Rarely can a response make something better,

what makes something better is connection

Brene’ Brown

The move is completed!  Laura, Chad and the “Pups” have settled into the new “den”.  Boxes still fill the house, but slowly and surely treasures collected over the years will find their way to new locations and soon this new house will take on the comfort that comes with time and use.  It will become a part of them, and they will collectively transform a house into their home.

Moving to a new location brings new responsibilities, and one that I assumed yesterday was meeting Grace at the bus stop.  Previously she had been dropped off in front of the house or I picked her up at school, but now I needed to walk to the next street and meet her bus.  Chad gave me the location and time and I dutifully arrived ten minutes early for her 2:30 drop-off. In fact, I did a trial walk earlier in the day, just to make sure I knew how long it would take to get there.  The bus arrived on time, Grace got off, flashed a big smile, ran, and jumped into my arms. I got the big “Grandpa hug” and we walked down the street as I listened to her tell me about her day and the adventures this past week in the new house. She suddenly stopped, looked up and said, “Hey Grandpa, do you know why I really like Thursdays.”  I asked, “Why is that?” Grace looked at me and said, “Because you and Grandma are here when I get home.” With that she took my hand (she already has my heart) and we continued to walk. My day was complete. I never felt more connected to her. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Connection…..what is that secret recipe that enables us to create and sustain connections that serve to enhance not only our lives, but those with whom we are connected?  Sometimes (as illustrated above), it can be a simple spontaneous comment said at just the right moment, while on other occasions it can be the silence that follows a comment.  Connecting moments are easy when they are between a grandfather and his granddaughter, but what about those other connections. Those that we’ve made with friends, colleagues and others?  What about important skills do we need to sustain these connections? I think the recipe is driven by two universal ingredients; patience and empathy.

Patience is an undervalued virtue. It mean remaining calm in the face of adversity or frustration.  In connecting with others, patience becomes a form of kindness. It helps us check our words and offer our silence.  It enables us to listen mindfully; without comment and without judgement. It enables us to demonstrate our willingness to assume some personal discomfort while we are attempting to alleviate the suffering of those with whom we are connected.  There will be a time for words, but sometimes our simple presence, and the sound of silence created by our patience make the connection.

Empathy reminds us to pause, and look into someone’s eyes and let them know we are there.  It gives us the few right words to help make their world stop spinning and the permission to grieve or even anger at current circumstances. Empathy becomes the connection to another person that enables us to understand their perspective and give true consideration to their thoughts and feelings.  Empathy becomes the tool that serves to maintain and sustain our connections

Life will never be perfect for any of us. It will be filled with highs and lows that all too often are reflective of factors beyond our control.  But we can choose to be still, be patient, and connect with those who need us. It is in that space that we will discover the patience and empathy within for those who need us the most.  And it is in that space that are connections will be sustained and solidified.

Embrace the Challenge