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Expatria Déjà Vu

Do you suffer from the condition ExpatriaDéjà Vu?

It’s a little known condition that affects millions of people each year.
Sadly, as yet, there’s no cure.

Patients with ExpatriaDéjà Vu generally have to manage their own symptoms through rest, silence and keeping up fluids. Unlike other conditions in the Expatria family, the consumption of a small amount of alcohol reduces some symptoms, but you are still advised not to operate machinery.

‘Holidays at Home’ (50mg tablets) is currently one of two products on the market designed to help people recuperate temporarily. You are advised, however, to use ‘Holidays at Home’ with caution as this medication is also known to increase the severity of symptoms of Expatria Déjà Vu.

Expatria Déjà Vu and ‘Holidays at Home’

Read this article carefully before you start taking ‘Holidays at Home’ tablets, because it contains important information for you.

Keep this information. You may need to read it again once ‘home’
If you have any further questions, ask a doctor (expat friend) for advice
If you get any side effects, talk to your tribe soon.

What is included in this information?

* What ‘Holidays at Home’ is used for
* What you need to know before you take ‘Holidays at Home’ tablets
* How to take ‘Holidays at Home’
* Possible side effects
* How to store ‘Holidays at Home’
* Additional information

1.What ‘Holidays at Home’ is used for

Holidays at Home contains the active substance, ‘repetitious conversation’. Holidays at Home is one of a group of Expatria medicines called, Hell for Expats in Leisure Periods – Mental Exhaustion (HELP-MEs); these medicines are used to treat Repetitive Conversation disorders.

‘Holidays at Home’ can be used to treat:
*Expatria Déjà Vu, the common condition experienced by expats when they go home for holidays (in adults and children).

Expatria Déjà Vu is a circumstancial condition with symptoms like:
* feeling frustrated
* memory loss – especially being unable to remember if you’ve already said the words you’re about to say
* confusion – primarily about why people think you need to come home to live
* misunderstandings when you try to dispell myth and clichés about your host country
* Mental fatigue
* Loss of interest in conversations

Your family has decided that this medicine is suitable for treating your condition. You should however, consult your doctor (expat friends) if you are unsure why you are taking ‘Holidays at Home’.

If you are concerned about whether you have the condition, the image below shows you what Expatria Déjà Vu looks like under the microscope.

What Expatria Déjà Vu looks like under the microscope

2. What you need to know before you take ‘Holidays at Home’

DO NOT TAKE ‘Holidays at Home’:

* If you are allergic to ‘Holidays at Home’ or any other ingredients of this medicine
* If you are taking or have taken medicines called Family Fight, Overbearing Sister or Any Friend that Suggests it’s Time to Come Back
* If your last four ‘holidays’ have been at home not the tropical island you want to visit.

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR (expat friends) if you are taking the following medicines:

* Remind Me Why I’m Going Home
* Got Any Tips for Answering Repetitive Questions?
* How Long Do You Think I Can Survive?

3. How to take ‘Holidays at Home’

Always take this medicine exactly as prescribed.
The recommended dose for adults is One Week Staying in a Nearby Hotel with your Own Leisure Activities Every Second Day. If Expatria Déjà Vu symptoms do not ease after 1 week, dosage can be increased to Create a Mailing List to Regularly Update Your People. This will help ease the repetitive questions in time.


4. Possible side effects

Like all medicines, ‘Holidays at Home’ can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. When treating Expatria Déjà Vu, the most common side effect of ‘Holidays at Home’ is Minor Frustration which often dissipates with sleep, a small amount of alcohol and continued treatment.

Talk to yourself and moderate your behaviour immediately if you experience any of the following:

* Aggressive behaviour towards your loved ones
* Name calling, rudeness or angry tone of voice
* Disinterest in having the conversation. They care.
* Frustration at their ignorance. Why would they know any different if they haven’t visited?

COMMON (may affect 1 in 10 people)

* Minor Frustration
* Fatigue
* Memory Loss
* Confusion
* A sense of déjà vu

UNCOMMON (may affect 1 in 100 people)

* Sarcastic comments
* Change subject entirely which confuses loved ones
* You ask all the questions to avoid talking about your life
* Do not see family and friends when at home.

RARE (may affect 1 in 1000 people)

* Return from holiday early
* Cease friendships

5.How to store ‘Holidays at Home’

Do not use this medicine after the expiry date.

Store in ambiant conditions with:
* Grace
* Kindness
* An open heart
* Patience
* Love
* Tolerance

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor (expat friends).

