Tag Archives: personal foundation

Every one of us is made up of layers and layers of experience. Our personalities, our likes and dislikes, our success and failures and our dreams and nightmares are all part of who we are.

For those of us who live a globally mobile lifestyle, those layers are further complicated by the fact that we can be one person in one place and an entirely different person in another. Or, at least, it can often feel that way.

I hear this so often from my coaching clients. One of the most common expat feelings is the sense that some of our most cherished personal qualities get buried under the stress and anxiety of moving from place to place. Alternatively, some of the parts of ourselves that we most desire to change, end up sticking around because let’s face it – doing our personal work is hard even if we stay in one place.

But with practice and dedication, we can learn to reveal more of our layers. As we do this, we begin to live more as our complete selves which, in turn, can help us feel more secure, confident and fulfilled – even if we’re moving around a lot!

Here are just a few ways some of my most successful clients have learned to honor their multi-layered selves:

  • They take time to find out what those layers are. Make a list of the keys areas of your life. I like to include these 7 areas: emotional, spiritual, professional, social, intellectual, practical/physical environment and health. For each of these areas, write down some of your most important needs, priorities or values.
  • They practice saying, “I am…”. I am a writer, I am an artist, I am a poet, I am a runner, etc. Do you have a passion or skill that you feel shy about sharing? That’s normal, but with practice comes acceptance – from yourself and from those around you.
  • They tell people what they’re working on. Whether it’s something you’re proud of or something you’re hoping to change – don’t keep it a secret! Getting trusted companions involved in our growth helps us feel accountable to the changes we’re hoping to make and it reveals layers that may not always be evident to the outside world.
  • They share stories. Story telling is a great way to learn more about the complex layers of our lives and it also helps others (especially when we’re making new friends in a new place) see how dynamic we really are.
  • They commit to being a good friend. One of the best ways that we learn about ourselves is to invest in relationships. Taking time to honor the people around us enables us to bring forth our best selves. Read here for some of my favorite skills of socially adaptable expats.
  • They ask a lot of questions...and then they ask again. All the time - to themselves and to others. They get really, really curious.
  • They know that the things they love are not frivolous or silly. If you have a unique interest of hobby, recognize that this interest is a key part of making you feel like yourself and then find people with whom you can share this interest.
  • They stop shrugging. This is so common! I do it all the time! When we have something special to share, when we receive a compliment, when we have the opportunity to open up – we often do it with a shrug of the shoulders. In an effort not to standout, we hide behind the shrug. Instead – square your shoulders and go for it! Own up to all the layers of yourself!
  • They never stop growing! Give yourself space to revisit things that are working well for you and areas in which you feel stuck. Get help when you need it. Remember – you’re always a work in progress – layer after layer, year after year.

Living a globally mobile lifestyle doesn’t have to be an excuse for staying in one place on the inside. Your layers are amazing – let them show!

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I cannot wait to tell you all about the training I went to in the US last week!

I’m a highly visual person. My brain works like those scenes in The Lego movie when the master builders start making new creations. Often it feels like things are just floating around and then the missing piece is discovered and then suddenly –click, click, click – it all comes together.

I’ve been feeling on the verge of that sort of all-clicking-together sensation for months. Last year I listened to this podcast on the Personal Leadership framework for working across cultures on the Tandem Nomads podcast. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of PL before – it combines all the different sectors of my professional experience and it also aligns brilliantly with my personal spiritual and world view. As I learned more about the PL method, I knew that I wanted to become trained as a facilitator and begin integrating the work into my personal and professional life.

Finally, last week I attended the Personal Leadership Training of Facilitators program on Whidbey Island in Washington State.

I'm so excited about this that I find it a little bit challenging to find the words!

Perhaps it’s best to simply sum up what PL is.

The Personal Leadership framework was originally created in the mid-90s by three intercultural trainers/educators who felt that the individuals with whom they worked needed a better way to handle the challenges of intercultural communication. They found that being kind and smart and interculturally competent wasn’t necessarily enough to give people the tools they needed to deal with complex problems in culturally complex settings. So they set about developing a set of guiding principles and practices to help people.

