Photo Credit: John Granen for "Coming Home" by Rosanna Bowles/Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010.
I return to this theme over and over as a design inspiration and in my writing. It is so important to reach out and make yourself a part of the community.
While much connection is about reaching out, it’s not always about creating new relationships. Sometimes, the existing relationships in our lives need a little attention and care. Unfortunately, the relationships with the people we see every day often suffer the most neglect. I'm talking about our familial relationships. Because our families participate in our lives with such constancy, we begin to take them for granted. We stop seeing what the people closest to us have to offer. It’s ironic that our partners, our children and our parents are sometimes the people we feel the least connected to. We’re bound to them, but not connected. There’s a big difference between the two.
To repair broken connections or renew worn relationships, make an intentional choice to create a time and space to spend a moment together when there will be no other distractions. This year, my nuclear family is using Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reconnect. The four of us plan to spend a quiet holiday at the Oregon Coast. We’ve all been so busy that we barely have time to see each other. We’re looking forward to some uninterrupted time together. My youngest daughter especially is very excited to see her older sister, who lives in California.
Reconnecting with your family doesn’t have to be anything fancy or out of the ordinary, like a holiday. I hear so many people (too many, sadly) say they don’t have time to sit down to dinner as a family. People just grab food when they can, passing through the kitchen momentarily. So start there. A family dinner is a simple way to reconnect. While your life may not allow for family dinner every night, figure out one night that everyone is available, and plan a meal. Set your table to set the mood, and prepare a meal that involves sharing. If you can, try to have everyone contribute to preparing the meal.
I have one friend who always comes to a dinner party with a thought-provoking question as a way of starting conversation. It may sound cheesy, but we always enjoy answering her questions. If your family needs a place to start, add a little structure to your meal with a question. It can be as simple as sharing a Nag and Brag (what were the best and worst parts of your day) or question such as, "If you could have picked your own name, what would it be?"
These are just a few ideas about how to reconnect. Don’t be afraid to change these ideas to suit the particular needs of your family. Maybe the outdoors is important to your family. In that case, instead of a family meal, maybe you go on a hike. Whatever will spark a connection in your life, tap into it and reconnect.
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