WARNING: TOXIC LEVELS HIGH
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if some people came with a warning.
We have all encountered them. Some are in our lives and some in our homes or our friendship groups. We may work with them, be related to them or grew up with them.
What am I talking about? TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS.
Yea baby, you know it.
That person who swallows you up, dwarfs you, talks over you, interrupts constantly, tells you what to do and huffs if you don’t listen. Plays the blame game, manipulates, criticises or puts you down. Is negative about everyone, jealous of everyone, can’t be happy for anyone. They may be some of that and more.
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is an unhealthy one sided relationship. It is an emotionally harmful relationship. One where the balance of power is tipped in favour of the toxic person. The other person may feel powerless, have low self esteem (especially if the relationship is a close one and has gone on for a long time).
The feelings of powerlessness are often redirected onto the inner self in the form of mirroring any criticism received. E.g. Jane, the toxic person may comment to Jess that she is easily influenced. Jess internalizes this and without realizing uses it on herself when she finds herself unable to pull away from Jane’s ‘friendship’ as she now distrusts her ability to make decisions. Jess now does Jane’s job for her and continues to erode her own self esteem in other ways. This is the power of the toxicity. Like any contamination – it leaches out, spreading silently.
There are many types of toxic people. Some may be deeply embedded in your life, a parent, a spouse, a boss, ( even your relationship with your child can become toxic).
Or they may be part of your general friendships groups, maybe they come as part of a friendship made with someone else, so you have to accept them. It may be a friend of your partner or spouse. You may have moved and this was the first friendship you struck up.
And people stuck in toxic relationships are not necessarily weak or easily led. You can fall in love and be blindsided. You can meet someone and initially enjoy this fun outgoing party person, your new friend/neighbour may have just had a bad run of luck and things will get better. It’s a slow erosion here, a subtle manipulation there and it probably won’t happen again, you think.
Baseline checklist for toxic relationship assessment.
So here are a few signs for you to think about.
Do you dread seeing them?
Do you lose yourself in their presence and hate yourself afterwards?
Do they lie or exaggerate for effect on a regular basis?
Are they hurtful or dismissive of your feelings but expect you to acknowledge theirs?
Do you find yourself adopting their negative views without thinking?
Do you agree with them just for the sake of peace?
Do you invite them to gatherings more out of fear than because you want them there?
Do you come away feeling agitated, down or a general feeling of dissatisfaction?
Do you hang out with them out of necessity, (because of who they know, or their position/authority overrides yours)?
Do you find it impossible to say no, or create boundaries?
Some of these may ring true. If you feel you are caught in a toxic relationship ask yourself what you are getting out of it? What keeps you tied to this relationship? What is it costing you to stay? What will ending this relationship give you? And ultimately do you want to end the relationship? Because nothing changes until you are ready to change it.
It’s worth pointing out what actually is a healthy relationship.
A healthy relationship involves a lot of mutual feelings- respect, communication, trust, support, understanding of the need for space and FUN.
If you are having fun, having a laugh now and then, coming away from this person feeling good about yourself. Then the signs are good.
If you are going through a tough time and you come away from a chat feeling supported – good.
You allow yourself to be emotionally vulnerable with this person and feel safe – good.
Things toxic people are good at –
Passive aggressive behaviour.
Criticism/contempt. (May be followed up later by pleas for forgiveness or praise if they sense they have gone too far).
How to spot a toxic person.
The Energy Vampire.
These people suck the life out of you. They always seem to need help/support/advice. Something is always bringing them down and misery loves company so they want you down with them. Everyone has their ups and downs and even a run of back luck, but in this case it seems never ending.
So ask yourself is this a mutually supportive relationship/friendship?
The Drama Drama person.
Now in general these people can be fun and great in a social group as they will always have a fun story to tell. But in extreme – it’s only their story that’s interesting. Something is always going on that’s funnier, more dramatic, more interesting in their lives than anyone else’s. They will dominate conversations with stories of their life. (If you are around them a lot you may actually spot the loop). They don’t even want advice when things are wrong, why should they? Their life is far more exciting. Yours just sucks.
