Relationships, Non-Internet Connections, and Bold Living

Life is all about relationships.

My grandson Henri turned three in December. Children that age are adorable, curious, and wonder-filled.

A month ago, my daughter began sending two minute videos of him at breakfast, a few times a week.

They brought me so much joy that last Saturday evening I decided to pack and leave for a week of face-to-face family time or "my Henri fix!"

By Sunday afternoon, I was stealing kisses and hugs. We fill our days with squealing and laughter. We play hide-and-go-seek, and visit the cows and horses that are part of the agriculture department at Michigan State University.

I bath him in the evenings and enjoy the smell of his baby shampooed hair and squeaky clean skin.This time is irreplaceable, precious, and priceless. 

Moments in time when we lock eyes, we share food, we laugh and smile, we touch and explore, we run and chase.

Yesterday I helped granddaughter, Mackenzie, with an essay for a college scholarship. We spent three hours playing with ideas, stories, and sharing memories, as she wrote about her accomplishments and why she thought she deserved to be awarded.

It was anything but fun.

Connection isn't always easy but it's always valuable and meaningful. 

It felt stressful, she was moody, and impatient. 

It was time spent bonding over the agony of choosing heart-grabbing stories and the most compelling words.

She fidgeted. She wrote. She complained. She rewrote. She edited. She reedited. 

I held back tears as I reflected on her 11 years of Girl Scouts and four years of varsity swimming and how fast time had passed.

After she finished, we enjoyed a late lunch at her favorite restaurant. She shared her senior-year drama and her hopes and dreams for the future. 

We laughed. We locked eyes. We embraced. We connected.

Connections. When we develop and reinforce our strong connections, we create a loving energy that has a ripple effect on those around us. The loving energy will also draw others to us and give us more opportunities to share and connect in the future.

Powerful stuff.

Connections of the heart. They need to be taught, nurtured, cherished, and shared.

Connecting with Family and Friends

We often neglect the people that mean the most to us. The family and friends that are present in our lives. We're too busy chasing the next big thing, watching one more reality TV show, losing ourselves in gaming, gambling, porn or (fill in your addiction or bad habit here).  

Technology, social media, and internet connections can invade our face-to-face relationships, steal our attention, and take possession of our minds, bodies, and souls. 

The results are self-neglect and abuse, depression, emptiness, loneliness, anxiety, failed relationships, and full blown addictions.

Disconnection.

Disconnections from love and life itself. An emptiness that creeps into your soul. 

The only way to prevent it is by creating balance in your life. Learn to take time to disconnect from all things digital and be present with the people around you. 

For me, life is too short to miss Henri's third year.

Life's too short to miss Mackenzie's transition into adulthood. 

Life's too short to miss out on moments that make life worthwhile.

Life is too short to live without touching and feeling the ground under our feet.

Life is to short to go without dirt under our fingernails and the wind in our hair.

Life's too short to spend it chasing shiny things.

Life is too short to spend all of your time working.

Life's to short to trade virtual sex for real intimacy.

The quality of life depends on the quality of your relationships. What five words would you use to describe your closest relationships today?

Are you bold enough to make the changes you need to make?

Life's too long to live without reaching out and obtaining the help that you may need to disconnect from technology and reconnect with your family and friends. 

Action step: Track the quality time you spend with family and friends that doesn't involve being digitally connected. Awareness is the first step of change.

Please share your thoughts below.

A few good reads:

Sibyl Chavis wrote an excellent articleHow You Know When It's the Perfect Time to Make Something Happen

Alex Blackwell gets creative: Encouragement in 160 Characters or Less

Cathy Taughinbaugh is passionate about recovery  Two Must Read Books On Addiction and Recovery

If you find this worthwhile please share it with someone you know that may appreciate it. 

{ 40 comments… add one }

  • Vidya Sury February 24, 2012, 9:19 am

    Oh Tess, what a lovely post, as always. This one is very touching. It is exciting to read about your wonderful time with family. You are so right about not letting anything suck away the time spent bonding with our loved ones. I am firm believer in putting family first, above all things. They are our tangible happiness, the ones you hug us for real and envelop us in their love.

