Archive for the ‘JAFA Blog’ Category

Honoring what I Value – Even on Facebook! or Intrigue, Scandal and Deceit!

| Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 | 2 Comments »

OK….to me Facebook (FB) is a form of community. A society in fact.  Some people (friends/contacts) I see day to day only online and others occasionally and they may not stay active in my community for long term. The rest are family and friends from my physical world that I connect with online in addition to in person gatherings.

So…the values that guide me and teach me are important there too right?

YES! A big booming resounding YES! And that is hard for many people to grasp I have found.

Take for example the ‘unfriend’ function. I know so many people who simply hide those they no longer wish to stay in contact with…for various reasons, not to offend (as if no longer paying attention to them permanently in secret isn’t rude) seems to be a big reason.

I apply this lesson – If a person, place or thing is detracting from my life instead of adding to it, it’s gotta go!

Now I have used the hide function.   Example:  People being quite chatty on a certain topic for awhile or during political campaigns and in that case it is a monitoring tool for me. I go back now and then and check on the friends I have “hidden” and participate on their profiles and often unhide them.

The new List function is also perfect for staying in touch frequently with those closest to you.  I even have a list just for my online “gaming” friends so all those game posts no longer clog up my main feed.  And yet when I want to check in on them I can easily find them in one place. YAY!

Facebook is growing up and hopefully it will make it easier for those that find the social etiquette part challenging. But this blog post is about VALUES.  Mine specifically.  Hopefully though it will get you thinking about yours and how you apply them to all aspects of your life.

So those I no longer wish to ever interact with? Then the grown up thing to do…for me, for you, for them is to unfriend that person. The term seems harsh for many – the truth hurts sometimes. But Facebook isn’t Jr. High. It’s the real world online and to keep a sane brain I need to respect myself and what is important. And they deserve the same respect.  Change and moving on is all part of life.  Facebook isn’t a popularity contest.  Really it isn’t! Unless having more “friends” online is one of your top values in which I say OK…rock on.  (I know some businesses and public figures use a friend profile vs. a business page so the friend gathering thing works for them)

Your values and mine are often different.  I accept that.

Yesterday I was unfriended by someone.  Which was timely as I was getting ready to block the person.  This was on my personal profile vs. my JAFA business page.  I work hard to allow myself professional expression that is true to myself while keeping the totally personal stuff on my profile instead.  This example is so pertinent to this topic though I want to include it here.

Long story sorta short. My friend – a contact really who I played a game with bullied someone on FB.  Publicly and harshly stated things about this person for using the “F word” and potentially exposing their kids to seeing it on Facebook and so they were going to quit using FB themselves it had so ruined it for them.  (The word was used to describe a certain athlete with a history of horrific dog abuse whom my contact and her husband seemed to admire).

What was my role in this?  My online society?  I chose to stay quiet.  I didn’t know the “F word” offender nor my contacts husband.  Then the next day my contact stated they were about to watch a TV show that is notorious for the foul mouth of the lead, Chef Ramsey. I know and have watched his shows…to me he is The King of F words on TV.  Then the new Facebook launch and there my contact is posting the dreaded “F word” to describe it.

Again… I thought what is my role in this?  I realized at this point for my self respect I needed to respond.  I pointed out to her on the F word post that it seemed it was OK to expose her kids to the F word. I did it factually and suggested she apologize to the person she had so publicly slammed a few days prior for using said word on Facebook.  I did it publicly because I felt she bullied someone for the very thing that she herself was freely doing in her own home and online. The thing that she had said was going to make her quit using Facebook.  I felt it was important for me to stand up in my online society and say that is not ok.  I wouldn’t have put up with it in my physical world, I must honor what I value in all my circles.  Bullying and hypocrisy are not on my values list.

Hypocrisy is dishonesty wrapped in judgment – JAFA

Values and learning to recognize them and honor them in all aspects of ones life is an important part of what I live by and impart in my coaching business.  Sometimes i get sucked into behavior that I don’t like in myself and apologize for it.  Sometimes I caution myself to not get “soapboxey” on communities such as Facebook and sometimes I don’t always succeed and again it is my responsibility to make amends for my actions.  And sometimes, I remember my place in all forms of my society and I stand up and honor my values and respect those I believe society also respects.  It may cost me friends or contacts and I am OK with that.  Being true to myself is one of the few things I am able to “take with me” someday.  I don’t want to be left with a bucket full of I should have’s….