Probably the most dangerous. Usually very clever people. Like Narcissus, they love themselves and believe themselves to be superior to everyone around them. If they do admire someone, then by heaven, you had better admire that person also because the narcissist has deemed them worthy. Their aim is to control. They will build you up with compliments and will pull you down just as quick with criticism. It’s how they roll. They made you they can break you. Also just like Narcissus, they have to have an Echo. Someone who hangs onto their every word, panders to their weaknesses.
Are you some ones Echo?
There are other types, like the habitual liar or exaggerator, or people who see every conversation as an opportunity to show off how much they know, or every conversation is an opportunity to brow beat you into accepting their way of thinking. Whatever you do, avoid talking politics to this person.
Overall these people are exhausting to be around. They bounce around life and people and often have no idea of the effect they have on people. They are just so into themselves they can’t see beyond. Some are harmless irritants others are dangerous users.
But what can you do about them?
The first thing to accept is that you can’t change them. They have to want to change, (if in their eyes there is anything that needs changing in them).
But you can change you.............
The next thing is to accept that this is not a healthy relationship and probably not a happy one either.
So what the hell are you doing in this toxic environment?
What exactly do you get out of this? Do you enjoy being treated with contempt, having your life dismissed, or your feelings run over with hob nailed boots?
Would you treat someone like this? What makes it acceptable for someone to do it to you?
The next step.
Acknowledging your emotions. What goes on inside you when you think of removing this person from your life or distancing yourself from them?
Guilt? He/she doesn’t seem to have many friends. I’ve known him/her since childhood. But it’s my Mum/Dad – they must want the best for me.
Fear? I’m new here, I don’t know anyone else. She/he is my boss I don’t want to lose my job.
Lack of confidence? I don’t make friends easily.
Loneliness? I’m stuck at home with a baby, I don’t see anyone else all day, but him/her.
it’s a tough call. And only you can make it.
Something has to change in you.
Start with being easy on yourself. You don’t have to feel guilty for wanting to protect yourself. You don’t have to feel bad for wanting people around you who will support you and make you feel good about yourself.
If anything look at them and feel sorry for them. One day they will crash and burn if they don’t stop and assess their lives. Often toxic people have very fragile egos. They crave approval. They need attention and like a child it doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative, as long as you are focused on them. They need to be in control because they are convinced its either control or be controlled. It’s all they have learned.
However, feeling sorry for them does not mean you have to put up with being treated badly or shodily.
By being honest with them you are doing them a favour. You may lose them as a friend or create initial disharmony in a relationship but if this relationship is to continue in a healthy manner something has to change and if they aren’t willing to accept that their behaviour is upsetting, then at least you know where you stand and can make a decision based on that.
Can you talk to this person honestly and explain that when they behave in a certain way you feel angry/depressed/frustrated/not listened to/demeaned?
Can you toughen up and not take everything personally?
When someone tries to humiliate you in front of others’ it says more about them than you. Call them out on it and ask them in front of people why they feel the need to behave like that. If you don’t think that’s something you could do, then can you avoid being near that person in social occasions or if it’s in your control – not invite them?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again – you are not alone. You are not the first person to feel like this. There are many others like you. And guess what? There are lots of lovely interesting fun people out there – if you would give them the chance. Join a group. Create a group. Do something positive and proactive for yourself.
Holding on to a toxic relationship makes no sense. But sometimes the familiar is more acceptable than stepping out of our comfort zone. You may even blame yourself or just accept that because of past experiences you gravitate towards these kinds of relationships. Whatever the reasons for the toxicity in your life – acknowledging it is there is the first step.
Well done. When you are ready to make the next step you will do it.
Like I said earlier, being caught in a toxic relationship has nothing to do with your strength of character. But being caught in a toxic relationship can erode your confidence, drive down your esteem, make you doubt your judgement.
And most importantly…
Remember you are more than the sum of one persons evaluation of you.
Don’t accept negative labels. You are not made of Velcro – so don’t let labels you don’t like stick to you. Brush them off. Do it literally. It helps, I promise.
