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Expatriates and the Comparison Trap

Quick link: The Expatriate Balance Sheet

At A Life Overseas today, writing about comparison and envy and the grass that’s always greener.

A friend visited me once, coming from a country further east. She brought boxed blueberry muffin mix, Cheerios, and other American brand name goodies. I thought, ‘oh, her life must be wonderful and easy.’ When she left, she packed a few cans of Dr. Pepper and bags of Doritos and thought, with such luxuries at my fingertips, ‘Rachel’s life must be so easy.’

I also read Under the Tuscan Sun, or From Paris to the Moon and I think, well of course they love being an expatriate. They live in Paris. They live in Tuscany. For crying out loud. What are they whining about?! This makes me feel both proud, look where I’ve lived! And sad, look at where I could have lived!

Expatriates easily succumb to this lie that the grass is always greener. This is especially true when there is no grass, like where I live. If you have grass, even dead grass, I guarantee you it is greener than my grass. That small truth aside, believing the euphemistic meaning of the phrase is dangerously easy.

*image via Wikimedia

Good Things, the Fifth. November.

1 school open house, fourteen nations represented

2 my dad, going home from the hospital and overflowing with sappy tears and gratitude

3 a friend falling in love

4 a wild heron flying into the sunrise

5 inauguration of a new sanctuary

6 conversation about soul-matters, in French

7 a fresh passport

8 being substitute coach for Girls Run 2

9 planes that leave an hour early

10 junior high drama performance

11 junior high girls basketball tournament

12 mostly all-of-us family meals

13 foggy morning mist over mountains

14 jazz band concert. birdland.

15 back to high school physics, lab partner

16 interview with the man whose family brought pineapples to Kenya. Plus, pineapples.

17 being mistaken for someone’s college-age sister

18 pinewood derby and doughnuts

19 senior men’s choir

20 going home

21 roasted pumpkin

22 birthdays

23 Thanksgiving brunch sans turkey: sweet potato waffles, bacon and sausage, eggs, fruit, friend. Thankful.

24 cloudy morning run

25 kids.home.friends.

26 baseball traditions

27 the perfect watermelon

28 6 teens, 1 tween, 1 dog, walking along the beach at low tide and sunset

29 old friends from far away and long ago, in my kitchen

30 sleeping under the stars, beside steady waves and scrambling crabs

Good Things, the Fourth

Taking note of one good thing, one beautiful thing, one thing to be thankful for each day.

1 lunch with friends at an Indian restaurant

2 ordered a cinnamon sugar waffle, received a crepe

3 open mic night, the first, at the African Village

4 a dream, coming true

5 Kenya

6 all five Joneses together

7 pancakes and coffee on the edge of Nairobi National Park

8 six teenage girls lounging on beds, talking serious, talking nonsense

9 giraffes, zebras, warthogs, wildebeest, ostriches, elands, verver monkeys, baboons, antelopes, gazelles

10 a new and eager student

11 overnight oats with frozen blueberries, bananas, and cinnamon

12 shower drains that drain

13 a gift of fresh fish

13b an interview with Kenyan Henry Wanyoike, vision-impaired world record holder in the marathon

14 blindfolded run, a fundraiser. How much does it cost for a blind school to have more than one toilet for 80 students?

15 Henry Wanyoike, speaking to our students about overcoming

16 running fast in the desert, along the ocean

17 a young man pulled, alive, from rubble in Mogadishu after being buried for 40 hours. Hope is not an option.

18 sugar, olive oil, and lavender essential oil foot scrub

19 gifts for a friend about to get married

20 pool party with friends from around the world, barbecue chicken legs, chilled watermelon, French chocolate mousse

21 conversation with Somalia’s female football (soccer) and handball coach

22 a friend who took over my kitchen and made me Chinese fish and rice

23 chatting with my dad

24 a batch of chocolate chip cookies x 6

25 puddles

26 the grocery store employee who walked me to my car, through a torrential downpour, with an umbrella

27 blueberry pie and chicken tortilla soup, in that order

28 productivity, with the Civil Wars in the background

29 a new word, chork, the sound feet make in shoes full of water. My feet, when I run in Djibouti. They chork.

30 my dad, a successful surgery

31 witches, skeletons, Jedi warriors, Dorothy, Batman, Santa Claus, bunnies, baseball players, Frankenstein, princesses, chefs, pumpkin heads, doctors, and a pink Power Ranger

What are your good things lately?

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