I hope my sharing these examples helps you continue to recognize what is important to you and honor it in all aspects of your life.  If someone/thing is upsetting you, then most likely they are stomping on something you value.

Don’t let that be OK.  Your life is worth more.


NB: What started out as a Chronic Bitch blog post quickly became a lesson and tool to me and I am going to cross post this on my JAFA business blog as well.  Thanks for your understanding if you happen to read both blogs.

Different vs. Wrong – Life abroad lessons

| Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

I needed to address this lesson today.  It was one of my first major hurdles and things I grasped within my first year of living abroad.

Why today?  Because I keep getting “slapped” in the face with this lesson from others who haven’t gotten it yet for themselves or view it differently.   I refer to it as the “Comparison Game” for my love immigrant clients. And it is my own growth being challenged because I find it angers me.  Not helpful to anyone.   It partly angers me because I expect others to grow from their experiences like I have – and yet I KNOW that each person finds their own path and self awareness and grows at their pace.

So yes I am human too.  That is part of what has made my journey so amazing.  That thankfully, eventually I remember that!

So I will share something that may help some of you tighten your learning curve if that sounds good.

Other cultures I have found do things “differently” than the way I was brought up in the mixed culture I experienced.  Mine was influenced by Southern California in the 60’s and 70’s with Canadian Immigrant parents and a Grandmother who was raised in London, England.

So when I moved abroad to the Netherlands in 1998 I found a lot of things shocking, silly, stupid, ineffective and down right rude.  There were also things I fell in love with, made sense, excited and inspired me and rewarded my wanderlust needs I had since I was a wee “Jule” on my Dad’s knee.

In that first year I met expats who had lived abroad for many years and were bitter, hateful and miserable.  I did not want to be like them.  I met immigrants, like myself, who wished they had never left their homeland.  I didn’t want to be regretful either.   I studied what worked and didn’t for others and examined what worked and didn’t for me.

I quickly learned that in the beginning our whole world and values and beliefs can be shocked (no new term there) but for me the key was to understand that it was just different and not wrong.

Also, I was constantly being “told” my first year that what “You American’s” do is wrong, stupid, prudish, fill in the negative adjective, I heard it.  Thanks Mr. Clinton for your sex escapades for a lot of that!

Those judgments from Dutch people and other expats living in the Netherlands was an opportunity for me to realize that how I was viewed was often totally incorrect and messed up by the locals perception of Americans by the misinformation reported on the news.  No I was never a member of a California gang, nor had I shot anyone or had family members beating each other up on a Jerry Springer show.

WHAT AN AWESOME LIFE LESSON I WAS GETTING!  At the time it just made me feel defensive and annoyed at how ignorant I thought a lot of people were.  Ultimately though it helped me grasp something to my core that I think I have always known and frankly hoped for!  YES, hoped for.  What makes other cultures magical to explore is the fact that they ARE different!

Now I don’t agree with some things.  Abusive and violent practices in my opinion (often directed at women and children) have no place in any current day culture.

The creme de le creme crowning moment for me was to realize that it is OK, normal even to go through a period of “WTF” thinking and judgement and confusion and reality checking.  BUT and this is a big one… at some point acceptance that different is not wrong needs to take place.

It needs to for your sanity and most important your enjoyment of the new culture.  And if that can’t happen.  If you can’t accept it and live in it with an adventurous and fun spirit than I strongly encourage you to move somewhere where you can.

And you know what.  That’s OK!  It’s not about failure.  It’s about understanding there is a new journey ahead for you.  Not everyone is meant to flourish in every culture or continent.

I have had the greatest pleasure in helping many clients see this.  Return home with self respect and dignity and find great peace in their decision.  I have also helped clients flourish where they were, building a magnificent life in a new land that made them laugh with joy and excitement.

So figure out where you are on your path and ask yourself, “Am I judging because it is easy to do or is something really bothering me?”

And avoid those miserable expats and immigrants who may never be happy wherever they are…  (and call me asap if you are one of them so we can get you off that unhappy sinking boat!)

Thanks to those who have helped me remember this today. I mean that. It softens my heart and helps me be grateful for the lessons I have learned and the ones I know that are coming as sure as the weeds in my backyard will continue to spring up!

Find them.  Pull them.  Smile.  Move on.


Decision Time

| Monday, October 5th, 2009 | No Comments »

Goals. Goals. Goals. Yuck. Phuey. Who needs them!

Are you sick of hearing about the importance of setting goals?