Love and friendship should leave you warm and fuzzy inside – always.
Love isn’t cruel or destructive, dismissive or demeaning. If you are not thriving, growing and flourishing in your environment, then you’ve built roots in the wrong ground. And just like plants we need the right environment to grow strong and flower.
Are you growing in the right environment for you?
ICF Certified Life Coach.
I’m also a Mum of two beautiful people, partner to an amazing man, cat rescuer, baker, quilter, photographer, reader, ex-teacher, aspiring writer, lover of good food and I’m told I make great coffee.
Follow me on instagram: wellness_with_ren
Contact me on 0097455313895
I offer a bespoke coaching programme designed for you because you are one of a kind
Marriage and relationships in the expat world
We have nothing in common anymore.
We both end up slumped on the settee too tired to talk.
The kids take up all our time and energy.
The magic is gone. It’s all so humdrum.
Sounds in anyway familiar?
Maybe you have your own unique reasons for doubting your marriage. Perhaps you have already made up your mind but can’t make the step.
Or you maybe you see your spouse drifting off into a direction you don’t want to go, but you still want to save your marriage.
There is no easy way to say this - just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to make a marriage. That’s what I want on focus on here – saving something that was once worthwhile enough for you to stand in front of family and friends and swear to love each other ‘till death you do part’.
Even if you are not sure you want to save this marriage, perhaps you are not sure your husband wants to save this marriage – ask yourself have you done enough on your part. Can you honestly say you have given 100% into this marriage from the outset? Given it your absolute best shot. If it ended tomorrow could you walk away and look yourself in the mirror and say – I did my absolute best with all my heart, with the best intentions. I can sleep at night.
Problems can be exacerbated when we live away from family and friends. If you had strong family connections or a good community in your home country, being cast amongst strangers in a strange culture can make everything seem worse. You might not know people well enough, (even if you have been expating for a few years), or maybe you move countries a lot, to bring up such personal topics as a troubled marriage. When you ring home, the natural response is to say everything is fine, we are having a great time. So it can feel like you are on your own.
If there really is no one you feel you can trust then seek professional help. Better to enlist help now to save your marriage rather than paying for a family lawyer later.
There are a couple of things to acknowledge first.
Some people blame the environment. (Too many temptations in the expat world. If we had not left home this wouldn’t have happened. If we hadn’t had kids so soon).
Whatever the reason, if there is a problem in your marriage it doesn’t matter what country you live in or where you go or how much money you are making. The problem comes with you. Imagine having a favourite water bottle with a crack in it. Everytime you fill it with water, it leaks. You promise to get it fixed, but never have time, or your spouse won’t fix it. Its always manãna manãna. (Or in this side of the world - Inshallah I will get it fixed tomorrow). So it leaks everywhere. In your bag, in the car, on the table. You moan about the mess in your bag, having to clean the car, constantly wiping the table. It becomes a habit to just moan and clean, because that’s what you have become accustomed to doing without even thinking about it.
Is that your marriage? Have the cracks been there for so long you have accepted them as part of your marriage. How many countries have you lived in and made the same complaints to yourself or your spouse?
Expat life can take its toll on a marriage. There is no doubt about that. It can also be the saviour of a marriage. New life. New opportunities. New attitude. New water bottle.
As Leonard Cohen said;
There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
The second thing is recognizing that we can’t always have our cake and eat it.
Social media sites are full of memes about grabbing life, living it to the full, women in power, women finding themselves, women putting themselves first for once. Where once we hovered in the background now we are elbowing each other for the limelight. So when our marriage hits problems we think – I didn’t sign up for this. My mum had this all her life , I’m not putting up with it. This was not how I planned my life/marriage to be. Every other woman is getting what she wants why can’t I?
We have cultured and nourished ourselves from impoverished to entitled. Is this what we want to hand to the next generation of women? Are we in danger of tipping the scales too far? Where once we simply gave in too easily, now we give up too easily.
Of course there are many reasons why marriages struggle or fail. Sometimes the best course of action is to accept the differences and leave. And sometimes it’s good to do nothing for a while and think.
