Intentional connections

Living with intention is more than just setting goals, and visioning exercises, it is living in the moment – making intentional connections to people, places, self. Starting a new year is often a time that we consciously consider our lives, perhaps even take stock, and consider what we’d like to have/do differently.

I’ve been on this journey of self-reflection for a long time. Things have changed over the years. Some changes have been somewhat radical while others have been the natural consequence of days, months, and years passing – changes that we have little to no control over (i.e. children growing; getting older, etc.)

Some changes come about without me  putting much thought or effort in – that my have resulted in “life” deciding for me – about choices that I could have had more say about – had I been living more intentionally.

This is true of the connections I’ve been thinking, learning and writing about – whether they be connections to self, place, others, etc. If I am not intentional about what connections I make, and how, my connections are less abundant and lower quality/depth.

Intentional social connections

For instance, a long-time friend and I get together every week to let our dogs play together, and then walk them. If we were not intentional about doing this regularly it would likely happen far less frequently if at all. For a few years after I moved back to the community, we meant to see each other much more often than we did – but it was so easy to let weeks and even months pass by without seeing each other.

The decision to connect while walking the dogs came about when I got a puppy who needed a LOT of exercise and stimulation. The choice to walk together also allowed for us to connect meaningfully. We talk about what is happening in our family, personal and professional lives. We talk about the latest books we’re reading and often times we “solve the world’s problems”.

Sarah & I, along with a couple of other mutual friends get together occasionally over coffee/tea or a meal. Last winter we started a tradition of making wreaths together for Christmas. Both of these examples have things that work as well as our weekly walks – but tend to be less effective ways of connecting.

Our tea dates are fun, and we usually catch up on things of importance to us all. We’ve known each other for thirty plus years, long enough that we care about and understand the back stories involved in our day to day. But we’re not very intentional about making these dates happen. Sometimes we see one another fairly regularly. Other times months will go by without even talking about the next tea date.

Intention AND authentic connection

Our wreath-making workshop has been more intentional, in that we plan ahead a month or more to decide on a date/time/location and what we’ll do. We have a lot of fun. I wouldn’t change anything about it. But we don’t really get to connect more than the immediate what is happening around us. We’re occupied with the tasks at hand, eating lots of good food, and enjoying the company of some other friends, including some of the kids. I wouldn’t change a thing, but it cannot replace our tea dates and those conversations.

If we became as intentional about the in-between coffee dates as the annual wreath-making, our wreath-making would be what it is – the change we all crave. Now, don’t get me wrong – we get to have a fantastic time together – and leave with a beautiful fresh wreath that lasts long after Christmas, thanks to Rachel’s tutelage!

There are many things that I could do differently with intention. Connecting with friends is one of them.

What would you do differently if only you were more intentional?  


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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


Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections!

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections:

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

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My daughter is a lot more brave than I am

Captured by Bruce Penney Photography

Captured by Bruce Penney Photography

Today I learned that my daughter is much more brave than I.

She’d had a falling out with a friend. Based on having only her side of the story it seemed to me that an unreasonable request had been made of her and that her response had been appropriate. My daughter stands up for what she believes in and is usually pretty calm about it. She doesn’t always take the most popular stand, but often the most just. However, it resulted in two very upset children, with my daughter coming home from school crying that she’d lost her friend.

After a long weekend of stewing about it she came to me and asked if I thought she should talk with her friend. I told her that yes I did. I said that while it sounded like she was right about what she told her friend that it also was important not to let it come between them for too long. I explained that if she let her friend know that she felt her friend’s request was not okay (essentially she’d been asked to choose between two friends) and that she did not want to make a choice … and if her friend still made the same demand then my girly would at least know that she did what she could. I wanted her to know that she was right to stand up for herself and her choices.

My daughter proceeded to pick up the phone and call her friend.

Honestly, I’m quite certain I would not have done so when I was her age, and I don’t know if I even would today. I have come to believe that if someone is hurting me in some way, by their actions or inaction, that it just isn’t worth it to me to fight. I’m better off without them in my life. Now of course that is a very simple statement and there are often a lot more complexities to social problems than that, but essentially that’s my take.

I have no patience for games, no desire to try to read minds, and know unequivocally that I’m actually not very good at either anyway. I’m pretty direct when I communicate with others and appreciate the same in return. So, I feel much better served by simply walking away from situations … in which I have little time, energy or emotion invested.

I have a number of close friends. And I have a lot of acquaintances whose company I enjoy at times. My friends have been there for me through some of my ugliest times. They deserve a little more wiggle room. Maybe they were having a bad day, or maybe we misunderstood one another. That isn’t to say others don’t deserve the same respect – I just don’t go out of my way to try to make it happen after I have been hurt in some way.

