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Inspiring Women February 2023

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A defining moment<br />

in my life<br />

When I first arrived in<br />

the UK, I spent time<br />

battling with the<br />

differences between<br />

how things were done<br />

in England versus<br />

America. So many<br />

things seemed<br />

nonsensical to me and<br />

I told everyone so! At<br />

a company party, a<br />

kind lady told me that<br />

I wouldn’t change the<br />

way Brits do things so<br />

perhaps it would be<br />

easier if I made the<br />

adjustment. I did and life was much better. I<br />

learned that my way was not the only way!<br />

The realities of life as an expat<br />

An issue for all expats is that your heart is<br />

constantly torn in two different directions. I<br />

think most people living away from their<br />

homeland have challenges. Initially, it’s<br />

overcoming the difference in culture, food,<br />

language etc. But as you mature, you realize you<br />

are missing the everyday happenings of your<br />

nephews, your sister’s birthdays, family<br />

gatherings and the little things you used to take<br />

for granted. As you age, so do your parents and<br />

it is a real struggle to be so far away when they<br />

are ailing and need care. I was abroad both<br />

times when my parents passed away. It was sad<br />

but a reality of an overseas life.<br />

Measuring life’s successes<br />

As you age, you discover fairly quickly that the<br />

bank balance isn’t the measure of success.<br />

It’s nice not to have to worry about whether<br />

or not you can feed your family, but success is<br />

helping those who can’t. It’s about having your<br />

kids’ school friends still keeping in touch and<br />

remembering the time when you did something<br />

for them. Or a Girl Scout from your Troop 35<br />

years ago winning a gold medal in the Olympics<br />

and telling you that she’ll never forget you. Or<br />

someone thanking you for passing on all your<br />

twin clothes to them when you had completely<br />

forgotten about it. It’s posting 2000 collected<br />

bras that will help someone in Africa escape<br />

the sex trade. That is my definition of<br />

success and happiness.<br />

Breaking stereotypes<br />

One time in high school I was sliding down<br />

the stair banister and the principal caught<br />

me. He said “Miss Meyer, walk up those<br />

stairs and walk back down like a lady.”<br />

There were pretty definite ideas in the<br />

1970s of what a lady does and doesn’t do.<br />

In fact, I liked not fitting into the lady<br />

stereotype. Unlike my fellow classmates<br />

who wore swirling chiffon bridesmaid<br />

dresses to the senior prom, I wore a<br />

purple tropical print which was slit up to<br />

the waist with hot pants underneath. I<br />

liked being a pilot at 16, having my own<br />

motorcycle and being the first and only<br />

Melissa, her husband and their<br />

daughters (above)<br />

Showing off my new toy! (left)<br />

female Sales Rep for PVC in the USA (at the<br />

time). And now I am enjoying being involved<br />

in the City of London livery companies as the<br />

odd American.<br />

The women of FAWCO<br />

The quality of the women I meet through<br />

FAWCO and the various clubs around the world<br />

continually surprises me. They are filled with<br />

multi-talented ladies who are really making a<br />

difference in the world. They care deeply and<br />

give their time and talents free of charge to<br />

make this planet a better place.<br />

Embracing “maturity”<br />

I am loving this stage of my life! With my<br />

children all out forging their own paths in<br />

life, I don’t have to worry about school buses,<br />

schedules or school holidays. There is a lovely<br />

freedom about this age! I’m sure this has<br />

been mentioned before but the brain doesn’t<br />

register that you’re old. People see the<br />

gray hair (skipping the salon dying every<br />

six weeks is great!) and they see an old<br />

lady. But you don’t see yourself that way.<br />

I will confess that I phoned my husband<br />

in tears the first time someone gave up<br />

their seat on the Tube for me.<br />

You go to a 50th class reunion (which<br />

I recently did) and you’re amazed at<br />

how old your classmates are! You still<br />

think the same way but the body doesn’t<br />

keep up. Fortunately, I am still in fairly<br />

good health, and it's lovely to be able<br />

to travel and go out when I like. It’s also<br />

very freeing to say exactly what you think<br />

and not worry that they won’t “like” me<br />

if they disagree. Some of the funnier<br />

things I have noticed is that people are<br />

surprised when you say something<br />

amusing. They assume older people have<br />

no senses of humor!<br />

It’s also precious to have time with my<br />

husband now that he has retired. His job<br />

demanded a lot of travel so it’s lovely for<br />

both of us to be together. The biggest<br />

perk of this stage is not having to set an<br />

alarm clock!<br />

What would my 25- year -old self think<br />

of me today?<br />

I don’t think she’d be surprised at all. I<br />

always thought I would marry a foreigner<br />

(no idea why) and live abroad. Okay,<br />

having twins wouldn’t have been on my<br />

radar as there are none in the family, but that I<br />

view as the off chance of winning the lottery. I<br />

also, again with no reason, thought I would not<br />

live beyond 40 years. So in my mind, this past<br />

quarter century has been a real bonus!<br />

Losing patience with things as I age<br />

I have no patience for inconsideration, rudeness<br />

and bad manners. I’m not sure if that's a<br />

maturity thing or not, as I have always been<br />

put off by people throwing garbage out their<br />

car windows, little kids screaming in a posh<br />

restaurant when we all know they’d be happier<br />

in McDonalds or people not taking time to<br />

say thank you. I think the world needs more<br />

kindness and it doesn’t cost anyone anything<br />

to spread it around.<br />

The Existential<br />

Traveller<br />

Bridging Borders since 1984<br />

Explore your dreams…<br />

Enhance your mind…<br />

Enrich your soul…<br />

Why US?<br />

Local Expertise<br />

• We are personally connected to the places you’ll visit.<br />

• We are committed to preserving environmental integrity and<br />

to supporting local economies.<br />

• We are dedicated to your enjoyment and pleasure<br />

For More Information:<br />

Contact: Linda Johnson, FAUSA member<br />

linda@theexistentialtraveller.club<br />

Phone: +212693842357<br />

Special Tours available for FAWCO Clubs! Contact Us<br />

50 INSPIRING WOMEN INSPIRING WOMEN 51

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