More than fifteen years ago (gulp!), I entered my freshman year at a small liberal arts college many miles from home. At a campus activities fair I discovered that there was Unitarian Universalist group on campus and I decided to check out one of their meetings. I had stumbled upon Unitarian Universalism a few years earlier and liked what I heard. I thought its focus on questioning rather than certainty and deeds rather than creeds might make it a good fit for me, but for a variety of reasons I wasn’t ready to try it out while I was in high school. Once I was at college, though, I was ready to find out more about it so I went to a meeting. That college UU group became a huge part of my four years there.
The meeting format was simple. We gathered in a long skinny room in the basement of the chapel at 7pm on Tuesdays. We would pull the rag-tag collection of second-hand couches into a circle and light a a chalice (often a tea light stuck in a glass we’d pilfered from the dining hall). Someone read a reading on a spiritual topic, and we had a long period of silence.
And then came “check-in.” It’s a simple concept. Basically we just took turns telling how we were doing. But something about the space and the silence and the group of people we had assembled led to sharing that was far deeper than “I’m stressed about exams and my roommate’s getting on my nerves.” We talked a lot about our attempts to re-define our relationships with our parents as we were moving towards adulthood. We thought out loud about what we might do after graduation. One woman talked about her struggle with an eating disorder. For several of us, this was the first group we came out to. Sometimes there would be an activity after check-in, but it always felt like check-in was the most important part. This kind of talking and listening is a good way to build intensely close relationships, and many of my closest friends from college are folks who I met in that basement room.
Writing my blog and reading the fascinating and thoughtful posts of others feels like an internet version of “check-in.” I have discovered that I need this kind of space. I am a better person, partner and parent when I take the time to notice how I’m feeling. And I am happier when I have a chance to share how I’m doing with other folks and feel heard.
My first post on this blog was a year ago. I’m proud of myself for carving out time for this in the midst of the demands of daily life with a job and partner and a pre-schooler. I made it to post #52 earlier this month, which must mean I’m meeting my goal of posting about once a week.
I’m so thankful to all of you who are reading along. This has been a good year in a lot of ways, but has also had plenty of challenges. It has made a huge difference to get your supportive comments or just to see the stats and know that someone somewhere is reading what I post. Both parenthood and trying to conceive can feel lonely sometimes and it makes a huge difference to be part of a community of folks who are experiencing similar struggles. I’m not the only one who begins to despair about whether we’ll ever have a second kid. And I’m not alone in having moments of wanting to strangle an almost-4-year-old who refuses to nap and then has multiple ginormous meltdowns all evening.
Lurkers, now would be a great time to introduce yourselves. No pressure if you’d rather remain anonymous, but I’d love to know more about you and what got you interested in my blog. I’d also love to hear any feedback about the blog from lurkers or regular commenters. Are there any topics you’d like to hear more (or less!) about. Do you have any questions about our funny little family?
Thanks again for reading along. I’m very grateful to have this community.