July 28, 2021

Let’s talk connections. Relationships of all sorts and sizes that add texture and meaning to our lives.

Personal, professional, pleasure and proximity friendships that we have in different times and in varying degrees throughout life.

As poet David Whyte says, “The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness … to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

And I bet you’re gonna want key lime pie after listening.

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In future episodes, I’ll be featuring questions from listeners- other life owners like you. If you have a question, topic or situation you’d like for us to explore, email me at with ‘podcast question’ in the subject line.

What You’ll Learn From This Episode: Connections

  • What’s the most important aspect of friendship? We all have our opinions and I’ll share a gorgeous bit from poet David Whyte
  • Four areas of connection are personal, professional, pleasure and proximity (and give me a little love for the alliteration here- it really fell into place)
  • I’ll show you mine…some memorable personal examples to encourage you to think about your own connections (one will have you wanting Key Lime Pie)
  • Making friends in adulthood- is it as easy as it used to be?
  • Why we want friends who will chant “Yes, it was. YES, IT WAS!”

Featured On The Show | Connections

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  • She Built This City aims to empower girls 9-17 & women choosing to enter the workforce with construction trade skills & fearless maker spaces.
  • Consolations – Revised edition: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte
  • Here’s a Key Lime Pie recipe for ya!
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This is episode 6- where we talk about connections. You know, the personal, professional, pleasure and proximity friendships that we have in different times and in degrees throughout life.

Hey, I’m glad you’re here!

I have had an interesting weekend. It’s been different from my usual weekends. It was a weekend bookended by birthdays. One of my sisters had a birthday Friday and my youngest son had a birthday Monday so fun bookends. But then Saturday I spent a few hours leading a class of women who are apprenticing to learn plumbing skills. They’re beginning to work in a trade that is predominantly male so we had some really interesting conversation. Then Sunday I attended the funeral of a family friend, a man who has known my husband since before my husband was even born. It was a sad day.

With all of these unrelated but really felt related things going on, I’ve been thinking about connections and what they mean to us.

You know, here in the United States, we are in the land of do-it-yourselfers. We honor people who are the rugged individualists, the self-made men and women. We’re like, ooh, pull yourself up by your bootstraps. We really admire that. We celebrate the individual so much that we often neglect the power of community, of support, of relationships and friendship. The strength of connections.

I ran across this poet the other day and I want to share an excerpt from what he had to say about friendship. Poet David Whyte (that’s Whyte with a y) says,

“The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life…The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness … to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

I love that. I’m thinking about the people in my life who have been witnesses to me, who’ve accompanied me through life in different ways and in different times through acts of friendship or by simply being present, by being a witness.

I invite you to think about your own connections as I share some stories about mine.

You know, we’re connected to people because we have something in common with them; you share something. It might be history like family, it may be interest or you may share a space with somebody- you’re friends because you happened to be in the same place at the same time.

There really are four areas that our connections tend to be in: personal, professional, pleasure (like sports or hobbies) and proximity.

So think with me about personal. These are probably the first people you think of when you think about your connections and friendships. Your friends. Maybe your family too if you’re lucky. They’re people you choose to have relationships with because you like them. Sometimes they just happen, sometimes they’re people you go out of your way for.

The funeral we were at Sunday afternoon was for our friend Myron. Myron knew my husband Todd since before Todd was born. Myron and his wife Carol were best friends with my in-laws since way back when they were teenagers. As my husband was reminiscing about his memories, he commented “You know, there’s not a single moment that stands out when I think about him. He was just always there in my life.” They’ve been neighbors, they’d even worked together, I’d even worked with him too and we attended church together for a while. Myron was just always in the fabric of our life, he was just always there. You know, some of us are fortunate to have friends who are always there.

Whenever I think about my own friends, there’s a time in my life I always go back to. A number of years ago, I was dealing with a severe chronic illness. At the time, I had two preschoolers and a husband who worked full time and went to school at night. I couldn’t even take care of myself, much less my family.

But we had this incredible network of people. It was family, they were from our church, from my women’s group, we had neighbors and parents and teachers from my children’s preschool. It was a horrible and really amazing time, all at once.

