Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is Your CEO, Jack Nicholson's movie Character?

"You can't handle the truth!" yells Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men. Kevin Jarrett (NCS-TECH blogger) plays the part of Tom Cruise in teasing out the truth, as blushes in the transparency of the open courtroom, the blogosphere. The shout echoes through the chamber, dying in the silence. The truth as to why the scene is so engaging is that people CAN handle the truth--to think otherwise is, well, dumb.

In the Cluetrain Manifesto, that seminal work, the following appears:

Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets. Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.
Source: The ClueTrain Manifesto

Conversation. If you want to do business, online or otherwise, then you better get the heck out of the way so that employees and the sometime consumers out there can connect. It's no longer top-down, CEO or PR person against the masses, managing the conversation. As Susan Scott says, "A managed conversation is a FAILED conversation."

Don't go, with hat in hand, to your customers and ask them to hold back. In fact, consider Dave Weinberger's words:

By embracing transparency, a company makes some implicit statements: We have nothing to hide. We trust you enough to give you information that we used to keep secret. We're not going to try to snow you (any more). We are honest. We deserve your trust. We're okay with being seen as fallible mortals. We are good people.
And it goes beyond making a small change in the tone of PR. The promise of transparency is that the customer is being put into a new relationship. Instead of treating customers as couch potatoes bred to be bathed in the hostile photons of marketing messages, we're going to assume we're all adults. We're going to do our business as if it were a matter of mutual benefit. No trickery, no hype, just quickly coming to agreement about what's in each of our self interest.

When someone blogs about you, reporting their experiences and serving as a lightning rod for comments about a company, it's easy to yell at the audience, "You can't handle the truth! Stop talking about us, saying what we're too afraid to say for ourselves! Let us manage our image even though you're the ones who will make us great or not!"

There's a perception of risk that comes along with radical transparency. It's the "what if" dilemma. Just before tearing open the corporate veil, most companies blush. Then blink. They think: What if we screw up? What if profits shrink? What if we have layoffs?
But what they should be asking is, "What if we never regain the public's trust?"

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Act Without Encumbrance

Some wonder if politically charged questions should be asked on a blog. Maybe truthful questions would be better. . .if they are politically charged, one has but to remember that truth is what it is...we cloak it with our fears, hopes and joys. Blogging is just for sharing what you're learning, reflecting about, right? It's also a safe place where educators can wonder what life would be like if politics had NOT invaded the situation. In an entry on, the blog for leaders, the blogger wonders...

I may be asking a politically incorrect question on an educational blog, but as a new administrator who must look at the data and figure out how to get all students proficient on the state mandated tests, I bet I am not the only administrator to be asked this question from teachers or community members.
Can All Students Learn?

If only more administrators had bothered to ask the question and then done something political about the situation early on. This past weekend, I found myself delivering Blog Your World and Podcast Panopoly in Fort Worth ISD. It was a fun experience, one I enjoyed tremendously, even though after a day of standing--unusual for me these days, unlike when I was in the classroom--I was grateful to sit down in the airplane that would take me back home and doze off. I love visiting places and providing staff development. Like the Lone Ranger, I can solve a problem--facilitating a professional learning opportunity, say what others cannot say but that all know to be true--then return home. Of course, I've increasingly felt the pressure--from my team--to give some of these talks at work. But my fear holds me holds me back for several reasons, none of them worth much. They include:

  1. No good deed goes unpunished. That is, as soon as I outlined the changes that needed to happen, I might be expected to step up and make the change happen. This is unfounded my role as a leader, one thing I do know is that change does not happen in an organization without stakeholders working collaboratively. Perhaps it's my fear of that closeness, my old shyness rearing its head. As such, it is but a child's fear to be acknowledged then reassured by the reality.
  2. Aligning the internal truth and external truth may put me in an untenable position from which I won't be able to recover. "That guy is really crazy, a fake when it comes to doing what needs to be done. We need to hire someone else who'll do what we want." The truth is, I AM a fake. I am not a one-stop, 24/7 anytime/anywhere get-your-success here all-mart where you can find everything you need. In truth, I am useful for an organization who is willing to embrace change as a friend, not an enemy...but I wouldn't dream of trying to be all things to all people. What I must do is simply align myself realities and show that it can be done, that being who one is, IS the simplest course and that the resilience, the strength that flows from such understanding can endure and thrive in change.