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The Disappointment of Realising You’re Racist

I’M RACIST.

No joke.

Unfortunately I’m deadly serious.

That’s not something you want to discover about yourself.
Racists are those people that I Ioathe. The ‘less than’ people I see on the news being arrested for hate crimes.
The people I disassociate myself from because….

I’m well-travelled.
I’m educated.
I’m cultured.
I have friends with different coloured skin.
You need to know that as I write this, that my whole body is creasing up in discomfort.
It’s the pain of realising that I’m no different to the ‘less thans’ and I’m trying to not feel ashamed.

I want to run. Badly.

Every cell in my body is fighting this admission. I hate it.
And now I’m crying. I feel like I’ve hurt my dear friends who have different coloured skin to me and I hate that even more. They don’t even know that I’m racist… but I feel like crap for actually being secretly pleased that I’ve been able to hide.

F*** This. Is. Hard.

Our street in Harlem

Last October I spent a week in Harlem, New York.
It was incredible and it was hard. Boy was it hard. It’s taken some time to process and has led to me sitting here, writing to you.

My wife is an Archbishop and her denomination’s Synod was being held at their church in Harlem.
I went along for the ride. I think my exact words were, “you’re not going to New York without me!”. It was my dream city and I’d never been before. For ease of access to the church, we stayed in Harlem.

And then it began. Five days of realising I’m racist.

So how does that happen?

MISGUIDED ASSUMPTIONS

His words were, “with all due respect, please do not compare your sexuality with one’s race. It is two totally different things.” I was affronted at his assumption that I was like ‘the others’.
I got it. Really I did!  I didn’t.
I’ll just reframe my point because he’s just misunderstood me. He hadn’t.

De-Dee Loft Davis is a racial equity consultant I follow on Linkedin. She’s great. About 2 months before New York I’d commented on a post of hers (how WOKE of me eh?) to show support that I understood the micro-aggressions Black people experience, because I get them too as a gay person.

It started a conversation between me and another racial equity consultant – a guy who continued to say, For me, most can hide their sexuality. I cannot hide my Blackness. It is what you see. I understand what you are trying to say by, “Sit in my shoes,” but I really don’t like when people try and compare the two. Both identities should be able to stand on their own.

I still didn’t like it. I really wanted him to understand my position. He wasn’t listening. (I know…..) He didn’t understand my gayness. I continued my argument, reframing and adding more points from my angle. This would make him understand (Don’t say it. I know…).

Suddenly I stopped.
I don’t know why, but I remembered something that Catrice M Jackson had said in her book ‘Antagonist, Advocates and Allies: The Wake Up Call Guide for White Women Who Want to Become Allies with Black Women’.  See I knew I wasn’t racist; I was reading the right books.

Essentially one of Catrice’s messages is simply to shut up and listen.
LISTEN to Black voices.
LISTEN to their experiences.
LISTEN to what they are telling you.
TRULY LISTEN.

So I listened and then I apologised to him. I did come to understand his point.
However, I still managed to tell myself that this was a one off experiences of me misunderstanding.

There’s that blindness of privilege again eh?

A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY

Fast forward a couple of months to Harlem – grab a coffee and walk to the station to head Downtown. Ironically I was on route to give a talk to Families in Global Transition Tri state affiliate about identity, belonging and the biases we hold.

I’m feeling confident as I walk. Slightly excited at being here. Yeah I’m in Harlem. I’ve always wanted to come here. I’m an ally. I want to show support.

My naivety hit me hard. I smiled at people. Nobody gave a crap.
In fact it felt the opposite. It felt hostile.

And there were two hostilities, but I realised that they were both inside of me.

The first? I was desperately uncomfortable and trying to not look privileged. I couldn’t hide it. I’m a white woman walking down a street called Malcolm X Boulevard. That’s enough.

And second, (now I’m really trusting you with this), it became apparent to me how different my body felt when I walked past Black men. It hesitated and it felt anxious.

I tried to tell myself that it was because I’m a woman and we’re good at keeping ourselves safe in public, but deep down I knew I wouldn’t have felt it so acutely if they were White men.
I was ashamed and felt awful. I even found myself blaming them for making me feel this way. Nothing like a bit of projection eh? But I did want to understand why my body spoke to me this way.

I’m still wrestling with the why, but what I can offer for now is:

  1. My thoughts about Black people have primarily been developed through White eyes (mine and other people’s)
  2. My life has been very White. Yes, I’ve travelled widely, but observing is not living the truth of someone else’s life
  3. So much of the media talks about crime and social problems in Black communities, when in fact there are also many problems in White communities
  4. Somehow, the biographies and stories I’ve read about Black people, compartmentalise in my brain as separate individual cases, rather than evidence of a greater status quo of discrimination. I mean how much evidence do I need? Seriously? Again. Privilege.

