Career Writing Newsletter
Photo: Frans Meijers & Reinekke Lengelle, Founders of Career Writing
Writing is really an act of reading. You read the landscape of your life and find the places where grief or fear or sudden surprise has revealed your truth. – Kim Stafford
- Reinekke’s new book of poems and reflections, Jezelf Schrijven was published (in Dutch): https://gompel-svacina.eu/reinekke-lengelle/
- Adela Garabal Gómez takes Career Writing to Peru
- Mijke Post takes Career Writing to the Czech Republic
- Kat McNichol and Mijke Post take Career Writing to Finland
- Margot van Sluytman – winner of Athabasca University’s Distinguished Alumni Award– uses writing for Restorative Justice
Dear Readers and Writers,
It is with mixed feelings that we send you this Career Writing update. In April of this year, just after we sent the last newsletter, Frans got news that he has terminal cancer. He is not expected to live beyond 2018. I am with him in The Netherlands and we are making the most of our precious time.
The ‘writing the self’ work that forms the foundation of Career Writing life has made it poignantly clear once again that it is possible to respond to sad and shocking news in poetic ways. Finding the right words in poetry and dialogue, we are moving through this phase of our lives with love, equanimity, and gratitude for all we’ve built and shared.
We continue to talk about work and life and how we’re dealing with the diagnosis. Parts of our story have been published already, including in Reinekke’s Dutch book, Jezelf Schrijven (https://gompel-svacina.eu/reinekke-lengelle/). Reinekke has also published poems about our journey on the website of our colleague and PhD student Kat McNichol (https://www.dreamerswriting.com/stories-poems/here-now/), whose research was discussed in our last newsletter.
Career Writing will continue to blossom, and there are many new and positive developments to share. For instance, below you’ll read about what Adela Garabal Gómez and Mijke Post are doing – they are two of the first instructors of Career Writing and have been doing this work for close to a decade now, at The Hague University and elsewhere. Reinekke also gave a private workshop day to 11 coaches in The Hague at the end of September.
Frans offers these wise words to everyone who wants to carry on with this work and keep the quality of Career Writing high: Continue on and be sure that there are always new developments, good research, and sound theory for this work.
- Jezelf Schrijven– Reinekke’s book Happy: poems and reflections for writing and healing the self is available in Dutch. You can order a copy online directly from the publisher: https://gompel-svacina.eu/reinekke-lengelle/.
- Career Agency scholarly journal article – What has imagination got to do with career success?
A new article that Frans and Reinekke wrote with colleagues Heidi Muijen and Wim Wardekker appeared in the Australian Journal of Career Development. Here is the abstract so you get the idea:
Abstract: Career agency is a vaguely defined concept that is usually explained in terms of cultivating self-reliance, while it is at the same time being critiqued as a difficult to reach goal as a result of societal pressures. Instead of viewing agency through the lens of these opposing viewpoints, focused on people either being self-reliant or determined by outside forces, this article proposes a “medial” perspective on agency. The idea explored is that people can be assisted to develop agency when it is conceptualized as an emergent phenomenon that can be fostered through imagination. Imagination can be fostered in the form of playful writing, where individuals are invited to engage with other players in a field where an expansion of both symbolic and material space can be promoted. The dangers of an instrumental focus on career management skills are outlined and the philosophical considerations underlying the idea of imagination as fostering agency are explained, along with practical ways in which students and clients can be helped in becoming more agentic.
Muijen, H., Lengelle, R., Meijers, F., & Wardekker, W. (2018). The role of imagination in emergent career agency. Australian Journal of Career Development, 27(2), 88-98.
Let us know if you’d like to read it and we’ll let you know where to find it!
EDUCATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
- Research on Empowerment through Career Writing – Adela Garabal Gómez
Between September 2017 and June 2018, Adela Garabal Gómez developed and carried out a design project research for a master’s thesis in the Facility Management and European Studies departments at The Hague University of Applied Sciences for the purpose of coaching students with study delay (i.e. student who are delayed substantially in their programs) .
One of the most important conclusions of this research is that working on identity learning is crucial for students with a study delay. Although a key focus of study-delay coaching tends to be reinforcing competence, it is important for coaches to balance relatedness, autonomy, and competence (the three basic needs) in order to achieve progress in student competence.
This research suggests that Career Writing is a practical tool that promotes identity learning and offers a safe environment to students, regardless of gender, age or cultural background.
Garabal Gómez dedicated her master’s thesis to Frans Meijers and Reinekke Lengelle, who she says “were the real instigators of my passion for Career Writing, inspiring me in this work these past ten years. They have played a major role in the development of my thesis.”