They would come and do practical things to help us. They would pick the boys up from preschool or have them over for playdates. They would do our laundry, they would do our dishes and bring us food. Sometimes they’d just come hang out in the living room with me while Todd was in class because, oh, I was heavily medicated and pretty much ran this unfiltered stream of consciousness commentary on life that, oh gosh, one of my friends said, “Girl, you are funnier than anything on TV so don’t even think it’s a burden for me to come hang out with you.” And I’m not sure if I’m proud of that or if I’m really super embarrassed so I’ll just be both.

Until this point in my life, I’d been a giver. I was fairly resistant to asking for help and not very gracious at receiving it. Here is a gem of a lesson on friendship. Another friend set me straight on this. She said, “Tracey, you’re a giver but don’t you dare deny me the blessing of being able to give to you. Be a good receiver.”
Take that one to heart, ya’ll. Be a giver and a receiver.

But these people, we’d talk and laugh about nothing in particular. They were just with us. Sometimes, like I shared, they were doing really practical essential things to us. I don’t know how we would have made it without having these people there. The bigger impact they had was the love they gave us, the psychological safety and trust that we had knowing that they were with us, that they witnessed us.

There was one of my neighbors in particular, oh my goodness, she was about 30 years older than me and she was a tall, really gruff lady who cussed like a sailor. As often as I could, I’d sit out in my front yard. I loved flowers and gardening and I could do it if I could sit and do it. So I’d be out in the front yard and Ruth would stop by and we’d talk about my plants and flowers. I say we’d talk about it but it was really more that she would lecture me on things I was doing wrong with them because she’d worked in a plant nursery for years so she really knew her stuff. She was super intimidating. She was cold and not warm & fuzzy at all.

It’s important to know this part of the story too. Also during this time of my illness, we literally had an open door policy during the day, for sure, we never locked our front door because people needed to come in and out to be able to help us out. One afternoon, my sons were away on a playdate and I was laying down in my bedroom in the back of the house taking a nap and I roll over and open my eyes and Ruth is standing in my bedroom holding a pie. So I said, “Um, hey.” and she said, (in a short, clipped tone) “Hey. This is key lime pie. It’s my favorite. I made it for ya. I wanted you to have it.” She hands me the pie as I sat there in bed and walked out. [laughs]

I treasure that memory because here is this gruff, cussin’ woman who is so awkward but who just wanted to reach out and love us in the only way she could think of to do it. When I read that poem earlier, some people are just there to witness you and to walk alongside you, oh God, I think of Ruth and key lime pie. May every person be blessed with a Ruth who brings you a key lime pie!

So, other kinds of relationships, other kinds of connections we have. We’ve got professional ones. You may or may not be friends with some of your co-workers. Maybe you’ve got networking groups. You may have a mentor who guides you through your career.

If you’re an entrepreneur, if you work for yourself, oh man, you know this life can be LONELY especially if you’re home. It makes a difference to have a network you can interact with and get support from.

There are things like mastermind groups. I’ve been, over the last ten years or so, I’ve been in different mastermind groups. These are groups that come together to exchange information and encourage each other. You’re working towards similar goals so you’re not working together but you’re bouncing ideas off of each other and giving each other support and maybe some accountability. I’ve been in free ones and some I’ve paid a good chunk of change to participate in. They’ve all been valuable because they’re connections.

The women I worked with this Saturday in the plumbing apprenticeship program. They are part of an organization called She Built This City. They’re in Charlotte and they’re doing some neat, very practical things in the community. Really cool program, check them out. One of the things I was able to share with these ladies was how important my networks of people have been. That your friends and your family, they may want to support you, but your group of peers, they’re really going to UNDERSTAND what they’re going through. It’s a different feeling when you know somebody gets you. Maybe they offer advice but maybe not, but they can come alongside you and be a witness to your life.

Other areas of connections that we have, maybe you’ve got relationships and friendships through things you do for pleasure, through sports or hobbies. You know, growing up, I also think with the kids, oh my heavens, I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent as a parent standing on a sideline of a ball field- soccer, baseball, football, basketball. I’m cheering my kids and their friends on. I’m bonding with the other parents. We worked together on the sidelines and in the stands and behind the scenes and in the concession stand and raising money. If you’re a parent with a kid in sports, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Some of these connections were surface level. “Hey, how ya doing?” kind of things but there were many deep connections for that time in our life.

