Monday, 31 May 2010

Bracing for change - moving back to the USA

In two sleeps we'll be in America, which is hard to believe. It feels like we're just going for a holiday, the fact that we'll now be living there is sinking in slowly.

I've been attempting to mentally prepare this week. Since I have a robust track record of international cold moving (ie moving somewhere with no job - I don't necessarily endorse this), I've learned  some tips to make the shock less traumatic. Because even though it's exciting to move and I am so looking forward to being back home after 8 years abroad, showing up to a new place and carving out a life is hard work. I know this and I'm bracing myself. 

My tips for myself, and anyone else leaping into the unknown, are as follows:
  • Don't try to sort everything at once. If there's one thing I've learned from living in the UK and Japan it's how to be patient. Things come when they come, so don't expect too much at the start.
  • Keep pushing. I've also learned a lot about perseverance - not something I desperately wanted to learn, but hey, it's useful. Things come to people who keep showing up, knocking on doors, applying for jobs, talking to new people and being in the right place.
  • Focus on what I've got vs. what I don't have. I know it will be hard to go back and not have our own apartment, jobs, income, car, etc. There will be a lot missing, waiting to be filled. But if I just think about all those things I'll be missing out on what I've yearned for for such a long time now - being home, being surrounded by old friends and family and not being foreign anymore. On a shallower note I've also dreamed of Mexican food, Target and Sephora. I fully intend to enjoy America and not let stress steal that joy!
  • Set mini-goals and try to have a schedule. I know, I LOVE goal setting, so it had to creep in. But honestly, I've got these mini-goals for Seattle to help me settle in. Things like, contact 5 people for info interviews and meet up with 5 of my friends. Or check out 10 coffee shops in the next few weeks. I need to feel like I've achieved something so nothing too difficult to begin with. 
By the way, I LOVE the vintage suitcase picture I found. And yes, I noticed it's made in Canada, which is fine because I like our neighbor to the north. But I did think it would have been more fitting if it was American made, like me, for my returning home image. We can't always win though, can we?
    Anyway, what about you? How are you with change? Are you the type of person who thrives on change or fears it? How do you make it easier when you jump into something big?

    {Photo from flickr to be inspired}

    Monday, 24 May 2010

    Crawling into a hole to focus

    I can't believe this is my last full week in New Zealand before heading home to Seattle next Wednesday! Oh NZ, you've treated me so well...but, now is NOT the time to get emotional because folks, I've got a book proposal to write. And in order to focus and turn this baby out I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a virtual vow of silence this week. So no blogging/ tweeting/ facebooking/ endless internet browsing for me. It's nothing personal, but you know how it goes...peacefully surfing one moment and the next,  sucked into the wondrous vortex of the worldwide web...

    I didn't want to be rude so I thought I'd let you know. I hope your weeks are productive or relaxing or exilharating or whatever you need them to be and I'll be back with you next week. :)

    {Photo from flickr by Cuba Gallery}

    Thursday, 20 May 2010

    Friday Buoy: Inspiration Round-up!

    Kia Ora from soggy Auckland! Thanks for all the great feedback about last week's Friday Inspiration Round-up - I think it's going to become a thing. I could use some serious buoy action today (possibly quite literally - this rain is relentless!) so let's jump right in...

    Melting moments! {above} These shortbread and lemon biscuits get around the New Zealand cafe circuit. I'd been eyeing them since I arrived and yesterday finally gave in. Verdict? Amazing. They look stunning in big glass jars and I love the forky imprint.

    Last week I noticed we've got a few bakers in the house, so I'm going to throw my favorite cupcake recipe of all time out there. Honestly, if you try it and aren't convinced you can have your money back. It's Amy Sedaris's vanilla cupcake and it's ranked the 2nd best cupcake in NYC - amazing but not full of itself, the perfect combo. I always use it as my cupcake base and add customizable ingredients (like cinnamon swirl!) to push the boat out.

    My next buoys are estrogen-packed, but just by chance...

    • My dear friend Jess and her husband Andrew are on a journey towards international adoption, and to raise some funds (it ain't cheap!), she's started an accessories company! Check out Wild Poppy on etsy for a taste of her hand-crafted and vintage-inspired wares.
    • I read this a while ago but wanted to share it now. It's the most precious birth story of a little girl called Nella, born with Downs Syndrome. It's beautiful, touching, tear-jearking and makes you want to be a better human. I don't know how to give it a harder sell, but it's worth the read. 
    On a lighter note, some fun new blogs/ websites/ on-line mags/ web portals to check out...
    • Style escapism at it's finest...this is glamorous & decor8
    • Delish is a lovely new on-line mag hot of the press with the tag line 'live like you mean it'. And since Delish was my high school nickname, I'm doubly smitten. 