Lots of couples go through phases of muddling through their relationship. Marriage has its ups and downs, we are constantly being told that. However look at what happens when we continue muddling through and being constantly in the ‘downs’. It becomes a habit. It’s easier to not talk and watch TV. It’s easy to talk about the kids, but lets not touch on the huge problems in the relationship. Maybe you have a tumultuous relationship. Full of arguments, sulks and not talking.
How can it be that someone you once loved could so provoke such anger now? What happened? What’s causing the anger?
Anger is often a surface emotion that hides more vulnerable emotions. Do you feel let down, unappreciated, unloved? Maybe you have been lied to, not given a choice in important matters, ignored?
These feelings often present themselves in the form of anger. It’s easier to express anger than to leave yourself vulnerable by saying you feel unloved/ignored or let down.
It’s also the amount of investment we put in to our relationships that flips the balance. When we love so deeply, when we are vulnerable with that one person, when we give ourselves unconditionally and then something goes wrong, all the invested time and emotion has to go somewhere. We can’t switch it off like a light. Click! Gone! No more love so no more heartache.
‘Heaven has no rage, like love to hate returned.’
Instead all that emotion festers, acidity sets in and what was once love congeals into a mess and we no longer trust our judgment to trust and love. So we resort to safe default emotions, ones that are easier to deal with.
In its mildest form when love has slowly been eroded it manifests itself in lethargy. Can’t be bothered if he can’t. We are ok, aren’t all couples like this after kids. It’s up to him. He won’t talk about it.
In its most ardent, when love is strong, it manifests itself in hate. A dangerous emotion, because it blinds us and makes us act irrationally.
What is your default emotion when things go wrong? Anger, withdrawal, indifference? Think about it. Where do you go to in your head when things are going wrong?
One very important point.
There are some relationships that are toxic and or violent. (That can be psychological or physical violence). No one needs to stay in such a relationship, unless you want to or are afraid to change. Seek professional help and support if you think you need it. You may need more than marriage guidance for that kind of relationship.
Why do I have to be the one to do something. You said it takes two to make a marriage!!!
I’m addressing the women out there because I am making the assumption that only women are reading this. So I am talking to you, the woman in the relationship. If what I am saying resonates in any way the next step is up to you.
Look at it this way. Whether your marriage has simply hit the doldrums, or has hit a crisis, someone has to do something if it’s worth saving. And I am going to assume, for the purpose of clarity that you want to save your marriage. Otherwise you might as well stop reading now.
So you are aware there is a problem. And you want to take action before it’s too late. Fantastic start. Well done.
First thing - ask yourself. What have you done so far to save your marriage / make amends / bridge the gap?
What proactive, or positive outcome related measures have you made to help your marriage? Think about it. Your marriage is ailing. If it were your child you would take it to the doctor, google tips, ask friends for advice, look to your partner for support.
From now on try to look upon your marriage as being unwell, what can you do to do to help it get better?
5 things not to do when your marriage is in trouble.
1. Attribute blame. (Blaming is about removing responsibility from yourself. It’s not helpful and will result in your spouse becoming defensive).
2. Whining. (It’s not attractive and if you get anywhere with it, it’s short lived).
3. The silent treatment. (Not talking is a one way street to a build up of resentment).
4. Doing your own thing. (Marriage is a partnership remember?).
5. Shaming him in front of your friends. (Seriously! You think that’s going to help your marriage. Would you want to hang around someone that made you look small in front of your friends?).
Harsh words. I know.
So lets flip them into something productive and positive.
If your marriage is on shaky ground then both of you have to accept responsibility. Not blame. Recognise that both of you could do more. Even if one of you has done something unforgiveable and broken trust, if you want to save your marriage you can find a way back. You may need professional help to get there. It will be worth paying someone to get you back on track. See it as an investment in your marriage.
So ask around. Whether it’s a marriage counselor, relationship coach, therapist, make sure it’s someone you can feel comfortable with and that you are all working towards the same goal.
Instead of whining about things that you feel aren’t right. Make suggestions.
You never take me out anymore.