When I think about how change is brought about in schools, and how apathetic educators often are in the face of legislative change, I wondered how long before other administrators step up and take charge, take ownership for achieving change in their schools. When I reflect on this in my own work, I realize that I find myself facing the insurmountable mountain of accumulated poor decision-making on the part of previous "leaders," all a part of a culture of schools that is like clutter in a garage that hasn't been cleaned. To reflect on my own practice, how could I better plan initiatives to ensure that the culture created by the change will endure AFTER I'm gone?

Yet, the clutter, ever-present, in terms of failed initiatives, a metal mattress spring that prevents movement of any sort, immobilizing in its proximity and nature, must be dealt with. The job of sorting out what's worth keeping, what's not is mind-numbing, so much so that it's easier to just throw it all out, to clean house and start over. I'm reminded of Tammy's (Conflict Zen) recent blog entry where she shares this story:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
Source: Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Part of the problems that occur in some school districts is that roles and jobs are not clearly defined. In a dysfunctional organization, people work in silos, separated from one another. Animosity builds, competition and fighting over scarce resources begins. . .and, each silo'd department builds capacity. They want to accomplish tasks that would best be done by another group but refuse to cooperate with the other group for a variety of reasons...those reasons eventually may boil down to lack of trust.

  • "I don't trust you'll get this done the way I want it done."
  • "I don't trust that you'll give me credit for the idea, instead take credit for yourself."
  • "I refuse to have open conversations with you because I don't trust you'll be honest with me and use it against me."

I've had the opportunity to observe lack of trust firsthand, to experience it myself. So, in the spirit of Fierce Conversations, I've decided to not do the dance of mis-trust. Instead, I've decided to lay it on the table, remembering that a managed conversation is a failed conversation...and invite others to jump in. As I reflect on my decision made months ago, being an open and transparent is tremendously liberating. Suddenly, I'm the only in the room that has nothing to fear. Speaking the truth that others don't want to share or allow to come out or admit is incredibly liberating.

When I read the story shared about the overflowing teacup, I realized that letting go of my own opinions and speculations also means letting go of the mis-trust. We're school professionals working in K-12 education to improve teaching, learning and leading environments. If our goal is to impact children, I don't have to play mind-numbing, spirit-dampening games of mis-trust that can dominate in a dysfunctional school district environment. Instead, I can move freely through clutter that doesn't exist but in my perception, act without the past's encumbrance.

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Redemptive Conversations

Today, I stumbled across 4 blog entries that seemed to relate to the same theme--Change. Sure, there were tons more to wade through, including mine, but I found myself drawn to these stories.

The last blog entry I read--and, probably didn't understand completely because it was so thick, dense with ideas...compacted---was one from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. I'm fortunate to find my way through even one of her blog entries, since there is so much rich stuff there. One of the ideas that jumped off the screen at me was this one:

Rather reflection in action, transparency in our process via conversations with experts on the Web will enables us to spend time exploring why we acted as we did, what was happening in a group and so on and inform our practice as we move forward. In so doing we develop sets of questions/answers and this informs our ideas about our activities and practice.

Often, in school settings, the pool of people participating in conversations is...well...shallow. Some administrators prefer to play in the shallows of theory and knowledge, rather than dive deep. As a result, their work reflects that shallowness, and they appear more as those pretty bugs that walk on water but are insubstantial. I know because I am often guilty of this, increasingly more so as I remain an administrator. This shallowness can sometimes translate into going with the flow, of not being transparent in our conversations and our actions, masking our true intentions to prevent others from judging us or criticizing. In the end, it is a losing battle that sacrifices our integrity. I was reminded of this when I read Dr. Scott McLeod's entry today:

At the request of her principal, Pam delivered a presentation to her staff on technology tools. At a follow-up meeting, she faced a lot of criticism from members of the Faculty Council who claimed that she ‘wasted their time.’ Rather than supporting Pam, her principal simply sat there and nodded her head as Pam absorbed the blows.