    And creative inspiration from War of Art author Steven Pressfield. Check out his post on 'training', a theme that resonates with me. Honestly, Mr.Pressfield's message about pushing through Resistance is powerful stuff.

    Well, I better get to work on a few projects...

    What's inspiring you this week?

    Monday, 17 May 2010

    5 stars:: The importance of supporting what you believe in

    Recently I’ve had some really sweet comments, emails and conversations that've certainly spurred me on. They confirm that I really am on the right path, doing what I’m meant to be doing. These affirmations have me thinking about how important it is to feed back to people whose work, words and vision you believe in. I mean, how else will they know unless you tell them?

    I’ve also started thinking about how, though I am an affirming person (I think), there are some areas where I could step up my game.

    For example, I love books. I believe in books. Books have turned on lightbulbs in my head that have steered me on new and better courses. I’ve bought those books en masse and distributed them to my friends and family. I’m even trying to write a book. BUT… despite this great passion for and debt to books, I’ve only ever written ONE Amazon book review! And that’s because I was specifically asked to. Unbelievable. If and when I publish I’ll be begging friends and strangers to review (positively!) my book on Amazon, because rave reviews are so important to sales.

    I decided to make a list of 10 of the top books I’ve ever read and write a glowing review for each on Amazon. It won’t be hard because they’ll be books I genuinely believe in and would tell my friends about anyway. 

    So, I’m off to do some serious reviewing. Will let you know how I get on & the books I choose shortly. 

    Now, let the shout outs begin. I’d love to hear someone or something you’re raving about at the moment. It doesn’t have to be a book, it could be a musician, website, charity or designer. Whatever. Anything or anybody!

    Can’t wait to hear.

    Thursday, 13 May 2010

    Friday Inspiration Round-up

    It's Friday morning down here in NZ! I'm off to share a flat white with my friend Rachael, but first, a hit of inspiration. Here's what's been buoying me this week:


    My friend Mel's boy scout belt with whistles either side! And Dan confirmed it's authenticity - he used to sport one too apparently. I can't pull off accent belts like Mel and Dan, but I LOVE this. {below}

    Favorite new blogs

    • Mel's just launched The Making of Blanket Statements & it's as awesome as her whistle belt. She's documenting plans to make her vintage home accessories company a hit in a year, one stitch at a time. Today's day 1 so let's show her some love. :)
    • New Dress a Day is our heroine Marisa's endeavor to source one second-hand dress for $1 every day for a year. Her blog is where she shows off her transformations and sewing skills. Sew nice!
    • Just found this! Zen Peacekeeper merges two of my favorite topics, justice and writing, into one blog. As if that weren't enough, she's a yoga teacher AND a Kiwi - so much to love. Great blog and great guide to twitter
    • Alexis Grant is writing a travel memoir about traveling solo through Africa. Of course, I'm intrigued. Loved her post about favorite Baby-Sitters Club characters and who you'd be. I was most like Mary Anne in junior high but wanted to be like Claudia & Dawn. And you?

    Inspirational blog posts

    I'm thinking about doing an inspiration round-up every Friday, what do you think? Feel free to send me any hot tip-offs during the week!

    What things or blogs have inspired you this week?

    Tuesday, 11 May 2010

    Exploring who you are & the work you've been given

    These are busy times ladies and gentlemen. But not too busy to spend a weekend with friends on Waiheke island, watching the vineyards turn red and tasting their spoils. Can you believe it? Red vineyards! Autumn just doesn't quit.

    So here's what's going on in Alisha-land, in case you're interested:
    • I'm mentally preparing to shift back to the States (3 weeks!), excited to connect with old friends and family in Seattle, but nervous about the unknown.
    • I'm looking for a job, my biggest unknown, and praying for something I love.
    • I'm working on a city guide to indie Auckland for one of my favorite websites with my crafty friend Mel. More on this to come!
    • I'm being sucked into the underworld of twitter and finally caving in. {If you're on twitter, let's tweet!}
    • I'm writing a book proposal for my spiritual travel memoir about the last 4 years in the UK, which takes about as long as writing the freaking book. The hardest part is trying to encapsulate what the book is about and communicating it in a pithy, captivating way. This is difficult because it means I actually have to figure out what I'm trying to say. And since I'm full of things to say, it means I'm distilling it all down to the essence. Time-consuming, but important.
    As I've been thinking about what I'm trying to say with this book, I'm also thinking bigger picture: What am I trying to say, in general? What am I all about? I don't think this question is self-indulgent, I think it's crucial.

