“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard and valued- when they can give and receive without judgment.” ~ Brene Brown
In my last post, I wrote about balance and connection as my guiding words of 2015. Crafting a flexible plan to bring me closer to my intentions, I divided up the areas of connection into categories where I had been lacking: self, husband, and friends.
Connection with self.
If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I would add — when Mama’s been meditating, the peace is increased. Mood is infectious and the benefits of meditation are as well.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, it is vital to start here — with the need to get quiet in order to foster wisdom and clarity. Call it prayer, meditation, or simply sitting in silence for a few minutes. Without it, awareness of our inner thoughts and experience is much more difficult to assess.
Although I currently meditate daily, I recommitted to 5-30 minutes of practice a day. This also means offering myself compassion and honoring my need for sleep, rest, fun, and balance.
Connection with my husband – Love is a verb.
“Love requires tenacity and grit. It’s work. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. So when people say, ‘Love shouldn’t be this hard,’ I think, Why not? We get so much from our most important relationships – it makes sense that we have to invest a lot of time, effort, and some serious self-reflection into them.” Brene Brown
Time — My husband and I are blessed to have two healthy kiddos, the three-year old who wakes before dawn and the teenager whose bedtime has shifted increasingly later. The combination does not allow much alone time for the hubby and me. At the end of a long day, one or both of us may be too spent to want to chat for long, let alone curl up on the couch in deep discussion. We have resorted to setting the alarm a bit earlier some mornings in order to find real alone time. Certainly not our ideal, but, for now, it is a flexible, viable solution.
Fun — Between scheduling and sitters, date nights are a bit more infrequent than I’d ideally like. I take solace in knowing that our young teen will soon be old enough to babysit while we head out for a leisurely dinner. We have begun leaving her home with the little guy for short periods of time, heading out for a brief run together, which, between huffing and puffing, is a great time for conversation. My intention is to spend more light-hearted time with my husband joking and laughing and to schedule at least one date night a month.
Talk — It is about quality, not necessarily quantity, of time that my husband and I strive for at this stage in the game. I know one day the kids will have flown the coop and we will have nothing but time. For now, it is about a few minutes of putting down the phone, stepping away from the computer, sitting down together with the mutual gift of full attention, discussing the day, our plans, and our dreams.
Gratitude – After sixteen years of marriage, my husband and I share a wonderful partnership. For the most part we have found our groove when it comes to the division of household labor, each offering equal amounts of time and energy in order to keep the family thriving. Although I believe I offer frequent thanks for the little things, I am trying to be more deliberate in expressing gratitude for the bigger picture – good for my husband to hear, good for me to remember, good for our marriage bond overall.
Connection with friends.
“People with many social connections are less likely to experience sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, and problems with eating and sleeping, and are more likely to experience life positively.” Christine Carter, The Sweet Spot
When our family moved into our rural-suburban home nearly four years ago, we hit the neighborhood jackpot — great people, great kids. A dozen or so families periodically get together for parties, book club, crafting, and an annual beach weekend. There are some families we know better than others, due mostly to our kids’ ages and mutual activities. Whenever I would consider hosting a neighborhood party, however, the thought of mingling with fifty people, regardless of their awesomeness, was daunting and I never followed through.
We decided to host a monthly dinner party, inviting two or three families at a time, allowing us to spend time together in a more (for me) relaxed way. By the end of the year, we should have had the chance to spend some quality time with everyone in the ‘hood.
So, this is my plan. For now. It will morph and change and that is a good thing, as it is simply a flexible framework meant to guide the balance in my life, driven by my very conscious intention for connection – one of the things that, for me, when all is said and done, matters most.