Yoda Quotes for the Expat Soul

There is so much truth and so much to learn from the great Star wars movies. Just as I was writing another post, I realized just how much I could transfer into my life as an expat. Most of the characters are expats there, and are learning to cope on new planets. (I know we feel that way sometimes.)

Going for the real wisdom, I decided to write a post on the insights of the little green guy we all know and love.  Thank you Yoda for all this goodness.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” 

Rule number one of expat life! When moving to another culture, almost nothing is the same, the way you think must change to accommodate the new truths.

“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

You must acclimate. You came here for change, a new start, a new job, a new life, a great adventure. Do what you meant to do or go home.

“Named must your fear be, banish it if you can.”

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with all the changes,we cannot name what it is that is overtaking us. Find some quiet time, meditate, and riddle out what that fear is. And do what you can to overcome.

“Already know, that which you need.” 

We know our basic needs, find a way to meet them. That is often a challenge in the expat world. But with perseverance, time, and some help, you can find what you need. Sometimes we even learn to create it ourselves. That inspires more self-confidence. What a Win/Win!!

“Fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate is the path to the dark side.”

Fearing the change, the different, the challenges is only going to weaken you. Make you vulnerable. Muster the courage to face your fears or you will be taken by the dark side. Expat depression is the evil we all battle. Becoming bitter and angry as a result is the equivalent of going to the dark side.

“To be a jedi is to face the truth and choose. Give off light or darkness, padawan. Be a candle or the night.” 

This is the fight we all fight. In our times of darkness, we make a choice. Choosing the light may be hard, but it makes a better world for all of us.

“Calm you shall keep, carry on you must.”

Even in trying times, when the rug is pulled out from under you and you don’t know which way is up, keep calm and carry on.

“If no mistake you have made, losing you are. A different game you should play.”

In the expat game, it is inevitable to make mistakes. We learn large lessons from them. We are humbled, and wizened. We become stronger and better for the next lesson. It is just around the corner. If you aren’t making mistakes you need to get out and make some! They make for great stories later in life and great blog posts now! 😉

“Much to learn you still have my old padawan… This is just the beginning.”

The learning curve is constant. Once we overcome one thing, we have not finished. We have never arrived. What would be the fun in that? This is an exciting adventure. When you are tired, get some rest and be ready for the next lesson.

Dobar Dan Y’all! and may the force be with you!

 

 

 

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The Balkan life….

Sometimes when I am in our village I have blogging ideas. I may be in the field, or stuck upstairs waiting for my Munchkin to wake up. Often I am with out pen and paper but the trusty IPhone is there willing and able with a note pad! I write my thoughts and now I am sharing them with you.

Notice the lady with the large heavy hoe. She is wearing the traditional Baba uniform. The Black skirt and stockings. The large wool sweater and probably an apron. The foot wear is like a thick rubber ballet shoe. Normally they are accompanied with thick homemade wool socks that cover the stockings. This is good for all types of work. Even working the land.

 

 

Photography Friday~ Zubetinac

More Fairy Tale village pics!

Fresh fruit from the village.

Last week I spent 4 days in the beautiful village of Zubetinac. I have posted about It before, but the pics were taken in late winter/early spring. It is like another world with the colors of summer giving it a make over.

Baba was watching her munchkins in the garden

It was a great get away for the little one and I. Not terribly relaxing… We were guests of my Serbian besty and her two little ones (pictured above). Most of the time we were minding the three dwarfs. Our only reprieve was when they slept.

I was glad to get away with my pal. Girl time is priceless. Like water for my friend parched soul. I only regret there are no pics of the two of us.

These two flowers will take our place.

Foreigner Follies~ I have great neighbors

A few days ago…

Munchkin and I are sick. We took a nap to escape the crap we are feeling and woke up to find daddy had gone out for a bit.

When we awoke (she woke me up!) from the wonderful nap. Reluctantly.  I crawled out of bed. I need to pee like a race horse and to change the munchkin’s diaper that was threatening to seep out onto the sheets and eventually my lap. In the living room beginning the unending diaper duty, I heard a ticking or tapping? I left the grouchy little one to investigate and found a long crack in the ceiling in the foyer dripping water from the apt above. Instant stress!

Then the phone rings. I hope it is the hubby so I can ask him to come home. It wasn’t him.

Elevating Stress.

