Mindful Expat Episode 10: Finding Community & Building Authentic Connections on the Move (with Guest: Naomi Hattaway)

Today’s Mindful Expat Guest is Naomi Hattaway!

Naomi is from the United States (originally from Nebraska). She and her husband have 3 children, and together they have lived in New Delhi, India, and Singapore. They’ve now repatriated back to the US — first to Florida, then to Northern Virginia, and now to Columbus, Ohio.

Naomi is the founder of 8th & Home, a real estate and relocation company, where she specializes not only in helping families with the practical details of relocating, but also helps them find and build a true sense of community – where they can really thrive – in their new homes.

Naomi is also the founder of an amazing movement called, “I am a Triangle” (which was the helpful resource that Amel Derragui shared with us back in episode 6!). In 2013, Naomi wrote a blog post, entitled, “I am a Triangle and Other Tips for Repatriation,” where she wrote about her experience of living abroad and repatriating, using the shape of a triangle as a metaphor for her experience – saying that when we come from a country of squares and then we move to a country of circles, each of these experiences and cultures impacts us so that we eventually become a triangle – someone who may not completely fit in in either country. This article quickly went viral because it resonated with so many people, and Naomi has since built a community of fellow Triangles – people who may not feel as if they truly fit in either their passport countries or their host countries, but who find their sense of community and belonging with fellow Triangles.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

• About Naomi’s journey of living abroad and repatriating back to the US — and about some of the unique challenges of repatriation.
• How the “I am a Triangle” movement came to be and the wonderful benefits of connecting with fellow Triangles.
• How focusing on how we can be of service to a new community (rather than focusing on what the community can offer us) can offer a path to belonging in our new homes.
• The importance of vulnerability in allowing us to make authentic, meaningful connections.
• The importance of finding the right balance of in-person vs. online connections (which may be different for each person!).

Resources mentioned in this episode:

• Naomi mentioned concept of Ubuntu and the peace activist Leymah Gbowee, who was the source of the powerful inspirational quote Naomi shared with us — “I am who I am because of who we all are.”
• We discussed the I Am a Triangle Facebook Group, which grew out of Naomi’s original blog post that went viral. As Naomi mentioned, this is a closed Facebook group and there’s a bit of an application process, but please don’t less this intimidate you — if you want to be a part of this amazing community, just request to join, and the group admins will add you.
• As Naomi also mentioned, she’s working on a new platform for the group, that will eventually be at www.iamatriangle.com (coming soon!).
• Naomi also mentioned the TriCONNECT Groups, which are local chapters of global “I Am a Triangle” community that actually meet up in person. To learn more about these local groups and to find out if there is a TriCONNECT Group in your area, join the main Facebook group and post a question to the group (or check out the “Files” tab for more information). And if there isn’t already one in your area, maybe you’d like to volunteer to start one yourself!
• Naomi mentioned the “Buddy Bench” that was developed at her kids’ former elementary school (such a cool idea!).
• We also mentioned some of Brené Brown’s work on the power of vulnerability. To learn more about some of her books, please visit this page.
• We also discussed a cartoon video that has been made from one of Brené Brown’s speeches about the difference between empathy and sympathy (we made references to jumping into a hole and eating a sandwich with the bear — to understand what we’re talking about, check out the video here).
• Naomi also mentioned a resource called Future Me, where you can write emails to your future self!
• That made me go off on a tangent about the Seinfeld episode about Night Jerry and Morning Jerry — and this idea of having compassion for our future selves. (And here’s a great article from the Atlantic on this exact subject.)
• Naomi mentioned the book, This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, by Melody Warnick, as a wonderful resource.
• Finally, Naomi also recommended the Families in Global Transitions (FIGT) organization as a helpful resource — this is the conference that we both attended in late March and that I mentioned last week (in episode 9).

More about Naomi and how to follow up with her:

To learn more about Naomi, you can visit her website at www.naomihattaway.com (where you can also find her blog).

You can also follow Naomi on Instagram at therelocationexpert, on Facebook at NaomiHattawayDotCom, or on Twitter at @Naomi_Hattaway.

To learn more about the I Am a Triangle movement, join the Facebook group and check out the new platform at www.iamatriangle.com (coming soon!).

To learn more about Naomi’s real estate and relocation work, you can visit her professional website at www.8thandhome.com.

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