“It’s my body and I can wear whatever I want.”
My daughter stood defiantly before me, hands on hips in her underwear, a t-shirt, and sandals.
Picking her up from preschool is usually fairly quick but today, my sweet daughter looks more like a stubborn rhino.
She will not budge.
Her teachers, also unwilling to die on this hill, placed her purple leggings in her cubby. I shrugged my shoulders and jammed the leggings in my purse. She wouldn’t be wearing any pants today. Okay, fine by me.
The weather was warm, we weren’t posing for family portraits, and her brother’s elementary school, our next destination, doesn’t have a pants policy that I’m aware of.
I often see Swedish kids running through the sprinkler in their underwear at his school so I’m not worried about any judgmental looks while my daughter prances about in her purple polka-dotted undies.
Rules vs. flexibility
Why are so many parents caught up in forcing their children to adhere to particular social norms when the situation can be flexible?
Nobody wants to be seen as a pushover but it’s not fun being the disciplinarian 24/7, either.
I could’ve dug my heels in and forced her to put her clothes on, but it would’ve been painful for everyone involved. And really…did it matter? Was the fight worth it? I decided it wasn’t.
Much of my parenting style is go with the flow.
If it’s not an emergency, nobody is in immediate danger, and it’s not against the law, then I’ll usually allow it. Some might call it lazy parenting. It’s definitely a lazy approach to parenting, but it works for us. I’m happy and my kids are happy about 85% of the time.
The few rules I do enforce, I enforce strictly, and the kids know it.
There are often tears and stern voices involved. It’s a big deal when I enforce something because it means that their behavior crossed a line that goes directly against my core values.
Childhood should be carefree.
How much structure is really needed from the parent? I’d say as much structure as you need to raise a decent human being aka not a serial killer. Add that badge of honor to your Instagram, #mykidisntaserialkiller #parentgoals.
If your kid is nice, generous, and aware of others’ needs, then don’t worry so much about them being loud at the playground.
Most rules that parents invent are completely frivolous.
I define a frivolous rule as one that:
– is nearly impossible to enforce (eating is one of these),
– doesn’t have a meaningful consequence if they don’t follow it, and
– is something they’ll end up breaking all of the time without meaning to.
For example, if your child is loud at the playground and you keep telling them to be quiet, you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary conflict that will do nothing but drive you and your kid(s) crazy.
A) It’s a playground—they are going to be noisy because they are outside and are finally allowed to be noisy.
B) There’s no meaningful consequence for being loud at the playground other than you yelling at them. No noise police is going to come down and arrest your child.
C) You can’t stop your child from being noisy without physically removing them from the situation. So, unless you’re prepared to remove them from the playground for that offense, you have a frivolous, unenforceable rule.
Get rid of the frivolous rules you have invented that are nearly impossible to enforce.
Sometimes, it’s best to accept defeat on some things so you can focus on enforcing the few rules that are very important to you.
My core value rules are ones like, “No hitting or hurting someone intentionally,” “Don’t say mean things about someone even it’s true (to their face),” and “Don’t run out into the street,” because they are designed to teach my kids about safety and decency. At the end of the day, I want my kids to contribute to the world as positive members of society.
They can’t contribute if they are hit by a car, so we factor in some safety rules, too.
But breaking a leg? That’s ok because kids break limbs all of the time. A broken bone is only an inconvenience, so I’m not going to stop behavior that might result in a broken leg. Go ahead, kid, jump from up there and see how it feels. It’s unlikely they are going to break anything so they should learn from the experience.
So, back to the pants. Trotting around in purple polka dot underwear isn’t breaking any of my core value rules. She’s not hurting anyone, breaking social norms, or behaving in a way that I find morally reprehensible, so I allow it.
I encourage you to think about what rules you enforce that are really frivolous and which ones are based on your core values.
You might find that you don’t need to enforce so many.
Your doctor’s office is really a beehive of data. Your patient data requires effective communication between you (the patient) and the doctor. Then communication happens between the doctors, nurses, and the administrative staff in the clinic. Then, your data is often transmitted to other doctors in other clinics and out to laboratories and back again.
A miscommunication or misunderstanding among any of these partners results in lower quality healthcare for the patient. At worst, it can result in malpractice and translate into actual physical harm to the patient.
Clear, effective, and consistent communication pathways are essential to a good health care system.
I learned all of this while sitting in my master’s program in public health back in 2005-2006. Our main mission as students in public health was to understand the health disparities between the underserved minority non-native English speaking people in our communities.
We had to learn the cultural and lingual barriers to providing adequate education and outreach so that the underserved population could have better access to the often complex web of US-healthcare insurance.
Non-Native Speakers Delay Health Care Access
Studies have shown that both language and cultural barriers prevent people from seeking medical treatment in all countries, not just the US.
In Australia, there was a comparative study between Arabic-only speaking and English-speaking patients with type 2 diabetes. Only the Arabic-speaking migrants intentionally delayed access to healthcare services.
Compared with Arabic-speaking migrants, English-speaking participants had no reluctance to access and use medical services when signs of ill-health appeared; their treatment-seeking behaviors were straightforward.
You can read the full study here: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/11/e008687
Sweden vs. US Health Care
The US health care system is a mess, but at least it was all in English. I knew the behind-the-scenes processes well enough to know what to expect as a patient.
Sweden’s health care system, on the other hand, is quite simple. If you have a personnumer, you’re in the system and are treated anywhere at any time.
Well, not really, but you know what I mean. Access isn’t the problem but knowing what to expect when you are culturally unaware and limited by language is a real problem.
Finding myself with the shoe on the other foot, I am now the non-native speaking foreigner who is not entering the healthcare system as often as I should due to a language barrier.
Adrenaline-Fueled Fluency is a Temporary Solution
We’ve had numerous encounters with the Swedish healthcare system mostly due to our young children’s mysterious rashes, fevers, bumps, and scrapes.
One evening, our 10-month-old daughter had an upper respiratory infection and she was struggling to breathe. I took a video of her laboring to breathe and sent it to my girlfriends in the US (typical, right?) They all told me to head to a clinic.
But before I could be directed to the nearest open clinic at 11 pm, I had to call the number for after-hours care—1177.
The operator spoke only Swedish and couldn’t understand my English whatsoever. In a flood of panic-driven adrenaline, my Swedish became angry.
A string of mostly-understandable Swedish came out of my mouth that successfully conveyed the fact that, “My baby has a high fever, is struggling to breathe, and needs a doctor right away so please tell me where we should go.”