Making things a bit more difficult, it was Deda Tole asking if we would like a visit. Baby is crying. I am freaking out inside about the leaking and speaking to him in Serbian on the phone becomes almost impossible. I tell him water is falling but I don’t know the word for ceiling… I end up telling him to call back or something. I am not even sure.? I step outside into the hall way to get help. I don’t know what to do and I need some advice ASAP! oh, and I need to call the hubby. But first help from the neighbors! any neighbors!

I open my apt door. There is a man ascending the stairs and someone who has just gone down. My brain blanks on all Serbian and Finally after what is only a second or so but feels so much longer, I manage to say I NEED HELP.  Please. The gentleman turns and descends the stairs. The lady who cleans the stairwell came up the stairs to my rescue as well. I told them what was happening and showed them the leak. The gentleman went up immediately to see if anyone was home. No one was there. He asked if I had their phone number… I did not. 😦 He left, and my hustling continued.

The lady told me to get something to catch the H20 dripping freely from above. Scrambling to stand on the edge or the tub (It is about 2 and a half feet high), I transform my short self in to a monkey to reach the basins perched high atop the bathroom cabinet.  After a little maneuvering with a chair the basins are aptly placed under the drips.

This elementary bit of work was something I would have done on my own, but  I am daft as a doughnut with this head cold.  Plus, I was fearful of how the ceilings here handle flooding. would large bits of it crumble and fall on our heads? I was freaking out. Here is why:
Long ago, in the U.S. I lived in a condo and my upstairs neighbors pipes broke. My entire apartment was filled with drips and eventually a section of ceiling 3 feet wide,  6 feet long and about a foot thick and so heavy with water fell.  I was standing a foot behind it. I had just walked under it.

Now I was fearful for my self and my child. Though, I was mostly sure the concrete would hold… still? Sadly, I haven’t the capability of asking this sort of thing from the neighbors.

So many words yet to memorize! Ceiling= Blafon sounds like blahphone. I think I got that one now.

I finally call my man and ask him to come home after rambling about the disaster.  I am so nervous and anxious not knowing how bad the leak is and what may happen to the cracking ceiling. At this point the crack in the ceiling gets longer and more water is dripping above the light fixture and beyond. The crack is 3 feet long and growing. And I still need to pee really bad!

All the while, my sick little love is intermittently crying out of frustration and coming to the hall to see what is going on with the mum who has abandoned her. I return her to the couch and out of my way as I fumble around the drips nimbly jumping the water basins… going to get the baby tub to catch the growing steady trickle and turn of the light to keep from having some water induced electrical problems. The newly stretched ceiling crack goes directly over top the light fixture.

The kind neighbor man returns after looking for the tenants from above and he had luck! The water is switched off. My upstairs English-speaking neighbor/friend comes up the stairs. I start to explain. and the missing husband (Superman) arrives just after this. The  situation is instantly over. Relief

After Dobrila (sounds like Godzilla), the upstairs neighbor comes to apologize and our door is shut. The leaks have diminished. calm descends.

Thank God for Good Great neighbors!

Now, all we need to do is patch the ceiling and repaint!

Holy hallelujah  I can pee now. I leave the bathroom door open as there is no point in closing it with a persistent toddler who insists on entry. I am mentally (and physically) relieved. Out of the blue the hubby comes to infringe on my well deserved “break-time”. He only wants to inform me he shut the door to the back room to starve a fly. What? Bwahah haha! The comedic relief I need to recover from the stressful situation I just experienced. I love my honey.

Side note, if the hubby wrote this blog it would be MUCH funnier! I am much more of a “just the facts” type. Such a pity. I would so love to make people laugh, like some of my favorite bloggers. I am talking about you   Multifarious Meanderings and  Englishman in Italy, you never disappoint!

Happy Sunday fun day y’all!

Munchkin Monday~15 months 31 inches

We went to the hospital for the first time for the Munchkin’s regular check up. Here it is called control. Any check up for the old or young is called called control. I find that a bit …strange, scarey, communistic sounding. But it is what it is.

No computers lined the desks. All the files are hand written. But it all worked the same as the computer run offices back home.

The one thing that did get to me was the lack of tissue paper for clean surfaces. But I guess that is just less waste for the world to stash in landfills, because paper recycling is hard to find here.

