Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, by William Bridges

I read Transitions during a stage of life when things were shifting for me in the areas of work and romance. It helped me navigate those shifts and it equipped me with tools to handle even bigger transitions I anticipated for the future. In a nutshell, Transitions helped me freak out way less than I would have without it.

One of my favorite pieces of wisdom from Transitions:

Rule #2: Every transition begins with an ending (we have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new). This is difficult, even if we’ve been looking forward to the change, because we find our identity in the old way/role/situation, and now that identity is shifting.

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Silence Says Something

I am terribly ill-equipped to say the right thing when it comes to racial tensions, racial inequality, and racially-motivated killings in the United States. Anything I say will come up short and (as an introvert who takes quite some time to formulate words) too late for the moment it’s needed. So I’ve often opted for silent, private grieving. But silence, although comforting to introverts like me, can be experienced painfully by others.

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Lean Facebook

Facebook is a great tool for connecting with far-away friends and acquaintances. It can also lend itself quite easily to superficiality:

  1. voyeurism without connectivity,
  2. exhibitionism, and
  3. a facade of the “newsworthy” things

The latter is usually comprised of the highlights and occasionally a life-altering lowlight that we are essentially asking prayer (or warm thoughts) for, but not much of the mundane in-between. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because

a) most of us don’t want to be inundated with the minutest details of our friends’ lives, and

b) most of us don’t like our “dirty laundry” or that of others to be constantly aired out online.

The issue is, because Facebook is mostly a conglomeration of good times and best moments of hundreds if not thousands of friends on the newsfeed, it can be very easy to believe that one’s own life pales in comparison to everybody else’s.

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Being Phlegmatic

A former supervisor-turned-dear friend once described me as someone who accommodates others day after day until reaching an unspoken limit where I can’t take it anymore. He said that’s when I “dig my heels in” and refuse to budge, catching everybody off guard because they had no idea I was accommodating that whole time since I seemed to be participating so willingly. I learned much later that this was classic Phlegmatic behavior.

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Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen

A number of years ago a friend loaned me her copy of Henri Nouwen’s the Return of the Prodigal Son. It, along with a few other great books I read around the same time, opened my eyes to the depth of relationship that is possible with God. It also addressed how my deepest insecurities often distract me from that deep relationship I simultaneously long for yet am afraid of. In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Nouwen shares insights from years of study and thoughtful reflection (his own, his friends’, and fellow scholars’) on the familiar parable through the lens of Rembrandt’s famous painting.

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Writing Themed Resumes

Back when I was desperately searching for work, I was neither very efficient nor effective at first. My generic resume didn’t really sell me very well for each particular job I applied to, so I rewrote it for every single one. That, on top of writing unique cover letters for each job application, was taking too long, discouraging me, and not getting me any results. There had to be a middle ground between 1 overly-generic resume and 25 overly-specific ones.

There was! At first, it was to make two differently-themed resumes: one for office work (what I really wanted), and one for general labor (my back-up option). The office resume highlighted my work with filing systems and computer programs; the labor resume highlighted my ability to work long hours, to keep things clean and organized. Of course there was overlap, but I took the skills off that were irrelevant to the theme of the job I’d be applying to with each type of resume.

From there my office-themed resume expanded to a few different sub categories: one that emphasized working at a university, one that emphasized my background in fundraising, one that emphasized my experience putting on events and programs. I could see myself in any of these kinds of office jobs.

Once I had 5 or 6 themed resumes, I found it much easier to apply for various jobs. Instead of fussing over an entirely new resume every time, I could just focus on creating good letters of introduction (i.e. cover letters) to sell myself, and just attach an already-completed but relevant-to-the-job-at-hand resume. Way less time-consuming, less stressful, more effective.

Feel free to use this tip to get yourself organized in your own job search! And good luck!

Cold Feet Truths

In the early stages of our relationship, my husband and I knew the chances of it resulting in marriage were a long shot. We were very different, lived on two separate continents, and didn’t have enough money to bridge the gap very often. The limited amount of time we had in person was rushed and jam-packed with experiences, without the ability to see each other in normal, everyday kind of life.

But there was something about this man that, despite the challenges, kept me riveted to my computer screen on Skype. So much so that I married him the 3rd time we got to be together on the same continent (for a more spiritual version of the story, click here).

I knew—absolutely knew—that this was the man for me. But lots of people get some version of cold feet before heading down the aisle, and I was not an exception.  Annoying little contradictions crept periodically into my mind, things like “we don’t have enough in common” and “what if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life?” My confusion and frustration about all the mixed messages I was hearing regarding my future often led me to tears.

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The Half-Scorched Tree

I love trees. They speak to me metaphorically, providing significant analogies and life lessons about growth and beauty and provision and purpose. I can sit for an hour pondering my life (a form of meditation) in the vicinity of trees, and I’ll almost always walk away with new insights.

I’m also drawn to Bible verses that refer to trees and plants as a symbol for a person’s healthiness and vitality, or lack thereof. Psalm 1:3 is a prime example of this. Referring to those who meditate on God’s word, it says, “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither. Whatever they do prospers” (New International Version, 2011).

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