Hobbies that help us make friends

At different stages of my life I have made friendship through the different hobbies I have pursued. I have moved a lot in my life, both as a child and an adult. One of the first things I do when moving to a new community is join a group of some kind. The more I connect with the hobby/activity itself personally, the more it seems friendships are formed while doing them.

When my children’s father and I split up, I moved to be closer to extended family. But didn’t live in the same community as my family. I had taken up running and belonged to a very social online running forum. I had a ready-made running group to hook up with in-person up my arrival.

Since moving to the community we live in now, I’ve been involved with the local community theatre. We are just wrapping up a production, and last week before the show opened there was a conversation among cast & crew about how they came to be in this community, and what a fantastic second family the theatre had become.

I have joined just about every hobby/group/club pictured here at one point or another throughout my life and always make new friends along the way. I encourage you to try one yourself!

Hobbies are great for making new friends

Hobbies are great for making new friends

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Love, loss and legacy

We don’t often think of our legacy until we’ve experienced profound loss. My first experience with loss was when my maternal grandmother died at 59. I was 11. We were a transient (federal police force) family. We had just moved from north west Canada back to south east Canada after 7 years away. We had a couple of months before Nanny became ill. She died 8 weeks later of what appeared to be cirrhosis of the liver (due to hepatitis that she’d contracted while working as a nurse years earlier). My mom stepped in to ensure Nanny’s legacy lived on.

Living with loss

25 years later, my mother became suddenly ill, with many of the same symptoms. Mom died within eight weeks as well – of pancreatic cancer that had presented as secondary liver cancer. My daughter, also the first grandchild, was almost 11. 

love, loss and legacy

Mom knew she was dieing and spent every moment she felt well enough taking care of things. We went to the funeral home as a family to make arrangements. We met with the minister who would conduct her service. We went through all her clothing, jewelry, and creations (she was an artist) together and she decided what she wanted to give to whom. Mom and I talked about how she coped after her own mother died while she had 11, 9 and 5 year old children to care for. Mom’s health deteriorated so rapidly that every time we started planning for the next eventuality it was immediately upon us. 

Distraction in busyness

I spent the last two weeks staying with mom & dad to help with her care as she’d decided to remain at home for her final days.

For months afterward, I helped dad take care of things, from funeral arrangements to closing up their winter property in Florida (and sorting and packing mom’s things so he wouldn’t have to do so alone). I realized months later that I’d not allowed myself the emotional space to really grieve. So, I took a rare opportunity when I found myself home alone one weekend, and I sat down with all of our photos, and I relived memories with mom and sobbed for hours. Those stories are some of the legacy that will not be a loss as we continue to share them.

love, loss and legacy

Relationships after loss

Since losing mom, our family dynamics were forever changed. I grieve the closeness of our family as much as I grieve my mom. And while it’s gotten easier to cope- it still hits me hard and often suddenly. 

Mom died the day after my 37th birthday. But to me my birthday really felt like the day we lost mom – it was the day she really wasn’t herself anymore. And for years when November rolled around, I found myself withdrawing and dreading both dates. Mom was the one who had always made our birthdays special. So not only did I no longer have her to do that for me, but I couldn’t separate my birthday from those memories of her death. 

Love, loss and legacy(ies)

We had not taken enough time to record the legacy of mom’s family’s legacy. And a few years later with the loss of my grandfather, many of the stories that told the legacy of our family were gone.

It’s 11 years this month, and it’s become less intense and less frequent, but it still comes upon me without warning at times. November is still a difficult month for me. But it comes in waves one day at a time and no longer everyday of the month. 

Losing mom taught me to make the most of my life. She said she had no regrets, and I want to be able to say the same. This means not letting the hard things stop me from living. It means living with intention.

Connecting with lost love and new

Mom had a knack for connecting with people. She didn’t let loss stop her. My parents were both air force kids. As a child they moved even more frequently than we did when I was growing up. And everywhere we lived, or visited, mom left her mark on people. She is remembered for her vibrance, warmth, and friendship. 

If my only legacy is that I too have made connections with people that will be remembered beyond our immediate interactions, then I will have a lived a great life. Just as she did. 

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Connection in Autumn – a time of change

Autumn has always been one of my favourite times of the year. I love the change in colours in nature, love the sweater weather, and I used to be very fond of Hallowe’en, and the connection to change happening all around us.