I’ve never lifted a car off of my child before, but I had become instant-fluent in Swedish when it was necessary. Adrenaline can do amazing things.
The operator understood the situation, and we had directions to a clinic and an appointment time within 35 minutes.
I can’t always rely on adrenaline-rushed Swedish fluency to get me through my doctor’s appointments. I can’t conjure up an emergency and Hulk smash my way through the doctor’s office.
My Attempts to Seek Treatment in Swedish Actually Harms the Process
The fact that I can speak conversationally in Swedish means that I’m giving the doctor the impression that I understand more than I am. I’m sure (not certain, but pretty sure) that my original doctor refused to speak English with me because his English proficiency was poor.
We were a bad match for one another and finding a new doctor was in all of our best interests.
“Both the patient and the clinician can underestimate the language barrier between them.”
No matter how much Google Translation preparation I do before my doctor’s appointment, I’m consistently frustrated when seeking out health care in Swedish.
And despite loads of research backing up the fact that non-native speakers need a translator or a doctor who speaks their language to receive proper healthcare, our Swedish general practitioner in our small suburb outside of Stockholm refused to speak English with us.
The peer-reviewed literature says the same—communication is essential to quality health care:
“Effective communication is communication that is comprehended by both participants; it is usually bidirectional between participants, and enables both participants to clarify the intended message. In the absence of comprehension, effective communication does not occur; when effective communication is absent, the provision of health care ends—or proceeds only with errors, poor quality, and risks to patient safety.”
Something’s gotta give—find a doctor who speaks your language
After years of struggling and outright avoiding our local doctor who refused to speak English with us or find a translator, I finally decided to call another doctor within the same practice.
I spoke to her briefly on the phone and explained why I wanted an appointment and asked if we could speak English so I could understand her.
“Sure, no problem,” and she booked my appointment without any fuss.
Upon arriving at my appointment, she greeted me in Swedish, and I again repeated my request for English that was met with a smile and a nod.
“Of course, let’s take a look.”
Advocate for yourself
Why hadn’t I advocated for myself sooner? I am well-versed in the adverse effects that non-native speakers face when entering the healthcare system and I know firsthand how frustrating it is to have a doctor who refuses to speak your language with you. What a relief it was not to have to fight that fight.
I also recognize how fortunate I am to live in a country where my native language, English, is spoken by so many people.
I know that is not always the same scenario for all minority languages and it means that you’ll need to be an even bigger advocate for yourself than you are used to.
So, if you have a doctor who refuses to treat you in your native language, then I urge you to find a new doctor who will speak to you or someone who will provide a translator to your appointments.
Keep in mind that when seeking emergency or urgent care at a hospital, you are often stuck with whoever you have at the moment.
Your Language = Better Care
Receiving medical care in your preferred language is essential not only for your comfort level with your healthcare provider but also to the quality of care you will receive. If you cannot adequately communicate how you are feeling or your medical history, then your doctor won’t understand and cannot properly treat you.
If you are also like me and you’ve been avoiding the doctor specifically due to the language or cultural barriers, then know that you are doing yourself a disservice. The medical issues for which we’d seek treatment often do not resolve on their own, and if you allow too much time to elapse before seeking treatment, you can create a larger issue than if you had simply sought out a new doctor from the beginning.
A huge reason why I practiced self-hypnosis during my second pregnancy was due to the language and cultural barriers in the Swedish midwifery clinics. I knew that so much of my health care would be conducted in another language that I wanted to be in control of my own breathing and movement as much as possible.
The known language barrier for pregnant women is also why Bellies Abroad’s mission is to connect pregnant women with English-speaking doctors in non-English speaking countries so that they can receive medical care in their own language.
It’s also why I love The Virtual Midwife and the services she provides to pregnant women who may not have access to English-speaking medical professionals in their countries.
So, learn a lesson from me or from countless articles in public health journals that encourage doctors to provide health care to patients in their native languages.
Don’t compromise on your health or put off seeking medical care due to a language or cultural barrier.
Your health is worth taking the time to find a doctor or a practice that provides a translator at your appointments.
It’s taken me YEARS to take my own advice and in the video below, I explain some of my avoidance of the healthcare system because my doctor refused to speak to me in English and why me trying to accommodate his needs wasn’t beneficial for me.
You know when you meet someone in person when you’ve only connected online that there is a moment of I-already-know-you-but-I-don’t-really-know-you awkwardness? Yeah, that doesn’t happen at the Families in Global Transition Conference.
You know you’ve “come home” when the first hug you’re given when you walk into the hotel lobby rivals one of the strongest hugs you’ve ever gotten from one of your family members. (Looking at you, Sundae…)
I think strangers who were checking into the hotel were shocked at the public displays of affection these apparent strangers were giving one another after an introduction.
Attending an FIGT (say each letter in the acronym individually) conference, even for the first time, is one of the warmest feelings a group of strangers can ever provide.
Others, not just me, have also described this rare phenomenon of instant warmth.
Gina Dunn describes, “Never have I felt so welcomed at a conference before. EVERYONE was warm and easy to strike up conversations with. Having attended some pretty big conferences in the past, like the Lisbon Web Summit, the FIGT is the perfect size to meet new people and make real connections.”
The Families in Global Transition Conference is often referred to as a “reunion of strangers” but it has become a reunion of friends and soon-to-be-friends over the years.
FIGT is an organization run by volunteers, which means that there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Given my background in conference planning, I serve on a small program committee and get to read through all of the submitted abstracts in hopes of creating a dynamic, engaging, and enjoyable conference experience.
What FIGT Program Chair, Daniela Tomer, wanted for FIGT was to attract people with more accents, more colors, and more experiences to participate in FIGT. She was unrelenting in her vision of a more diverse conference and I believe, she convinced others of the value in bringing diverse voices to the main stage.
For the first time in FIGT’s 20-year history, members will have access to video recordings of the keynote presentations and the lightning presentations on the main stage.
Anyone who has attended a conference knows how quickly those nuggets of gold are delivered from presenters’ mouths and how we wish we could relive certain moments from those three jam-packed days.
Well, now you can. (FYI—You can join FIGT for only $65/year or $29/year if you’re a student and access the conference recordings from 2018 and past conferences’ presentations.) #worthit
Knowing that video is the way for FIGT to spread its undying message of tolerance, diversity, and empathy, we believe that we can grow FIGT as an organization and reach more people in this way. So, thank you, Deborah Valentine, for making this dream a reality.