Sometimes I feel that way too and that is a big part of what I help people do as a business consultant and coach.

So what do I think is actually more important than determining and setting goals?

Decision Time!

For example. Do you have a staff member who performs poorly?

What decision regarding this staff member have you been avoiding? Refusing to take action on?

Perhaps it’s as simple as acting on the decision to make a decision at all! Scary to be stuck at that level. But more common than you realize.

Maybe the decision you are avoiding is to sit down with the staff member and provide a job review and make suggestions or requirements. Or perhaps it’s time to discuss termination of the position or that staff person specifically.

Who can be bothered with setting short and long term goals when the power of being stuck and inactive on key decisions (even small decisions) maintains an environment that you tolerate at best. And worst? You don’t need me to tell you about worst. We both know it feels like crap and can make you question your qualificiations and worth regularly.

So, what do you do?

I can give you a lot of potential options to choose from but that just provides you with another decision to make doesn’t it.

Let me make it easy for you. Between November 1, 2009 and December 20th, 2009 I am going to help you for free! No goal setting programs for 2010, its Decision Time.

Contact me to sign up for a no fee 45 minute clarity and action session.

Once we have selected a date/time for you to call, I will email you a simple Decision Time worksheet. During the session we will evaluate 6 decisions you are holding back on and outline the first step in taking action on those decisions.

POW, 6 decisions moved forward before 2010.

BAM, 6 areas in your life that won’t be holding you down and keeping you back in 2010. YES, time and energy to focus on areas in your business and lifestyle that you have been convincing yourself you don’t have time to address.

It’s your life, are you ready?

action right now: email and request your no fee session.

Ten Top Tips for Starting a Business While Living with a Chronic Illness

| Monday, August 24th, 2009 | No Comments »

see the bee

1.  Develop your passion into a job with joy.

What do you love to do?  What inspires you? Keep your work time simple and energized by spending that time doing what moves you and makes your heart sing.   Working while living with a chronic illness can be difficult and draining so having a job with joy to go to everyday can not only bring in an income but also help to alleviate the stress and struggle.

2.  Work because you WANT TO or it may just make you sicker. (If you have to work, it honestly may be easier to just get a job and not dedicate yourself physically and mentally to the success of a company) If you have something that you truly love doing and want to work then finding a way to modify that passion to allow for your chronic illnesses needs can be quite successful.

3.  Accept and welcome that your business plan and structure may look quite different from someone who does not have a chronic illness.

The coolest thing about starting your own business is that it is YOURS!  On your terms, timing and style.   This means you can flip your chronic illness to a strength.  Use it to help define exactly what you want and incorporate that into your work style just like you do your lifestyle!

4.  Build your illnesses limits into your business plan and daily working style.

If you need to take naps, schedule shorter work sessions, if you need to be close to a bathroom, set up your office from home and no longer worry about being away from the loo. Structure your work day to allow easy access to medications, comfortable chairs, whatever you need.

5.  Allow for busier periods by not overdoing or scheduling too much.

If you have a wedding or holiday coming up, schedule back on your work agenda and vice versa…if a busy push will be coming up within your business, set aside free time for rest and rejuvenation, not a bunch of activities with family and friends leaving you drained.  Finding a good balance is important.

6.  Develop a positive cheering squad.

Find those that understand you and your illness and support your dreams.  Share with these individuals about your business successes and invite them to support and encourage you.  Ask your squad for help, most people love to be asked to give a hand or advice.

7.   Build relationships with trusted sources and create alliances with like minded individuals whom you feel comfortable and confident sharing your challenges.

It is often said friends are family you choose and I believe you should choose wisely.  The same can be said for colleagues and businesses that work with you.   Pick the ones you respect and practice values in alignment with yours.  This increases the joy factor and reduces stress.

8.   Remind yourself that chronic illness or not you are still running a business and making decisions and taking action requires business knowledge and skills.

You can certainly learn and educate yourself in this area if you are new to being a business owner or solopreneur.   Just ensure you make solid business choices, don’t hire friends and family just because they understand your illness or challenges but don’t have the proper skills or knowledge to do their jobs well.

9.  Become clear and comfortable with your chronic illness.

Develop a way to explain to others what your illness is without it being cumbersome or embarrassing for you or them.  There are ways to stay honest and professional.  It may never come up, but being prepared helps to reduce stress and awkward moments.