YOU’RE JUDGED FOR BEING WHITE

I was completely ignored as I walked around Harlem. No one smiled at me. No one said anything to me. No one made eye contact of any description. But if you’re White and thinking that’s normal for any city street, watch what happens when you’re next out and about where you live. You receive subtle acknowledgements all the time. A sorry when someone squeezes past you, a quick stare if you’ve got a slogan on your shirt, people stay on the footpath when you walk towards them or they might give you a smile.

I got nothing. Like A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.L.Y nothing.

In shops, the cashier talked to me as in, ‘that’ll be $5.99 thanks’, but if I said anything else it was completely ignored.

I felt like I wasn’t welcome. I wasn’t.

And why should I be? Centuries of slavery, discrimination and aggressions towards Black people and I think I can be welcomed as I venture into their safe spaces? Their communities? The reality was starting to hit me.

The reality hit even harder when I walked down the street with my wife dressed in her clericals. Her Bishop’s collar received welcomed smiles, greetings, Hello Padre – yes, padre! 🙂 In the laundromat where we’d been met with disdain in the morning, we were now offered a staff machine and all the help we needed.

My wife in clericals and me.

Previously, being White was enough to be judged. I hated what my skin represented. I wanted them to know I was different to ‘other white people’, but it didn’t matter. It was irrelevant. I was now experiencing what it was like to be judged for the colour of my skin.
It’s shit by the way.

Having struggled enormously when my wife became a priest (suffice to say, I didn’t like religion much), the irony of her giving me warm passage through the streets of Harlem was not lost on me.

You see, one less barrier existed. One less potential agitation removed. The collar bridged our differences and mutual fears.

I found myself wanting to leave Harlem, because I felt uncomfortable. I wanted to go back to blending. And then it hit me again. Blending is not an option for Black people. Unless they’re in Harlem. And then there’s this stupid White woman walking down the street…..

That’s gonna piss anyone off.
Privilege.

And you know the really awful thing? When I was in Harlem, I wished I had black skin, so I could blend and then I thought about what that really meant outside of Harlem and I didn’t want it.
Not because I think being Black is in anyway ‘less than’, but because I wanted to be accepted and not judged.
Privilege.

REALITY HITS

One of the fun things about New York is all the snippets of conversations you overhear when people walk past talking on their phone.

On this occasion I wish I’d heard differently.
A group of guys sitting on the front steps of a house.
Yeah, he’s dead. They said, ‘Stop! Freeze!’ then shot him. He’s dead.

The laundromat’s bathroom walls

This wasn’t a TV cop show or a social media post that you can distance yourself from.
The reality of their faces said everything.

I was now starting to truly listen. Minute snippets of truth slowly sinking into my tiny brain.

A couple of days later, Atatiana Jefferson was shot in her own home through her bedroom window by a Fort Worth police officer responding to a report that her front door was open. Moments before, she had been playing video games with her nephew, heard a noise and went to the window.

She’s now dead.

Black people are subject to deadly force even when they stay home.
I have never worried for my life when the police come to my home or when they’ve pulled me over in my vehicle. Privilege.

Poignant graffiti on the subway

RELIEF AND GUILT

It became time to move to another hotel Downtown. Synod was over.
I was relieved to be leaving the tension of Harlem.

This relief was also distinctly uncomfortable, because I knew that I could simply walk away from the discomfort I’d felt. It was an easy option for me. I could return to privilege without any effort and if I wanted to, forget about my experience ‘north of Central Park’. I could slip back into the melting pot of New York’s diversity and everything would all be okay again.

But it’s not.

What is not okay is not doing anything about it.

A switch has been turned on and I can’t turn it off.
I don’t want to.

The challenge for me personally is to work out what I’m going to do about it.

It starts with this blog.

In reading Catrice Jackson’s book, I had hoped to be classified as an ‘Advocate’ with the aim of moving to ‘Ally’.

However, my well intentioned, but misguided comment on Linkedin puts me in the Antagonist camp. I am not proud of this. But I’m also not afraid of difficult conversations.

So for me, it’s back to Catrice’s book to learn how to move forward into ‘Advocate’ and ‘Ally’. It’s too important not to.

Who’s with me?
It’s going to take more than one coffee to work through this one.

