Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Myself.

When I met my husband, he said I was a rabid recycler. What I don’t think he realized was that 5 years in Congo early in my career made me not only a rabid recycler as a well as a MacGyver wannabe. Who wouldn’t want to escape from situations/solve problems with nothing but a paper clip, dental floss, a fire detector and some random item within your grasp?

This was a great mind set to carry forward as I accepted the PULSE assignment in Lao.


During training for our #PULSE10 class, the subject of what you’d take with you, packing and overweight baggage came up. As in avoid it. Pack. Repack. Reduce by a third and repack. Can’t carry luggage around the block? Reduce and repack.

My PULSE experience has taught me everything I thought I needed was often a question of perceived emotional comfort. Getting way out of my comfort zone and comfortable, really comfortable with living with less stuff hasn’t diminished my experience. As part of my NGO assignment, we operate with a very lean outline, bringing into play appropriate solutions with limited resources. Lightening my load to be nimble for the experience and open to more options, versus the cost of carrying more, physically and emotionally, is something I have embraced and will take with me when I return “there.”


In my role as a Technical Advisor to my NGO, my value is often contribution of private sector operations perspective, the difference in perspective that I have coming from my experience, including 12 years in a commercial role at GSK US Pharma. The reuse of successful strategies that when appropriately tweaked, add value to my role in Lao. However, one of the biggest takeaways at the end of PULSE for me will be the lessons learned here and reused “there” upon my return. Bringing back new experiences and “here” perspective when I return to the US is an exciting, and sometimes scary thought. Reuse gently, appropriately, with the enhanced listening skills that I give here will make for a smoother transition back there. (Are we really talking about transition already? Wow!)


If we reduce and reuse, we have less in our waste stream to recycle. Less stuff, baggage, work inputs “because we’ve always done it this way”, all to be allocated to the recycle pile. It’s a shift in looking at necessary inputs in the light of what will happen to the object/thing at the end. If I don’t need it going in, I won’t have to manage it going out. Simple concept, hard to practice.

This all sounds great in principle, I’m trying my best, and I’m a work in progress. Reduce, reuse, recycle, myself. And in the meantime, I have my MacGyver tool kit at the ready.

Helen 2.0

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