I commented before that time management is a big issue for me as a solo expatriate. The days seem to fill with opportunity and demands, with help or advice asked and commitments made. It’s hard to say no, because I want to do a great job, want to make the most of the experience, want to fit in, want to dispel negative stereotypes. At the end of the day, though, it’s also important that my life not become a blurred rush of half-finished work, half-seen places, and half-remembered experiences.
What’s important? I actually wrote it down: if I don’t, I won’t.
Every couple of days:
- Keep things in balance
- Get some exercise
- Leave some free time
- Read a good book or insightful magazine
- Take time to reflect and listen
- Appreciate or create some art
- Learn some Dutch; speak some Dutch
- Think about what’s important and act on it
- Connect with someone (not something) I love
- Update the finances
- Have a laugh and share a story with a friend
- Eat the right things
An incomplete dozen, in no particular order. ‘Fair to ask how it’s going, I suppose…
I work too much. Very much too much.
But I’ve also reconnected with a lot of lost friends and rediscovered the things I enjoy doing. I get my exercise and eat right, but I don’t get time for charcoal drawing, watercolors, or pen and wash. I travel, narrowly on weekends and broadly once a quarter and for business. Those times mean a lot for me (and not just for the pins in my TripAdvisor map).
My life is in better balance (I take vacations), but I feel guilty that I’m not there more for my grown children (18 and 20). I get time to think and read, but not enough free time, and never enough time with Dutch. If I don’t make the effort to keep engaging with Netherlands life, it just flows around me. I am meticulous about keeping my accounts and filing in order; I need to be as diligent about laughing and loving more.
Koln was really good: the cathedral was breathtaking, the crowds were a study all by themselves. The crafts for sale were too institutionalized, and too many people were there for the Gluhwein alone. Still, it opened my mind and made me think about all of the contrasts I was seeing. I shared pictures with my Dutch colleagues this morning, and they had completely different take-aways than I did (“What !? The Germans have Sinterklaas ?!”).
I still feel like I’m finding my way with this journal…sometimes too many pictures, sometimes too shallow a comment. But I still feel like I’m slowly finding myself as well.