Friday, July 22, 2016

Planting seeds

Today I had lunch with one of my oldest and best friends. I'm not exactly sure how old we were when we met, but it was before grade school. It was our older brothers who became friends first and being a mom myself now I can totally imagine how that played out when our respective mothers were drawn together by their young son's growing friendship.

How wonderful that our boys like each other so much! Wait. You have a little girl, too? Exactly the same age as my little girl? And you live just over the hill from us? Well, welcome to my life New Best Friend! 

Because that's what you do when your whole life is about keeping little people alive and entertained. You find fellow travelers with similar age munchkins and say, giddy up, let's do this together!

There's safety in numbers after all.

So, perhaps we were destined to be buddies or maybe it was really just our good fortune (and our mother's). Either way, she's been one of my best friends ever since.

While we were at lunch sorting out major life issues like why I would like Nordstrom sales people to stop talking to me, and the unexpected delight of being served a "baguette" that was really like a half a loaf of bread- we got to talking about our daughters, and girls in general, and the unpredictable roller coaster ride of girl friendships.

At some point as we were chronicling the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly of it all, I looked at my friend and said quietly, "What I pray most for in our move, is that at some point in all of this change and new schools and new places, Annie will find a best friend. She's had a few lovely, sweet little friends along the way, but she hasn't had that go-to, consistent, loyal best friend. She hasn't"

My friend nodded seriously and shared that her daughter hadn't found that friend yet either.

I thought about that for a minute and said, "I don't know. Maybe you don't have to have a best friend."

My friend agreed, but then smiled wistfully and said, "But it's kinda nice."

Yes. Yes it is.

Recently I had a thought that came to me and I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

I was thinking about other times when I had made big transitions and what had been helpful in those times. I thought a lot about when we had to make a change with the boy's school and moved them from a school right in our neighborhood, to a school in an entirely different area with a community that was full of strangers for all of us. Everything and everyone was an unknown for us except for one big, shiny gold ticket we carried with us into that place. Our cousins. Family. And not just family, my cousin Tracy who was pretty much the Queen of that school (in the best way) and friends with EVERYONE (that is not an exaggeration).

And I got to thinking about how when you are already walking around with an overflowing dance card it can be really easy to decide your life is full enough. You have your people and there are no seats left at the table. But that wasn't how Tracy was and she certainly wasn't going to allow me to skulk in corners and slip in and out without making eye contact with anyone.

(I'm not sure I really skulk. But I can be pretty skilled at avoiding conversation when needed.)

So, she did what she what she was so good at. She brought me to the table. She encouraged me to join her groups and she introduced me to everyone she knew. And those who knew Tracy know that an introduction with her was never as simple as exchanging names. No, she would introduce you AND tell you exactly why you were going to LOVE that person and that she just KNEW you would become the very best of friends. And you believed her.

I often told Tracy she really needed to tone it down when singing my praises to other people because her view of me without question far exceeded anything I actually had to deliver.

And in thinking back on all of that and her particular set of skills, it occurred to me that Tracy was not only inclusive, she was radically inclusive. 

Wait, what? What does it mean to be radically inclusive, you ask? I shall tell you.

I can tell you because I made it up myself. When it ends up in the Urban Dictionary my name better be next to it.

Inclusive is being very intentional when making plans or deciding on invitations to make sure that all of the people in your respective circle are made to feel welcome. (As the situation warrants. Obviously there is a time and place for smaller groups and solo activities as well.)

Radically inclusive is looking beyond your circle and asking yourself, who else do I know who might enjoy this? Is there someone new in my life who might jump at the chance to meet some new people? Do I have any friends who don't know each other but really should because I think they would have so much in common?

To be radically inclusive is to decide that your dance card is never full and there is always more room at the table. It's like hanging a sign on the door of your life that says WELCOME.

So, in the spirit of my 2016 word of the year ("new" in case you haven't been following along), this is going to be one of my new goals moving forward into this next adventure. I am going to seek to be not only inclusive in my interactions but to be radically inclusive.

For an introvert like myself, this will be a challenge. I'm not always a great initiator. I like other people to take the lead and I'll just happily follow along. But as part of this new radically inclusive lifestyle I will be living, that will also include me being open and accepting toward the invitations and opportunities that come my way as well. (No skulking).

I've already been touched by ways people in my world (cough... cough... my sister) have gone out of their way to start helping us put down roots. And the thing about inclusiveness is that it's wonderfully catching. Twice now my sister has extended to me invitations to activities organized by her friends, whom I either don't know or barely know, because they simply insisted, "Bring your sister! We are so excited she's moving here! Tell her she has to come!" 

And the hermit in me just marvels and thinks to myself, "Who does that?"

I'll tell you who does. Radically inclusive people do, that's who.

I won't lie, some of my determination to be more radically inclusive is self-serving. I do believe that in some measure in this life we reap what we sow. And much more so than even for myself I am praying mightily that my daughter is going to encounter some radically inclusive 6th grade girls in the coming months.

These are some uncertain times ahead.

But we plant the seeds we want to see grow, so I'm going to be planting a whole bunch of friendly, smiling, "yes, I'd love to!", "so nice to meet you!' kinds of seeds and maybe some of them will sprout in her garden, too.

I'm also hoping we have a heavenly matchmaker who will be working overtime to help us find our people as well.

In fact, I'm sure we do.

" born at the moment one person says to another, "What? You too?!"
~ C. S. Lewis