Latest Posts

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Review: Bulletproof coffee?

Is it a hype or does it work?

The first time a good friend of mine mentioned bulletproof coffee or BPC, I visibly flinched. How can coffee, butter and coconut oil be good, let alone drinkable?! I soon discovered its cult-like following on social media, and numerous fitness influencers who swear by its effects. Of course, I have also come across articles warning me of my potential ignorance should I “fall” for the BPC craze. So far though, it seems supporters outnumber detractors, at least in my ‘algorithmically’ manipulated social media networks.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Long-distance relationship: is it for you?

Let me tell you this right away: no one can answer this for you except, well… you. Being in a couple when you’re both in the same city or same home is hard enough, and maintaining an LDR is surely harder. I’m sharing the thinking process that led me to my decision to perhaps help you ask the questions that need to be asked.

This is the third time my husband and I are doing the long-distance thing. While I still think choosing to live in two different places is ‘unnatural’ for a couple, I don’t think it’s weird or unnatural when a couple decide to do so.

Are we strong enough?

For background, we’ve done China-Russia, Belgum-UK, and now Belgium-France and it was always because of a really good job opportunity. We’ve been together for almost 14 years, but the first thing I always ask myself when deciding whether or not to go for a job in another city is, “Where are we in our relationship? Are we in a good, strong place right now?”

If the answer to this is yes, I move forward with my decision-making process. If not, and I do want to keep my relationship, then that’s that. Thankfully, the three times a great job opportunity came up, things were great.

Right now, we’re in the prime of our careers, no kids and eager to keep learning and achieving. For me, I think it’s extremely important for each one to feel fulfilled in one’s own pursuits in order to be fully present in the couple. When either one feels inadequate or that something’s missing in his/her life, that’s when problems arise. I would always support my husband in his next career move, and if I’m ready to give up my job in order to make his possible, then I will. But in some cases, BOTH of us are presented with amazing opportunities, and these won’t knock on our doors again. So it is during these extraordinary instances that we’ve taken the long-distance relationship route. In fact, he gave up his job in Asia in order to join me in Russia because we both decided that the job he had back then was not good enough to justify living apart. So he supported my career opportunity with no hesitation.

Are the opportunities good enough?

So the next couple of questions I ask myself are, “Is the job opportunity good enough for me to consider living in another city?” If yes, “Is his job opportunity good enough for him to consider staying in the current city rather than moving with me?” If yes, then living apart for a while is definitely on the table.

Can we afford it?

Another issue couples, even the strongest ones, tend to argue over is money. So this is a definitely a case of asking myself, “Can we afford this? Does this impact our bottom line as a couple positively or negatively?” Living apart means paying two rents, and two of almost everything. It also means extra expenses for weekend travels when you try to see each other. If the goal is to take a job away from your partner in order to earn more and save more, then make sure this is really the case.

How long are we giving this arrangement?

When people ask, I normally say we’ll ‘wait and see,’ but in my head, I know I’m giving it a year and reassessing if the whole setup is worth it. It helps to have a timeframe in mind. Keeping this arrangement open-ended in terms of timing can cause frustration for both.

Do we have the same vision?

Remember that line by Antoine de Saint-Exupery?

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

 

For me, I think that at the end of the day, when you and your partner are both making this decision and sacrifice with the same common goal for your couple, everything will work itself out.

Having said all that, I still believe that my husband and I should be physically together. So does he. Life is too short not to spend every second with the one you love. But, there are realities in our modern way of life that sometimes requires us to make these sacrifices. For now, we both love our jobs, we message each other a hundred times a day, we send tons of selfies, we are enjoying the fruits of our labour. It’s only been 3 weeks since I started my new job and we’re too busy to feel sad. He’s super proud of me, and I of him. But if and when it gets unbearable, without a doubt, I will always choose him over a job. 😉

Survival guide to a new job & a new city

While this is my fourth major move as an ‘expat,’ I have to admit there are some things that may seem basic to others, but that I’m still learning with each new move. I’ve gotten much better at negotiating, getting what I deserve (and want), and making sure I’m valued for what I’m worth. Having said that, maybe it’s social conditioning or it could be biological… but I’m well aware that I, like many women, still have the tendency of being ‘too nice’ or not being aggressive enough in communicating my demands and making sure they are met. Here are a few things I’ve learned in a career of 15 years (so far): Read More

Spicy Thai noodle soup

In the cold winter months, there’s nothing more soothing than a bowl of hot, spicy, flavourful, freshly cooked soup. I love Thai food, I love the flavour combinations, the use of really fresh and simple ingredients, and the lightness of many of their dishes. Here’s one of my favourites. Enjoy!

