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Only love can drive out hatred, only light can drive out darkness

You know I love her, and guess what, she gave a commencement address at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. :-)

Dr. Brené Brown chose three nuggets of wisdom she would have wanted to have upon her graduation:

1. Whatever you do, do not wait until you're unafraid to do something. Don't wait til you're brave. Don't wait til you're comfortable. Step into the discomfort and do it anyway. You're more ready than you think.

2. If you want other people to put value on your work, put value on your work. Period.

3. Find joy. Really find and cultivate joy in your life.

"Thank you for signing up to be the love and the light in this world."

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How not to run a blog

The most successful blogs have the following elements - no particular order - in common: 1. Clearly defined audience In this case, I'm writing for expats, lovepats, accompanying spouses, international students, sojourners, military families, global HR department officials, type enthusiasts, coaches, trainers, research participants, and anyone interested in personality and culture.

Guess I could be a tad more specific, huh.

2. Purpose Simon Sinek calls this the "why". In fact, he says everything starts with "why". I started my blog and everything that led up to my business, because I love being an expat. Have loved it since 1997, right up until 2006, when I became an accompanying spouse with an identity crisis where a work permit used to be.

Strong words, and at the time it felt more like a period of funk and "what's wrong with me?" But hindsight is awesome, so now after much coaching and learning I know what was going on. THAT kind of insight into the emotional challenges of international relocation is what I want to share, so others don't fall into the same hole, or at least learn some strategies to climb out of it faster. I also found that becoming aware of our cultural and type differences opens channels of non-threatening and non-judgmental communication, which in turn help celebrate diversity, foster conducive work environments, and loving relationships.

Is that clear from what I'm writing? Please let me know! I do have a tendency to ramble and get side-tracked. In person that can be quite charming, just think of Billy Connolly and his tangents, how he always finds his way back to his point eventually, laughing at himself and the absurdity of life in the progress. But on a blog... Your time is precious, you don't want it wasted, right?

Where was I?

3. Quality content Not only should posts be written well, grammatically correct, and with flawless punctuation, they should also address the readers' needs. Am I doing that? I think my style may be a bit too lecture-heavy, although I do try to tell stories from my own experiences. Normalizing is a big part of my work, letting people know that what they're going through doesn't make them freaks of the universe. Again, please let it rip and let me know what you were hoping to find when you clicked over here, that would mean and help a lot!

4. Frequent updates The range goes from multiple daily updates to weekly posts to monthly feature articles. The consensus seems to be not about what the frequency is, but that there be one.

I'm doing weekly posts here (have been since 2007, check the archives), but know that I was severely lacking in the frequency department over on my research page. Which is why I'm taking Danielle's advice and consolidating the two. To make it easy to find, I've added a Research category for those of you who are only here to learn more about how personality type affects cultural adaptation in expats.

5. Involving the tribe Providing a space for discussion used to be the prerogative of any blog's comments section - now Facebook has earned the privilege. Have you liked my page yet? No? Probably because I haven't been posting specific items with alluring photographs and catchy headlines to draw you in. I've recently disconnected the Twitter stream not to appear there anymore, because it did get overwhelming.

Hey! I know, this is almost turning into pity-party. In case the title didn't give it away, I am scolding myself here. And by scolding, I mean using a coaching technique that I know to be effective: public goal-setting.

My goals are To provide value to expats and their accompanying spouses To share what I've learned along the way To use this forum for the good of celebrating diversity in type and culture

Will you help keep me accountable?

Thanks to Stuart Miles for the free pic!

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How to Pay Less for More, or: Enjoy Your New Country

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How to Pay Less for More, or: Enjoy Your New Country

On a recent Southwest flight, I found this little gem in the inflight magazine. Under the heading "Life Science" it says: "Research geek Garth Sundem interviewed 130 scientists for his new book, Brain Trust. Here, he translates their research into smart tips for everyday situations." I'm going to share this one with you, because it really resonated and I think there's a lesson for expats: How to Pay less for more

Expert: Paul Bloom, professor of psychology, Yale University; and the author of How Pleasure Works

Paul Bloom has found that the more information you have about something, the more valuable it becomes to you. For instance, most people assume that a $30 bottle of wine is better than an $8 bottle. But if you know something about the $8 botte - like you've visited the winery or you heard the year was a good one - its value increases to you personally. The same thing goes for travel: The more you know about the place you're visiting, the more you'll enjoy it. In other words, information can substitute for price. Rather than pay more, research more.

Have you done enough research on the new country you're moving to? Enough to get you excited and emotionally invested to make it successful, believing it will be possible and worthwhile? Feel free to share which resources you're using below in the comment section! :-)

Image by Penny Veitch, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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