You always leave it for me to do.
You don’t understand….
Hey, lets get a baby sitter and eat out.
Can we sit down and work out who can take on these chores/jobs as I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Can we talk? Can we be honest with each other?
Notice the good section involves a more cohesive ‘lets do it together’ kind of language.
It may feel awkward at first. So practice in front of the mirror or on your kids. New habits take time to form and become natural.
Giving your partner, or being on the receiving end of ‘The Silent Treatment’ is incredibly destructive and soul destroying. Sometimes after an argument it might be best for both sides to say nothing and give time to cool off. That’s different from the silent treatment. The silent treatment is about power and control. I can’t do much else but I can decide not to acknowledge your existence.
It’s about wallowing in your anger and the desire to punish.
Acknowledge your anger. Say hello to it. What is it hiding? Can you talk to someone about it? More importantly, can you talk to your spouse about it?
Communication is the key. It also helps to remind yourself regularly that your spouse is not a mind reader. How many of you have wallowed silently only to find out later your spouse thought you were just being quiet. The silent treatment is no use if the recipient doesn’t even know he is getting it.
If you are angry over something –tell him.
If you are upset over something he did or didn’t do – tell him.
If you feel taken advantage of – tell him.
Talk. Talk. Talk. Then talk some more.
I’ve met quite a few couples that ‘do their own thing now’. It works when both sides are honest as there maybe be many factors involved regarding why they can’t or don’t want to separate. It could be the children, finances or simply appearances. The key lies in being open, honest and accepting.
Last but not least. Shaming. Another common symptom of a fractured relationship. It’s a form of insidious bullying.
Talking down to your spouse, disparaging your spouse, demeaning your spouse in front of your friends or mutual friends is one sure way to lose friends and your marriage. Even worse when it’s done in front of the children.
When people carry suppressed anger it comes out in uncontrollable spurts, often in a negative form. Shaming is also about control over another person. You might think you are being funny or just trying to make a point, however it actually makes you, the shamer, look bad. But people will be too embarrassed to say anything. If you have a problem with something your spouse is or isn’t doing?
Talk. Talk. Talk. In private.
If you are the one being shamed, then are you ready to put your big girl pants on and do something about it? Every bully needs a victim. Are you ready to stop being a victim?
The 10 golden rules of a happy marriage:
8. Mutual goals
10. Caring for each other.
Simple isn’t it.
It can never be stressed enough for any relationship – communicate, communicate, communicate.
That doesn’t mean one person talks and the other switches off. Communication is a two way street. If your spouse wants to get something off his chest, give him the air space without interruption or criticism. If you can’t trust yourself not to butt in, grit your teeth and just nod acknowledgements or hmmms. When he has finished, discuss what he said. Acknowledge his feelings on the matter, even if you don’t agree or feel aggrieved. Now that you know how he feels you can both begin to work on it.
Then ask for the same thing back – that he to listen to you without interruption or criticism.
Be nice to each other. As an expirement agree to commit to doing random acts of kindness for each other but not tell each other when you have done it and not to always expect thanks. It can be as small as leaving the remote within reach when you leave the room, or making a cup of tea/coffee. These random acts of kindness should be easy and effortless and everyday. After all if you can’t do something that’s easy and effortless, something you both should really be doing anyway because you are two caring human beings, then how are you going to get onto dealing with the big things?
ICF Life Coach. NLP Practitioner.
Follow me on Instagram: wellness_with_ren
I offer a bespoke programme, designed for your life, because your life is one of a kind.
4 Yummy and easy snack recipes that will come in very handy!
When the weather is not too favorable for outdoor fun, my husband
and I often end up entertaining friends at our place. This means, we need to keep some tasty snacks handy, and no, not just chips or cookies. Different guests usually have different preferences and while some love binging on fried goodies, others choose to
go a little healthy. So, here are some snack ideas that I opt for when loved ones come over. You can try these out too!
1. Tasty mix of nuts and seeds
Being in Qatar means you have a lot of options when it comes to nuts and seeds. Preparing these snacks takes only 10 minutes and here is how to go about it.
