Struggling and Adapting

Today I felt anxiety and I didn’t know why. I felt frustrated and angry and like I didn’t know how to make a decision. It didn’t make sense to me, but I knew I didn’t feel good at all.

I decided to go meet Julie at the TRX class because my new goal is to get strong and fit and this class supposedly will kick my a double s. On the way to the gym, I just started to cry. I felt such a longing to be back in Holland and not where I was at that moment.

I didn’t know why exactly I was crying, but it was a big release. And as I cried I realized this was one of those moments of accepting what is and being aware of the hidden feelings I wasn’t acknowledging out loud and now they were coming out wet. Ahhh…. Social media is a great thing to help keep us connected, and this week I was feeling the sense of loss as and change and adapting and resettling and chaos and being fat all at once! That’s a lot to carry! Not really, but it was my instability at that moment and its ok and it’s real.

I miss my girlfriends in Holland. I miss seeing everyone in the cafeteria. I missed the dance party in Vondel Park. I miss chatting with Barbara and doing yoga with Jen and biking with Patti Beth and sleepovers with Joseine’s kids, and meeting up for ice cream with Jen and Carolyn and Patty and holding Amy’s baby and waiting for the bus with Lauren and Karina and Jen and PB and on and on and on. And I miss the white swans in my canal, and I realized that when Christine acknowledged the differences in pelicans and swans and feeling out of place when she commented on my picture on Facebook. That was the trigger, along with the pictures and status updates from my friends in Amsterdam.

Christine acknowledged what I wasn’t saying. She was aware of my sense of loss and place and belonging to two worlds now and that it is ok. I’m just adapting and today was a struggle. She saw that I accept the beauty and gifts that surround me now but that doesn’t negate that I feel a bit lost in the transition.

Lenka also helped me feel and acknowledge this yesterday when I ran into her at Costco. Se said I’ll probably feel this way for a long time and that I might always feel a sense of loss. I think she might be right and that’s ok too. I am so thankful for the experience and it has changed me. I just don’t know how to process all the changes just yet. In time I will. I’m just in it right now. And when you’re in the process of change, you have to keep looking forward and dream new dreams. Like getting fit!

So I wiped off my tears and accepted a hug from Julie who also understands what it is like to be from two places and went on with my butt kicking TRX class followed by a good stretching and balancing and breathing yoga class.

And all was well again. I felt strong and balanced and relaxed and ready to go again and ready to feel and be alive and happy in this moment, despite the chaos and uncertainty. I chatted with my sister on the way home and made a lunch and shopping date with my mama who is still in town. I am thankful for the gift of time with her, right here, right now.

Namaste.

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Downtown Mountain View with my Mama.

I Am Home

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I Am Home.

It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but today I just got a receipt! This shirt arrived in the mail as a surprise from Marcia today. It’s proof that I really am home. I cried when I opened it and loved seeing it, thankful to be home and also feeling a bit of sadness that we don’t have our house in Holland anymore. The transition is happening and I’m in the midst of it.

I’ve been enjoying everyday, visiting with and catching up with our friends, shopping and preparing for Charlie’s birthday party next week, enjoying our beautiful weather and the beach, and waiting for Jeff to move back home.

I’ve been car shopping and having repairs scheduled for various household parts and loving on the kids and their friends. It’s nice to be back in the same time zone as my family and friends in California and to be able to pick up the phone and not think what time it is where they are before calling. I’ve been emailing my Holland friends and keeping in touch there too. Transitioning. This is what it looks like for me.

I Am Home.

Thank you, Marcia for my awesome shirt and the welcome home. xo

Being Loved

Being loved is the best feeling. Period. There is nothing better. Nothing.

This post is a bit personal, but aren’t most? We’re still resettling and it’s the honeymoon stage, and I’m loving all the attention being showered on my family. Thank you for all your shared calls, emails, texts and love and visits.

My parents drove up to my house to prepare for our arrival this week, as I’ve already mentioned. Seeing my kids love on them and tell them how much they’ve missed them and love them, is so nice to see and hear. The love dance is swirling through my house in little moments and details and it fills my soul. For example, I loved just watching Charlie work with my dad on fix-it projects around the house.

