Writing saved my life

November 9, 2009

Thank goodness I am a writer. If I weren’t then I doubt I’d have survived this merrygoround they call a mobile life. In the last 28 years I’ve lived in 6 different countries with four different languages, lost my identity and found it again. Boy, am I glad I ‘saved’ my life. Not only in the form of my memoir, a Moving Landscape, but using writing as a form of therapy has been a godsend. Read my post on the superb Expat Harem blog here and be sure to have your say . . .


Living-your-best-life-abroad-webWho would have believed that less than 9 months ago, Jeanne Heinzer had not even started writing her book? Now, it is not only written but it is in print and available on Amazon worldwide. It’s a super book and I am delighted to have been Jeanne’s mentor, content editor and publisher for this project.

Written for accompanying partners of those of international assignment, this book will help the reader to assess her life and work out the steps she needs to take to make this life the best, happiest and most fulfilling it can be. It is no secret that the happiness of the spouse has a huge impact on the success of an assignment, so companies take note – buy this for your spouses and ensure that you don’t end up having to send your best employees home just because their wife could not settle.

I was very impressed by Paul Allen’s ebook entitled Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Paul is a journo, living (lucky thing) in Catalonia, in Spain, and his book is no less than I would have expected from someone who has been trained to be thorough. Moreover, he has the proof and the statistics to back up his advice. If you are thinking of moving abroad this book will help you turn over every stone and consider the reality of your proposal. It really is a terrific book and, to my mind, the first of its kind. Find out more at his website expatliving 101 here.

a-moving-landscape-cover-web1I am delighted to announce that within minutes of my 26th book being published Craig Toedtman, President of Options Resource Careers in PA ordered 200 copies for his clients.

‘This will be a great addition to our packets….with hopes of many more orders to come!’ wrote Craig in an email to me in which he confirmed his order.

A Moving Landscape is my memoir in poetry of the 21 years I spent overseas, moving from Dubai to Oman, to Norway, England and now to the Netherlands. It tells of reality of culture shock and loss and settling in as well as the immense pleasure I have derived from the variety of landscapes in which I have had the privilege to live.

It’s been brewing for a while, but at last I can share the good news. Actually, it’s not good news, it’s brilliant news! Along with some of my favourite people, people who are experts in the expat world, I have been invited to my favourite place in the world to be part of the first ever international mobility conference in Oman. Brainchild of TCK Omani Sharifa Albarami of Al Jazeera Global, education specialist, Rebecca Grappo and old friend, counsellor and all round good egg, Jane Jaffer, the International Mobility and Relocation Conference will take place on 19 and 20th April 2009 at the newly refurbished Al Bustan Palace Hotel.

It’s a terrific program, with Robin Pascoe and Ann Houston Kelley and myself all presenting at least twice. And the setting! Did I ever tell you that the Al Bustan is my favourite hotel in the world? Or that Muscat is my favourite place? Or that the Omanis are my favourite people?

Until January, the only similar conference is Families in Global Transition, which I have attended and presented at five times – but it’s in Houston, Texas. So, thank you Muscat for filling the gap. I hope to see you all there.

EARLY BIRD RATE BY DEC 21ST Save 15% on the OMR fee if you book by Dec 21st!


Don’t you just love the way people you once knew pop up again? This happened to me this week, and the one who ‘popped up’ was Brian Friedman, who used to head up the Institute of Global Mobility, associated with Ernst and Young. I was big fan of the IGM back in the early 2000s when based near enough to London to attend their events. Their ‘Greatest Hits’ conference was exemplary, not least because of a line up that included the comedian Tim Vine and the erudite political journalist, Andrew Marr. But that’s not my point.

My point is that Brian Friedman has taken a bag full of good ideas and his passion for informing and supporting those in global HR and set up TotallyExpat. This website is a forum for those in IHR and relocation service providers, specialists and people like me who just care about this kind of thing. It’s free and its rise appears to be meteoric. It’s only been up 3 weeks and already has 600 members.