I have always loved change, and Autumn feels like the symbol of change. Spring is when everything wakes up, summer is growing a season, autumn is harvest time, then a beautiful show of colour, with winter for rest.

connection with the change of autumn

Lately though I have been feeling like fall comes too soon, and then becomes a bit of a non-season. Thanks to climate change, in Nova Scotia the leaves change colour and fall rather quickly, and then we’re left with this in-between, not-quite-winter-blahness until about January…

Interestingly, it feels very much like a representation of the current stage of pandemic-times. We are in the midst of some kind of change, yet the next thing, or return to our cyclical seasons of life, seem to be never really on the horizon. We’re not getting the winter rest. Fall feels like it’s never-ending.

connection with the change of autumn
connection with the change of autumn

Social connection in the autumns of life

It’s no wonder we are feeling such an impact on our well-being. Social connections that once were so important, became almost non-existent. Even the most extraverted of people became quite insular or have been especially restless and lonely while spending much less time connecting with people “in real life”.  Some have found it to be a time to strengthen family connections or have leaned into the superficial connections of social media.

Rebooting life

I found that I enjoyed the reboot of our initial limited access outside of the cocoon of our homes. Then I became quite a homebody and was not reaching out to anyone outside of my cocoon, apart from work. And now, I find myself struggling to re-establish the social connection that I most enjoy – partially fluttering from a few close friends and family members to wanting to expand the perimeter of my circle to other friends and acquaintances.

I feel resistant to the sorts of social activities that I used to be drawn to, while at once yearning for them.

And we keep waiting for that rest that just doesn’t seem to come.

As an introvert, I enjoy the solitude that often comes with winter. But after a very long autumn of solitude and uncertainty at once, I’ve been ready for spring. I want everything around me to wake up and to see growth in everyone and everything…

connection with the change of autumn

Connection with the change of autumn

Many people that I know of have been reconsidering and re-evaluating, and re-engaging in the things that matter to them. It’s the willingness to be open and vulnerable, to accept others where they are at, and to initiate and engage in the things that matter that will change the pervasive feelings of loneliness and belonging all around us, through authentic social connection. If autumn is a time of change, then we’ve been changing long enough that some significant connection should be yet to come. And if we’re in a crisis of human connection, then with intention and by seeking to help others, we can make that change. We must.

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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Book of Boundaries (a book response)

I recently had a Net Galley reading of the Book of Boundaries by Melissa Urban.

Like “It starts with Food” Melissa has written an easy-to-read practical guide.

I really appreciate the sample scripts that make it easy to visualize how to use boundaries in different contexts.

Even better I love that Melissa has included qualifiers for when setting a boundary might not be appropriate. ie. in the case of a friend bailing frequently – when they may – in fact be experiencing some difficulties like depression or some physical health challenges. I personally live with chronic pain and do find myself either cancelling or not making firm commitments to plans because of the uncertainty of how I’d be feeling. I really appreciate that when I use my clear and kind boundaries about staying home that my friends understand and still extend invitations again the next time.

Or how someone not respecting your boundaries could be red flags (i.e. in intimate relationships).

This book is a great tool for people who have difficulty establishing

healthy boundaries in a variety of settings.

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Connecting with grief after loss

When mom died, I spent the first several months helping dad take care of things, taking care of my girls, and otherwise going through the motions. I did not spend time or energy connecting with my grief. As we approached a year after her death, I found myself with an opportunity to spend some time alone. I knew that I hadn’t really allowed myself to process my loss. I also knew that I needed to experience and live through my grief if I wanted to live a life being present in the moment, feeling all the feelings.

Live through the grief

Since losing mom, I’ve had more than one occasion to offer solace to a friend. The most important thing I could offer, next to acknowledging their hurt, is to allow yourself to live through the grief. It cannot be avoided, but by allowing yourself to connect with your grief and experience the pain you can move through it.

One thing I know is that we cannot numb feelings selectively. If we numb the tough feelings, we also numb the joyful ones. So, if we want to have the full experience of life, and of joy specifically, then we must allow ourselves to experience the full extent of the heartache too.

Be intentional

So, on this date back in 2012, I sat myself down on the floor of my living room, with family photo albums from my childhood, and my girls’. And I intentionally relived the memories captured in those photos.

As I allowed the memories of family gatherings like movie nights at the corporal’s mess at Canadian Forces Station – Inuvik; Christmases with my Grampy (mom’s dad); family reunions at our home in Arcadia – like when all of the immediate McCourt Family came together for a couple of weeks one summer; and watching from the sidelines as my little brother performed in his Christmas concerts… I found myself sobbing. I sobbed until my head physically pained me. I cried for the loss of future memories with mom. I cried with gratitude for the life we had together. I cried for my children who would never know the joy of sharing their next milestones with their Nanny.

It was a purge of sorts. Not that it took the memories away, but it took away a cloud that had obscured them from me as I had been blindly walking through the days, weeks and months following mom’s death.

