Tag Archives: transitions

Monday Morning Moment – Strengthening Decision-making with Collaborative Conversations

Blog - Collaborative ConversationsPhoto Credit: AJCarlisle.files.wordpress.com

[Adapted from the Archives]

Change is normal, and resisting change is normal as well. You may be part of an organization or company where sweeping changes are being implemented, even this week. Or maybe you are not on the inside loop of these decisions, so you are not privy to the change coming. Whether you are part of that process or not, consider how you might have a role in making change work, in your sphere of influence, among your colleagues.

You may already have read and profited from the book Crucial Conversations. Now consider collaborative conversations. Collaboration, simply defined, is “working together towards shared goals”. Collaborative conversations bring a collective intelligence to bear on the problem to be solved, vision to be defined, or direction to be changed.Blog - Collaborative ConversationsPhoto Credit: ThoughtFarmer.com

David Perkins, a Harvard professor, wrote about collaborative conversations in the workplace, using the metaphor of King Arthur’s round table. He described the beneficial nature of bringing several principal players (or stakeholders) to the table and treating each one with an equal or autonomous voice.

Perkins’ book King Arthur’s Round Table: How Collaborative Conversations Create Smart Organizations is a tremendous resource in developing this kind of decision-making work environment. An Executive Book Summary* can help you get started.

“A round table makes it a little easier to pool mental effort. A round table makes a group a little more intelligent…For a group to display intelligence in a sustained way, the members have to value their exchanges and stick together to keep making them. This depends on positive symbolic conduct [side messages sent by our words and behavior]…and collaboration… It’s not ideas, but people with ideas that make things happen.”David Perkins

“One of the simplest ways to immunize a culture against broken trust, corruption, and animosity is to build a common vision.”David Perkins

I personally thrive in such a setting and intuitively understand the value-adding nature of collaborative conversations. In researching this workplace topic, and choosing the links below, I came across a fascinating paper** by Heather Davis, a professor of RMIT University Australia.

Davis presented her paper at the 14th International Conference on Thinking (2009, Malaysia). She discussed how workplace leaders often choose “languages of war” in making and communicating decisions and creating change. Her paper is heady stuff but if you read her thoughts below you will want to read the whole paper. It gives huge support to the role of collaborative conversations.

“In [leadership’s] ‘language of zealous allegiance’, there are expectations of allegiance [in the workplace] that lay a path for uncritical acceptance and passivity. This manifests in an expectation that followers be conscripted wholly to the cause. There is little room for questioning. ‘Conscription means one important thing: there is no questioning of orders, one only executes them; “either you’re with us or you’re against us”.’ “

“Rhetoric plays out in the workplace too and can be tested by how well leaders:

  • hear and acknowledge the ‘other’ point of view,
  • see the ‘other’ as people rather than pawns or simply abstractions,
  • manage the distance, materially and metaphorically, between themselves and the people and sites affected by their decisions.”

“In the corporate world there are many examples of executives living and working in gated communities or otherwise removed by dint of corporate hierarchy or geography from the people and conditions affected by their decisions. Often, these leaders are also surrounded by people who can only agree, leading to little opportunity for double loop learning or deeply reasoned decision making processes. Whether our leaders live in gated communities is their business, but if they think, work and take refuge within a ‘gated’ mindset then we all need to be concerned. These conditions lead to hubris and have been the undoing of many leaders and corporations.”

The role of the organisation is ‘to know its purpose and not be diverted from it’ (Drucker, 1993). This is a timely reminder here – easier said than done in times of flux, complexity and discontinuous change.”

“The main difference between Perkins’ languages of war and peace are that the war metaphor is founded on exclusivity and a preference for limiting discourse to its [leadership’s] own narrowly defined boundaries. Perkins’s peace metaphor is founded on inclusivity and opening up the space for conversations and conflicting views [i.e., collaborative conversations].”

“Oppositional language and the pitting of one deeply held worldview against another will not lead to resolving the underlying problems of the workplace. Rather, space for conversations to surface underlying assumptions is required. Perkins’ language of peace metaphor confirms that that there are always other lenses to view the world through, not just the one that [leadership] prefers.”Heather Davis

Provocative reading from this Australian educator.

