Today I am posting at D.L. Mayfield’s blog in her series on Downward Mobility. It is an honor to again be part of her series. Amazing how this woman I have never met in person can write things that change the way I think and live and can write things that I can’t stop thinking about.

This post was incredibly difficult for me to write and I ran through many drafts. I’d love to hear your comments on the piece, to have you share and tweet it so I can learn from your responses. How do I write about downward mobility when I feel that the last decade has been a single, drastic plunge into the deep end of downward mobility followed by a slow creep of upward mobility?


In 2003 my family moved to a village in northern Somalia (Somaliland). In one swoop I moved into a world with no running water, electricity 4-5 hours per day, market-fresh food daily, no prepackaged anything, no English, no clothing I was used to, no paved roads, no drinking water, no green vegetables (canned peas are not food), sparse internet, sporadic phone service. Lots of walking and lots of labor-intensive work. Lots of time with people. There was no other choice, there was no other way to live.

Now, in Djibouti, I have consistent electricity (except when there isn’t) and running water (no temperature controls) and a house with toilets that flush (mostly) and doors that shut (mostly), and I feel like I live in luxury.

So I felt conflicted when D.L. asked about writing for the series.

A personal focus for the last year has also been the challenge to live authentically. To be open and honest and to not hide certain parts of who I am depending on the context. So I write about Jesus because I love him and I write about Islam because I’m challenged (in a good way) by it and interested in the interaction between those two things. I write about my temper and about my grief and about tucking my dress into my underwear and picking my nose in public.

That’s where the piece, Authentic Mobility, is written from, that place of conflict and confusion and the search for authenticity, of not being sure whether I am moving up or down. In comparison to whom? Americans or Djiboutians? With what end goal? In which areas of life to focus? It is all too much to address in a single post and I encourage you to read the other posts in the series as well.

Excuse my babbling and head on over to read the actual post.

I would love to hear your thoughts, both on this post as well as on the series and the topic. I need to continue thinking about this, just as I have not stopped thinking about War Photographers and your words convict, encourage, and challenge me. Please join the conversation. Click here to read the full post: Authentic Mobility.