    I found this passage from our old friend Paul in the book of Galatians especially helpful:

    "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."

    I haven't finished thinking all this through, but it's a good process. I'm making the exploration of who I am and my work so that I can do my creative best. What a fun challenge!, me, me. What about you? If you had to say what you're all about in a few sentences, what would you say? Who are YOU and what's the work you've been given?

    Wednesday, 5 May 2010

    Imperfectionista in Britain


    Britain's got a big election coming up (May 6) and, while I can't vote, I will be backing Britain with a big shout out. Not a political one, just a wee praise.

    When I left five months ago I was, like someone ready to leave, highly attuned to the UK's faults. But now, after some distance, I'm coming to terms with England. I'm thinking about the things the UK does well and the things I'd like to smuggle back into the States with me in a month.

    One of the UK's strengths is the ability to be comfortable with imperfection. This might seem like a backhanded compliment, but I'm serious – I loved how much less pressure there is in the UK to be perfect.

    I'd been thinking about this for a while, but two blog posts this week hoisted imperfection to the top of my mind. One was a post from an American in Britain on She's Not from Yorkshire about the English and the (real) female body and the other was from Rachel Held Evans on how perfectionism kills community. They got me thinking.

    Sometimes I'd tell this to my British friends, how the drive to perfection is fainter there, how people just aren't as bothered trying to attain unreasonable standards, and they'd defend their country, "No, we feel it here too." And I'm thinking about several 'type A' Brits that silently defy my generalizations as I write. But still, I contend that as a culture, the disease of perfectionism is much fainter in the UK. America breeds it. It pushes you there.

    As a recovering perfectionist, I don't want to bash current perfectionists when I label it a disease. Because I think the same ambition that fuels perfectionism also fuels excellence. Ambition is a double-edged sword. It's what makes American customer service impeccable and mediocrity a market failure. It's what makes an American baby shower as much of an event as a British wedding. It keeps teeth white and skin tanned and the self-improvement industry in full swing. I like the ambition of America, but sometimes, it can be a bit too much.

    Trying to be perfect all the time can be exhausting. And a waste of time.

    While the UK is an ambitious culture as well, it has more well-defined boundaries. Instead of crippling its population with unrealistic ideals, it's more accepting of the imperfect. I think British culture even takes special joy in the imperfect. Expectations are less airbrushed and there's a common understanding that, of course you're not perfect, you're human. Have a bit of a tummy? Good, you're enjoying life.

    The UK is a great place to get over perfectionism - it certainly helped me kick the habit. And for that, I'm backing Britain today.

    What do you guys think? Americans, do you think our culture places unrealistic expectations on people? Brits, do you agree?

    {Photo from flickr Peter Denton}

    Monday, 3 May 2010

    And the winner is...

    OK, I couldn't resist just ONE more picture of young Dan. I mean, if you're going to transport your baby in sheepskin how can you not expect his future wife to fawn? Apologies.

    And on to the WINNER...

    Weighing in with the correct answer of 'Flat Whites' and 'Long Blacks', I'm happy to award HEATHER with my first ever blog giveaway prize!! Congratulations Heather!

    Heather, can you send me an email {alisha [dot] sanvicens [at] gmail [dot] com} so we can discuss the best way to get the prize into your hands?

    Also, I thought it would be good to reveal the answers for a bit of Kiwi-education. So, here's the original list and what each name relates to:

    All Blacks (Rugby)
    All Whites (Soccer/ football)
    Flat Whites (Latte-esque drink, but a bit more velvety)
    Tall Blacks (Men's Basketball)
    Tall Ferns (Women's Basketball)
    Silver Ferns (Women's Netball - like basketball but with no backboard... or dribbling)
    Black Sox (Men's Softball)
    White Sox (Women's Softball)
    Black Caps (Men's Cricket)
    White Ferns (this wasn't in the original but should've been, it's Women's Cricket)
    Long Blacks (double shot of espresso over hot water)
    Iron Blacks (American football)
    Ice Blacks (Ice hockey)

    Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I'd say it's been a real success, so hopefully on to bigger and better prizes for future giveaways. 

    Related Posts with Thumbnails