Perhaps the primary context for PL is not that it’s simply something we do at work or with a particular team or group of people in a designated setting. PL is a framework that you can use across your life. PL is supported by two foundational principles - mindfulness and creativity. It is based on the assumption that paying attention to the world around us and approaching challenges from a place of creativity can guide us to making better decisions. Establishing these principles as the way in which we engage with the world enables us to engage from our highest and best selves.

This is something that seems obvious, but one of the things I’ve often run into as a coach is that knowing this and actually doing it can be incredibly difficult for people. The creators of PL recognized this as well and so they established some practices that could help people get to this point. These practices are based on research in multiple fields including - leadership development, intercultural communication, positive psychology and whole-person self-development, among other areas.

Personal Leadership is put into action through the practice of 6 simple tools – Attending to Judgment, Attending to Emotion, Attending to Physical Sensation, Cultivating Stillness, Engaging Ambiguity and Aligning with Vision.

Our training was designed to help us learn how to integrate the PL practice into our own personal and professional experience and to give us tools, activities and a framework for bringing these practices to the people we serve.

As I mentioned before – it was awesome!

The highlights for me were:

  • The incredibly well done integration of the personal and professional aspects of PL. I’ll admit my one hesitation before registering for the training was that the spiritual nature of the practice (no doubt there is one) would detract from the training platform. In other words, despite being a very spiritual, somewhat dreamy person myself, I worried that there wouldn’t be enough science, research, fact or practical application to support the training. It’s not that I didn’t think PL was based on those things….I just wondered how you could successfully bring both. Our training team did an exceptional job with this. In the sense of content – this was classic training format. There was a lot of play, but we were there to work. We were held accountable and we had things we were required to do - most importantly, to show up fully.
  • The combination of multiple learning formats throughout each training day. This was key to supporting us in being fully present with tons of information. There was never a dull moment. In fact, I’d say it’s the first training I’ve ever been to where I don’t remember feeling bored at one point or another. I was never bored. Every moment was thought provoking and engaging.
  • The people. It’s probably not surprising that the Personal Leadership framework attracts people you’d like to be around. This training brought together incredibly thoughtful, insightful, smart and reflective people. There was so much humor and camaraderie combined with real reflection on everything from personal experience to social justice. The space felt really safe. I love my fellow participants. It’s one of those moments where you realize if you’d never had the experience you’d never know these people…admittedly I have those experience a lot in this lifestyle. This one was particularly special.
  • Also, the Whidbey Institute is incredible! Being close to nature, eating from the earth and having so much stillness enriched our learning and, for me, was very much needed after 18 months in the world's largest city.

Really I could say so much more...but I'll wrap up here...

Over the next several months I’ll be working to integrate the PL platform into some of my coaching programs and into my group work and workshops. If you’re part of the US Embassy community in Tokyo – I have an hour-long mindfulness program coming up in April. I’ll be integrating some PL components into that. I may also be doing a two-hour mindfulness program with FEW Japan sometime in late Spring or early Summer. We’re still working out the details, but I plan to include some PL perspective in that as well. I'll post more info on that here when I have it.

Mostly I’m hoping to simply be creative with this! To play and to see where all this leads. I’m looking forward to trying things out and working with some individual clients to support them in engaging a PL practice in their own lives. Stay tuned for specific opportunities, but feel free to email me if you’re interested in learning more. I'd be happy to offer individual coaching or to design something for your group. In other words – let me know if you’d like to be a guinea pig! This is amazing work and I'd be thrilled to have you along on the journey.

happy-happy-birthday

Every year around this time I reflect on the big leap I took to start my own business.

Now three years in, I reflect on how freakin’ scary it was! How even making my first professional Facebook post felt like I was inviting all of my worst fears to come and take up residence in my daily life.

What if I fail?

