A grove of aspen trees is one organism; each individual tree, with it’s unique shape and growth patterns, is connected to the others through a shared root system providing nourishment, stability, and resilience.
Perhaps we can be the same. A beautiful metaphor and ideal to strive for, but how?
In the ARC vision, it is through providing powerful group experiences that foster connection, as well as by collaborating with other individuals and groups doing similar work to broaden and deepen what it is we are offering to the world (stay tuned for a women’s self-care and wellness workshop with Anna Levesque of Mind Body Paddle, a week of nurture, connection, and empowerment for mothers of individuals in residential treatment with Breakwater Expeditions, and a women’s community building kayak and surf trip to Baja with Kendall Williams of tulita.)
And on an individual basis? How do we build community?
There are countless ways... here are three that have been present in my life recently:
Ask for help
In a culture where independence and strength are valued, this can be counterintuitive. We may feel good when we give help, but when we ask… what does that bring up? A sense of weakness, embarrassment, shame, having to admit that we cannot do everything on our own?
If we can practice being in the place of receiving, of not being the one to make all the decisions, of needing another person in our life, then we have the opportunity to learn humility and practice gratitude.
(and if you still need more reasons, consider that by asking, you are giving someone else the joy of being able to help you)
Stop comparing and start celebrating
Differences, diversity, decisions
This is not only diversity of skin tone, ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender identification, sexuality… it is also degree of education, political preferences, body types, age, how we spend our time, money, resources. On one level this concept may seem obvious, on another I struggle with it in the most everyday situations. When we compare our daily choices of what to eat, wear, how we spend our money or time with others, we can so easily end up criticizing either the other person… or ourselves.
This seems to be almost a natural tendency, and takes awareness and effort to change, especially when we find what the other person is doing repulsive or alluring. We will continue to disagree with other’s actions and opinions, but when we let comparisons be the driving force of our responses, we drive the wedge of divisiveness further into the split between us.
Share your puppy with other people
A week ago I walked the newest addition to the family, an 11 week old rescued puppy named Maz, to the local coffee shop. She’s so very eager to greet everyone she meets, no matter how different they might be from her or her owners. The smiles on the faces of those who wanted some puppy time… priceless…even those across the street who just smiled seeing her… people that I would not have stopped to talk to and certainly not waived to with a childlike grin on my face...
So whatever joy you have, whatever glowing source of love and sweetness in your life…. Take it out and walk it to the coffee shop. Share it with others if they want to receive it, even if only from a distance.