Wearing another volunteer hat, I served as the mentor for the brilliant Lightning Presentations that are six-minute presentations that offer a roller coaster of emotions for the audience. I saw tears streaming down everyone’s faces as they listened to Dr. Laura Anderson describe how her gender bending child struggled with identity in international schools.
I couldn’t hold back my tears as she explained the torment that her child experienced when bullied for screaming like a girl, “Together we cried as he begged me to teach him how to scream like a boy.”
Debbie Reber taught us what it means to be the parent of a differently wired child and how global mobility affects families who need additional support for their special needs children.
The Value of Hallway Conversations
Some of the best aspects of the conference were the ones in which I found myself randomly assigned. As a member of the program committee, I zoomed around from session to session and often sat in the one that looked the least populated with attendees. This led to fascinating discussions because people with different experiences and viewpoints surrounded me.
At any conference, it is more comfortable to stay within your topic track than it is to venture away into unfamiliar topics but I think it’s more valuable to do so.
I learned all about how complicated financial planning can become when we straddle multiple countries, languages, and currencies.
Also, how many expat partners (most often the women in the relationships), are often blindsided by divorce filings in countries in which they are severely disadvantaged due to their citizenship or language.
Side note: nobody expects to get divorced, but expat families often face years of stress and strain due to international relocations that results in failure, split assignments, or divorce. It’s always better to be prepared than left with nothing because we buried our heads in the sand, right?
With so much value in the actual presentations, it is easy to forget the gold found in the hallway conversations and at the lunch tables. During lunch times, I tried to find a table where I didn’t know anyone and introduce myself. In doing this, I discovered two women who live in Stockholm (funny how we met in The Hague instead of our own shared city), and US-based educators working on getting kids outdoors (one of my passions). It’s a fantastic feeling when you find so much in common with random strangers at a conference. FIGT is truly an inclusive space.
Naturally, I connected with women studying the impacts of motherhood abroad. Shweta Ganesh Kumar is helping Indian expat women—a diverse community with multiple languages and cultures in itself—understand the value both inside and outside their communities. How can a mother pass on her cultural heritage to her children outside of their home country? She collects these women’s stories on Times of Amma.
Angela Fusaro of Every Mother Knows worked with attendees on quantifying the values and leadership opportunities mothers bring to the workforce and asked us how we can support one another through the transition of full-time mom to back-to-work mom. There were many non-mothers at the table who had really interesting views of motherhood. Many of which I hadn’t realized myself and was left thinking, “Wow, you’re right. I never thought of it in that way.”
Write Beyond Your Niche
“Forget niche. Think beat,” Olga Mecking coached attendees through thinking about how to take your experiences as someone living outside of their home country and leverage it into something interesting. With concrete ideas, she makes writing for The Guardian seem obtainable or at least it might be with more of her coaching (email her for her coaching rates).
The FIGT conference bookstore was humming with activity as authors mixed with readers and everyone convened there during breaks to peruse the materials. The bookstore is one area of FIGT that I think will continue to grow exponentially as members bring in more materials they develop that can help globally mobile families via online webinars, courses, and non-literary materials.
I’ll be reviewing the books I purchased in the FIGT bookstore so watch this space!
A New Space for Entrepreneurs
FIGT has always had entrepreneurs in the audience and a few presenters throughout the conference, but the 2018 conference was the first time an entire Early Bird Forum was dedicated to the topic.
It was an honor to share a panel with four very talented women and discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. (Honestly, I felt a bit intimidated up there speaking as an “expert” but everyone reassured me that yes, I was qualified.)
The panel was entirely focused on answering questions from the audience with the intent of providing a 1.5 hour coaching session for entrepreneurs.
Together, we answered questions about how to monetize and scale your portable business, what works and what doesn’t work on social media, and how to connect with your audience.
FIGT founder and pioneer, Ruth Van Reken, said it best during her speech, “FIGT is more than just me. It’s in all of you and the richness you bring to each other. In a world that is fractionating on differences, it is so wonderful to come to this community of togetherness.”
She urged us to continue to be vulnerable, open, and honest with one another saying, “The part I was trying to hide was what people related to the most.”
Here are a few quotes I managed to take down in my notebook during the whirlwind three-day conference:
“Culture shock is not fatal.” and “Never leave home without a sense of humor.” – Robin Pascoe
“Yes, examine your experience but then use that experience to move on to help others. Someone else has it a lot worse. Move outside your comfort zone and go beyond your own tent. Figure out who you are and then go out and change the world.” – Robin Pascoe
“Some of us think that we aren’t smart enough, ready enough, or experienced enough to act on our ideas.” – Naomi Hattaway
“The knowing isn’t important; it’s the knowing why.” – Emmy McCarthy
“Teachers, find out the stories of your kids and help them normalize their experiences.” – Ruth Van Reken
“A story is not complete until it is told; until it is heard; and until it is understood. So don’t listen just to respond – listen to understand.” Megan Norton
“The media would love for you to think that the world is becoming more extreme. That people are on polar opposites of one another. But I’m here to remind us all that most of us are living in the middle and don’t have extreme viewpoints at all.” – (I can’t remember who said this, maybe, Sean Ghazi?)
“Your gift to the world is hope. It’s seeing hatred and racism all around you and knowing that that is not all there is.” – Chris O’Shaughnessy
But don’t take my word for it…
As I’m not able to be in all places at once, it is wonderful to read other people’s experiences at the conference. They all took down helpful notes about their personal takeaways and captured what impacted them the most.
Be sure to read Marilyn Gardner’s thoughts, “We talked for hours and heard fun stories, frustrating stories, and difficult stories of belonging and living where you don’t feel you belong.”
“The conference was everything I expected and more. Much more. I am an introvert. Networking does not come easily to me. I have attended countless academic conferences in the past and never felt at ease. Always intimidated.
FIGT was different. I feel like I have found my tribe. Parents, coaches, researchers, passionate expats and displaced people from many walks of life sharing and supporting each other. We cried (look up Alien Citizen), laughed so hard (thank you Robin Pascoe) and even sang (with Sean Ghazi).” —Annabelle Humanes
“It can be so easy in this life to feel that you’re alone, that once again you’re having to start over, that no one can really feel what you’re experiencing. But, as many presenters reminded us, as a community, the globally-mobile counted altogether would make up the 5th largest country in the world! The world is becoming more like us. We no longer float along on our individual islands…or at least we don’t have to.” – Jodi Harris
“At the age of 7, my son was talking about coup d’étas and revolutions and this is big stuff. At his age, I was watching Nickelodeon and watching Alanis Morissette being slimed with green goop. We had very different childhood experiences. So I’m telling myself that I can do what I can to help my children process their experiences, but that my work won’t be done when they turn 18. I need to be there for them when they are older as someone to listen as they process their journey.” – Sundae Schneider Bean
Do you want video access to the keynote presentations and lightning presentations from FIGT18?