Obviously, this principal betrayed the trust. It is unpardonable, unforgivable...unless the principal comes right out and admits that s/he is wrong in a public forum and takes responsibility. In that single act, the principal can reclaim the mantle of leadership, regain the trust of those who must place their trust in him on a daily basis, and for whom he is an advocate for. Yet, like the Indian proverb Vicki Davis quotes below, it may be impossible for the principal to do.

"There is no point in cutting off a person's nose and then giving them a rose to smell."
Indian proverb

and this quote from Doug Johnson's blog caught my eye in the same way:
We don’t believe humans evolved to be so bad at making decisions, so poor at changing our minds, so violent in arguing our point of view. - ChangeThis

It seems we're all captivated by this idea of bringing about change. Often, the best I can do is invite someone to a conversation. I can lay out my agenda, what my fears are, and invite them to trust me to do the same. If they betray the trust, I have to persevere and trust again...or leave. I have never been an administrator who sought to create a situation that would force another person to leave. I have the good fortune to work with excellent folks, and it becomes clear that those who have a hidden agenda--usually it's not so hidden, such as furthering their own career while trampling upon the good name of others or avoiding doing something because it appears/is more work--are out for their own gain...and, while such behavior may be acceptable in some circles, it's not in schools.

Vicki's lesson is wonderful, and maybe applies to Pam's situation:

It didn't matter that "I'm the cool cat teacher" (ha ha) or that "I cohost Wow2" or the countless hours spent researching and studying how to effectively implement technology in the classroom. The presentations, the awards, all of the things that I had done simply didn't matter. All that mattered was my ability to keep calm and express in the simplest terms possible the value of these tools. . .The fact that online credentials and credence don't matter a hill of beans in our own back yard.

And, while that's true, I have learned that sometime the best thing we can do is laugh at the injustice, at the obvious violation of trust that occurs. In fact, as I shared the latest debacle, my friend said to me, "Miguel, you just have to laugh." And, fortunately, I already was. But within that there is a determination to be as fully ME as possible. As I reflect on the fact that I'm 39 and just coming to understand this, I wonder at why it's taken so long. Again, what if someone had shared the following with me when I was younger? This selection from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson that will be recognizable for so many of us, and so critical for those of us who are in Pam and Vicki's position:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

For me, that is the essence of change...allowing your light to shine, freely, and if it so chooses, boldly. . .our goal isn't to change others, but to be true to the power of who we can be. And, bringing people into the transparent conversations we have on the Web can help that happen. We are sharing our testimony of the power of conversations, redemptive conversations that enable us to discover who we really are.

Finally, I like what Durff had to say:

Online learning, while it looks solitary, is anything but that. My personal network is online 24/7 and I guarantee they all know, whether they care to or not, where I am, why I am here, and how I feel. Do we really think we adults are the only ones? How egocentric of us!

It's powerful to have my experience be informed by Pam, Scott, Doug, Vicki, and Ms Durff (what is your first name?). . .and all available online, all helping me to better be the change I want to see in the world...but first of all, to be the change.

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Put Yourself At Risk

Challenge yourself, put yourself at risk, take a chance on learning. Start a blog, take a moment to be introspective and share that introspection with a larger audience. But that isn't the way it works, is it? Consider this post by Peter Rock at GNUosphere in discussing acceptable use policy with a group of students:

Students must not transmit unauthorized, copyrighted works (such as movies, music, games, etc.) over the school network.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking”, I said. “But let me be clear on one thing. Regardless of what you or I think of the ethics, the legality is something else. Many of you may have a solid argument as to why it should be OK to do this but the fact is, it’s illegal. Doing so is irresponsible and we can’t let you as it puts the school at risk.”. .Sorry to let the extremists down. This school won’t be used as a site for civil disobedience.

Don't put the school at risk. But isn't that what we challenge our teachers and students to do? While we're not looking to break the law, we do want to practice civil disobedience, don't we? I mean, when you encourage free software, aren't you advocating civil disobedience? And, is putting yourself at risk is a challenge. But, veteran educators know better...keep your mouth shut, do what you're told, let the higher-ups make the decisions and when they ask your opinion, remember you aren't being asked whether you support the idea, but how you think it will best get done. Reality sometimes is tough, and maybe all this talk about civil disobedience, of trying to change the world by connecting and collaborating with others...maybe that's so much hooey.

