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Six Weeks to More Time & Energy - Week 2: Family & Community

Can you believe it is already mid-September?!  I went through a variation of this program as part of a Personal Foundations course required in my Coaching education.  I remembered a few weeks ago how much better I felt after going through it, and decided it was time to go through it again.  And then of course, it occurred to me that if it helped me, it would likely help others.  So I have adapted it for us to go through it together.  If you missed last week’s installment, now worries, you can get started now.  Just check out last week’s blog, register for the series, and you will start getting the free weekly emails with downloadable worksheets.
This week our focus is on Family & Community.  This is a particularly relevant one for me right now.  I’ve moved around a lot in my life, and there is always an adjustment in a new city, but this has been an entirely new kind of move for me.  I miss my family and friends back in the US.  I can’t just hop in a car or on an easy flight to see them like I could when I moved to a new city in the US.  I come from a very close-knit family, and even before the move here I felt like I wasn’t getting to see them enough.  It always takes time to develop new friendships no matter where you move, and even if our new friends are absolutely wonderful, they still don’t know us like the ones that have known us for years and vice versa.  We’re busy, our friends and family back home are busy, and this can make it tough to email or call.  The time difference can make it tough to coordinate phone conversations.  And there are just some acquaintances that fall away because of these things, along with the reality that you don’t have work or your previous life in common anymore.  Throw in moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language and being the “trailing spouse”, the phrase many expat coaches and communities have coined for people like me that have left their job behind, and well, it can make for interesting challenges at times.  Working from home all the time on my own would have been an adjustment even in a city in the US, the difference being that I would be going to educational and networking events as part of local International Coaching Federation, Project Management Institute, Women in Technology, etc. groups.  I’ve certainly tried here, but local chapters, no surprise, only speak German.  I’ve noticed that a lot of the women are able to connect with other mothers through their children’s school and activities.
Some of the things like starting this business have been great for me, but have downsides like working US hours so there are things I’m unable to do in the evenings.  All the travel we’re doing, day-to-day life, and being busy with the work I’m doing is absolutely wonderful, yet it can also make it difficult to get into a rhythm here and have time to get out and make new friends.
So this has been an all-new learning opportunity for me.  I’m fortunately blessed to have met some other women here that are far more experienced, advanced and thriving as expats that I can learn from, and have already gotten some very good advice from.  Most of what I’ve read in books and blogs about this type of move, I’m already doing or done.  But with all the travel and being busy with work this summer, I’ve let this area of my life go.  I was talking with a friend recently who like me, still misses her friends and life back in the US.  She’s been gone for about 4 years now, and doesn’t know when she will be going back.  She hit a wall of depression recently, and had a friend tell her, “You have been living here for 4 years but have never really ‘unpacked her bags’.”  She is still looking at where she lives as temporary, a place she is just visiting.  The problem is that when we approach life this way, we’re putting off living where we actually are.  We’re living in the past and future, instead of exactly where we are today.  I, um, kind of recognized someone else in her statement. (smile) 
And as I write all this, the funny part is that I wouldn’t trade this experience.  I am very happy and grateful to get to be here with my husband.  I just have some work to do!  
This is my story and yours may be similar, or completely different.  Maybe you have a friendship that for whatever reason you know isn’t good for you, but still let it and/or the person drain your time and energy.  Maybe you’ve recently changed or started something new in your life, and want to find a community of people that have more in common with this new you.  Or maybe this is a great area for you in your life, but you are out of balance and want to give it more focus in your busy schedule.  
Spending time with people we care about, and that care about us, and laughing with good friends is truly energizing, and something we all need to be happy and healthy.