose through the things that bring us meaning. This alignment means that each day really does matter just as much as the next.

Think about it this way - how many times have you gotten to the end the day and thought, “What did I really do today?”

If you could begin to see how meaning and purpose are different but related, would it create a greater sense of integrity in your life? Would you have fewer of those moments that seem to just slip away? If you were able to recognize your purpose, would it give meaning to things that have started to seem mundane? If you look at what brings you meaning, is it possible you would see a greater purpose?

I can’t claim to have the answers here, but I can’t help but think this is something we often overlook. It certainly gets me thinking!

What about you?

Are you inspired to delve deeper into this? Check out the questions below. They might shed some light on meaning and purpose in your own life.

Leave me a comment too! I’d love to hear how you see the intersection of meaning and purpose.

Some questions to help you consider meaning:

  • Who do I love?
  • Who loves me?
  • When do I feel joy?
  • When do I feel sadness?
  • What moments do I most look forward to?
  • In what moments do I feel a sense of flow – as though I am completely in the zone or totally in my element?

Questions that might help you look at purpose:

  • What do I want people to most remember about me when I’m gone?
  • If I were to find out today that I only had one year left to live, what would I want to do with that time?
  • What do people seek me out for? When the question arises, “Who can…?” when am I the answer to that question?
  • Complete this sentence, “I am here to…”

Learn more about the latest with World Tree Coaching by clicking the links below or by signing up for my mailing list in the right hand tool bar.

Interested in coaching, but not sure if it's the right fit for you? Schedule a FREE 30-minute coaching consult by clicking here.

Read more about what services I offer here.

Check out my current special offers and discounted programs here.

Register for my upcoming 12-Week Online Mindfulness Program here.

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Let's face it - you love your kids, but you might...just might...be happy they're all back at school. Right now it’s possible you look like the lady in that photo…right?

If there's one thing I hear from friends, clients and colleagues alike right now it's that a return to the school year means a return to regular schedules, normal bedtimes and a better sense that you can come out from under everyone else's stuff. It's heavy under there!

And that means it's the perfect time for you to turn the focus back in your direction for a bit.

I want you to do that! I love more than anything supporting people in reaching their goals, finding their sense of self and moving forward one step at a time in connecting with what matters most in their lives.

Join me in celebrating this newest transition by taking advantage of my latest coaching program offer.

From now until the end of September 2017, take 20% off your coaching program fees. Click here to see if you’re eligible for additional discounts. Installment plans are available for my 8- and 12-week programs.

If you're ready to get started - simply email me at jodi at worldtreecoaching dot com.

Have you been thinking about coaching, but you're still not sure if it's right for you? Never considered coaching, but now you're kinda' curious?

Read what past clients have said here. Or click here to schedule a time to chat with a FREE, 45-minute consult session!

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This 12-Week Workshop - Finding Your Way: Everyday Mindfulness for Critical Moments - is designed to give you a starting point for using everyday mindfulness. The skills you'll learn can help you gain clarity in times of difficulty, deepen your interpersonal relationships, adjust better to change and weather transition with a renewed sense of vision and purpose.

So what is everyday mindfulness? 

Everyday mindfulness is about taking the concepts behind the spiritual tradition of mindfulness (in the moment awareness) and applying them to real life situations. It's not about avoiding stress, painful emotions or difficulties, but about learning how to deal with them in a way that fosters compassion, resilience and thoughtfulness.

People who work with me aren't necessarily interested in learning to meditate (although meditation is a great tool for learning mindfulness).

They're not going to become monks (although they may be religious).

They sometimes get really pissed off, but they want to recover from their mistakes and learn how to do better next time.

They have a pretty clear sense of how they're "supposed" to feel, but they'd prefer to better understand how they "actually" feel and work from that place.

With this in mind, I offer a straight-forward, real-world, supportive environment for you to learn practical ways to apply remarkable tools, every day.

