Back in July, I found myself sitting at “a table for one at the Gratitude Cafe“. Remember that? I’ve been particularly interested in the idea of intentionally sending my gratitude out to people in my life whom I love dearly and/or have the opportunity to meet and form relationships with. I know this is important to me and I know that it has profoundly affected my life in positive ways. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Reciprocity
This week we link in a TED talk given by Amanda Palmer. I love her story and approach as a musician. It is hard to ask for help. It is even more difficult to accept the help. We speak about the power and beauty of vulnerability on this blog, and here, Amanda Palmer eloquently addresses vulnerability through the art of asking. The connection she lives with her fans across the world is a reminder of how important we are too each other. Her description of the dialogue that took place between her and people who watched her perform on the streets, just through prolonged eye contact, is riveting. Her trust in people is amazing, something to strive for in our day to day lives.
Take a quick 13 minute break and enjoy Amanda’s talk. Simply beautiful…
On Monday of last week, my family attended the end of the year St. Mark’s Pre School family gathering. Upon arriving at the park, we set out our blanket and briskly followed our kids to the adjacent playground for a quick swing session. Minutes passed and the sea of children and families swelled. Familiar faces all around, as this is our third year of sending at least one of our kids to the pre school. New faces appeared throughout the evening, depending on the tide. Continue reading
This week we’ve linked in a TED Talk given by Ron Finley. Ron Finley is an activist in South Central Los Angeles. He started an organization comprised of volunteers that plant gardens in vacant lots across South Central Los Angeles. His passion rests in educating kids and community members about food and a healthy way of eating. His philosophy is beautiful, simple, real and impactful. Take the time to watch this ten minute talk. Have a great week everyone!
A friend, and recent guest blogger, Chris Lee, recently shared this video about a project coordinated by Christina MacLeod. She organized a group of community members to transform a “dull and lifeless street, into a public place that encourages activity, community and health.” It is a beautiful piece about a beautiful idea. Take the time to watch this 6 minute video. Be well friends!
Seven days removed from the Boston Marathon bombings, we wish to extend our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the incidents. Acts of violence are unnecessary. They leave us empty and searching for answers. As we committed to upon partnering to bring you this blog, Linda and I vowed to be relentlessly positive.
I saw a quote from Mr. Rogers yesterday and it read: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Continue reading
Though Kirk and I both do a lot of work (and share friendships) with amazing people who have labels of disability, we don’t often write a lot specifically about that in this blog. We are both using our posts to explore wider aspects of community and connection and this focus has not yet emerged here…
This week I read a post which I want to share with you all. Our friend Tim Vogt wrote a wonderful piece in his own blog about John O’ Brien and Connie Lyle O’Brien’s Five Valued Experiences. I use the Five Valued Experiences in my work a lot, and increasingly notice how the aspirations I have for my own life fit into these dimensions. I think the examples Tim gives really brings some of these ideas to life, and his post is relevant to us all. It is relevant for us to think about the Five Valued Experiences in terms of our own lives. I also believe that everyone if in our communities takes a shared responsibility for welcoming people who may be at risk of segregation, we would all have richer, more diverse, more wonderful lives!
I hope you enjoy reading and watching…
This week we welcome our inaugural Guest Blogger, Sarah Forbes. Sarah resides in Melbourne, Australia, works with individuals labeled with disability, and is equally curious about the idea of connection and kinship. Sit back and enjoy her contribution…
“Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes and indirect boast”, Jane Austen.
I’ve often found myself living across two worlds, two groups, two ways of thinking about life. I grew up in a home where conflict was common and money was scarce, particularly during my adolescence. I also went to a well-performing private school, thanks to my grandfather’s generosity. I became good at covering up our family’s poverty, trying to fit in with well-off and wealthy students, but remaining in an existence between the two. On weekends I tried to fit into our rural community, and on weekdays with my suburban school friends. At the church our family attended, I was the one asking questions of leaders who didn’t welcome questioning. I’m also a person who is adopted, straddling two families where I am both citizen and guest. Many times growing up I felt like I belonged nowhere which grew my motivation for living in ways that might help others feel more included.
Almost five years ago, my husband, new baby girl and I moved into a neighbourhood known for its poor, troubled, unemployed and disrespected people. The location is beautiful and the price was right. Our home perches on the edge of the Yarra River, which runs from the mountains near our home all the way through Melbourne and into the ocean. On a hot day, after rain, the river smells of eucalyptus, native mint and, like home to me. On a very hot day, people from all over the neighbourhood congregate at the river to occupy the best swimming spots, enjoy a beer and a smoke and catch up with new and old friends. People share their food and their belongings, they check up on one another, they know each other’s business enough to enlist the help of others when someone is sick or broke.
We have friendships with neighbours who have a variety of labels, particularly ‘bludger’, ‘alcoholic’ and ‘bad news’. Our closest neighbour Mark is dying from asbestosis and is known to some by at least two of those labels. He has lived a life of unrequited love and the worst kinds of loss and violence. Many of our friends and family have questioned our friendship with him, simply because they don’t yet see him for what he offers but rather for the trouble he might make for us. Yet he is the person I would call on when I need gardening advice and the person my children know to go to if Mummy falls off the ladder and Daddy isn’t home. He offers counselling, advice, explains to me how social situations work and he looks after our pets when we are away from home. He sometimes takes my washing in because rain is imminent, and he waters my plants if they look droopy. He reassures us that we’re good enough parents. We worry after him, and he worries after us.
There are many others in our neighbourhood who have suffered unrelenting abuse, who use drugs too often, who are often without food in the house because they trade off the grocery budget for prescriptions or beer or petrol for friend in need. My husband Tim remains their preferred confidant, because they see in him a worldliness that they don’t see in me. Despite all my efforts, people who have experienced desperate suffering typically see through my tough exterior to my naivety about what it is like to be the object or perpetrator of human violence, of what it takes to cooperate with child protective services enough to prove that you deeply love your children, and they protect me from their reality by keeping the worst of the truth from me.
It is sometimes hard to see what I have to offer in the midst of people who understand the world in ways so differently to me. The challenge is to see my talents and skills as useful in their context, and to see in others the same. The greater challenge lies in both offering the space for people who experience deep disadvantage to contribute to my life, and for me to take up that space in the lives of people who might welcome me in when my skills seem useful to them – to offer equal exchange. The deep question for us is: How can we be sure that all people are welcomed, even people who are known for violence, people who sell drugs to children in our neighbourhood, people who might steal from us, even people who might mistreat our children given the chance? The answer comes from figuring it out one day at a time, in concert with people who care enough to ask the same question.
We have mentioned the Toronto Summer Institute a few times on here, perhaps partly because it is where Kirk and I first made a connection and this blog was born. It has had a profound impact on our lives; we would both say it sustains our passion, nourishes our commitment to our work and to our community-building, and has been the birthplace of many important friendships.
The friendships are the piece that I am interested in today. Continue reading