You know those times when you feel utterly alone, and then something catches your attention and surprises you?
For those of us who may be quieter, who are not used to asking for help, this is a gift. We can be so used to processing our own stuff, that we fail to look beyond our internal musings.
And I’ve realised that this a such a poor way to live. Not that I want to demand attention, but I do want to be open to noticing and responding with gratitude.
Looking back over this year here are some of the ways that others have told me ‘you are not alone’:
- Phone calls, cards, tokens of care such as flowers or vouchers for small treats
- Occasional text messages or emails that didn’t always demand a reply
- Response to my posts or tweets that said ‘I heard you’. Thank you
- People giving me space, taking on things that I would normally have done, or just letting me rest
- The breast cancer specialist nurse picking up on just the right way to affirm and encourage me (not easy…)
- Practical help with Jules (my Downs bro.), with the alpacas or Open Days
- Or simply a hug, a kind word, or a smile when I needed it
One of the most significant was the gift of money from close friends, which I knew they couldn’t really afford. This was especially hard to receive.
But it’s been like the proverbial seed, already starting to bear good fruit. I was able to join the start of an online business community, the Right Company, led by Bernadette Jiwa. It’s been an incredibly fertile and warm growing space, enabling me to find my voice and finally move from ideas to focussed action.
Already Quiet Disruptors has emerged from this place of exploration. And I’ve been bowled over by the way it is resonating with a significant and diverse range of people. The opportunity to share at Gwyl Coda Festival last weekend was yet another experience of ‘I am not alone’.
Opening our hearts
What I’ve also realised, though, is that much of this encouragement, affirmation and connection is out there all the time. We just don’t notice it and therefore we fail to connect. What a waste!
So what stops us?
I wonder if there are two dimensions: one internal and one external. And they both start with our own hearts.
For so long, and in so many situations, I’ve just coped. I’ve felt I had to, so many others were depending on me.
However, I’ve confused stubborn persistence with healthy resilience and haven’t acknowledged my own needs, not least to myself!
There’s a healthy honesty in being real with ourselves. Recognising our own needs and vulnerabilities. Owning our wounds – not necessarily the cause – but the fact that they are there and may need tending. And being prepared to ‘let the air get to them’, in whatever way is necessary.
In preparing to lead a Reflection Session on Quiet Disruptors last week, I remembered a beautiful line from the Psalms that had touched me deeply.
“I hear this most gentle whisper from One I never guessed would speak to me.”
Ps 81:5 from The Message
Am I prepared to listen, really listen?
I’ve realised that ‘listening’ isn’t only internal, though. I need to retrain my eyes and ears to notice the ‘voices’ of others who are speaking to me, cheering me on.
Gratitude is key. It opens the doors of my heart to notice what is there and amplify it so that I really hear. And my ‘noticing muscles’ get strengthened in the process.
Gapingvoid summed it up so well in a recent post, Count your blessings. As always, their cartoon text nailed it: ‘Gratitude is the first sign of mattering’.
So this is about intentionally cultivating the habit of gratitude. Taking time at the end of the day to recall what I’m grateful for. Making opportunities to give appreciation and say thank you. Noticing what is good and what has blessed me – in thought, word and deed.
Not that I’m brilliant at it – yet – but like the flower starting to open, I can feel the sun on my face. And it connects me to you, and to others, and to those I don’t know yet, but will do in time…
What a delight. I am not alone.
Nor are you.
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