Posts Tagged ‘community’

The Power of One

I have to say, mustering up as much humility as I can, that I’m extremely proud and honored to be a commissioned chaplain with the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Service. It is one of the most beautiful examples I know of people of all faiths setting aside their differences and coming together around a common purpose – to love their neighbor. It’s a unique and powerful model that I hope every city will imitate. Click here to find out about it!

Today I had a chaplain’s call out that was very inspiring. A woman who lived on Social Security, in low-income housing, and had suffered multiple physical ailments passed away in her apartment last night. She was missed this morning by all her friends in the neighboring apartments. You see, every morning she would sit out on her step and greet her neighbors as they came and went – to get their mail, walk their dogs, or go to their cars. She would buy groceries for ailing neighbors, drive them to their doctors’ appointments, or cook them meals when they needed a little help. She would loan them money if they were a little short, and always had a pot of coffee on for those who wanted to come over and chat. She was a supporter, encourager, and all around kind human being. So when she was not on her step this morning and her dog was in her apartment barking, the neighbors knew something was wrong and called 911. Her simple acts of kindness created a community that did not exist before her arrival in this complex. I got to sit with a dozen of her neighbors in an impromptu memorial in the carport outside her apartment while they hugged each other, shared stories, cried, and promised to continue her legacy by looking out for each other. None of these people knew each other before her arrival in the complex. Now they are making plans to share Thanksgiving together in her honor.

In this fragmented world where so many lonely people hide behind their locked doors, one person can be the glue that pulls a community together. We all long for community – maybe, just maybe, our community is longing for us to call it forth.

Say hello to your neighbor today. Your smile just might change a life.

The Great Birthday Massacre!

Hello Friends,

Friday was my birthday, so I thought it was about time for me to come back and post on my dusty old blog again. I can’t believe it’s been a WHOLE YEAR since my Fiftieth Birthday Journey. I’ve been reminiscing, reading the old postings, looking at the pictures, and missing my girlfriends.

I’ve taken some time away from the blog to re-tool and re-focus why I started this blog in the first place. I’m passionate about relationships – healthy ones. And I hope to challenge you and support you into creating healthy thriving relationships in your own life. And I’m challenging myself along the way.

I’m working on a project with my coaching practice that I’m very excited about. I’ll be sharing that with you in the coming weeks. But for now, let me tell you about my great birthday massacre.

It all started in March. I had decided to try growing my tomatoes from seed this year – to see what might happen. I followed the directions on the seed packets – well for the most part. I made holes in the soil about 18 inches apart and dropped a few seeds into each one and covered them up.

Now, the directions on the seed packet say to thin the tomatoes once they get to be a few inches tall.

We’ve had a strange spring with lots of cold late rain. And when it finally got nice out, I had other plans on the weekends…. So with all that rain, followed by beautiful sun, and in really good organic soil, along with some neglect on my part, my tomatoes took off. Tall and beautiful and compacted together in the bed like one giant tomato bush. Without a single tomato.

Notice the chopped off nubs of former soil-mates.

Notice the chopped off nubs.

They had become enmeshed with each other. They didn’t need structural supports like other tomatoes do, they had each other. Clinging tightly together, their leaves shaded each other, preventing the sun from reaching the lower leaves. Their roots competed for nutrients from the soil, and their top stems stretched to find whatever sun they could catch. There was no energy left to make any fruit.

Steve, bless his heart, enrolled our dear friend, and master gardener Richard, to come over and help. It was my birthday present! Richard handed me clippers and said for each of the tomato groupings, I needed to pick one to save and cut the rest off at the root. Oh the humanity! The agony. Cutting off healthy tomato stems and casting them in the compost heap! It was a tragic massacre. By the time we were done, my poor garden looked sparse and pathetic. The plants that were left were too weak to stand on their own and needed immediate support. The stems were long with scrawny spread apart leaves. Steve and Richard worked together to build supports for the plants, and I tied them up carefully. Now each one has something solid to cling too. There’s room around them so the sun shines on the lower reaches and air circulates around them. I realize now how emaciated my poor plants had become.

Each individual plant needs its own external Frame, its own access to the sun and soil, or it will never produce fruit.

Too week to stand alone.

Too weak to stand alone

Made me think about relationships in my life. I have been in relationships, heck in a whole community, that was so enmeshed together that we had each become like those emaciated plants. We looked great together from a distance, but look at us closely as individuals, and we had become too week and frail to stand on our own, and we bore very little fruit.

How healthy are your relationships? Are you so dependent on each other that if one of you moves the other will fall down? OR do you each have something that individually supports you? Your own faith, your own sense of self? Do you give each other enough space to receive the warmth of the sun and the nourishment of the earth? Not sure? Take a look at the fruit. If you are each thriving, there will be fruit. Don’t see fruit? Consider what boundaries need to be negotiated into your relationships so that each of you can begin to thrive. Healthy relationships encourage us to dig our roots deep and open to the source of our nourishment directly. They don’t make us dependent; they make us strong and fruitful.