10. Don’t make your chronic illness your “personal brand” unless you are selling a solution to that type of illness.

I have seen business websites that spent more time talking about the person’s illness on different pages than on what their product or service was and the two were not related.  Coming across as “sick” can put people off.   It may also cause them to think you might be unable to get the job done.  Focus on your strengths and successes.  In fact there may be no need to even share you have a chronic illness.  If it isn’t relevant and not important to your target market then let it remain private.

Bonus tip: Incorporate various forms of stress reducers throughout your day to ensure your body and mind stay focused and strong.  (Drink lots of water, take breaks, do 10 minute yoga spurts, listen to calming music, practice stand-stretch-smile)

Julia Ferguson Andriessen is a life and business coach who has worked while coping with multiple chronic illnesses for over 20 years and continues to create joy in her life.  You can find out more about her and her work at or call her at 1.714.633.3601 to set up a complimentary 30 minute session to explore how working with her can help you set your dreams in motion.  Julia works with clients via telephone and email globally.

Article may be shared with copyright and credit intact.  JAFA Coaching and Consulting 2009 ©

Saying Goodbye when only the Mind is Going

| Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 | No Comments »

I believe one of the toughest issues to deal with is watching a family member age into the latter years of their lives slowly losing parts of their personality and health along the way.

Especially challenging is the “loss” and anger we feel when our loved one begins forgetting much of what they say and becoming a different person because of this change.  Perhaps they have become afraid or quite needy because they don’t remember conversations they have moment by moment or day to day.  This can be so upsetting if you are used to someone who was always assertive and clear headed.

On the flip side a once loving family member may now be snappy and demanding, making constant requests and little else.  You ask yourself, “Who is this person”? “Do I even want to spend time with them anymore”?

Remember the old “seesaw” from the playground?  Now our emotions are riding this childhood toy.  One minute we are up and the next we are down just like our family member.  It can be difficult to navigate such a relationship.  We go from family member to caregiver with a misunderstood or twice repeated sentence over the phone.

Losing one's memory is an up and down ride for everyone

Losing one's memory is an up and down ride for everyone

And with no caregiver training or experience this can have an unhappy outcome for all concerned.  It is hard to be patient and understanding when you don’t understand what is happening or begin doubting yourself as to what you have said or heard.  This is a seesaw ride that is no fun.

What we thought was clear a minute ago may now not even be remembered as spoken.  Panic may set in as we try and determine if our loved one will remember important information.  Especially since so many of us live a county, province or state away and maintain long distance relations with our family.

The feelings that arise under these circumstances are varied.  “Why are they behaving this way?”  “Are they trying to make me feel guilty?” “Is no one at the care facility helping them?” “Why am I the only family member who is doing anything?”.

Perhaps there are no negative answers to these questions.  Perhaps what they told one member they forgot to tell another or they simply don’t remember being given their medications or eating earlier. Perhaps they are safe and well but were unable to communicate that and now you are left feeling worried and stressed.

This awareness does not solve the pain and sadness we feel when we realize we are losing someone we love while they are still here.

And while I believe there are a lot of options and solutions to helping both sides of the family out in this situation in regards to the forgetting* there is little solution for the sadness for the loss of the family member who is slipping away.

Sometimes all we can ask for is a hug. If you are struggling with this in your life, please do ask for a hug.  Take a break from the pain and acknowledge your sad.  It’s ok to say this doesn’t feel good.  It’s ok to be angry that your mother or aunt or life long friend is becoming someone you don’t really know anymore.  Hard to admit but maybe  someone who has become more chore than joy.  A hug is indeed in order!

And give a hug. Most of us are or will go through this or know someone who is.  Sometimes words say nothing and yet a hug can say so much.  “I understand”, “you are strong, hang in there”,  “you are not alone”.

Saying goodbye when only the mind is going is a painful farewell.

Maybe the best solution possible is to draw on a happy memory during these times.

No need to say goodbye to those too.

forgetting* – call me to schedule a brainstorming session around tools and tips specific to your situation.  Something as simple as putting a corkboard and notepad by the phone or hiring a local church member to coordinate day to day issues can provide stress relief and solution.

Seesaw image credit:

Friends Along the Way (repost from previous blog)

| Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 | No Comments »
Luc Jonker and Julia at his Family Farewell Party

Luc Jonker and Julia at his Family Farewell Party

Developing a supportive circle of friends is ESSENTIAL in the success of any relationship while living abroad.

I created a few groups in the Netherlands; Expats with Dutch partners and the International Mixer Utrecht were two of the most successful.