My friend Julie had coffee and snacks waiting for us this morning at her house. The kids played while the women chatted and sat and enjoyed her beautifully remodeled house and sunshine out on her patio. I’ve missed days like today and am so happy to be back and in her kitchen again…the best part of the home!

Tracy came by with her kids on bikes and asked if Charlie wanted to go to her house and play. Of course, he gladly went off and had a great time with his friends, riding his bike with them. Thank you, Tracy!

Julie and her kids stopped by with my favorite artichoke dip and stayed to chat for awhile before we headed to the pool.

Our swim club has a Friday night potluck BBQ that we all enjoyed with April and her family. I learned to play Bocce ball with the little ones and made some new friends while playing. Mom and dad joined us too, and it was great to sit outside and NOT have to cook or clean!!

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Marilynne stopped by and dropped off a dinner for us. She’s been making a new Japanese curry and told me about it and I had mentioned I wanted to try it sometime. There she was with a delivery on my porch! Thank you ML! You spoiled us and it was quite delicious!

And the best part of my day was when my sisters and nieces arrived from Thousand Oaks. They drove 6 hours to come and see us and met us at the swim club. We went out to the parking lot to greet them and couldn’t stop hugging! It’s been almost a year, you know! Way too long for me! I’m thankful they drove the distance to be with us.

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Reunited and it feels so good!

I am loved and I am thankful! Love y’all!

xo

Day 260: How The Third Culture Kids Settled

Isn’t that a weird title? Third Culture Kids and Trailing Spouses. Those are some terms they use to describe children who move away from their home land, and for the partners that pick up and move and follow their partner’s job overseas. Yesterday, I shared my perspective on what helped to make me feel settled in our new country. Tonight my kids want a turn to share.

Here is Christian’s perspective.

Hi this is Christian or I am better known as CJ here. I have really been wanting to talk about my experience so far in holland/ Europe/ the world. Literately this has been the best experience in my life. I would have never guessed moving to Holland, like I would maybe think the east coast or Canada but Europe! Wow! Moving here has really been quite the culture shock. Probably the best things that I have done/adapted to here include: having friends from all over the world and accepting other cultures, and adapting to new sports, such as soccer. Some other things I have learned about living here is traveling. The weird part is that I have been every place that I have covered in history last year, such as Istanbul, Turkey, London UK, and Germany. The thing that I have liked/enjoyed most has been friends and school. Here I hang out with a large group. What I think is cool is that we are all from different countries such as France, New Zealand, India and UK. I think that it is so cool to hear about what people’s lives where like in their home countries and how we can all connect. School, most of all, has brought me friends, education and an international understanding of the international community that I am surrounded by. Joining the school basketball team has been a really cool experience. I have traveled to 4 different cities and have played 6 different teams from 3 different countries. Even though getting in 4th, I was still able to have fun and improve dramatically on my basketball skills! From America to Amsterdam and around the world, I will always remember this journey forever.

Thanks- Christian 🙂

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And here is A Q&A with Juliana’s perspective:

Mom: Juliana, why did you want to move overseas?

Juliana: For the adventure.

Mom: How did you feel about moving to Holland?

Juliana: Originally excited, but sad to leave my friends, family, neighborhood, and school.

Mom: How long did it take for you to make new friends?

Juliana: I met friends when I started school a month after I arrived and also a few neighbors in the first few weeks.

Mom: What were your first impressions of your new school?

J: I thought, “Wow, this is big. This is different. This will take some getting used to, I’m gunna get lost.

M: What do you like best about being an expat?

J: I think it makes me really appreciate what I have back home, like good weather, my friends, the food, etc. I’m grateful I get to travel while I’m young and while I still don’t have to pay for an adventure- they are expensive!

M: How did you find fun things to do?

J: I volunteered for student council, and I joined a lunch time sewing club I just finished sewing a bag that I’m really proud of; I have also made wine bags and an apron. I made the volleyball and basketball traveling teams and experienced things I wouldn’t have the chance to, like spending the night with host families in a different country than my parents, an unknown family, and even in cities my parents haven’t been too!

M: Do you enjoy school?