David Jakes writes Reality Bytes:

The reality is that the conversation is important. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and it’s frustrating, all at the same time. But sometimes the conversation forgets the reality of what needs to be accomplished, and what mainstream educators, educators who don’t blog, but grade papers, call parents, coach freshman basketball, tutor kids during their lunch period, and serve on two committees, face every day.

Yeah...let's get back to basics, let's not engage in civil disobedience...let's forget what Paulo Freire shared with us:

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

Are you about freedom, helping children deal critically and creatively with reality to transform their world, or are you about reality bytes?

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Transformational Transparency

Or should that read, "transformative transparency?" I like the latter better. Transparency can be transformative because it allows us to see exactly what's changing, or that change is even occurring. Who among us hasn't been fascinated by the human embryo as it grows in the mother's womb? I know I was fascinated to see the stages of development, the growth of a human being while still in the womb. Whether it was still pictures or a video, the insight into what was happening thrilled me. I was seeing something countless generations had been unable to see before technology.

Sylvia Martinez (Generation YES) asks the questions that bring this blog post on, causing me to reconsider this topic again.

What if the technology is so transformative that it can’t be ignored? What if the learning experience could not be achieved without the use of technology? Isn’t that the ultimate goal?

As I shared earlier, if teaching and learning in today's schools can occur WITHOUT technology, then why are we putting the technology in? Wouldn't it be better to use the money for something else, such as ensuring the 100% free/reduced lunch kids actually have food, school supplies, clothing, and that the homeless shelters strategically located across from public schools actually meet their needs?

The truth is, I'm disappointed at my own effort at shining a spotlight on that very areas where technology and learning are inseparable, impossible to achieve. My B+ intellect stumbles as I try to imagine exactly HOW learning in the 21st Century can advance without technology.

What specific examples can one find, shine a spotlight on, make transparent for the non-believers, so that they will know the truth that learning in virtual worlds can't be achieved WITHOUT technology?

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Resurrecting the Blogger

Over at blog, there's a blog entry about the "Death of a Blogger Part II." One of the points that Ryan Bretag makes includes this one:

The bottom line is that blogs need to evolve or face a sure death of stagnation and lack of change capability. For me, it starts with evaluating how well blogging is functioning as a collaborative tool that adds value to the educational community.

He goes on to write:

There are times when I ponder what the goal is for the edublogger community. Obviously, there will be those that immediately move to the power of blogging is that it is about the individual; it is about whatever that person wants it to be about.

While this is true, I would hope the end goal for edubloggers is improving education and that the goal of individual blogs or community blogs will focus on how they are helping to achieve this larger community goal.

I disagree with the bottom line idea expressed here. Blogs are as alive as the people who keep them, the people who join the conversation, but in the end, blogging is a conversation with the author of the blog. Should blogs be pushed to be MORE than that?

I would suggest that a blog assuming a role beyond what it was intended for is a mistake. A blog or the blogging process has no reason to evolve in itself. The person who writes the blog may start out with the desire to transform education, but because a blog is intensely personal, blogging is about achieving personal transformation, not societal change.

In other words, I start out to change myself, others see my change and may be inspired to achieve societal change. When I invite educators to keep a blog, I certainly do not exhort them to change the world. Such a goal is arrogant. Rather, I hope that through their own blogging and personal transformation, they will increasingly become agents of transformation. The burgeoning changes, the transformation that results from unleashing the creative power of educators previously muzzled throughout the years could bring about a change greater than what well-meaning societal change advocates might imagine.

When Ryan asks, "How many blog posts are stretching your thinking?" I remember a walk I took with my daughter when she was 2.5 to 3 years old. As I watched her take her first steps outside, her foot hesitating in mid-air above a speed bump, slowly being angled in a way appropriate to the inclination of the speed bump, I marvelled at the thinking reflected on her face.

