Shrink Your Steepest Hill

I belong to a birthday club.

We share a sumptuous dinner four or (hopefully) five times a year in celebration of each of our births.

Here’s a picture from our most recent celebration:

I share this with you because service happens best when we are connected. When we dare to connect. When we dare to follow our craving for connection, for community, the shared commons.

I believe it is our greatest need. So many of us are terribly lonely, lost in disconnection. I believe by following our need, skillfully, to connect, we will best bring together self-care + world-care, and save ourselves.

Consider this from the wonderful New York Times blogger Tara Parker-Pope

“Researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone. The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.”

Don’t you know that to be true? Haven’t you faced those hills with and without your buddies?

Consider this excerpt from an interview with human rights activist and writer Marianne Elliot. She’s is one of our two Wise Person’s guests at the Savor & Serve Cafe this month – the other is meditation teacher Sally Kempton. What Marianne said about service and connection made me weep. It’s 1 minute and 12 seconds long – please please listen:

[haiku url=”″ title=”Marianne Excerpt”]

Service is connection, savoring it, daring to make it.

How will you connect today? How will you feed your human need to connect and serve? I can’t wait to hear!


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Emma Newman - April 12, 2011

That is a great piece of research gold! That’s why I am so grateful for my Twitter friends – as a writer who spends hours alone with a keyboard, it’s wonderful to have a group of writers and friends who are there alongside me, and we all help each other up our own hills.

My little thing today has been connecting with someone who is preparing to give a class on social media for writers, and it was a deep pleasure to be able to give her some material for her talk. And just chatting with friends on the other side of the world who are a bit blue. It all helps. It’s all beautiful.

Crescent Dragonwagon - April 12, 2011

Hey, Jen… my new favorite non-fiction book, far better than its somewhat cheesy title, is “Younger Next Year.” — the authors have a whole lot of hard science, entertainingly and accessibly told, supporting the idea of social connection, caring, & service. I like the idea of the birthday club, too! Loved our dinner in Seattle… xxxooo

Kathy - April 12, 2011

First, I’m going to connect with a client and then hit the trail for a good long walk with a friend going through some physical challenges. I am excited to connect with her and feel her connection within me.
Thanks for this post. I needed this today.

Lswaudi - April 12, 2011

This understanding of, and need for connection has got to be the underlying reason the social networks are so popular! I too have always felt this. I think partially because I have always been such an avid reader and felt connections to all the characters – real or fictional.

Kathy Birkett - April 12, 2011

I volunteer with a local non profit group that is working towards a connected, active community (which is using a local jr high school as it’s base) to improve the quality of life for it’s residents. We are starting by building an accessible and workable community garden. I spent the morning talking to movers and shakers who can bring a louder voice to this activity and showcase what we are doing to the larger based town as a whole. It is so uplifting to see people work towards a common theme and be excited about the outcome of it all

    jenniferlouden - April 12, 2011

    That is very exciting!

Rbchsweeney - April 12, 2011

Bingo. I made the choice I made because I needed to connect with another human being. I needed to be seen. I needed to be touched. All hell may break loose and I may be homeless as well as unemployed but that’s why I chose.

    jenniferlouden - April 12, 2011

    i hear you! I’m so clear that more connecting is my answer, a answer, the answer!

Kate Harding - April 15, 2011

*So* true! I’ve just come back to live near my friends after years of wandering on my own, and I’ve been staggered by how much easier everything is when you have people you love around you. I’ve been working with a friend, too, and find that I can think of doing business type things that I previously would have written off as impossible, simply because I won’t be doing them on my own. Amazing.

    jenniferlouden - April 26, 2011

    you deserve nothing but love!

Susan Gallacher-Turner - April 20, 2011

“I believe it is our greatest need. So many of us are terribly lonely, lost in disconnection. I believe by following our need, skillfully, to connect, we will best bring together self-care + world-care, and save ourselves.”

The true heart of the matter…and I feel it, here, in my heart…I write, I sculpt, I do it all in my studio in aloneness and I enjoy the solitude but also crave connection, true connection that expands what I love out into the world…the passion to create is a need in all of us but not one that is easily accessed by many.

How can that change? How can I be a part of that change? I’ve volunteered and taught for years to children and adults, but I need to balance my desire to share, to serve with my need to make a sustainable living, too.

    jenniferlouden - April 26, 2011

    been thinking about your comment – writing a post!

Leave a Reply: