I was talking with some of our team this week about why I think it can be so powerful to be removed from one’s everyday location to a new environment for a few days… especially when the environment still has many reminders of recent tragedy. My recent trip to Hawaii for five days with two members of our Nozomi staff is a great example of how significant a trip away can be! Here are a few reasons the trip to Hawaii (and other times like this) seem so valuable:
1) Stepping outside of our very known environment can allow us to “try on” a new personae; to step into new and different shoes. Or to be more who we’ve always wanted to be. I loved seeing Y and C shine — in ways that I have never seen before. I loved as they dressed up and looked so beautiful… and receive so much attention. They were both greatly respected whenever they shared and welcomed by our Hawaii hosts in such wonderful ways. They carried themselves with dignity and it was really an honor to be alongside as a friend and a coworker. (Below is with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and friend Rene).
2. Being in a new and foreign environment bonds people in amazing ways. I could not have planned a better way to bond with my two Nozomi managers! We were up until 2 or 3 am every night, preparing for the next day’s events/talks/sales etc. We were often giddy with tiredness or jet lag; we needed to be a team at every function. They needed me to translate; I needed them for all that they were bringing to each event as they shared about their experiences back in Ishinomaki. Even since returning there is a much stronger sense of trust as a result of this trip. We text each other funny pictures and reminders of the trip and there is a new depth to our friendship.
3. We bonded with others who were there to help out. We had a few amazing friends who stuck by our side whenever they could – their help was invaluable and I know all three of us will remember their friendship to us on this trip forever! (Yes – those are underwear in the picture below… which brings us to the next point!)
4. We had SO MUCH FUN. Really! Even when it rained our only afternoon at the beach. Mary Poppins even showed up. Whether it was laughing about a pair of old lady’s underwear that kept mysteriously showing up or the same English phrase over and over, being out of one’s element can allow for lots of laughs, and lots of bonding.
5. Sharing about our experiences brings new meaning to them. My professor used to always say, ‘expression depends impression.’ Finding ways and words to share can bring healing and clarity. I loved hearing Y and C able to share about their last few years, reflecting and finding ways to allow others to enter into their pain and their triumphs. I think they both experienced healing in new places. They are amazing women, and many had a chance to realize this.
6. Being overseas helped produce pride in the workmanship of the Nozomi Project as well as a desire to increasingly better our products. We were so encouraged by the invitation by Sloane, a beautiful boutique owner, to carry our products in her amazing store in Kailua! Her comments and feedback were incredibly helpful and we are excited for this new partnership, and a few others that have sprung up from this trip. At our staff meeting after returning to Ishinomaki, C. shared that she is anxious to create even better Nozomi products as she realized that they really are going out to the world and represent who we are. One of our staff the next day began brainstorming ways that we can improve the work that she is overseeing. LOVE THAT!
7. There’s something about being away that let’s us look at our own world differently. Coming back we spent over four hours of our airplane ride debriefing the experience and talking about the future of the Nozomi Project. They were so perceptive, and had insights that showed depth and a different tone from a week before.
So thankful for the chance we had for this amazing experience! On the last day, C. said, “My heart still thinks I am living in a dream so I can’t believe the dream is almost over!” Here’s to dreams come true.