In addition, I joined groups for expats and trailing spouses, country specific groups and non profit groups all in an effort to increase my chances of connecting with kindred spirit friends.

And I did. I made some amazing friendships that continue today even though some of us are in different time zones, countries and even mental places. In other words, the situation and location that may have brought us together no longer exists but the work and time spent on developing these friendships created bonds that will last a lifetime.

One such friendship felt like a sistership to me. A younger American who also fell in love with a Dutchie came into my life and along the way we assisted each other with our weddings, supported each other with the crazy expectations of our new extended families (well they often felt crazy to us), attended “hen parties” and baby showers and eventually witnessed the relocation and repatriation of both our families.

The amazing thing is that back in the US we found ourselves living in two different states and while the distance was not realistic for convenient short visits, we still have managed to remain close. Heck we even worked on a Presidential campaign together and supported each other when our choice was not put in office.

This has required additional effort on our part. And for myself, I know I don’t see her or her family (which has continued to grow with additional precious little Jonkers) near as much as I would like to.

I just know however, that the bond is always there. I will always think of Clarity as a younger sister to me, I will want to see her and her Dutchie succeed in life and we will continue to support each other as needed.

You may find the love of your life in another country and gain the friends of a lifetime along the way!

Is there someone you would like to contact whom you haven’t spoken to in awhile? Don’t delay, email or ring them today. Then share with me here how it felt.

By the way, my little sister continues to do amazing work in the political arena and I am so PROUD of her. Today she assists campaigns with software support. Check out her company and pictures of her with Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and other political leaders.

Hugs and health,


A Love story begins (repost from previous blog)

| Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 | No Comments »

What an amazing journey to be had by falling in love with someone from another culture and country!

As if a new relationship isn’t challenging enough, when you factor in different languages, new customs, who moves where and many other unknowns – the additional strains can take their toll on any relationship.

In April, 1998, I relocated, immigrated actually to the Netherlands to take on such an adventure. 4 years later, I had coached 100’s of individuals on how to make such a relationship work and when to throw in the towel. (throw in the towel = give up).

I also had taught myself a new language, Dutch, developed a huge network of international friends and contacts, been published in multiple National newspapers and benelux magazines, been interviewed on the radio in England, and written for a variety of Expatriate websites and magazines.

Let’s just say my learning curve benefitted others and I was pleased to see my experience giving others hope and clarity.

In April 2002 I returned to the US with dual citizenship, my Dutch husband and a lot of health problems. The last few years I have been grateful on most days to have the US healthcare system available to me and also grateful that whilst living abroad I learned to fend for myself and become proactive in exploring alternative methods to healthcare.

Today I miss my friends and family spread out across the globe and absolutely love receiving continued updates from prior clients and their recent successes.

I hope this Survival Guide blog will provide an additional outlet for me to inspire, assist, encourage and educate individuals who want to explore their own journey of multicultural long distance love and/or love abroad.

It’s harder than you ever imagined
and easier then you ever dreamed.

Hugs and health,


Driving Under the Influence of Physical Therapy

| Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 | 3 Comments »

People assume alcohol and illegal drugs are the main enemies of driving a car.  The truth is anything that impairs your ability to drive safely and responsibly is dangerous and unfair to yourself, your family and society at large.

I was thinking about this the other day when talking with a friend who also has a chronic illness.  We have both had intense massages and left the therapists office feeling a bit “out of sorts”.  Mentally goofy perhaps.

I have had physical therapy sessions were after working out, having a gentle massage and then 20 or so minutes of deep rest with a heating pad and a tens unit on my back, I have been asked to schedule my next session and then sent on my way.  Again… I recall sitting in the car and feeling deeply rested but was I also off my game and unsafe to drive home?

In the past I have taken prescription medication that came with the warning about operating a vehicle and consuming alcohol together.  While I do not drink, what about the effects of physical activity that deeply relaxes my body and mental state of mind?  How about warm water therapy or sauna use?

Having a chronic illness brings on so many unexpected challenges.  Many of us want to find alternate treatments that are “healthier” than some medications.  How do we incorporate these treatments into our lives without causing new risks and concerns.

These are tough questions.  I personally dislike to have to ask for help to do basic things like drive myself to an appointment.  But when does not asking for help become  dangerous to myself and others?  How would I feel if I hurt someone while driving a car simply because I was uncomfortable to ask for a ride home after a deep tissue massage?

How relaxed it too relaxed? 

When are YOU driving under the influence of physical therapy?