What if no one takes me seriously?

What if I’m not good enough? Kind enough? Smart enough? Savvy enough?

What if I don't like this thing at all?

Well, if there’s anything that working with coaching clients for 3 years will teach you it’s that those thoughts are normal, you’re not alone and when it’s all said and done, each and every one of us is capable of coming out the other side of fear stronger than when we entered.

This World Tree Coaching anniversary moment is made all the more poignant in that this week I will also reach my own birthday milestone – the big 4-0! FORTY!

I remember the 40th birthday parties of my parents’ generation always included fake gravestones and black streamers. Thank god we’re not in that place anymore! Times have changed! I think forty seems pretty awesome.

I love my work as a coach and writer. I adore with every part of my soul sitting down and supporting someone as they walk through fear and come out the other side. I love the challenge of it all and feel stretched every day to be a better coach and to tap into my strengths and confront professional challenges. I can’t claim the hard parts are easy…but I do love them!

And I also love how this work forces me to get comfortable with all the many ways we feel. The losses, challenges and passions of my clients remind me of those places in my own life. My coaching work is about my clients, but I feel like it’s a jackpot of incredible luck that I get to learn along with them.

This year – above all else – I will be celebrating! Come do that with me!

In celebration of these milestones, I am offering 5 special coaching spots at a fantastic reduced rate.

Why 5? Because that’s the space I have and I like the number.

Why the reduced rate? This is totally the social worker in me. It probably means I’m not the world’s most savvy business owner, but I love sharing things. I’m not kidding. I LOVE sharing! So, while I can’t give things away for free (all the time)…I can share the shit out of my services. My financial planner probably thinks I’m crazy.

Okay, so maybe you think you might be one of the five and maybe the price seems right, but you're still asking - Why life coaching?

Here are my favorite things about life coaching:

Life coaching is about helping you find your strengths and use them.

Life coaching helps you get to know yourself better and cut through that annoying voice in your head that tells you things that aren’t true…or tune in to the voice that totally nails the truth every time.

Life coaching supports you in the practice of living in balance between the heart and head.

Life coaching helps you learn to say yes and no better.

Life coaching is both challenging and fun…it’s like a marathon without the sweat, chafing or lost toenails.

Life coaching gives you a personal cheerleader (That’s me!) to nudge you into really living because, seriously, you are not getting any younger!

Sound good?

Here’s who I’m looking for:

I’m looking for those people who’ve thought about coaching and thought about coaching, but just don’t quite send the email.

I’m speaking to those of you who are super curious about the changes you want to make, but also feel scared about what you might find on the other end. Hint: Being scared is okay and there’s really no reason to do it alone.

I’m looking for those of you who just feel really, really ready to grow, to learn and to have someone (finally!) listen.

And I’m looking for those of you who feel all over the place and who regularly ask yourself, “What the hell am I doing!?”

Just 5 spots. Details here.

See you soon!

What Are Your Words to Live By-

For almost two years now I have been toying with the idea of taking my Mantra Builder groups virtual. I already see most of my clients virtually - either by Skype, FaceTime or through good old fashioned phone calls. However, trying to figure out the logistics for a virtual group seemed a bit more challenging.

Of course, it shouldn't because it's just a group conference call. Right?! My concerns have been the garden variety worries that the connection would be poor, the nuance and energy that exits in a face-to-face group would be missing...and really, just the ordinary long list of doubts that creep in when you're thinking of doing something new.

Well- enough of that! I'm gonna' do it! I LOVE the idea of doing this group with people who are in different countries. Actually, I always love doing this group, but I am even more excited about the possibility of bringing people together across the miles.

And that's where you come in. If you've landed on this blog post it's likely because you saw this announcement on social media. You're feeling curious and ready to learn more about yourself, improve decision making, answer the question "What am I doing?!" and (finally!) create a sense of home no matter where you are. You might also like that I said that you can get this for a super steep discount.