You need 1 cup each of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans. Also take half cup each of dried and chopped dates, dried papaya pieces, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You will also need 1 cup raisins and a handful of flaxseeds.
Just mix all the nuts and seeds and fruit pieces in a large bowl and store it in an airtight jar. Now, even if someone drops in unannounced, you can serve them this delicious mix from the jar.
2. Cereals in a spicy avatar
No, cereals are not just for breakfast, and they can be consumed in other tasty ways, and by not adding milk! This spicy cereal mix will prove that in a jiffy. You will need around 40 minutes for the entire process.
You will need 1 cup cornflakes, 3 cups of rice cereal squares, half cup unsalted pumpkin seeds and 1 cup of whole grain pita chips, broken. Also keep handy 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, half teaspoon garlic powder, half teaspoon onion powder, half teaspoon ground cumin, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. You will also need a dash of salt.
First, preheat your oven to 350⁰F, while you combine the hot sauce, garlic powder, cumin powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and olive oil in a bowl. Now, add the cornflakes, rice cereals, pita chips and pumpkin seeds. Then spread the spicy cereal mixture on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. They will come out golden, crunchy and yum!
3. Easy mango salsa
Tangy, sweet, and spicy, this mango salsa can be enjoyed with chips and nachos whenever you have friends over or simply want to pamper yourself. It will take maximum 20 to 25 minutes to make.
Take 2 mangoes to make 8 servings, and peel, de-seed and chop them into small pieces. Medium ripe mangoes work best for me. You will also need a diced tomato, a minced onion, a de-seeded and minced jalapeno pepper for a fiery boost. Also keep the juice from a lime, a tablespoon of minced cilantro and some salt and black pepper handy.
Mix the mango and tomato chunks, and the minced onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the lime juice and sprinkle salt and black pepper as per taste. Your delectable salsa is ready!
4. Refreshing banana and orange smoothie
A snack doesn’t always have to be something to munch on. You might want to serve a yummy smoothie that quenches thirst and provides energy too. Moreover, this orange and banana smoothie will just take 5 minutes of your time.
You will need one banana usually to prepare this smoothie for two. Take little less than 1 cup of strawberries, remove the tops and then dice them in halves. Also, you will need 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice and about 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice.
Add the banana, strawberries, lime juice and orange juice to a blender. Then process it till you get a smooth drink without lumps. Refrigerate the smoothie before serving. You can serve this in tall glasses and perch a partially sliced strawberry on the glass rim for a stylish effect!
So, all set to wow your guests with some simple yet tasty snacks? Do try these out and let me know if you liked them.
Best Wishes Ladies!
Useful Tips to Enjoy a Beach Holiday!
Though the summer heat lingers on in the air of Qatar, pleasanter months are just around the corner! And if you are hoping to go on a beach holiday when the temperature becomes milder, you need to plan and pack right. Carrying along the right clothes, accessories, and other essentials can make your beach vacation so much cozier, especially if you have kids or pets. So, take a look at the tips here and let me know if they seem practical.
1. Take light clothes – Chiffon, georgette and light cottons are the best fabrics for any beach vacation. So pack in some well-fitted tops that are neither too loose nor too tight, a few overalls that can be quickly worn if you have to step out for a nice dinner, and do carry a couple of flowing dresses which are great for ventilation. If it’s a short trip, 2 sets of bathing suits usually suffice. In case of two-pieces, carry those which can be mixed and matched. Choose bold colors, floral prints, stripes and polka dots for a fun and sensuous look at the same time! Pack a couple of tank tops as well.
2. Pick accessories wisely – If you will be swimming most of the time, carrying precious jewelry makes no sense, as the sea water or pool water can ruin them. Take along beaded necklaces, hoops and bracelets which can be easily paired with dresses, skirts, and even shorts. Wearing only one statement piece will be a great idea especially. Carry sunglasses, a stylish big hat, a spacious tote for the day, and a clutch for evening parties at your resort.
