An expat’s heart

One day before Thanksgiving my neighbour comes by to drop off her house keys. She is going to visit her family in the country side. We always look out for one another here in this cul de sac, where we live.

My eldest daughter who overheard the conversation at our doorstep, says:

‘Are they gone for the holidays?’

‘Yes, we will bring in the mail and feed the cat, okay!?’

‘Sure. I actually prefer it like this, when they travel…When they stick around, they have their family over, it all looks so nice; cousins, uncles, their driveway full of cars…’

‘Hu?!’

‘I wish we could have our families over! Like all of them at the same time! Hungary and Brazil, here in California! For Thanksgiving, or for Christmas! But it never happens, they never come…’

‘Of course they do! Your aunt was here last Summer, and your Brazilian grandma, and maybe nagymama (Hungarian grandma) will be here in January!’

‘It is not the same thing, mom, I mean all of us together at the same time, like for Christmas!’

Sigh

Well, this is just one aspect of life as an expat. As a Brazilian, I get to enjoy the safety and comforts of this country, the USA. My children get to be bilingual, trilingual, get to travel a lot, know many cultures and have an amazing vision of the world.

As a Brazilian, I get to taste pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top, turkey with cranberry sauce and timid salty tears, too. By preparing for Thanksgiving I could not help thinking of my family, far away…wishing for them to be close to us, at least on these special holidays (eh um no na garganta, uma saudade!).

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Most of the time it does not happen. We celebrate important dates away from our extended families. Friends become family, expats like us or the Americans,  it does not matter where you come from. We become one family; we cook, eat and toast together! We share our food and thoughts. We choose to be families 😉

As expats, we have a lot of things we wish for…on Christmas, for example…we wish for ‘cheaper flight tickets‘ Oh yes! We wish for our families to win the lottery! We wish for those miles to finally make it to a long haul flight across the ocean 😉 in December! But they rarely do 😦

As expats, we also have a lot of things to be grateful for…our partners, our jobs, peaceful neighbourhoods, freedom, opportunities, the gift of bilingual children. We are grateful for the simple fact we can Skype our families and grandma can see her grandchildren…we are grateful that perhaps, through us, siblings have better and fun opportunities in their lives.

Little sis and I in Monterey :)
Little sis and I in Monterey 🙂

Christmas is just around the corner…and it does not matter how long I’ve been away from my countries (UK, Hungary, Brazil…) I cannot hold that tear!

We miss so many things, we miss so many people…but most of all…aren’t we truly grateful the way our lives turned out?

Our children? They do not grow up with their cousins, they do not grow up near grandma, grandpa, they have an American accent 😉 Our children…we bring them up to the world and the world is huge…Things may not make sense to us right now but I am faithful we are all doing our best. And every little tear of ours or theirs is met with a smile, today or tomorrow.

Wishing you all a wonderful time with whoever you manage to be with! Enjoy it, count your blessings!

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They will always have each other 😉

E para os Brasileiros sortudos rs que estao embarcando para o Brasil:

‘Jogue suas maos para o ceu e agradeca a Deus se acaso tiver, alguem que voce gostaria que, estivesse sempre com voce…’ Boa viagem!!! Curtam muitooo, relevem, nao briguem rs! Lembrem-se…nao somos eternos; nao vale a pena! 😉

Adri xxx

Phases of your life, woman; that’s all!

Every Sunday morning we (my husband, our children and I) talk via Skype, with our Hungarian family. This Sunday though, our trivial family conversation, at some point went like this:

‘So Adri, what is this that you are doing now!? We saw your picture at a panel on Linkedin! –this was my young and very talented sister-in-law asking me.

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‘Oh that was the launching of the website; Brasileiras do Vale! You know, I was supposed to be the moderator of that panel, but ended up being in the panel!’

‘What was the panel??’ – sister-in-law, very successful, career woman, CEO of a multinational company…in Europe.

‘Oh, 3 chairs: career woman, female entrepreneur and …full-time-mom’.

My sister-in-law immediately started laughing and asked:

‘Adri, where on earth were you sitting?!’

At that point we both knew what she meant…

Different phases of a woman’s life…I had being in those exact 3 chairs, at different times, in different countries. And yet, when it was time for me to ‘formally’ occupy my current chair…I trembled. One thing is to be a full-time-mom to your kids. Another, is to tell the whole wide world: ‘I am a full time mom!!!’ And, take your seat right next to your past lives -which by the way you do miss sometimes!

The thing is…once I sat on that chair and started talking, it all came back to me… And in all my humbleness I took pride and certainty that I was doing a heck of a job as a stay-home-mom.

I embraced it and wanted every stay-home-mom in that room to feel the way I felt. Before I started speaking though, I kind of fast forwarded that event in my mind for a second: I imagined myself walking away from the panel, at the end, having no one, absolutely no one coming to say hello to me or let alone ask me any questions whatsoever, about my humble life.

