November 1, 2018
When I was 10, I went for the first, and last time, to Camp Lake Hubert in Northern MN. I was terribly homesick for most of the two weeks. My aunt commented to my parents I was a homebody and she worried I wouldn’t feel comfortable out in the world. Now I am 51 and I am writing to you from Malacca, Malaysia. It is one of the many stops on a solo month long journey that takes me, among other places, to Toronto, Kuala Lumpur and London.
As I mentioned, I was a stay at home kinda girl in my youth. I didn’t like to travel until high school when I started in Mexico my junior year and Italy my senior year and whoosh, I was hooked. From then on, travel has stretched me. It continues to be my learning edge. It is for me a place of discomfort and ease all at the same time.
On my way over to Malaysia on the plane I watched the Robin Williams HBO documentary, Come Inside My Mind and remembered his role as Mr. John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society where Mr. Keating encouraged his students to seize the day. “Caaarrrrpee Dieee-emmmm,” he whispered in front of the trophy case. “Seize the day, Boys. Seize the Day.”
When I arrived at the E&O Hotel in Penang, the founders, the Sharkie Brothers had their photos on the wall, and along with the words of John Keating, I lovingly recalled my father saying to me years ago with an homage to another great character, Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and very few people come to the table to eat. Make sure you are one of them.”
Now, several months after my father’s passing, I have an even stronger urgency to spread my wings and travel. For me, travel isn’t just ‘fun,’ but a quest that goes far deeper. I want to be even more grounded and anchored in myself; to have peace in my own skin, no matter where I am, no matter who I am with. And, I take this journey with others supporting me, but I take it alone. This is a quest, I imagine, I will be on for my whole life. An emancipating adventure combined with a quest for inner freedom.
I think one can go on quests in one’s own hometown, in one’s classroom or in one’s office. All quests undertaken with sincerity and heart are worthy of attention. Mine, I imagine, will be ongoing. I strive to live the words of Rumi aloud in my Work and in my life. “Wherever you stand, be the soul of the place.”
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
Challenge Success is offering a Parent Ed event, “Say What? The Power of Communication in Raising Healthy, Engaged Kids” at Stanford University on November 2. Get info on the event and on a new their white paper on college admissions on their website.
Leading Change Together: Developing Educator Capacity Within Schools and Systems by Ellie Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum-DeStefano. Amazon writes, “If we can get adult development right, we can change the world!” Adult development…in schools? Yes. In fact, understanding and sharing ideas—and implementing practices—that help adults explore experiences and assumptions is a powerful driver of school change. Eleanor Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum-DeStefano share expertise that has evolved from their many decades of research and work with educators and show you how to deepen your understanding of adult development and its role in systemic and school wide change and educational improvement, and connect theory to practice with developmentally oriented structures and strategies that enhance collaboration, communication, and feedback.”
Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World by Michele Gelfand. Amazon writes, “In Rule Makers, Rule Breakers celebrated cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand takes us on an epic journey through human cultures, offering a startling new view of the world and ourselves. With a mix of brilliantly conceived studies and surprising on-the-ground discoveries, she shows that much of the diversity in the way we think and act derives from a key difference—how tightly or loosely we adhere to social norms.”
About Jennifer Abrams
Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's latest book is Swimming in the Deep End: Four Foundational Skills for Leading Successful School Initiatives. Her previous publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.
Work with Jennifer
Praise for Jennifer
“Jennifer has so squarely hit the mark with our teacher-leaders that she is one of the few presenters that they are always requesting when professional development is the question. Here at the University of Chicago, this acclaim and recognition does not come easily! Jennifer has a way of presenting information that gets quickly to the heart of the matter. Her ability to read the true needs of the group, regardless of the original focus, has made her a favorite among the faculty here at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.”