Bottom line: Those of us in leadership carry a great burden of responsibility. We at times must make difficult and sometimes painful decisions. Adding voices to that decision-making can generate even more challenging processes to negotiate. However, we will make more sustainable decisions for “better futures” if we bring those most affected (or most experienced or insightful) to the table. Whenever possible. That’s the gain of collaborative conversations – working together toward shared vision and shared ownership.

Stay engaged in your workplace. Don’t entertain indifference. Stay in the conversation. You can make a difference.

*King Arthur’s Round TableHow Collaborative Conversations Create Smart Organizations by David Perkins – an Executive Book Summary

**Troubling Invisible Barriers to Better Futures: Surfacing the “Five Languages of War” in the Workplace – a scholarly paper by Heather Davis, presented at the 14th International Conference on Thinking

Leadership Lessons from King Arthur – a Review of Harvard Professor David Perkins’ book King Arthur’s Round Table

The Five Literacies of Global Leadership – What Authentic Leaders Know and You Need to Find Out – by David Hames – Business Book Summary

The Perils of Indifference – a Speech by Elie Wiesel

How to Lead When Change is the New Normal – Emer Coleman

The Art of Collaboration (Collaborative Behaviors) – by Steve Dale (includes a SlideShare)

Collaboration: What Does It Really Mean? – Carlos Dominguez

What Is a Coaching Conversation? from Opening the Door to Coaching Conversations by Linda Gross Cheliotes and Marceta Fleming Reilly 

Cutting Through the Hype – What “Collaboration” Really Means – ThoughtFarmer.com

5 Choices You’ll Regret Forever – Travis Bradberry

Monday Morning Moment – Taking the Social Capital Challenge – 5 Steps Forward

Photo Credit: Pixabay

You know that experience of events converging and what was foggy before becomes crystal clear? I just had that kind of week. A series of non-random things happened that caused a chain reaction of a magnitude that launched me out of my  creative doldrums.

Here’s what happened.

Backtracking a bit, I’ve been thinking solidly for several weeks on social capital – what kind of resource that is and what it takes to have it (or restore it).

Social capital is the willingness of people to help each other. It often replaces money which people would use to buy the same help. Most ways of measuring social capital have to do with trust – people who trust that favors and help will be available when they need it will favor and help others more. Social capital is a lot like real capital. Simple English Wikipedia

I wrote about social capital twice – here and here. After posting that last blog, the following events had huge impact on how I’ve been doing life.

  1. The right book landed in my hands. Literally.

It was Jeff Goins‘ latest book that was just released. His 5th book and already a best-seller, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age came in the mail.

I tore into it and was so encouraged and empowered by his stories and counsel for artists, like him. No, not like him in the best-selling author part…but like him in the before “possibility-season” of his life.

In Real Artists Don’t Starve, Goins gives 12 principles of how to actually be effective and successful as a creator (whether it’s music, writing, painting, or any other creative work). Reading his principles and the stories of artists and crafters through history give not only hope but tools through which we can make a living with our craft.Photo Credit: Jeff Goins

Book Marketing 101: What Works and What Doesn’t (Lessons From My Latest Launch) – Jeff Goins

2) Significant conversations followed. After posting my last blog, a writer acquaintance suggested we get together. Ann Lovell is a seasoned writer and currently employed as a Communications Director. Not only that, she continues busy with her own writing and is editing the manuscript of another incredible author. We talked about writing, and she offered her help. That was huge for me and right out of Jeff Goins’ book. Then another author friend Kevin Prewett with whom I share workspace some weeks also gifted me with good and thought-provoking questions about my writing. So helpful. Finally, through one more conversation, I realized how my own focus had been more on guiding and encouraging younger  writers and artists around me without noticing my own craft had gone untended. That conversation, with our guitarist son Nathan Mills,   was much illuminating. This time I benefited from a younger artist.

Significant conversations all.

