My family has started a new tradition this year. For 16 days after the beginning of the new year, we recognize this as our time of “soil”. We rest and reflect on the things that feed us, nourish us and ground us. We leave the earth alone to do the same, and we all prepare for future work when the days get lighter.
This year, we kicked off soil with our annual Stone Soup Party on January 1st. This is an important event for us every year. It is not only the first day of the year (and this year, a new moon) but is also my step son Ian’s birthday. This year he would’ve been 21. (This topic deserves it’s own post, and when it’s made I will post a link) We use this party to celebrate our community, our tribe, people we can lean on in hard times, people we enjoy, admire and love. It’s about celebrating the circle around us.
The story of Stone Soup is prevalent in many different cultures but the story is the same. In a time of scarcity, a traveling stranger seeks food and shelter for the night. No one is willing to share for fear they will not have enough. The traveller says he will make soup from a stone and tricks each townsperson to bring something to the pot, which transforms into a delicious pot of soup. The moral of the story is when everyone shares, there is more for everyone. This is an essential core belief of mine and I practice it regularly with my involvement in Food Not Bombs. I will make another post about FNB and post a link here)
A Tribe is an important nutrient in my soil. I believe that the only way to bring about transformative change is to be that change- to be deeply and personally involved and participating. We achieve being through doing. I recognize that I need others to make my world what I want it to be. My tribe is my world. We are the micro version of the utopia I want to see.
You get out of an experience what you put into it. I know this to be true about many, many things but also with friendships. Having a tribe is all about what you put in. I began to think about the qualities I love in a friend and what I can do to be a better friend. I put together a list so I can remember to do these things. My family has been struggling with friends and we all discussed and agreed that these are ways we can do our part in being better friends and finding our tribe again.
Don’t be too cool, it’s not cool.
If you’re excited to see someone, show your excitement. Everyone wants to feel like they belong and are loved. You can’t give someone too much love. They will be thankful for it and give you just as much back. If you think someone is interesting, make efforts to be their friend, let them know, they will let their authentic self come through. Give compliments and credit- It makes people feel good, they let their guard down and real bonding begins to happen when people feel like they aren’t in competition with each other.
When you are truly just yourself, with no pretense or agenda, it gives everyone permission to be who they truly are.
Call, write, visit. Leave messages. Show up when you say you will.
Be real. Don’t just small talk. Be raw. Dig in. Don't be afraid of showing your messy parts. We’re all messy. I would much rather see the real you than a mask.
Share your stories and your fears. Everyone wants to be heard and it makes the love and connection grow deeper when we share our histories. I really do want to know what you’re made of.
Adopt a help first mentality. Ask those in your tribe “Is there anything I can do to help?” If you seek to help others before expecting help in return, you will get the most out of your community. Live life giving gifts, the universe will return them to you.
Be honest, but always kind.
Never be afraid to challenge your friends if they need it. Sometimes people need a push to be the best person they are capable of being. Be honest, especially about your feelings. Never forget that you must be kind and patient to do either of these things right.
If things get heated or tense, as they do, keep your cool and don’t just react. If you do loose your cool, apologize quickly.
It is important to remember that you should not make friends just to have friends. These should be people that truly inspire you, give you strength and allow you to be the best version of yourself. I am an introvert and have always had a quality over quantity approach to friends. I still find myself questioning if people are positive friends in my life. Know when someone isn’t the kind of person you want around. Don’t let relationships get toxic.
This post was originally from January of 2014. I look over it and feel like we have been practicing these things, yet I often still feel like connecting is very hard. For all of us.
Sometimes I worry my light doesn’t glow anymore. Maybe we still have too much anger and grief. Maybe the world is too guarded. I don’t really know.
Stone Soup photos:
The ingredient list, each guest adds what they brought to fill our pot <3
The food and our copies of Stone Soup and Tear Soup (a book about grieving)
The soup pot
The Wonderful Soup Stone lyrics by Shel Silverstein performed by Dr Hook