How We Are Carving Out Time For Connection (and Forgiving Ourselves When We Can't)
I’ve been working on carving the blocks for our new holiday cards the last few weeks, and as we navigate the beginning of the fall season and all the extra weather and news and decisions that are coming with it this year, I’ve been thinking about why we do what we do.
Just like the trees our woodblocks are made from, Heartell Press is deeply rooted in connection. Nurturing souls and relationships, lifting up our friends and loved ones as they journey through the ups and downs is at the heart of everything we do.
I’ve missed some opportunities to connect in the last few weeks. One of my oldest friends and I have birthdays the same week in August, and my heart leapt when I opened the silly sweet card she sent me. But it quickly sank when I realized I hadn’t remembered to send one to her, or even text her on the day.
A woman I have been working with shared that her family had lost a close friend, and my stomach turned a week later when I realized that in our flurry of scheduling emails following a covid quarantine-related childcare scramble, I had failed to even acknowledge her loss.
While I’ve been carving I’ve been listening to an audiobook version of Atomic Habits by James Clear. What can I say, I’m a sucker for self-help! Anyway, Clear’s book is all about how to build new habits and get rid of unwanted ones, and I’ve decided to try some of his methods to help me stay connected and show up in the way I want to for my friends and family. I think it’s pretty obvious that life is not going to get less complicated as we wade deeper into pandemic life with a side of climate change, so I want to try and set myself up so I can be the kind of friend/daughter/aunt/parent/partner/coworker that I want to be.
Tip #1: Make it visible.
I’m going to put some cards in a box on my desk, along with stamps and a favorite pen. You would think that with a whole room full of card inventory just ten feet from my office would be enough to keep me busy sending cards, but according to Clear’s advice, it really makes a difference if you set things up so you are looking straight at the cue for your desired habit at the time that you want to be doing it.
Tip #2: Make it attractive.
I love the feeling of having sent a card, but sometimes it feels like a mountain to climb to sit down and put my feelings into words. Clear suggests you attach the habit you want to create to another enjoyable habit you already have. I always eat a little chocolate after lunch, so when I have my chocolate I’m going to write a card, send a text or write an email to lift someone up.
Tip #3: Make it easy.
This seems super obvious, but sometimes it’s the things that SEEM simple (like remembering the birthday of a friend you’ve had for 20+ years) but actually aren’t because there’s so much else we have to hold in our heads these days. So I looked at the settings on the google calendar I use to keep track of birthdays (yes I actually already have a calendar for this!) and realized the notifications were turned off. So hopefully that’s a simple fix that will help me stay more in touch. I set up a notification for two weeks before to give me time to send a card, and one for the day-of so I remember to text (just in case I don’t manage to send the card).
I’m also practicing forgiveness with myself. I have two little kids, I’m running a business, and there’s a pandemic on. And my life is so easy compared with most other people on this planet! We can’t care for each other unless we care for ourselves, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself when I miss the mark.
Our work at Heartell Press is grounded in deep appreciation for the small daily connections that imbue our lives with meaning. We try not to let a chance go by to let our people know that we’re here, that we care about them, and how grateful we are for their presence in our lives. And if our best intentions get away from us, we can pause, reset and turn that love in on ourselves, filling our own cups so we can have more to give tomorrow.
Thank you for reading friends! I'd love to hear from you if you have tips for staying connected (or stories of missed connections - not the craigslist kind - although I'd be interested in those too :P) you want to share with me.