The past month has been full of many different emotions for me. My beloved step-father passed away in late April, and I miss him so much. Jerry was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He and my mother had ten happy years together before she died. My weekly phone calls to Jerry were one of the highlights of my week; we shared stories, laughter, and glimpses of life from his wise perspective. Just after he died, I spent a week in California with my older son, while traveling with a dear friend. It was pure bliss, a time to slow down and enjoy precious time with loved ones. Then I flew to Texas to celebrate Jerry’s life in a memorial service. It was comforting to be with others who loved him so much, and share memories of his remarkable life with my extended family.
While in Texas, many were talking about all the heavy rains they were getting. But who could foresee the horrific flooding in the Texas hill country less than a week later, which claimed the lives of eight people from my hometown who were vacationing together in Wimberley. My siblings knew all the victims, and many of them were members of our church. My heart has been heavy with grief. Life is so fragile. When I took my young protégé to an outdoor steel band concert and picnic last weekend, her pure delight in the music, the beautiful setting, and our spirited conversations reminded me to seize the joy in life, moment by precious moment.
Last week, I helped facilitate a three-day client retreat in the western Maryland countryside. It is always a pleasure to see the participants relax and engage with their colleagues in an off-site retreat, as new connections are made and old ones are renewed. Time away from the office allowed them to slow down and talk about issues and challenges with new understanding and depth. I relished the time spent with them as a group, and individually. We did a lot of good, hard work that will move this very bright team forward. Yet, the strengthening of relationships, the laughter, the getting to know one another at a deeper level is what will carry them to success after they return to their corporate roles.
So, as I look back over the recent weeks, I see highs and lows. The thread that runs through both the heartache and the joy is the care and connection present in each experience. By being open, aware, and vulnerable, we build connections with others. Even in work settings, we can grow close and care for one another in ways that enrich us all. There will always be hard times in our lives. It is how we embrace the everyday moments that makes us who we are. The connections with one another and the caring for others as we care for ourselves, gives us the strength to endure and learn from the difficult times.
Where are you finding care and connection in your life and work? If I can help you explore these ways of being, please ask. Meanwhile, may you take time this summer to slow down and appreciate all aspects of life.
Sharon Keys Seal