Ruth Van Reken describes herself as 'a person in process' – someone whose life is made up of the continuous interplay between her inner and outer journey. For more than twenty-five years, Ruth has traveled to over 45 countries sharing what she has learned while 'listening to life' about the often paradoxical nature of growing up globally. What she has learned resonates with expatriate children and adults from all sectors – corporate, diplomatic, military, missionary, immigrant and refugees.
Born and raised in Nigeria as the daughter of American missionaries, at age 39 Ruth needed to understand why, despite a life filled with rich experiences, a meaningful spiritual component, and family and friends who loved her, she often battled a secret depression. Through the journaling that became this book, she discovered that the very goodness of her life kept her from dealing with some of the challenges that also come with a global lifestyle – the realities of chronic cycles of separation and loss, reentry, and questions of identity. How could there be any struggles when she loved her childhood world so much?
As a way of examining this ‘other side’ of her story, Ruth's began to write many letters home such as the girl known as Miss Question Box might have written. This book contains her story from ages six to thirty-nine. Today, in her mid-sixties, renowned internationally for her compassion, knowledge and insight into what it means to be a child growing up among worlds, Van Reken, looks back over her life and adds a fascinating and reflective epilogue to a memoir that has already sold 32,000 copies and has helped and inspired its readers.
Journaling has always been Ruth's first port in a storm. Writing her memoir this way is a natural part of her process. That she would also turn to her journal as a way of making sense of the cancer that knocked her 'out of line' for a couple of years, is no surprise. As she writes: "This is the power of journaling – to see the obvious but not yet named places in life."