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Unwrapping Peace – Gift #3

December 14, 2023

Welcome to my blog series on Unwrapping Peace. The first gift you received was to stop and notice, and the second gift was to slow down. I now present you with the third gift for the season: connect. 

When I speak with groups, I talk about the importance of connection. When I ask the audience, “Who do you connect with the most?” quickly, the audience members bring up their connections with friends, family members, students, or clients. However, the most important connection is with yourself. The first two “gifts” are just about creating the environment to make that connection with yourself. Stopping and noticing your thoughts and emotions, plus slowing down, are the prerequisites to connecting with what is happening within you!

Where does leadership come from in an organization or school? Does it move from the top down or from the bottom up? My answer is from the inside out. Good leaders of any organization, school, or classroom know themselves first and foremost. They know their strengths and what is challenging for them. They know the values guiding their life, how to ask for help, and that they don’t need to have all the answers. People who lead from the inside out are then able to lead others in a positive and impactful way. 

When you walk into a room, what shows up? My friend, Marli Williams, says, “You bring the weather.” when entering a room. Bringing the weather is this idea of you choosing to set the energy and tone of the room you walk into rather than operating on default. 

When you walk into your classroom or office, are you dreading the day?  Do you just want to get through it? Or are you walking in with an optimistic attitude? 

Sometimes, the circumstances can take over our thoughts and set the tone as we walk into the building. When I taught full-time, the school where I taught was a 60-mile drive. On a good day, driving to work took me an hour. On a snowy winter day, I would combat icy roads, deer, and the dark morning; the drive would take me way over an hour, and I would have a tight grip on the steering wheel. I would walk into the school, already stressed and feeling pressed for time. On those days, I noticed that the students were annoying, the material I taught was not great, and I ended the day feeling frustrated and drained. I didn’t have the skills that I have now to connect, reset, and check in with myself before moving into my day.

How does connection relate to the holidays and peace?

First, what weather do you want to bring to this season? That is right, you get to choose! 

We gather as a staff, as friends, or as family. What is the attitude you want to bring to that gathering? Are you a ray of sunshine? Are you a light breeze? Are you warm and open?

Or are you a large gust of wind? Are you a dark and damp rainstorm? Are you a tornado? 

In gift one, emotions and thoughts are important to address. Don’t ignore your emotions. Sit with them, and find the person you feel safe to share the story you are telling yourself. Then, move through and on into the world.

There is an epidemic of loneliness in our country. One of the best ways to overcome loneliness is to cultivate a culture of connection. 

How can you make this time of the year less lonely for others and yourself? 

The holiday season is the best time to volunteer. Connect with people in your community and reach out to them in small ways. 

In your community, look for events you can attend by yourself. They are great ways to connect with others. You can attend open houses at public libraries, light displays, concerts, or other events by yourself and connect with the person next to you. I invite you to grow as a person and step out of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to someone new at one of these events.

Try This:

  • Journal about the weather you want to bring to the day, an event, or a gathering. What would that look like? What would you be doing? What would you be saying? How would that feel? Hold that picture in your mind as you move forward.
  • Involve your students or clients in opportunities to volunteer or reach out to others. Maybe this is supporting people in service, the elderly, or others in need in your community. Find those opportunities to show students and others that connection is essential.
  • Who can you contact this holiday season that you have not heard from in a while? How can you connect with them? A text, email, phone call, or even snail mail card. Involve your students in ways they can reach out. 

Invite connection by bringing the weather that you want to have in your life. Next week, I bring you the final gift for the season.