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Tears in the Bathroom

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Every single time we lump people together, humanity takes another hit.

We lump.
We like to lump because it’s easy.
We lump people together as though we’ve grabbed a bag of oranges and chucked them into our grocery trolley.

A bag of oranges here. A packet of dates there. A box of biscuits.
Different food groups, but all the same within their collective packet.

It’s the reason that supermarkets, haven’t offered (until recently) imperfect fruit and vegetables. We like symmetry and we like to lump together.

We like to lump together when it comes to people too.

We do it with nationalities. We do it with gender. We do it with religion. We do it with….. well, everything.

It’s easy isn’t?
But have you noticed that we only do it when our words have derogatory intent?

When was the last time you heard someone say,
Oh that’s so typical of women to be amazing at juggling family life and work?
or maybe,
Typical men, they’re so good at raising their kids.

Me neither.
We lump together and generalise when we want to slag off or have our misguided judgements confirmed.

Oh yeah, but that’s not always the case I hear you say.
I wouldn’t say that because some guys aren’t great at raising their kids.

You’re right, They’re not, but I challenge you.
Do you afford the same positive variations and distinctions when generalising in a derogatory way?
Do you say, Ah, typical men! or do you pause and say, that’s so typical of a certain type of man?

Generalising Isolates and Incites Hate
I’ve seen it. It’s not pretty. In fact it’s horrid.
Social media is not kind. Faceless ‘warriors’ influencing and creating fear against certain people. Massive generalisations.

Transphobia. Xenaphobia. Islamaphobia…to name a few.

I feel fairly helpless in my ability to affect change. I speak out when I can. I’ve been described as difficult for doing so, BUT:

I have to. I find myself thinking of beautiful moments I’ve had in mosques, of visiting Syria and never feeling so welcome in a country as I did then, of Muslim friends, of reading about women having their hijabs ripped off in the street by strangers or the increase in racism after the Brexit vote…..

and I know that however helpless I feel, I am always in a position to do something positive.

Inclusion and Being a Friendly Face is Not Hard
It’s not till you see someone else’s every day, that you realise the reality of why we need to reach out.

On one of my last trips to the USA I was standing in a slow security queue at an airport. People were starting to get irritated at the delay. The security team were being extra thorough on one person. A muslim woman and her 3 year old child.

People smiled as he played behind her, leaping onto anything he could climb, but at the front of the queue you could have cut the air with a knife. The security guys were doing their best to be polite, but there was a massive elephant in the room, stomping down the conveyor belt.

I swear I heard it blow its trumpet, at least twice. Once when they insisted on putting the woman’s bags through the scanner for a third time and again when they offered to repack her now completely jumbled bags. She fought back tears as she grabbed her bags; all her belongings falling out. No, I’m okay. I’ll pack them myself, she said, clearly desperate to get away from the public spectacle.

It was awful to watch. We all knew why she’d been stopped, but no one said those words…. Muslim woman.

A few minutes later I was in the toilets and realised she was there too.

Excuse me, do you always get that level of detailed checks?

Yes.

That broke me. 
I placed my hand on my heart and through tears said,

I’m sorry that you have to deal with that. It’s not right.

I’m used to it.

You shouldn’t have to put up with that. I’m so sorry and for your children to see it too.

She shrugged,

I’m used to it. It happens all the time.

By now she was crying too. She leant forward to hug me. There we stood in the bathroom, two strangers in tears, hugging each other.

And the incredible thing…?
I spoke to her to give her comfort, but in reality she gave me comfort. That experience of ‘other’ was new to me. THAT reality check of someone else’s life.

How is it that we’ve got to the point where the victim is the one who reassures the privileged? And because they are so used to being treated as ‘the other’, it’s become their normal.

That frightens me.
I do not want to live in that world.

So I’m making a plea. I hope you’ll join me.

Next time you go to generalise, please think of the woman in the toilets.

Please think about the personal impact generalisations have on her and her son – the new generation growing up knowing they are ‘other’.

Please be the person who doesn’t generalise. Please be the person who speaks out.
Please be the person who sees individuals.

Cath x

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Battling To Belong

Have you ever thought, that what’s a one day joke for you, may be somebody else’s everyday of not belonging?

They may offer a smile in an attempt to be accepted and not offend your joke.

But what’s going on inside that person?

Maybe their smile yet again covers the sudden desperate weight in their chest that comes with a ‘joke’. It’s just a joke right?
Banter, we all love banter don’t we? Yeahhh!

Yeahhh?
Watch the video and after you’ve watched it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Cath x