Friday, March 5, 2010

Project Relax

Foreign service spouses, like their officer partners, tend to be flexible, open-minded, and adaptable. Although foreign service families originate from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, these basic qualities may be a prerequisite for even considering a mobile lifestyle, much less making the decision to uproot yourself and your family and dive in headfirst.

However, flexibility does not equal indifference, and being willing to adapt does not mean one is aimless. Spouses who accompany their partners overseas do not do so because they don't have personal goals and ambitions, and thus, face the unique challenge of finding a way to grow and develop within the parameters of constant mobility and/or waiting to be moved.

The Foreign Service is aware of this, and does its best to help its officers' partners thrive as foreign service spouses. In  addition to its training classes, the family liaison office network points us in the direction of valuable telecommuting resources such as the Rat Race Rebellion. However, by funneling us towards activity, these solution-focused resources don't address the first thing a new foreign service spouse needs to do: relax.

For those of us who have left or are anticipating leaving active careers, being in the pre-overseas departure limbo can be disconcerting. Up to this point our professional lives have been focused on upward mobility, and our first instinct in reacting to this change is to continue moving. However, the nature of the foreign service requires its officers' partners to be willing to stand still for weeks, and sometimes even months, which can be counter intuitive to a goal-oriented individual. Thus, my first goal is to embrace being on an extended vacation--to take a sacred pause--and the rest will come as it may.

 Project Relax has total buy-in from Julie and Grace

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