Another thing I think of when I think of pleasure and hobby connections, it’s a bonus with social media. You know, there are some not so hot things about the world of social media but if you are looking to connect with people who share an interest, good heavens, you can find a group of people, like a Facebook group who are fans of a TV show or a podcast you listen to or here is an actual Facebook group- nerdy & snarky cross-stitch patterns. You can find people who love science. I will pretty much guarantee it that if you have a love or an interest in something, you can find a group to connect with. When somebody shares your love of something, there’s almost an immediate connection.

Now one of my friends, Jeff, he just moved across the country and we were talking yesterday about what it’s like to make friends as an adult. You know, it really doesn’t have to be that much different than when we were kids. Our connections are going to share something with us- maybe it’s an interest, however weird it may be. Maybe it’s a location, you just connect because you’re there and it’s easy.

I’ve got a neighbor that I don’t even know his name and he doesn’t know mine but we chat every time we see each other. Sometimes it’s about his lawn or his cars or our dogs. I stopped the other day and we talked about what it was like for him being in the military and his experiences being part of a team. One of the words he had to share with me about friendship and the military was that you learn really quick who you can trust. Now isn’t that the mark of a friendship? Who you can trust. He said, “If you’re not trustworthy, uh-uh, we depend on each other for life and death.” Now not all our actions in regular non-military life have that degree of seriousness but TRUST, being somebody that’s there for someone, who bears witness, I love that idea.

You know, the other thing when I think about being an adult making friends, it may even be easier to make friends as an adult because we have more experience, hopefully we know ourselves more and we know what kind of friend we’re looking for. You have to navigate expectations because not everybody is out looking for a new best friend. Especially like my friend Jeff, he is new in town so he wants to meet as many people as possible but the folks who have been there for years, they may not be as interested in new friendships. You know how cliques can be.

Connections are so important to us.

We don’t have to have a vast, huge number of close friends. Most of us really only have a few close friends in our lives anyway. But to understand that we have different degrees of relationship and friendships, relationships, they don’t have to last forever. There’s the verse in Ecclesiastes- everything has a season. There’s a time and a purpose for everything.

Understand that with your connections that maybe it’s just for a season and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. We can come in and be a witness and walk alongside somebody for that season of their life.

I want to leave you with a funny story. I just saw this and thought, “Okay, this is exactly what I want to say about friendship.”

I was watching this show on Hulu called Shrill. One of the women, Fran, had witnessed a bad accident in town and a TV reporter interviewed her and she was so excited that she was going to be on the evening news. SO excited that she threw a party and had a bunch of her friends over to watch the segment on the news with her. So they’re having their party and the news comes on and they’re all like “Shh, shh, okay. Here’s the segment.” So they all quiet down and they’re watching her stand there with the reporter who says, “So Fran you saw the accident- Wasn’t it dreadful?” And Fran looks at the camera and says “Yes…It was.”

That’s it. That’s her big moment. So there’s a long silence in her living room where her friends cut their eyes at each other. Then someone starts this soft chant. Yes it was. Yes it was. And everybody joins in and it crescendoes into this big chant of “YES IT WAS!”
They’re supporting and celebrating their friend. And I know it’s silly. But don’t you want to have friends who cover your awkwardness? Who see you for you? Who lift you up when you’re down and celebrate what’s it important to you no matter how ludicrous it is?

It’s the kind of friends I want.

Now we know it’s scientifically proven that our connections add years to our life.
We also know our connections, our friends, they add life to our years. We don’t need any kind of science to tell us that. Our hearts know it.

So if you feel some lack in your connections department, reach out to somebody this week. You’re the owner of your life. You can make something like this happen. You might not connect with somebody on the first try. It may take a couple of reaching-outs to find somebody that you do connect with. But it’s worth it.

If you already feel well-connected, reach out to tell a friend how much you appreciate them.
I appreciate YOU, my podcast connection!

Thank you for listening and thank you for sharing.

Go live, love, make some money and change the world.

By |2021-08-18T23:14:41-04:00July 27th, 2021|Podcasts|0 Comments