In this workshop you'll learn how to take mindfulness down from the clouds and into the places you really live each day.

Each meeting will be interactive and will include a presentation of the week's topic, plus short activities and opportunities for discussion. The content from this program comes the Personal Leadership (PL) Model. Read more about my PL training here.

Over the course of 12 weeks, we will:

  • Explore the link between mindfulness and creativity.
  • Create a vision for how you want to live when you’re at your highest and best.
  • Learn 6 simple mindfulness practices for in-the-moment awareness.
  • Practice an easily accessible tool (The Critical Moment Dialogue) for connecting to your vision and choosing the best action for you when you're facing difficult situations.

After completing the workshop you will:

  • Be able to adapt your personal vision to fit your life now and as it changes.
  • Be able to recognize "something's up" moments.
  • Have 6 simple mindfulness practices at your fingertips to use any time.
  • Apply the Critical Moment Dialogue to an array of life situations from challenging work environment, to parenting, from international transition to health issues.
  • Better understand your own ingrained judgments and assumptions and  how they relate to your decision making, state-of-mind and individual perspective.
  • Be able to find new and creative solutions to everyday challenges.

Program Details

Dates/Time: Stay tuned for upcoming dates or email me at jodi at worldtreecoaching dot com to arrange a time that works for your group. Interested in doing this program one-on-one with me? Schedule a consult session here to talk with me about it.

Where: All sessions will be conducted via Zoom.

Who: Space is limited and is open to anyone who is interested in learning mindfulness skills through the Personal Leadership model.

Program Fee:  $750

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For many of you in the expat/overseas/around-the-world community, the I Am a Triangle Community on Facebook has been a life-saver - one of the few places you can connect with people who truly "get" the ins and outs of this crazy lifestyle.

I Am a Triangle founder, Naomi Hattaway, has transitioned the IAAT group from Facebook to an official website and online community hosted by Mighty Networks. Learn all about it and join the community here.

I am also super excited and incredibly honored to be a featured blogger in the resource section of the new website. You can check out great blog posts from a wonderful community of triangle writers here.

Go straight to my first IAAT blog post, Ghosts Know No Borders, here.

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Almost every summer for the past nine years, we’ve gone home. As we eke out the last few days of tacos, swimming pools and grandparents in this summer’s 7-week adventure, I see that this trip home has been different than others.

I had not realized before that, for my husband and me, these trips back home all come with the same reflections and contemplations – How have I changed? How long will we keep doing this? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this lifestyle? Who do we want to see? Who is it better to let fall off the radar this year?

For our children, the summers have always been – More swimming! More American television! More tacos! More ice cream!

Not this summer. Their eyes have opened. It’s been an unexpected gift.

I’ve read a lot about raising TCKs. Forget the books – this summer is the summer they’re teaching me more than ever before. With simple words, little stories, dreams recounted on lazy mornings and tears and smiles that come from nowhere – I’m seeing our lifestyle from their eyes in new and vivid colors.

This is the summer that I’ve learned:

With each passing year, they see more.

There is a progressive, deepening understanding of their lifestyle as the children of a diplomat. Our middle son, age 9, came into our room one night, bright eyes of a wise man. He says, “You might have seen me crying a little bit earlier. It’s because I got all the answers all at once. Well, not ALL the answers, but the answers. I’ve realized we move. I mean that’s what we do. We move and we move again. We just keep moving.” I’m reminded that I can never assume they know it, get it and have incorporated every aspect of our lifestyle – their understanding of and relationship with the way we live will keep evolving. Our work is never done in supporting them through each phase.

They have traveler’s eyes, all the time.

Because my children are always outsiders no matter where they go – even in their home country – they see every place as a location to be explored. Everyday, American things like playgrounds, squirrels and never-ending plains of grass are fascinating. They are offering me opportunities to see things I’ve never noticed.

Home is home. Vacation is vacation.

