STIRRED, NOT SHAKEN

You put on your loveliest dinner suit or your favorite tie, once again give your hair a quick ‘fix’ and add the final touch – your favorite perfume or cologne.  You turn to face the bedroom door, knowing that the minute you reach the other side, ‘It’s SHOW TIME’!:  another dinner party for 12 – maybe a few local dignitaries and their spouses, a visiting celebrity or two, a recent Nobel Prize winner, and your favorite local designer – some of whom you’ve never met before, but all of whom are flattered and excited to be invited to your home, expect to have your undivided attention, engage in sparkling conversation and come away enlightened by your charm, wit, erudition and worldliness.  You may even be looking forward to meeting some of them. After all, eating your salad and sipping a glass of fine Cabernet Sauvignon while sitting next to Harrison Ford, newly arrived to shoot his latest Indiana Jones film: “The Secret of Caesarea’s Undersea Treasure”, isn’t too shabby, right?  Coffee and cognac in the salon and, as if a magic buzzer rings [simultaneously] inside the head of every guest, the time comes for them to leave. When the last one is out the door, you loosen your tie, or kick off your high heels.  Ahhh… Another one over! Sound familiar?

As the spouse of a diplomat, you want to optimize the experience of international living, soaking up as much of the local color, flavor and culture as possible.  You join friendship groups to become acquainted with people, local environment and customs and form fragile friendships that you know will more likely than not end when you’re re-posted, three or four years hence. Maybe you participate in support groups with other diplomatic spouses, sharing concerns, fears, doubts, as well as the location of the latest ‘in’ place to get this or that. But maintaining an interesting, challenging, meaningful and pleasant experience can come at a price, for you may reach a point where you feel terribly isolated with no one to talk to who feels as you do; or become upset about a local custom that drives you crazy; or find yourself standing in the seething heat with aching feet at yet another National Day Reception wondering how much more small talk you can make with dozens of total strangers before wanting to run screaming from the reception line and risk causing a social faux pas, if not a diplomatic incident.  And the list goes on…

It’s been said that with each new posting, there are six stages which one goes through as the spouse of a diplomat: euphoria, reality, dissatisfaction, anger, depression, and acceptance.  Living and working in today’s global community can be daunting.  While on assignment in a foreign country, you’ve had to put your career ‘on hold’ and can’t take even a regular job, perhaps the one thing that would keep you centered as you move from country to country, not to mention give you some income of your own. True, you might be able to take a temporary ‘good-deed’ volunteer position, but does that really express who you are and give you what you need to move forward in your life?  Your very autonomy can become compromised in service of the bigger picture.  As an oft-repeated scenario, you may soon reach the point where you begin to feel you are losing yourself – the ‘you’ that needs to keep centered as an individual, parent and spouse.    

And what about that inevitable day when it’s time to return home – after having had a household staff to take care of the daily chores, and a personal driver to take you where you need to go, how do you go back to mowing your own lawn, driving back and forth to work, preparing dinner parties without the aid of a kitchen staff, and so on?  You have lived in the excitement of the international community, wined and dined with the movers and shakers of the world. Are you dreading the let-down? How do you reconnect with the people back home?  You’ve changed. Have they?  And, after the first few ‘What was it like, being in …?’, their interest wanes. You find yourself in reverse culture shock – social shock – it all seems quite out of sync, and you ask yourself, “Will I ever feel at home, at home?”

What is it you can be doing for yourself now that will keep you centered? And what one new action can you take today – for yourself?

©Eve Black, 2008 – All rights reserved

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About the author

 

Eve Black is the Founder of ‘Open Minds, ReachingTM’ www.openmindsreaching.net , a Cultural Resource Management and Coaching Consultancy.  With a lifestyle of commitment to personal growth and first-hand knowledge that diversity can enrich one’s life, while at the same time shake one’s personal balance, Eve specializes in working with people who live with continual change, are going through personal and professional transitions, and who need and want to remain centered, maximizing their potential. 

 

For Eve, change and transition – cultural, social, personal, and professional – have been a way of life, challenging her to live with intent and purpose by making conscious choices at every stage.  Born and raised in San Francisco, she communicates and engenders a spirit of openness, optimism, enthusiasm and total commitment to whatever she undertakes.  She has a broad base of experience on which to address issues of development, change and transfer of skills.

 

In addition to her private coaching practice, she has numerous programs available (see: www.eveblack.net/services.php) and she can create one especially for you (please see: www.eveblack.net/services.php#Relocation).   Passionate in her belief in the creativity, resourcefulness and potential of people of all ages she can be reached at: (09) 955-3242 or eve@eveblack.net 

 

 

With an Open Mind, what we Reach for is within our grasp.

 

Eve Black | (09) 955-3242 | P.O. Box 368 | Herzlia 46103

www.openmindsreaching.net | www.eveblack.net | eve@eveblack.net

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Published on December 18, 2008 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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