Possible solutions:

  1. Ask a friend with a chronic illness to drive you – taking turns for each others appointments.
  2. Find a therapist or medical practitioner located by a bus stop or close enough to take a cab.
  3. Take 15 or 20 minutes to rest in the office or in your car before driving.  Bring a book, water and a snack.
  4. Learn what transport services are available in your area for people with disabilities.

Best Solution:

  1. Find a practitioner who can come to your home!

Please share your thoughts and additional solutions.  Even an experience of when something like this happened to you.  Educating ourselves and others isn’t about shame or blame it is about being a great patient, friend and member of society.

Learning to ask for help will be covered soon!

If you know someone living with a chronic illness, please share this article with them.  You can click on share button below and email it there way!

The Family Ties that Bind

| Monday, July 20th, 2009 | No Comments »

Julia with her Dutch in laws and family

Julia and Maarten with his family in Lochem, The Netherlands

You know so many of my clients struggle with their in-laws or other family members.

I think one of the main reasons is fear.

They (your partners family) are afraid you are going to steal them away by requesting you and your love move back to your home country.  A “foreigner” daughter or son in law poses a bigger threat of unknown values and expectations.

Another reason is they are annoyed that they have to stop being what they perceive as “normal”.  Weddings, special occasions etc. require that they often make accommodations to ensure you feel included or at least acknowledged.  So now they have transitional issues too.

The worst problem is the family members who actually don’t care if you feel like an outsider and make little to no effort to understand your transitional struggle let alone do anything to make it easier for all concerned.

In Holland I heard over and over again from female clients and friends that their inlaws said something along the lines of “you live here now and must do what we do”.

They don’t seem to grasp that who you are is what makes you YOU!  No longer celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving (whether in October or November depending on where you live in North America) isn’t something someone just gives up.

Nor should it be.

They also seem to overlook that the values, traditions and upbringing in your home country created the person their son or daughter fell in love with.

This all may sound dire.

I am here to tell you from both personal experience and from working with clients that those who stood true to themselves and their traditions built a stronger relationship with their partner. They found ways to continue their rituals and other events by either educating and including their family or with other expats and new friends.

The key here is that they acknowledged whether home or abroad, family ties often run deep and to ignore them can be detrimental to their love relationship.

They got over the hurdle of blame and anger and defensiveness based on their own cultural biases and looked for common ground.

And eventually over time they realized that the ties that bind their partners family together now included them too.

What can you do differently to include your new family in rituals or holidays important to you?

Perhaps it’s better to find ways to celebrate with people that understand and benefit from celebrating with you.

If so, how will you organize that next time? What is your first step?

Remove the fear of losing yourself and stop trying to be someone you aren’t. There are ways to be both multiculturally open minded and true to your culture. Make the effort. The growth along the way may be surprisingly joyful.

What part of you are you willing to let go of?

| Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 | No Comments »

Let go of a part of ME?


When you move to another country and begin to understand and assimilate the local culture you will find certain parts of your personality/beliefs/values/thinking patterns no longer feel comfortable to you. Or that you are being challenged on a lot of levels both good and bad.

Good because you are growing personally and expanding your world view.

Bad because you may feel attacked, disliked, overwhelmed and judged.

Compromise is a popular word in a successful love immigrant relationship.

But I am talking about something bigger here. Not compromise but internal change.

For me one of the biggest things I chose to let go of was my intense nationalistic view. I had always been a global person, however I had not realized how American I was in some ways and totally international in others. Being constantly challenged as an American living in Holland allowed me to accept the parts of me that were American and let go of my need to defend them at all costs.

I learned to pick my battles and take on an International citizen view. I worked (and still do) to let others struggle with their opinions of what they classified as an American and only participate in discussions with others that wanted open minded conversation and not negative culturally stereotypical hate fests.

Now this didn’t happen over night. It took time, self exploration, angry arguements with locals and other expats and the eventual slow simmered reality check that I didn’t want to waste my energy and mental health on such arguements.

I was also willing to let go of the part of me that always felt an eye for an eye…thus believing in the death penalty. Today I no longer do. A result of living abroad and hearing other cultures and most all other western governments views against such punishment.

Now if this sounds preachy/lecturish (yes I still make up my own words) that is not my intent.

The reality is that you will be living in another culture than your own, you will find that they do things differently, that things you haven’t thought about in a long time or ever suddenly become issues for you and that in order to make a smooth, positive transition, letting go of a part of you is worth it!