23 July 2010

Five years in Turkey and Five Insights

Vanity, Rose Deniz 2010

This post was originally going to be tips for traveling light - a global citizen mama carries a lot of stuff across the world, but there are other ways to travel light - starting with disrobing definition and adopting changes in perspective.

Here are five insights that stem directly from uprooting myself and moving to Turkey.

1. I like to be slightly off the beaten path. I don't live in Istanbul, and I'm none the worse for it. Sometimes I get too hermit-y, but I need less stimulation in my daily life, not more, to do my creative work. Are you the kind of creative person that needs to live off the beaten track, too?

2. Saying the right thing is overrated. Observation, sharing, smiles, kind looks, accepting and offering food and drink, all help me to be expressive in Turkish. The persona I thought I adopted as a survival instinct to manage living abroad was not a veneer - it was an unused muscle, an un-actualized part of myself that had been dormant.

3. Raising kids abroad anchors me to Turkey in unexpected ways. I have to be present. My kids say and do things that put me at ease because they don't think about being half Turkish, half American. I'm learning to ignore parenting disparities and find commonalities.

4. Creativity doesn't need a rigid set of tools. I trade canvas for textile, fabric for pen and ink, then drawing tools for words depending on the space I am in. I've learned to slip in creative moments where I would have thought there was no time. Parenting brings out my creativity rather than prohibits it.

5. Words like foreigner and expat don't fit. I prefer global citizen, and being hybrid resonates with me in terms of being one of many places, with many impulses.

What have you learned about yourself from the place you are in? 
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