n detour [ˈdiːtuə]

a wandering from the direct way. We made a detour through the mountains.

Please forgive the long lapse in posting. The first half of 2012 has been packed with life changes and I’ve barely kept up. But some pretty exciting things have claimed my attention.

Several of the high points:

My husband, Jim, and I sold the house we’ve owned for 25 years (a story in itself) and bought a six-acre farm, complete with a 160-year-old farmhouse, barn, and other outbuildings, the purposes of which are not clear to me. There’s a brook in the back with a bridge connecting our land to 300 acres of conservation land. When asked if we plan to farm, my husband cheerfully states, “Sure, we’ll have 500 head of carpenter ants.” The truth is that having this farm allows him to indulge his love of all things machine, especially those with wheels. We “had” to buy a riding lawn mower, a tractor, a pick-up truck and who knows what else. So far, what I’m loving about this place are the birds, the light, the quiet, and the chance to create new habits that suit a new environment. We’re out in the country but still only a few minutes from the highway. I have renewed my commitment to growing beautiful orchids indoors and to creating a low maintenance garden outside. I might even learn to operate the lawn mower—not to cut the grass but to haul garden debris to the compost area.  It’s very peaceful here and invites one to slow the pace a little, to build periods of renewal into every day.
 My book, Why Not Lead? A Primer for Families of People with Disabilities and their Allies was published in April! I learned that it had “gone live” while sitting in my car waiting for a showing on our house to finish up. I’m so pleased: It’s the realization of almost ten years of work. You can buy the book through Amazon and Barnes & Noble on line. Please check it out and write a review. Share it with your friends and the people you work with. Let me know if you are affiliated with organizations, programs or courses that might make the book available to their participants. As far as I know, it’s one of the very few books on leadership specifically for this audience.  To read an excerpt, please check out my upcoming newsletter. 
 For the past few years, a small group of people has been working to bring into existence a North American Society for Organizational Learning (SoL NA). Recently, it was decided to join SoL NA with the Cambridge-based SoL, Inc., the founding SoL entity that has been in existence since 1997. This was a tremendous development because it streamlines our efforts and reduces the likelihood of member confusion and potential competition that would have occurred with two SoL entities operating within the same geographic area.  The new governing body (of which I am a member) has already had one face-to-face meeting and will be meeting again this week to continue working out how to blend the best of both entities.  Please check out SoL at

I’d like to come back to something I wrote above about having the chance to create new habits that suit a new environment. I didn’t feel that way leading up to our move or immediately after we moved. I was preoccupied with unfavorably comparing the comfortable habits of my old environment with what was required in the new. “It will take me six minutes longer to get to the airport.” ‘I’ll have to go out of my way to get groceries.” “What: no garbage disposal? What do we do with the trash?” And so on.  Initially, I was in a low-grade state of irritability as I encountered the many small ways I would have to adjust to the new environment.  Everything felt like so much effort…a detour from my habitual path.

And then one day the resistance started to dissolve. Instead of writing in my journal at the kitchen table, I decided to sit outside in the sun (which I could have done before we moved but didn’t think to). I experimented with different routes to get where I needed to go and stopped using a stopwatch to see how much longer it took than I was used to. Gradually, I started appreciating what the new environment had to offer as well as adjusting my behaviors to the setting. Not surprisingly, the irritability has begun to fade as I settle in to this new home. What a great reminder of how subtle and deeply ingrained resistance to change can be, at least for me. Underneath each major life change is a collection of daily habits that one might welcome or resist changing in the context of a new environment. I find changing these habits to be harder than the major life change itself. While I doubt I’ll ever embrace these opportunities with ease, I am committed to seeing the possibilities that a detour brings.