Beginnings…

Over a hundred posts ago, we managed to find a way to create a method of partnering in our shared interests, despite living on different continents. We founded what became a forum for some of the questions we have, an outlet for some of our ‘ponderings’ and ideas, and a context for connecting with others interested in community, welcome, friendship, and inclusion. That is (was) Come In From The Cold.

And now we feel we have reached a natural ending. We revisited our direction a few months ago, and that brought forth some clarity and purpose. But during the last month we have both felt the ending reveal itself to us. This week we had a very fun Skype conversation and committed to put Come In From The Cold to bed.

Happy faces!

Happy faces!

We didn’t make the decision lightly. We have loved this space, and feel enormous gratitude for the support and encouragement you have offered us. But we did make the decision easily. It is just time, and it feels good and satisfying to recognise that and respond. We want a dignified end for a thing we love. ~Linda

 

A burgeoning partnership/friendship...What I’ve learned, and continue to be open to (as pushed by brilliant teachers, mentors, partners and friends I’ve been blessed with) is the notion of co-creation.  First off, if we remain open as we interact with the world around us, give of ourselves in totality to those we come across and interface with in life, what emerges are fascinating opportunities.  July 2012, Linda and I were open to a new friendship and partnership.  Many a conversation about our lives in our own places, our work, our core values, our ethos and our families, led us to a cross-continental project that has been this blog for the past 2 1/2 years.  Come In From The Cold pushed me to remain open, to allow for evolution of mind and spirit, and gave me a forum to speak my voice, share my thoughts and ask questions that remain unanswered.  Linda in particular, pushed me, and still pushes me, to be as authentic a human as possible.

Good people reading this now and who have supported us from day one…I’m overwhelmed by the amount of love and support you have poured onto us during this project.  We never imagined the amount of love we would feel from doing this, let alone anyone really wanting to read and/or listen.  It’s been an incredible journey and we aren’t done yet!!  This closes a chapter, but from this, a new beginning (as Linda aptly named this post) is born in our partnership.  Stay tuned…but don’t hold your breath, it may be a while:)   Sending my love and gratitude to you all!!  ~Kirk

Partners in blogging!

Partners in blogging!

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A poem by my favourite poet

The Picnic

In a little rainy mist of white and grey
we sat under an old tree,
drank tea toasts to the powdery mountain,
undrunk got merry, played catch
with the empty flask, on the pine needles
came down to where it rolled stealthily away – 
you lay
with one arm in the rain, laughing
shaking only your wet hair
loose against the grass, in that enchanted place
of tea, with curtains of a summer rain
dropped round us, for a rainy day.

- Edwin Morgan

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Be grateful for every opportunity…

Gratitude drives my life…at least I try to let it drive.  I’ve posted a video on this blog about Gratitude, which is narrated by David Steindl-Rast.  This is an opportunity to listen to David Steindl-Rast a bit further, via this TED Talk.  I happen to completely agree and subscribe to the idea that Gratitude leads to happiness…Gratitude leads to joy…Gratitude leads to a joyful world!  So take the time to listen and be grateful for the opportunity!  Be well my friends…

 

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My heart is full; my mind is empty!

Yesterday I had the huge honour of being a wedding celebrant for two friends. We first agreed I would take on the role almost a year ago, and it feels like a significant milestone has passed. I have had dreams about dropping my notes in a puddle, not being able to be heard over an unfortunately placed bulldozer, and improvising some hideously unfunny jokes. But when it came to it, nerves vanished and I just enjoyed every second.

I am still kind of overwhelmed by the experience, plus I stayed up until after 1am, which is unheard of for me at the moment! So I am not capable of offering you a proper reflection on the experience or what it meant. What I know is this: to have such a role in helping two people publicly declare their love and commitment to one another is the greatest privilege I have experienced (and I regularly get to hear people’s deepest dreams for a living!); to be invited, with my partner, to be part of the whole day at the wedding gave me a profound sense of inclusion and belonging; and, finally, James and Simon really know how to offer true hospitality. It was a day of thoughtful creativity, where every aspect of guests’ comfort was anticipated and fulfilled, and generosity was boundless. Nothing felt flashy or formal. Everything was kindness and gratefully received contributions from friends and family.

James and Simon, I cannot put into words how deeply I wish you happiness and fulfilment in your life together. Congratulations, friends!

Love!

Love!

 

 

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Taking action with, and on behalf of each other…

Every so often, and in this context I mean ‘rarely’, you come across a human being who simply gets it.  We here at Come In From The Cold are making a concerted effort to have conversations with folk living in such a way; we can’t help but ask them questions relating to the threads we are curious about on this here blog.  Tom Kohler tries to welcome people from all walks of life to walk and wheel together.  Through Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy (http://www.savannahcitizenadvocacy.org/), Tom makes it his life work to see what it looks like when “Everybody is in the room.”  Perhaps the even more groovy learning of Tom, whom I met in 2010, is the notion of living the practice of welcome no matter which hat you are wearing at any particular moment, of any particular day.  Simply put, Tom is a Savannah citizen, writing letters to the editor, connecting people across assumption and generation, as well as raising a family, and being a son within his family. Tom is on a quest to co-create and sustain, what he refers to as “The Beloved Community”.  I’m honored to call him a friend and mentor…so enjoy a glimpse into Tom’s world.

Tom...with a hint of mischief...and class!

Tom…with a hint of mischief…and class!

 

We began our conversation around remembering when it was Tom felt truly included to a person or group of people, beyond his family.  Tom reflects, “One is my first carpool. You know the carpool, with 4 or 5 kids in the car, parents rotate every 5 weeks. There was something about that group…we were tight. An early, tight gathering. Every single morning, piling into the car and seeing the same 4 kids. It’s the carpool and there they are. You could be in a bad mood…grumpy about having to wake up early and the general ‘I don’t want to go to school thing’, but by the time the car hit school, something had happened on the ride that made you smile…and it was all good.

I’m reading a wonderful book currently, The Tender Bar, and it reminds me of Jim Collins Bar. Meeting Jim Collins and spending 6 nights a week from 1971 to 1974, while in college, certainly speaks to feeling included.  This was a tight group…7 stools, 3 tables, 4 chairs per table. You had to be told about it, no signs, so it was an invitation in a way. It was in a part of town where you felt like maybe ‘I don’t belong here’, but then you’re in Jim Collins Bar and you feel right where you belong.  The location and design of the bar, intentional at the core, spoke to that welcome we are talking about.”