    This is a post I will cherish. Hugs to you!

    Reply
    • Tess February 24, 2012, 4:42 pm

      Vidya,
      You are so kind. I’ve been online very little all week. It’s not always easy but it’s so wonderful and fun. I’m truly blessed.

      Reply
  • Elle February 24, 2012, 10:21 am

    Lovely Tess, I really enjoyed this.
    Two sentences really popped out for me. “Connections of the heart. They need to be taught, nurtured, cherished, and shared. ” Love this sentence. And secondly “Awareness is the first step of change.” So true, no awareness…no change.

    Encourage each other.
    Elle.

    Reply
    • Tess February 24, 2012, 4:43 pm

      Elle,
      Thanks, you’re the best! I appreciate your support.

      Reply
  • Jodi Chapman February 24, 2012, 12:01 pm

    So beautiful, Tess. A great reminder for each of us to step away from the computer and reach out to those we love so dearly – those who are right here next to us. You’ve inspired me to ask my sweet hubby on an impromptu lunch date. πŸ™‚ My five words to describe my relationship with him would be: love, home, warm, amazing, sweet.

    Reply
    • Tess February 24, 2012, 4:44 pm

      Jodi,
      You have a wonderful love story. You’re so wise! Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  • Sandra / Always Well Within February 24, 2012, 12:35 pm

    Tess,

    This was a very special read for me! It resonated strongly. If you don’t have a lot of connection in your life as a child, often you have to make a push as an adult to connect. You may not even realize what your missing. This encouragement is so needed. You paint a vivid picture of all the juice that connections really bring.

    Reply
    • Tess February 24, 2012, 4:46 pm

      Sandra
      I totally understand what you’re saying. For the first five years of my girls life I pushed to connect. It got easier and easier because I wanted it so badly and I wanted to be a good parent. Sometimes I still shy away from people. This comes as a surprise to many. Thanks for your love!

      Reply
  • Bill Polm February 24, 2012, 12:36 pm

    An important post, Tess. I made that point myself in a post awhile back, although not as well or as thoroughly as you did, .

    I’m fortunate. Two of my six grandchildren live with me (along with my daughter and her husband). And I get to spend time with them every day, not to mention see them grow up. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    In fact, when you think about it, the whole Bible is about one thing–that’s the thread, the theme on every page–how we treat each other, relationships.

    My five words on relationships: joy, meaning, fulfillment, caring, fun.

    Your own sweet and caring nature is aptly displayed frequently, I might add, on the A-list forum and in your posts.

    Reply
    • Tess February 24, 2012, 4:48 pm

      Hi Bill,
      Thanks for your kind words. It sounds like your family is well connected. I’m not sure I could live with mine or they with me;) I appreciate your support!

      Reply
  • Rose Byrd February 24, 2012, 1:49 pm

    Tess, real touching and connecting is so wonderful. I am planning a time like this in October myself. So pleased you are having such a terriffic time with hugs and looking each other in the eye and bonding. However, I will stick up for technology in that I get to see and hear daily wonders about my grandchildren I would have missed before the internet and video clips and flickr and blogs and Facebook and Twitter!

    Reply
    • Tess February 24, 2012, 4:51 pm

      Rose,
      Good for you for planning a trip. I’m not putting down technology at all. I love it. And I do mention I love my videos, Skype time, online friends from all over the world etc. It’s our misuse of technology that causes us problems in relationships. As a therapist I used to hear it all the time from married couples. We are the ones who get in our own way. Thanks for sharing. I love your stories about your family.

      Reply
  • David Stevens February 24, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Thankyou Tess,
    be good to yourself
    David

    Reply
  • Roshelle Brockman February 24, 2012, 5:04 pm

    Nice one, Mom!

    Reply
  • Betsy at Zen Mama February 24, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Your post is very timely. I just spent the day at the memorial service and reception afterwards of our beautiful next door neighbor. She died too young at 62 years old. It leaves me thinking of so many things I didn’t say and didn’t do for her. I instantly made plans today to not let friendships go too long without a touch or a connection other than email. As usual, a great post!

