Reinvention and adaptation

Reinvention and adaptationWell, hello there.

I know it’s been a while, and I owe you an apology for walking out on you with no explanation. It wasn’t my intention to stay away for so long. But you know how it is — stuff happened.

I’m here to tell you why I haven’t been around. My story touches on two themes familiar to expats and repats: reinvention and adaptation.

About two years ago, I finally found the courage to admit that I wasn’t happy with the direction my life was taking. I realized I had a choice to make: continue on the path of least resistance (even though it was clearly no longer working for me), or set a new course.

I opted for change.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Change is messy. It rarely occurs in isolation, tending instead to seep into places you hadn’t intended it to go. Even with the best of intentions, family and friends sometimes become collateral damage. And once you set things in motion, there’s no telling where you’ll end up, because change begets more change.

That’s what happened to me. What began as a midlife tune-up took on a life of its own, knocking over everything in its path. This was a good thing, a necessary thing… but it was absolutely gruelling.

With my usual rotten timing, the need to upend my life came just days after launching the survey for my long-planned book on repatriation. I managed to continue reading through the responses of the hundreds of generous souls who shared their repat experiences with me. But reinvention is a resource-hungry endeavour, and with my attention focused on the heavy lifting of transition, my neglected book soon withered on the vine.

It was actually blogging that became the first casualty — I ran out of both time and things to say. Some months later, when I returned to school full time, it became painfully obvious that juggling work, studies, and family life was overtaxing my energy reserves. I simply had nothing left for anything outside those three priorities.

A week ago, I graduated with High Honours. The rest of my life is settling into a new normal, and although I expect to be feeling the ripples of change for some time, I’ve adapted. I’m proud of that. Now the universe is sending me signs that it’s time for me to reclaim some of the flotsam and jetsam of my previous life. In April, for example, I slipped out of class one afternoon to be interviewed by Debra Bruno, who writes for the Wall Street Journal’s Expat section. Debra’s article, “Repatriation Blues: Expats Struggle With the Dark Side of Coming Home,” perfectly captures the difficulties of re-entry, and got me thinking about my repatriation book project, gathering dust in the basement.

Two weeks ago I was interviewed by Katy Sewall, the NPR journalist who, along with her partner Tiffany Parks, explores expat and repat issues on The BitterSweet Life podcast. Reading over the notes for my book before our talk, I fell in love with the project all over again. I was so fired up that once our call was over, I opened the book file on my laptop, and picked up where I left off.

So I guess what I’m really trying to tell you is this: I’m back.

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About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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31 Responses to Reinvention and adaptation

  1. Dear Maria,
    I see you and I hear you.
    I am facing the same long absence from my blog and I am missing it.
    Congratulations on your achievements and your post is definitely a positive encouragement for me too.
    Thank you!

    • Maria says:

      I have a feeling it’ll take some time to get used to posting regularly again, but I’m looking forward to it. I wish I hadn’t let it go so long. You’ll pick it up again when the time is right.

  2. mkbanin says:

    Welcome back! And congratulations on your graduation! I can’t believe it’s been two years, but when your post showed up in my inbox, it was like seeing an old friend. 🙂 Plus, I still completely relate to all you’re writing about…I’m just in the process of changing countries, going back to grad school, etc. – can you imagine how surprised I was to hear you’re just coming out the other side of this journey? (Gives me hope for myself! ) Anyway, I look forward to seeing what you have to share from here on on. Thanks for everything!

  3. contactvmp says:

    Hello Maria,
    welcome back and congratulations on your new life and your recent graduation. I am looking forward to reading your book on repatriation.
    On a personal not, I will travel back to France for my second repat in a few days. So if you need real time info, don’t hesitate to contact me 😉 And keep writing !
    Cheers,
    Véronique Martin-Place from http://www.writerforever.com/

  4. Léa says:

    Welcome back! I became an ex-pat nearly eight years ago. However, it was my choice and I went on my own. The changes were what I needed. You are so right about the collateral fallout but that has created space for the new people in my life. I wish you all the best. Each of us must find where we belong and mine is here.

  5. Sine says:

    Oh, oh, oh, this is so cool! I’m very happy you’re back and that you’ve reinvented yourself in the process. I can only imagine how much energy that took, but in a way I suspect that several of us might be slightly jealous too! I actually happened across your interview with WSJ Expat (having thought that they are a great outlet for expat writing I had followed their postings more closely lately) and was so happy to see your name!

    Welcome back, and I can’t wait to see what happens with your book (and everything else).

    • Maria says:

      I love the blogs on WSJ Expat, and Debra was so much fun to talk to. She’s a recent repat herself, so we had a lot in common. Thanks for the warm welcome back — it feels like a homecoming.

  6. Welcome back Maria! Can’t wait to read the book 🙂

  7. Welcome back and congratulations on completing your degree! You’re an inspiration for expat partners around the world who are trying to reinvent themselves and build new careers.

  8. Welcome back. Congrats on your new degree.

  9. Judy says:

    Woo hoo! So glad you are back. 🙂 I know the book will be fantastic, but I’ve really missed your blog posts .

  10. debdundas says:

    Great to see you back! That was a lovely post about why you exited and why you’re back.

  11. Renagle says:

    Congratulations on your academic achievement! Those of us still out “in the field” of expat life do worry about what it would be like to return home. I wonder if it’s different when you have a foreign spouse (as I do) and the battles of choosing YOUR country over theirs. Maybe a chapter idea for your book. We tried his country and I actually emigrated to Denmark and it wasn’t pretty… Then we ended up floating around the world adding 2 kids along the way. Now we don’t know where to go and Holland is home for now. Anyway, look forward to anything you post so at least this reader won’t put pressure on someone who chose to share the good and the bad with us lost souls abroad.

  12. Renagle says:

    Or should I say emigrated from the US and immigrated TO Denmark. Ugh. After 6 countries, the English starts to get fuzzy. Haha.

    • Maria says:

      Thank you for giving me another aspect of “home” to think about. I imagine resentment could be a problem when a couple choses one “home” over the other — I may be in touch with you for more insight over the coming months.

  13. Joseph Nebus says:

    Welcome back. And congratulations on the graduation, too!

  14. rachelyates2 says:

    HOORAY!!! I’ve missed you! R x

  15. hey! hi! you’re back! i’m so glad. I’ve missed reading you! Looking forward to reading about what you’ve been up to. (ps, I got a new blog, so, yes. reinvention here too!)

    • Maria says:

      Thanks Erica! And look at you! Last I heard, you had a completely different blog and only one child. Congratulations on your new life in Jakarta. So nice to hear from you 🙂

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