J: No, because I don’t feel like I’m learning anything new. The school is nice, but I feel like my school in California was way ahead of what we are learning here, and I like the learning style better there.

M: Do you want to travel when you are older?

J: It depends. I prefer beach vacations over historical tours. Traveling is fun but it is tiring and kinda stressful sometimes- i definitely make the most out of my bed after a long day of site seeing. I’ve become a better traveler, I know what to pack and can pack in 30 minutes!! But the adventure you get out of it is priceless, especially while I’m young and can absorb it.

M: Do you have many friends?

J: Yes, I like to hang out with a group of friends. They come from USA, Hong Kong, Turkey, UK. Germany,France, Nepal, Belgium, Holland, Cambodia, Egypt, Czech Republic, and Japan.

M: Where is home?

J: America!! California.

M: What has the been the best part of your experience?

I really like seeing the world. It’s cool. But maybe one of the reasons why I don’t appreciate it as much as I should,not saying that I don’t appreciate it, but we traveled and did so much back home that it feels normal to me. It doesn’t feel that different. I know I am very lucky and am thankful, but I’m ready to go home.

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And last but not least, here’s Charlie’s view:

I did not want to move here. I did not want to leave my friends or my basketball hoop or my house and baseball team and soccer team. I liked my school and my teachers in America. I didn’t understand why we had to move and I want to go back. I like my friends that I’ve made at my new school, and will miss them too when we do move back someday. I don’t like living upstairs and like a one story house better. Sometimes I like traveling, but would rather travel in America. What I like best about Holland is my friends, but that’s about it.

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I’ve learned so much by asking these questions of my kids. I have to say I’m somewhat surprised and hoped for a more positive response, but I accept their opinions and value what they had to say. I wonder what other kids think of their expat parents’ choices. Hmmm….

Day 259: 7 Ways We Quickly Settled as Expats.

Now that we’ve been in Holland for 259 days, I’m realizing that there are several factors that helped us to feel settled living abroad rather quickly.  Here are a few things that come to my mind.

1.  We hired an excellent, personal, relocation manager. Lion helped us to pick our rental property that would suite our family best based on our needs. He did the walk through with the owner and got the keys before we arrived. He referred us to rental furniture companies and met them at our house to let them in and set up our furniture before we arrived. He was here to meet us at our front door the first day we arrived with our 15 suitcases. The day we arrived was so hot, that he arrived early and opened all the windows to air out the place. Once we got settled, he drove us to the grocery store so that we could have a few things our first day.  He has supported us every step of the way, and has been very humble, kind and generous and a true help to us.

2.  Our Dutch Relatives. My mother was born in the South of Holland and her cousins still live here. Jeff and I have good relations with them and have visited each other both in Holland and in the States several times. When we arrived, Gerard and Anita and Dorine and Nadja helped us to shop for hours and buy furniture and assemble it. We have been to each others homes for dinners and birthday parties and they made us feel welcome and a part of their families. We also were invited to Rio and Helma’s dairy farm and to spend time with them too. Franca and Henk came to see us, along with all their kids and everyone enjoyed chatting and playing and getting to know one another. When you’re far away from your own home, family and friends, having a new family to welcome you is the best feeling.  We didn’t feel alone and it was comforting knowing that they knew the language, culture, norms and could help us navigate the process of getting transportation cards, and such, and could help us if an emergency occurred.

3. New Friends.  One thing I love most to do is to connect people to friends and knowledge and to help one another. It’s what I used to do in a past life, and a skill that I think has helped me to find my way. I was able to meet and connect with friends through PEO, a philanthropic organization to which I belong. that supports, celebrates and motivates women to achieve their highest goals. A Dutch friend of mine who worked with me at Stella & Dot, introduced me to one of her friends who lives in my new home town. Before I moved, I had a Dutch coffee at my house and invited my Dutch friends over. One of them had a Dutch friend that worked in the US Consulate. Another one had a sister in law that lives in my new home town, who brought us a house plant once we got settled.

Our children’s school made it very easy for us to build a community of expat friends very quickly. Once the children started making friends, I was able to meet the moms and dads of their friends, and friendships were formed. We started sharing experiences and new relationships have grown.  I love my new tribe and am so thankful for each and everyone of my new friends.