    Reply
    • Tess February 25, 2012, 9:17 am

      Betsy,
      It’s always powerful when someone close to us dies, no matter what the age. I’m happy I was helpful today.

      Reply
  • KenWert@MeantToBeHappy February 24, 2012, 5:31 pm

    Absolutely wonderful post, Tess! Just loved it! Relationships is what life is ultimately all about. Thank you so much for the reminder. It can be so easy to slip into the habit of getting things, accomplishing things, checking things off a to-do list. We sometimes place our relationships on a back shelf or start to see them as a hindrance to what we are trying to accomplish. But it’s at those times that we are missing the whole point of it all.

    Thanks again for the message delivered so beautifully, Tess!

    Reply
    • Tess February 25, 2012, 9:18 am

      Ken,
      Yes we all need to be reminded from time to time to step back and take a personal inventory. That’s what I did when I found myself holding back on if I should go or not. There was no reason to not…so I went. I’ve had a great time and leave for home on Monday!

      Reply
  • Joy February 24, 2012, 6:46 pm

    Hi Tess,
    Life is meant to be lived! Thank you for reflecting to us the importance of cultivating connections:) I give 100% when I am online, then I fully disconnect and give 100% offline. I find that now that my work is solely online, balance is extremely important, so time with my children, friends, my self and nature is essential. If I “forget” the sunshine and the beach call out to me:)

    Reply
    • Tess February 25, 2012, 9:19 am

      Joy,
      Yes there is wisdom in balance and nature. Always.

      Reply
  • Kathryn Trombly February 24, 2012, 7:29 pm

    Aw Tess,

    This post tugs at my heart. I love it! Thank you for the gentle, heartfelt reminder that our lives cannot be measured in the achievements that we’ve had, but in the connections that we’ve forged. We all can get so caught up in crossing finish line after finish line – in the doing – that we forget how important it is to just be. To be with our friends and family members completely present with our hearts open is to live.

    Thanks again & enjoy that time with your grandchildren. What special memories you are forging with them that they will carry with them in their hearts forever πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • Gurtej Singh Aulakh February 24, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Sat Shri Akal Tess. Thanx for providing such meaning and valuable information. This one is very touching. I am firm believer in putting the almoghty God “Waheguru” first, and my family above all things.

    Reply
  • Noel February 24, 2012, 9:10 pm

    I feel sad after reading this post, Tess. It reminds me how ‘disconnected’ I am with my family and friends as I’m busy with work and pursuing my dream. I often forget to seize some time to spend with my loved one. If the words that I used to describe my current relationships are cold, selfish and ignorance, I wish to change them to more care, love and concern. Thanks for the reminder Tess.

    Reply
  • Rand February 24, 2012, 10:47 pm

    “Life is to short to go without dirt under our fingernails and the wind in our hair.”

    This I can always Trust:

    Rumination

    When I can hold a stone within my hand
    And feel time make it sand and soil, and see
    The roots of living things grow in this land,
    Pushing between my fingers flower and tree,
    Then I shall be as wise as death,
    For death has done this and he will
    Do this to me, and blow his breath
    To fire my clay, when I am still.

    β€”-Richard Eberhart 1947, 1951

    Thank you Tess.

    I posted the Eberhart quote at Uzma’s site…sure like it here also.

    Being just a bit older than you I find myself relating to ‘Gus’ in the novel ‘Lonesome Dove’ more and more. Life has not always been that easy…but hey! …still have a great sense of humor, and I have a great job, friends, children, activities, etc…

    …hope to spend the day with my daughter tomorrow…perhaps we will see the movie ‘Pina’ and have lunch.

    This post really came from the heart πŸ™‚

    Thanks again,
    Rand

    Reply
  • Jt Clough | Big Island Dog February 24, 2012, 11:04 pm

    Excellent. I spent most of the day today with one of my clients at her house with her dog. Granted it was a beautiful setting right by the ocean which made it really nice but what struck me was the connection that went on between us. She is older. It is the 3rd time I have spent hours with her, much longer than I normally do when working with someone’s dog. Even before I read this I realized that taking the tie to connect to people in real life is an amazing things.

    And so, I will get off the computer now and spend time with my dear love that I live with every day!