I’m interviewing Tom because I find him to be the master of welcome and connection, but wondered if he could tell me about someone he finds to be incredibly welcoming and why?  Tom shot out immediately:  “Kristen Russel, owner of the Sentient Bean (http://www.sentientbean.com/about). She has created a place that is all about welcome.

Kristen and Tom

Kristen and Tom

She lives two doors down and her house is always open to people as well. She is very clear that it needs to be a place that any and everybody can come. It’s a conscious decision she has made. At her home, they offer Friday Social Hours on Friday afternoon, with a simple invitation: Brussel’s 5:30pm. Informal, 5 to 25 people, eat and drink…it’s a casual way to kick off the weekend, but I also feel like it carries a profoundness to it.  She organizes the Forsythe Farmers Market in Forsythe Park across the street. On the corner of Bull St and Park Ave, Kristen has created an intentional and active welcome with the Bean, the Market and her home.”

Forsythe Farmer's Market

Forsythe Farmer’s Market

When asked about a time when he felt a strong sense of local agency, Tom replied: “When the local public school system wanted to close the school my kids went to, we formed a group called Parent Advocates For Charles Ellis (PACE). We organized, lobbied the school board, reached out to journalists, held public meetings, used chart paper on the walls to use visuals, we had people call all their friends who worked media to call the Board of Education’s public information officer…with the idea that they would create some heat. If we could stop them from closing the school, a new school board would be elected, and once elected, they could then more easily change course. Good old fashioned persistent-guerilla organizing and getting things to turn out the way you want them to turn out.”

Next we ventured into a more introspective place, wondering what goes on internally for Tom when meeting a new person or new group of people: “I hope that curiosity is present. Openness. I hope I’ve intentionally gotten better at staying open and not be too quick to assume and judge. I’ve worked on that…and I’m probably pretty good at that at this point. I’m interested in seeing interesting combinations of people. There was a picture of people on the subway in New York recently, two people in full Indian regalia, next to all these New Yorkers…what a great representation of the New York vibe…a wild juxtaposition of different people in close proximity with one another…and for whatever level of engagement, seeming to get along just fine.”

Sorry Tom...had to do it!

Sorry Tom…had to do it!

And finally, I asked Tom about a time/place when he feels especially at his best, when he truly can ‘be the change’…

 “I think I’m pretty good with connecting people who have lived in Savannah with new residents to Savannah. I’m asked by people to sit with ‘a friend to learn about who they are and connect them to people or groups that they may jive with’.   The other thing I’m intentional about, is connecting people intergenerationally. The Savannah Rocks project is about this. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/465286180185853/). The idea is to connect people who were playing music locally in the 60 and 70s with people in their 20’s and 30’s playing music now in Savannah.”  

In closing, Tom shares a notion permeating his mind, heart and soul moving forward:  “I do believe that here in Savannah we are gradually beginning to ask a fundamental question: Do we want to think of ourselves as the Hostess City or do we want to think of ourselves as a Beloved Community. If we are a hostess city, we mostly think about how we treat those who are participating in the money economy, primarily in the tourism industry. If we think of a beloved community, it has a lot more to do about how we treat each other and welcome each other into one another’s lives and how we choose to take action with and on behalf of each other.”  

 

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More Than Books (and books are pretty fantastic)

Yesterday I had a bit of a tough morning with my poor wee teething son. In the afternoon, things improved and in order to keep doing fun, distracting things I took him along to our library. Fin goes to the library several times a week, with me and with his grandparents when they look after him. He goes to their free Bookbug sessions to sing nursery rhymes and hear stories. He goes to pull books off the shelves, drag toys around the floor, gaze unflinchingly at other library-users and generally act like he owns the place!

Well, yesterday we arrived and a large group of people were sitting around a table with cakes and other treats spread before them, balloon garlands overhead, and a celebratory atmosphere all around the room. I was immediately offered a (much needed) cup of tea, and told that one of the staff were leaving to work in another library and that this was her send-off.

I couldn’t really sit down to join in with the party properly, but was offered cake (more than once) and Fin and I were made to feel very welcome as we trundled around the children’s books section.  Several of the party said hello to Fin and asked how old he was, did he like reading etc. The two librarians on duty know Fin by name and of course I filled up with pride when they told the party how well-behaved he is every time he comes in and how much he likes his books.

Compliments for my son aside, this little outing just felt great. As we left the library I reflected on how some of those librarians will probably still know Fin in ten years time. How lovely to have these key community figures know our family. How safe it feels that there are people who care about him all around the village. Libraries are often community spaces which offer so much more than books for loan. Ours, especially considering it’s tiny scale (it is one room in a wee portocabin) is remarkable. They host all kinds of community activities aimed at all ages, and whenever we happen upon a session we feel welcomed at the edges, whether or not it is something suitable for us to join in with or not. I don’t know if it is training or luck, but every one of the team in our library is welcoming and warm, and what a difference it makes.

Yesterday I needed Fin to be distracted in a happy place, and I think I needed someone to do something kind for me like make me a cup of tea! Ratho library staff, thank you for everything you do. And Lindsey, good luck in your new job!

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My New Learning Community

Greetings dear friends!  I’m in the midst of a book titled, “Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times”, a gift given to my by the outstanding Chris Lee, and written by Paul Born.  Paul Born lives and works in Cambridge, Ontario in Canada.  Paul Born is the co-founder of the Tamarack Institute, http://www.tamarackcommunity.ca, whose ‘about me’ tab on their website reads:

“Founded in 2001, Tamarack is a charity that develops and supports learning communities to help people collaborate and to co-generate knowledge that solves complex community challenges. Our deep hope is to end poverty in Canada.”

I thought I’d just give you their explanation word for word, so as not to confuse anyone with how I paraphrase people who are brilliant with my incredibly long-winded ramblings:)

Paul Born

Paul Born

In exploring the Tamarack Institute, via their website, I discovered they host and facilitate different learning communities with individual, specific websites holding questions, conversations, providing avenues for publications via blogs  and disseminate resources people who are interested.  I joined Seeking Community, http://www.seekingcommunity.ca, for several reasons…but let me just do as I’ve done before and give you their mission word for word:

“Imagine: city planners designing neighbourhoods to increase social capital; elderly people staying in their neighbourhoods for another 5 years; mental health rates declining because neighbours are caring for each other and creating a greater sense of connection and belonging together.  Seeking Community is a Learning Community for individuals who care about the vibrancy of their communities.  Our aim is to encourage and connect individuals who are hosting conversations to recapture the idea of community; to make it a guiding force in organizing our neighbourhoods and institutions and for envisioning policies for well-being.

