Category Archives: In Between

Winter is near

The seasons collided today in Seattle. Fall met winter on this blustery, in-between day as autumn leaves got pelted by snow and rain. The unsettled weather made for a great urban walkabout and I captured a snippet of it in this Instagram video.

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We are a cultural melting pot. Embrace it.

My mother was an immigrant and I remember some of the challenges she had to overcome as she forged a new life for herself in America.

A native of Japan, my mother grew up during World War II. She lived through hardships, survived air raids and lost family members. During post-war reconstruction, she found work caring for the children of US military officers stationed in Japan. She eventually met and married my father, an enlisted man stationed at the air base she was working. He brought her to the US when he completed his tour of duty.

kokeshi-origamiAs a young child, I remember my mother taking English classes, studying to become a US citizen, learning how to drive a car, and navigating a culture that was different from the one she grew up in. She did all of these things plus care for two little girls and a home!

She was fortunate to have a small circle of Japanese friends that she could turn to for support, companionship and community. They gathered together regularly to talk, eat their favorite Japanese dishes, listen to music from their homeland, and practice traditional crafts.

They often included their children at these get-togethers and this is where I developed my Japanese side. I sampled sushi, tempura, natto, sukiyaki, and more. I listened to Japanese folk tales and learned Japanese songs. I collected and played with kokeshi dolls and learned origami.

somali-basketsThese memories resurfaced recently when I saw some lovely handwoven baskets created by Somali women. My employer, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, offers a Somali basket weaving group to connect refugee women with each other through this traditional craft. The craft group brings the women together to socialize and create baskets while reducing the isolation they can experience living in a new culture. It gives them a sense of community within a larger, less familiar community.

The anti-immigrant and anti-refugee platform embraced by our president-elect is disturbing to me. It dredges up hurtful childhood memories of classmates calling me Jap, Chink and Ho Chi Minh. It causes me to recall the time the father of one of my elementary school friends told me he didn’t like Japanese people. And more.

This open backlash is making many in our country–including children–extremely anxious. An acquaintance recently told my partner how worried her preteen daughter is that her Latino friends will be deported. LCS Northwest immigrant and refugee clients have reported being verbally assaulted by strangers. And more.

America is a melting pot of nationalities. My roots extend to Japan and Ireland and, unless you’re Sioux, Navaho or from another Native American tribe, so do yours. It is that incredible mix of human diversity that makes us a unique and great nation, and it is that mix of diversity that will propel us into the future if we embrace it.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  – Statue of Liberty inscription

onions.jpg

Two days ago it was summer, sunny and 92 degrees. We went for an after work swim in the lake. Yesterday it was fall, breezy and 70 degrees. We harvested the onions from the garden.

The in-between season has arrived. Summer has given its notice to vacate and fall is preparing to move in. The signs are everywhere. Some are subtle hints while others are in-your-face obvious.

Subtle signs:

  • Color shift. Nature is gently shifting from green to gold. Trees that were a Kodachrome green a month ago now have some golden tints.
  • Fewer hummingbirds. My fuschia plants attract hummingbirds throughout the summer. Visits by these little birds have dropped in recent weeks.
  • Less garden produce. Our garden is in transition as we tear out summer crops to make room for some winter ones. The winter garden will be smaller and we’ll rest some beds.

Obvious signs:

  • Less daylight. The time between sunrise and sunset is shrinking.
  • Parks and beaches are less crowded. The weather is till pleasant but fewer people are flocking to local parks, beaches and trails.
  • Back to School. Families with kids are busy preparing for the start of the new school year. Retailers are holding Back to School sales.

What signs have you noticed of summer’s impending departure and fall’s arrival?

 

 

In Between: Next Chapter

Life Chapter QuoteI found myself in between life chapters when my job of 20 years ended last December. Happily, I’m about to begin a new chapter when I start my new job next week.

We leave some things behind when we close one chapter to start a new one. Like a book, some lovable characters, favorite haunts and familiar routines from the previous chapter may not carry forward to the next one. It can feel sad and scary to leave the familiar behind.

But we must close the chapter and move to the next one if we are ever to finish the book.

As my career of two decades drew to its conclusion, I bid farewell to colleagues, volunteers and acquaintances, realizing that many of them would not continue into the next chapter. I gave myself some time to pause and reflect on the end of my job and the end of my organization as I knew it (it was merged into a larger one), to re-read that chapter of my life.

But I am finished with that chapter and ready for the next one to unfold. New characters will be introduced and some old favorites will return. The setting will change and the plot will twist as it follows the mission of my new organization.

So the story will continue.

In Between: Looking For a Job is a Full Time Job

I am between jobs and I am busy looking for my next workplace home. One thing I can tell you: The job search is a full time job.

I spend hours every day surfing career websites and networking with people in search of job leads. When I find something that could be a good fit, I tweak my resume, write my cover letter, supply any additional information requested, and press Send. Continue reading

In Between: Solitude

Solitude, the state of being alone, can be a treasure or a torment.

A few months ago, my days were filled with human interaction, juggling priorities, and deadlines associated with work. Solitude was a rare jewel. Today, after a layoff, I spend hours alone researching employers and scanning dozens of job announcements in hopes of finding a few relevant positions to apply for. Solitude is a guest who has overstayed its welcome. Continue reading