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Sitting in the ‘free-from’ aisle

Just like the ‘free-from’ section in the supermarket, this blog is free from mentioning Coronovirus, other than that one time just back there…. 9 words back… and now, we’ve got another additional 8 words under our belts. See, we’re stepping away fast. You’ve almost forgotten I even said anything right? Phew!

By now, we have firmly taken up position in front of the ‘free-from’ section and depending on where you live in the world, you will have an wonderful range of free-from food (no gluten/dairy/wheat/soya etc) or maybe….. precisely, none? With any luck, ‘none’ is not a bad thing, but actually the best fresh produce available before you.

I’m fascinated with how ‘none’ is often equated with ‘less than’. Why is it that we see the world through that lens, when ‘none’ can also mean ‘nothing’, as in a clean slate, a chance to write the next chapter of your life?

Can you think of examples in your own life, where your ‘none’ or ‘free-from’ has actually enabled you to start something fresh? To completely craft a beautifully crisp blank page…..

Going without can be tough though.
Without, also means getting used to something new. It speaks of adaptation – whether you’re ready or not. It whispers, or more often than we care to acknowledge, knocks us off our feet, as we are confronted with a new scenario.

Adapting and Transition – expats and migrants are good at this stuff. It’s what we do.

How do you think you might cope in the following three scenarios as presented in my book Living Elsewhere?


No work? Yay! right?
Not really. Work provides us with routine, money, purpose, mental stimulation and lots more. Without it we can feel lost. If you have worked your whole life, suddenly not working may require you to discover new strategies to adjust.


Normal tasks become mental mind games and can make simple day to day activities completely nerve-wracking.


Sometimes it’s all too much and we get knocked off our feet.

From Without to Within

So if you haven’t got an expat/immigrant friend or family member to ask their advice, here’s some insights into how we go from a feeling of WITHOUT to being content WITHIN?

It’s all about developing strategies.

Whilst there are 272 million people living temporarily or permanently outside of the country of their citizenship,* I can only talk about one.


I want to be authentic and mine is the only experience I can vouch for. Here you are.

Strategies à la Cath Brew:

* Keep your own culture alive within your new environment
* Maintain friendships regardless of country borders
* Belong by being your authentic self
* Take belongings with you that are emotionally important. You will need them to bolster you on down days
* Try not to compare the place you came from with the new place. They are different and they’re meant to be
* Find ‘your tribe’ and establish a network of people who understand your challenges.
* Continue to practice your passions. If you’re not able to do them exactly as you’d hoped, find a way to do them from a different angle. * Feed the need creatively.
* Seek professional and medical help if you need it. I did and I did need it.

Where can I buy Living Elsewhere?
Get your copy from Amazon or The Book Depository.

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