Seeking Community brings together people with diverse experiences and understandings of community into a dialogue about the importance of having a deepened sense of community. This online community allows you to create a profile, listen to podcasts, post blogs, post links to other websites, and other resources. Our Learning Community includes ten Thought Leaders: people who bring various insights and expertise into this overall dialogue. Over the next 3 years, we will host 1,000 conversations about community. Our online Learning Community will act as a vibrant space to document these conversations; analyze them to see what patterns emerge; and engage the Learning Community in co-generating insights from this data.  Once clear understandings begin to emerge, we will bring these to policy makers, celebrities and other people of influence to propose policy changes that acknowledge the importance of community.”

This is an e-newsletter they publish...one example of the general awesomeness of this community...

This is an e-newsletter they publish…one example of the general awesomeness of this community…

Anyone who knows me even remotely, understands how elated I am to have found these people…and I’m even more thrilled to take advantage of how welcoming this community is of new people and the desire to hear from a broad range of people…all for the common good!!  I’m now a member of this learning community, and I encourage all of you to check out the links I posted and see if it’s something you’d be into.  I remain thirsty to grow in this idea of connection. I remain open to hearing from any and all people who want to talk about it.  I am seeking community…a deepening community. I’m so grateful to Chris for having given the simple gift of a book, yet with intention, knowing who I am and what I’m into…I thank you Chris for being a true friend.  And since I’ve decided to share words with you directly from these wonderful people and what they are up to, I’m going to leave with you a poem written by Paul Born, titled “Finding Together”…it is all I want to read these days…over and over and over again!  Sending my love and gratitude to you all…

 

Finding Together

spending time together with…

friends

family

colleagues and associates

…just about anyone is such joy

To play, to visit, to eat, to sing even to pray …

opens me to the other – we

connect

converse

commune

What am I longing for if not this?

Do I really want more?

Do I have more to give?

If so what?

What are my longings? …

belonging?

commitment?

faithfulness?

They tell me I cannot have these things, that I am a dreamer ?

They do not say this kindly as if telling me to stop.

You have a good life – open your eyes be happy.

Or look – you already have these things, your family, your wife.

Yes, I say – I see these but I want more and it is not because I am unhappy.

What might it be like to wake up…

And know…

And feel…

And accept…

That I am part of something bigger

Something intentional, hopeful, safe.

Where my neighbours have committed,

Where I have committed

Where we have committed to each other

Where the world is better

Where our lonely resides

Where our fear rests

Where our tears are harvested

And our dreams nourished

A place where truth is easy

And visions are shared

Where my best greets your best

And where living together is easy because

I is We and We is Us.

They say you speak of heaven

Such places only exist in our longing

There is no place for such places in the now.

But still I long and wonder…

What must I give, how deep must my longing be to live such a life?

Let's hold this together...

Let’s hold this together…

 

 

 

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Our City, Your City

August in Edinburgh. The city is taken over by the festival, and the streets thrum with people handing out flyers, juggling, singing, rushing to watch shows, rushing to perform shows, milling around, and generally festivaling all over the place.

In these early weeks, it is so interesting to watch the visitors to the city start to own the place. The manner in which people move around the streets alters. Initially there is an excited energy, a spirit of adventure, curiosity, and discovery. And then gradually, the energy changes from curiosity to familiarity, and the performers, ushers, bar staff, and festival visitors start to become a happy kind of exhausted which leaves them more relaxed and at ease here. Ultimately, I see people lounging around, arms draped over the shoulders of someone they may barely have known three weeks ago. It is the immersion in a creative experience that does it, I think, and it creates powerful bonds between people and location.

I know the feeling they are experiencing and I also know that from the outside, residents of Edinburgh can read the attitude as a kind of arrogance which can be a little bit off putting. But it is a wonderful thing for people to experience and this post is my welcome to you all. Enjoy owning our city! Make for yourselves great memories, establish friendships, create in-jokes and nicknames, and always remember Edinburgh with fondness. It is a beautiful city, and big enough to share.

Happy festival, everyone!

Busy festival crowds on Edinburgh's Royal Mile

A city alive!

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Seeking An Undivided Life

About a year ago, I finished Parker Palmer’s Book:  “A Hidden Wholeness:  The Journey Toward An Undivided Life”.  It came at a particularly critical time for me as I had been, and frankly still am, searching for how to live my inner self, outwardly.  Once again, much like John O’Brien and his Integrity Gap nailing some guilt I’d been struggling with, with an actual name, Parker Palmer’s wisdom opens clarity about the journey I find myself in.  I’ve linked in a 6-minute clip of Parker Palmer talking about what he means by ‘divided life’, where it comes from and how it can be detrimental to our living a life with true purpose.

I’m interested in being the best version of myself…but think, perhaps, I’ve been going about it the wrong way.  Looking introspectively into my life, grasping a true sense of what I believe, what I stand for,  then drives how I interface with the world and humans around me.  If I can be my true self, then the authenticity that Palmer speaks of,  permeates all interactions, connections and relationships.  Subsequently, my life becomes whole, vibrant, salient and purpose-driven…and a purpose-driven life, hopefully, provides a compass for which my children perhaps will use to guide them as they evolve into contributing citizens, in their chosen places, where ever they land, and with whomever they are with.

Big love to you all…

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Putting Down Roots

Sharilyn Clowes is a friend I made several years ago, not long after we had both moved to Ratho. She always knew she was here temporarily, but that didn’t stop us from forming a strong friendship. Sharilyn and her husband, Brian, had just been travelling around the world by bike, and I was inspired to hear of her adventures. Right here in Ratho, she did some really beautiful community-building, community-enhancing, and community-connecting. (There will be a little more from me on this at the end of the interview…) She is now at home in Canada, creating an incredible homestead and forging a more settled existence. The time difference and her hectic summer schedule meant we couldn’t Skype our interview. Thankfully she writes beautifully, so here are her very own words!

Can you tell me about an early experience you had in your life where you felt aware of a being included, or a strong sense of belonging to a group beyond your family?

The first one came very quickly to me: camp! I began attending camp when I was just 5 years old. That one week in the summer began to permeate through all the other weeks of the year. Reminiscing about the time spent, dreaming about what next year would hold. As I began to get older, the one-week-a-year ritual grew. I started my counsellor training and began to work throughout the summer. It was a place I could let go an be myself – all about fun! I developed skills in areas I didn’t have other opportunities to try. I made some incredible friendships that lasted for years. Even when I wasn’t at camp, I’d spend hours looking at photographs and writing lengthy letters – some of which I still have! I went for a visit last year (first time in close to 20 years) and it was like coming home!

Tell me about the most welcoming person you know. What do they do that works well to welcome other people into their home, friendship, or community?