Rebuilding Community. Let the sunshine in!

Out of Excuses

Since my last post four weeks ago was about the Drive Thru Daiquiris in New Orleans, I think a few people wondered if Steve and I just stayed there driving and drinking…. Or if we drove off the road and that was it. Nope. After saying thanks and good-bye to cutie-pie Eric, we returned the rental car and got on the plane to fly home.

Now I’ve been home for the same amount of time as my entire turning-fifty-with-my-girlfriends journey. That went by fast! As soon as I got back, I wanted to wrap up my journey with a cool posting about all I had learned…. But that didn’t happen.

First week back from my journey I indulged in the desire to sleep and to reconnect with my home.

Second week I went to be with my parents after my dad’s surgery.

Third week I had my granddaughter and my niece and nephew for the  weekend. So here we are. First sane, undisturbed Friday and I’m out of excuses.

Being with my girlfriends helped me accept the fact that I work BEST under pressure. I don’t like it. I’ve beaten myself up about it for years. But it’s true. When I was on my trip I would write almost every day. Kim got me started. She didn’t have internet access at her house, so we had to get up and get going to Guglhupf so I could write. Kim would sit there patiently all morning reading her book while I wrote and uploaded photos. She had lots of cool things planned for when I was done, but we couldn’t do any of them until I posted my daily update on my blog. Harrah and Sandy would make little comments like “Are you STILL writing that thing? Aren’t you done yet? I can’t believe how much time that thing takes! We’re leaving in five minutes, you can finish it later.” And other encouraging words. Just enough pressure to keep me focused.

Now I’m back at home, back into my routines, and life is, well… life. Monday through Thursday I am deeply focused on my somewhat stressful job which has a tendency to purge all the creative energy out of my brain cells. By the time Friday, Glorious Friday rolls around, I go through a recovery phase. Sleep in a little, get up and spend an hour reading, then start to think about all the things I want to do to build my coaching practice, do calls when they are scheduled, and… oh yeah… update my blog. The day stretches before me like a luxurious sandy beach…. And before I know it, Friday is over and the update is not written.

I promised Kim I would go this morning and sit in a wi-fi coffee shop. So here I am in Café Azul in downtown Santa Rosa, with a two-hour parking pass, a rented table, and a fantasy that I’m on vacation in Santa Rosa and Kim is sitting across the table patiently reading her book. I miss you, Kimmie!

For the rest of this year, I’ll be unpacking the gifts I gathered on this journey. Right up there wrinkled on the top of the suitcase are two related concepts.
1. how vitally important true friends are and
2. what a difference community can make in our quality of life.

Francis Bacon, in his essay “Of Friendship”, wrote something that seemed harsh. “I have given the rule, where a man cannot fitly play his own part; if he have not a friend, he may quit the stage.” This was after describing all the amazing benefits a true friend brings to one’s life. I wouldn’t tell you to “quit the stage”. But I would say, if you don’t have a friend, go out and get one. My mom used to tell me whenever I was lonely, “If you want to have a friend, you must first BE a friend.” A little truth that has come in handy many times.

So my first new years’ resolution for being fifty is to BE a friend – a true friend…. To stay in touch with my far-away girlfriends…. And to put more effort into cultivating my close-to-home friendships; which brings me to the second gift in my suitcase…

What a difference community can make in our quality of life.

I saw how Kim has invested herself in building community where she lives. She had some close friends there who moved away…. So she joined a “meet-up” group and is rapidly developing a cool little gang of gals that share the common characteristic of getting booted out of the original group for being too independent. Perfect for my one-of-a-kind girlfriend who loves and accepts everyone just as they are while never wavering from being absolutely true to herself.

Harrah is a fish who has found her pond. She’s an artist who is surrounded by other artists. They inspire and support each other, and send each other business. It’s all good.

Sandy thrives in church and has dedicated herself to serving in her new community. She hasn’t been in her new home as long as Harrah and Kim have been in theirs, but she is on the path to building her community.

I confess, I lost my pond. So I’m committed this year to finding it again. Finding the water I can swim in and thrive. I’ve changed and my old pond has changed too. It’s time for a new chapter. My girlfriends have taught me it can be done – at fifty or at any age. And I’m committed to deepening and strengthening my marriage in the process. I’m not running off to find myself and leave my poor husband behind. Interestingly, I read Eat, Pray, Love while on my journey. Loved it, except for the leaving the husband part… but that’s her story, not mine. We’re in this together… whatever that looks like. In whatever ways I grow in this new decade, I’m committed to using it to ENHANCE and serve our marriage and make both our lives better, and you can hold me to that.