Here are the things you need to know:

  • The group meets for 3 sessions. You can learn more about my Mantra Builder Groups here and read reviews here.
  • There are 4 2 spots open.
  • Technically Speaking: The sessions will (likely) take place over Google Hangouts - I've found that connection works better than Skype most of the time. You'll need pretty good internet access. We will probably do a test login a week in advance. You'll need about 5 minutes for that.
  • Schedule: Tuesday, October 25; Wednesday, November 2; Wednesday, November 9. All meetings begin at 8:00PM Tokyo time on the days above. The sessions are 75 minutes.
  • The dates and times for the group are in Tokyo time. Please check your time zone to see if these will work for you.
  • The regular fee for my Mantra Builder Groups is $150 per person. Since I'm testing out the group in virtual format - this very first Mantra Builder Virtual is only $50 for the whole series!
  • REGISTER HERE.

upcoming-workshops-from-world-tree-coaching

As I mentioned in my last post, I am super excited to finally be getting moved in and into a permanent home after what feels like three long, international years of transition. It doesn't even seem possible that we've lived in 5 places (overlapping 3 countries, 2 Japanese cities and 2 US states) since we first found out we were moving to Japan 3 years ago. NOT. NORMAL.

This makes it all the more exciting to announce my workshop line-up for October!

I will be offering the following two workshops/programs:

UNDERSTANDING THE HABITS OF HEART AND MIND - A WORKSHOP ON EVERYDAY MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUES 
TUES, OCT. 4, 10-11:30
Learn basic mindfulness skills to reduce stress and improve decision-making in a supportive, interactive and fun workshop. LIMIT 15 PARTICIPANTS. Read more and register here.

3-SESSION MANTRA BUILDER GROUP
NOTE DATE/TIME CHANGE FOR FIRST MEETING!

#1 - FRI. OCT. 7 11:00- 12:30; #2 - THURS. OCT. 13 10:00-11:30; #3 - THURS. OCT. 20; 10-11:30
Learn more about what makes you tick, focus in on your priorities, develop strategies to maintain stability even in the face of change and create a personal mantra to take with you wherever you go. LIMIT 5 PARTICIPANTS. Read more and register here.

Thank you for your interest! I look forward to seeing you there!

decisions

One of the major topics of my coaching conversations with clients is on the topic of decisions. Should we stay? Should we go? Should I go back to work? Should I find a new career? Should I visit my family every summer? Should we move home and stay?

I’ve been thinking recently about how strict and definitive these conversations can often feel. It’s as if there is Point A (pre-decision) and Point B (post-decision). Point A is stressful, complicated and fraught with worry over making the “wrong” choice. Point B is supposed to bring relief, confidence and a new-found sense of balance.

However, one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that my clients who feel the most confident in their decisions are not the ones who simply make a decision and go with it (although, of course, that matters). My clients who feel the most grounded in their decisions, make their decisions over and over and over again.

That is to say, they prepare for the fact that their decisions may be challenged sometimes. Those challenges can come in the form of criticism from others, but they also come from changes in situation, new information and moments of unexpected clarity or doubt.

I think this is an important point that is often missed in the decision making process. We forget that decision-making is much like learning. As professionals, we don’t get to obtain a degree and call it a day. As parents, we don’t learn to change a diaper and call our work finished. As expats, we don’t move once and figure we’ve learned all the skills we need to do it again. We keep learning.

It’s the same with decision-making. In my experience, the best decision-makers make a decision and then are open to examining the challenges that may arise after they’ve made their choice. They recognize that this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will abandon the decision they’ve made – it just means that they’re prepared to adapt when needed. A learning-centered model of decision-making ultimately provides more freedom and flexibility.

What I like most about this insight is that it takes the pressure off of us to make the “right” decision. It puts us in the position to say, “I’ve made the best decision right now with the information I have available.” It’s more forgiving when things don’t go the way we’ve hoped and it enables us to stand back and think again when we need to.

Do you have a decision you’re grappling over right now? How will you decide? And then, when tomorrow comes, how will you decide again?

