Cultivating Kinship & Mutual Support
In Case You Missed It (ICYMI)
In September, we welcomed Samantha Eddy (Sam) to our Community Conversations to delve into what it means to cultivate kinship and mutual support. Not only was Sam’s presence among us warm, open and inviting - all the things we at M4M value - her presentation was informative and insightful.
Sam talked about three levels of connection acquaintances, friends and support network (kinship - the focus of the hour). While sometimes using these types of labels can feel exclusive, Sam reminded us that mindfully making these distinctions can make a difference when we think about the ways in which we interact and ultimately choose to trust or distrust someone, referencing Brené Brown’s research into the work of Charles Feltman, author of The Thin Book of Trust, who describes trust as “choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions.” Meanwhile, distrust is deciding that “what is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation (or any situation).”
During our hour together, Sam guided the group through a powerful exercise where we reflected on the highest priority need in each of our lives at that moment. Each person was given a sticky note where we wrote that need down and all were asked to place the note on a board at the front of the room. As we returned to our seats the significance sunk in that each of us had chosen to participate in an activity that revealed to everyone else in the group what we value. Once again, we were asked to return to the board and randomly choose another person’s note. The author unbeknownst to us, we held that note over our heart and meditated/prayed manifesting energy through the message. No need to fix a problem or tell someone what is best for them, just acknowledging the honest needs of another laid bare. No judgement, just love and wanting the best for another. To say the energetic connection in the room was palpable would be an understatement.
Afterward, we broke into small groups to discuss the experience of writing our need, sharing it and allowing another to send loving vibes for its fruition and on the flip side what it was like to receive the needs of another and pray for them. Each group discovered commonalities and connection in our experience of the exercise, and not surprisingly how closely linked our needs are. Just about every person in the group I was part of could deeply relate to what each of the others were needing - some to the extent that tears were shed and shared. It was beautiful, moving and transformative. It was just the kind of reminder I needed that not only are my needs valid, sharing them is a valuable lesson in vulnerability and building trusting connections.
I have to admit, as much as I believe in the power of vulnerability, trust and deep connections, I don’t easily practice it in my personal life. Sam’s talk and exercise got me wondering ‘why?” and where in my life I can risk making the things I value vulnerable to the actions of others.
I was recently reading an article titled Why It's So Hard to Let Others Care For You and this excerpt seemed to sum up why I find this practice so difficult...
“It seemed allowing others to care for us is sometimes hard to accept. We may view it as a weakness, imagine we are a burden, or not worthy of such attention; and yet we often have no trouble caring for those in need; and may even go out of our way to do so. We might well ask, why the double standard? We are so often, sooner or later in the same boat.
Self-care in general is a struggle for those of us who are by nature care-givers whether personally and professionally...And although allowing others to care for us is a key part of a self-care plan, it can be harder than being kind to ourselves. This is worth investigating because we are social creatures and relatedness is a key psychological need. We cannot have true intimacy without vulnerability, without at some point putting ourselves in the hands of another as they too will need to put themselves in the hands of someone else.”
I don’t know many other moms or care-takers who can’t relate to this at some level. The truth is, we do need each other, and the act of opening to the care, concern, and compassion of another is truly transformative. In many ways, this truth is one of the driving forces behind M4M. YES, we love how this community has supported mothers (with and without children) in providing relevant information and resources, AND we are actively seeking ways that we can provide the hands-on and social support that are also deeply needed.
We have the opportunity NOW to serve our village. Alicia Assad and her family have welcomed their 5th child into the world and have asked for help in the way of meals. If you are in a position to help, they would love to have your support by clicking this link and signing up to make a meal.
We understand that not everyone is in a position to give support. If you're in the trenches, please reach out to the M4M community. We value your trust and we want to foster it in meaningful ways to you. There are many ways to connect with M4M. Post to our facebook group, or for a more personal conversation, contact me directly at 210.865.5596 or [email protected].
I’ll be sending each and every one of you love and light as I end this post with a poem from The Way of Rest by Jeff Foster
It’s easy to teach, to preach, to give memorized answers. It’s easy to be an expert.
It’s harder to listen, to really listen. To be still and wait. To give someone space. To receive them with your whole being.
When you think you know what’s “best” for someone, when you’re excited by your own vision, when you want to jump in with great advice, take a deep breath. Slow down. Trust.
Your friend may not need what’s “best” right now. They may just need you.
Kinship can be the most potent medicine.
Sometimes true answers emerge when questions are allowed to breathe.