Connection Over Convenience

Some other humans gathered with me at the beach on Sunday to watch the Sunset.

We humans are social creatures who crave connection. Granted, some prefer more than others, but we all require some type of connection. COVID has taught us how challenging life can be when we can’t connect. As someone who lives alone and works from home, I interact with relatively few people on a daily basis. Most of those interactions are online, not in person, so I enjoy opportunities to be in the presence of other humans.

Technology has especially helped us stay connected over the past few years. Can you imagine what 2020 would have been like without the internet, smartphones, and video conferencing? I’m grateful to be able to facilitate a weekly online A Course in Miracles study group with Course students from all over the country. I am also thankful for the ability to do Spiritual Coaching and Family Constellations sessions virtually. In this regard, technology has truly been a blessing.

Technology has also made many things incredibly convenient. Now you can have groceries delivered to your home with a few taps on a computer keyboard or touch screen. You can deposit a check without visiting a bank using banking apps and the camera on your smartphone. There are countless ways innovative technology has changed our daily lives. 

However, many of these innovations have significantly decreased our opportunity for human connection. ATMs are very convenient if you need to withdraw cash when your bank is closed. But if I’m out running errands during the day, I prefer to go inside the bank to complete my transactions. I really enjoy talking with the fun tellers at my new bank as well as checking in with the kind Branch Manager who helped me open my accounts. Sometimes I just wave at her through the glass walls of her office while waiting in line. 

Although they are casual conversations, there’s something comforting about asking someone, “How are you doing today?” and “How did you fare during the storm?” Looking into another human being’s eyes to thank them and wish them a good day is much more enjoyable to me than simply responding to the beeps and prompts from a machine. The human connection gives me a little boost of energy. It may take a little more time, but it’s worth it.

The same is true at the grocery store. Self-checkout lanes can be very enticing, especially if the other lines are long. But when I scan my own items, I deprive myself of another opportunity for human connection. A few months ago, one cashier at my neighborhood grocery store asked me if I live in “The Meadows,” a nearby community with lots of trees, walking trails, and a golf course. I told her no, but I have friends who live there. It’s beautiful. She replied, “You look like someone who lives there. I think that’s a compliment but I’m not sure.”

I don’t see her often, but whenever I’m in her line, she always asks, “You’re the guy I think lives in the Meadows, aren’t you?” I laugh and say yes, and then we talk about something else. I don’t know if she inquires about other customers living in the Meadows, but this exchange always amuses me. Who knows? Maybe she is seeing the future? I’d be okay with that. It’s a lovely community. Lately, when I grocery shop, I purposely pass the self-checkout area and stand in a regular line. I look forward to the brief interaction with the cashier and bagger and a possible glimpse into my future. 

I know many of you don’t have time to go inside a bank or a grocery store. Perhaps you deal with a multitude of humans daily, so by the end of the day, you’ve had your fill! To you, I say order, swipe, and scan in solitude so you can recharge! This invitation might not apply to you.

But for those feeling a little lonely and isolated, I encourage you to take advantage of these small opportunities to connect, even if it takes a little more time. A joyful life is made up of small joyful moments. Go inside the bank. Talk to a teller. Stand in line at the grocery store. If you notice a name tag, thank the cashier or bagger by name. If you already do this, are there other opportunities you might have missed? The best part is each encounter has the potential to brighten both your day and theirs.

If you are looking for an opportunity for connection, perhaps you will consider joining us on Tuesday evenings at 7PM Eastern for our weekly A Course in Miracles online study group. All are welcome whether you are a long-time student or are brand new to this powerful teaching. For more information about the Course and our group, click here.

This week, may you savor every opportunity for joyful connection! 

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-8-III.4:1-5

What’s on Your “To BE” List?

I’m one of those people who loves a “to-do” list. I love them so much I have three of them! One for my personal life, one for my business, and one for my role as President of the Board of the Big Sky Retreat. Having three separate lists helps me keep track of what I need to do for each role without getting overwhelmed by all of it at once. But if I’m being honest, it’s more accurate to say I love crossing things off those lists than the lists themselves. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I’ve accomplished something as I draw a line through the item. However, there’s always another item waiting to take its place, so am I truly satisfied? It’s not like those “to-do” lists will ever be done.

There is a section in Chapter 18 of A Course in Miracles titled, “I Need Do Nothing.” Among other things, this section emphasizes the importance of rest. “To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention.” In the next paragraph it says, “This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent.” Said another way, when we make time for stillness, we can remain peaceful and grounded even during busy times with lots of  activity.

Sadly, most of us place a much higher value on doing than being. You might have noticed when someone asks you how you’ve been if you answer “busy” they almost always say “that’s good!” But is that good? What if you’re so busy that you neglect self-care or the people that matter to you most? Sure, being busy might get lots of things crossed off of your “to-do” list, but will it bring you satisfaction?

