Friday, February 27, 2015

Little Ms. Sunshine In The Shadows

I’m a glass half full; find the silver lining person by nature. I’m a spin master. Give me a problem and I can help you see the bright side. Not today though. My problem is we’ve been told that we are being repatriated when the school year ends. This really isn’t the end of the world. We have a position when many others aren’t so lucky. We have our health and each other. We will be moving back to fam… wait… there I go again… Little Ms. Sunshine. Not this time. That’s next post. That’s moving forward. Right now I’m going to wallow. No apologies.

(No particular order)
·      Family Closeness- Packing up all your stuff and moving around the world makes your family a tight knit group. When living as an expat you know everyone is transient and the only people who will always be around are your family. One of my favorite things about moving to Singapore was how it is totally normal to see teenage/ young adults girls and boys holding their parents hands. It is a small thing, but what an act of love. My kids do this too. My almost 13 yr. old son has no problem expressing love to Dax or me by holding our hand or hugging our neck in public. My teenage daughters are the same way.  
·      Public Transit- If you had asked this Texas girl 2 years ago if giving up her car sounded like a good idea, I would have said Hell No! I love the ease of the train, busses and taxis. You can read a book, listen to music, chat with a friend or even make a new friend all while getting from A to B. ***Warning: chatting with friends may make you completely miss your destination and late for a doctors appointment. *** Chatting with Taxi Uncles will inevitably end with learning about politics of your home country… often things you have no clue about and will google later to fact check and they are normally correct! Oh, it could also end in you learning about your lunar zodiac and that of your husband (best ride EVER)! Really, those Uncles are amazing and have wonderful stories to tell.
·      Friends like family- We are all away from our family and in similar boats. Friendships are formed so easily. You meet someone and 10 minutes later you know their “story”. Our family is so lucky to have friends like family around the world.
·      My Helper (live in maid)- Donabelle, has been a saving grace! A local had told me that Singapore only runs so smooth because of the helpers. They were so correct in that statement. This woman knows the ins and outs of Singapore. My home has and will never be so clean and well run again. She cooks like a gourmets chef and loves my kids fiercely.
·      Travel- Living in South East Asia has made it possible for us to travel to so many wonderful places. We’ve been exposed to cultures and religions in real and meaningful ways.
·      Tolerance- It is easy to become set in your ways when surrounded by people who think and act exactly like you. I love that this experience has given us an opportunity to live along side people with extremely different points of view. Our family has a world perspective that I will hang on to with every fiber of my being.
·      Food- Hawker food, Indian food (pratha with dahl, samosas, chana masala), Din Tai Fung (steamed buns and dumplings), Thai food (Pad thai, coconut curry), Indian Food (Did I already say that?) QQ Rice, Real Food (beet burgers), Original Sin… I could go on and on. No drive thrus… Ok maybe a few on the island, but we never use them.
·      Boot camp- Cheryl, my trainer, and my workout partners have made me stronger inside and out. Through sweat and tears these women have become so dear to me. I cannot even imagine not having Tuesday and Thursdays at Fit @ The Fort to look forward to. Fort Canning is a dream like place to work out, but even if we were in a swamp these ladies are a blessing! The name of Cheryl’s company is so appropriately named Eat, Train, Love.
·      Tea and Coffee breaks- I love afternoon tea or coffee, alone or with a friend. Oh and the scones, they are to die for!!! It’s a perfect time just to slow down and unwind.
·      A different pace- Sure if you are trying to get on or off the train during rush hour, it can be overwhelming. Ion can send your senses into over-drive. One minute it seems so fast paced, the next you are behind someone doing the Singapore shuffle and the world slows to a snail speed. My dear local “friend like family”, Jaja, has told me numerous times to slow when I walk. Walking fast makes you sweat more she explained. Great tip… it’s still painful to walk that slowly sometimes… but I love it! I also adore that dinner, coffee or a quick meet up often turns into a long event. Restaurants don’t rush you in and out. Heck, it is hard to get them to take your order and then give you the check in the end. I love it. Maybe this is another reason you make friends so quickly; you always have plenty of time to chat.
·      Never needing a designated driver- Remember that public transit, it makes a night out so easy! Date night and guy/girl’s night allows everyone to have a drink and not worry about getting home safely. 
·      Celebrating other’s holidays- Singapore has a huge number of public holidays that celebrate different religions and cultures. It is a wonderful thing to be able to see your Muslim or Jewish friends fasting and then watching them celebrate as it ends. I regularly find myself in awe of their devotion and love for God. I now know a little more about Deepavali, Vesak Day, Hari Raya and the Lunar New Year.
·      Little India, Chinatown, Arab Street, Bussorah and Haji Lane- Very touristy, but so fun to shop, sight see and people watch. Plus, these areas have some really good food!
·      Buddhist Temples, Hindu Temples and Mosques- I love the architecture, the smell of incense, the bustling markets that set up outside during religious holidays. Yet again, I find true beauty in witnessing the devotion of others in prayer. It makes it easy to see how alike religions are despite differences.
·      Doctors and Hospital Care- I love that we can walk into the A&E (which is just the ER) and be seen in minutes. In this case, I know we are privileged because of our excellent insurance we can use a premier private hospital. Although, I know the public ones have exceptional care just longer waits! I love that all doctors have most of the medicine they prescribe in their office. No extra trips to the pharmacy required.
·      Driving- So this is just the little kid in me. I love getting into our car on the right side and driving on the left side of the road. Singapore is an amazingly easy place to drive. The roads are really marked well.
·      International Schools- I love that my kids have had the opportunity to attend school with students and teachers from around the world. They have had amazing school trips to Siem Reap, Cambodia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Bintan, Indonesia; Tioman, Malaysia; and slept at the zoo. They’ve gained a world perspective that will always be with them. Each has learned a new language and has aspirations to learn more.
·      Rainforest- A quick bus/ car ride or a good walk away and you are in the rainforest. It's full of beautiful trees, scary monkeys, monitor lizards, snakes and birds. One minute high-rise housing, the next nature surrounds you.
·      The Weather- Ok, sure I’ve complained about the heat or rainy season; but wearing tank tops and shorts all year round is pretty amazing. The tropics are not a hard place to live. What will I do when I have to put on real shoes again?!?!
·      Style- You have so many people from so many different places around the world that wearing something different doesn’t really stand out. Show up to a lunch and 3 people will be in shorts and tanks, 3 will be in dresses, and 3 in totally different outfits. I rarely stress about what to wear! Men can carry bags (purses) and it is not a crime. You know they have often have loads to carry too. My boys can wear skinny jeans and capris and no one looks twice. They are skinny and those jeans actually fit them.
  There are so many other wonderful things about this beautiful Country I have called home it would take me forever to write and some things just can’t be explained.

Maybe this wasn’t dark after all; it was just my love letter to Singapore, its people, and my fellow expat friends. I will miss you. I’m glad we have 4 more months to make some more memories and slowly be ok with saying goodbye.