Take a look for yourself, add to the collection of useful articles and resources and be part of a network that is keen to make a difference. There will be meetings and events but right now be sure to be part of the buzz that is TotallyExpat. Become a member. i did.

I wonder if he’ll organise another Greatest Hits?

Maybe I’m mad to be doing this? Why would I want to give away my secrets for free? Maybe I’m just feeling generous? Maybe it’s because November is officially National Novel Writing Month? Or maybe I want to give my 2009 Writing Your Life Story workshops a bit of extra promotion?

Anyway, during November I am thrilled to be giving several free (OK, I admit it, one does have a minimum charge and another asks for donations to NaNoWriMo) workshops in The Hague.

Here are the dates, places and times. Don’t miss them. They may never happen again ….

Tuesday 4th November, 10-12, At the Expatriate Archive Centre, Paramaribostraat 20
Out of the Boxes – start telling your life story – Find out how to turn your life stories into words that will inspire others for blogs, newsletters, diaries, emails or a full length memoir.
Book via welcome@xpatarchive.com or Jo Parfitt
Places limited

Saturday 8th November, 2-3, Treehut, The American Bookcentre, Lange Poten
How to Beat the Block and Hang on In There – Learn how to tell those inner critics and naysayers to get outta here and crack on with your writing projects.
No need to book
Donations to NaNoWriMo welcome

Saturday 8th November, 3-5, Treehut, The American Bookcentre, Lange Poten
Writer in Residence – come along with your questions or your work for my comment.
Book your 15 minute time slot on the day itself
Places limited
Donations to NaNoWriMo welcome

Monday 17th November, 10-12, Women’s Business Initiative, Laan Copes van Cattenburch 86
Could you have a book in you? – Nothing gives a your business more of a boost than a book written by you. Could you write one that raises your profile and your reputation without breaking the bank? Find out here.
Book via info@womensbusinessinitiative.net or Jo Parfitt

Tuesday 25th November, 10-12, American Women’s Clubhouse Living Room
Write Your Life Stories – writer and publisher Jo Parfitt teams up with editor and designer Karin Harms to present this interactive and inspiring workshop that will give you the ingredients for writing compelling life stories.
Book via AWC
€10 members / €15 non members
Places limited

For more information please go to Expat Rollercoaster and look at the Workshop page

I was delighted to meet two of the Tempo Team employees a couple of weeks ago. For, despite offering to brainstorm with many other recruitment agencies over the years, with a view to finding a solution to the dual career issue, they were the first, ever, to take me up on it.

On November 3rd at 3pm in their offices at Spui 12, they are hosting a Focus Group Session in association with The Hague International Spirit (THIS) in order to start discussions with people who care about this issue and want to make a change.

Drinks and nibbles will be provided, so, if you can be part of this first, exciting session, please get in touch with jelmer.huizing@tempo-team.nl.

The link to download the complete invitation is below. Please tell your friends.


I was delighted to hear from Karen Armstrong this week because she is a woman after my own heart. Passionate about expat women and their careers she is busy building a forum and portal to help people like us to connect and grow and learn together.

Karen says:


If you’re a woman living abroad who has her own business – or want to be one – and would like to be part of an online community of women who share your entrepreneurial spirit, please contact karen@expatwomenentrepreneurs.com

Through Expat Women Entrepreneurs, you’ll be able to connect with women like you who share your desire for self-actualization through entrepreneurship — combining passion, purpose and profit. You’ll also be able to learn from highly successful women entrepreneurs who’ll share their expertise and insight on what it takes to create a thriving business.

Expat Women Entrepreneurs will inspire, educate and empower you so you THRIVE in your BUSINESS and your LIFE!

Join Expatwomen and win

September 25, 2008

I never cease to be amazed by the energy and passion of Andrea Martins, who runs the wonderful Expatwomen website. It’s packed with articles, links, blogs, connections, ideas, inspiration and a fabulous team of mentors there to help you live your best life abroad.

If you haven’t done so already you really must sign up to their newsletter. It’s free, you can unsubscribe at any time and you wont get bombarded with junk emails. The more people belong to the network the more everyone gets to work together. So join today and you may just win $100.