Rooted in Belonging

I’ve been thinking a lot about a trip I took to Santa Cruz for a writer’s retreat this past September. A beautiful campus nestled in the redwoods is where I set roots for a few days while I worked on my craft. I say that I set roots because my heart and mind wonders back every so often to this beautiful oasis as if it's a part of me—the memories of swimming in the infinity pool surrounded by redwoods, and hiking around the forest in complete silence are incredible. My first memories are of a sense of surrender and inner re-adjustmentall my senses coming alive.

The four-day workshop was a vulnerable time because we all had to share our writings with each other, and for me, the payoff was greater awareness, empathy, self-love, and a sense of belonging to a group outside of my usual tribe. Months later, I find myself trying to cope with the holiday season and wanting to re-connect to the authentic and wholehearted person I was in Santa Cruzimmersed in self-care, gratitude, belonging, and connection.

Elizabeth Lesser wrote this beautiful piece about Thanksgiving, and I think it applies to the entire holiday season. It's helped me re-adjust my expectations of family dynamics and reminds me that there's strength in connecting to beautiful places I've set roots in, and find comfort and belonging there if it's not possible during family gatherings. Most importantly to be mindful and authentic while looking for the best in people who are just as stressed, and at times, disconnected as the rest of us. Elizabeth wrote, "I hope all of us this holiday—whether our company consists of two people or five or 50—can experience a sense of belonging. I hope that amidst the travel, the cooking, the merriment, the family tension, the things said and not said, the pain of missing those no longer with you, the resentment towards those you’d prefer NOT to be with you, and all the other things that come up for us during a holiday like Thanksgiving, that you take the time to look around with gratitude for the tribe to which you belong. To look for the best in each person and to offer the best of who you are to all. If you are grateful and happy to be exactly where you are, then bow your head in gratitude. And if the people and place are not living up to your expectations, then see if you can find the strength within your heart to show up as fully as you can, with authenticity, presence, and generosity." – Elizabeth Lesser

To get me through the season, I'll picture a lit-up map symbolizing where I've set roots and belonged. Wishing you a rooted, authentic, lovely holiday season.



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