However, what happened on that November 5th was quite the opposite. After nearly 5 years away from the public… I happened to inspire a bunch of women! To my surprise, they already knew me before I came to occupy my seat at the panel…

You guys are listening to me…Wow! Thank you so very much 😉

Back to Sunday morning Skype call:

I explained to my family what I currently do, apart from taking care of the children, the house, having a blog and a cat…I told them how involved I am with two fairly large groups of women, by writing up, creating opportunities, organizing events, engaging women, being present in social media, etc…When again, my sister-in-law says:

‘Wow! Adri, you found yourself a job! – and her eyes were kind of gleaming…

My husband then, explained…

‘No, no it is not a job, but it is good, she is getting to know a lot of people ….’ – my sister-in-law swiftly interrupts him, and calmly asks her brother:

‘Jancsi, what is the definition of a job, for you?’

From here then, nothing else matters! Yes, my sister-in-law is fast! And man are… not 😉

Such a smart question, at perfect timing.

What is the definition of a job, for you?

Tell me; if you are at home right now, reading this…and you are a stay-home-mom, or you are an expat woman who left a whole ‘self ‘ behind you… you are now back to studying, you are blogging, you are volunteering, or you are rediscovering yourself, your old and new talents.  What is the definition of a job for you?

Maybe you already have one, or like me, way more than one!  Just give yourself  a title (or a few ones;) and do not fill in those gaps with: housewife, homemaker. Be creative! Writer, Model (Role), Missionary…or whatever feels right to you. I am not comfortable with the title ‘housewife’ because I did not marry the freaking house. I married a smart and handsome man. I am not a homemaker either, I do not make houses, great builders do! I do not make a ‘home’ either; we all do: my husband, our children and I. So, I cannot bear the title alone 😉

You see? It is easy! Love yourself and what you are doing right now, because I truly believe this is exactly what you are supposed to do. This is your mission, right here. No need to look any further…

Adri xxx

ps.: The other two ladies seating next to me are very admirable women in their business paths, and also moms. They know what I am talking about; we have been in each other’s shoes.

How to get there!

I hear this a lot: ‘I would like to know how to get there!’

Of course, as I live in Silicon Valley, this is ‘The’ question asked by nearly everyone. Most of us actually come here to learn ‘how to get there’. Most are pursuing financial independence. And we do learn tons of good things here, in the Valley.

We arm ourselves with our best reads; The Innovator’s Dilemma, How to Find Friends and Influence People, The Lean Start Up, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, The Start-up of You, just to name a few…And when we get out there, we see people trying really hard to fit in and to stand out, to help others and to get noticed, to do good deeds and get promoted by them… It is confusing! And our children are watching us.

I see kids around here who look and act nothing like kids. They choose their clubs (as in extracurricular activities) not by what they like or even have a passion for…but by what will look good on their resumes for College (this is a 14/15 year-old). They go into these ‘fun’ clubs and immediately look for a leadership position. If the club is called ‘Leadership’ they want to know on day 1: ‘Will there be some leadership positions available on Leadership?! If not…I’m out’.  Whaaat?!? What kind of leaders are we creating here?

In my perception as a (expat) mother of 3, ‘fun’ is the last thing on a Silicon Valley kid’s agenda (not that they do not want it or don’t have any, there are tons of cool things for kids to do here – if only they had enough time for these!).  From middle school onwards all that matters is that ‘A’ and those extra activities that they pack into their already busy days (tons of homework, sports and clubs).

We are really messing these kids up, they(we) are really not getting it. They see these young – I mean young 13-year-olds – kids making headlines as inventors, creators, innovators and they all – or their parents- think the way to ‘get there’ is in fact to kill themselves studying for their A’s, do all AP’s in the world, apply for all the ‘look good in your resume clubs’ – Math club, Leadership Club, DECA club, etc – and totally forget they actually have talents of their own which they ought to explore.

This guy http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29920654 did something awesome; he followed a passion and paired it with a heart to help others. Mr. Barnejee, 13-years-old, the school boy who is bringing a low cost Braille printer to market and is being backed by Intel.

The problem here in the Valley is…some parents see someone like Barnejee and go berserke. They expect their kids to be one of the Silicon Valley young entrepreneurs and come up with something real smart. Not a picture, or a pirouette, or a post on Tumblr! However, kids being able to follow their passion is a great start in itself, no matter what it is. Looking at our Educational system I see ‘we are educating our children out of creativity’ – TedTalk

As parents, we too, are kind of lost. We want to provide the best education for our kids but when we do so, we get a little scared about the concept of ‘best‘ available out there…Then, as we venture ourselves to be a little bit hippie; expressing we actually want our kids to be kids, our teens to be teens, we may sound irresponsible. And with our parental decision of letting our kids be kids and have fun, comes the fear that we maybe ‘ruining’ their chances of having this perfect college resume (!)

How do you get there? I don’t know. How did you get here? From here to there; do you plan to have any fun at all? I do.

Each of us is on a journey, it is up to us to make it a pleasant, fulfilling and yes, inspiring one. It is just one life, one childhood, one teenagehood…

Adri xxx