The most welcoming person I can think of is Lise Wilson. She is the kind of person you could never forget meeting. I’d read in books about the air changing when someone walked into the room, but hadn’t experienced it until I met Lise. A brilliantly beautiful person who’d always shout a loud welcome when you saw her. I had the honour of working with Lise in her ceramic studio, which was a place she created and others craved to be a part of. Even before I worked with Lise, I would go there. It was a place where the rest of the world was left behind and you could just be yourself and create. Lise was someone who lives each day to the fullest – a life with no regrets – and inspired those she met to do the same.

Can you tell me about a time when you felt a strong sense of agency as a local citizen? When you felt you had power in you to “be the change you wanted to see in the world”?

You’re going to love this next one, Linda because I think I’m going to say it was Ratho! Living there was the first time I started to feel a part of a community and not live a life in independent isolation. I had come from a small town and spent many years running away from it! But the welcoming I received here opened my eyes again. I saw people who weren’t just living in one another’s pockets, but working to make the place they lived better. I was inspired to see a number of groups forming who worked at various causes. The parental involvement in extra curriculars in the school astounded me! These people were not content to simply let things be and grumble about it. If they didn’t like something, they started working towards making changes – and accomplished them! This was a very different mindset to what I was used to, and I wanted to be a part of it!

Can you describe what is going on for you internally when you meet a new person or group of people? What mix of emotions is going on for you?

When meeting people, I feel like I am myself 2 people. There is a part of me who holds back, is scared to be in a group setting and nervous about meeting others. Then there’s the other side that rises to the occasion and likes to be the leader of the group. It doesn’t seem like the two should be able to go together. The more time I’ve spent travelling and meeting other people the less air time the nervous side gets. I find that some of my best memories and experiences have come from spending time with PEOPLE. Alone time is good, but I can’t let that take over my life. Stepping out of the comfort zone and meeting people results in the greatest benefits.

If we keep in mind an idea that there may be “layers” of community building; nurturing your family, accepting friendly invitations, welcoming new neighbours, connecting/introducing people, starting local projects, facilitating events… Tell me about the situations/experiences where you feel you really come to life and can make your best contribution.

Right now I have NO IDEA how to respond to your last question! I can look at other people and say that they’re nurturing or they have great sympathy towards others. I can see the organizers and the inspire-ers. But what am I? I don’t know where I fit or what I’ve done…I can’t say ‘yes!’ to any of the examples of what you’ve listed and don’t feel as if I’ve ‘shone’ on any either. Sorry, I guess we need to ‘talk’ a little more about this!

Well, here I can perhaps step in! In writing these questions, I knew I wouldn’t have thought of everything, and perhaps none of the examples I offered rang true for Sharilyn. What I see in her, and the reason(s) I invited her to be one of our focus people, is and incredible energy to create a good life, living in harmony with the people around her, her environment, and the planet. I am always awestruck by the way she does things properly, from scratch, by hand. For example, I remember her getting the side of a pig and using every part of it. Nothing was wasted; everything was valued and respected and used. She cured her own bacon, for goodness sake! Amazing. Sharilyn is a wonderful host, another part of her community building/connecting gifts. A meal at her house involves home-made bread, home-grown vegetables, foraged berries, and always good company. Sharilyn, as she mentioned earlier, was inspired to become immersed in community life in Ratho, and she used her personal gifts to offer puppetry classes for children in the school holidays, and to help with the local talent show. So she is a host, a connector, and a worker from the common good. And she’s my friend!

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The Magician

I’d like to introduce you to a dear friend, Sheldon Schwitek. I met Sheldon in 2010, while attending the Toronto Summer Institute. Since then, a friendship has evolved into a caring, compassionate and supportive relationship. When Linda and I decided to shift our focus a bit to meeting with folks we find to be extraordinarily welcoming people, folks who seems to naturally understand elements of human connection, Sheldon’s name popped into my head clearly. I managed to spend some time with Sheldon this year at that same Institute, meandering through stories and shared experiences around this idea of belonging.

Sheldon...

Sheldon…

I wondered with Sheldon about a time when he felt like he had a sense of belonging, perhaps for the first time in his life, and what that meant to him. Sheldon rattled off two instances, “The first time I remember was when I met my friend Jake, who was really into the punk scene in Winnipeg and I went to a show she played at…I was 19 years old. I felt like a part of the group. The people in this scene were a sort of band of misfits, people who experienced not belonging in their lives. Everyone was different, which really meant that everyone was the same. The second time for me…when I attended the Toronto Summer Institute for the first time in 1992; I walked into welcome. I wanted to help immediately, the space elicited an immediate comfortableness, an immediate sense of ‘this is good’.”

After spending some time around this feeling, we looked into sharing about a particular person who Sheldon considers the most welcoming he has known…”Marsha Forrest. She was incredibly open to whomever came into her life. Gracious, kind, funny. As I got to know her, her welcome became deeper as I grew to understand her vulnerability and her ability to be curious about things. She had a way to get deeper into yourself and the answering of the question brought about a better understanding about yourself.”

When asked about a time where something ignited a sense of agency, a time where he could truly make a difference, Sheldon lit up and said “I was attending a Kalamazoo Bee Club meeting, along with my friend Rich. On our way in, Rich locked his keys in his car. AAA didn’t come for about 45 minutes, so I had to facilitate the meeting alone. I ended up leading a Q & A with this group, and it went really well. This was a moment when I decided to really immerse myself in this group and be involved in a bigger way. I negotiated my way onto the board and took on a strong leadership role. I became the Secretary quickly and found myself doing a good amount of facilitation to get the board, which had been stuck for quite some time, moving forward in a positive way. I tried to bring people’s gifts forward as a way of moving the board forward.”
When meeting new people, Sheldon (to my surprise) shared, “Many people don’t know this about me, but I’m incredibly nervous and shy when I meet new people. I’m really interested about people and connecting with people, but the initial meeting is frightening. Is this person judging me? Is it positive? Will I make a fool of myself? I think this comes from being mindful that I don’t like knowing that people may not like me. These are all present for me…I’m getting good at hiding it. I didn’t acknowledge it for the longest time, and it got in the way of being able to start relationships. I’ve evolved into either moving forward in spite of the anxiety, or right along with it. You have no understanding about who a person is at first, so there is a natural tension…for me noticing the tension is paramount in being able to get beyond the fear and truly connect…and I do seek deep connection.”