    Reply
  • Megan Bord February 25, 2012, 8:05 am

    Tess, you inspired me (how often have I written that exact phrase on this exact blog?!). Connections — more and more I’m finding that the voice-to-voice or face-to-face are what I crave. The internet has been grand, and continues to be a great way to connect, work, play, be curious, and more. Yet I enjoy those “real time” connections. Just this morning, I called a friend to see if he could come over to play. You know, just hang out for a couple hours. When I was a kid, after all, that’s JUST what I’d do on a Saturday morning. Get up, eat, call a friend. So simple back then! Why do we complicate things as adults? I think it’s great you went to see your grand kids and family in MI; better yet that you’re able to just hop on a plane and do that. Such freedom!

    Reply
  • Paige | simple mindfulness February 25, 2012, 2:55 pm

    Thank you Tess! I soooo needed this today! I’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting so wrapped up in getting things done and getting stressed and anxious about what’s not getting done that I’ve neglected my family. My husband is letting me know about it too :).

    While I often have a hard time balancing all that I want to accomplish, I know that my relationship with my family is the most important thing. When I look into my children’s eyes and tell them how much I love them, it’s hard to feel anything but absolute love.

    I’m learning to tame my over-achieving mind. It’s definitely a process.

    I didn’t grow up with much in the area of “connections of the heart” so when you say that they need to be taught and nurtured, you’re so right. While he sometimes get frustrated, my husband does a wonderful job of teaching me the things I didn’t grow up with but that I whole-heartedly want in my life and my family.

    Thank you so much for the message! Have fun with your grandchildren!!

    Reply
  • fran sorin February 26, 2012, 3:58 am

    Tess…
    Your post hit the spot this morning. Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the hospital with a man from Cyprus who has had a bone marrow transplant done in Israel. He just found out that his body didn’t accept it. His wife has been out of town for a week dealing with her father’s death. His brother flew in from Cyprus to be with him. The 3 of us sat and talked about our passions in life, the differences in families and cultures when it comes to raising our children and family relationships and about our souls.
    Perhaps we spent 10 minutes discussing his situation. As a spiritual counselor, I’ve learned to just listen when it comes to issues of the heart. He clearly didn’t want to go into detail…at least not yet.

    When I l said good bye to his brother who is returning to Cypress tomorrow, our tearful eyes met each other. In the course of 3 hours (probably within a few minutes) our souls had met. I left the hospital with a full heart, feeling grateful to have spent time with brothers and knowing that it had been a profound experience.

    The richness of connecting and taking time is the sustenance of life. Yet, I need to continue practicing….slowing down, listening, observing,,,,and loving. A life time of practice. But man, it sure is worth it.

    As always, thanks for a ‘Tess’ post. You have a way of getting to the ‘marrow’ of life concisely and with impact. πŸ™‚ Fran

    Reply
  • Cathy Taughinbaugh | Treatment Talk February 26, 2012, 5:00 pm

    Hi Tess,

    Beautiful post! How fun to share life with the next generation. Nothing can replace family and friends. I had an interesting weekend spending one on one time with my kids.

    One son picked me up from the airport Thursday, and brought me home. We enjoyed dinner, breakfast and he helped me with icloud, which was great. My daughter came next after work on Friday, and we enjoyed dinner and catching up with her life. She helped me with some more online things I wanted to do, and we checked out the new boyfriend on Facebook. πŸ™‚

    I just had brunch with my oldest son today in San Francisco this morning, and loved hearing about his new job and what is happening in his life.

    These are always special times for me. I love watching my children’s lives progress. Thanks for sharing your grandchildren. I look forward to that day!

    Reply
  • Find Your Harmony February 26, 2012, 9:51 pm

    Oh Tess,
    Henri is adorable!

    I loved so many things about this post. One of the tricky areas for me is the fact that social media is something none of us grew up with. Raising kids in this arena is a different thing, and something I need to be mindful of as far as setting healthy time limits for myself online so I model that to them! And that can get tricky!

    But summertime seems easier. We naturally turn off TV, and head outside because one thing we have done right so far is to cultivate a deep love of nature with our kids. But there is so much room for improvement….
    Thanks for such a valuable reminder, and a little push to be more aware.
    In Harmony,
    Jen ?