For my husband and I – we are at home when we are here. When we are in Tokyo, we are also home…but not HOME. For our children – this is vacation. This is not home. It is a place they are from, no doubt, but home? No, not really. Tokyo is home. The balance between teaching them they are from here while letting go of my own desire to define home (for myself, but inadvertently for them) takes constant rethinking.

They don’t have to be “on” all the time.

One day, about 3 weeks into our stay here, my oldest came to me crying. “I know that I’m supposed to know these people. You say that I used to play with them, but I don’t remember. I want to remember. I want to be nice and have fun, but really, I just want to do something else right now.” I shared this story with another expat-mom friend and she responded, “Yep! I tell my kids they don’t have to be on all the time when we’re here.” I can connect quickly and deeply here because the relationships and memories are all seamed together through shared history and location. Those relationships, to my children, hang by single threads. I have to give them permission to tune out some and even teach them to cut ties when and if they need to.

Siblings.

There are millions of upsides to going home each summer. Spending concentrated sibling time is one of them. When you have no other friends to escape to, no school activities, no routines to fall back on and no room to hide in – you have to invent and play and fight and make up. I see their relationship deepening with each passing week. Mobile best friends are amazing.

Some things they will remember, some things they won’t.

I’ve started so many sentences with, “Do you remember…?” Blank stares often follow. I’m teaching myself to avoid saying, “Wow! How can you have forgotten?” and “What!? He was one of your closest friends.” I’m working more on, “That’s okay. It was a long time ago,” and “Hm. Maybe you’ll remember when we get there. I remember that you really loved it when you were young.” I want to work towards teaching them that forgetting some parts of their past lives is actually okay and perhaps even necessary for survival in a life of constant change.

My friends are not their friends.

What more can I say on this one? If we lived a life in one place they would be surrounded all the time by the same grown-ups. Instead, I see them developing deep, meaningful, trust-worthy relationships with adults in each place we live. Ultimately, I find that this promotes choice and boundary setting. They approach relationships with a self-assuredness and outgoing nature that is unique to this way of living.

They will not love the same things about going home that I love.

Okay, so some things here everyone loves. We’re fortunate to be from Austin and that’s a place people want to go. When I come home, I’m coming back to see and experience all the things I loved growing up. I’m also lucky that this is a place that always seems to be changing in really cool ways – so there is a lot more to explore and learn about each time we're here. My kids, however, are falling in love with their own experiences here. In a sense, we have to treat it like a whole new place where everyone has his or her personal must-see/must-do list.

Family is home.

At the end of the day, a mobile lifestyle means our little family of five is our safe space. The world changes around us and we move and experience new countries and cultures, but for the most part, we stay the same. The stability of our home life and family rituals is a foundation upon which to grow (even when we're moving). It takes time and effort to reinforce this perspective, but over the years having done so – we see how important it is when we’re home. When the days are long, the miles exhausting, the newness too much to bear – hugs and an empathetic ear from someone who gets it can make all the difference.

Nothing can be forced, only offered.

The friends and family we see when we go home and the opportunities to do new and interesting things while we’re here can be overwhelming to all of us. We have to be lots of different people at once. Each moment must be approached with a gentle, loving heart. The space for learning to love this place we call “home” can be offered, the opportunity presented, but deep down it must always be done with the knowledge that they may say, “No thank you.”

I’m no expert. There are lots of times when I wonder if we’re doing the right thing. And, of course, there are even more times when I am profoundly aware that my children are getting the best of all possible worlds – deep roots to a place they can, if they choose to, call home and strong connections to potential heart-homes all over the world. I’ve found the key this summer is in observing how they’re learning. I didn’t expect that this summer, as they’ve aged and grown, would be the summer when their learning was also their chance to teach me more about how to be their mom.

Check out some of my other posts on parenting TCKs at the links below.

Mindfulness for Expat Parents: FREE Chapter Download

Traditions and Rituals for Smoother Transitions

The Upside to Detours

Making Memories All Your Own

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