Do you have a favourite tree?
People tend to look at me funny when I ask them this question. Surprisingly, while just about anyone can pick out a favourite flower, I haven’t met too many that have an attachment to a tree.
My memories are full of trees. Perhaps this speaks to my observant nature, but I think there’s a little more to it. For those of us who have lost their motherland, there are few reminders of home around the world, so we rely on the few things that can consistently be found in foreign lands.
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Growing up, I often heard a common phrase used in my mother culture: “homes are secrets.” This was often the go-to response when anyone verbalized a judgment about how others live their lives and the choices they make. Eastern cultures are known for their emphasis on community, but there is also a sacred element of privacy in the understanding that nobody knows what happens behind closed doors.
Each of us has a path to discover, and the revelations do not end until our lives end. Perhaps, there will even be more to discover after death. Our time in this world is so fleeting, a blip in the collective human memory. Why are we so keen on spending this precious time judging others?
If I’ve learned anything over the course of the past two years, as my Facebook feed started erupting with international stories of my friends’ milestones and setbacks, it is that we all do things differently. Some of us value education. Some value travel. Some value homes. Some value big weddings. Some value marriage. Some value being single. Some value wealth. Some value luxury cars. Some value huge book collections. Some value work. Some value retirement.
The bottom line is: everyone does life differently, and that is the beauty of it.
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When I think about the good moments I spent with my grandmothers and mom, there is always a string of memories attached to the meals we shared. It’s interesting how common it is for people to associate very good traditional food with their grandmothers and mothers. Everyone seems to be especially nostalgic nowadays, in the prime of fast food and quick bites. Even the healthiest among us are often reaching for a low fat, low carb, high protein packaged donut… that expires in 2025. For lack of a better word… yuck.
The food we eat today endures some major struggles. The meat does not go from the farmer’s hand to the butcher’s to our kitchens anymore. By the time something reaches your dinner table, hundreds of people and machines have touched it, and it has probably travelled a long distance. For the conscientious individuals who care about what they put in their mouths, the last step of the process, cooking, is the first place to start regaining control.
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I set about on a mission to collect some insights for my younger readers who might feel overwhelmed by big decisions for their future.
In the Western world, 18 is the “right of passage” age. We make many of our most fundamental decisions at 18: what to study, where to live, where to work, who to date, how to balance work and play, etc. Of course, we keep making these decisions and many others throughout our adulthood as well.
At 18, I was preparing for launch to University; my parents moved halfway across the world, and I couldn’t go with them. Many of my friends, now in their late 20s to late 30s, faced similarly challenging events around that time. Some moved out. Others went to university or trade school. Others went straight to work. Some had kids. Some got married.
Here are some of the tips they wish someone would have shared with them when they were 18:
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They say that home is where your heart is.
They also say that home is all about location, location, location.
What if my heart is floating between the dunes of the Sahara?
Being a Third Culture Kid means that it’s quite natural for people like me to feel divided between all the places they call home and to subsequently struggle when designing a “stable” home for their future. On the other hand, people like my husband who were “born and raised” in one place may face the opposite conflict: if home can only mean one place, how can they possibly leave it to explore the globalized world?
These are two sides of the same coin. In essence, many of us tie our idea of home to a specific place, and this can either contribute to our feeling of eternal displacement, or can cause us to feel tormented by every change that comes along the way.
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