The Difficulties of Making Friends – Emily Eldridge

Making friends is hard. I’ve always struggled with it. Call it shyness or anxiety, I clam up around new people. I feel like I never know what to say. Sometimes I have trouble talking to people I’ve known my whole life! Small talk? It’s the worst. Meeting new people often feels exhausting. And developing a friendship is basically meeting and talking to a stranger over and over until you stop being strangers. For the most part, the lasting friendships I have are thanks to people not giving up on making friends with me. I joke that my best friend from college followed me around offering me food until I started talking to him, and it’s not really that much of an exaggeration! Even when I genuinely want to get to know new people, I find it really difficult. Where do I find people? How do I start a conversation with them?

My roommate and I are both pretty quiet, there are only the two of us, and we live in a pretty small town. Making new friends outside the program has been challenging for us both. I was jealous when I read about Erin and Olivia’s adventure in Denver this past week – just stumbling onto a group of new people, joining in and having fun with them? How does that happen?? But actually, something similar happened to my roommate a few weeks ago. She did the hard part, striking up a conversation with a stranger at the bus stop, and I wound up tagging along and meeting a whole group of friendly, welcoming people. They have dinner and fellowship together once a week, and didn’t hesitate to invite Kirsten and me to join them. I look forward to getting to know them better.
I hoped this year would lead to new friendships, but I think I was hoping for the program to do most of the work by forcing me together with roommates. That didn’t quite work out as the Steamboat Springs house ended up so small this year. However, I have certainly noticed themes of openness and vulnerability since I arrived. From the very first day of our first retreat at Cathedral Ridge to the struggles of figuring out a weekly community night, the importance of being willing to reach out and start a conversation keeps showing up. It’s not going to be easy, but I am reassured that the opportunities I hoped for will be there. 22780322_1870834249597881_7085680670625058398_n

Letting Go – Erin Lammott

The other night I wanted to play soccer. I haven’t found a team yet, but wanted to kick around so my roommate said she would go to the park with me. We ended up being there until dark; we sat in the park and discussed our next move for the {Friday} evening – which we decided was going home to make a pizza and chill. Our conversation turned to talking about how we didn’t have plans for the weekend and felt bummed that we didn’t have plans or friends with who we could even make plans. As we were pulling out of the park, we saw a bunch of glow sticks. Curious about them, we convinced ourselves to turn the car around and go investigate. We yelled out of my car to two people to ask what they were doing. It was Queer Glow-in-the-dark Kickball. They invited us to join, we debated, and then suited up in glowsticks to play kickball with the strangers. The group was so fun- inclusive of us, super supportive during the game, shared their beer with us, and able to laugh at themselves at the bad loss. Then they invited us out to a local gay bar where there would be post-game flip-cup. After noting how {bad} we looked – hair in pony tails, tennis shoes, chacos, sweat from the soccer, little to zero make-up, exercise clothes – we agreed to go to the bar with them. We had so much fun getting to know our new friends, playing games, dancing, and of course – eating the obligatory post-beer pizza. It felt like such a free and laughable night. It dawned on us- that series of events wouldn’t have happened if we would have had plans. For me, this was a beautiful night because, yes it was fun. More so though, because of the community that was found and how I felt connected to and supported by other humans. Who knows, I might never see those people again. For a night though, we had friends. This group was actually mostly new friends to each other too. They hadn’t known each other for long. For a night though, these seven different people, with seven different stories, and probably many different desires, got to be themselves with other people. Kissing who they want to kiss (with permission), dancing how they want to dance, laughing when they want to laugh, wearing what they want, showing up how they are.

I think part of why I loved this night is because it was Beyond Imagination. When I picture the plan I had for my life, this wasn’t a part of it. I was supposed to be married by 26; I’m 25 so that means I should be well on my way to settled down. Not doing these kind of things. There is a lot of uncertainty right now. There’s a lot of unknown space. A lot of discomfort in the unknown and a lot of uncomfortable scenes in this singular life. How crazy cool is this though? I couldn’t have planned it. So here’s to letting go. Letting go of my plans- from the design for my life down to the design for this Friday night. Letting go of the expectations of what relationship is. Maybe it’s not married for me, maybe its roommates who play in the park and strangers who invite you to join. Letting go of judgement – of people who have likely experienced exclusion in this world and who were so inclusive of us. Letting go of judgement – of these two straight girls who look a mess and look to strangers for friendship. Letting go of judgement of myself – of how many friends I should have, or how I should have had the foresight to make plans for the evening, or of how I should look when I go out to bar.

I’ve been thinking that a lot of pain in the world seems to come from defensiveness and clinging to ideas (to protect perceived safety & security). I just wonder if this is what happens when we’re more open and open to not having it all right? Freeeeeedddommmm. Now that’s something worth glowing about.