    Reply
  • Galen Pearl February 27, 2012, 12:09 pm

    Having my 5 month old grandson living under my roof makes it easy to disconnect digitally and connect face to face! Indeed, my blog efforts have fallen behind, because if he’s around, I’m distracted! In fact, just before I wrote that last sentence, his daddy brought him upstairs and I “had” to go play for a few minutes!

    I am definitely a person who can get absorbed with virtual connection, so I think of him as my little reminder from life to turn away from the computer!

    Great post.

    Reply
  • Christopher Foster February 27, 2012, 2:34 pm

    Dear Tess,

    A terrific story about your visit with three-year-old Henri. I have a grandson exactly the same age. He lives in Vancouver with his two older sisters and his parents and I’m both inspired and chastised by your lovely, powerful and evocative words.

    I’m not sure if in all practicality I can physically get up to Vancouver in the near future but I can sure call again on skype and enjoy seeing Brogan (and his Dad, and his sisters) and making one of my trademark funny faces and generally sharing that passionate exchange of love you talk about so eloquently here.

    Blessings to you Tess.

    Reply
  • Tammy February 27, 2012, 3:15 pm

    Timely post for me as my little guy was sick all night and wants to sit right next to me today. Ahhhhhhhh!

    Reply
  • Arvind Devalia February 27, 2012, 4:08 pm

    Tess, this is a beautiful and timely post!

    Only a few minutes ago, I got an email from a nephew who is coming to stay with me here in London for a long weekend.

    He’s just started his first job and is now over 200 miles from me – 200 miles is VERY FAR for us here in the UK!

    It seems only yesterday that he was in his nappies and entertaining us. Where did that time go!?

    And how did I miss him growing up?

    Now, I’ll just have to make the most of our weekend together:-)

    Reply
  • Ntathu Allen February 27, 2012, 10:46 pm

    Tess..what a moving testimony of love. As I read of your joy I could identify with the love and pleasure my parents receive from being with my daughters…and as Avrind says..it is so easy to wonder where did the time go. Enjoy.

    Reply
  • rob white February 29, 2012, 7:40 am

    This says it all beautifully, Tess. “The quality of life depends on the quality of your relationships.” Too many folks confuse their internet connection, to life connection. Bold living takes place in the real world. The rewards we receive in healthy and harmonious relationships are immeasurable. We develop a supreme feeling of optimism, we do not feel inferior, nor do we feel superior to others. This is because our new understanding about ourself becomes our understanding about everyone. Life becomes a warm and inviting journey when we are willing to embrace the abundance of real relationships waiting for us to close our laptops.

    Reply
  • Anne-Sophie February 29, 2012, 7:44 am

    What a lovely post, Tess, and what an important message. We often forget to connect with others on a face to face basis instead of doing so over the web. As easy as it is in today’s world to keep up with family who lives in a different part of the world, I also miss the real connection from time to time. My sister lives half of the year in Cameroon and, even though we speak almost every day, I am always relieved when she is back home again. Seeing her, hugging her, being with her is invaluable.

    Thanks for sharing your amazing time with your family.

    Reply
  • Aileen February 29, 2012, 12:19 pm

    “When we develop and reinforce our strong connections, we create a loving energy that has a ripple effect on those around us. The loving energy will also draw others to us and give us more opportunities to share and connect in the future. ”

    Tess, I love how you keep it real. Your wisdom is grounded and applies to real life – it’s not fuzzy idealistic.

    This post reminds me of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families when he talks about the importance of making regular emotional deposits into our relationships to keep them growing, connected, & healthy

    Reply
  • Tathata March 1, 2012, 11:48 pm

    What five words would I use to describe my closest relationships today?
    Honest, Compassionate, Thoughtful, Full of humor and Reciprocal.

    Thank you for asking that question, as it has helped me to really feel gratitude for those close to me. I am so thankful to have them in my life!

    Reply
  • Glori April 12, 2012, 11:42 pm

    Thank you for such an amazing post. And I’m turning off my computer after this comment to invite my mom for lunch.
    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    Reply

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