Click here to learn more about joining FIGT and get all of the privileges of membership.
I am proud to say that I am a small business member, and devoted volunteer of the organization that has changed so much about my understanding about my own life and I love attending an event that consistently brings about positive change in our community.
The headlight beamed into our garage. It is after 9 p.m. and my husband, and I have been working on the front end of our cranky Volvo for at least two hours.
Successfully self-conducted car repairs would be considered a victory if we still lived in Atlanta, GA because I always enjoyed saving money but to do it in a foreign language gave me a boosted sense of accomplishment.
Boo ya! We solved a problem and didn’t damage our relationship in the process. Teamwork, baby!
Like so many issues we’ve experienced in our partnership together, I viewed this headlight repair as mini capstone project representative of our lives abroad.
The Warning Message
It all began after I noticed a warning message in Swedish on my dashboard after I picked up my kids from school.
Two words that I deduced meant that one of my lights was out, but which one?
Happily assigned with a task, my six-year-old son eagerly hopped out of the car to report back with which light was out.
“It’s this one right here, Mama,” he shouts over the grumble of the 2008 Volvo diesel engine.
We had just pulled into the driveway, and with our kids, it’s all about inertia. I knew that if we got out of the car and they took off all of their snowsuits and boots, they would never want to get back into the car to search down the right headlight.
“Let’s head to the store to fix it!” I offered with more enthusiasm than I felt.
I know nothing about cars except that the manual often holds the answers. Our car manual is in Swedish, and you know what they don’t cover in Swedish Lessons 101? Car part vocabulary.
That’s ok, I thought, I know the message said lampfel halfljus, so let me check out the halfljus section.
Fortunately for me, the Volvo manual also has pictures showing me how to carry out this repair. But first, I know I need a new lightbulb.
Flipping back to the appendix, I find the section on lightbulbs and believe I have found the correct wattage and voltage necessary for this repair.
We set off right away to the car parts store in town and I locate the headlamp lightbulb aisle—surprisingly specific but exactly what I needed—and discover there are only two brands of bulb that match my voltage and wattage needs. One bulb is 87 SEK, and the other is 399 SEK. Why the price difference? Is one guaranteed to last forever and the other emitting horrible gases?
Not knowing better or having any brand preference, I buy two of the 87 SEK bulbs because I’ve done enough of these things to know that sometimes they break upon opening or are dropped by freezing cold fingers.
Satisfied that I’m killing it at this foreign car repair thing, we all head back home.
Do It Myself
I have the replacement bulb and the right page in the manual to do this car repair. I can totally do this myself.
Full of false confidence and optimism, I dig into my reserve expertise of following pictures from my years of putting together IKEA furniture. I will replace this bulb before my husband gets home. He’ll be so proud of me.
After 45 minutes of nearly slicing my fingers off inside the guts of the engine, I concede to wait. We’ll have to try together after the kids go to bed.
Kids Are in Bed—Time to Work Together
It’s rain/snowing outside, and it’s ink black.
“Let’s pull the front of the car into the garage so we can use the garage light and work out of the rain/snow,” I wisely suggest.
We move the bags of recycling that pile up each week, the kids’ sleds, and a few bikes out of the way to make room for the nose of our car. It’s a tight fit but is probably the decision that made it a successful project.
In retrospect, had we tried to combat the freezing rain, darkness, and cold, I know that our patience levels would’ve dissipated faster than the project required and we would be snapping at one another unnecessarily.
This one decision set us up for maximum success.
Together, we worked through the manual and felt around inside the engine.
My pre-work research of buying the lamp, watching YouTube tutorials, and figuring out all of the Swedish really helped my husband navigate his jammed hands inside the metal face of our car.
Plugs, wires, and latches were pulled out of the way, the lightbulb was replaced, and everything was put back in reverse order.
The moment of truth came when I turned on the car, and the lampfel message disappeared on the dash. The headlight beamed into our garage.
High fives, and hugs and kisses on a job well done, I knew this rather simple car repair represented how we work together as a team.
Pressure on Every Partnership
Our relationship has changed while we have lived in Sweden. We rely on each other in a near-dangerous co-dependent way. We have perfected the art of the “long-arm selfie” (as Sundae Schneider-Bean says) because we are used to taking our own photos with the fuzzy forward-facing camera on our phones.
Perhaps unwisely, we do not ask others for help all that often. We are used to turning inward—toward one another for support.
“It’s here, engulfed in heavy murk, that we lean onto each other, pressing. There is a symbiotic, synergistic friction that generates heat and not only keeps us on track and moving forward, but holds us up. When you and your partner are pressing inward, toward each other, the isometric pressure not only propels you forward but actually gives you energy and helps you to stay standing.” – Melissa Dalton-Bradford
This project was most certainly a team effort—neither of us could’ve done it without the work of the other—and yet, I’m sure there are people who don’t see their partnership in the same way.
From my perspective, I know that every decision we have made regarding our lives abroad has been joint, but from the outside perspective, it may look like I’ve “given up” my career to follow my husband’s.
I know this because my family members have said this of other relationships who have lived around the world.
“It’s too bad that she gave up everything to follow him. He makes all of the decisions for their lives.“
But I know this isn’t true (and I hope you realize that too).
“It’s of little consequence, by the way, who’s driving, who’s navigating; both functions are equally necessary and of course interchangeable, because, in my dream, we are both licensed, alert, and invested in the trip, our individual contributions therefore essential for the voyage.” —Melissa Dalton-Bradford
No Successful Relationship is Ever One-Sided
The truth is that none of us know what happens in other people’s relationships but I know that partnerships abroad don’t last if they are one-sided.
The pressure of living outside of your home culture without support is too great to last for long. Both partners have to be in it together, or it will never work.
Pondering the paths not taken is tempting, and I often wonder if our marriage would be as durable if we didn’t need to rely on one another for a common language, a common culture, and a shared history. If we still lived in Atlanta, GA and had our own sets of friends, would our relationship be what it is today?
