A funny thing happened halfway through writing this post. I had wrapped up a busy day of work and some solid meetings and got dinner in the oven and mixed myself a little cocktail and the world looked great. So I was waxing poetic about the beauty of connections. I wrote eloquently about the connections I’ve built in 2012 and the people I’ve loved and the relationships I’ve nurtured and blah blah blah.
Oops. (There’s often a little oops when I get full of myself.)
In the middle of writing about connections, I totally forgot about one. I promised a dear friend that I’d call her to meet up for a cup of coffee today. Ball? Dropped. I didn’t call her and I didn’t meet up with her. She’s not mad and neither am I . . . but this friend has been a rich source of strength in this past year and I’ll take any chance I get to give her a hug.
Ever since I picked it as my One Word for 2012, connect has danced its little feet around me. I find myself in a bit of a love/hate relationships with connect. Connections can be oh-so-fantastic and oh-so-dramatic and oh-so-difficult.
Connecting has been on my heart since the start of the year. Here’s what I’ve learned about connecting so far.
1.) Connecting is a lot of work — and worth it when I pull it off. There’s the practical stuff: actually using my phone to call someone instead of getting lost in the sea that is Pinterest/Twitter/Words with Friends. Sending birthday cards, even if they’re belated. Showing up even when I’d so much rather watch all that Netflix Instant has to offer. Once I get my rear in gear and actually do all the things, I’m glad I did. But work is work.
The impractical-but-critical: intentionality. A week can fly by with many opportunities missed. I am learning to be hella bold about this and initiate initiate initiate. I’m by no means shy, but building a relationship takes commitment for even for the most outgoing among us. And yeah, it’s work, but a little intentionality carries connections a long way. Mr. S. and I have set aside one night a week for a date and I find myself looking forward to it more than I anticipated. Even if it’s just coffee for an hour, or a game of Scattergories, I love that we catch up and chat and laugh and enjoy each other’s company. I would do well to make similar resolutions in other relationships.
2.) Connecting in vulnerability is awesome — except when it isn’t. I’ve made an extra effort to be an authentic, honest open book this year. Sometimes, it serves me beautifully. I’ve had so many “Me too!” moments and it is sweet comfort to know how un-alone we are in this world. Sharing my heart isn’t easy but it sure is beautiful
. It is a special treasure when I share my heart and give others the courage to share theirs.
But baring your soul has a cloudier side, I’m learning. Being authentic can scare people. Sharing the messiest of messy can be, well, alarming. And when you bare your soul and get only confusion in return? I wish I were a turtle, friends! I wish I could pull my little head back into my shell. Every relationship matters, whether it’s surface-level or deep. In connecting, I am learning when to tip-toe, when to walk and when to stomp my feet.
3.) Connection can sting you and humble you. Connections are rarely perfect and at their worst, they can bite. They can cut at our souls. Vulnerability can be ugly just as often as it is beautiful. In trying to rebuild bridges and strengthen those that exist, I’ve had to be honest honest honest. And 2012 has included a lot of sharing about 2011. Every time I share it, I re-live it. And some struggles continue and goodness-freaking-gracious I am humbled. There’s the whole assumption monster too. Assumptions, when they’re wrong, sting like a paper cut: small and, yet, crazy-painful. I’m teaching myself not to assume what those I connect with are thinking or feeling.
Eleven months to go, and I’m looking forward to so much more connecting.
Did you pick a word for 2012? If so, how are you doing? I’d love to hear how it’s going.