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Choose your kiln

I suck at self-directed change.

I’ve fallen off more bandwagons than I care to count.

I’ve broken so many New Year’s resolutions that I just don’t make them anymore.

When I see a blog post that promises me change in six easy steps, I roll my eyes and move on.

But by any measure, the trajectory of my life includes dramatic changes. I’m a Jersey girl living in Alaska. I was a fundamentalist kid, and now I’m a non-theistic Unitarian Universalist.

How did these changes happen?

I chose life experiences that changed me.

kilnPick any metaphor you’d like—a kiln, a crucible, a glacier, a forest fire—there are forces that will apply pressure to us from the outside, changing us in lasting ways.

For me, it has been: attending college and seminary; working as a minister; choosing a relationship with Liesl; moving to Alaska; adopting our dog, Brady; writing the Interdependent Web; and becoming Willa’s mother.

Next month we’re headed off on an open-ended adventure. It’s daunting—and it will change us.

I’m counting on that. Liesl and I need something to change us, because we’re really stuck—and we’re tired of it.

We’re putting ourselves in a kiln for a few months. Then we’ll open the door, and see how we’ve changed.

Are you tired of being stuck?

Choose your kiln—or your crucible, glacier, or forest fire.

Make it something big.

Make it something that will change you from the outside, in.


Photo by bptakoma, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.

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Zero to Hero, Day Five: Love Your Theme

Today’s assignment: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you have. Include at least one you would never think of using.

This task is both fun and difficult.

I love clicking “preview” on a theme, and watching my blog transform. It’s a chance to play with possibility, to stretch, to imagine—without any real investment.

I didn’t really plan to change anything.

I like my theme. I worked hard at it—a while ago. The header is a photo Liesl took on a whale-watching boat tour. I like the green accent color.

It’s comfortable. I don’t feel like changing it. Particularly since Liesl and I are looking at big changes—changes that might mean a new blog. New context, new blog.

But maybe I need to do just what I don’t want to do. Just what I don’t feel like doing.

For the past few months I’ve needed a haircut. I feel so much better when my hair’s freshly trimmed, but I haven’t made time. Inertia. Well, and mamahood.

But what a boost it will give me once I find the energy and get it done. And I’ll need that energy for the changes coming our way.

So maybe my blog needs a makeover. Maybe the snipping and trimming and reorganizing that comes with a theme change will give my writing—and my life—a bit of zing.

yokoAs I looked through the theme library, the only one I liked was “Yoko.”

Yoko. Someone who disrupted the comfortable, dared to change what everyone liked, made something new.

Sounds about right.


Photo by Earl McGehee, used under a Creative Commons license


Reach out and touch someone

Last week I asked my Facebook friends this question:  “Do you find yourself calling people on the phone less and less?”

I walked away from the computer, and when I returned, the responses had started rolling in.

Four people simply said, “Yes.”  Others said:

  • Yep, and I like it much better. I actually keep in contact more often now that there is email and FB. I have a hard time remembering to call people during normal daytime hours so this way I can still contact people.
  • Absolutely. For casual comments and questions, I text. So do most of my friends. I do talk with my sons on the phone once a week, and with a dear friend in Boston every few weeks, but we see each other on FB more often than that. Mostly, I think of the phone as for businessy sorts of things or for emergencies.
  • No, but I’m not sure if that is because I moved across the country. I call a lot—I think I probably spend maybe 3 hours on the phone a week? The internet adds more communication with folks than I otherwise would have, and I like that. I might also not be of the right generation to ask, because the internet came up around the time I would have had phone privileges as a kid.
  • Less on the phone. I really don’t think that is a good thing. Life has become more complicated. It’s a shame, as I think our relationships have suffered because we have too much one-way communication. E-mail is efficient, but isolating.
  • Yes, but when I do talk on the phone, it is usually a planned call to a family member or close friend and we talk for hours…
  • Work, I use skype or google hang out quite a bit, but still phone as well. Friends and family, long distance, I use skype or google hang out. Local friends I use phone to arrange to see face to face. My 16 year old, I text.
  • I pretty much avoid talking on the phone anyway, but with texting and FB it’s even easier. I prefer face to face, but find texting and FB helpful when used well.
  • I find that my phone calls are more scheduled than anything else. In other days, I would just spontaneously call someone, or they’d spontaneously call me. Now, usually several texts go through asking if their busy before we call each other.
  • Absolutely. Facebook is a wonderful communication tool. You can rally 10 people together to do something fun with hardly any effort. Remember trying to do that by phone?
  • I very rarely get a phone call. Occasional text, emails are the way I communicate. And, I’ve been thinking, I don’t like it very much. NPR interview with Sherry Turkel, author of “Alone Together” about just this thing. A lonely existence.
  • Text more than phone these days—inherited from my kids. Facebook has largely replaced e-mail for keeping in touch with friends and family. Still use e-mail and phone for business-type things, but being retired means a lot less of that too.
  • Occasionally I need to give remedial phone etiquette lessons to my 13-year-old. She just doesn’t talk on the phone enough to know what to do.
  • Text and Facebook are my biggest communication lines by far.
  • Regrettably, honestly, yes.
  • Yes. I generally avoid it.
  • No, but I find myself wasting way way too much time here!!
  • No, I’ve never been a phone-talker. I actually communicate more often now that technology has evolved.
  • Yes, but even more, I almost never write people notes anymore. Used to put out a dozen a week.
  • Some people I chat online with, some I call. It depends on the person.
  • I text you since you are in a different time zone but I will say I know I light up when I see someone I know and love have called me. Text is nice because its unobtrusive. Calling lets you hear how someone really is vs what a Text or email tells you.
  • What’s a “phone?”

Photo by Trace Meek.

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Change agent, know thyself

About ten days ago, Peter Bowden of the UU Growth Blog created a Facebook Group called the UU Growth Lab.  It’s an understatement to say that the group has grown rapidly:  today there are 279 members, and several spin-off groups. Connecting with that many people passionate about the growth of Unitarian Universalism has been incredibly energizing.

There’s a wide range of interests represented among the group’s members, and it’s pushed me to think about who I am as a change agent–and who I’m not.

Here’s the work my gifts and passions equip me for:  I like rebuilding and regrowing dispirited groups, helping each member discover who they are, and what they like to do; I also love making connections between people and groups, creating overlapping networks of creativity.

There are among the UU Growth Lab members people whose gifts and passions equip them to be congregation planters.  Because of the way my history and temperament combine, I know that creating a congregation ex nihilo really isn’t my thing.   But I’m glad it’s theirs.

So what about you?  What are your gifts?  What are your passions?  What amazing work are you uniquely equipped to accomplish?


Two Paths Diverged

Once upon a time, when we walked the woods with friends and took divergent paths, we just lost track of those friends.

But now there’s Facebook, and it’s as if all the trees between us have suddenly disappeared, revealing the choices our friends have made.

Last night I received a Facebook message from a friend from college.  I clicked on his profile, wanting to be sure that this was the friend I remembered.  And it was.  But it wasn’t.

In the time since we last knew each other, my friend has moved from one side of the political spectrum to the far end of the other.  If my profile were less private, he would have discovered the same thing about me.  In college, he was slightly left of center, and I was more than slightly right of center.  We must have passed each other in the middle, sometime in the last fifteen years, because now he’s a fan of Michelle Bachmann, and I’m a fan of Rachel Maddow.