I’d like to think our relationship would be just as reliable regardless of where we live. Our stress tests would be different. Instead of navigating a foreign language and culture together, it would be something else. Instead, it might’ve been financial, professional, or personal relationships that stressed our bonds. Who really knows and does it even matter?
None of this life would’ve happened if it weren’t for both of us contributing our best efforts.
If we weren’t in 110% support of one another’s careers, understanding of each other’s frustrations, and forgiving of our mistakes.
During our first year of marriage, my husband was working long hours—something I had forgotten about because he doesn’t do that anymore.
Our son found the first Valentine’s Day card my husband ever wrote (pack rats rejoice!) and it said, “Thank you for putting up with my late nights working in the office until 3 a.m.”
It’s easy to forget the reasons why we moved to Sweden in the first place. It’s easy to forget that the challenges in front of us now are remarkably different from what they used to be back then.
Less than one year after our wedding, I remember calling my Nana and explaining the stress his job was placing on our marriage. The economy was in flux, and everyone in his company had taken a 15% reduction in pay to avoid layoffs. Our future felt uncertain.
“You two can do anything because you’ll always work together as a team.”
Isn’t it funny how when someone makes an assessment of your situation as a fact, that it indeed becomes true?
She planted the concept of unquestionable teamwork into my mind, and it became my default belief in our partnership.
Of course we can weather this storm. We are a team.
Whether it be something as simple as a car repair or as life-changing as moving abroad, we were, and always have been, a team first and foremost.
An amazingly profound personal essay by Melissa Dalton-Bradford who interprets her dream to reflect on the concessions, strength, and challenges she experienced in her marriage that I excerpted above. You can read it here.
All of the psychologist and specialists below provide services worldwide but I know how important it is to connect with someone who understands your cultural background and situation, which is why I provided their nationalities and current locations.
If you need help dealing with the stressors of life and work in your current relationship, please reach out to someone.
Dana Nelson, intercultural psychologist, American living in France.
Daniela Tomer, Global Nomads World, Israeli clinical psychologist living in the US.
Sundae Schneider-Bean, intercultural specialist and strategist, American living in South Africa.
Have you ever met someone who raved about visiting a particular city and you wrinkled your nose and shook your head, “Gah, no. That was not our experience at all!”
How can people have such different impressions of the same place?
Maybe the weather was bad, your kids were whiny, or you were tired from traveling. Maybe you picked the wrong restaurants, got lost too many times, or felt overwhelmed by the crowds.
There are tons of reasons why your first visit to a new city or town may not be favorable. Some places deserve a second glance before you write them off for good.
We have a list of places we want to visit and see, so we are often too quick to write a city off once we’ve been there. Been there, done that, let’s move on.
There are too many places to see and too little time, money, and energy to see them all so why go back to a place where you had a “meh” time before?
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Because some places are much better the second time around and you’d be missing out if you didn’t try again.
During our first trip to the capital city of Hungary, we did all of the typical touristy things. Little did we know that we were visiting the most depressing sites Budapest has to offer and we left the city feeling like the Hungarians were the most oppressed people on the planet.
On our first trip, we saw the House of Terror with the intent of learning more about the history of double occupation in Hungary. We only found out later that unfortunately, this museum is regarded by local Hungarians as presenting an incredibly white washed version of history.
We also toured the Hospital in the Rock—a hospital bunker below Buda Castle—which delivers just as many depressingly horrific stories from WWII. The hospital was overcrowded and the conditions were horribly unhygienic and unsafe.
Our first visit was somewhat depressing. Why go back?
The chance to meet up with friends brought us back to Budapest, and I’m so glad we did.
Our second visit was the polar opposite from our first. We planned out more family-friendly activities like visiting one of the world’s oldest zoos, Budapest Zoo, and a relaxing day at a simple-yet-awesome amusement water park, Palatinus Strand.
Both days were at the top of my kids’ “most favorite days ever.”
Another difference was that we had two kids this time around (ages 6 and 3) so our pace was a lot slower than before when we could just put my baby in a stroller and jet around the city.
Taking the time to explore slowly meant that we enjoyed it in a different way than we had when we were racing around seeing as much as we could.
A definite win for slow travel.
After our very positive second trip, my six-year-old son requested to return to Budapest for his birthday in April. If that’s not a rave review of a city, I don’t know what is.
Doing activities that, while educational, are inherently depressing, may not lead to the most favorable impression of a city. It’s not saying that historical tours are not worthwhile, but you might want to balance your trip with some light hearted activities.
While our first trip to Visby, Gotland was amazing, our second visit was even better.
The mistake we made on our first trip was that we didn’t rent a car. Had we done so, we would’ve been able to explore the island and see more sights that the island has to offer visitors.
My second visit was enhanced by my familiarity with where to go and what to see and renting a car made all of the difference.
We saw the karsts in the northern part of the island and got stuck in sheep traffic that only can happen when you venture outside of the medieval city walls. Also, the weather was warmer because we visited in August instead of May.
If someone recommends that you rent a car to get around, they probably know what they’re talking about. Rent the damn car and don’t underestimate how weather can influence your mood.
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I might be the only person ever to be underwhelmed by Paris, but upon first glance, my gut reaction was, “so what?” :: Prepares for tomatoes to be thrown at her.::
We had the incredible good fortune to have my husband’s cousin who is fluent in French take us around Paris and her fluency made everything much easier.
That said, we did the typical touristy things (again, because you have to) and I was underwhelmed by the Eiffel Tower (and it was raining), and we were surrounded by other obnoxious tourists (we were visiting in August).
I didn’t get a sense of the city and couldn’t understand why people loved it.
When I went back in April the following year, I got to see Paris in all of its natural beauty. The people make the city and watching Parisians (not the tourists) mill around the city with grace and style was really something to behold.
On my second trip, I met up with my girlfriend from college, and the positive emotions from that reunion undoubtedly shifted my perspective on the city.
Your state of mind can color your impression of a city, and the locals may be the necessary ingredient to see the true heart of a place.
There aren’t many places that I want to return to time and time again. We’d almost always prefer to explore new ground but sometimes, relieving the pressure of having to “see it all” in one trip, going slowly and cherry picking a few activities that only the locals do might be the difference between a “meh” vacation and “the best trip ever.”
However, in all of our cases, my enjoyment of a city really had nothing to do with what the city had to offer but was influenced by external factors beyond our control like the weather, the age of my children, and my familiarity with the city.
