Planting the Seeds for Rich Relationships in the Year Ahead // Trina O'Gorman

Planting the Seeds for Rich Relationships in the Year Ahead // Trina O'Gorman

As I sat down to organize my notebook for 2018, and in the process say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, I began to review the year I’ve just had. What had I accomplished? Had I met my goals? As I played back the mental filmstrip of my year, each event and accomplishment that came to mind highlighted a relationship I had with another individual. 
My divorce in March 2017, something that is often viewed negatively and known to be one of life’s most traumatic and stressful events, if experienced, meant a new kind of life for my sons and me, but it also highlighted the “village” that surrounded us and continues to surround us. What seemed like the end was actually a new beginning marked by powerful, positive, and meaningful relationships that have helped us find a light that we, as a family, and individually, never realized we’d had. The stories we have about that time in our lives are not about the hardships but have become stories about the relationships we’ve forged and cultivated, and the family bonds that we’ve continued to strengthen.
My son’s marching band experience, which began with practices in June, and then a weeklong band camp experience, followed by the fall season filled with football games and competitions, seemed like a calendar full of dates and times. and obligations. I felt stress for October in June, when I looked at what would be required of me, as a single mom and the driver of the mom-taxi. When he had to be dropped off and picked up for practices, what I had to pack for camp, when and where games and competitions were being held because I would never miss one, were all on my radar. But marching band became more about the students and the families and the amazing connections we made over the season than the things I had to do. The familiar faces we would see, the meetings, emails, and text messages with and from other band parents about events and goals would bring smiles to my face every time. And in the summer, I would have thought I’d be relieved when the extra tasks fell from my to-do list when the season ended and there were no more 9:30 PM pickups for this woman who loves to be in bed by 10 PM, but instead I missed it and the new relationships that evolved over the season. I am still making efforts to keep in touch with our new “band family,” as I appreciate them so much.

My 2nd Dan black belt test in taekwondo was a major stressor. Several times I considered dropping out as a candidate, as the additional practices were a lot, along with my responsibility as a single mom. But now when I tell the story, this experience was more about the special lessons that Master Chris added on, so I could attend extra classes around my teaching schedule, and all of the time and energy that he and I together put into me remember everything I needed to learn and prepare for my cinder block break. And now, our attention has turned from preparation for testing to find the right date to go to Manhattan for life-changing sushi, which I was promised if I managed to break two cinderblocks. I am so excited to celebrate our shared accomplishment.

And so for each accomplishment or task, many of which I allowed to produce stress and anxiety in my busy life, have become stories about relationships and not the tasks that I’ve checked off to-do lists on my BK Dashboards and Levenger To-Do cards, and yet those things are a part of the story. It is essential to my happiness and sense of personal fulfillment to grow and accomplish things in life, but more and more I realize the importance of the people I connect with along the way.

So, when planning my analog system for this year, I decided I wanted some way of remembering those magical moments. I remembered stumbling across a Ziggy (remember him?) monthly calendar that I used in college when I was going through an old box. It was so much fun to look through it and remember the fun I’d had - parties with sorority sisters, dates I went on, and even some of the assignments I’d had, some of which caused me grief and others which opened my mind to some of the wonders this world has to offer.

For Christmas, when my boys asked what I wanted, I pointed them to Baum-kuchen, gave them a gift card to redeem, so they didn’t have to spend their own money, and shared with them my ideas for the New Year. My desire this year is not so much to meet goals, but to cultivate relationships with people and to create beautiful memories. I gave them a few ideas but told them to use their imaginations. There was only one thing I wanted for certain and that was a calendar.

The boys are intuitive and observant, they straddle the analog and digital world with an enthusiasm that few of their friends do. For instance, my oldest asked for a specific type of Blackwing pencils for Christmas, while my youngest asked for a bow quiver for his string bass.- gifts that will feed their souls and which they don’t have to plug in. This made my heart dance. They later told me that shopping at my favorite analog shop was a treat for them.

On Christmas morning, I squealed when I unwrapped the recipe cards. A new pen-pal had recently sent me a recipe that her mother used to make. It is for a cake that she calls “Peace Cake” aka “Silly Cake,” and we’ve made it multiple times since getting the recipe. Each time I pull out the recipe card, I remark how I want to send a recipe to her, though I don’t fancy myself a cook. They’ve heard me talk about wanting to be a more confident cook and host more dinners and parties to share with friends and family, which they would themselves love. They love when the house is abuzz with laughter and food and extra people.

Recently, I got a sweet, sweet letter from my friend and penpal, Rachel, and the envelope was elegantly wrapped with cord and sealed with wax. I hardly wanted to open it, it was so beautiful. I remember calling them over to show them this “gift of correspondence.” The “always + forever” seal and wax they selected brought tears to my eyes. They were listening and watching and remembering. This is one of the things that we must do in relationships - pay attention, and they were doing such a lovely job. This, in an of itself, is a gift.

I placed these and other things that I received from them into my “new-to-me” MOD from This is Ground, which was previously owned by Rachel. It, along with my notebook, will serve as my analog bases for 2018, as my “goals” this year aren’t so much goals, but a commitment to grow in my personal life, paying attention to the lessons that I learn, and applying them to life with intention, so that I may further evolve in positive ways and become an even brighter light in the world for those around me. By doing this and intentionally cultivating and nourishing meaningful and positive relationships, I am almost assured a happy new year. And while I am sure it won’t be without its challenges, a people-oriented year rather than a goal-oriented year is bound to be sweeter and richer in many ways.
Written by: 
Trina O'Gorman


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