4. I filled my time doing things I love and got out of the house. I met people who played tennis and found a group of women to play with indoors and they connected me to the right people to take lessons and play in tournaments. I found yoga and yoga friends. I sought out a place to paddle board and met the owner of a Dutch company to paddle the canals with across Amsterdam. Now if the weather just warms up! I took up running with my husband, something I’ve always wanted to do, and now found the time and place. I went to all the social events I could the first few weeks at school to get out and see the town. The school is so good at making newcomers feel welcome, with coffees, and outings and having an open door where parents can sit and socialize while waiting for their kids.  And as I started making friends, we’d have girls’ lunches, and girls’ nights out, dinner parties and happy hours, celebrated a baby being born, and birthdays and all that is good. Bottom line is I’ve stayed busy and productive and happy and love the friendships that have blossomed through all these shared events. I am so lucky and never am bored.

5. I have a very supportive partner.  I probably don’t say enough about my husband, who works hard day and night, working to build his global business and support our family. He worked so hard behind the scenes to get us here, without a support staff to do all the work for him, as he works at a start up company, and they don’t have these type of resources. He researched everything, set up our legal documents, bank accounts, car transfer, cell phones, drivers’ licenses, cable and internet services, etc. all while setting up a European company.  He is smart and loving and supports me and laughs with me and makes me coffee every morning!  I am blessed.

6.  Social Media & Technology.  Having Facebook, Skype, Email, Google Voice, What’s App, Instagram, Magic Jack, my blog, Apple TV and a VPN have helped me to feel still connected to friends and family and America. I’m able to share and see and connect with those I love every day. When I feel lonely, I can always check in – just sometimes have to wait for the time zones to be in alignment where we’re both awake at the same hour.

7. A thirst for adventure.  We wanted to do something fun as a family and to learn about the world. Having something to look forward to every month is very exciting. Whenever we feel down or homesick, someone is coming to visit, a trip is planned or a package arrives.  We aren’t bored or stagnant and there is a lot of excitement and adventure awaiting us, if we so choose, and most weekends, we’re choosing to see and explore and enjoy this journey as much as we can.

If you’re an expat, what has helped you to settle in to your new home? What makes you happy?   Thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me.  😉

Day 123: 4 Months

We left our Sunnyvale house 4 months ago today! We’ve been gone for a third of a year and have seen and done so much already. It’s strange to me to think that we packed up and resettled and adapted and redefined our life in just 4 months. When I was looking for something new to do with Jeff earlier this year, I had never envisioned this! I was hoping we could cook together or do a puzzle, you know, something interactive and a shared experience!! Well look what happens when you dream (big) a little!

We are so lucky to have made the transition and we still like each other, and our kids don’t hate us (yet.). We’ve had many shared adventures already and so many more are still to come. We’ve made some wonderful new friends and have enjoyed getting to know our Dutch family a little better. This is what I was hoping for back in January – I just didn’t know we’d have to move overseas to experience family togetherness like this.

Tonight we hosted a family celebration with 21 of us for dinner.
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I still can’t believe that many people can fit in our house. It’s the second large dinner party we’ve hosted here and it was quite gezellig, meaning tight and cozy.

My mom and I planned a menu and shopped and cleaned and cooked together – actually she did the cooking and I was the prep cook and cleanup helper! It’s so nice to have a wife again!! We make a good team. Franca so graciously brought the desserts that she made with her daughter. I love that this was a shared experience too.

I love that we have family here in Holland and that everyone took the time to come together for a nice, Sunday family meal. A few families were missing due to other commitments, which is totally understandable. But it was nice to be together and to laugh and share stories and to just BE.

Hope you had a great weekend and have a wonderful week.

Adriana

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Day 55: Feeling at Home

Today was a Real Housewife kinda day – enjoyed a cup of coffee, cleaned the house, did some laundry, cleaned out a closet, baked brownies for the Grade Level Potluck dinner, dropped off and picked up the kids, volunteered, shared stories with girlfriends, attended a kids’ event, had dinner with friends and family and tucked the kids into bed.  But I didn’t get a workout in – that was a bummer!  But I did love the normalcy of it all. I love my job and today was pretty good.  

