Posted in Uncategorized

Books of 2019

The image above seemed appropriate since most of my reading happens on public transport 😉

 

Without further ado and in no particular order, here are some of my favourites from this past year.

 

BEHOLD THE DREAMERS by Imbolo Mbue

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Find of the year! Happened to come across it on the bookshelf at our holiday cottage and loved it! Such an insightful depiction of life as an immigrant. Very moving and relatable for anyone who has lived cross-culturally.

 

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson

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What a fascinating exploration of the different paths each of our lives might take if circumstances were just slightly different or we took different decisions in seemingly insignificant situations. For example: the doctor makes it before the snowstorm hits and the baby lives. Or he gets stuck and the story ends on page one. And so it continues. Entertaining and thought-provoking!

 

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr

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Beautiful and enthralling. In the midst of the horrors of WW2, two lives inexorably drift towards each other (and not in a love story kind of way).  A captivating story beautifully told.

 

BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE by Fredrik Backman

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Another year, another book by Fredrik Backman. And again, he did not disappoint. A wonderful story of hope, restoration and the difference each one of us can make. In true Backman style, all of the characters are multi-faceted and as the story unfolds, we understand more of what has shaped them and why they react in certain ways.

 

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWS by Thomas Hardy

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When you read the book after watching the movie and still love both, that has got to be a good sign! Somehow this classic had eluded me until now but I’m glad I finally discovered it! Lots of unexpected twists and turns, and sometimes you want to yell at the characters (which I reckon is a good thing) – highly recommend it!

 

GLOBAL HUMILITY by Andy McCullough

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You might have noticed that I read A LOT more fiction than non-fiction. However, each year there seems to be one non-fiction book that leaves a lasting impression. This is the one for 2019. It makes for challenging and at times uncomfortable reading but each topic is so worth wrestling with. Would be great to discuss as a team as well.

 

So there you have it – some of my 2019 highlights! And let me tell you, my reading for 2020 is off to a good start already 🙂

Any recommendations of things to read this year?

Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash

Posted in Uncategorized

Free To Celebrate {The Grove: Party}

Today, I’m over at Velvet Ashes, reflecting on celebrating the good!

“Picture this. It is a cold December night in Berlin. Suddenly, as if on cue, people stream out from every building onto the streets. Most of them are armed with champagne and lots of fireworks. For a good half hour, it’s as if the whole city explodes. It’s midnight but the sky is brightly lit and it’s hard to know where to look first.

Are you with me? Are you picturing the scene? Ok, try again. Whatever you saw in your imagination likely wasn’t loud enough, crazy enough, scary enough, or breath-taking enough. Oh the fun it is to experience this with someone who has never spent New Year’s Eve in Germany! We try to prepare people, to tell them what to expect. But invariably, when midnight strikes, it goes far beyond anything they imagined! It seems all the cultural norms they had learned (like being quiet in public, not striking up conversations with strangers, not littering) no longer apply. The whole city, the whole country, is partying!

I always find it a bit jarring to go from a quiet, contemplative few days (in German, there is even an expression for it – “zwischen den Jahren,” meaning “between the years”) to that. And then, within a day or two, back to normal life.

Truth be told, I am more naturally drawn to the quiet, reflective times. Exuberant parties aren’t so much my thing. Yet as I’ve been reflecting on the contrasts this season brings, I’m beginning to wonder if they might be not so much contrasts but rather parts of a whole. ”

Read the rest of the post here!

Posted in Spirituality

The Gift of 30 Years

These past 30 years, they have been a gift. I know, life in and of itself is a gift. But these past 30 years? For all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t have been around to see them.

On 11 September 1989, I came so close to losing my life. It happened on a country road in Nigeria. We were travelling in a minibus very similar to the one in the photo. One of its tires burst, we came off the road and the car overturned.

From that point on, it was miracle after miracle. I was able to get to a hospital in the city, then back to Germany. I was able to get the treatment I needed to ensure I did not die of my injuries, and I even made a full recovery. None of that I take for granted. As the doctor said when I arrived at the hospital in my home town:”Someone must have been watching over you!”. Indeed.

What does one do with the gift of life, given a second time? Initially, everything was fresh and new and special, and oh so precious. It was a watershed moment, life was divided in before and after. That is good. It is good to be conscious that I don’t know how long I have, that none of us know how long we have. With time, normality took over again. Life flowed and built around the event. It will always be significant but is no longer defining. That is also good. Life is there to be lived. Not just in the dramatic moments but every bit as much in the humdrum of everyday life.

Yet as this anniversary comes around, it’s good to stop and reflect. It’s good to say

thank you for the gift of 30 years

(and hopefully many more).

There are many questions that remain unanswered. Why did the accident happen at all? I don’t know. Why did I live when Mark, who was also in the car, did not? I have no answer. I have no answer yet the words that were an immense source of strength and comfort for me in those first couple of days remain true:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38+39)

I finally left hospital on 9 November 1989. That very evening, the Berlin Wall fell. But that is a different story altogether.

 

Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash

Posted in Uncategorized

Getting Started (book review)

Sometimes you know a book will be good just because of who the author is.

Sometimes you get to have a few sneak peaks along the way and wish the whole book was already available.

Sometimes you even get to be part of the process in a tiny way, by contributing thoughts to some of the issues covered, and you can’t wait to read what others said.

And then the book arrives and it’s every bit as good as you’d hoped and expected.

This is one of those books!

Amy Young does a great job of painting a well-rounded picture of many of the dynamics people typically experience in their first year of living cross-culturally. She unpacks these enough to go beyond the headlines, without getting bogged down in too much detail. Just the right balance!

 

Added bonus: Amy includes a lot of real-life stories – shorter and longer quotes by a wide range of people, describing the highs and lows, joys and challenges of their first year living cross-culturally.

 

All in all, this book is an amazing resource for anyone who is about to move cross-culturally, who is in their first year overseas or who knows someone in that situation. Highly recommend it!

Posted in Uncategorized

An Activity To Help Returnees Bloom (at SPS)

Earlier this week, I was over at Small Planet Studio, sharing about a fun activity that helps you process major transitions:

Any gardeners among us?

I’m definitely not one! But I’ve got a fun and meaningful gardening and transition related activity that I think you’ll enjoy – whether or not you enjoy gardening!

Why don’t we go ahead and do this activity together right now? 

As I explain how to facilitate the activity, I’ll share a few snippets of my own reflections in italics.

 

Continue reading at Small Planet Studio!

Posted in cross-cultural, Member Care, re-entry

Ending Well

 

This is an amazing resource for anyone preparing to move back to their passport country! Ellen Rosenberger takes you into her and her family’s story of returning to the US, while also giving lots of really practical tips for doing transition well. Combining the two does not always work well but it very much does here!  I particularly enjoyed all the very creative ideas for saying goodbye well, and then (re-)engaging with the new place! The book also includes very useful lists of resources and action points both for those transitioning and for those welcoming them back. Highly recommend it!

Posted in cross-cultural

Citizen of the World

A love letter to Europe and to the world

 

 

Citizen of the world

Looking for a place called home

Citizen of the world

In a place I’m proud to roam

Here’s a song for all of us who love this crazy world and despair of it in equal measure…

And for those of us who left pieces of their heart in many different places and struggle to know where home is…

 

Photo by Juliana Kozoski on Unsplash