3. Pack skincare products – Any beach vacation without oodles of sunscreen lotion with the right SPF might fall flat on its face. Also carry along moisturizers, body lotions, night creams, toners, and face cleansers. Remember to keep the makeup light by just highlighting your eyes or adding a hint of gloss to your lips. For evening events, use a darker shade of lipstick and eye shadows to create the smoky eyes effect. Do carry face powder or a compact that complements your skin tone, if you are prone to sweating.
4. Don’t ignore hygiene and health – Wet wipes and adequate sets of undergarments are essential for beach holidays. If you have fun-loving kids or a dog that loves to mess around in the water, you will definitely need wipes and soft towels to clean them up. Carry feminine hygiene products as well, along with prescription medicines, and antifungal creams. Carry dog shampoos if you have a canine friend. Remember to pack in some trash bags so that litter can be avoided.
5. Spare a thought for shoes – Sandals that look stylish and are yet comfy are the best picks for a beach vacation. You can go for bold hues like red, hot pink, leaf green, sunny yellow or fiery orange. Sandals with cute prints are also a great hit these days. Take a pair of sneakers if you plan to run every morning on the beach or work out at the gym. For evenings, take along a pair of glamorous wedges to pair with dresses or skirts.
Now, you are all set for a cheerful and fashionable beach vacation. Just make sure you book your stay at a hotel that meets your needs and tastes perfectly, and you will be good to go. Whether you are planning to holiday in Qatar or somewhere else, beaches can be a great pleasure if you plan ahead!
So, let me know if this works for you. Best Wishes Ladies!
LOSS OF IDENTITY IN THE EXPAT WORLD.
Loss can take many forms and cover not only the passing away of a loved one, but also in the expat world it can be the loss of identity and a form of bereavement can take place when you leave family behind and move abroad. In this article I want to talk about loss of identity and the bereavement we feel as expats from leaving behind everything that is familiar to us.
So you have arrived in Qatar, unpacked, found schools for the children, RPs sorted or in the process of being sorted, husband is busy getting to grips with his new job or if he was here ahead of you is already up an running with his routine. If you had a career in your home country you might have been lucky enough to continue your career here.
For those of you who have chosen to suspend your career and become a full time mum or use this opportunity to change careers or find a new direction, this can quickly become a minefield of confusion.
It’s all a mixed blessing really. Never before have you had the opportunity to devote your time to going to the gym everyday or meeting up with friends for coffee and a chat, browsing the Souqs and the joys of wandering through Katara Cultural Village. To your families and friends back home you have the life they would love to have. But after a while the shine goes off and as the dust settles on your new life, you find yourself questioning who you are, what you were and what will the future hold for you as woman, identifiable primarily as a mother and wife. It sometimes might even feel that you have stepped backwards in time to the fifties. You have become a proverbial Stepford wife, creating this lovely life for your family. Everything is good, more money, more time with the kids,more spare time for you. After all, life is fantastic in the expat world, isn’t it?
But the homesickness will not go away. And you think the life back home was not so bad, after all everything was familiar and comfortable. You had a place in society either through your career or through your family and connections.
The loss of identity is a common feeling for a lot of women as trailing spouses.
Let me be clear, not every woman feels like this. Some women arrive in the expat world and thrive on the change and turbulence of negotiating their way through a different culture. Some just get in and get on with it. They are the survivors and swimmers. You could put these women in a mudhut in Swaziland and in no time they would either have a job or a coffee morning organized. Good for them. We need women like that. However it takes all kinds to make a world and if we were all survivors and swimmers we would be beating each other to the frontline every day. Not good for society.
So what about the women still trying to find their feet, missing home, shyly sweating it out at the gym?
You want something, but you don’t know what. The word ‘more’ may pop into your head regularly. But ‘more’ what? More friends? More fulfillment? More joy? There must be ‘more’ to life than this?
It’s got to be fulfilling, enjoyable, make money, meet people, make new friends, give you status and raison d’être, but not encroach on your time with the kids because of after school activities and not intervene on your evenings and family time. Oh and no weekend work, that’s sacred time.
If you find one, can you let me know if there is a vacancy. That’s my dream job there.