I was curious about when Sheldon truly comes alive…times when he truly feels like he is making a contribution…”My own family history was contentious at times. Judgment circled my relationship between my step father all growing up. With my wife, Joan, my children and grandchild, I am trying to be the type of human being that I wished I had been raised as by my parents. I see my daughter raising my grandson and see all these wonderful strategies of parenting she uses. Joan is wonderful at teaching me how to be a supportive parent. I feel I best contribute in a one on one relationship with people. I’m intentional with the type of support I provide within a relationship. My friend Matt taught me what it means to provide the types of support needed in a relationship. I feel like I’m good at being supportive. What do I need to do to support someone? This question has become my driving question…the foundation of my ethos. The other place I feel contribution is when I’m teaching about the Culture of Gentleness. If I can help change one person’s view, then I feel a sense of accomplishment…a sense of contribution. Because that person will then go out an be gentle with and interface with the world around them in the manner with which I believe to be the right way.”

So why is the title of this post “The Magician”? It’s simple…I had the opportunity to sit in Sheldon’s circle of support for a visioning he walked through in 2013. The resounding culmination of gifts Sheldon possesses ended up producing one word…magician. Sheldon creates welcome in the spur of the moment, crafting a sense of warmth and openness for all people in the room, no matter how long he has to prepare. With the wave of his invisible wand, his quick ‘Sheldon wink’, a brilliant smile and his all too recognizable guffaw…Sheldon magically welcomes you into his heart.

Thanks for that my friend…

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A Welcome That Fits

There are times in anybody’s life, I suspect, when circumstances could lead to feelings of exclusion or isolation. Birthday parties for friends’ children if you don’t have children of your own, boozy nights out if you are teetotal, expensive stag parties if you are totally skint… Right now, for me, it is any social gathering happening after about 8.30pm. My son has been going through a 5am wake-up time for a month or so now and by the evening I am pretty much broken. I have had to cancel or pull out of numerous arrangements and I can’t remember what it’s like to go out to the pub with friends.

Recently I had a lovely plan to have some friends from my village round to my house to Drink Wine and Chat. As the date approached, I knew I had to retract my offer to be the host, since there was a real risk I would have fallen asleep whilst refilling someone’s wine glass! Stephie, one of the friends who were meant to be coming, immediately offered to host and said I could come along if I had the energy, for just however long I wanted.

As it turned out, I was indeed too shattered to make it along to Stephie’s. I went to bed early, with a bit of a frustrated stomp, wishing I was trundling down the road with a bottle of wine in hand. I sent a message to Stephie the next morning, apologising once more and joking that I should start planning more breakfast get-togethers since that’s the only time I have any energy.

Well, within the hour Stephie had texted me to ask if I was free on Friday morning to get together with our baby boys. Some might have given up on me, or just thought we could meet up when things settled down for me a bit. But Stephie empathised with my early-rising, and figured out a way to make it work for me.

It turned out that Friday lunchtime worked best for both of us, so Fin and I merrily trundled down the road, a small box of Greek salad in hand. Stephie really knows how to do a welcome. She had laid out all these delightful bowls of healthy, delicious treats that would suit two babies and their mums. We spent the whole afternoon together: playing under the trees in her garden; reading story books in the living room; drinking tea; eating chocolate eclairs. We had long enough that we could actually have proper conversations despite the inevitable fragmentation of topics caused by the cheerful interruptions of busy little boys. The boys had never played just the two of them before, and my goodness did they hit it off!

I returned home feeling welcomed, energised, supported and very grateful. When things get a bit overwhelming, or we are just really, really tired, we don’t always want to be left in peace until things get easier. In fact, that is often exactly when we need a friend who will work around us and fit us into their lives. I am lucky that I have many such accommodating friends, and a hugely welcome addition to that circle is Stephie.
Thank you Stephie! Next lunch date is at ours!

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The Art of Welcoming

This week I’m linking in a TED Talk about the question which stands as the foundation for our learning here on Come In From The Cold:  How do we truly welcome people?  Well, Jan Gunnarsson gives his answer brilliantly in this short talk. He calls it Hostmanship, the art of making people feel welcome. Jan says “we must welcome ourselves, before we can welcome others,” something I have pondered for years…we need to be right for ourselves, if we are to be right for others.  Once we do this, and we ‘make the right choice’ every morning when we rise, we can truly be hosts to everyone we find ourselves around…every day of our lives and welcome, welcome, welcome.  I welcome you to give yourself 8 minutes…it will be time well spent:)  Sending my gratitude to you all…

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David Merrick, a man of the Universe!

A few weeks ago, just shortly after I first drafted our interview questions (which Kirk mentioned and used for his post last week), I interviewed David Merrick. David and his delightful eight year-old daughter came for lunch, and then we conducted our interview while our children played in the background. David is someone I have only met a handful of times in person. I noticed his community spirit through Facebook, where I saw him suggesting community initiatives, and experienced him responding energetically and positively to suggestions for local action that I had made.

It's David Merrick!

It’s David Merrick!

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Sending my gratitude to Melissa Hough…

Approaching the end of our 2nd year of blogging, which we are grateful for indeed, we embark on year 3 with a new sense of hope and growing desire to hear from wonderful people, doing wonderful things, by simply living who they are!  Linda and I, who are we kidding, Linda, drafted some thoughtful questions for us to ask people we come in contact with, work with, have just met, and/or are downright in awe of!

Melissa Hough

Melissa Hough

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Moving forwards, together

Hello dear readers,

Thank you again for being patient while we took a wee break to consider our direction and to refocus. We feel clearer and more purposeful, and we are ready to move forwards!

We have revisited our mission and revised it to better describe where we feel we are with the blog these days. Please read it and let us know what you think! We really do welcome feedback.

In the coming weeks you can expect more posts that connect with this revised mission, including some interviews with community builders from San Diego and Scotland (and who knows, maybe elsewhere too!)

Thank you again for sticking with us,

Linda and Kirk

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Welcome Back…to the original post from Linda!!

Through our reflecting, pondering and wondering of where we are headed with Come In From The Cold, I journeyed back to Linda’s original post, THE FIRST post, of this blog. Click here and take a look back at: The best welcome I ever got.  In it, you’ll find gems like:  “In a group of friends as established as this one there is inevitably a lexicon of inside jokes which could potentially alienate a newcomer, but this group of folk made sure I was included.”  This reminds me of how Judith Snow describes that with any vibrant, well-connected community of people, and natural ‘edge’ will form.  What makes a community inclusive, is to have ‘a welcome at your edge’.

 

Read on dear followers!!  We are close to posting new material!!  So for now, enjoy our favorites from the past!