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There are many reasons why people love a place whereas others wrinkle their nose at the mention of it.
Give it a second chance and you will probably have a much different experience.
What cities have you given a second chance? Did you have a better time?
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Kids recreate the world how they see it through dramatic play.
Shouting is emanating from behind the closed door of my daughter’s room.
“No, Mama, don’t go!”
“I have to go to work. You have to stay here.”
My three-year-old is playing in her room by herself. I slowly open the door. Her back is facing me as she sits on the bed with her dolls.
We’ve had this exact exchange numerous times, and apparently, my daughter knows it so well that she is re-enacting our daily ritual of school drop-off with her Elsa dolls.
I enter the room and sit on the edge of the bed.
“How does the little girl feel when her mama has to leave for work?”
I ask but I already know the answer.
“Yes, but she gets to play with her friends at school.”
“Yeah, but she misses her Mama sooooo much.”
Her head is down.
Knife in my heart.
Play is a form of therapy
My daughter is using play to work out scenarios that affect her daily life. Play therapy is often used in kids between the ages of three and twelve and special therapy dolls encourage the safe expression of the child’s feelings. Therapy play is most commonly done after a trauma or life transition but all play is therapeutic in itself.
Dramatic or creative play is everywhere and everything can be turned into a helpful and fun play moment for your child.
Later in the week, after I discovered that my daughter not-so-secretly resents being abandoned at school so mommy can work, my husband had his own experience with our daughter.
They were killing time while her big brother had fun playing handball. Again, the Elsa dolls came out of the Elsa backpack, and they played on the bleachers.
Her Elsa doll ends up dying after falling into the oblivion below by their feet.
My husband’s Elsa doll grieves by crying for the fallen Elsa, to which my daughter responds,
“Don’t cry, Elsa. I’m dead. I can’t hear you.”
We’ve never spoken of death in that way (at all!) with our kids so hearing such a stark interpretation from her three-year-old lips was an eye-opener.
So much so that my husband sent me a text recap in real-time with, “Do you know what she just said to me?!”
She was right, of course, dead people can’t hear you crying, but we reassured her that it’s okay to cry even if nobody can see or hear you.
Every time we play with the Elsa dolls, I learn more and more about how my daughter perceives her world.
A chance at role reversal
My daughter is always the adult in our play scenarios, and I always play the child. I often try to make it realistic, and my Elsa doll throws tantrums of epic proportions, but to my surprise, my daughter’s impression of an adult is to punish the child for any minor infraction.
My Elsa doll laughs.
“Go to the corner, Elsa!”
My Elsa doll asks to read a book.
“Go to the corner, Elsa! Bad girl.”
There was nothing my child-Elsa doll could do that didn’t earn her some punishment of some kind.
It dawned on me that my daughter was drunk with power and punishing my doll was the most satisfying way for her to flip the tables on our power dynamic in our real relationship. She was the “adult” in the scenario, and according to her, adults could punish children at will.
Considering we rarely punish our children, and certainly not for someone asking to read a book or for laughing, I was surprised to see how quickly she went to the dark side.
There are very good reasons why three-year-olds are not in charge of other human beings.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, eh?
Despite not being a certified therapist, I was getting the sense that my daughter was experimenting with what it means to be an adult through her dolls.
So far, she’s worked out life and death scenarios, mild abandonment issues, and corporal punishment. I would’ve thought that those were heavy concepts for a three-year-old but she seems to understand them fairly well.
Encourage creative dramatic play
The experts all say to continue to play and encourage this type of role-playing in safe and supportive environments. As much as it hurts to hear your daughter replay scenarios of daily abandonment, keep playing the part.
According to Nancy Jo Hereford and Jane Schall in the book Learning Through Dramatic Play, parents can encourage this type of creative play in a few ways:
- Let the child take the lead—basically, follow their creative minds and you’ll be surprised where they take you.
- Provide time for the play to develop—kids need at least 45 minutes of uninterrupted time for a proper drama.
- Provide the place and the props to encourage their imagination.
- Insert some of their interests into play scenarios.
Listening and watching my daughter play with her dolls is an opportunity to get her side of the equation and to encourage her to understand whatever she is experiencing at the moment.
So, in short, as parents, we need to do less talking and more playing if we are going to help our kids work through large transitions (like moving houses, changing schools, etc.,), experiencing grief or loss of loved ones, or any issues that we may consider “minor” as parents but affect them on a daily basis (like pick-up and drop-off at school).
When it comes to playing with our kids, parents need to do less talking and more playing.
Other Articles of Interest
In an ideal world, there would be only perfect relocations. A world in which everything goes according to plan, nobody is running around at the last minute all sweaty with stress, and the children are well behaved on every flight and breeze through connecting airports.
In this ideal world, here’s what a perfect relocation might look like:
In a perfect relocation, there is plenty of time to prepare, find renters/buyers for your current house, sell off unwanted possessions, and close your door one final time without a hint of sadness.
In a perfect relocation, you have familiarized yourself with the local language and have language classes lined up to help ease your family into society upon arrival.
In a perfect relocation, you get one last visit with all of your family members, and your friends throw you an amazing farewell party complete with meaningful gifts and inside jokes.
In a perfect relocation, these same friends and family members promise to keep in touch and they do! You chat with them at least once a month, and they remember to send you birthday cards and wish your children, “Happy Holidays!” just when you think you’ve been forgotten. Nobody forgets to invite you to their events even though they know you can’t come.
In a perfect relocation, the accompanying spouse has a mobile career or is self-employed and has all of the necessary working visas to continue his/her career without interruption.
In a perfect relocation, the children are registered in the schools without interruption of their school year, the neighborhood is scouted, and transportation to and from is already worked out.
In a perfect relocation, there is a team of friendly and helpful people who are experienced in assisting newly landed families to navigate the ins and outs of the new city. They are eager to help you and you become friends instantly.
In a perfect relocation, there is nothing but fun and adventure. Everyone looks toward the future, and nobody wonders what their life might have been had they never moved.
But like all hypothetical situations, this perfect situation is unattainable. Instead, we know that reality is nothing like a perfect relocation and there never can be.
Life doesn’t work that way for anyone.
We are eternally grateful if we experience even a small percentage of these “perfect” scenarios. Unfortunately, we can’t shorten the time it takes to adjust to a new country by sheer willpower or experience.
Experience does not lessen the bittersweetness, the ache for people who know you best wherever they may live, or the culture shock.