3) A “Come to Jesus Moment” happened with my best friend. The one person in my life who has read all the blogs and has celebrated every high and encouraged me through every low is that husband and friend of mine, Dave. I am sometimes guilty of giving counsel too quickly (ok, advice…really. Unasked for advice. Dang it!). It’s much easier to look in others’ lives and suggest a small tweak than to face full on what totally needs rerouting in our own lives. In the last couple of years, taking early retirement and being too much on the outside looking in, I have time to come up with a prescription for anyone else’s problem. [Yes…guilty.] Not that I’m wrong, necessarily, but the situation is not mine. Most probably, Dave, or Nathan, or whomever it might be knows far more about where he/she is on that trajectory toward next steps than I could possibly conjecture. So here’s the “Come to Jesus Moment”. Over the weekend, Dave and I were talking about this season of life. We resonated together about lost social capital…those strong influencer groups with whom we once were a part and now not so much. In that brief conversation, when I would usually cheer on Dave to rally, the proverbial light bulb went off. Not just for him but for me as well. It is still possible to reclaim ground lost. Now was the time to act.

4) I applied for a job. I’d been toying with this for awhile. Until my dad died, I was making so many trips to help care for him, it seemed impossible for me to work anywhere. I would toss around options with family and friends (teaching ESL, hospice, school nursing), but nothing seemed to fit. Then for several months, I would hear of friends being hired into the coolest jobs and struggled to have unreserved joy for them. It was time for me to either continue with contentment in my current state of not working or take aim in one direction or another and do something. One job caught my eye. One job. I did the hours of updating my resume, pulling together samples of my writing, and crafting a cover letter. If I don’t get that job, I’ll apply for another.

5) I took the Social Capital Challenge.  A couple of months ago, I discovered Jordan Harbinger online. He writes and podcasts for a website called The Art of Charm. He invites his readers/listeners to something called a social capital challenge. I signed on…weeks ago for a month-long challenge…and then did nothing.

Photo Credit: Screen Shot – Art of Charm

Until today…

Today I created a written goal and posted it somewhere public.

I joined the Facebook page for The Art of Charm Challenge just now, and here was my first posting.

“Hello, everyone. I signed up for the challenge weeks ago. Even though its email reminders, baby to bigger steps, have been feeding my inbox, I wouldn’t even open them. Until today. Today I am ready. My goal is to have a manuscript with the art work publish-ready by the end of the year. My co-author and I had our first sit-down today, to share story idea and flesh it out some and to do the beginning photographer for the illustrator. Whew! There it is.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay, Jess_the_VA

I’m taking a deep breath…and we’ll see where this all lands. Whatever lies ahead, I’m so grateful for good counsel, courageous and creative friends and family, and clarity. It’s a very good Monday.

Monday Morning Moment – Social Capital – an Invaluable Resource We Can Develop – and a Tool to Help – Deb Mills Writer

Monday Morning Moment – When Connections Are Lost – a Rant, a Resolve, and a Request – Deb Mills Writer

6 Things You Need to recover From Every Day – Benjamin P. Hardy

Social Capital Challenge – The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger – The Art of Charm – Twitter

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age – Jeff Goins

6 Things You Need to Recover From Every Day – Benjamin P. Hardy

28 Lessons From Great Writers, Artists, and Creators on Mastering Your Craft – Ryan Holiday

The Whuffie Factor – Tara Hunt

Love Notes – A Family Tradition – Started by Our Mom

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From the Archives

[On the eve of what would have been my Mom’s 89th birthday, I want to look back a bit to one of the sweetest customs she had – leaving love notes hidden to encourage us in her absence. She still encourages us…even in her absence. Love you, Mom.]Blog - Mom

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11

Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.Hebrews 3:13

Our family has never lived close to the grandparents. This was never easy…for any of us. Before I married, I did live close to home, and my mom was my best friend. She died several years ago, and I often say to people who knew her that “when I grow up, I want to be just like her.” Still working on that.

Mom and I shared a weakness for words…they are probably excessively important to us, delivering both positive and (sometimes) negative weight. She was an amazing encourager. She rarely missed an opportunity to lift another’s spirit or to speak loving truth to someone desperate for God’s touch.

When I moved away to take a teaching job, she and my dad helped me move. New Haven, Connecticut was a 2-day drive from Georgia. It’s the farthest I had ever wandered from home. She stayed a week to help me settle in.  While there, she was such great company. We explored the city together and laughed over a new culture and cried at the missing that was ahead for us.

