CHOOSING MY LIFE

It feels good to realize that I’ve been choosing my life for all these years.

In 2000 I chose to follow Rev Moon’s direction to go to Korea. Before that I chose to sign our family up for the National Messiah mission. We got assigned to Portugal. It was there I chose to take a teacher training course which certified me to teach English as a second language. That came in very handy later on. In Portugal we understood the suffering course that Rev Moon always talks about, and we each gained something infinitely beautiful to take with us when we left. Thank you, Portugal!

Before Portugal we chose to go back to my hometown in Tampa Florida, where we bought our very first home and where Emilie got introduced to my family. Thank you, Rev Moon, Tampa, and all the Gatlins.

After 4 years in Portugal I chose to leave and followed Emilie to Korea, where she had decided to go to middle school. Jean followed close behind. In Korea I chose the university I wanted to teach at, and after a very intense interview I got the job, much to my surprise, and loved every day there. I chose to create The Coffee Morning as a way to follow up on WFWP’s investment in bringing women from east and west together. After being elected president, I chose to delegate some of the leadership, which was not an easy thing for me to do and taught me some invaluable lessons. Thank you Peter Drucker for all the management advice, and all the IWK sisters for keeping the dream going.

After renting for a few years, Jean and I chose a lovely apartment in Seoul to buy, and after a short period of panicked buyer’s remorse I fell head over heels in love with it. We chose to make it truly our own by adding a solarium, hidden storage under the floor, and a raised platform for our bed which doubled our storage space. Thanks, Jean, for seeing the potential, and for being so handy, and thank you Korea for the best years of my life.

After 12 years in Asia I followed Jean to his hometown in Belgium, where he took up teaching, and I became a part of the Debacker tribe. After 3 years in Liege I chose to leave Europe and come back to the US where I got to live with my mother and make amends before she died. When she chose to turn her care over to my sister, Dana, I chose to leave Florida and fulfill a longstanding desire to live in New York City. Thanks Dana, for taking over, and thanks Mom, for allowing me to go.

First I chose to attend a film-making course at UTS, where I met Chaplain Kone. After meeting him and feeling the call, I chose the CPE internship I wanted in Manhattan, and from there chose the residency in Bridgeport that opened up. Because I had fallen in love with Seaside Park and the Long Island Sound during my work there, I chose to stay in Bridgeport after wandering around the globe for twenty years, and chose a tiny home to buy. It’s the perfect place for me. Thanks Kone, and thanks Eileen and Janet for helping me find a little refuge by the water.

During chaplain training our supervisor suggested we find and attend a 12 step group. Thanks, Adrian. Two years later I am still going, and last year I chose to create a step group within that. That smaller group is my weekly rock and salve, my healing place. I also chose to look for musicians and start a band. Thanks to Craigslist I found Ian and Matt. In the band I chose to call myself a new name, Moxanne, because it’s my intention to reveal more of the Moxie within.

In Bridgeport I also chose to become a regular volunteer after discovering my favorite radio station, WPKN, broadcasting out of UB. From there I met the DJ who hosts ‘Digging in the Dirt,’ and chose to join a community garden where I get my hands in the dirt and get my daily dose of Vitamin D. I’m alive and creative there and making choices everyday. Those little plants are pulling me right along with them into the future. And everybody there knows me as Moxanne 🙂 Thanks Steve and Bob!

I’m happy that my daughter Emilie and I like each other as we do, and share so much. That’s a dream come true. As I told her yesterday, ‘Before she came into my life, I missed her so bad, I missed her so so bad!’ I chose to have a child, and worked hard to make it happen, and she’s my greatest joy. I’ve chosen to let her live her own life, and to finally realize that I’m not the center of it, and that’s OK. She’s opened up to me in ways I never thought possible and only longed for before. Where I’ve chosen to live is only 2 1/2 hours from her, which means I can see her often, but not so often that she wishes I lived farther away. Thanks, my darling daughter.

I chose to join the Unification Church in 1978. Thirty-five years later I chose to leave it. Looking back the one thing I can’t say I chose was my husband. He was chosen for me by Rev. Moon. And it has been a struggle for both of us all the way through. Not that the other choices didn’t involve struggle or pain. They did. Every one of them has a story of challenge of some kind or other. Jean and I both chose to go through with the blessing, but neither one of us was clear about that choice. There’s something strange about that, because marriage is the most important choice a person can make.

