In the Spotlight
BA member Christine Miljkovic
My name is Christine Miljkovic, I am from England and I am 46. Married, with three sons, I returned to live in Singapore for the second time last summer and I would like to share some of my journey with you.
My mother tells me that I have always been determined, even as a young girl, when instead of eating the Marmite sandwiches I didn’t like, I threw them at the wall. My father was in the forces, which meant I have also been a Third Culture Kid and expat child. As children we lived in Germany twice, the UK and Malaysia.
After eleven different schools, I came out with few qualifications, but that never stopped me. As an office junior, at 16, I went to night school computer classes and when the very first word processors came out I loved them. The next twenty-five years were spent in the computer industry as an expert demonstrator and trainer for several UK companies and in my own business for ten years in Singapore and five years in the Netherlands.
I loved my mobile career which fitted in with bringing up my three wonderful sons, Nicholas aged 11, Daniel, 17 and David, 19. I only worked while they were at school, chose my clients and my hours and enjoyed a constant supply of new friends from my client base
I trained people to use various software programmes but also helped my clients clarify their goals, encouraged and supported them and seem to have a gift of inspiring confidence. The people always interested me more than the computers. As my market was mostly expat women I really understood them, being one myself!
As an adult I have lived in England, Russia, The Netherlands and Singapore, where I was a founder member of Primetime, a businesswomen’s networking group which has now been going for fifteen years.
I was also a founder member of a similar initiative in The Netherlands I found out about Life Coaching – and immediately recognised my new goal. Life coaching is about helping people to realise their true potential and supporting them during the process. What better transition for me: all I had to do was take away the computer! I qualified as a Life Coach with the UK Coaching Academy with a distinction and was very pleased with myself.
We arrived back in Singapore last summer. I was so excited to be back and gave myself until Christmas to settle the family, adjust to my oldest son being at university and our new life in Singapore. Being a sociable person, I loved joining groups, getting involved with school, meeting up with many old friends who are still here and making new ones. I have also rejoined the Singapore Flower Club, my favourite place to spend a Friday morning.
I started my new business in January offering Personal Coaching and such workshops as “Harmony in the Home” and “Assertiveness for Women”. I was then asked to write this article for the BA and thought – I am back!
At this point my journey took a small diversion as I have just found out that I have breast cancer!
Having been a positive person my whole life, it is actually very hard to stop. The first thing I did was to ask the doctor if it was alright to still go on holiday to Australia, a few days later. Surprised, he said if I thought I could enjoy it, there would be no harm done by waiting nine days to start my treatment. We had a wonderful time by the beach, the whole family together, including our oldest son, back from university in the UK, relaxing and talking about the changes needed for the next six months.
All I could think was how lucky I was. O.K. nobody actually wants cancer, but here we are sitting pretty in Singapore, my favourite place, with hi-tech, tip-top medical care and private medical insurance (thank goodness). The sun is always shining and I have my cheerful, now fully-trained domestic who can produce some very nice food. My wonderful supportive husband Alec has been to every medical appointment (and believe me there are lots of them). I have two of my lovely boys here to hug whenever I need to, and my oldest son regularly sending emails of his exciting life at Bath University. I have Rexie, our Labrador, who won’t mind walking slightly more slowly in the Botanic Gardens in the mornings. I have my old friends, my new ones, and a constant supply of family members coming to visit me: what more could I ask for?
A lot of us here are permanent expats, so when we get sick it will be when we are ”abroad”, but just look around you and you will find a whole support network waiting. I now feel that all my positive thinking and life coach training can be used on me! Who else could be this prepared?? If anyone else out there is going through a tough time maybe my “Road to Recovery” could help you too.
This is what I intend to do: watch lots of funny DVDs and laugh myself back to health (natural endorphins are released when you laugh that boost your immune system). I have told all my friends about my slight “diversion” and have been receiving positive vibes from all around the world. Whatever the reason, it is so uplifting to hear from all of your friends in a very short period of time. I am creating a vision board, with pictures of all the things I have yet to do. Mine will have a brochure of the Orient Express, a picture of the pyramids, the Northern Lights, a great big sun just because it is cheerful, a picture of me in those lovely evening gowns that I haven’t been able to fit into for a few years, but which I will now be into by Christmas, and a photograph of me in perfect health.
I am putting lots of things in a box that I love to do, read and watch, so if I feel low I can cheer myself up by looking inside and choosing something. I will be setting myself short, medium and long-term goals to keep me motivated and surrounding myself with positive people – nothing new for me, but vital for everyone to do. I will also be asking for help whenever I need it. My excellent oncologist Dr. Tan Yew OO has already introduced me to the Singapore Breast Cancer Foundation chairperson, Catherine Ng, and we intend to help each other. You don’t have to be alone, there is a lot of support around us all, but you have to allow others to give it.
It is so important to keep a positive mental picture of the outcome you want. Even though I know it sounds strange, I am going to enjoy this journey (ok, maybe not every day) but I plan to come out a much stronger person and fully intend to put “survivor” on my next business card. So look out for “Inspire Coaching” later in the year as I will have had plenty of time to fine-tune my courses ready for action.
Please feel free to email me if you know of any funny movies or think that I may be able to help you in some way.
I have now returned to the UK after 27 years overseas. I am 9 years from diagnosis and doing very well.