This week I read a great article in The Holy Encounter (a free bi-monthly ACIM publication put out by the Miracle Distribution Center) called “Happy New Year… Happy Timelessness.” The author, Gerald Jampolsky, casually mentioned something he and his wife share with each other called a “to-be” list. That stopped me in my tracks. What a wonderful idea! The ego loves my “to-do” lists because they will always keep me striving to do more. But what if I focus on what I want to be rather than what I want to do? Wouldn’t I feel more content if I set the intention to be more loving, joyful, kind, compassionate, and peaceful? What things would you put on your “to-be” list? This week, I encourage you to think about what qualities of being you value most. Compile a list on your phone or somewhere you can see it every day. Set your intention to be those things everywhere you go no matter who you are with or what you are doing. I believe the results will be very satisfying.

If your doing and being feel out of balance, I would be honored to assist you with a 4, 8, or 12-week Life Coaching package. All of my sessions are based on the strong principles found in A Course in Miracles, Family Constellations, and other New Thought teachings. Please look around my website or send me an email for more information. You will also find free coaching videos on my website to help you live a more peaceful life.

Until next time, remember we call ourselves human beings, not human doings!

Now you need but to remember you need do nothing. It would be far more profitable now merely to concentrate on this than to consider what you should do.

A Course in Miracles – T-18.VII.5:5-6

Flying Biscuits and Sweet Tea

I think I ate more biscuits and drank more sweet tea this weekend in North Carolina than I have in my entire life. There was definitely some “Southern Hospitality” going on. The warm biscuits and apple butter at the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Raleigh were especially good. I might even go so far as to say they were heavenly. Maybe that’s because there was a beautiful mural inside the restaurant that depicted biscuits with angel wings flying around as the Cow jumped over the Moon and Humpty Dumpty sailed away in a hot air balloon. Honestly, this wasn’t that far fetched. I certainly felt like I was flying when I left the restaurant that first morning, but I don’t think it was just the sugar. It was also due to our server, Kim. She was a loving, nurturing soul with a “what you see is what you get” kind of attitude and sense of humor. We had so much fun joking with her while savoring those heavenly biscuits that we went back for lunch on our last day in Raleigh to enjoy some more of both. Kim greeted us with great big hugs and told us how touched she was that we came back.

Those kinds of heart connections happened all weekend. In fact, I encounter them often because I look for them. One of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles offers this advice:

When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

As soon as I arrived at the hotel in Raleigh I could tell that the woman at the front desk was a kindred spirit. She was telling the family in front of me about her brother who went to North Carolina State University and promptly got a job 48 hours after graduation. I thought it was sweet of her to offer words of encouragement to the son who was apparently thinking of going to NCSU. Just as it was my turn to step up to the desk, the phone rang. She must have seen the call was coming from inside the elevator so she asked me to wait a moment while she took it. With patience and only a slight eye roll, Lexi explained to the woman on the other end of the phone how to use her room key to operate the elevator. Sadly, the woman didn’t understand the concept, so Lexi had to dispatch a maintenance worker to assist the woman. I commiserated with Lexi about that call, explaining that I worked in customer service for many years and was all too familiar with calls like that. I told her I thought she handled it very well.

Lexi was surprised when I addressed her by name since she was not wearing a name tag. When she asked how I knew her name, I made up a story of how her reputation for providing exceptional guest service with only slight eye rolls preceded her. Then I admitted I heard her say, “Front Desk, this is Lexi,” when she answered the phone. After a laugh, we discovered a little glitch in my reservation. My name was not on it! I had no doubt that Lexi and I would find a solution together, and eventually we did. What could have been a huge inconvenience ended up being an opportunity to make another heart connection. Had I approached Lexi as my enemy, the outcome might have been very different.

You don’t have to be a jokester like me to make heart connections. Simply using a person’s first name makes the exchange much more personal. If I am speaking with someone over the phone or who isn’t wearing a name tag, I simply ask them their name. Most people like the fact that I care enough to ask. There was another woman I spoke with at the front desk when we checked out. When I said, “Good morning, Mimi,” she replied, “You remembered my name! That makes me feel so good.”

I truly believe those words from the Course. When I meet anyone, I do my best to remember it is a holy encounter. It makes a world of difference when I do. If you are having a challenging time seeing your relationships at home, work, or with family as holy encounters, maybe now is the time to try Life Coaching or Family Constellations. Both can uncover what’s going on under the surface preventing you from experiencing them that way. Please look around my website for more information about both, or leave a comment below with any questions you may have.

Until next time, may you see the light of who you are reflected in each person you meet.

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