I Believe In Relationship

From my “This I Believe” submission in 2006. Didn’t make the cut with NPR, and it’s a from a while back, but still holds a lot of truth for me.

I believe in relationship.

With people and places, experiences and emotions, plants and animals; with old shirts, ball-caps, music, writing and cooking. I’ve searched for it in all endeavors, and have only been really satisfied with an experience when I’ve managed to secure a foothold, a rapport with the people and things around me.

I’m relatively sure that I can’t be alone in the feelings I have associated with this idea: connecting with the temporal world we live in. As I reach middle age, however, I’m very certain that I’m more sensitive than most when it comes to the practice. For me it means survival, success, and inner peace.

Whether it’s the first time or only time, meeting someone, or visiting with a friend I’ve known all my life, I always am in flux until I’ve felt the sense of that certain comfortable something that tells me I’m connected to the other. For me relationship is the way to get the most out of the present and is a primer for the future.

On the grade school playground, in the many classrooms of my life, the wrestling room, football field, committees, the fraternity, the swimming pools of summers past, teaching swimming, then later teaching English to Soviets. In Santa Clara, in Moscow, in Rivas Nicaragua, Beijing, Florence or Munich or Hong Kong, in South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, or Morgan Hill, all the experiences in all those places have become worthwhile to me only and ultimately through relationship.

Like most everyone I’ve had my share of successes and failures. I’ve tried to learn what I can from all of them, tried my best to savor the successes; persevere and even gain something through the failures. I am certain that it’s been my relationship with both the good and the bad that has solidified my attitude toward both.

I recently went through a divorce. I only reached a sense of peace and acceptance of the loss through the support of the many good people that let me share the experience with them, relate with them, and thereby process my complicated thoughts and feelings. It was also only by reaching a new, truer relationship with my ex-wife that I was able to find closure in the marriage ending, and begin a promising, connected relationship with someone new.

When I consider this attitude juxtaposed to my faith, it all makes even more sense to me: connecting with others, befriending others, helping others. God in all things and in all people. My relationship with the world around me strengthens my sense of proper path, somehow brings me a bit closer to the Divine.

I believe in relationship. It is the surest indicator of my place in time and space on this Earth, speeding along with everyone else toward the most we can get from life.

Feel the GOOD, Share the GOOD


[Copyright, Charles Schultz]

One of my work buddies was jokingly talking the other day about getting a life coach, rather than a therapist, to help him with his problems.  I told him immediately that he didn’t need to look any further than my desk.  I’d be happy to help him “pro bono”. I was half-kidding of course, but that also means I was sorta half-serious.

When I’m at my best, I consider myself an amateur counselor (read: therapist/life coach).  I love that sort of dialogue and approach to life’s problems.   I have several friends who are therapists (and one that I know of who’s title is actually “Life Coach”), and have always related closely to their calling and training, their perspectives and solutions.  [Full disclosure, I’ve also gone through periods of clinical therapy at different times in my life.]

I would never represent that I have the certifications or experiences that a professional therapist has.  On the other hand, I do think I have some of the skills.  I also like listening to people’s stories, sharing my own perspectives, and providing an emotional boost if I can.

That’s really my basic modus operandi:  Finding the perspective in any situation, especially when it’s a negative one, where there is a glimmer, a little sliver of hope, of upside, of lesson that can be learned, of little light to stay fixed on to get through the darkness.  I do that when I’m faced with difficulty.

There are times too when I’m feeling particularly good about something (or things, if I’m lucky), and want to share that insight unsolicited, thinking it might just resonate for someone else.

My advice today?  When you find yourself in In that upbeat groove, when you’re feeling quiet confidence, a bit more assured and positive than usual, savor it.  Then share it.  I just did.

Good Conversation is GOOD for You

Taking a page from one of my favorite bloggers, I’m going to keep this short and sweet today, going with the inspiration that’s shaped the day thus far.

Recently one of my oldest and dearest friends and I started connecting for quick, early morning chat sessions about once a week.  Typically I’m on the road to the office around 630am (California Time), and that works well for him (an hour later in Colorado).

It’s been a real treat to talk with him more frequently, and a blessing too, as it’s spurred some good conversation on varied and interesting topics.  Sometimes we touch on something more neutral that we both might have an opinion on, sometimes something in particular that one of us has going on (work-related, family stuff, etc.)

Today we had a bit of both.   It started with hamburger joints, nutrition, and the obesity epidemic in the US.  Near the end we talked a bit about the cross-over of education and the business world in the realm of leadership.  My buddy’s recently been engaged with the PEBC and is finding new avenues for his skills and experience, from 20 plus years in education (classroom and otherwise).

By five minutes after 7:00am, I was into the next activity of this fine Friday the 13th with a spark and energy I didn’t have prior.  All because I’d had a short chat with an old friend with whom I can always count on to stir up interesting, thought-provoking, sometimes humor-laden conversation that does me good.

I suggest you reach out to a friend, old or new, today.  Be  present in the conversation and let the chat go where it may.  Enjoy the very experience of the exchange.  It’ll do you good too.