4 Years in Saudi Arabia: Living, Learning and Growing

We are all Ambassadors

Life begins at the end of YOUR comfort zone. YOU decide. Are YOU living or dying-Since our return home from Saudi Arabia, (A place I once feared and had zero desire to move to.)  I have been facilitating a series of workshops for students – sharing what day-to-day life was like while emphasizing critical life, leadership and people skills that they will need throughout their lives.

In each workshop students are given a visual of a natural process that will happen the rest of their lives – as they decide if they have the courage to leave their comfort zones or the grit to survive when life hands them circumstances they can’t control.

Some of the questions I’ve been asked about Saudi are worth sharing:

What was the best part?

  • Living in an International Compound: Sharing life, friendship, and food with people from more than 50 nations and learning from them.
  • Riding motorcycle with men and women from all over the world and getting to experience parts of Saudi that many expats don’t get to enjoy. (Yes – My motorcycle jacket had ½ of an abaya attached to it and could be rolled up when I was on the bike and rolled down when I was off the bike. Allowing me to be respectful and safe while enjoying time on the bike with my husband.)
  • Vacationing in 11 countries besides Saudi and Bahrain in the 4 years we were there.

What was the hardest thing for you?

Breaking the Cycle of Division – Unity Begins with You!

When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.

How was this possible?  We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE!  Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.

A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:

  • From the losses to the possible gains.
  • From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
  • From fear to faith.

Ask 1 Question and Increase Your Connections

One of my expat friends recently moved back to the U.S. to an area she has never lived in before.

 When we spoke recently she shared how hard it is to develop friendships with people in the area.

When she is out walking and greets her neighbors, they look at her like she is from another planet.

When she meets people at her children’s schools and they learn that she was recently living overseas the conversation ends quickly.

Is it Good to Be a FIRST? Or Is it a Judgment?

The Power of FirstsAs a society we tend to label and categorize everything into the smallest, tiniest little box so it seems more clearly defined but is it always necessary?  We always want to clarify with adjectives, adverbs and descriptors so there is no margin for error in what we are talking about.

The Power of Firsts
  1. Does it help us to visualize better?
  2. Or does it hold more negative connotations instead of creating equality? Is it a form of discrimination?
  3. Will it call attention to and single out individuals as more of a minority status? How can this be kind?

About a month ago I got a note from Jane Perdue with an invitation to write a guest post for her blog with these questions as thought starters

Do you ever wonder what women, men and society need to do so that…

  1. Women and persons of color are designated as a doctor, not “a woman doctor;” as a scientist, not “a Latino scientist,” etc.?
  2. Special designations aren’t needed in announcements, e.g.:  the first woman to lead the federal reserve, the first female best director Academy Award winner, the first African American female flight crew, etc.?

I struggled with this topic for a month. I was so torn but my heart and most recent experiences led me to a very eye opening conclusion. One you may be surprised by.

Read more at: Braithwaite Innovation Group Why our world needs FIRSTS – LeadBIG

We’ve walked into paralyzing fears and become stronger.

We’re doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, writers, actresses, artists, musicians, hair-stylists, yoga teachers, economists, consultants…

We’re red, and yellow, black and white and every color you can imagine.

We’re in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and yes even in our 70’s!

Some of us are newlyweds, some are new mothers, some are raising teenagers, some have four-legged furry-children, and others have grandchildren.

We’re Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu…

Some of us have husbands home each night, while others navigate the new lands we live in while our spouses travel or are offshore for weeks at a time.

We’re not just “Trailing Spouses” – We’re real people that have been “Thrown In” and instead of being destroyed by the pressure of constant change and the unknown we’re transforming.

Agents of Change iStockLast week I announced a new blog series about Expat Wives in this post:   

Uncommon and EXTRAordinary Agents of Change  

This is the first story in the series.  

  • It’s written to encourage anyone in the midst of change.
  • It’s written for everyone that loves an adventure.
  • It’s written to remind Recruiters and Hiring Managers that in order to find Diamonds you have to mine for them.
  • It’s written challenge companies that hire expats to evaluate their processes.
  • And most of all it’s written with a grateful heart and in honor of the women I’ve met on my journey.