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Homemade pavlova

Pavlova is one of my favourite desserts and while I’ve always thought it originated from Australia or New Zealand, I’ve read articles that refute this claim. In any case, it’s a treat worth trying. However, this is one of the few desserts I made in the last two years where I actually used normal sugar. I still want to share the recipe with anyone who might be interested, but remember, moderation and balance are key. This is very high in sugar, so be careful 😉  If anyone has a recipe using natural sugar (I’m wondering if sweetening it with apple juice will work), do let me know. Enjoy! xx

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Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

4 books to find your ‘why’ and figure out the ‘how’

What’s your why? That is the single most important question you should answer for yourself. Your why may stay the same or change over time, so it’s crucial to constantly reassess and always have this ultimate personal truth in mind.

It’s not faux spirituality or an abstract new age concept. It’s logical and quite simple: how can you be the captain of your own life’s ship if you don’t know where you’re heading?

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Feel like a fraud? Stop right there.

“We’d like to make you an offer,” the e-mail began. I gasped, whispered yes!, briefly soaked in the feeling of sweet victory, and breathlessly shared the good news with a few people.

Then, a few minutes later, it turned to disbelief with a tinge of doubt. Wait, what? They chose me? I wonder why… Note to self: STOP right there.

I should’ve Googled it much sooner. Type > > I m p o s t o r   S y n d r o m e, and within seconds, I would’ve realised that I wasn’t alonethat feeling like a fraud was more common than I thought.

It wasn’t until I came across Natalie Portman’s Harvard Commencement 2015 speech that it dawned on me: it’s NOT just me. Natalie Portman experiences it. Even Natalie Portman. The Natalie Portman.

I felt a huge sense of relief. I was then able to detach myself from the “feeling” and look at it objectively. I read article after article and found out that it’s more common among women, and it’s common among high achieversfrom Emma Watson and Tina Fey, from Sheryl Sandberg to Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In a way, it makes sense: the more you achieve, the cost of failure gets higher and the more exposed you are to judgment, scrutiny, or even envy, which is why successful people tend to feel a lot more of it.

Tina Fey : “Ah, the impostor syndrome!? The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania, and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh god, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ […] Seriously, I’ve just realized that almost everyone is a fraud, so I try not to feel too bad about it.” —The Independent, March 2010

Natalie Portman: On being a Harvard student: “So I have to admit that today, even 12 years after graduation, I’m still insecure about my own worthiness. I have to remind myself today, You are here for a reason.” —Harvard Commencement 2015, May 2015

Emma Watson: “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved. I can’t possibly live up to what everyone thinks I am and what everyone’s expectations of me are. It’s weird—sometimes [success] can be incredibly validating, but sometimes it can be incredibly unnerving […].” —Rookie, May 2013

While the knowledge that this feeling of being a fraud puts me in the company of such strong, empowered, successful women, it doesn’t mean I’m ready to accept it as an inevitable part and parcel of success. It isn’t. And we can cut off this train of thought at the roots.

I recently asked a few high-achieving women if they’ve ever felt like an impostor. Almost all of them said yes they have, except for one. This woman was a jet-setting executive leading a team of engineers in a multinational company and a mother of two young children. She’s barely 5 feet tall and is so soft-spoken that one of their new company security guards once mistook her for a child looking for her father (no joke!). So I asked her:

“Have you ever felt like an impostor?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s when you feel like a fraud; that you’re not actually as good at your job as people think, but you’re faking it.”

“Huh? But why? No, I’ve never felt that.”

That’s when it hit me: it’s absolutely possible to genuinely not have a shred of self-doubt for things you’ve worked hard and prepared for. It’s not arrogance. It’s just an honest belief in one’s value and abilities as a result of hard work and dedication. Look at it this way: if you’ve put in the work, you’ve put in the hours, you’re constantly trying to learn and improve, why wouldn’t you be as good as people think you are?

When I feel strong negative emotions (self-doubt, panic, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, anger) in a public setting (i.e. at work), I employ a little mental technique. I mentally step out of the situation and visualise myself looking at myself in that setting as if watching a movie. Doing so allows me to be an observer, distancing myself—the person—from the blinding emotion of the moment.

When that impostor feeling starts creeping, quickly remind yourself that every single person in that room has insecurities. It’s okay to have them, but what will set you apart is your ability to overcome them.

There’s a wealth of information on ways to overcome—or at least, handle—the impostor syndrome. Find out what works best for you. And maybe keep a few things in mind:

1) You’re not the only one.

2) It doesn’t define YOU.

3) You do deserve your success.

4) It’s quite common, so take it easy. But don’t be complacent.

5) YOU’VE GOT THIS.