To learn more about how I support clients with decision-making, check out my coaching programs here.

The Expat Essential

There’s this one wall in my house that is both a highlight and a challenge of our international life. It’s our family photo collage.

A display of dozens of people and places, it's the wall that people walk up to, stare at and ask about when they come over for playgroups or dinner. It’s the wall that reminds us, despite all of the moving, that we come from somewhere. It’s the wall that my children use to educate themselves about their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents because, admittedly, they don’t see them in person all that often and it can be hard to keep all the names straight.

But, that giant wall of frames is also a challenge because we come and we go and lining up all those photos just right takes time. When we arrive somewhere I get out the hammer, the nails, the step stool, the level and get to work. It usually takes several hours to get everything looking just right. After it’s all said and done, I have my husband come and (hopefully) confirm that it’s all straight and balanced. All the while knowing that, it will all have to come down again sometime in the relatively near future.

When I think about it, the whole thing is so very much a metaphor for our lifestyle.

I look at all those photos and I see our story. We have a history. We go from place to place collecting major life events. Just like anyone (even people who never move) our stories are the layers of life that make up who we are and how we see the world. Even if we’re moving, we keep becoming. Sometimes that can be hard to see because each time we move our story seems to start over. The past can get lost when we say goodbye to somewhere. The future always has a level of uncertainty. And yet - we are still us. We have a history.

But because all of this moving makes our life more complicated, we also have to have a whole additional set of tools to put our story together, to ensure that it’s heard and to reassure ourselves that it will live on. When I begin the slog that is hanging up our family photo collage, I don’t just need a hammer. This is a complex and often overwhelming task that is definitely not for one tool alone.

As expats we need a whole tool box of tools to tell our stories and remember who we are.

We need a (gently wielded) hammer. We must find ways to give ourselves a little push here and there. We need something that makes a difference when things aren't moving the way we want them too. To create a sense of purpose and passion, we need to feel we have some power over our situation. We must develop the skills to stand up for ourselves and for our needs. We must create a medium for our stories and speak them in voices that can be heard.

We need nails. We need something to make our stories stick. We benefit from telling them over and over again. We need photo albums and journals and Facebook posts and blogs to remind us that the things that happened to us really did happen because without the constancy of place, there’s high potential the stories (and subsequently our selves) will be lost.

We need a step stool. We have to find ways to reach outside our comfort zone and get support in accessing the parts of ourselves that don’t come easily. If you’re introverted, meeting new people can feel like the most dreaded task. If you value your professional life, leaving your career behind to follow your spouse can cause you to feel a complete loss of identity. So you need support. We need something to boost us up to the places that are naturally hard for us to reach.

We need a level. The most successful expats find balance between the various parts of their lives. That balance is different for everyone, but the key element comes in taking time to reflect on what matters to you (and your family) most and arranging your life around those values.

Finally, we need a second set of eyes. There are many aspects of the expat life that feel solitary. Loneliness happens to all of us at one time or another. However, we must surround ourselves with people who can help us find our way, can call us on our bullshit from time to time and can remind us of all the strengths we bring to the table. All those photos on my wall get crooked from time to time. As expats we need that second set of eyes from a trusted person to remind us when we’re off kilter.

It seems like a lot, but it’s doable. In fact, we develop these tools every single day. We do it with patience and attention to the ever-changing circumstances in which we move. And sometimes we face (or make) a big mess.

But, in true expat style, we reach in our tool belt and find just the right thing to get the job done.

Expat Financial Planner Hui-chin Chen and I are still having some great conversations! Last week we recorded Episode 2 of Life, Money and Globetrotting.

In this conversation we enjoyed looking at life and financial habits from the global life perspective. What makes you stick with some habits? What makes others more challenging? And most importantly - does a life lived around the world make it easier or more challenging to maintain the habits that most benefit you?