Here is a picture from the well-done, Grade Level dinner that we attended tonight. It was a jungle theme and I volunteered to help set up and clean up for the event. I wanted to help and learn because I am on a team to plan CJ’s Grade Level dinner next month for all the kids and their families.  We have big shoes to fill, because tonight was great! Congrats and a big thanks to Kristy and Karin, Amanda and Juliet!  The place looked like a jungle!! 😉

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Jungle-themed Grade Level Dinner

 

 

Day 9: Wired

Can I just tell you how happy I am to be sitting on my couch with the TV on, my connected computer on my lap, kids in bed and my husband by my side? This is comfort to me.  I AM Content.

I don’t know about you, but having internet connectivity is like having electricity. Sure, you could live without it, but WHY?  I love having access to information and I love connecting with loved ones, and now that I am over seas and across time zones, the internet provides a way of connecting and being in touch with the world. I actually got to watch some of the Olympics. That’s HUGE to me!  So glad the Ziggo guy showed up on time today and provided internet and cable connectivity. Happy. hApPy. happy.

Ok enough about my obsession with connectivity – I want to share my gratitude again. You see Anita and Gerard came over today and spent the entire day with us. Gerard took the day off from work so that he could bring his trailer and help us shop and pack and deliver our loot. He also brought tools and a drill to help with the assembly!  We took two cars and a small trailer and the kids and ventured to IKEA for a 5 1/2 hour shopping extravaganza! Now we typically don’t like IKEA, but here it provides a one stop shop. However, not speaking the language makes it especially hard to translate and connect with the local workers. Having Anita to write down all the codes and prices and locations was so helpful. I just let go and let her take care of me. That’s not comfortable for me. I like to be in control. I like to be doing the giving and don’t particularly like asking for or receiving help. I want to be the giver. Yet today, it was her turn and I was so happy she was there by my side. She knew what mattress sizes I needed and what size sheets would fit, and what type of comforters we would need for summer and winter weather, and had suggestions to offer around every corner.  We all meandered through the maze that is IKEA, writing orders and filling our bags and baskets until we stopped to refuel in the food court. 5 1/2 hours later we were done for the day because we had to hurry back to meet the Ziggo guy. Missing our appointment was not an option!

We made it back home by 5 pm, and Anita and Gerard got to work assembling stools and benches and dressers and bookcases. Jeff started assembling the bed frame for C’S bed, while I made coffee for everyone and picked up the empty boxes and plastic wrap and providing assistance as I could.  Little C proved to be quite handy and helpful with a screwdriver and was a fast learner. He loves to be helpful and to work with us. I love that!Image

While we were assembling furniture, we were also getting hungry!  I stepped out of my comfort zone again and drove for the first time in a foreign country to the local Indonesian restaurant to pick up some Rendang, Nasi Goreng, Bami, Soya Chicken, Marinated eggs, Sayer Lodeh, Kru Pruk, Green Beans, and pickled veggies. Mmmm… sayer Lodeh is a dish that my Opa used to make when I was a little girl. I used to eat that until I was stuffed and couldn’t eat any more but would still go back for one more serving, it was that good. Having it again makes me so happy. This is the restaurant we visited the first night in town and the guy remembered me and at the end of placing my order, he gave me a side of the sayer lodeh just for me, without me even asking. How sweet is that? Not only because I love it so much but because he remembered me. He saw me and knew who I was… that’s huge!  I’m a local! And I drove to our local Indonesian restaurant?? I’m excited by the little things in life like good food and good people.

Well dinner didn’t disappoint. It was so nice to have family with us again and to share a family meal.  After dinner, they finished building a book shelf and moving the mattresses in from the porch before the rain came. They stayed longer than I thought they would as they had a birthday party to attend.( I still can’t believe they gave up their whole day for us – thank you! )

Another learning — parties here start between 8 and 9 pm usually, after dinner and usually go until 1 or 2 in the morning and this is normal! Who knew?  I better start practicing staying up late and not falling asleep at the table! Haha — ya, that’s happened before, just ask Stacey!  

Today was a very good day, thanks to Gerard and Anita!  Thank you!  Our house is starting to feel like a home.