- Career Writing goes to Perú – Adela GarabalGómez
As a result of the success of the Empowerment through Career Writingintervention, a partner in Perú, Edutalento, with whom I have been working as Edukans trainer for the last 5 years, got interested in this initiative. This has led to organizing Career Writing workshops at the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología in Lima, Perú, on the 29th and 30th of October. The courses will be taught in Spanish. The participants will be teachers, coaches, and students. It is the first time that the facilitator will be trying this successful method in a fully Spanish-speaking environment.
- Curriculum & Teaching Abroad – Mijke Post
I put the final touches on the course materials of the “zelfregie leerlijn” (Self-direction curriculum) for the Communication Course I am developing at the Hague University.
This curriculum has a serious bit of career writing in it: I use the career writing model in a video lecture, and students write critical reflections through blended learning and present their career stories. It has been great fun so far because they surprise themselves and even their best friends say, “I never knew you … walked catwalks … were adopted … record your own music …”
Pablo, one of my students, put it together like this in his final exercise:
I chose the bag for this exercise because it contains all the other objects. This class was like a warehouse, a safe space. Here you can just come in without having knowledge about politics, or math. It’s just about you and listening to all the other’s viewpoints. It’s a pity that I had to wait until 21, if we would have had this at 14, we could have been very wise and strong men and women right now.
I am also going to Masaryk University in the Czech Republic to teach three classes of career writing to the university’s staff members, as well as bachelor’s, master’s and PhD students!
On a more personal note, I visited Frans and Reinekke in July in Wijchen, a very nice morning but also very sad because of Frans’s current health situation. I felt very welcome and close. On the way back I bought one of those fridge magnets of the castle of Wijchen, to remember this special trip. (See picture at the bottom of the newsletter.)
Workshops in Finland – Kat McNichol & Mijke Post
Kat McNichol from Canada and Mijke Post from the Netherlands will be going to Turku, Finland to teach Career Writing workshops. Prof. Dr Leena Penttinnen is organizing this event as part of her training program for career counsellors in higher education, vocational education, private career service companies, trade unions, public employment services, HRD-managerment, employability projects with refugees etc. At least 60 participants will be there to enjoy this course.
- Margot van Sluytman, writer, restorative justice advocate, and graduate of the Athabasca University (AU) Master of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies program, received AU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in Toronto, Canada, on October 15, 2018.
“Writing saved Margot at age 15 when her father was murdered. She wrote to express pain and heal, never knowing it would instigate a passion within to find a new social justice theory. She is a poet, teacher, sought-after speaker, and political influencer who is on the road to changing the current model of restorative justice through Sawbonna, a Zulu greeting that acknowledges our shared humanity.”
Reinekke is professor at Athabasca University, Canada and let Margot know about the Masters of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies program all those years ago. Margot completed her thesis work with colleagues Carolyn Redl and Dale Dewhurst in 2012.
To view the evening and Margot’s talk, visit
INSPIRATION FOR PRACTICE
Here is a metaphor for personal development that might work for you and your students or clients as you work with writing as a transformative learning process.
See your personal development as a change to your living room. You have lived there for years and it has had its comfortable spots: the worn chair with blanket, the lamps from your parents, grandmother’s table perhaps, and the curtains you sewed as a young woman.
But all of a sudden the space feels dark and in realizing that, you notice it has been dark for a while. It’s time for the overhaul – sure, it’s exciting, but it’s also scary: can you even afford it?
You know you will have to remove some of the old furniture so you don’t get too crowded by the new coming in. The things you have are symbolic: for instance, your parents’ way of viewing things are the lamps that need replacing; grandmother’s table is family rootedness and can stay, but must be moved closer to a window. Traditions need the light of “the now” to be liveable. The comfortable chair is actually not so comfortable anymore – your idea of yourself is starting to feel hard or worn.
Our poems and narratives can be like the new pieces of furniture and art that tell us, and others who visit, who we have become and are becoming. Looking back and at the change, we don’t regret it or get angry about our decorative choices long ago; renovations are part of good living, even if they are messy and throw our rhythm and rituals out of whack for a while. It is refreshing to feel now what fits right.
Clear walls, different light, fewer things blocking our view of the outside world, a new combination of known and new elements – eventually we feel we’re coming home to ourselves. Another cycle lived through… tears, yes; sore backs from the work, yes; melancholy – yes, those are there too. But this kind of sorrow, if you pay careful attention, can be like cinnamon baking – it makes a room feel like home.
We need ‘art forms’ to make the changes and to see them – poems, furniture, metaphorical reflections become new maps for living, rivers to flow on. We nudge our way there by listening in and seeing our words speaking back to us on the page. We allow feelings without judgement.
You can extend the metaphor for yourself and see where the writing takes you.*********
Do let us know if you’d still like to receive the newsletter or not. Apologies if you have received it and didn’t want it. If this is the case, we’ll be sure to take you off our list.
Reinekke & Frans
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October 22, 2018