list of tips for those living abroad or anyone needing to feel grounded:


Get your self some sturdy boots for exploring city streets and jumping over new plants and splashing in puddles–or around them, if they are not rain boots.

Do not let your ankles turn in; it’s easy to fall at night and when tired and dealing with homesickness and miscalculations of how you would maybe feel on a blustery day. It is easy to feel you’ve failed.

Your shoes are not for running away. They are to help you feel held-up and wanted here, supported, my dear.

Practice standing on trains and buses without using a handle. Develop urban calves and even do calf raises. You may not get a spot on the train or bus unless you go during off hours or if you develop a loud voice prob in a diff language. Practice hearing yourself.

If pregnant, don’t let the people sleeping or not caring deprive you of a seat.

It is yours for the taking.

Bike and figure out how to go more places. Learn your city or tiny town inside out so that you could write about or watercolor your favorite spots–the trenches of quiet, robust beauty most others do not know about. Let it be yours. Name your spots.

Eat well. Find the farmers and their markets. Find the new kinds of veggies, the mini watermelon squash, the pineapple-mint. Get your behind in the hidden bar with the tattooed gent who shakes your gimlet 89 times. Find the most velvetty cuts of meat and those preserved lemons. Seek out the tallest cupcakes. Razzle dazzle with all you find. At home, give taste tests and ask, “What does it need?” Hand-out egg beaters full of frosting.

Drink up. Invite others. You do not need to feel alone. You do not need to entertain that when you can have a full house and the walls of your heart bursting. Invite the new people to ordinary events like the bookshop, like window shopping, like fishing, like whatever, eat cake. Carve out new ways.

Ask them to your kids’ birthday parties and keep doing this forever or as long as you want even without their reciprocation. Be the warm smile upon opening the door. Write thank you notes or send little messages with the most adorable emoji. Be ready to celebrate their joys, too. Learn birthdays. Anticipate births and make deep dishes of thoughtfulness. Bake lasagna.

Don’t judge through your disappointment, either, okay? Cultures are different and certainly so are the people. Societies are not built in a day or month, but over and over like a wheel tilling the earth with its repeat rotations. You can be persistent. You can be president of whatever community you envision, or at least keeper of the keys, star photographer, and team builder. More than you know. Don’t give up on people.

You can till dirt and come up with treasure.

You can leave your child’s first-grade event with only two moms having looked at you. You can walk out of the grade-wide parent meeting because you do not know one word they say and they haven’t even gotten to introductions. There will not be a translation. No one may realize just how little you know. They may or may not even think of you in their heart to even glance your way or compliment your scarf or today’s spectacular or crappy weather. You may be the only one they ever met.

In fact, you can say “Jewish” to eyes that only blink, but have little to no recollection or comprehension. You may be the only one they have ever met. Substitute Bavarian, Chilean, Trinidadian. They may have only heard of “you” on the news.

They will not know how to bless you when you sneeze. You have to let that go. You are your best friend right now and best friends help each other breathe.

Look in mirrors, do the shoulder back thing, remembering it is more about the heart and a chest lifted then it is about the back.

Love your child and appreciate the work they do, especially as you don’t know what the heck their papers say and you can barely speak with the teacher. Your child is the life here, the soil prepared and seeds and trees resulting in a picnic of fruit. Invite them to that picnic, all of the spontaneous ones and the picnics planned. They will surprise you, those moms. They will ride with you, impressed you know the way, and they will share their juice and tea. They will accept your kindness, your cold rice balls wrapped in nori.

You will understand why the children laugh. You will understand their songs. You will feel more comfort than loss, at least on most days.

You wear those sturdy shoes and recognize the artist on the cover of your kid’s textbook. You learn stuff. You make yourself seen. You sing loudly. Keep doing that. Keep singing. Keep going. Don’t walk out. Don’t skip out on any good verse. Don’t skimp. Dance to the chorus. It may be the only time they hear the words. Sing words that are good reminders to yourself.

Get up, order the lattes and think of your shoes, your new season and how to carry yourself into then.