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What is meaningful to activate in the last week of 2021?

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

This article was first published on LinkedIn

In this last week of 2021, I can’t help but feel how shapeless the year has been. My husband and I have not been together in person for almost a year, since end of January when he left Taiwan for the US to have his two jabs of Covid vaccination before returning to Papua New Guinea to continue his work assignment in March. We are no strangers to virtual dating. Due to our work, we’ve been keeping separate households in different countries, across multiple time zones, for over a decade now.

We have never not been physically together for more than two months at a time.

As the year was coming to an end, and in the shadow of Omicron, we bought tickets and booked a quarantine hotel in early December, but the quarantine requirements became such a burden, totaling five weeks for entering and re-entering the two different countries, that at the end, we cancelled the plan.

I feel spending Christmas and New Year together with my husband as sacrosanct. Over the years, we have explored the streets of Amsterdam multiple times, dived the richly bio-diversified Raja Ampat, picnicked on one of the glaciers after a helicopter ride over New Zealand’s Southern Alps, or just nestled together in one of our homes not doing much. This year we are settling with just a hello over the internet, accentuating the year’s shapelessness. Covid-19 makes me rethink togetherness, the embodiment of that ultimate bliss captured by Billy Dodson’s image via Susan Cain.

Introducing a Newsletter Just Be for Expats

As expats, we are spread out all over the globe with many having parents in one country, children in another, our workplace in a third, and family members holding different national passports. In the era of Covid-19, the majority of us have sheltered in place at home through multiple waves of lockdowns, continued working as professionals via Zoom or some other video platforms or hybrid work configurations, and being caregivers and teachers. Separation from loved ones and inability to travel add to the worry, stress, isolation, anxiety, and a strange sense of homelessness.

I launched Just Be as a monthly blog in July this year, which I am now morphing into Just Be with Lina, a monthly newsletter, to explore how being, rather than doing, can better support us through uncertainty, living at the periphery as expats.

“I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

Two years into the pandemic somehow invokes Samuel Beckett’s “… you must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” How do we soldier on another year of Covid uncertainty? A client of mine, whose controller saboteur in her would usually snap into action to take charge, told me recently that her controller had receded. I was about to congratulate her success in self-command, in reducing her controller’s power with nothing to do, when she added, rather defeatedly, that her controller caught Covid, and in fact, she felt that she was unable to trust herself to overcome the continued uncertainty in the coming year.

During these last few days of 2021, togetherness is in my mind a lot, strategizing on the how-to and lamenting over the lack of. When my husband and I discussed plans to meet during 2021, we often choked at the overwhelming efforts required that involved PCR-testings, getting permissions, securing tickets, which resulted in our time spent feeling like chores that had to be checked off. Most of the time we were left exhausted.

As I rethink togetherness, breaking it down into its elements, it is quality rather than quantity that cuts through the shapelessness of 2021 for me. Recognizing the quality part of togetherness allows me to hold togetherness as bite-sized contact points each with intention, tenderness, trust, and bliss.

Shirzad Chamine suggests that “You need the Sage’s power to Activate when it is clear what course of action you want to take. This power allows you to move into pure action, without the procrastination, distraction, or interference that Saboteurs cause.” And this is my activating the laser-focused pure action for 2022: to be together in all space and dimensions. This means that it is not about doing togetherness by planning what to do and where to go, but more about easing into just be together and letting bliss blanket over me as the cub snuggling into the lioness’s embrace wherever.

What is your one laser-focused action now?

I’m curious and would love to hear from you on what it’s like to be an expat nowadays. Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Subscribe to Just Be with Lina to receive my next monthly newsletter, to explore how being, rather than doing, can better support us through uncertainty, living at the periphery as expats.



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