The speed bump, however insignificant now that she's older, presented a challenge to how she walked as a youngster. I imagine that for someone as sophisticated as Ryan, and other edubloggers, newer blog posts aren't challenging their thinking. Yet, I find myself remembering that each of us is on a journey of transformation that intersects in a manner that is richly provocative, constructive and instructive. Let's be careful not to confuse the REAL intent of blogs with what we desire. I am struck by Suzanne Shank's (The TechTrainer) writing, in response to my blog entry, Transparency Hurts? She writes:
I was going to blog more on this topic but some amazing bloggers have already said it better than I could...I started blogging and getting more involved in the edtech virtual communities because I was under the impression that I could only make steps forward in my career by doing so, especially because there's hardly anything going on with edtech jobs in my city. It doesn't seem as if more than a handful of local education professionals I know even read blogs or use social networking; they kind of see me as a geek/fanatic...We can choose to blog about only non-controversial topics, reveal only our expertise, and come across as wise but boring pedagogues, or we can get real and reveal (in a professional way) our questions, concerns, foibles, and opinions. The same goes for comments and forums. I wish I knew the best course. I will be anxious to read your feedback

This is a challenge I encountered in my early blogging. Since someone else--obviously, a better writer than I--had written about this subject, I should remain mute on the subject. But the fact is, no one is able to filter what has been said through my own life experience better than I. In other words, I AM an expert on what needs to be said. So what if others have written a learned treatise on a topic? How is that reflected in my own life, if at all? And if it is--or isn't--what do I think about that? How am I growing--or not--in response to that? I began blogging to explore this new Read/Write Web because I was ignorant...I felt I had little choice; it was grow or stagnate, a fate worse than death. Only a handful of local education professionals even read blogs or use social networking. Over time, it has had a profound effect on me professionally and personally as a human being.

For me, Suzanne's step forward here enabled her to grow professionally. But it's not all about professionalism, it's also about personal growth. As she wisely points out, blogging is about getting "real" and reveal our questions, concerns, foibles, and opinions. In other words, dig deeper than the surface thinking that characterizes our twitteresque, politically correct interactions. It is about shedding those "PC" interactions and digging deeper that is, perhaps expected or desired, in face to face professional settings. Obviously, I have considered the power of transparency in my posts to reflect positively on my personal growth, negatively on my professional advancement. However, Scott McLeod's comment reminds me, l

To adapt Ryan's description of what blogging is about...

Blogging is about the depth of thought and the creation of a critical document that while self-broadcasted, enables one to think at greater depths about an idea, concept, or situation. I wonder, though, how much of this is really happening on blogs.

I've bolded my changes above. I wonder as well. Each of us, as bloggers, has the opportunity to explore our ignorance, to advance our learning, one blog entry at a time. It may be that alone, an entry may not be deep or stimulate social change. But taken collectively, an aggregation of thinking done daily or weekly, we see the journey of the blogger from over there to here. Who are we to disparage the journey taken? How can we gauge the transformational power of a mustard seed when it is still, a seed?

One of my favorite quotes, one that I've been meditating on is “If a seed is planted into the ground and it does not die, it remains a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds and seedlings and those seeds and their seedlings produce much fruit.”

Each time we write about how we're changing our own practice, advancing a step at a time, we die to the old ways of doing things, those ways that are no longer relevant. We begin a process of transformation that moves us, however slowly, to think at greater depths about an idea, concept or situation. I see blogs as a way for educators to be resurrected, to be raised up. As Ms. Whatsit says, it is a way to transformation....
I too am going through a transformation thanks to blogging. Since 2005, I have blogged in fear of reprimand from the real people in my real world. . .When I write and read what other bloggers have to say, I find myself reflecting deeply, growing and evolving in the process. . .A lot has been written and debated about the purpose of blogging. Is it just a reflective exercise where we lay out our thoughts throwing caution to the wind or do we have a responsibility to consider our audience and write for them? I have waffled here, and I wonder if we are missing the point when we try to decide that we must choose one way or the other.

Thanks Ryan--all of you--for your reflections.

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Monday, January 1, 2007

YouTube Liberating Force

One of the videos that I immediately downloaded from YouTube was the UCLA Police incident involving a student in the library who was hit with tazer blasts. It is a powerful video clip, made all the more meaningful because it was recorded by another student using a video-camera-phone, then uploaded to YouTube.

There are several videos like this on YouTube--someone documenting injustice in an impromptu way with the technology tools at hand. Since I find these stories great illustrations of how technology enhanced an individual's power to connect and collaborate on problems that might have been under-reported by mainstream media, I like to collect them.