These conversations are part of a monthly series. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter to get updates about upcoming episodes. And be sure to check out Hui-chin's blog Moneymatters for Globetrotters or follow her on Twitter. You can also subscribe to Hui-chin's YouTube Channel to get regular updates about upcoming episodes.

Thanks for joining us! We look forward to having you join us on June 16 for Episode 3 where we will talk about Flexibility in the mobile life.

stop

People often decide to work with a coach because they feel stuck. In fact, I’d say it’s the number one reason that people seek out my services.

For many of my clients, the natural response to this is to move, to make a change – any change – that can get them headed in the perceived right direction. Somewhere out there is a direction that just feels right, if they can just do enough of something…anything…they’ll feel better and the stars will once again align.

And here’s where I briefly become the worst enemy of the doers (and trust me, I know this because I’m naturally inclined as a big time doer myself). I suggest they stop doing! I suggest that maybe they put away the decision making process for a little while. Perhaps they walk away for a bit, imagine a decision doesn’t need to be made or simply maintain the status quo for a bit longer.

While this might seem like utter nonsense and completely antithetical to coaching (where you often hear or assume the goal is a big fat kick in the pants to take action) – it’s not. In fact, supporting my clients in taking moments to not do has become one of the ways in which I can rest assured that the changes my clients make are heartfelt, sustainable and true to their sense of values and integrity.

Here’s why…

The Sea of Voices

We spend a great deal of our physical, emotional and intellectual space surrounded by the thoughts and opinions of others. This is no big mystery – think about Facebook, the Huffington Post and Yahoo News. Think this! Do this! Take action now! We drown in this information. In ways both big and small this happens to us everyday with our own decision-making. As a result, our own opinions about where to go next are drowned out by the perceptions of others.

When we slow down, we take time to recognize which voice is ours and which voices are those of our friends, our colleagues and our family members. We enable our voice to get a bit clearer and we become better prepared to filter judgment, criticism, self-interest and peer pressure.

Our Thought and Emotional Patterns

We often pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task and the truth is for many of us a certain level of multi-tasking is just a fact of life. If I weren’t able to cook dinner and also supervise my children’s homework then we would either eat very late or the homework would get done way past bedtime. It’s just a fact of modern life.

But too much multi-tasking puts our thoughts and emotional patterns on autopilot and that can be a major squasher (yep, toddler word) of effective and clear-minded decision-making. If we don’t take time to observe and develop a deeper understanding of the ways we think and the emotions we feel, then any changes we make are from the same places that got us where we are in the first place.

Simply boxing up fear, anxiety and worry doesn’t make those emotions disappear; it makes them come up in unexpected ways later. And pretending we don’t have negative thoughts about our skill level or believe others are judging our decisions doesn't eliminate these thought patterns. We still make changes based on these thoughts – we just fail to recognize we’re doing so.

When we stop and take time to cultivate a better awareness of our thoughts and emotional habits, we better understand the forces that drive our decision-making and can adjust accordingly when we finally do decide to make a shift. (More on that here.)

Small Decisions that Hide the Big Ones

Small changes feel good. A new sofa. A new bike. A new coffee shop. A new television program. These little shifts can bring new life to the feeling that what we’re doing everyday just doesn’t feel right.

However, when we get to a place where we’re passionately searching for something new, these little changes can sometimes mask the bigger changes that we need to be making. It’s as if we’re throwing every possible tool at that broken lawn mower when the truth is it’s really just time to buy a new one.

When we refrain from the cycle of change-making – even for just a week or two – we can find that our minds and hearts are drawn to examine the larger, more significant changes that have been hidden under layers of fear.

Baby Steps Count

Our decision making processes sometimes benefit from a sink or swim approach. Take the leap. Go for it. Deal with the consequences later. Sometimes, but not always.

There is a whole lot to be said for taking baby steps and giving yourself time to practice and try out small answers on the path to the big decision.

And the truth is, you can’t do this if you’re always moving liking a bull in a china shop. Loud, clumsy and unobservant actions sometimes get you loud, clumsy and unobservant results that in a few months or a year will put you right back where you started.

