Friday, August 15, 2014

Comfort in a foreign land

Sounds a bit like a movie title, but in fact it's part of a blog hop created by the very imaginative and thoughtful author of EnglishGirlCanadianMan.  That is her expat theme of the week and I thought I'd put my two cents in.  See her lovely motto below.

English Girl Canadian Man

I've been in France for nearly 12 years now.  One of the questions my students often ask me when they learn I'm American is how often I go back home (though they usually mangle the grammar and say something like "you go back how long?") or if I miss my family.  To which I reply with a somewhat forced smile, once a year if I can, every year and a half if money is tight.  And, yes, of course I miss my family.

After 12 years I suppose I'm getting a little better with the distance, and I'd say that since I've had a child, I feel like I've got a little bit of America in my living room with me.  But there are certainly still moments when a joke I tell in French falls flat or my six-year old announces to me that she's decided she's just gonna speak French now (luckily she hasn't kept good on that one, but she's definitely conversing a lot more with me in French, sigh!).  And then I feel a bit alone indeed.

So what can I do?  Like Holly said on her blog, a nice cup of tea with friends is one of my go to remedies.  I'm absolutely spoiled to have stumbled upon some great friends here in France, both expats and natives, who are in the same mindset as me and are eager to gather for a cuppa.  It always lifts my spirits.  Muffins and cakes certainly don't hurt!

Watch something in English.  Luckily we now have the option to watch a lot of US and British programs in English now.  Hearing the real voices and humor is a bit like music to my soul.

Speaking of music, I couldn't live without it.  If someone asked me to choose between losing my sight or hearing, I know the logical answer would be hearing, because it's perhaps less debilitating.  But without music, I think I'd be even more insane than I am.  A good song is like meditation to me.  Like this sweet one by Marie-Pierre Arthur.  It's a French one.

Getting my hands dirty.  Be it with some gardening or painting a simple butterfly with Juliette, using my hands can calm me.

Baking and cooking.  I've always loved baked goods, but I'm getting more into cooking in general.  Experimenting with recipes and enjoying the end results is satisfying.

addiction,calories,barre de chocolat,noir,délicieux,desserts,fotolia,tentations,emballagesAll things chocolate.  Two little squares of dark chocolate can make the world all better.  Make that four squares!

Communication!  In all forms!  Reaching out to people, via FB, the blog, a text message or Skype, makes me feel connected.

Reading. Getting lost in a good book (I mostly read in English lately) can help me forget about my problems for a while and fall asleep faster. Reading a fun botanical mystery my mom sent me now, The Water Lily Cross.

Nature. Like Holly, I love enjoying the simple pleasures of hikes and just listening to the wind in the trees.  Or a lovely blue sky.

What do you find comfort in?

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Holly Hollyson @ Full of Beans and Sausages said...

What a lovely song. I can't imagine how much harder it must all be in a foreign language! Especially if your own daughter speaks that language. I am the same as you - I can't get home very often. I dream of that changing, but of course it is so expensive to visit home now. Chocolate is a good one! I love chocolate so much! My Auntie lives in France and she is part of a fab expat community who are so close knit that they all live in the same caravan site (my Auntie's house is often empty as she is usually at the caravan site). There are a lot of expats in France I think.

I Say Oui said...

That's a nice song!

I find comfort in talking on the phone or computer with family and close friends and taking walks that make me remember the beauty of where I live. Sometimes I do both at the same time.

Jenenz said...

About a month ago, I started a 10 minute morning ritual practice. I sit outside, look at the hills, trees, sky, and just let go of any thoughts. I marvel at the sounds of birds, squirrels running, the puffy clouds, the fog rolling over the hills and engulfing the landscape. It's a great way to clear my head, be in awe of nature, and give thanks for having another day to live. My practice has brought back to me comfort and joy. Of course, chocolate works wonders too!

You've created a wonderful life in France. Enjoy all the comforts!

Lou's Lake Views said...

I totally agree with the Tv shows being a great comfort, although I often find it's more the accents and the way they speak that I love to hear rather than the programmes themselves.
A square of chocolate or four works wonders for the soul doesn't it !?