The best welcome I ever got

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Inviting, welcoming, connecting

Here we are with another blast from the past. I felt really excited to read this one, because I had forgotten all about Kirk taking this step with his church community! And as we reflect on what this blog is really about, it struck me as powerful that Kirk considered how to make sure that the initial welcome was only the beginning for new and existing members of his church. There are layers of community, and there are tools to move from one layer, deeper down to the next… Enjoy reflecting on that as you read: An Open Letter to One of my Communities! 

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Gardening Revisited…

seedlings appearing amongst more established plants

“Did I plant that?”

Back in the first month of existence for Come In From The Cold, Linda juxtaposed gardening with community building, specifically in her village of Ratho and her very own garden.  Journey back with us by reading 7 Thoughts on Gardening and LifeThe pictures beam vibrantly and the parallels weave in and out of the post beautifully.  This process of looking back is proving to be quite beneficial to us as we regain traction on where we were upon the inception of this space and where we are headed…we hope you don’t mind it too much:)

Remember to take care of each other and tend to your gardens!

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Remember Svetla?

Dear friends, we are benefitting from this fallow period at Come In From The Cold, but we want to continue to honour your support by sharing a past post with you today. I just reread Kirk’s post from February last year, Building Community One Latte At A Time and remembered how much I enjoyed hearing about Svetla! She uses her business to promote community (as well as providing coffee), and the customers she welcomed find delightful ways to thank her and nurture her business. Enjoy!

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More Throwback Love

Greetings everyone!  As Linda alluded to last week, we are taking a step back, pondering our direction, refueling our fires and will be posting fresh again in June. In the meantime, we invite you all to do as we are, and peruse past posts.  The post I’m linking today, written by Linda in our first year of existence as a blog, draws us into her roller coaster at the time of adoption and pregnancy.  Her vulnerability emerges as the piece unfolds and we are given a glimpse into her and her partner’s deepest fears and joys…along with brilliant news!

Have a look and enjoy:  Still Welcome

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Holiday!

Dear friends, this post goes up late because I just lost track of the days! I am relaxing with my family, and thought it was still Sunday. Isn’t that lovely? But still, sorry for my tardiness.

As we approach our second birthday Kirk and I, or ‘The Management’ as he wryly terms us, are taking stock. So we will be back with you in June with some fresh new ponderings. In the meantime, we would like to point you back to some of our pieces from the first year of Come In From The Cold posts. We will take it in turn to link you back to some favourites of one another’s writing. I just very much enjoyed rereading Kirk’s post, ‘Only three percent? It’s a start…’ I am sure you will enjoy revisiting it too! I know Kirk has done a lot of work on getting to know his neighbours better, so committing himself here clearly paid off. Here’s a little quote from his piece, which seems like a motif for life: ” I have a real sense of where I need to go, and it’s next door!”

Have a good week, friends!

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Beauty in Nature

IMG_0964

In the spirit of not ‘forcing the issue’ with my writing, I’m posting a series of photos I shot on Friday while traveling in Alaska.  Tons of thoughts spin around my head begging to get out, but alas, I don’t possess the organizational skills at the moment to responsibly let them out!  Thus, I’ve decided to share these photos with you. I’ve always loved birds of prey, ever since a kid and my father was swooped on by a red-tail hawk while running one day back home in the canyons of my childhood.  I remember being fascinated by their beauty, size, grace and power.  The subject of these photos may be the most stunning, visually, of them all…

Have a wonderful week friends!!  Cheers! Continue reading

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Safety in Numbers

It isn’t always easy to think of something to write for a weekly blog. Last night as I walked to the pub to meet a friend, I mulled over ideas and rejected them as insufficiently developed. Half a bottle of red later and I felt more… creative?… as I made the journey home. At the point I switched on the torch on my phone I realised how safe I feel living in this village, and I knew what I wanted to write.

path through grass, sign saying 'ratho community woodland'

a lonely path?

Many years ago I lived and worked in a tiny little village in the Yorkshire Dales. At night, one of my colleagues regularly used to throw on a head torch and stomp around the countryside surrounding Malham, enjoying the feeling of peace she experienced. I marvelled at this and realised how much of a people-person I really am. I have lived and travelled in many cities and rarely felt truly unsafe, night or day, yet I would be terrified to be alone in the countryside at night. I am completely reassured by a faith that there is always someone who could (and surely would) come to my aid. Of course there is always the slim chance that someone may wish to harm me, but with enough folk around me I feel confident that someone would help. And I know that, sadly, this isn’t always how it pans out and that some awful things do occur. But I am not talking about what I know to be true here; I am talking about what feels true to me.

So as my phone lit my way up the path from the pub, I was struck by a sense of protection. The path runs through a little community woodland and takes about sixty seconds to walk, but it doesn’t sit right by any houses (and it is the proximity of houses that usually offers me reassurance at night). But last night it was the sense of the whole village surrounding the path that comforted me. Not an anonymous house immediately within reach, but many buildings housing people I actually know and trust all around me. I felt I could call out and a familiar face would speedily arrive if I needed them.

photo of path past rickety fences and red bike shelter

Houses over the fence – this bit of the walk is safer, Mum!

My mum reads this blog (hello, Mum!) and I would like to reassure her that I did realise that choosing the woodland path is not a sensible thing to do on my own and I promise I will take the longer route next time. Promise. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the richness of that feeling I had as I strode up a torchlit path at eleven pm. I felt known, noticed, valued, and protected.

My paid work often involves working with people who have a disability and their families or support staff. The concept of the “Vulnerable Person” has led to a fearfulness of ‘bad people’ and a wish to protect disabled people from perceived risk. To be honest, I think the most meaningful and significant life experiences nestle right up beside risk. And I believe that getting to know a hundred people is safer than only knowing two, even if one of those hundred turns out to be a bad egg. Because if one person let’s us down, we still have ninety-nine people looking out for us. Connection not only fuels happiness and wellbeing, it places us more visibly within a network of care and support. And we all need that from time to time.

path leading past fence and towards brick houses

arriving home

It isn’t always easy to think of something to write for a weekly blog, but it is never impossible. We are living ‘community’ every day; this stuff is never-ending…

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Gifts of the Frisbee

Today our good friend Peter Leidy contributes to Come In From The Cold as a guest blogger!!!  Enjoy!!!

My wife, Betsy, and I are on the plane home after a lovely time in Puerto Vallarta.  We like to stay in the old part of the city, miles away from the all-inclusive resorts, strolling the town and swimming in Banderas Bay.  We love the colorful mix of locals and tourists (mostly Mexicans from Guadalajara and Canadian/US visitors.)  Ahh, the days on Los Muertos beach.