But experience does help you appreciate the present and treasure the past.
Experience makes you think twice about your future relocations and the impact they will undoubtedly have on your family.
Experience means that you know precisely how much you don’t know before you go (again) but gives you clues for where to look for the answers.
Experience teaches you that living a life in a foreign country is both rewarding and isolating. At times, the pain of living far from family is crushing pain and at other times, life is joyful and plentiful.
Life is happening 100% to you wherever you are. It doesn’t matter what language is spoken around you or what currency is in your pocket. Living abroad provides no buffer against reality.
It isn’t easy to leave behind everything familiar, but you’ll do it anyway because what choice do you have?
While someone else may wait until the conditions are perfect, your bags are already packed, your goodbyes have been said in a rush, and you’re boarding the plane, ready to live your very imperfect life.
First, let’s get the terminology down: A collection of stories versus an anthology. Some people use these terms interchangeably, however, in the publishing world, a “collection of stories” is described as a book of short stories written by one person and an “anthology” as a book of short stories written by several people. Knocked Up Abroad is an anthology featuring 23 different writers in 24 different countries. On my long list of goals, getting knocked up and giving birth in 24 different countries is not something I would ever attempt so a collection of stories, it is not, according to a publisher.
Communicate clearly and regularly with your contributors
Be super clear with roles and responsibilities in the beginning of the project. Communicate a clear timeline, expectations, and what they will receive (payment, exposure, books, etc.) as contributors. Even if you are crystal clear, there may still be confusion or misunderstandings. Send regular reminders and follow up with non-responders. If someone hasn’t responded within 48 hours, send a follow-up email. If someone is throwing up roadblocks, pick up the phone and call them or schedule a Skype session. So many issues are more easily clarified through voice than email.
Pad extra time into your deadlines
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they fly by.” I am super strict when it comes to personal and professional deadlines for myself but I’m not working by myself when I’m editing an anthology. There are other people who have other life issues to consider. During the creation of Knocked Up Abroad , some of the contributors were pregnant and due before their chapter could be finished, some of them were in the midst of moving countries, and others just had really busy lives. There will always be time constraints that are beyond your control and mistakes that will cost you both time and money as you learn the ropes. Build in some extra time and set realistic targets. If people can’t make your realistic deadlines, then let them go. Don’t hold up your entire project for one person. Remember, you’re the one driving the ship.
Editing an anthology is a full-time job
Some people think that being an editor/author of an anthology is relatively easy. You can sit back and collect other people’s stories, throw them into a book, hit the publish button, and rake in the royalties. Go ahead and laugh at those people (maybe even yourself) right now. There is nothing easy about managing >20 people, balancing their time commitments with your book’s schedule, and persuading them to take time out of their busy days to generate high-quality writing for the sake of a bit of exposure and a few copies of the book. No matter how marvelous your idea for an anthology, nobody will love the project more than you. Nobody. Contributors will spend a few hours writing their chapter, reviewing your feedback, and then give you a head nod on the final version. They go off and live their lives in between those brief moments in time. Meanwhile, you are slavishly devoted to this book from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep every night.
Each contributor has a relationship with one person—you. As the editor, you must cultivate a relationship, track progress, remind, and provide personalized input and feedback to every contributor. Knocked Up Abroad had 23 contributors (22 if I don’t count myself, and yes I’m counting my husband because we often got into contributor-editor disputes just like anyone else) and each interaction was time-consuming and required careful emotional attention in my role as editor. Writing is intensely emotional and if your anthology contains personal stories, like Knocked Up Abroad has, the contributors may have strong reactions to your proposed edits.
Establishing a relationship with mutual respect and trust with your contributors is important. Some chapters will require a bit of tweaking to fit into the flow of the book overall. Remember, as the editor, you are the only one who is seeing the book as the sum of its parts. Each contributor only knows the chapter they submitted. It is your job to stitch all of these disjointed stories together into a comprehensive book that is enjoyable to read. There is artistic value in this editing process as you must step into your readers’ shoes and view your book from their perspective, all the while continuing to balance your contributors’ wishes for their artistic expression.
And royalties? I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but if you think you’re going to get rich off of an anthology, you are grossly mistaken. At one point, I added up all of my time and expenses and I calculated that I would need to sell 10,000 books in order to break even. To break even! Considering the average book sells 1,000 copies in an author’s lifetime, even a measly profit seems monumentally unlikely. If you want, I can send you the breakdown of the math behind this calculation, but it is super depressing. Instead, I’ll leave you with this anecdote: Three guys decided to collaborate and write a book together on some business topic. They posted a question on a writing forum to ask about the best way to establish a legal entity for them to share their royalties. The top rated response was, “Buy your buddies a beer. There. Now you’re even.” The money you’ll receive in royalties is nothing compared to the quantity of unpaid time you’ll have invested in the book, real expenses related to cover design and editing, and up front costs like ordering books in bulk that you must recoup before you can even think of dividing up “profits.” Instead, identify other publishing milestones or goals for motivation. Unless you’re J.K. Rowling, don’t expect anything regarding compensation and reward your contributors in non-monetary ways.
Reward your contributors
Chicken Soup for the Soul pays their contributors $100 per published submission. If you’ve read a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology, you know that each book contains 101 stories on a certain topic or theme. The books aren’t stringently edited and the stories range from mildly interesting to fascinating. They are mass-produced, traditionally published, and your chapter is among 100 others. Is that great exposure? It depends on your publication goals as a writer. You are a paid writer with a book on the shelf that has your name in it. Sure, you have to purchase your own copy, but you’ve been published!
If you are self-publishing your anthology, you often don’t have a budget to pay someone even an insultingly small amount for their work (because we are poor!) but it doesn’t mean that you can’t reward them in other ways. What is the value of beautiful prose that came from someone’s heart about a monumental moment in their life? Is it quantifiable? Is it priceless? Contributors will write for an anthology for a few reasons: to see their work published in a book, add a book to their resume, receive exposure for their writing careers or other projects, and because they love writing and want to share it widely with the world. In my experience, people enjoy being part of an amazing book with other extremely talented writers. Having a book that all of your contributors can proudly say they were a part of is a major accomplishment in my opinion.
It is standard for unpaid contributors to receive exposure, and one physical copy of the book. Knocked Up Abroad contributors receive exposure and two copies of the book—am I twice as generous as the average anthology editor? From my perspective, receiving one book to keep and one to share is a nice pay-it-forward mentality that I like to employ whenever possible. It’s the least I could do to show my appreciation for their hard work and I’d love it for more people to read the stories if the contributors want to pass along their extra copy.