I have been wondering how much she had grown. She has gotten so much bigger since we arrived 6 months ago. She is walking and “talking” a good bit too.
Her measurements were taken at the hospital and of course, everything was in metric.  She is now 80 Centimeters and 11.5 kilos. I had to come home to translate the measurements in to  English or rather 31 1/2 inches and 25 lbs.

In the above picture is the Unicef measuring table for babies. Complete with a real tape measure. The baby scale is just out of sight. It was short for the munchkin, but it worked just fine. She didn’t like it though.

The Doctors (all female in this unit) and nurses had a bit of trouble reading the records we brought from home. The shots are in English, but not so different they weren’t able to translate. The dates are written here a bit different. Today is June 3, 2013.. in the U.S. that is 06-3-2013 in Europe that would be 03.06.2013. It can cause a little confusion.

The Doctor had a lot to tell us and kept looking at me naturally, as the mother tends to care for the babes. But in our case, the Hubby had to take in all the info. I barely understood a thing.

The munchkin got a shot, and only cried for a minute and was fine. She is such a trooper.

The first “Control” here was not so bad for me or the little one!

Dobar dan!

 

I have lost my groove

No, not my dancing groove. In fact, I dance now more than I used too. The Munchkin likes no LOVES to dance and so we do, Daily! IT is my blogging groove that is missing. I have been back and forth so much between the village and town, then with the PMS from hell and trying to balance my new summer life… I am all out of sorts.

This is a big holiday weekend back home, the kick off of summer and the big working season at the beach where I used to live for the last 20 years. (Enter Cha-ching cash register sound here!) I think that has a lot to do with my mental state.  I miss my job, friends and my old life in general.

At the same time, the work on the farm here has picked up. I have written about most of the work I have done, NOT MUCH.  I go with the intention of working. Millie throws a fit and all agree I should stay with her. 😦 It is frustrating. I am used to working for the family, providing, now I just babysit. though I guess it isn’t babysitting when it is your own child. But it leaves me feeling useless. unproductive. confined. IT Sucks!

People here in Serbia say it is the best job there is. I think I have even heard that at home too. but I would agree to disagree. I want a job that makes money.

On the other hand, people here ask me when I will put her in Preschool. and I think, “WHAT?!” she is only 15 months old and I don’t have a job. Why on Earth would I let someone else raise her?  What a juxtaposition of thoughts, huh?

Furthermore, Consternation in my marriage is dismaying. We had agreed we would work on the farm. My lack of work there is the problem for both of us really. and my desire not to go to the village is also a problem. But as I wrote above, often I end up staying with the munchkin in the cold village house. unable to help. This means more time with the blessed in-laws who I don’t dislike. It is just exhausting.. more than most in-laws because we don’t speak the same language. Even though I am not technically working, it is stressful and I get so tired. (So, why bother even going to the village?)

Compounding the difficulty of going to (not) work in the village, we don’t return home when the work is done, we STAY for dinner. The food is getting repetitive and not what I want, in spite of my mother in law trying her hardest to please me… It is also what the hubby has been missing for years. HE is in hog heaven, literally as most of the food is PORK!. for me it is just more time stuck in the cold village house. I think to myself, “What did I get myself into. How long can I do this?”

The time in the village is nice (imagine the italics is a sarcasm font). but when we have a day “off” in town. it is a day to work for me. laundry, cleaning, fitting in coffee with friends if I don’t just sit in the apt recuperating from over stimulation. I think it is all getting a bit too much. it is affecting my desire to write sadly. The writing is my life therapy. my link home. and I am slacking.

Am I complaining? or am I just a complaining? lol Maybe I just need a kick in the @$$. Mea culpa.  Adjusting to a new life takes so much time! Damn this Culture shock.

These are my consolation prizes (for my living here and your reading this rant). The vistas on the way to the village are pricele$$.

Now that spring has turned the hills all green and flowery, the entire drive is eye candy.

Lush greens, purples, and reds so vibrant you can taste them.

And fields of poppies that are like a painting providing the calm of opium.  (strictly metaphorically speaking obviously or I wouldn’t have had to write this post!)

Hopefully this will work as an enema to work all the crap out of my brain and get on with my life. Bring on the sunshine!

Happier posts to come soon.
Dobar Dan

Easter Monday~ Orthodox Lunch and Colored Eggs

After the family dilemma yesterday, we did finally go for lunch and enjoyed the company of family and the fellow villagers.