Peter and Betsy

Peter and Betsy

I had brought my Frisbee with the hope of finding willing players, but so far, no luck.  Continue reading

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“It Just Has To Stick…”

Our good friend, Sheldon Schwitek, posted this TED talk to Linda and I on Facebook a couple of weeks ago…specifically because he thought it resonates with our blog.  Little did he know I would repost it…muahahahahahahaha!!!!!  In all seriousness, it is being reposted because it is brilliant (Thanks Sheldon…so are you!).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RkqJyMxtbI&feature=youtu.be Continue reading

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We made it here! (We’ll make it anywhere…)

My ladies

My ladies

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Big Ideas, Can Come In Small Packages…

Back in late February, while traveling through the state of Wisconsin, our friend Peter Leidy (http://peterleidy.com/) welcomed my usual traveling partner, Beth Gallagher, and I into his home.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Along with his beautiful wife Betsy, Peter welcomed us not only into his home, but into his neighborhood, walking to local establishments, talking with people he and Betsy clearly have strong connections with, and beaming with pride about the place in which he lives.  The hospitality we experienced ranged from playing frisbee on frozen Lake Monona, Continue reading

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Belonging

In less than two weeks, I will be travelling to New York for a hen party. To be very clear, this is huge for me. When I first read the invitation I almost cried, because I could hardly begin to think of leaving my son for a weekend, yet I could hardly bear to miss the celebration. It might sound trite to want so badly to go on to a party, but the hen do is for my dear childhood friend, Anna, and my travelling companions are the two wonderful women (Stella and Kirsten) who make us into a solid little group of four. And Anna is getting MARRIED, for goodness’ sake!

On holiday in Italy, 1996

On holiday in Italy, 1996

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Garaiocht: A Meditation on an Irish Notion

I just returned from a whirlwind trip around the state of Wisconsin, an amazing experience shared with local folks and fellow teachers/listeners.  As is usually the case after a journey like this, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and overflowing with thoughts and ideas.  Harnessing them all proves difficult so soon after, but John O’Brien (who was a member of our ‘roadtrip’) shared this gem with me halfway through our week.  It from Anthony McCann, Social Philosopher, based out of Ireland.  The discussion around this notion of Garaiocht fits beautifully in with the mission of this here blog.  Thanks for sharing John!!

 

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Community Cafe, Friday (My First Haiku)

Babies on laps, we

Keep hot tea out of reach.

Outside, snowdrops bloom.

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Ramble On…

From time to time here on this space, posts on other fantastic blogs, pieces written by amazingly gifted people, the question of whether social media facilitates more connection or more disconnection, is raised.  As a blogger, and someone who leans toward the side of ‘more connection’, I utilize social media for what I perceive to be ‘good’.

Albert and Madalyn

Albert and Madalyn

In our constant quest Continue reading

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A Song of Joy

Image by Eoin Carey

This week’s post takes the form of a letter to four brilliant performers (one of whom is also a friend) whose show I went to see this week. Apologies if specific references lose or confuse any readers. Please bear with me…

Dear Drew, Kieran, Julia and Gav,

Last night I came to see Rantin. Thank you.

Thank you for creating a piece of entertainment which really mattered; a performance which I panicked about halfway through. My panic was this: how can we make sure that everyone in Scotland sees this? Especially, how can we make sure that every young person in Scotland sees this? Continue reading

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The Year Ago Gift…

A year ago, yesterday, we were blessed with the birth of our 3rd child, a daughter, Eliot Dawn. I wrote about the experience of having the opportunity to welcome her into the world in our own home, with the help of midwives, around this time last year. To read this post again, or for the first time:  Eliot Dawn arrives with a lesson…

Wall of Eliot...

Wall of Eliot…

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Is Writing Selfish?: What I learned from two years of blogging

“To me, connection, however fleeting, is what life is all about.”

I came across this lovely blog because the author started following Come In From The Cold. Thank you, Lightning Droplets! The title of this piece caught my interest because of the years I spent involved in community arts, and my frequent fear of self-indulgence if the ‘art’ bit took a greater focus than the ‘community’ bit.

I love the idea that writing is a means of connection, and totally agree. I hope you enjoy this post!

Lightning Droplets

Two years ago, I started a blog.  I was scared.  I had spent the better part of my adult life running away from writing.  In an attempt to cover up this fear, I had told myself that writing was just selfish.  Why did I think that what I had to say needed to be heard by other people?  What did I have to share that the world needed to hear?  I’m no expert in anything.  And really, isn’t writing really just narcissistic and self-centered?

But there was always this little voice inside me, this little part of me that felt unfulfilled when I wasn’t writing.  I travelled the world, teaching and volunteering in developing countries, devoted myself to helping people learn and grow.  I had the most amazing adventures and there was still something that was missing.

“If money were no object and you didn’t care about what people thought…

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Love Leads to Nonviolent Change

“The beloved community is not a utopia, but a place where the barriers between people gradually come down and where the citizens make a constant effort to address even the most difficult problems of ordinary people.  It is above all else an idealistic community.” ~Jim Lawson

Tom Kohler at a reading of Waddie Welcome...

Tom Kohler at a reading of Waddie Welcome…

This quote appears at the beginning of the book, “Waddie Welcome and the Beloved Community”, Continue reading

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The Thrill of the Welcome

My neighbours taught me how to be a neighbour.

Over four years ago, my partner and I arrived in Ratho, and were quietly given the warmest welcome I had ever encountered to a community. Our neighbours in one direction brought us wine and the offer (enthusiastically accepted) to fetch us fish and chips for our first evening’s meal. Our neighbour in the other direction left a card on the doorstep that first night; by the next afternoon we were in her living room drinking tea. It was all simple stuff, but bravely offered when we were still totally unknown. It was all I needed to feel that I had moved from a vague, sprawling locality to a neighbourhood.

New neighbour alert!

New neighbour alert!

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Ring in the New Year with some LOVE!!

As we enter 2014, Linda and I want to personally thank all of you for your readership, comments, support and love. It means the world to us that people connect with what we share. In this week’s post, we link another warm video from the Soul Pancake team. Sometimes all that is needed is an ‘invitation’ and the love will flow from there…let’s set our intention in 2014 to love one another each and every day!

Happy New Year!!

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Merry Tidings!

Dear friends,

I have focused my attention on my nearest dear ones the last few days, and confess I forgot to post my festive wishes!

I hope, however you are spending this week, that it is full of joy, love, and a strong sense of belonging. I hope that you find peace amid the chaos, and contentment as well as delight. Whatever you believe, whatever your culture, whatever you celebrate, I wish you all good things for 2014. May all YOUR wishes come true.

