So you've been in your new country for awhile and it's time for a vacation/holiday.. If you've read Parents on the Move!, you will know that the different Levels of Living overseas like to take different sorts of holidays/vacations. However, where ever we go it can be a source of tension if we don't divy up the preparation jobs.
I recently attended a training for a fun, useful and uncomplicated way of accepting strengths and weaknesses in those with whom we work- even works for travelling companions! It's called C-Me. You can put the results on the fridge (ie this is a helpful tool!) and help each other remember what you and others bring to team work.
This evaluation confirmed that I am not a fan nor am I competent with paper work. It is a big weakness in my skill set. So, while I LOVE the adventue of travel it bores me stiff to organise travel insurance. Still, even I have come to terms with the fact there are "some things" you just need to do to be a responsible adult. C-Me helped me realise why I feel tension surrounding paperwork. I may need to address this issue, but I reward myself for heroic efforts at doing documents. Listed below are a couple of useful "some things," that can make a difference in order to enjoy safe and happy summer travel.
Here we go (Blues, you'll love this. Bear with me Reds. And you will know what I mean if you follow the C-Me link):
1. Level Ones ( Two and up will know this) Check that your passport is up to date, and that there is more than six months left before renewal date. Some countries will not let you through immigration if it's less than six months before renewal is required. Remember, you cannot send American passports back to the State Department. You need to go to your local embassy's website and click on Citizen's Services, where you will be taken step by step in the renewal process. You will need a new photo and size of photo depends on your passport country. In the UK, A little high street shop called Snappy Snaps is great for knowing which size photo is required for any particular country. Their prices are reasonable and you get your photos immediately. At the moment, the US Embassy in London is saying it is working on a four week turn around time.
2. Photo copy your documents: make a copy of all important documents, including your National health card or insurance or passports and put these copies in an easily accessable file. When I say easily accessable, I mean accessable to someone at home. It's important to send a copy to a friend or family member that is willing to be woken up in the middle of the night AND has working wifi, should you need these documents.
3. No one ever likes to think it necessary, but plan to have emergency contacts on your phone and let someone know where you will be flying, including flight numbers and expected return dates.If you check into a hotel, note the room numbers of family or friends travelling with you. Standing outside a hotel in the middle of the night practice fire alarm can have its amusements, but it's more fun when you know all you love are present and accounted for.
Whew! Now that I've done the blue bits for travelling, I shall reward myself by boldly caring out a little Red Reward...just thinking about crossing the Atlantic for Sisters Week makes me smile. Atlanta here we come! (that is if I've done the passport renewal documentation correctly and it's back in time.....details still make me a little nervous.).
This July let's focus on developing the Discipline of Celebration!
Anyone would think we know how to celebrate, but I come across clients who have NO real idea! Hard working people who rarely take a break or feel slightly guilty if they do, are everywhere in what I call The Serving Sector. You've heard of the public sector, etc; but the Serving Sector are those of us who live to serve others. We may be missionaries or members of the Peace Corps (my younger days) or VSO (Volunteers in Service Overseas), and we know how to work. Often, we have a mindset that says living in a country that doesn't match our passport means hardship- all the time.
"I'm not here to party," I've heard as a reason to not stop to rest, nor celebrate a job well done.
And yet, we are called to give thanks for our blessings. Having an attitude of gratitude means we can figure out how to celebrate. It is a skill! It's also honoring what God has done in our lives, and acknowledging goals reached.
So, let's get started!
First of all, draw up a chart and label your first column as "Mini-Achievements." These could be those tiny answers to prayer that we sometimes forget in a heart beat. With these, let's at least stop a minute and offer up thanks.
The second column could be labelled, "Small Achievements." These could be something we have received as a blessing from God or a friend or family member that just makes us smile. It could be a small goal reached. It may be something small to most people, but still, this blessing means something to you. For me, an example would be sticking to my healthy eating plan in the week before I change countries. I'm sure you are never challenged by Dorritos while packing, but we all have our little hurdles when getting on a plane.
In the next column, list "middle sized achievements." This could be completing an online class or packing up your house. (perhaps the first time you've done this ON YOUR OWN, it would qualify as Major), or sending a child off on a first day of school. In my extravagant way of thinking, all mothers who's child is off for a first day of school would celebrate not just with tissues and a coffee with a friend, but a spa morning! The Celebration needs to match the achievement!
Then we have"The Big Ones!" Write out an example or two of what you would consider major life achievements. For me, it might be a child's wedding or....drum roll please...my first ever Sister's Week where I fly back to the States for a week of sitting by the pool and catching up with my sister. Now, I didn't do a whole lot on this, but it is a major achievement to sort out a date, and have the blessing of flights and family support for my going. I know some people do this sort of thing all the time, but it's a BIG DEAL to me! How about the Big Deal of FINALLY getting pregnant, or adoption papers going through? Or getting your new country assignment and the WHOLE family is happy!? Finding a new house in your new location and moving in? Completed your first year in your new country?
With each achievement, I've been challenged to find appropriate celebrations. I'm training myself to stay away from ice cream as my Celebratory Food of choice. Instead, I'm dancing! Happy dancing for one minute is just right for my mini-achievements. Going out dancing with my husband-middle sized celebration. You get the picture. Worship music on all morning!
But there is one more very important aspect of learning to celebrate that is essential if you are going to truly learn the fine art, if not theology of Celebration. Keep your celebrations focused on celebrating and giving thanks. Do not allow yourself to stop the celebratory mood, with immediately setting another goal. If you reach a goal, no matter how small or big, focus just on the achievement, just the blessing.....you can set new goals another day. It' so easy to say, "...and now I want to....."
Stop yourself. Discipline yourself!
Tomorrow, you can go back to setting goals. Today, we give thanks.