Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.


Top Ten Activities to Restore Hope After Job Loss

During this transition time, these activities have helped me greatly:

10. Run Toward Love. After I was fired, I drove out to my parents’ home where they served me pot roast and just let me cry, tell my story multiple times, and love me.
9. Take Someone with YouIf you still have to clear out your classroom or cubicle, take a loving person with you to finish off the job of clearing out your things. My Mom accompanied me; it helped to have a cheerleader.
8. Unpack Your Boxes and Reorganize Your Life. I let the boxes from work sit there for a week, then I tackled the project of finding spots for all those books. Just face into the boxes and start creating new life rhythms by putting your favorite work objects around your home.
7. Connect with Loving Co-workers, if possibleI communicated with several people at my old job about what happened, and it surprised me how compassionate they were! Several wrote me emails and cards full of truth and encouragement. One former co-worker brought chocolate and came over to talk; it was hard, but helpful to hear her opinion. Multiple people encouraged me to not let this situation jade me toward teaching, and told me “You ARE a good teacher.” Their words helped pull the poison out of the wound the job loss had afflicted. Because that co-worker had more objective viewpoint right then, she helped me know what I could say about the job loss. I’m so thankful for her coaching.
6. Go Away for a Few Days. Yes, file for unemployment as soon as possible, but you just need time away for a bit to let down so that you can heal. I visited my brother and his family the week after my job ended, and it was there, surrounded by love that I had the strength to file for unemployment. Filing and retelling the story was hard and very humbling, but it helped me process the trauma. Hugs from my one-year-old nephew, and then an invitation from my sister-in-law to stay for four days instead of one was healing balm. My mind could let down, forget what happened for a while, and just rest, play, and love.
5. Create a New Life Structure. Get up early on work days. Apply for jobs, go network, and let job hunting be your new “work.” Have hope; you will get another job.
4. ExerciseI planned exercise into my day because it relieved stress, and brought me joy! Go run by the lake or plan to go dancing.
3. Maximize Your Networks. Yes, sign up and use networking and job hunting sites, but also connect with people in person. I went to my grad school’s career office, and they loaned me career books (a great one is The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry), critiqued my resume, and supported me in thinking about different career choices. They helped me know it’s fine to try something different, like floral design…
2. Do What You Love and Feel Your FeelingsI read, I sang, I cooked. I took floral design classes, and I started writing a book. I cried, felt sad, shouted with anger, ached with loss, and chose to forgive. Then a tutoring job came!
1. Believe and Know That You Are Loved Just As You AreYes, sudden job loss wounds your heart and your confidence. Yes, you need time to heal, but while you are healing, just know that there is a plan for you designed by the Great Creator. Know that you are loved. You are not your job; you are of full value just as you are.
Copyright 2014 by M. H. Campbell


Letting Your Heart Surface

Tears loosen the icy grip of fear:
Fear of letting down, letting people see, letting people close, and letting yourself just be real–pimples, farts, screams, smiles, hugs, and all.

A heart buried out of fear of losing love if not perfect or doing what others want.

A heart surfacing through the unconditional love of Jesus, shown through people: the hugs and kisses of a one year old nephew, of walking alongside sisters through widowhood and marriage, of brothers letting me into their lives, and parents’ nurture and prayer.

A heart surfacing through giving 100 percent, of being rejected, but still having hope to heal and teach again.
I still have hope…for my life, for my city, for my world…
An engaged heart means deeper pain, but deeper hope.


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The Travels of a Cherry Pie

This cherry pie has traveled more than most.

It began with sour cherries getting mixed with sugar and flour then poured into a pie crust, baked at 425 degrees for 40 minutes, and wah-lah–a pie with a heart-shaped pattern on top.

The first destination was my sister’s bridal shower, where I forgot it in the rush of arranging flowers and chopping watermelon for the fruit salad.

The pie traveled home, and then a few days later I took it to the home of an artist friend of mine. She had the great idea of putting the pie in the oven for 30 minutes while we took a walk around the neighborhood in the golden dusk.

She had vanilla ice cream with the bits of vanilla bean in it and it dressed up the pie. I ate two pieces! My friend enjoyed it too. We drank a wonderful nutty tea.

In the pieces I ate, I came across 1 1/2 cherry pits, and I don’t think my friends got any. I’m glad. So this pie wasn’t perfect.

A day later I went over to another friend’s house, and brought the now half of a pie…

We watched the fun show “Call the Midwife” and ate our pie with milk.
We laughed and cried and hugged good-bye.

This pie still has some life in it because there’s a third left.

…Three weeks later…

The last third moved with me to the big city, and I ate it in my kitchen, sitting on the floor, with a cooler as a table. It made my new apartment more homey.

Through this pie’s travels I learned that cherry pie is comforting and makes people smile.


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Ode to the Death of a Computer

Mid-December sun shone into the old farmhouse as I unpacked the box of the refurbished computer. After I pushed the “on” button the Welcome of swirling letters and music made me laugh.

Friends and I snapped silly photos in photo booth, and I loaded hours of music onto the machine.

It made the last semester of paper-writing easier, and helped me graduate, apply for jobs, then apply for grad school.

It typed my way through grad school, crashed once, but I was able to update it and make it better.

This computer connected me to home via Skype to be able to talk I family and friends while I taught in Costa Rica.

I watched “Confessions of a Shopaholic” the night before I flew home and then in the Mexico City airport as I journeyed home.

My grad degree had to be finished of by a grand research paper, and last year my computer and I did it, and I graduated.

It helped me connect with family, friends, and strangers through email, stories, poems, a blog…

On Sunday night, the last DVD it played, Soul Surfer, made me cry from happiness and inspiration.

Then I had known the computer was struggling, but it knonked out on Monday morning, during summer vacation, where I don’t really need it… I have time to be thankful for how the 7 1/2 year old computer helped me accomplish goals and contemplate my next goals… and my next computer…


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The Wall with Hundreds of Handprints: Watching Community Happen Through Creating Spontaneous Art


The transition between summer vacation and heading back to school can be a tough one. It’s especially tough when you are the new kid coming into a new school, and you don’t know anyone. I saw the grief and the joy that heading off to school evokes in people (especially kindergarteners and their parents!) Last week at the school where I teach we had to keep a group of kids behind because they didn’t have permission to go to the park yet. There were several sets of siblings and students of multiple age levels. I walked around talking with the students, and then settled on the ground to play Pyramid Ten with a student. Then I watched as spontaneous art began to explode before me.


Some of the students started grinding the sidewalk chalk into powder, putting their hands in it and giving each other high fives. They loved it because when their hands would clap, there would be a puff of “smoke.” I enjoyed watching them partly because I got to see new kids reaching out to other kids and start to feel part of the group. Community was growing right before my eyes! Then they started smacking their chalky hands, wham, against the school building. They covered the rust brown wall with hundreds of handprints and fingerprints in different colors…it was a work of art that wasn’t planned; it just happened. I love seeing what happens when you give kids space to be creative. Now I have a new vision for letting spontaneous art happen in a safe, loving place.

The handprints lasted through the weekend. I will remember the joy the students had as they leaped through the air to reach a higher place on the wall to make a colorful handprint. More importantly I’ll remember the connections the students made with each other as they smacked each others’ colorful hands and laughed as a puff of chalk whisped out.