Just Life

Choose | April 2021.

Hello friends and hello to the April update for my OLW Choose. Last month I wrote  about all the choices that post-vaccination life was going to present. Much of my family and many friends are now fully vaccinated. I’ve watched them navigate those complicated choices and arrive at different decisions, some I’m comfortable with and some I’m not. Thankfully, I am seeing a lot of that “grace & space” attitude, which helps. Of course the choices and decision frameworks (and risk tolerance) will continue to evolve. It’s helpful for me to see the word Choose every morning with my coffee to remind me of the agency I have.

This month, I’m shifting gears a bit and focusing on the intentions I set (spelled out on the felt board that sits behind my desk). I wrote on Friday about an “aha moment” (thanks to a friend from my Friday morning small group) to start thinking about the whole of my life – the online relationships fostered through blogging, FaceTime, Zoom, Instagram, and email; the physical interactions with people who live nearby; the time I spend alone with a book … all of it! – as “real life”. The first intention – More Connection – is first for a reason. Through much of 2020, I felt isolated and lonely. I craved connection. It was even an early candidate for my OLW. and then I hit on Choose … and the opportunity to Choose Connection (balanced with those other four intentions) seemed richer.

When faced with choices about which projects to pursue, which books I might read, which groups I might join (or leave), which Zooms I want keep up, where I might start venturing out and meeting up with folks – I’m choosing those that create or nurture Connection.

The books and reading connections have grown dramatically this year. I joined two new Patreon communities that both feature bookclubs (and whoa, those discussions are rich and I’m learning a lot!). I’ve also said “yes” to so many buddy reads and even a 10-15 minute discussion about the book with someone else who read it has been delightful. I’ll be sharing my April reading update next week (hopefully!) and plan to include some year-to-date stats … we’ll see what the data says!

I invited the friend who gifted me that “aha moment” last Friday to meet up for coffee yesterday (we met through small group and haven’t ever done anything other than that – and Sunday church – together). It was wonderful to sit outside for an hour and a half and just talk. We have a lot in common – besides church!

Activities that involve exercise, fresh air, and connection are some of my favorites. I am beyond grateful to be living with a running buddy now! And I will say YES to every single tennis opportunity that I can. Yesterday afternoon a woman from my Spring team called to see if I’d be interested in “just for fun” tennis on Tuesday mornings. YES I would!

Of course More Stillness is second on that list of intentions for a reason. I can’t fill my days (and evenings) with so many connections that I lose track of myself. I am an introvert (I get energy from spending time alone) and an Enneagram One (we like to always be doing). Connecting with myself and my faith are important. More on that another month!

With much gratitude to Carolyn for hosting these monthly meetups, and to y’all for reading. xo.

 

14 Comments

  • Bonny

    It sounds like you are in a pretty good place with your word! Like you I’m sure, I am very grateful to once again have the opportunity to make more choices – for connection, for meeting with others in whatever way works best for all of us, and for the “grace and space” to have those choices respected and accepted. (But I will always need and treasure my stillness, too!)

  • Patty

    Grace and space. Perfect Mary. We’ve been getting out – traveled to Denver but still pretty agreeable to masking and slowly returning to the before times. Looks like things are going pretty well for you – yay for all of that outdoor tennis time! I

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    I’m such a painful introvert yet I’m craving connection right now. Your writing about your small group has been inspiring – thank you. You have me thinking about connection in more tangible terms now!

    And I’m glad your coffee date with your small group member went so well – it sounds lovely!

  • karen

    I’m hoping more choices come up for us in the next couple of months, it feels like we are headed to some more normalcy but I hold my breath just incase we hit a bump in the herd immunity goal.

  • Sarah

    Like you, I’ve been cautious about getting back out into the world, even post-immunization. Some people seem to feel that they’re invicible after getting their shot, but I’m still very much aware that the risk isn’t entirely gone. It will be a while yet before I’m comfortable being in crowds (to be perfectly honest, I never was, even before the pandemic) or eating in a restaurant, but I do feel a huge relief about being safely with immediate family in an enclosed space. I’ve been thinking about how nice it would be to have a few knitting friends over or to get together with my mahj group again. I haven’t changed my introvert tendencies, but it would still be nice to see people face to face rather than through a screen. I think the biggest change (and one that’s very relevant to your word!) is that as more and more people get vaccinated, the choices available to us increase. I think that’s what I’ve missed the most — not so much being with other people or visiting places but the ability to chose to do so.

  • Kat

    An excellent month, Mary! I love seeing how things are settling into place for so many of us “wordies” – it certainly makes a difference in the focus of ones life! I am sorry that you felt isolated and lonely… and I hope that you have found a way out of those feelings (it seems you have in some wonderful ways!)

  • kym

    What a perfect word for you . . . right now, Mary. I love reading about how our words weave themselves into our lives and help us re-frame and think about things in new ways. I enjoy reading about the way you’re making thoughtful choices in your life. XO

  • Carole

    I don’t know how you find time to do all the things you do, Mary! I’m glad it all brings you joy and that the connections you are making are valuable.

  • Carolyn

    So much inspiration here, Mary. This feels like a breath of fresh air! Your Tuesday tennis optioin feels so joyful!
    The idea of Real Life really seems to spark a lot of thought–and it makes me think of times in my life when I’ve just waited for something difficult to be over (like a teen parenting challenge I’m in right now…oh my goodness, it’s getting the best of me)–but then I have to reframe. Like Kym said, even the parts I don’t like are real life. Even the pandemic has been real life. And things we do like–but that we separate, like relationships that began via screens–it’s all….Real!
    And enjoy that running partner 🙂

  • Alexa

    You write so cogently and clearly, Mary – always a joy to read. And I am admiring your senstiviity to your own process as well as others’ as we all navigate what often seem different paths. How wonderful that so many of your loved ones are fully vaccinated. (It will be months before all our family is, so I am still cautious, especially in the face of new variants to which the current vaccines may not be susceptible.) Hoping you will find how to hold the threads of both stillness and connections and weave them through your days in a way which is growthful and nourishing for you …

  • Jane

    It sounds as if you are in a good place with Choose. Isn’t it nice to have a few more choices right now? Grace and space – YES.

  • Debbie

    Yes, I’ve come to understand that all of our connections are a part of our “real” life and help us to live fully here, in the present moment instead of thinking about some future time. I love your approach to making choices based on how they create or nurture connections.
    As an introvert, I don’t mind being home, by myself, but I find myself craving meaningful connections right now and I have cautiously begun to venture out once again. Yesterday a good friend and I took a little road trip to visit several pop up garden centers in nearby Indiana. It was so good to be out and about with my friend chatting and looking at beautiful garden displays that we didn’t even mind the occaisional rain showers.
    Thanks for sharing, Mary!

  • lydia

    I’ve developed a deeper appreciaton for “being outside”. The ability to be outside and connect with people outside has certainly helped me get through this last year. Going forward some choices will be very tough, and we’ll need to allow for grace and space [respect] for everyone’s choices.