Changing Tides

For our 11th wedding anniversary my husband gave me a frame with the keys from our various apartments over the years. In a total of 17 years together we’ve lived in 11 apartments in 9 cities, back and forth from Asia and around the US.

Despite the hassle, I love moving. I have it down to a science. Moving to a new city is a bit like traveling, with a chance to try out new neighborhood restaurants, find the good shopping, the best dry cleaner, and the fastest routes for getting places. Once we had kids it was a great opportunity to meet new nearby friends and find great classes.
When the pandemic hit, boarders closed and travel ceased, we took it as an opportunity to get to know Singapore, our city at the time, better. We explored new hiking trails and old tourist attractions, and decided to utilize the tennis courts at our condo by picking up a new sport. One of the weekends in lock down we ordered new-to-us local dishes and even tried our hand at making some.
We’ve now moved again to a short term location while we decide our next steps. This move may have been the hardest yet as we shed many of our belongings in order to be agile, including our beloved cat and many of our kids’ toys. But even as tough as it was, we are delighting in trying new snacks and delicacies (including grasshoppers!), exploring our local town, and meeting people.
I admit my love of adventure spills into my work life too. With as many times as we’ve moved — for my job, my husband’s job or to live the life experience we want, I’ve interviewed and started a fair number of roles in a variety of industries.
I love the first 6 months on a job, learning everyone and everything, putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I’ve been lucky to quickly see the gaps and fill them, offering opportunities for organizational change, big and small. I get excited to offer tangible value through developing better processes, or developing communication practices that benefit the many, or supporting a direct report in an idea that could change the business.
But these are changes that I’ve initiated; when change happens to me  a new boss or a new department, I’m less excited. Or worse yet, when things slow down and no change is happening at all. I’m a doer, a driver, a change agent — it’s uncomfortable for me not to be in the driver seat when the outcome impacts me. I can’t wait to feel control over my own destiny again.

For the kids, my husband and I have decided that we want them to be resilient, adaptable and open to new experiences. We are in charge of offering these opportunities and the kids are in charge of their response to the activities.
But kids have their own personalities and reactions. My oldest loves change  or at least the idea of it. She will jump in head first, full of energy and excitement for the new school, new class, or new location. But within a week or a month, she starts chafing against the change — her sleep is disrupted and she challenges boundaries as she starts to process all that the change means.

 But honestly, figuring out the pattern was the moment of clarity. Little kids change so fast, it was hard to know why she was acting out weeks AFTER a big change. Was it because she was getting sick? Or teething? Or she really didn’t like dinner that much after eating it last week? But once I was able to connect it to the change  and prepare for it — I could help her more.

When she was younger and she couldn’t communicate her feelings, we did our best to be compassionate and patient while still holding the line on important rules. Now that she’s a bit older at 6 and a half, she’s better at being able to talk about her feelings — these days it’s about missing Singapore and our lives there — so it’s offering us more opportunities for conversation — while I try to find the patience with the night wake ups.

Helpful questions to explore for yourself:

  • When has change — even a change of scenery — been a positive experience? What made that experience positive?
  • Are you open to change where you were not part of the decision making?
  • How do your children deal with change? Is it similar to you?
  • How do you help the people in your life deal with change? Are there ways we can be more compassionate with them? With ourselves?