September 15th marks the fourth anniversary of Until Brazil and three decades since my own journey on which the novel is based. A fun coincidence has sparked me to reach out to young women (and men) adventuring into new territory, be it geographic or intellectual or emotional.

First the magical coincidence—a coincidence possible only in this millennium of connectivity. A few weeks ago, a young woman named Melissa was preparing for a business trip to São Paulo. Seeking some pointers, she checked out a pile of books from public library; Until Brazil was among them. Reading, she discovered that we had attended the same high school. Well, almost. In my era, Abbot Academy was an all-girls prep school; it has since become an integral part of Phillips Academy, Melissa’s alma mater. She was going to Brazil on a business project on August 24th, the very same date that I had embarked on my journey 29 years before! During our first Skype session, we talked non-stop for two hours, like old friends!

For me, the fascinating fun of meeting Melissa was discovering our professional parallels and emotional equality, despite her being forty years my junior. We started our conversation with some tips about doing business with Brazilians—knowing a few phrases in Portuguese, taking time to drink a cafezinho, being prepared to enjoy the unexpected, and having a little jogo de cintura. (You’ll have to read the book to discover what that means.) Soon, however, we were talking about the emotional roller coaster and unique challenges of being a woman in a world that is still often dominated by male counterparts, especially in a foreign country.  

In many ways, today’s Melissas have a much stronger platform from which to succeed, especially in international careers. Many educational settings now boast cultural and gender diversity, a reality that was far away when I earned my MBA. The Internet, not yet a transformational force when I went to Brazil, now provides information, communication and connections that open the world to those who tap into their powerful potential.

Today’s young professional is likely to be far more worldly and far less naïve than I was at thirty-five. However, taking the plunge into unknown territory, challenging assumptions you barely know you have, and being willing to fly through windows of opportunity still require self-confidence and courage. In writing Until Brazil, I hoped to inspire others to take “journeys afar for discovery within.”  Knowing one such voyager brings me great satisfaction. Thank you, Melissa.

But, just like the heroine Bethania, I am greedy and want more! 

“As the speck of yellow paper sank from sight, it carried with it the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ that threatened to entrap me in the good life I had known until Brazil. An exuberant tingling seeped in to replace them. I think it was the same tingling that tells a rosebud that it is time to open its petals.”                  Excerpt from Until Brazil

To My Blog Readers,

The "eyes" of "Until Brail" are preparing to refocus on women in business, especially those who venture into the international arena.  

As a  first step in updating this blog, I have deleted many of my previous posts, keeping those that address the challenges of bridging across cultures, either personally or professionally. Many of those pointers are still relevant and may have been buried under subsequent posts.

I hope you will enjoy these previous posts and I look forward to our future dialog!

Bethe Lee Moulton
I have just packed my bags to attend the Women’s Summit at the Harvard Business School to mark 50 years of women attending that institution.  However, even as I go to celebrate the growing leadership of and opportunities for women, I want to thank the many men who have been my mentors. Oh yes, and I want to share some pointers that have served me well in a business “culture” that was dominated by men. 

Had you asked me that question a week ago, I would have answered an unequivocal “no” or prepared for a riddle.  But, today, I am related…albeit by a circuitous route. And for me, it is more than a “small world story.” 

Credit:: Michael Dunn
The day of hearts and roses is a time to rejoice in the deep and caring relationships that complicate our lives. 

“Perfect is the enemy of the good.” Despite the wisdom in that proverb, I grew up obeying the rules and avoiding mistakes. Perfectionism was my hallmark, but Brazil showed me its limitations. Maybe that lesson can help you, too.

Have you ever stumbled during an international introduction? How do you turn awkward into opportunity? 

Yesterday, I caught myself giving a hug-shake. I invented this mixed move to deal with uneasy greetings. But, alas, I am not very original.  The hug-shake is officially defined in the Urban Dictionary!

By Sonia King, Mosaic Artist
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and hanging on.”  Havelock Ellis 

With mixed feelings, I take down the battered calendar for 2012 and hang the crisp new one. Even as I anticipate events penciled in for the future, I resist throwing the old pages in the trash.  The calendar is trivial, of course, but represents the daily challenge of holding and releasing.   

“There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays.”  Perry Como crooned it and I find myself humming along. But, as the Christmas countdown enters its final week, I wonder whether the lyrics should be tweaked. By embracing the cross-cultural threads in my life, I feel grounded most of the year. However, on Christmas Day, I am adrift and wonder if others find their emotional compass spinning at Yuletide.

Latitudes and Attitudes.    Are you ever surprised when a side of yourself surfaces in an unexpected way in an unexpected place?    Convinced that I am stable and predictable, I still get a jolt each time the power of place shapes my personality. 

    A story of risk and potential reward, delivering a cultural feast, business intrigue, an intimate portrait of personal transformation and an unexpected love story. (Click on cover for more)
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    The Author

    Bethe Lee Moulton brings a unique perspective to her writing, grounded in strong family roots and inspired by global experience.  Her career as an international strategist inspired her to write her award-winning novel, Until BrazilHer blog, The Cultures Within Café, is a place to share the challenges and joys and challenges of living in an ever-smaller world. Bethe divides her time between Boston, Buenos Aires, and Boca Raton, to be with her far-flung friends and family, spanning four generations, multiple cultures, and diverse worldviews.  



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