At Rekindle, we’ve been running expat support group meetings for a good part of 2016. It’s the only expat support group of its kind that I know exists in Malaysia. What’s interesting is that it has mostly been attended by trailing expat wives, and typically those who have younger children.
If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting! ~ David Bowie
We all have someone we look up to. Today, I want to write about a friend of mine for whom I have incredible respect: Mary Kelleher, LMFT, PhD (cand.).
[UPDATE: Rekindle’s Expat Support Group’s first meeting was a success, and from participant feedback, we will be running meetings twice a month. Click here for the latest brochure information.]
Most people think of the expat life as easy and filled with perks and benefits. What is not seen are the INVISIBLE STRESSORS of expat living:
– Difficulty adjusting to cultures and languages
– Inability to get the right foods for your family’s diet
– Concerns about physical safety
– Changes in lifestyle (e.g. “my husband is hardly ever home now”)
– Grief and loss of relationships with family and friends
…and the list goes on.
I admit it. I suck at updating blogposts. It’s because I can’t stand bad writing — especially my own. And it takes too much time to write well and consistently. So I’ve decided on the next best thing. I’ve created a public Facebook page.
I got this idea when I gave a talk in Hong Kong last month, and one of the co-speakers in the event talked about the Attention Economy.
As I was leaving for work, my son came running to hug me. I had stayed out late working the last few days and did not see much of him. His eyes misted over while we hugged and a pang of guilt hit me. “I really suck at this work-life balance thing,” I thought myself. For the rest of the day, I mulled over why achieving balance can be so difficult.
When we think of the word “balance,” the picture that comes to mind most often is that of a weighing scale. A weighing scale implies fairness — a static fairness. When one side dips down, it is necessarily unfair to the other side. Balance is a static state that is only achieved when both sides are equal.
Several year ago, when my Singaporean friend was stationed in Kuala Lumpur at Al-Jazeera, I remarked that Malaysia is a very diverse country and that it is quite surprising to me that we lived in such harmony. He then remarked that Malaysians generally live in parallel realities and we don’t fully intermingle culturally. It got me thinking.
Living in Malaysia, you can’t avoid the month of fasting for Muslims. You hear it everywhere, you see it everywhere, from the closed Malay restaurants to the tired looks of Muslims. Practicing as a therapist in Malaysia for the last 5 years, I have become sensitive not to offer drinks to my Muslim clients during this month. And I am also sensitive to their differing levels of energy throughout the day.