Here's a story that came to me via D'Arcy Norman: , where I quote from one of the sources mentioned:

In case you missed it, here is the Youtube link showing the confrontation at Montebello between Union organizer Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, and three members of some security force (RCMP? Surete du Quebec?) disguised as protesters.

There is no real room for doubt here. The three are burly, well built guys (the protest crowd usually tends to the young and scrawny or over-weight and middle aged… not a lot of “pumping iron” folks in the anti-globalization movement.) The men are dressed as hoodlums. Bandanas over their mouth and nose. Caps down over their eyes. One of the three has a rock and is threatening to lob it at the police line. Dave Coles, in open shirt and sports jacket, moves in to call for only peaceful protest. In the moments that ensue, Dave gets very suspicious of the so-called protesters. As he related later, he looked at one and said “you are a cop, aren’t you?” (that part was inaudible to me on the tape) Very clearly, you then hear him say “Take your masks off, the three of you. … It’s a peaceful protest.” They refuse to remove their masks, so he points at them and calls out to the crowd “These three guys are all cops.”

...When asked what to do if someone in your group starts talking about explosives or advocating violence, Clay answered: “You get a picture of them. You tell them you now suspect they are under-cover agents for the RCMP. You don’t tolerate that sort of suggestion.” Dave Coles is a hero. He not only acted to stop what he thought was an outraged youth with a rock, he took the time to notice the incongruities. He went for the evidence: show me your face. The fact that a video camera captured the whole confrontation is huge. Even more amazing is that thousands of people have already gone to the Youtube site to watch for themselves.
Source: Green Party of Canada

D'Arcy Norman makes this point...

What scares me is this - what would have happened without YouTube to get the video out? There was video taken at Seattle and Quebec City, but it stayed on analog tape and didn’t get as widely circulated. This is why “Web 2.0″ is important. Never mind personal publishing for cat blogging, and ego surfing and identity management. The reason Web 2.0 is changing the world is by putting the power back into the hands of individuals. Democracy in mass media, in action.

Does this happen in America?

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Every Day

I love Karyn's conversation about her move...go read all of it. It speaks to me of leaving home for a place where we find it hard to find ourselves in our surroundings (the "no me hallo" phenomenon). Here's the excerpt that caught my attention:

For years I had been wondering why I was here. If it was so divinely ordained, why the heck did I feel so out of place? Then Ron Lubensky threw me a lifeline, and that was the beginning of the meme.
Ron is a Canadian by birth, but he lives in Australia. Has done for 20 years. He related how his accent and Canadian-ness remain an object of curiosity for people. He related this exchange:
"How long are you here for?"
"How often do you go home?"
"Every day"
Every day. Every day. Doh! I wrote that on a piece of paper and stuck it near my desk. I have got to learn to go home every day.

Since then, there have been sermons that relate to this topic (including one from my husband last night about being where you're supposed to be), bumper stickers that say corny things like "Bloom where you're planted", snippets of overheard conversations, throwaway lines from colleagues. So I've decided. Right. This is where I'm supposed to be - for now, at least - and this is how it's going to be. I get the message. I'm here. African I may be, but I'm here. And I'm looking to the future. Hand to the plough and not looking back. Finally. After 8 long years of desert. Deep breath, loins girded, feet planted, jaw set.
What does the future hold? Here. In this place. I can do this. I can.

When I first arrived in the United States at the age of 10 going on 11, I found myself missing Panama something fierce. I wished I could go back, told my parents how dumb they were to have moved to the U.S. with its crime rate (bushes outside my window had me frozen for a few hours one night after watching the news), a school where everyone seemed to be studying a textbook I'd read 3 years prior in my old school. Yet, I had no choice except to adapt or continue suffering.

Now, home is here, where my heart is...with my family, the quixotic (Walter Mitty analogy wouldn't be far off here, either) struggle at work, in the streets and highways where I still get lost. Would I give it up to go back? Maybe, if I had the courage. Karyn's post reminds me that "home," especially when it is a memory, is always near...and that I can visit home anytime I want.

Subscribe to Around the

Be sure to visit the ShareMore! Wiki.

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure