Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Far from home - Paperclipping Roundtable

*** Edited - I added pictures of pages to document your life abroad (or not). The pages are so old that I had to take new pictures of them. :)

Hi everyone!

I've been invited to be part of the Paperclipping Roundtable. It was such a surprise. Can you imagine being on a tv show with all your favorite stars?? How would you feel? Well, that's how I felt when I received Noell's invitation! :) Thanks for having me Noell and Izzy!!

The topic seemed exactly right for me: We would talk about how scrapbooking can help when a family feels rootlesness and restlessness that can result from moving far away. And if you know me, you will guess that after being 2 hours on skype with Noell, Izzy and Tiffany, I still have a lot to say. ;)

So here you have the untold.....

Just to bring back what I have already said 2 times (lol Really got to work on expressing my ideas in a better way!) here is my journey:

1998 - left for 3 months in Vancouver. That's where I met my husband
1999 - Left for good for Switzerland (after spending a couple of months in Switzerland already in 1998 to see if it could work)
2003 - After having learn germans and swiss german, I decided it was time for me to go back home and  "become someday" so I went to university and studied Teacher for french as a second language
2007 - Studies were over, I went back to Switzerland although I had promise I wouldn't do that. Love makes you do inexplicable things sometimes. My diploma as a french teacher wasn't recognized so I decided it was time to start a family. (I became a scrapbooker at the same time!)
2008 - birth of my first daughter, Arielle
2010 - birth of my second daughter, Maya AND move to CT, USA

Now to the subject:

How can scrapbooking help highly mobile families adapt to the challenges they are going through, process their experience and document their extraordinary lives?

First I think that as a scrapbooker and as an artist, we see the world in a whole other light. We seek the beautiful, look for the good, and take time to see little things that other non-scrapbooking people would overlook. That's already something right there. It's more fun and easy to adapt to a new country when we are looking for things (no matter what the things are) and when we are trying to make connections and comparisons between what we know and what stands before us now.

In my situation, I used scrapbooking mainly to process the challenges I was going through and also to document.

How did I process? I talked about things that where bothering me. Things that were making me sad. Not really about the country itself, but mainly about my whole situation of being far from where I wanted to be and far from the people I loved and who loved me most I guess. It was very hard for me to become a mom far away from my own mom. On a page I made called "it's hard to be a good mom", I talk about the challenges that come with becoming a mom, but also about the challenges I personally had to face without anyone to back me up and to love me and give me strength. I had my husband, of, course, but that's it. And I was feeling very lonely and restless.

I also did a page after my second child was born, when my mom who had stayed with us for 6 weeks (big help, can't be thankful enough!!!) had to finally leave. I was so sad. I knew I would have to do the rest by my self. No quick hello to mom here and there, have her come by so that I can quickly shower, or even bring me a hot meal...no, for me it's either 6 weeks with her days and nights, OR nothing at all (except maybe a phone call here and there). In that we, "we" are not very "normal". Here's my layout I made when she had to go. I cried while doing it!!

Title: Oh, no! Is it really time to leave?

Thankfully we moved to the USA shortly after that and I could see her again, more regularly. There wasn't a 8hours flight between us anymore.

I already talked a bit about the language barrier. As Noell said, eventhough it's "only" an accent and a couple of words that make you different, it is tough to be different. And to be reminded all the time! I remember when I was just beginning living in Switzerland, I took the plane to go back home on vacation, and the plane was full of french speaking swiss who were telling to their neighbors: you'll see, you won't understand A thing of what they say. I mean come on....! They were clearly no third culture kids! So just to show you, here's the page I made about the difference in the language:

First I explained a bit how I felt with all the fuss going on around the way I was pronouncing the words and using them and then I made a list of all the words that were not french that the swiss use and I translated it in french next to it. I only did this at the end of my stay, when I knew I was leaving in a couple of weeks.

I also wanted to talk about the page I made when I heard the news that yes, we were finally leaving! It is called Turning Point and it's a long text about how I felt. On one side there was the good, on the other, the fears..... I paired it with photos of our friends that we were leaving behind (beside the chocolate, that was the most difficult part for me, leaving some friends behind). You see, I was still in Switzerland when I made this layout, but in my heart I had already moved on and I had turn the pictures in sepia.... as in "these are from my past".

Lately I made a page about all our moves, to try and consolidate my journey in my head. We moved so many times that it's hard to follow.

What I liek to do NOT TO GET ROOTLESS is to revisit my past, my culture, the people I love and the people for whom I am just enough exactly the way I am. This layout helps me to remember where I come from and to stay connected:

Title: Going to Quebec is fun because...

Scrapbooking is also awesome because it helps you remember longer. I have thing that I remember from when I was 2 or 3, and most of them are things that I have photos of. I am convinced that a picture helps you remember things, events and people way longer. If you scrapbook them, the memory holds way longer because you sit with the subject and look at it in many ways, work with it, figure out what's the best way to present it...in other words, you work with it. Every scrapbooked memory is somehow carved in you. I'm 100% sure of that!

This being said, I've always taken lots of photos of my daughters when they see their cousin because I find it crucial that they continue to see them, just like Tiffany was saying. Even if it's only a picture, it helps the bonding to continue to grow. So I did a page called "It's chemistry" and it's about Arielle meeting her cousins for the 2nd or 3rd times et be very close too each-other.

And this is the page I made looking back very positively at the country when I heard that we were definitely moving out. This is a good way to connect to a country. I did it while leaving, but one could do it shortly after moving to a new country. Write ten positive points.

Title: The Switzerland I want to remember.

Something else I had to do to prevent rootlessness was to make my daughter a mini album containing her story. Even though she was only 2, she was asking things like: when are we going back home?  I'll talk about this mini-ablum one more in detail some other day, soon.

Here are a couple more ides to create a page that document your memories.

1. one day in my life

(This is one of my first scrapbook pages I made. It was part of Ali Edwards' class Yesterday and Today and it really shows a huge difference in my life then, when I had just go back to Switzerland and have my first baby, was feeling alone, and home sick all the time, our small apartment, our connection with my mom through Skype, my friend from Japan that I had just met, Keiko. It's incredible the amount of memories this page holds. I think if there is only one page to make per month or 2 months, we could always do a page like this one and it would be AWESOME!!)

2. Right now I see, do, eat, go, wish, dream of.....

(This is another one of my first ever scrapbooking pages and was also part of Yesterday and Today's class from Ali Edwards. I took 11 action words - love, eat, see, have, live, think, play, dream, am, make, go - and I matched one picture to each word, and added 3 things to this action word. It seems so long ago!! I was addicted to video games and wishing I could stop (I DID!), I was dreaming of being able to see my family when I want it, not once a year or even less (I have it!), I was starting making cards and scrapbooking, I was going to my parent's new house and my new home in Canada when I visit them, I was on the floor, playing with my daughter, all the time!!! Times have changed! I think I'll have to make a new page like this one really soon!!!)

3. I see myself..... cooking, giving a bath, being pregnant, etc.

 (This is also an awesome page, also from Ali's class Yesterday and Today - I highly recommend the class if it's still available on Big Picture - register from the Paperclipping's affiliate link please! So it's a page similar to the week in the life, but only with one picture per day. I love this page because it shows what I was doing on a day to day basis as a young mother living abroad. There you have the (tiny!) bathroom we were talking about on the show, and you have my kitchen with about 2 doors to store my dishes (!! I had to by 2 cabinets to fit my kitchen stuff in it. You should have seen the look on the face of the guys who moved these cabinets to the US. They never saw so many cabinets in one move!! lol. It also shows our family of 3, and me pregnant of my 2nd baby. :) It's really an awesome age full of memories.)

Leaving a country, even if it's not yours, is hard. It's a big change, with lots of new thing to learn and tough things to go through.

What stays after that, well, I think the life that happened can't be erased by painting happy memories over the bad things....but in the moment, it did really help me process my emotions and fight my fears and uncertainty.

If you are in my situation, if you have moved a lot, lived in different country (or countries even!), I'd love to hear from you!! Tell me about where you lived, how you lived it and how scrapbooking helped you. I would really love to exchange with people like me. :)

Not long ago we met some new friends who are is the same situation as us. The are from Quebec and they lived in France and UK and are now in the US and they were telling us: Being an expat sounds so much more glamorous than it really is. ...

Thanks for stoping by today and I hope to hear from you. Every comment would make me very happy!! :)


*** Avis aux francophones: Si ce que j'ai à dire vous intéresse, vous serez sans doute ravie par mon cours Il Était Une Fois MOI?! Allez vous inscrire et c'est avec plaisir qu'on se revoit le 15 octobre!! :)


Katie Scott Scrapbooking said...

Marie-Piere! Your pages are so delightful and happy feeling! And I loved getting to know you better via hearing you on Paperclipping! :) Katie.

Marie-Pierre Capistran said...

Thnks so much for your nice comment Katie!! :) I think you missed 3 "new" pages that I was adding to the post while you were reading. ;) Talk to you again soon! :D

Rosann said...

Thank you for sharing your story on PRT. I was listening this morning during my commute and I thought it was so wonderful to hear about your experiences and process. I know it is nowhere near the same but I think the things you experienced are equally common "at home." I live in NYC and it is a true metropolis with folks from everywhere, but once you leave the city the rest of the state is very different. Even within the 5 boros of NY you see differences in accents and how neighborhoods are set up. You can't go to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx with a Mets shirt on or vice versa and both teams are NYC teams. LOL. But again, thank you for your insight and candor. Good luck in CT.

Marie-Pierre Capistran said...

Thanks so much Rosann!!! :) It's relly lovely to have feedback from the podcast and to have people who share experiences like this. I think there might be more people experiencing those cultural differences in their daily lives than we think! With technologies, and flying being so accessible, the world is becoming smaller and smaller each day. Thank you very much for commenting on my blog. :)

Charline said...

Si ça peut t'encourager: j'ai fait 6 mois à Paris puis 1 an études en Autriche. De retour au Québec environ 1 an puis départ pour Toronto. Puis Montréal puis retour à Québec. J'y ai accouché 2 semaines plus tard. Maintenant, nous ne voulions plus bouger. Et j'ai eu le mal du pays en revenant d'Autriche!!!

Marie-Pierre Capistran said...

Charline, le mal du pays en revenant d'Autriche?? Tu as donc aimé l'Autriche, c'est ça?? Tu étais où?? Et là tu te sens chez toi? Je pense que d'avoir sa famille proche de soi, c'est vraiment bien. Ici aux États-Unis, même si les gens sont techniquement dans leur pays, ils sont tous un peu partout dans le pays et doivent prendre l'avion pour voir leur famille et pour être tous réunis. C'est vraiment pas évident, mais ça semble être une réalité. As-tu écouté le podcast? C'était comment?? :) Merci pour ton commentaire. xxx

Charline said...

J'étais a Vienne non je ne l'ai pas encore écouté mais sur ma liste