She filled my freezer with her baking, and, while I was at work, she wrote notes. Then she hid them everywhere. After she flew home, I began finding them. In my coffee mug. Under my pillow. In the pocket of my coat. Among my reference books. Behind my music on the piano. She was with me in the love notes she left, and it made the distance between us…less.

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My mom and I also had a weakness for bits of paper. I kept every one of her notes. These from that move over 30 years ago are fading…red ink on pink paper. There are a lifetime of notes between my mom and me. The tradition she started on that first move has become a life-long tradition for our family. Our visits back and forth, across the US and then the globe, have been papered by these little notes.

Our children, from the time they could write, entered into this tradition much to the joy of their grandparents. Before we would leave again, these three young ones would write of their affection for their grandparents and hide them all over their houses. I delighted in their cooperation in this conspiracy of love.

Mom always wrote notes…not just to us but to so many. She and her Sunday School Class ladies would send cards every week to the sick ones or the sad ones. She had a special burden for the elderly, for widows (including functional widows, deserted by husbands) and for fatherless children (again including those “orphaned” by still-living fathers). She inspired me by her humble ambition .

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27

I am so thankful for my mom’s bits of paper…for her love…and for her perseverance in encouraging and serving others. Her generation is aging, and it is for us to pick up these traditions and pass them on somehow to the next generations…Maybe there won’t be bits of paper or love notes like in the past. I do hope we still take the time to write. Definitely, the call to serve and to encourage is as current as today. My life continues to be rich with those, young and old, who reach out to those around them with words of affirmation and kindness. Written or not, they are love notes to my heart.

Thanks, Mom. Thank God for you.

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The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

Blog - Mom and nathan

Monday Morning Moment – Change at Work – Moving Forward and Letting Go of the Past

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For two years, I had the extraordinary experience of writing for a work team put together by the president of a company to develop something really new. It was a phenomenal and humbling experience for me to observe a small and capable team taking a vision and fleshing it out for the broadest application possible.

The conference room had whiteboard walls where big ideas and wild possibilities were sketched out. Then the conversations expanded, adaptations were made, others (both inside the company and out) added ideas, and a process was born that could have tremendous impact on the company’s overall mission.IMG_3140

However…things can change. The budget tightens; the team breaks up; the company gets sold. Or maybe it just wasn’t the right time. Sometimes, a work has to be put on hold or transferred to the hands of another team or… fill in the blank.

One by one, the members of the team take other jobs, retire, or move into other assignments within the company. It happens.

The white boards go white again. The cubicles are cleaned out. The name cards are removed. The phones ring elsewhere. The mail is diverted to other places. IMG_3122IMG_3120IMG_3121IMG_3138

Is it as if this great creative thing never happened? Absolutely not!

One day, it will be the next right time, with the next adequate resources, and with the next trusted team. Never having to start at ground zero again…because of this team…and this time…and the work brilliantly accomplished together.

Moving Forward (2)

Somebody will always be the last person out, but each takes their memories with them…their experience…the wisdom gained…the relationships. Those are not left behind or placed in boxes. Those intangibles are the most real gains of our work lives.IMG_3128

In the long-running TV comedy series, The Office, Dwight Schrute watered the plant. No one noticed until he left the job, and the plant began to die. In the finale of the show’s last season, his office mates replanted it outside.IMG_3117 What a great metaphor in thinking about the varying gifts each of us brings to our jobs. At times, in our workday world, we don’t realize all that our colleagues bring to the team or company…until they are gone (re-assigned or in a job/situation elsewhere). It’s a good thing to remember and celebrate…and then…there comes a time when moving forward is the order of the day.

[Sidebar: To that precious one who did keep the plants alive for this team, all the others are still living and relatively healthy. Sorry about this one. Thanks for all the beauty you brought to this office.]

While going through this process of chronic transition, a friend has recommended a great book by William Bridges: Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. Bridges talks the reader through the three different phases of transition and gives practical strategies for dealing with these sometimes confusing and painful times.

“We resist transition not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up when and because the situation has changed.”   – William Bridges

I have a little desk toy that when you press it, a nasal electronic voice sounds “Moving Forward!” It is exactly what we needed to do, and we’re doing it.Moving Forward

You can only look back for so long. At some point you have to move forward. Moving forward is a good thing… Besides getting on with our life and work, it gives impetus to let go of whatever would hold us back whether good or bad. We learn from both and take both with us moving forward…hopefully in such a way that we celebrate what was good and we take heart in and wisdom from whatever the hard experience we leave behind. We move on.