Uncle Milosh with the pic that was roasted on a spit the day before Easter.

No time now to post pics of the Easter feast, but will do later this week. For now just a little post on the eggtivities. :0)

Coloring eggs is done here on Good Friday, better known as Big Friday in this part of the world. It is much the same, accept that as it is with almost everything else it takes a lot more time and effort.

Easter egg dye and other paraphernalia.

Back home we start off with white eggs food coloring and vinegar.  Dipping the eggs and coloring them takes a few seconds and you can make one egg a few colors with some careful dipping.

another vender at the market selling Easter decor.

Here they start with Brown eggs ditto on the rest. The dying time is 10 minutes to an hour! Since it is so time intensive, eggs are only one color.!? But darker because the Eggs are brown to begin with. Designs can be created with leaves, or bags. I love that part of the creativity. I certainly appreciate the work put into them!

I can just imaging how shocked my Serbian sister in the U.S. was when we dyed eggs together. The colors were the pastels I am accustomed to. She asked if we could make the colors darker. Now I know why. That is what she was used to seeing. And the difference in color is kind of a let down when you are far from home and want to do something traditional. Definitive Culture Shock! Funny how it pops up at the weirdest moments.

There are no Egg hunts here, but there are serious competitions for egg tapping. The youtube video below shows what I mean. less than a minute in is all you need to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVFWhoDIk30

I have only played this with the husband so far, My egg was the winner. He told me after, pointier eggs are best!

Decorations may be done with the new decals we find in the west, but old fashioned  decorations are my favorite here. This pic is from Wikipedia from the Czech republic… but they use this technique all over Eastern Europe.

Learning new traditions is the really good part of being an expat.

Dobar Dan y’all

 

Orthodox Easter~Complications and Culture shock

It is just after 8 Am, the church bells have been continuously ringing for several minutes. A joyful noise on this Orthodox Easter Morning. I am having coffee on the terrace with the help of a curtain hung on the clothes line to dull the sun from blinding me as I enjoy the out of doors.

Bells are still ringing, doves and pigeons are cooing, roosters crow now and again, and a dog barks in the distance. The only sound that doesn’t belong in this cacophony is the occasional bronchial coughing of some poor sod who has smoked to long and is breaking up the beauty of the morning with his hacking up of a lung.

Today we are supposed to go to the village for an Easter celebration. I am not sure if that is gonna happen. Mama and Papa have agreed to be the beneficiaries of the Easter feast. Let me explain:

Every year in our village, one family does all the cooking for the villagers. There is an ancient cross in the center of the village and everyone meets there under the pavillion.

Mama and Papa agreed to do this or it was their turn? Even though they just moved there.? Or Mama just wants to show off all her cooking as she is really good at it and wants to let everyone in on the not so secret secret. I think she gets her kicks showing off her cooking skills. I know I love eating her food too!

I don’t know. Lots is lost in translation to me, and I don’t want to always ask for all the details. It is annoying for the people who must constantly translate.

No matter what the situation. It was assumed that with all the work the hubby is doing on the farm that he would just add more on the workload by helping set up the food and all that. If we had been asked, I think that would be O.K. but as per usual in the family one or two people take on the task and expect others to work off half their arse to do what the other person agreed to do. I used to do my part but now as the munchkin demands much of my time, all I seem to accomplish is setting the table or washing the dishes if I am lucky. (Yes, I mean Lucky!. It is a break from the norm.)

For me, it seems ridiculous that one family have so much on their shoulders. But apparently the idea of a potluck dinner is lost on this country.

Either way, We are not going early to help, or we would already be there. Normally, I would say you must help your family, and it is Easter and all that, but I am fed up with all the hoopla at the moment and I would rather just focus on what today is about. As you can read, I am not doing a good job of that!

Guilt world normally be hovering over me. But, as they have another grown adult child who they expect nothing of while my husband and I do all the necessary chores, I have sent guilt packing!

Another possibly interesting element to the story…. When we first arrived, mama told me “We” should plan to have a Serbian Wedding and Christening for Millie on Easter. So then all the family will be there anyway. I was supposed to cajole Milan in to wanting to do this. Bwahaha!

I do not want ANOTHER wedding. We already had two. One Early to save $1000 buck with citizenship paper work that was going up in price by a certain date. The other later to have a real wedding and the family present.

