verywhere I look, people are together—together with their families, together with their friends, together with their neighbors. Mothers and daughters shop together at the market. Parents with their children play together on the beach. Friends hang out together in cafés, and neighbors sit together in front of their door talking, laughing, and sipping mint tea.
I sit alone.
My family lives on the other side of the world. I have some expat friends who work with me, but they are busy with their own families and their own lives. I keep trying to build relationships with my national friends, but it’s so hard to build trust and deep connection in a foreign language.
I feel alone.
For those of us who feel isolated and alone, how can we find friends to connect with—especially when living in a foreign land with multiple layers of language and cultural barriers?
An angry gray sky greeted me. Standing at the top of the flight of stairs which opened to the roof, the breeze mussed my hair and reminded me I was near the ocean. It also whispered that rain was coming.
It was a risk to hang my heaping basket of wet laundry, but I had no choice. I grabbed the heavy towels. Clip. Clip. Shirts attached next, then socks. Clip. Clip. In the midst of the up-and-down, picking-and-clipping repetition, I had lots of time to think.
I was sad. I'd been sad for a while. I rarely smiled or laughed. All of my actions felt laborious.
Continue reading . . .Read More
I vividly remember days (yes, multiple) not wanting to get out of bed. Seeing no way I could ever learn the language, if I could ever make a difference in others’ lives. I could no longer look past the trash on my street, everything became gloomy. I was ready to go home. I had little hope.
Hope. We all know the term and can tell you if we have it or if we don’t. But what is it?! Is it something that just happens to us, or is it something we have some control over?
Life is full of different seasons. Some things may change—our age, our geographic location, our marital status, etc. However, loneliness can affect us in all of these different life stages. We all need community and connection no matter what season we find ourselves in today.Read More
Where are you headed?
What helps you get up in the morning?
What will you say “yes” to today?
Why do you do what you do?
These questions reflect your vision. Do you have one? Some leaders don’t, but the good ones usually do.
Read more to see why it’s important . . .Read More
A wise Arab once said, “One hand doesn’t clap.”
One hand needs another hand to make an effective sound. Similarly, humans aren’t meant to function alone. We need others to help us accomplish goals, to laugh and grow together, and to keep us from feeling isolated.
When social isolation occurs, it accentuates any problem.Read More
A new family invited us to have dinner at their home recently. Because we didn’t know each other well, they asked us questions about our life in North Africa.
Their genuine questions invited us to share our story.
Afterwards, we mentioned to them that it had been a long time since we had told our story to someone. It felt good!
We all have stories to tell—fun and not-so-fun stories from our daily lives, encouraging testimonies of changed lives, tough stories of loss and grief that have built up over the course of years, and sometimes, traumatic stories and crisis experiences that we have been forced to walk through.
Whatever story we carry, there are multiple benefits of telling it to others.Read More
Flags, lawn chairs, and people lined the streets. We heard the drums in the distance, signaling the start of the parade.
"Is the king about to come?" my 8-year-old son asked.
I giggled inwardly, but looked at him with adoring eyes.
"In Morocco, yes. But this is different. We're in America getting ready to celebrate their Independence Day. America has a president, and he won't come to this parade."
Ah, the life of a child growing up in more than one culture!Read More
It’s like a switch deep inside me. I can turn it on, but it’s more common for me to turn it off.
Two whole years had passed by since we had last seen my dad. I had just arrived in Florida, along with my two young children, when my dad called to say that he was driving through the area. I was thrilled. He then went on to mention that he could only stop by long enough to have lunch. Only lunch? Only an hour or two of the day? I felt the loss and sadness begin to well up, so I threw my switch to the “off” position.Read More
I have just recently started to feel like I’m catching a glimpse of the “other side” of my loneliness . . . after six long months here in my native-born country. My heart has been aching with loneliness . . .
These are the same feelings I experience every time I land overseas. These feelings seem to follow me wherever I go.Read More
The patisserie was close—I could smell it.
Entering with my stroller, I passed the bread counter and was bombarded with cookies! Round cookies, colored cookies, pressed cookies, marzipan-filled cookies—which ones should I bring to a friend’s house?Read More
"Say ‘shukran,’ honey," I whispered.
My two-year old, new lollipop in hand, looked at me out of the corner of her eye.
The Moroccan shop owner burst into a smile, scooped the little girl up and kissed her face.Read More
Disappointment is the feeling of sadness when your hopes or expectations aren’t fulfilled. It could lead to the more disheartening attitude of discouragement. What are ways to prevent this?Read More
Learn something new about loneliness that may surprise you by taking this “FUN 10-Question Quiz.” Don’t miss out on the explanations at the end!Read More
One early Wednesday morning, I went to the local souk. There were so many people, so much noise, so much bustling activity. My head was spinning out of orbit as I pushed my way through crowds of djellabas, runaway children, hopeless beggars, and wandering chickens.Read More
Overseas living is like playing an old familiar game of life, but the rules are completely changed. How do I gain competence? How do I progress? How do I “play fairly?” Here are the most important habits to develop in your new game of overseas living. Rehearse them regularly, so you will flourish and succeed in your new “normal.”Read More
Leader /lē-dər/ noun. The first one to arrive. The last one standing.
For real? We laugh, but all too often that's the way it happens. As a leader, you might be wondering, "What am I really supposed to do?" There are many aspects of leadership, but the actual jobs of a leader can be defined in three basic descriptions . . .Read More
Are you feeling a heaviness today? Maybe woke up in a 'funk?' It may be hard to describe, but you know something feels off. Shoulders start slouching, feet feel like lead, steps are slower. You aren’t exactly angry or unhappy or disappointed. Maybe a combination of the three?Read More