In this last day of packing up and moving out, two little team-building signs from a by-gone era surfaced in the bottom of a drawer. The irony wasn’t lost. IMG_3137For you who were on this team and any who find themselves in a similar situation, I’m cheering for you. You, indeed, are great! Of course, no team today can ever really claim to be creators of a ground zero innovation or body of work. For sure, we all stand on the shoulders of giants

I wrote a series of articles on Jon Acuff’s book Do Over – Rescue Monday, reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck. [Two pieces are referenced below.] Acuff gives great counsel to anyone struggling in the process of moving forward. I’d like to close with a couple of his quotes on moving forward.

“Master the invisible skills – Go to work; add value; own your attitude. – Jon Acuff

“Is living with the chaos of a decision easy? Not really… I try to create [chaos] sometimes as a way to hide from something else I’m afraid of. When real chaos comes…don’t fight it. If anything, lean into it. ‘Easy’ and ‘adventure’ very rarely travel together.” – Jon Acuff

What has helped/is helping you to deal with a current (or past)  disappointing work situation? Please share your story in comments below.

Jon Acuff on Character at Work – 9 Quotes & a Challenge – Part 4 of the Do Over Series

Jon Acuff on the Role of Hustle in Taking Hold of Career Opportunities – Notes & Quotes – Part 5 of Do Over Series

Do Over – Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff

Transition: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges

The Challenge of the Prolonged Neutral Zone Era – (Insight from William Bridges, Managing Transitions) – Really good synopsis on this troublesome prolonged transition

Blog - Look Back, Look forward - Nourish the dream

5 Friday Faves – Fall Trees, Handling Change, Naming Our Grief, Cool Job, and an Icebreaker Question

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  1. Fall Trees – Is it a sugar maple or a yellow poplar? I don’t know, but isn’t it beautiful in the Fall leaf-turning? In the first year of our marriage, Dave and I lived in New Haven, Ct. where I was teaching and he was finishing his Ph.D. In the Fall, the sidewalks of our street were carpeted with these new-fallen soft yellow leaves. It was a magical time…just weeks after our wedding. I will always remember walking those yellow paths in the brief days before the snow came. The leaves dried and became crinkly. When the wind blew, or we crunched and kicked the leaves along, they blew up into the air. As if in a dance of joy. Sorry, there’s a deep romance in my heart that stirs at the sight of these trees in their Fall glory. Love!Fall yellow leaves by Shay WhitePhoto Credit: Shay White Photography

Blog - Fall Leaves Covering SidewalkPhoto Credit: Ann Williams, pinterest.com

2) Handling Change – Change is part of our lives every day, yet we struggle with it. Coming to grips and making peace with change helps us to move ahead to whatever is next. When Brian Dodd talks about handling change, he is speaking to pastors and church leaders. However, there is wisdom for any of us going through change in his article on the strange struggle of Jacob – wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-32).

  • Change affects those you love.
  • Change costs you some change.
  • Change can be lonely.
  • Change takes time.
  • Change requires struggle.
  • Change does not leave you the same.
  • Change requires grit.
  • Changes requires humbleness.
  • Change is necessary for you to get better.
  • Change allows you to see God.

“Change is a true constant to be leveraged.  Not a temporary burden to avoid.” – Brian Dodd

Another related study on Genesis 32:22-32 I found helpful is Broken But Blessed.2015 October - Blog, Fall, Trees, Sadie 048

3) Naming our Grief – Grief always has a name and naming our grief helps us to heal. Having lived overseas for many years, we understand “Hellos-Goodbyes-Hellos” – both the sorrows and the joys of them. As the years go by, we experience job changes, relocations of friends and family, and deaths of loved ones. In a few days, it will be the 13th anniversary of my Mom’s Homegoing, and every day I still think of her. That grief definitely has a name. Sometimes grief feels more vague, like a sadness with a cloudy source. When I found this piece Because Grief Has a Name by Abby Alleman, it touched my heart. She says it well:

“Naming grief is our heart acknowledging its significance and place in our lives. In this way, grief is a friend, like Sadness from the movie Inside Out. It teaches us the shape of our own unique story and guides us to tastes of the ‘fullness of joy’ found in God’s presence. Acknowledging and entering grief also guards our hearts from the calcifying effects of the denial of pain, hurt or loss. Instead of resentment, bitterness or hatred, we get healing, strength and hope. We also become those who grieve well with others. This is a true gift.” – Abby Alleman

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4) Cool Job – Interaction Designer – Complete Beginner’s Guide to Interaction Design – I am not going to say much about this because my ignorance will became obvious quickly. My first hearing of this job was around the supper table this week during our community group (Movement Church). Brian is an interaction designer. As he talked about his work, I was captivated. He works to make internet resources available to a set of consumers all over the world, and does it in such a way that is so user-friendly that even I could maneuver painlessly on that website. When you enter a website that gives you exactly what you need without bottlenecks, extra steps, or language that puts you off, then an interaction designer is probably at work unnoticed in the background of that site. Thanks, Brian, for what you do. Wow!Deb's BlogPhoto Credit: Interaction-Design.org

5) Icebreaker Question – I love icebreakers. They are a fun way to get to know a little bit more about the people around the room or in the meeting. This week, I was in a situation where the following question was used to get us started:

When was the last time you did something for the first time? What was it?”

I had to think a minute, but then it came: Soothing my wee granddaughter as if it was all up to me to settle her, even though her mommy was in the next room. [The next time will be much easier.]

What was your most recent “doing something for the first time”? What’s a favorite icebreaker question can you recommend?

Blog - Icebreaker questions - howdoyouplay.netPhoto Credit: Howdoyouplay.net

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Quotes from Between Worlds – Essays on Culture and Belonging – by Marilyn R. Gardner

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In this bookmarked summer of mine, Between Worlds brought a refreshing wash of memories for me of living cross-culturally. I miss the years we spent as a family in North Africa. Marilyn Gardner writes in colorful strokes of her third culture kid (TCK) experience of growing up in Pakistan. She also described vividly what it was like as an adult raising children (her own TCKs) back overseas. Read Between Worlds and you are transported to the places she lived as a child and again as an adult. She speaks of her family’s years in Cairo, Egypt, and I am also taken back to one of my favorite cities in the whole world. The smells, sights, and sounds are there…you will be enchanted.

Marilyn also shares with clarity and vulnerability that experience of living essentially between worlds. Of living among peoples not your own and yet you feel they are. Of returning to the US and appearing to be like all around you, and yet you are an “invisible alien”…not fully of this world either. Her stories are marked with lessons of deep living cross-culturally. We can all gain from these lessons – whether we’ve lived a third culture life or not.

Her stories I will leave for you to read in your own personal places…but some of her wisdom I share with you through these quotes from Between Worlds.

Home is where our story begins.” For a third culture kid who questions the definition of home, this is both reassuring and sad. If home is where our story begins, what happens when we cannot go back?” (p. 4)

“I read in Psalm 84: ‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage…They go from strength to strength until each appears before God in Zion.’ In my journey, this Psalm makes ‘Home is where your suitcase is’ a spiritual reality.” (p. 8)

“I was raised on chai…It was not just the taste; it was the full experience of comfort that nourished body and soul.” (p. 21)

“There can be strength in remembering…Perhaps writing helps keep some of the bricks intact, because memories are precious and if used properly give strength to the present.” (p. 26)

“Turns out identity isn’t about a place you live at – but a Person you live in.” (p. 44)

“Those childhood wounds that brand us, that tell us lies about who we are and what we’ll become, are not strong when they come up against the Image of the God who made us.” (p. 55)

“Pieces of childhood are important foundations to building adults…in the pieces of childhood there is grace and a Father God who delights in putting together the pieces.” (p. 71)

“When I finally stopped grasping at success, at confidence, at belonging, I inexplicably found it.” (p. 87)

“If you don’t start kids on the road or plane when they are young then too soon they, and you, will move into a place and state of mind that sees all the obstacles instead of the benefits.” (p. 102)