Seriously though, it’s out there if you look hard enough and are ready to grab it. And you have to be quick because those survivors and swimmers are going to be after it also.
In the meantime, whilst you are waiting for the flash of inspiration, you can start preparing yourself for your new life. The path is easy if your intention is strong.
Your old life is no longer your present one. It’s not gone and you can reignite it anytime you go home. Its still a part of you and what made you ‘you’. Now the focus is on what is in front of you everyday. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yet it’s easy to lose sight of what is in front of us while we wish we were somewhere or someone else.
TOP TIPS FOR THE NEW YOU.
Connect. Connect. Connect.
Get out there, join clubs, take up sport , join a gym, volunteer for something. Be prepared to move out of that comfort zone and step into the unknown.
If you have kids in primary school then you have an instant advantage. Look at the mums around you milling at the gate or classroom door. Too shy to just walk in on a convo or introduce yourself? No problem. Dress to impress. I don’t mean dress up. Wear something that will draw attention like a bold or unusual piece of jewelry. Something that will encourage or leave the doorway open for a comment. I know many conversations that have started with ‘Oh I love that pendant’ etc. Not got anything striking enough yet? Get down to Souq Waqif or Al Raunaq or Oriental Carpets ( yes they sell way more than carpets) and start browsing. It doesn’t have to cost the earth. In the meantime look at what other people are wearing and be the one to admire something. It might sound frivolous, but trust me – it works.
Exchange numbers at every available opportunity. The woman in front of you might be the one who introduces you to your next best friend.
Never say no to any offer to join with a group. You might hate the idea of coffee mornings, however remember you are now amongst the most amazing group of people you will ever meet. Expat women are often the friendliest, the most well educated and culturally diverse women you will ever get to know. Join in a few coffee mornings with different groups and see which ones you can identify with. You never know you might meet your expat BFF there.
You will also meet women from backgrounds you might never mix with back home. Be open to new cultures, be tolerant of differences and enjoy this wonderful opportunity presented to you.
Start up a group of your own with your own interests through either a hobby or a need. Whatever you are experiencing, you are not alone, there will be at least one other person out there looking for something similar.
Become self employed or develop a skill you have that you can earn an income from. However do familiarize yourself with the law regarding small businesses in Qatar, beforehand.
Keep regular contact with your family back home. Initially, this is done without thinking because you miss them. However as your life takes off here and you settle in to a new routine, time zone and weekend differences can take their toll. Sometimes that call to Mum or your sister can become a chore. Especially as you have this new exciting change and they…well they haven’t changed one bit. And have you noticed the silence when you talk about the places you have been and the things you are doing, (even getting a medical done here is a colourful story in itself). Be patient and understand that you are in a world they might (or have not yet ) seen. Remember to acknowledge their everyday life as it was once yours.
A word of caution…
Some of you may have some very priviledged positions here. You will have house help or a driver. There will be someone to wash your windows, carry your groceries, fix your air conditioning. Be kind to those around us who make our lives easier. They are human too. And we are all here for the same thing – to make money and memories.
Be present 100% in your life from this day forward. Your children will only be this age and in this stage for a very short time. Enjoy them. No really enjoy them. MORE.
So now you have more time to;
Stand back and quietly watch them play and chat. Listen to them without judgement. Revel in the time you have to just sit and be with them, to play with them or read stories. You now have to opportunity to parent your own children. This is a luxury a lot of us couldn’t do in the west. It was all work work work.
Enjoy and I mean really enjoy your time in the gym and with friends you make here. Feel the difference.
Enjoy the book, don’t just read for the sake of it.
Revel in your leisurely breakfast. Remember all the rushed cups of coffee grabbed as you went out the door, still munching toast as you started the car or boarded the bus. Those days are gone.
One of the things that used to annoy me when I first came to Qatar was hearing women say things like – Oh I like to do X because it fills my day.
Even as a new expat, I felt really strongly about this. Why on earth would anyone be happy with just ‘filling’ their day. Live your day. Live everyday as if you had a time limit on it.
Love to the max, play to the max, live to the max. You will be pleased you did.