Regardless if your contributors are paid or unpaid, be transparent at the beginning of their involvement so everyone is on the same page.
Develop a personal relationship with your contributors
If you are self-publishing, don’t be a faceless publishing entity to your contributors. Skype or FaceTime with them when discussing their chapters and interact with them on social media. Support their careers are writers and share their achievements. Everyone’s successes are linked when you write an anthology. Any press for one contributor is positive press for everyone. Anthologies essentially build a strong network of writers if you connect them all together. For Knocked Up Abroad, I featured the picture and short bio of a contributor on the Facebook page every Friday. This not only introduced the readers to the contributors but it also allowed the contributors to learn more about one another. Developing and strengthening these networks can be beneficial for everyone involved.
Put a lot of effort into threading the stories together.
This is harder than one might think. When you receive a stack of unrelated chapters, it is your job to order them in the best way for the reader’s enjoyment. There may be a perfect transition paragraph in the middle of one chapter that needs to be moved to the end of the chapter in order to enhance the flow of the chapters. Identify any common themes or differences between chapters. Sometimes it is nice to have a change of pace, and you should strategically insert a chapter with a different voice. Perhaps the chapters naturally group themselves into similar sections. Perhaps showing the contrasts between two chapters makes it more interesting to the reader. Whatever you do, don’t randomly order the chapters within your book. Chaos! The reader may put your book down and never pick it up again if the stories are too disjointed. Readers enjoy stories where the characters experience struggle and triumph, hope and heartache. Ordering the chapters is of utmost importance. Read, reorder, read, reorder, read, reorder the chapters until you have a combination that receives positive reviews from your beta readers.
Anthologies are collaborative but not really.
It totally depends on the anthology, but if you are managing more than three people, you can’t make every decision by committee. If your anthology is a smaller group then you may be able to divvy up the roles and responsibilities a bit more equally. Collaboration and cooperation are necessary to create an anthology—we all explicitly understand that—but the day-to-day decisions must be executed by you as the editor if you have a large group of contributors.
Find honest beta readers.
The reactions from beta readers can often be more confusing than helpful. I knew the backstory of all of the contributors and helped some of the writers reshape their stories so I felt too close to the book to see it objectively. Finding a group of beta readers who are interested in your book and will provide you honest suggestions is really key. My mother-in-law was the most influential beta reader as she had very strong opinions about the chapters and their order of appearance. I never knew this until the book was already published, but some readers have a strong (I mean, really strong) preferences for font type, spacing between letters and words, and spacing between lines. One of my friends says she has a favorite publisher because they produce books that are pleasing to the eye to read. This type of input is really key when you are publishing a physical book. Ebooks don’t require the same level of attention to formatting as physical books do, but I suppose you can adjust spacing between paragraphs accordingly. Seek the input of these super readers and find a format that meets their stringent approval.
Hire an editor/proofreader.
It is my opinion that every single book that is published should be reviewed by a third party editor. Doctors go to medical school, car mechanics receive licensed training, and books should be professionally edited. Yeah, I know that your title is Editor, but you’re too close to your creation. When you’ve read each chapter 15 times, your eyes are tired, and you’ll miss things. Besides, you are hardly an objective reviewer. Your book will be better with an objective set of eyes reviewing every page. Set aside $2,000 to contract an editor. It’s the cost of doing business if you want an excellent book that is worthy of 5-star reviews. Every published book (traditionally or self-published) should be edited by a third party. I hired a freelance editor to review my book and together we agreed to follow the Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster Dictionary. As an anthology, you want to maintain the writing style and voice of each contributor while still making it a smooth and easy book to read. Not editing each contributor’s voice too heavily can be harder to achieve than you think, as we often tend to read books in our inner voice and make edits accordingly.
If your contributors have varied nationalities, you will have to decide which spelling you prefer—American or British English. Knocked Up Abroad had contributors from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. It was a publication decision I made as an editor to proceed with American English and include temperatures in both degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius so that nobody was left wondering if the writer was describing something incredibly hot or cold. The book also has both English and Metric measurements to avoid reader confusion. Those types of additions were made after all of the chapters were received.
Regardless of the manual of style you select, apply whatever rules you have consistently across all chapters. In the end, you want your contributors to be proud of their work in the book so make thoughtful edits.
Don’t count on your contributors to market the anthology.
More contributors does not always equal more exposure. The reality is that some people aren’t really interested in talking about the book when it is finally published (and that’s totally fine), and it means that you can’t count on them to market the book. Your contributors all have busy lives, and remember what I mentioned earlier? Nobody cares about this book more than you. It is your responsibility to continue the process for marketing the book. You may be lucky and have some contributors who offer up endless fonts of help and resources, however not everyone will want to be as involved. It is important to have a marketing strategy that is not solely dependent on your contributors’ participation. Any extra marketing push from contributors should be seen as the cherry on top, not the entire sundae.
Celebrate every milestone.
My husband should have bought stock in Prosecco, because we popped the bubbly almost every week. Editing an anthology is lonely work. You’re working with a lot of people but it is often tedious, time-intensive drudgery in your home office (or kitchen table) by yourself. Celebrating every milestone will help you keep chugging along when you feel like giving up.
Received all final chapters? Celebrate! Successfully formatted your final manuscript into ebook and paperback formats? Celebrate! Uploaded your ebook manuscript to Amazon? Celebrate! Secured 10 pre-orders? Celebrate! All of these seemingly small milestones required hours upon hours of work. There is no such thing as a small accomplishment when you are putting together an anthology. Reward yourself so you can enjoy the process. Nobody is standing behind you cheering you on while your eyes cross after staring your your computer’s screen for months so be your own cheerleader and pop that bubbly!
Enjoy your own book.
You’re not doing this for the money, fame, or glory—that’s been firmly established—so enjoy the process. Have fun finding your contributors, connecting with people, and cultivating these stories. Clearly this is a topic you love, otherwise you wouldn’t be writing the book, so really dive into the process. I thoroughly enjoyed learning each step of the process from developing the book, creating the website, designing the brand (or making branding decisions, I didn’t design it really), and researching the many ways you can format, publish, and market your book. Be creative, have fun, and then do it all over again to capitalize on all of those lessons learned.
After reading about all of that hard work, are you ready to read the final product?