“It is amazing how much waiting there is in a life of movement…Above all, we wait for God. We move forward in faith, only to be stopped in transit. So we wait. It’s not time. We sit tight. There are dozens of ways that God moves in and orchestrates our plans, our movements…For waiting is nothing new in the work of God.” (p. 109)

“Behind every third culture kid is a parent – a parent who wishes, hopes, and prays that they are doing the right thing.” (p. 120)

“God chooses ‘place’ to reveal himself to people, to show who He is, to remind them of his love, his care, his sovereignty, to call them to himself.” (p.138)

“Cultural humility gives up the role of expert, instead seeing ourselves as students of our host culture. I puts us on our knees, the best posture possible for learning.” (p. 193)

“May I forever hurt with the goodbyes that I say. May I forever remember the strength of the words ‘God Be With You.'” (p. 202)

Whether you’re a chai or coffee drinker – you will want a cup of one or the other, as you savor this book of life Between Worlds.

To Purchase Between Worlds

Follow Marilyn Gardner on Twitter

Author Blog – Communicating Across Boundaries

On Leaving – Post by Rachel Pieh Jones – So Resonant of the Goodbyes & Hellos of Life on Two Continents

Blog - Rachel Pieh JonesRachel Pieh Jones and Family

Open road stretches out before me, cornfields and forests swirl into blurry greens and yellows. The windows are down and my hair tickles my nose, the sun warms my thighs and my elbow is getting sunburned but I don’t mind, I’ll peel and the dried skin will remind of me this day, this place, this slippery moment. The radio plays U2, Beautiful Day, and I’m singing loud.

What does leaving feel like?

It feels like that drive down the freeway. Like everything is right and the world is beautiful and maybe I’m wrong, maybe nothing is right because why does it hurt? I’m heading somewhere I want to go and leaving somewhere I want to stay and I want to be in both places and so I try to force the in between to linger. Tears stream down and blow off my cheeks, stolen by wind.

My toenails were hennaed black when we evacuated from Somalia and I remember watching the black grow out with my nail. When I clipped the last sliver of nail with black swath across the narrow tip. When my body released that last vestige, no longer stamped with a reminder of where I had been. I remember it feeling like, with that one snip, we were evacuating all over again, like something had been irrevocably removed.

Does anyone else see green grass and feel dizzy? The green blades like sea snakes swaying in the summer breezes. Does anyone else notice the way leaves filter sunlight and cast glittery shadows, orbs of golden light reflected off rivers in diamonds? Is there a way to hold it? To paint it on my toenails so I can carry it until I am ready to let go?

During leaving days every interaction is intensified, every color made more brilliant. Do you know I’m going back to Africa, to Djibouti, on Thursday?  [Note: Flights delayed and a lay-over so when you read this, they hopefully will have arrived.]

You’ll want to finish reading the rest of this post at this link.

 

Moving House…Again

Moving (2)

We move in a week. Not overseas again, or even to another state.  Just across town.  Because our work in past years gave us lots of opportunities to relocate, we have not lived in a house that we owned for 20 years. This move is to a house we bought. Weird.

I’m taking a break from packing today. Hopefully writing will clear some of the emotions bouncing all around in my head, stirred by the memories of transitions of the past, and by touching all these familiar things I’m putting in boxes.

My husband calculated recently that in all the years of our marriage (30 this year), we have moved to various places and situations 22 times. Next week will be our 23rd move. Who does that?!

One day it would be fun (at least for me) to list those moves and talk briefly about each one.  Moving stirs us up in so many ways, that our lives can not help but be changed. A lot depends on our attitudes and also on what necessitated that move. As I look at the list of all the moves, each brings sharp memories to the front of my mind – some tender, some funny, some perplexing, and some completely course-altering.  That’s for another day.

Today, I’m reflecting on the move itself.  We have friends from church and work helping us move this time. We’ve had a few experiences with commercial movers (both here and in Africa), but this time we’re going the low-cash, high-friend route. Signing up to help someone move is the substance of a pure heart.   No amount of pizza and funny stories afterward balances out giving up your morning on a beautiful, Spring weekend. Helping people move is a true kindness, and we are grateful ahead of time. Since we’ve moved so many times, I thought you might like to know what makes for a good, low-as-possible-stress moving day.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but these are what help me.

