The other day, I approached Kristin Kaufman and am really glad I did. Kristin wrote the book, Is This Seat Taken? which is a collection of highly personal stories that are meant to showcase how wisdom or insight can come from the most unusual, and perhaps, unexpected places. I???d like to suggest that you read the chapter preview, which you can probably do in all of 10 minutes. It will be worth it.
What I enjoyed and learnt from my interaction with Kristin keeps coming back to me.
1. Being in the present, being in the now. Kristin talks about this a lot. In fact, it is actually one of the three primary points she makes in her book. Being present in the moment and ???awake??? to whatever is happening in our life, including all these incidental happenings, is what Kristin argues, the first step to heightened awareness.
2. It is happening for a reason. Kristin believes, like me, that there are no accidents and that every situation presents itself to us for a reason. There is no science to this, no one to validate the theory but, over time, I???ve come to realise that the things that happen to me, at least, are happening for a reason. When viewed in this way, you are bound to consider things from a different perspective. You question why the occurrence happens and what exactly you are supposed to make of it. If you didn???t feel it happened for a reason, you just react emotively ??? why is this happening to me? And then, I think it does stop there. You don???t have the answers and with no impetus to question or probe, it is left at an emotional level, open and unfulfilled. But when viewed through the prism that something is to be gained from this, some sense/insight is to be made of the situation, I believe there is opportunity for growth and change.
3. We are all connected. No one is alone and everything we think, say and do will affect another.
When you look at things in isolation, or at least in relation to the self, it???s harder to look at the consequences. If you look at yourself as an interconnected being, holding some power and influence over others, and likewise, enthralled to another???s power and influence, it does affect the things you might do or say. How much more will we change the course of our lives and those around us, if we were to be mindful of this fact, at all times?
4. We are here to teach, to learn, and to serve. For me, not quite in that order. I see myself doing more learning than teaching but do realise now, that you don???t have to be at a particular place, hold a particular job or role or even be in any particular capacity to teach or learn. We are all teaching and learning every day, from all those around us that we connect with and most times, probably without realising it. I find myself particularly mindful of this fact when talking to my kids. You wear the teaching hat very strongly, you hold it out for your kids to see, as if it were a badge. Yet, day in and day out, I marvel at how much I am actually learning, just by being with them, and talking to them. We can all teach, learn and serve ??? if we are open to it.
5. Work life. Home life. Integrated and aligned but not balanced.
Kristin makes the point that most of us have a tendency to separate ??? work life, personal life, spiritual life, etc. Yet ideally, our ???lives??? should be ???aligned???, integrated and not compartmentalised.
So much more of a woman???s life is about seeking balance. So many more conversations with women touch on achieving balance comparing work life and personal life, conversations that don???t come up when discussing the ambition or career choices of men. And there have been so many voices in response, weighing in on the work/life balance issue.
Anne-Marie Slaughter argues Why Women Still Cant Have It All. Carolyn Anderson weighs in with Why Women Still Cant Have It All (at the same time). The debate has raged. Luisita Torresgrosa, in the New York Times wrote about Inciting A Debate on Women and Work. Fighting for balance, fighting for equality, fighting for options. And then there are others who don???t want to reference their life in terms of balance. It is chaos but it works. It is hard but it makes them happy on some level. It works sometimes, and yet it doesn???t at other times and yet they are happy to leave it as it is without further defining it. And then there are those, like Modern Mrs Darcy, who argue that women are not making a mistake today, they are making a new way.
Perhaps it is because these are some of the things I am dealing with now. You know how it is? You see something, a person or perhaps a type of clothing. You recognise it, talk about it and next thing you know ??? you see it everywhere you go. It???s as if once you have it in your mind, you are more likely to ???see??? it out there.
So why do conversations matter?
They help you define and refine what you know to be true.
It is good to find validation for your point of view, or at best support that this idea of yours is not completely out of the ballpark.
They introduce new ideas to you to stew on.