Thank you once more for the support you have shown Kirk and I during 2013.

With warm thoughts,
Linda x

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A Warm Reminder…

Peering out of our descending aircraft this past Wednesday, my eyes gazed a scene unfamiliar to me…snow, ice and bitter cold.

Brr...

Brr…

Landing in Chicago for the 2013 TASH Conference, ready to meet up with old friends and colleagues, as well as meet new friends, I was unaware of the physical reminder I’d walk in and out of all week…reminding me of why we named this blog Come In From The Cold. Being from San Diego, the streets don’t look like, and certainly don’t feel like this. Continue reading

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It Takes a Village

Last week was a bit of a milestone week for me. With a six month old son who won’t take a bottle and has only recently started on solid food, I was to attend a three-day training course. It was one of these opportunities that I knew I had to take, but it was going to mean pulling in favours from all directions. Alan (my partner) didn’t have enough holidays to cover the full three days so we had to cast the net a bit wider for babysitters. I sent an email to immediate family and one very dear friend and within hours the days were covered. My parents would do the first day, Stella (my friend) the second, and Alan the third. I know that it was exciting for the grandparents and a family friend to finally get Findlay to themselves but it was still quite an undertaking, especially when he had to brought to me at least once a day for a feed.

"OK Gran, let's do this."

“OK Gran, let’s do this.”

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Every Day Is A Gift

Here in the states, Thanksgiving Day came and went.  As I evolve, my belief is that this particular holiday offers an opportunity for people to embrace gratitude.  If you’ve been a follower of this blog, you’ll know I believe sending out your gratitude every day is something to aim for…but is not always reached (certainly for me).  In this short film by Louie Schwartzberg, through his brilliant photography and cinematography, he captures the gifts surrounding us each and every day.  He invites us to treat every day as if it were our ‘first day of life and last day of life’…and if we approach each day like this, ‘then it will really be a good day.’  Take 6 minutes to watch this film and try not to have an ear-to-ear smile emerge within the first 30 seconds and stay throughout the film.

I repeat these words internally daily, externally almost daily and practice them as best I can (which is certainly not daily).  Relentless positivity is the foundation of Come In From The Cold, a value Linda and I agreed on at the genesis of this adventure.  This short film encompasses just that…and as he says in the film, ‘every day is a gift.’

Be well my friends…

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Who are we?

Today I watched a TED talk which I am excited to share with you. In it, Hetain Patel gently and humorously challenges our preconceptions and tendency to jump to conclusions based on initial impressions. I felt it followed from my last post, Hey Judgey-Pants! Yeah, you heard… (What a title!) He then explores how our identities might be linked to our relationships with others.

With him is a beautiful dancer called Yuyu Rau; she performs a little dance excerpt and adds real texture to his talk.

A little quote from Patel: “I believe we learn who we are by imitating others… Every time I fail to become Bruce Lee, I become more authentically me.”

It is only 9 minutes long. Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy!

http://www.ted.com/talks/hetain_patel_who_am_i_think_again.html

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Snooze Wars Lead to Reflection

Deep REM sleep is rudely interrupted by the faint electronic melody emanating from my iPhone every morning at 5am.  Why so early?  Well, with three kids 6 years of age and under, and a work schedule which seemingly never turns off, 5am-6am is the sacred hour…the only hour of quiet in the house, in my life, where I can read, meditate, pray, write or lately… SNOOZE.  We all know this function of the alarm clock well, providing us with 8-minute chunks of sleep, beyond the time we designated for wake up. Continue reading

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Hey, Judgey-Pants! Yeah, you heard….

 Judgey-Pants

Judgey-Pants

Of course I would like to believe I don't judge people. But I do. All the time. I don't judge people on their skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, religion, perceived ability, age, etc, etc... I really never feel judgement rising when it comes to circumstance, situation, or identity. If people are Born This 
Way, I am pretty much open to and accepting of anything. I thrive within diversity so you will often find me (a white, heterosexual, non-disabled person) hanging about at the edges, enjoying the company of people who have been labelled, marginalised, or excluded.  Continue reading 

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We Can Take Care Of Each Other

Several people over the past year have recommended a documentary titled “Craigslist Joe” and said “you’ll love it.”  Well…all of those people were correct.  I’ve linked in the trailer to this film here and would like to share my thoughts and recommendations on it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIfItdPKTLQ Continue reading

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Every Day Is A Gift

Here in the states, Thanksgiving Day came and went.  As I evolve, my belief is that this particular holiday offers an opportunity for people to embrace gratitude.  If you’ve been a follower of this blog, you’ll know I believe sending out your gratitude every day is something to aim for…but is not always reached (certainly for me).  In this short film by Louie Schwartzberg, through his brilliant photography and cinematography, he captures the gifts surrounding us each and every day.  He invites us to treat every day as if it were our ‘first day of life and last day of life’…and if we approach each day like this, ‘then it will really be a good day.’  Take 6 minutes to watch this film and try not to have an ear-to-ear smile emerge within the first 30 seconds and stay throughout the film.

I repeat these words internally daily, externally almost daily and practice them as best I can (which is certainly not daily).  Relentless positivity is the foundation of Come In From The Cold, a value Linda and I agreed on at the genesis of this adventure.  This short film encompasses just that…and as he says in the film, ‘every day is a gift.’

Be well my friends…

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Where do we live?

Watching a TED talk today I was reminded of an Irish proverb that my colleague and I often quote:

“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”

I am not going to say much more; I just urge you to watch this talk. On this blog, we are perhaps guilty of focusing too much on the communities on our own doorstep, the ones that look like we expect communities to look.

This talk opened my eyes, heart, and mind.

http://www.ted.com/talks/iwan_baan_ingenious_homes_in_unexpected_places.html

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A Beautiful Moment

Family...

Family…

What do you see here? A family portrait? Love? Two beautiful, strong women and their amazing children? That’s what I see too. This portrait adorns the living room of Beth and Carolyn. It represents a family wrapped in love, a family with ups and downs, a family with rich traditions and a family that until this past Friday October 18, 2013…didn’t have complete, legal recognition. That last, ridiculous little tidbit of information, became exiled into history when Beth, Carolyn, their two children Trystin and Taylor, and about 10 of their closest family and friends walked into the Vista County Assessor’s office and got married!! Continue reading

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Tell me a good story

During my pregnancy and since the birth of my son, I have discovered a new community, a new ’cause’, which has become very important to me. I believe that our culture needs to address its approach to pregnancy and in particular, to birth. The fundamental need is for a truer representation of birth to be shared via word-of-mouth, the media, everywhere. Continue reading

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