Moving House Tips

1) If you know well in advance your moving date, start early to plan your move. There are occasions when a move is abrupt.  With that, you do the best you can (given the other tips – in a rather fast motion). More important than stuff management, if the move is abrupt, is consideration of those important to you in your current situation – your friends, neighbors, colleagues.  It may be tempting to just deal with your possessions and arrangements to move, but don’t let those things rule your life.  If the move has some advance notice, begin sorting and packing early, so time with people isn’t squeezed out in the last week or two.

2) Purging household possessions is often a part of the move. It’s advantageous, really. Anywhere we settle, even briefly, we accumulate stuff. It seems to glom onto us if we slow down. Moving is often an emotionally-laden experience. Purge what you can and pack the rest. As to what to leave behind, “There’s safety in a multitude of counselors.” You may later regret what you left behind. Not to say you still shouldn’t purge, because you should. What you donate or sell or gift becomes a blessing and a memory of you. We have left behind stuff in 4 countries…and still have a house full.

3) Pack seasonal and non-essential things early on, labeling the boxes well, so you’ll know where to store them and when to bring them out.  Now, in non-essentials, if they cleared the purge, you must want them. So just label them in such a way that they don’t end up staying in that same box until the next move.  Or gift them in such a way you can live with. One of my dearest friends is “holding” some of our stuff for us until the day we “settle” somewhere.  She’s both holding onto it for us, and enjoying it “for us” while our lifestyle doesn’t lend itself that way.

4) Use small boxes. Our last move was with the help of a commercial moving company. These massive, muscular men brought all our belongings, accumulated from 3 houses where they’d been either stored or used over the years.  My husband and I LOVE books. One of the young men, after hauling in probably an obscene amount of book boxes, said, good-naturedly to me, “Before your next move, you might want to buy a Kindle.” It didn’t happen, but we use small boxes, and with books, we pack the box 1/2 to 2/3 full, and then use light-weight stuffers to finish it off. Small boxes.

5) Inventory every box. Label in such a way that you know exactly what is in the box, what order to unpack it, and where it needs to go. You might also include details in your inventory that would be helpful to others who may be doing the handling, unpacking, and storing, depending on different situations and locations.

6) Agree on a division of labor of sorts. This will, by necessity, be fairly fluid, but in our household, we have a system that has worked for us all these years. I do most of the packing, and my husband does the terminal cleaning. Now some may think he gets off easy.  Oh no! This so works for us. It goes with our gifts and suits us perfectly. You will work out your own system. He also tapes up a lot of the boxes, and carries most of them. By the end of a move, I literally cringe at the sound of packing tape being stretched off it’s spool to tape a box. 6) Pick a date/time to move that fits the needs of your moving crew. We asked our BSGs (Big Strong Guys) which day (out of 3 possible) worked best for them, and we set the move based on their preference.

7) Make dates to do the one-last-time savorings of your current town/country. As the day gets closer to your move, you’re going to get tired. You’re probably still juggling your work and other life responsibilities, with sorting and packing added in. Still take breaks such that you (and your family) can process the move, and make those last (sometimes sweetest) memories with friends…and the place itself. Say proper goodbyes to your friends and colleagues. Who knows? You may be back.

8) Pack a bag as if you were going on a vacation trip (even if you’re moving just across town). Include everything you’d need the first week (including your checkbook, work papers, toiletries, clothes for various occasions/weather). This lifts so much pressure.

9) On moving day, lavish your crew with love – food and drink (on both ends of the move), pickings from your stuff that will end up donated anyway, and organization. Their time is a gift to you – be ready for them!

10) At your new house/apartment, when the time is right and the proper people are still there (it may just be you and your spouse or roommate), walk about the house/neighborhood and pray over your new home. Make it yours from the beginning. Enjoy!

 

The Clumsy Guide to Moving House

 

1 Week Before Moving Day  – I love to read helps from folks of different locales – makes me perk up

 

Tips for When Your Friends Help You Move

No Fail Tips for Keeping Your Friends Happy When They Help You Move

I don’t know why you are moving house, but it could be because you felt compelled of God to move…in obedience to Him. These verses have been a great encouragement to me through our many years of moving:

So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. – Mark 10:29-30