XpatAdventures’ Big Day: Boldly Going

Today’s a big day for XpatAdventures:

1. I’m a guest poster over at Anastasia Ashman‘s expat+HAREM, a beautiful, resource-filled site & growing community of expats online
2. at Bindu Wiles’ fabulous Shed Project – join her!

I didn’t plan to guest post on 2 blogs today; it’s a coincidence. How cool is that?!

3. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s also MOVING Day here at XpatAdventures headquarters in Lugano.


The Serbian moving guys arrived at 8 a.m. I’d slept two hours and still wasn’t ready. Mom’s been working herself silly to get things sorted and packed.

If you read the post on Bindu’s site, you’ll see I got over Shedding stage I was at then: abject denial and irritation. That was a few weeks ago. Today I’m still a little sad… I’m sad because this apartment, this tiny village, the garden in the backyard… it’s all so gorgeous and because I didn’t have the life I’d envisioned here. Work, friends, romance & partnership… none of them are here. It is time to move on, and I am deeply, deeply ambivalent about it.

I had this moment around lunch time today, though, the moment I’ve been longing for. As I stepped away from the self-storage unit that holds almost all my earthly belongings, I realized I am totally free. I can do anything! Sometimes I let material stuff and bad relationships limit me. Today I am out from under them. The world is my oyster; the future’s wide open. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and found myself driving through lunchtime Lugano traffic with a grin on my face.

And I’ve realized something lately… it’s about exploration. You know the subtitle of this blog is “…because not all who wander are lost.”  Though lost, I guess, could be a word to describe me of late, it’s really about exploration. I am drawn to exploration. Questing, seeking, trying new things and ideas, meeting new people and introducing them to others, baking with a dash of this and a handful of that just because maybe it’ll work… it’s part of my way of doing things, and it makes this life I lead possible. I’ve always said I’d try almost anything once, maybe twice just to make sure the results from the first time were typical. I love an extremely safe sense of danger (if you can imagine that) when I try something new, when the possibilities are boundless. It makes life sweeter to me.

Is it like that for you, too?

Today I reclaim my Explorer self (and picture Patrick Stewart at the helm of the Starship Enterprise every time I think about it, I swear) No more pansy expating for me – it’s time for boldly exploring. Three packed suitcases are lined up now where the china cabinet used to be. One’s packed with spring suits for Brazil; one’s packed with vacation clothes for Turkey; one’s packed with gloves and hat because it will be colder and probably rain in Amsterdam. I have no apartment right now but by God I have these adventures! Feeling a little bolder these days… who’s with me?

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Things I didn’t think on the way to the Adventure

I had my first mammogram this week. As I stood there, half-naked in the hospital room, I realized that even though my Italian pronunciation is pretty good and I can ask nicely for basic things, “I’d like to make an appointment for… please” there are many words I do not know. Like the word for bra.

That was nothing compared to the instructions to shove myself up against the giant plastic and metal contraption that captured the images. Ladies, how come we never talk about that it’s like something out of that 1997 Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey movie, Contact? I vaguely understood the tech’s Italian when I winced and she said, “It’s supposed to hurt a little.”

And okay, let me just say here… if men regularly needed a machine to look for cancer in their own parts, they would not put up with such an awkward, uncomfortable testing device. Picture man after man after man lining up and parading through all day long to drop his drawers, shove himself up against a cold machine, and have the family jewels squeezed til he winces. It wouldn’t happen. I’m just sayin’.

The whole procedure was odd. It’s strange enough, I suppose, in your own home town, and totally surreal in another culture, in a foreign language. Chalk that up to another thing I didn’t think about when I moved overseas.

If I had thought about all these things, I’m not sure I would have moved. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I wish I’d stayed or I want to move back. It’s more about the thought process it takes to get things done, to live your adventures. Kelly Corriganin her great new video Dare You, says:

Starting things, relationships or non-profits, screenplays or marathons, takes a certain willing suspension of disbelief. This suspension is hard to maintain but its perpetuation is Job 1. I’ve written two books and I can tell you that writing one word at a time when there are 60,000 words to go requires a state of flat-out dissociation.

Here’s the thing, and you can probably see by now that it’s not just about becoming an Expat, it’s about becoming Anything. It’s about the kind of thinking you need to set out on and live your Adventures, whatever they are.

You cannot start out with the thought, “I can’t.”  No adventure worth your time ever started that way.

Two different people this week, one I know very well and one I barely know at all, said that phrase to me, “I can’t.” One said it quickly, in a long conversation we were having about finding a job and moving overseas, “You can’t just up and do that.” He meant I, not you. The use of the second person pronoun was dissociation of a different sort.  The other said, “I can’t do that…” and listed a couple personal reasons why.

Oh, but you so completely can. It makes me wonder how many things each of us is longing to do, but we never get to it because of the voices in the back of our heads shouting their bad advice, “I can’t,” “You can’t” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Those voices are no fun. They’re never going on any good adventures.

What would you do if those voices in your head had a really good day and said out loud, in the back of your head, “Sure, you can!” or “I’m not sure how, but I will…” What are the things you think you want but you never do because of “I can’t?”

Because you know what? You can.

Ladies Who Launch

Oh how far we’ve come from the days when you got a degree, a job, an office, a bigger and better office, an award or two maybe, slightly longer vacations and then a retirement party and a gift-wrapped watch. I was just reading this article in the New York Times, “Women Build Businesses Their Way,” and found this quote interesting:

Women follow their instincts and build businesses that stem from their lifestyles. They seldom begin with a business plan or financing. They multitask the many parts of their lives, hatching companies on the side while working in other jobs or raising families. And their careers rarely follow linear paths.

So here’s what I’m thinking. Frances Mayes did it. Marlena de Blasi’s doing it. Laura Fraser didn’t even move here and she’s done well off her vacations in Italy. Lots of people have made a living sharing about their experiences moving, or even just travelling abroad. So I’m trying to figure out how to get paid for what I already love to do. I’m living this rollercoaster adventure — there must be a way to tell the story that will entertain, make a difference, contribute to people in some way.

The second step seems to be creating a team around it. Do you know anyone who specializes in Web marketing? How about someone who’s built a similar business? What kinds of information and/or stories would you like to see? At this point I’ve pretty much got them all… from sneaking Mufasa over the German border at Christmas without his papers to getting him a Swiss passport of his own (and I don’t even have one!); how to get insurance when you’re unemployed in a foreign country, why dating French and Italian men became out of the question, how Italian men use online dating sites… the best places to eat and stay in and around Italy …and on, and on, and on.

Now what to do with all this information? What do you think?