Relationships, relationships, relationships.

A quick recap before I dive in:

Today I buckled down and worked on some more details of selling Jonas’ books in the Enterprises. Hopefully, they will be on display and for sale in the next few days.

I spoke with Jeff a bit about what program I should work with in September when this grant is completed. Before I came to Alamosa and La Puente, it was mentally noted that I’d switch over and do a full-time position at PALS through the rest of my term. However, as I dive deeper into the SEED initiative, I feel that isn’t where I’m meant to be. I suggested I work full-time on SEED at the micro-enterprise office, on the condition that I am given some flexibility in that if I needed to take a day off from that work, I could spend it at PALS or another program…so that I don’t burn out.

In other news, I am quite addicted to snacking on raw almonds. They are so delicious.

Going deeper: Relationships.

I can’t stress that word enough for myself, and today I reflected a lot on my relationships with others. I deeply miss being in close proximity with those I love and care about. I miss David, my family and close friends, and that can be really hard sometimes…

Especially because I made the decision to come here, not anyone else. I chose to do this, and chose to put that distance between those relationships. Is that wrong of me to do so? Is that being selfish?

But at the end of the day, I know I have a purpose for being here. A purpose and meaning—to form strong connections and develop new relationships within the community here.

There are so many stories to be told. So many people who need someone to take the time and listen to what they have to say. To empower them to tell their own story, and to listen to them with empathy and compassion. To show love and respect for them, and let them know that they matter and that you care…

I constantly try and remind myself that what you do, how you act and what you say to those around you makes an impact. Sometimes all it takes is the smallest gestures—the simplest words of encouragement or recognition—even a smile or nod hello—and you immediately impact someone’s life—and not just their life, but your life as well…

This morning at our all-staff meeting Lance told a story about a man named Gary from Estes Park, Colorado. He had done a work group volunteer at La Puente and fell in love with the program. Ever since that first experience, he kept coming back. He and his wife contributed countless hours volunteering at La Puente, helping in as many ways as they could. In January, Estes Park was giving the couple the MLK Service Award, but his wife suddenly fell ill and passed away before they could receive the award. When Lance went to the funeral, Gary spoke to him about wanting to come back and volunteer at La Puente some more. He said it is through serving others that you heal yourself, and that was what he needed to heal from the loss of his wife.

It comes back to building relationships with those around you. A relationship is a two-way street. You both have to allow yourself to become vulnerable and trust one another. The more vulnerable you allow yourself to be, the deeper that relationship will become.

A passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book:

“The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves ‘inside the skin’ of the other. We ‘go inside’ their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the subject of our observation. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, ‘to suffer with.’

So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person.”

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