8 Tips to Spring Clean Your Marriage

Are you a spring cleaner? You may be living in an area of the world that doesn’t have ‘spring’, yet find yourself going through the physical motions of cleaning closets (or wardrobes, depending on where you live), cupboards, dressers and drawers. Spring clean is synonymous with ‘deep clean’ and many of us grew up with this tradition. Whether joy or drudgery, it’s now a practise. Now that I’m almost through spring cleaning this year (I do it a little at a time), I feel energized.
Spring cleaning isn’t just for the house. As a time of renewal, growth and possibilities, it’s the perfect season to assess your marriage relationship and bring in some fresh energy. [Read more…]

Living Gratitude: An Ingredient of Resilience for Every Expatriate Family (Part 4)

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I got discouraged, teaching my kids gratitude. Why weren’t they more grateful? Did I miss something along the way? Maybe they got given too much? Had too much? Maybe not enough of this or that? Was I not modeling appreciation and gratitude like I could have?

Looking back, I saw lots of hope:

• Doin’ It Right (1st born son) was the kid who gave his shirt to a homeless Cambodian boy at age 10.
Missionary Picture• Princess (oldest daughter) wrapped her most treasured Etch a Sketch as a present for her Indonesian friend (even though I asked “are you sure?” until she finally screamed “yes and I’m not going to say it again!”). She always had the most polite “thank you”.
• La Di Da Girl (2nd daughter) was so creative, sending drawings and notes of appreciation frequently. She never saved allowance because she was forever buying gifts for others.
• And Munchie Crunchy Bar had the most endearing “please” and “thanks” – around his little finger, he had us wrapped! He loved helping, and would often say “I like it when you…” and could finish the sentence with more ideas than I could imagine.

Then came the teen years and I wondered what alien had overtaken their persona and character! Years of little behavioural or voiced gratitude. Now that 3 of 4 are grown, we’re reaping the benefits of trying to teach well. Don’t get me wrong – we failed many times. We forgot at others. We weren’t consistent and didn’t model like we could have. Yet children grow up… most often, in spite of us! Thank God! How grateful we are to have raised kids who are now adults, who live gratitude. You can too… [Read more…]

Change Styles – What’s Yours

As expats, we find ourselves navigating an unusual amount of change that impacts different areas of our lives. What thoughts come to your mind when you hear the words “time for change”? Some of us rub our hands together in glee, chaffing at the bit to rush headlong into it. Others become paralyzed with fear. Personality, learned coping strategies and life experiences all contribute to how we manage change.

Four typical behaviors to change have been identified: 

stick man holding a hammerThe Innovator is someone who makes change happen. They are the visionary… the inventor! As expats, the innovator is always on the move, or finds new ways to live out new ideas. They value risk and freedom.  [Read more…]