The pain of loss doesn’t ever go away entirely, and sometimes revisits us suddenly. But as time passes the pain becomes less intense. The human experience means that everyone one of us will experience loss of a loved one, if we are fortunate to live long enough.

Preserve their stories

Anderson Cooper has a new podcast, “All There Is”, about grief and loss. Interestingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about many of the same things he talks about. In his first episode he speaks of the importance of sharing the stories of his family with his children, so that the stories will live on. By sharing stories of our departed loved ones, we keep them alive within us. These stories shared with lost loves are also a part of us, and the only way to preserve them is to share them with those we care about and who care for us.

That’s a project I’ve been working on since before my children were even born. I have been gathering family tree research, photographs and other mementos. But the part that I’m still missing is recording a lot of the stories. Many of those stories have now been lost with my mother and grandparents’ passing. I’m trying to document some of them now.

There is no winning against grief

In the second episode of “All There Is”, Anderson Cooper speaks with late night talk show host Stephen Colbert. One of the most profound things Colbert says is that “…grief is a doorway … to another you.” He is so right. It is impossible to experience grief and not be changed by it.

One thing that those of us who have lost loved ones all eventually learn is that there is no holding grief off. There is only pausing it, until it rears its head again. And it will continue to do so, until we live through the experience of it. Colbert said “…we think we can win against grief. We think we can fix it. But you can’t. You can only experience it. And to fully experience it you have to accept that it’s real. The loss is real.” … “Grief is not a bad thing. Grief is a reaction to a bad thing. Grief itself is a natural process that has to be experienced.”

Accept support

If you have experienced a loss and not allowed yourself the grace of connecting with grief, be gentle with yourself. But don’t let yourself off the hook, it will only sneak up on you when you least expect it. Rather, allow yourself the space and accept support when it is offered, by talking about your loss with people who care. Talking is a form of acceptance and will help you to come out on the other side of grief. As Colbert says, you will arrive at a place where you can enjoy the beauty of life and the world, in spite of its grief.

One of the most profound ways that we can live an authentically connected life, is to have the courage to suffer. And with suffering, eventually comes healing and growth.

Have you been trying to win against grief? Has some offered help that you can accept and talk through your grief with? Making the space to connect with your grief will help to connect with joy as well.

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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Introverts need social connection too

When I think back to grade school I realize that I always thought of myself as an extravert. The truth is that even with my experiences of being bullied I really was just self-confident enough to step outside of my introvert natural state and speak up, reaching out for social connection and as a result, I appeared to be outgoing. I loved trying new things and meeting new people. But I also loved doing solo activities like reading.

Self Portrait, Reading, Book, Difference

Strike a balance

During my happiest times – I realize now – I had found a way to strike a balance between time connecting with other humans, and time alone to restore my batteries. I found connection with people exhilarating and – at the same time – energy draining. Yet too much time alone left me feeling disconnected and restless. It was not unusual to find me at school dances, or on-stage during theatre productions, or even fluttering from one group of friends to another. I was indeed a bit of a social butterfly. But I also could be found curled up with a good novel, writing poetry, or walking my dog.

Introverts need social connection too

There have been times in my adult life when I felt lonely. When I withdrew and turned inward and found I was beginning to feed an unhealthy mindset that sounded a lot like “friends? Who needs them?” Fortunately, something always happened to force me to look outside of my cocoon and acknowledge what I was missing out on, introverts need social connection too. In nearly every case, what I needed most was to reach out to at least one person.

Social connection for introverts

As my marriage began to fall apart for the final time, I found myself reaching out to a friend who I could connect with and focus my time and attention on something that had once brought me a lot of joy and helped me to ground myself – literally – in nature. Christina and I started running together. And when it came time to move on from my marriage, and physically move away from our home, and my friend – I could fall back on running to ground myself and at the same time continue to feel connected to Christina and my other running friends, even across the miles.

Introverts need social connection too

It wasn’t easy to walk away from my marriage, but during some of the toughest days I could lace up a pair of running shoes, get out on the trail and breath in the fresh air. And I would feel whole again. I came to appreciate those runs as a kind of therapy. In fact it also served as a mindfulness practise of sorts. And my friend and I could cheer one another from afar and still feel the support that we’d given each other while side by side in our early days of running together.

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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Can more authentic connections be built in an online community?

What can a community for building more authentic connections do for me? We live in a world where everyone is constantly distracted and inundated with superficial connections. Our phones are attached at the hip with an invisible tether, we broadcast our lives for the digital world to see and comment, and we spend less time in nature than ever before…

Years ago when I was a new mom I took to the internet to find ways to connect with other adults while I was at home with my baby. I had many opportunities to connect with other moms at mom & baby or parent-tot activities. But I wanted to connect to others without the constant distraction of keeping one eye on a busy toddler. Online forums were a great outlet for me. Then social media platforms came along, and most of my online forums dried up and eventually disappeared.