Since making the choice to live on separate continents we have grown closer and more empowered, less co-dependent. We still operate like many other families – discussing major decisions, sharing resources, and showing up for important family events. We talk more, and laugh more often. It’s easier now than it’s ever been to get each other’s attention:  all we have to do is get comfortable and open Messenger Facetime, and Voila! We’re choosing to keep in touch on a very regular basis, which sometimes means 3 or 4 times a week. Friday is our scheduled call, and we rarely miss it. We talk about anything and everything, only interrupting ourselves to get up and pee or go get something to eat. I often think we should record our conversations and make a radio talk show – they’re THAT interesting! Thanks again, Jean.

So, here I am at what could be called a conclusion, but of course we know it isn’t. I certainly didn’t foresee where each choice would lead me. And I look back and feel grateful for all of them, even the mistakes. I suppose that could be the lead-in to a sequel…Life is full of choices, and there are many more to come.

HABITUDES FOR COMMUNICATORS

Habitudes 1

 Habitudes for CommunicatorsImages that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudesby Tim Elmore

I came upon this book serendipitously. Have you ever had an experience that matches exactly with something you read about the day before? Jean will be giving a talk in a few weeks, and he was wondering how to prepare~ then this book just fell into our laps. I’m inspired because we have also just started a small group and I’m looking for things to inspire our discussion and help us create genuine relationships with each other.

The following is an excerpt from the first IMAGE given by Tim Elmore. The book is wonderfully designed to be not only inspiring, but easily applicable~ guidelines are given to assess yourself and your personal authentic speaker/communicator skills.

 

WINDOWS AND MIRRORS

When a communicator provides a window for people to see into his/her life, listeners receive a mirror to see their own. Speakers need to identify with the people they are addressing. Steve Jobs told 3 stories about his life, taking less than 15 minutes to deliver one of the most memorable commencement speeches ever given at Stanford University (2005).

When speakers hold a window up to their soul (their humanity) listeners identify with them and become engaged with their story. Because the communicator is secure enough to pull back the curtain on their own life, everyone feels safe to lean in and examine their own.

Effective speakers identify with the people who are listening. They may tell a story about themselves; they might reveal a fear, a hope or a weakness they possess. Through the raw act of being transparent, they attract listeners to identify with them. A great example is Brandon Stanton’s wildly successful blog, Humans of New York.

The windows and mirrors idea is about becoming transparent. Being authentic and revealing. We practice going beyond the sterile transmittal of information. It reminds us that what people really long for ~ what is magnetic to most audiences~ is genuine spirit.

People are looking for a communicator more than a public speaker.

Talk it over:

  1. Is it difficult for you to open up and become vulnerable in front of an audience? Why?
  2. How much weakness to share? How transparent should one be with an audience?John Maxwell suggests that speakers should be real to the point that the audience doesn’t begin to feel sorry for them. Do you have an experience of a speaker going overboard and losing your interest or respect?
  3. When have you seen a communicator become authentic and win over a crowd?

Assess Yourself

Dr. Martin Seligman says that the critical determinant of success in life is resilience in the face of adversity. Awareness, contemplation and a sense of humor are your best friends in attempting to learn from difficult experiences and make sense of them for listeners. Evaluate your personal communication using the following criteria on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being weak and 10 being strong.

1. I am keenly aware of my own flaws and weaknesses. _____

2. I reflect on lessons I can learn from difficult experiences. _____

3. I maintain a sense of humor and can laugh at myself. _____

4. I am emotionally secure enough to share my flaws/weaknesses. _____

5. I’m generally good at sharing stories from my life, even failures. _____

6. I can sense if my listeners need more transparency as I speak. _____

 

TRY IT OUT

One rule works in most social settings: people will only become as vulnerable as their leader. We must be willing to reveal the kind of information that we’d ask of another person. Telling people your background, your likes and dislikes, and your fears and hopes is part of the give and take of genuine conversation. It’s how we get to know people. This week, practice this habitude in conversations and in any speeches, talks or sermons you deliver. Develop two strong personal anecdotes and insert them into your comments to others. Take a risk and open up about your humanity. Then, meet in a community and discuss how it influenced others to be transparent as well.