In the end my daughter mended things with her friend. They both apologized for their part in the problem, and I believe my daughter’s right to have whatever friends she chooses is being respected … for the time being anyway.

She told me she was shaking when the phone was ringing while she waited for her friend to answer. She didn’t know if her friend was still mad at her. But it was worth it to her to take a chance.

I hope I’ll have the same amount of courage if I feel a situation is worthy enough…



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Running again… yes, I AM a runner!

Last time I started a training plan just as I was well established in my routine I had a terrible flare-up. It took about six months for me to get my back fixed up and I am still (as always) working on my neck & shoulders. It’s been an excuse not to run (for fear of a flareup or aggravating my already bad shoulders) or bike or swim, or… well, you get the picture. However, I want to get beyond this. I need to push through it, and I need the motivation to do it.

Whenever I feel this need for motivation I pick a goal that has some other motivating factor – in many cases it includes fundraising and raising awareness for a worthy cause – Diabetes. Now is the time. I am about to sign up to run for Team Diabetes at the Bluenose Marathon, again. This time my oldest girly wants to run for them as well. We’re going to run the 5K together. However, I need more motivation than a 5k that I can probably run untrained (I will be running at a ten year-old-who-doesn’t-train’s pace).

Conveniently though I have a team of runners that I cannot let down. We are signed up for the Cabot Trail Relay again this year, just one week after Bluenose. My leg is 17.92km, just 3.2km shy of a Half Marathon. Reality tells me that I need to train for a Half Marathon and the Bluenose will be my taper race. 🙂

Once I am signed up the momentum will begin to build and I will have the drive to get myself back in shape. It is just the way I work. I expect to be registered by Monday night. In the mean time, I need to keep on with my rehabilitative exercises and start with a SLOW build up of training to avoid a flare-up.

Today was a lovely day for my first run of 2011. It was in fact my first run since September. Fortunately one of my closest friends in this city is someone I met because of running and she is happy to help me get moving. Fortunately, I also have another friend who likes my company when running, and both are people I love spending time with. We’ll hopefully have some standing running dates set this week (hear that friends?) If things get really desperate (kidding!), I suppose I can also enlist my pseudo-hubby … 😉

It was a lightly snowing mild winter morning when we headed out for my introductory run today. It was Ang’s short run day, which worked well for me. We did a substantial warm-up walk of 20 minutes, ran 3km, then the same 20 minutes walking to cool-down. It was perfect winter running weather. The sidewalks were clear, and there were runners everywhere! I felt like I was/AM a runner again. 🙂

Coulda Woulda Shoulda’s

Coulda Woulda Shouldas

After hearing from a long ago acquaintance recently I got to reminiscing about the past, but even more so about what I had once thought I would make of my future someday. I don’t know about you, but my life has turned out nothing like I’d imagined, so far. I had expected I’d go to university, start a career, fall in love, then think about marriage and children sometime after the age of thirty. Here I am 35, already married and soon(I hope)-to-be-(officially)-divorced, two children (who are almost old enough not to require childcare), never did establish a career path – but rather strolled down many and could never make up my mind… Now I hope to embark on a career (finally), but still feel uncertain, undecided, and to be honest a little inconsequential.

I wonder about my old friends, and so I look back through the old yearbooks, read some of the end-of-year notes, and think: huh!? They all had me pegged… for something entirely different with my life… something that I always will wonder if was my intended path and I was somehow lead astray. Now don’t get me wrong, I know it was ME who chose that path, I certainly don’t blame anyone but myself for leading me there.

Blame. Blame is such a strong, negatively associated word. I don’t wish to mislead you too. I am happy I chose the path(s) that I did. Mostly. I wouldn’t trade my children for a million chances at doing it over. But I do wonder if I should try to fulfill some of those long lost dreams. I wonder how many are better left buried in the dust.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, or at least that I should make something of everything that happens in my life. And I know without a doubt that “they” are right when they say: what doesn’t kills us, makes us stronger. So even though I haven’t made it to where I’d like to be, I know that all of those other experiences will help me get wherever it is that I am going.

Where does that leave all of the friends left behind? You know the ones that you never imagined out of your life? The ones you can barely remember where they live today… Is it ever worth trying to go back?

Somedays I have this strange vague feeling that there is a whole part of my life that I started to live, and just suddenly dropped, one day. That I have unfinished business of a huge magnitude, but I can’t for the life of me remember how, where or why. I can see why people come to believe in reincarnation, because this very poignant feeling returns to me frequently and with a vibrancy that just cannot be imagined, and yet I am certain that whatever it is, never really occurred in my current lifetime. Or perhaps if not from a yester-life, it is a precursor of something yet to be?

How often do you experience the Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda’s? And what do you do when you do?