I was resistant to joining the movement to social media, but eventually embraced it for the opportunities to stay distantly connected, or become re-connected to distant friends & family all over the place. In a few instances those distant connections helped me jump off into stronger social connections, as we made efforts to meet in-person. But now I find myself resisting social media again. There are just so many distractions. What once gave me an opportunity to find long lost friends, now feelings like little blips amongst a vast noise.

Are you wondering how joining an online community can help you to build more connections in the “real world”?

We are building a community that lives outside of the distractions of social media.

Become a founding member to help us as our path to authentic social connections evolves…

Become a founding member and help us shape this community… to become more authentically connected to your values, your legacy, the places you live in, others and yourself today!

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Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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Connect and re-connect

Join me on a 5 day journey to re-connect with what matters most.

More and more of us are reporting overwhelm, burnout, feeling lonely, and disconnect from friends, family and ourselves. As it turns out disconnect and mental health challenges like anxiety and depression are linked. There has been found to be a causal effect too.

Connections take effort

If we don’t make the time and effort to connect with others we are more likely to feel this disconnect. We will become overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and burnt-out.

Loneliness it turns out is a contributing factor, not only to our emotional well-being, but also to our physical health. I have been learning about humanity’s need for social connection and how it has an impact on our well-being both as individuals and the greater community.

Join us in taking a small step toward more Authentic connections in your life over five days. Each day will involve one simple activity to be done by you… and a little inspiration too!

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Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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Connections and Belonging: authentic connections (post 5 of 5)

We live in a world today where people are more disconnected than ever. With a zillion options for social connections online, we make less authentic connections, more superficial ones, and are constantly distracted by things of little substance.

While I’ve lived a life of disconnect, moving from place to place – I’ve also managed to stay connected to a few key people, and develop new connections. I see so many people around me as disconnected as if they too had been uprooted and started anew every 3-5 years.

For those of us who thrive in a transient life we’ve learned the art of making new connections. While sustaining a few key connections from afar.

Building a strong sense of belonging

It is my intention to build a community where we can come together both online and in-person. A community where we can become more authentically connected with others, as well as ourselves. This community and our activities will help us to live more fulfilling, connected lives. A place in which we feel a true sense of belonging.

Authentic Connections

Brené Brown says there are four elements of belonging:

Quote:

People are hard to hate close up. Move in.

Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.

Hold hands. With strangers.

Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

Brené Brown

We’ll talk more about what this means, but for now, you can learn more about Brené Brown’s elements of belonging here.

Is there an old friend you can call? A journal entry you can write? Or maybe a place you can visit (in real time or in your memories) where important connections can be revisited? One of my favourite things to do is pull out some old photos and allow myself a little walk down memory lane.

What will you commit to doing to start the journey of rebuilding, creating and maintaining authentic connections?

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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Connections and belonging: social connections (post 4 of 5)

When our youngest was three years old, I left my marriage. I wanted, and needed for my children to have, and witness only strong social connections within our home. We’d been through more climbs and dips of the roller coaster that was our relationship – with another posting, a deployment and more. By the time I decided to leave I felt like I had a room-mate – who happened to be the father of my children.

It was during/after my second pregnancy I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The thinking at the time was that physical trauma (like a car accident or possibly childbirth) could trigger fibromyalgia. But I always believed the trauma and chronic acute stress in my life had been the cause.

There continued to be high stress events in my life with divorce proceedings, my return to school to get another degree, a job that I left due to a toxic work environment, and then… my mom, who had always been my biggest supporter, died several years after the dissolution of my marriage. Eventually, I moved nearer to my closest friends and biggest supporters, who I’d been living far away from for many years. I needed a fresh start where I could be true to myself.

Reliable and consistent social connections

I wanted my girls to know that: no matter what, they could always count on me; and that our connection to each other would sustain us, whatever we faced.

I made lots of mistakes, but eventually came to the place in life where I am now… capable of taking care of myself and my girls, and eventually in a drama-free partnership with a man that I(we) can count on and trust, who would never do anything to hurt any one of us. It’s only since the girls and I have really been settled into this new life together – with a handful of great friends and family nearby that we can rely on – that my health has finally begun to improve.

We belong to our community, family, and each other. And we can face just about anything when we have strong connections… to ourselves, others and our physical space.

What social connections have brought you a sense of belonging and peace in your life? Is there anyone you can re-activate that connection to today?

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Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

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