Glow - Erin Olivia- Oct 17


Potentially Offensive Statements – Kirsten Kettler

I stand for the flag, I kneel at the cross.

Black lives matter.

Immigrants have rights, too.

Everyone who has an Emotional Stability animal just wants to bring their pet everywhere with them.

My child doesn’t need vaccinations because it could cause autism.

Donald Trump is the best president we’ve ever had. Ever.

How did those statements make you feel? I encourage you to sit with those feelings for just a moment.

We have the blessing and the curse of being able to scroll through social media everyday and we often encounter statements like these.

Statements that are educated and uneducated, kind and unkind, naive and well thought out.

We did this exercise in the Steamboat Formation – where we each thought of 3-5 potentially offensive statements, then we said one statement to the group, and we each had to show each other a paper that said that we either strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed, or strongly disagreed (notice how there’s no neutral answer).

I bet you’re thinking, “Why would they do this?? This might cause awkwardness and division within the group!!”

I have to admit, I was eager to jump into this and see Emily and Henry’s answer so that I could see who I sided with and who I disagreed with, taking sides and tearing the opposition apart with my intelligence from internet research on random matters.

So the answer to why we did this –
Henry explained what we were doing, like I did above, and then explained that we were going to discuss our opinions with each other. This was an exercise. A safe place to exercise what we would do when we encountered others that held similar or largely different beliefs.

We had fruitful discussions where we agreed and disagreed, where we considered where the other side was coming from, and where we groaned (not always in unison) at some statements because they were that ridiculous.

As a future social worker, I feel like I have been educated to listen first, to be non-judgmental, and to consider how different aspects of life can influence someone when working with and empowering clients.

In my head, I was so ahead of this little exercise that Henry was trying to challenge us with because of what I’ve learned.

What I realized though, is that I have my (as my friend Nathaniel likes to call it) -ish. I have my -ish; my own opinions, my own life experiences, and education that has shaped me and my beliefs and often times, I think they’re the right ones.

Like, for example, football players have every right to kneel during the national anthem. I support them 100%. They’re not doing it to disrespect our country or our veterans, but they’re kneeling to publicly show that not everyone in this country is experiencing the equality that they deserve. It’s a non-violent, safe, and respectful way to use the voice that they have.

Maybe you read that and thought, bull SHIT, Kirsten!

Maybe you read that and thought, hell YEAH, Kirsten!

This is an opinion that I hold and one that I think is right.

We all think that we hold the right opinion (even if it’s just a leeeettle part of us). My hope for you (and for myself) is that we have the guts to admit “hey, maybe I don’t know everything.” That we have the guts to be non-judgmental. That we have the guts to listen and not rip each others throats out when we disagree.

Thanks for reading. 🙂


Who Knows What God Has in Store for Me…

Thoughts This Morning

Who knows what God has in store for me…

I find it very difficult to not try to control my life. But sometimes it is really easy to let go. I think where I struggle is with the mindset…all day i’m thinking about “I”. What I need to do, what I need to get done at work, what I need to do when I get home, how can I do that in the easiest way possible, it’s all about ME. Therein lies the problem. I remember watching a documentary about Hare Krishna devotees in the eighties where they followed one or two devotees around on their daily lives and asked them questions and stuff to see how a devotee interacts in the world. What stuck with me most about this documentary was how the devotees woke up at 3 AM and immediately began chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram, Hare Hare”. When I watched this I remember initially thinking, “wow that’s insane, but kind of cool”, yet I never understood why they were doing that. But now as I look back I see the point in what they were doing. The moment they woke up, they immediately fixed their focus on God.

I am imagining a life where I to choose to focus more on God than on myself, because some(to be honest) most days it is really easy to go all day without thinking of God at all. Thinking of God more often could only be positive, yet for some reason I feel some aversion to this and in my chest as I am typing and thinking about it my breath becomes shallow. What could this life look like for me? Do I have to leave my life of comfort to really think and focus on God, and what does comfort mean? I think of people who have devoted their lives to God, various indian saints, priests, deacons, hermits, sufi mystics…no matter where they are in the world, or what religion they follow or don’t follow, when you choose to follow God more than yourself I think that discomfort is to be expected. What were talking about here doesn’t necessarily mean trading up the comforts of your home for a hut in the forest(although there is value there for some people) the discomfort may be in learning to trust and have faith in something that you can’t touch or see or a little bit of both.

In closing I hope that my rambling isn’t too fractured to get through but these are just some thoughts I am having this morning. Moreover I invite everyone to investigate in their lives where they are comfortable, and where they could spend some more time listening to God instead of yourselves. On top of all that…here is a quote from Swami Satchidananda 🙂 

We are all different colors, sizes, and shapes on the outside, but inside the same light shines. We may look different, but if we see the spirit, we realize, I am you; you are me; we are one.”

-Swami Satchidananda