Migration, Cultural Displacement, and Growing through Loss (an interview with Heidi Chupp)

Meet Heidi Chupp

Heidi is a fifty something writer and mother of two grown and married children who has lived in Texas her whole adult life.

But living in Texas, living in the United States for that matter, is not how childhood Heidi envisioned her adult life.

Heidi grew up as a missionary kid, living in Central and South America. She finished her K-12 education in Guatemala before moving to the United States to go to college in Indiana. That's where she met her husband of thirty two years and life took a different course than she had imagined - making a home and raising a family in the United States.

In that move to the US, Heidi lost the cultural context in which she grew up. A change she still feels, as she experiences "some form of culture shock nearly every day" and lives with a "permanent sense of unsettledness, of belonging everywhere and nowhere all at the same time".

I can relate. I'm regularly surprised by my own life and where I've ended up at age forty three in a cultural context very different from my own childhood. Something I could never have imagined for my life, as a young woman.

For years, I've wondered "where do I belong?"

I'm not a sociologist but I'm willing to make an informed guess that in our increasingly migratory world we are asking this question with more frequency as many of us live adult lives in cultural contexts very different from our childhoods.

For most of human history, society, culture, and technology did not change significantly from one generation to the next. This is one of the strains and stresses of our modern context.

It is also one of the opportunities. We're less constrained by a tightly woven familial and tribal context but unfortunately, we're also less supported and grounded by those same networks.

We have the freedom to invent something new with our lives, with all the accompanying risk. And we experience the gift of new ideas and wider perspectives. It's a mixed bag.

In this interview we explore how our migrations and moves, and cultural and societal change in general mean that many of us raise our children in different contexts than we ourselves were raised.

We also talk about a significant loss in Heidi's recent adult life: leaving an organization she and her husband worked with for thirty years. Work that was vocation, career, and faith all wrapped up in one.

In Heidi's own words, “we didn’t even realize what kind of a journey we were beginning, a journey that would take us away from a life we expected to live until the end of our days on earth. Since then, we have experienced loss and loneliness. We’ve felt numb, disoriented, unmoored, without a discernible frame of reference.”

I ask Heidi how she has healed and grown through this painful disruption in her life. And she shares her experience with honesty and generosity of spirit.

And finally, Heidi and I talk about moving. Although Heidi has spent most of her adult life at 2 main residences, in the last five years she moved five times. And oh, how I can relate to all that!

So we chat (commiserate) about moving a lot in a short time and Heidi turns the tables on me and asks, "how do you root and establish home in a new place?" I share some of my own experience of living, loving, and rooting into Montreal, a home I don't anticipate will be permanent.

Navigating change, feeling culturally out-of-sync, evolving through loss, Heidi and I talk about tough topics in this interview with hope, gentleness, and laughter. It was such a privilege to connect and find a kindred spirit.

Live is a beautiful gift, even in, perhaps most especially in, its very unexpected twists and turns.

To listen to this interview join my Patreon at the $5/month tier and have access to all previous interviews. A new podcast episode is released every month.

Where to find Heidi:

This episode of my Patreon podcast was published in early January, it's just been so busy on the blog with Path to Employment series and launching Freedom Education I haven't had the opportunity to mention it here.

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Lighting Design, Homeschooling Freedom, and Project-Based Learning (an interview with the Warfels) »

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