So every once in a while, look at the big picture and say – what’s one simple thing I could do to get a tiny bit closer? What will that feel like? What will I learn? You’d be surprised the answers that can come from taking a more slow and gentle approach to the way you change. (More on that here.)

So with 2015 marching towards an end and 2016 set to be your year to do something different, make a change or (yes!) get unstuck – how will you change differently? How will you stop so you can move forward better than you ever have before?

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My 3-year-old is scared to death of Japanese toilets. Maybe you’ve been to Japan so you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you haven’t, but you’ve heard about them. I mean, they’re kind of like Japan’s most famous weird thing…from the perspective of the non-Japanese out there, that is.

She’s scared because our first night here she stared down into it as my husband did his best to decipher the various buttons. A face full of toilet water will do that to a toddler. Nothing we’ve been able to do can convince her they’re safe. My friend tells her daughter it’s a car wash. I like that idea, but it hasn’t turned things around for us. I’m afraid there’s no going back.

But, I’m not one to typically avoid the daunting…at least not for long. This week, 2 months into our life in Japan and armed with Google translate (although without a face mask, which would have been, in retrospect, a good idea), I decided to get to the bottom (figuratively!) of our Japanese toilets.

I soon discovered that the steps for figuring out my Japanese toilet were not unlike some of the biggest keys to mastering transitions as an expat. In fact, I found 4 specific expat life skills just waiting there for me on that piece of porcelain!

One: Start with what you know. No matter where you go in the world, you come in with a pre-existing set of skills, habits and bits of knowledge. Despite what it might feel like, you’re not born anew as a baby every time you move. So remember to always start with what you know, access those skills first and offer up those abilities when possible (especially when you feel new and a bit like you have nothing to offer). In the case of the toilet – I can read hiragana and katakana (the two Japanese phonetic alphabets). With this I was able to know – that button turns on the bidet (ビデ) and that word says おしり (which I can lookup…and which I now know means buttocks).

Whew! Two items deciphered - now to phase two.

Two: Pay attention to the clear and easy. So often we are so blinded (and frankly, blindsided) by our moves that we don’t even notice the things that are clearly marked. We forget to pay attention to things like hunger, exhaustion, illness, frustration or sadness. These normal experiences can get buried under the sea of the unfamiliar. We benefit from finding ways to take time out to pay attention to these emotions, physical feelings or logistical questions. What’s this got to do with my Japanese toilet? Well, the toilet comes complete with a few illustrations. So, the photo of the butt with water spraying up should be pretty obvious. Push that button and I doubt the results will take you (too much) by surprise. When in doubt – go with the obvious.

But, what if even after using the skills you already have and reading the clearly marked signs, you still feel lost?

Three: Get help with the confusing stuff. I’m a firm believer in the power of community. It’s not always easy to ask for help. We’re often trained to believe that it means we’re weak, stupid, lazy or needy. I’m here to tell you that that is simply not true. We need others. We need community. We need helpers. My clients (and friends) that are able to reach out for support consistently adjust to new experiences better than those who suffer their troubles alone. In the case of my Japanese toilet, Google translate was my very best friend. She mostly gave me helpful answers and only occasionally (I mean, nobody's perfect, right?) provided complete mistranslations like “toilet seat flights.” On the other hand, if this thing flies I’m totally signing up for that adventure!

So you’ve moved, you’re unpacked and you’re flying off into expat happiness on your Japanese toilet seat. But wait! There’s one more important step to mastering transition.

Four: Just go for it. Sometimes you’ve just got to get in there and do your best. You will get lost sometimes. You will feel like crap sometimes. You will definitely feel lonely, lost, confused and completely out of sorts. But, you will learn and you will get better every single time. As for the Japanese toilet? Well, go ahead and sit down…it can’t be that bad of a ride.

Wanna’ get better at tapping into your best expat self? Check out The Expat Activity Book on Kindle and paperback and my latest coaching offers here.