The thought of having one here is too much. The stress of it would be overwhelming, especially with a baby to care for. Then there would also be the Christening.

Now, I am wondering if they took all this on in hopes perhaps that wedding and Christening may happen. Or more likely they just wanted to celebrate having the family present for the first time for an Easter celebration, since their son has been gone for the better part of 10 years.

Half an hour later, the church bells are still ringing intermittently. A nice reprieve from the craziness in my head as I write this. This is surely an attack of culture shock.

Easter at home is about going to Church. Listening to the account of Christs tribulation, death and the joy of resurrection.  Celebrating with a family meal.

Of course capitalism of the U.S.  plays a part. Everyone has a new dress, and store-bought baskets of goodies with colored eggs set out in the morning to surprise the children. It is like mini Christmas in spring.

Only the Dove is cooing now and my rant has ended. Baby is fussing and my day really begins. It will certainly be an interesting Easter. I will keep you posted. 😉

Christ is Risen. Halelujah!

10 hours later: we did go to the village, pics to follow tomorrow. It was a wonderful Easter. Now the munchkin naps while I type once again.

Dobar Dan

Photography Friday~ Meteora

I went to Greece this week. It is a hop, skip, and a jump from Serbia. Well. Actually, a few hours stretched out to several hours if you are traveling with Serbians who know how to relax, have coffee and smoke like a chimney. 🙂

I was traveling with a bus trip of teachers. I was invited by my very good friend M. I am so happy I went. I made new friends. Enjoyed Greek food. and took 4 GB worth of pictures (That is 800 pics). No doubt, photography Friday will have a long Greek hang over. 😉

Today’s post is all about Meteora. This is directly from wikipedia:

The Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα, pronounced [mɛˈtɛoɾɐ], lit. “middle of the sky”, “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above” — etymologically related to “Meteorite“) is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.[1] The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river andPindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on theUNESCO World Heritage List. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteora)

I count myself super blessed to have been able to see this natural beauty.Maybe these pics will bring a little more sunshine to your Friday.

The point of vising the Meteora was to visit a monastery atop the jutting rock formations. This is a sacred place for Orthodox people. It was a stronghold kept from the Turks who terrorized the Serbs, the Greeks, and others for centuries.

Back in the day, rope ladders were dropped to allow entrance. Also, basket like nets were let down for someone sit in. Then they were pulled up to the safety of the monastery. Now they have even cooler ways of getting from one place to another.

Seriously, that is better than the pope mobile!!

Only some of the monastery was open to the public, and pictures were prohibited in  much of that area. I am not complaining. I would rather take pics of the rock formations.

These sites don’t get old. I could snap away all day long!

Tourist do not only flock here for the monasteries. many people come from all over the world to climb these magestic monsters.

This is some impressive stuff!

Meteora was a highlight of the the trip. I would go again in a heartbeat!

Happy Friday!

Dobar dan

Sunday Comics- Foreigner Follies

I don’t mind making it known how silly I am at times. I am that way naturally, but living cross-culturally intensifies that aspect of my personality. I have no shame. really. The most recent thing I have done that you may find amusing has to do with condo life.

I have never lived in a condo like this before. This one is a walk up but nice. The issue that has caused the folly a.k.a. foolishness is that the doors all look the same, if you forget what floor you are on and don’t look at the number. One could easily mistake one’s own apt for another.

Yes, my friends that is what I have done. Thank God not continually.

Just last week, I was carrying my small heavy bundle of a munchkin up the flights of stairs. I came to “my door” and opened it. Inside everything was different. I had opened my downstairs  neighbors door. DUH!

Now, it may be important to note that they know my husband, and have since he was a child. They have been his neighbors for more than 20 years and their son worked in the states like my muz. Now, they also know me through the family ties.

Continuing with my story… I realized my “crawl under the rug” mistake the split second I opened the door. A balloon of embarrassment swelled to the point of popping within me.  Immediately I shut the door. Then, I reopened it to say “Sorry”. Then, realizing I had said it in English, I opened it again. I said, “izvini”. and shut the door, totally flustered.

Readjusting my bundle of munchkin I started up the stairs. The door opened and of course as soon as the neighbor saw me, he knew what I had done as I pointed to my apt above.

SONY DSC

If this was my door, there would be no issue.

I am sure they think I am an utter dolt, but at least they are nice to me. 🙂 That is all that matters to me.

Dobar Dan