Connection

December 21, 2009


Last night, as I was driving to the store to get what I needed to make a bit of broccoli soup casserole for the family, I was listening to a segment on NPR titled “Living on Earth: Danish Values”. The piece was asking the question; Why in a place like Denmark, where at this time of year the sun sets at around 3 pm in the afternoon, and the weather is gloomy and grey, is this considered to be perhaps the happiest place on earth?

The answer intrigued me.

University of Copenhagen Sociologist Peter Glindelock was invited to sit down and talk about what makes Danes so much above the rest of the world in terms of their happiness. Professor Glindelock explained that it was the Danes connections to one another that put them above the rest of us.

The difference we really found between the Eastern European welfare state was that Danes score much higher on various kinds of social ties. So, they are closer to their family, to their colleagues, to their friends. They meet more often.
And they argue that they have – they have more to do with each other. So, we believe that the character of the social ties is very important. And these social ties are, sort of horizontal. In the sense that it’s on equal terms, and not vertical in relationships.
And a lot of theory says that if social ties are horizontal it creates social trust and also happiness. So, this is – if there is a secret, this is probably it.

I was really struck by this statement, not because I don’t know that the severed connections of the modern world are reeking havoc with our ability to feel purpose or a sense of place, but because it really speaks to how happiness and a sense of community go hand in hand.

I have to wonder if that is a bit of the reason that we all love this blogging community as much as we do. I mean, consider the fact that we really only ever give each other positive feelings about the work that we do, the families that we raise, and the people that we are. We are a group who strive to find inspiration from one another, and a sense of place within this creative world that we are now all a part of.

When I get up in the morning, and sit down to write a new post, I feel happy to know that I will hear from friends that day who I have grown to know. I will visit their blogs, and see what is happening in their worlds. I will find a real source of happiness to see how their families are growing. I will find new new bits of inspiration that will pop-up from the many women that have put time and energy into creating something new. I will drool over a new recipe that is perfect for my family to enjoy.

I recently learned that one of my closest friends may be moving away. Even though it would be a very positive transition for her, it left me feeling this huge hole knowing that she may not be a daily part of my life. Having said that, I know that I will be able to watch her children grow up, and hear about her new projects and plans through her blog. Even though that is not the same as her physical presence, it is a connection that allows us to not be severed from one another.

I know that this is a conversation that we have visited many times, but I still can’t get over the fact that I feel a true connection here, and that it adds to my happiness everyday. As the holidays always bring a reflective tone to our lives, I feel that it is the perfect time to say thank you to all the incredible people who have made this year a bit more beautiful, a bit more connected and a bit more special.

I wish you all a very magical Winter Solstice.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

kyndale December 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Ha! I got my husband up in the middle of the night to talk about how this is so important to me. Darn Heather, I ate chocolate last night and couldn't sleep. Oh well, I got some stuff off my chest! I am sorry to hear about your friend moving. You will find a blessing somewhere in this situation.

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mamawild December 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

This is so true. I am new to the blogging community, and it has really stretched me. It has stretched me to BE more. It has helped me to remain more positive, and to be a happier mama. We love to try out all of the new projects that wpnderful people, from all over the world, are trying. We truly feel connected to so many people who support and share our values. So, I want to say Thank You…for allowing us to spend time at your blog as well.

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Its_Lily December 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm

That's a beautiful sentiment and you're right, we do feel a sense of connectedness here. I too look forward to visiting certain blogs in the morning just to see what my 'friends' have been up to. I could never be this creative on my own, but what I 'borrow' from everyone who shares here makes me look very clever and creative. Sometimes it's a new craft item I must try, or a new recipe that looks so scrumptious, and sometimes….sometimes it's just the right words I needed to hear to get me through a tough time.

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HRobinson December 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Such kindred words. The friends that I have made through my own blogging experience have had such an important impact on me. I have to remind myself sometimes that these amazing women are not all people that I actually know!!! It's always a sad reminder. I do hope to have the privelage someday to meet many of you! I had a dream the other night that you were all in my living room and we were all chatting away about this project and that! It truly is a wonderful community.

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Kristi December 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Such a beautiful post, and just what I needed to read this afternoon. Thank you!

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Brooke December 21, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I agree wholeheartedly! My blog friends don't number very many… I tend to keep it that way with my "real friends" too! But I feel pretty connected to these people; love hearing about their lives and kids; try out their crafts and recipes; and just relax a little with a smile on my face when I read they have a new entry on their blog :) Thanks, Heather for reminding me of the importance of connections and being a part of my connections every (almost) day! Happy Solstice and all the rest!

And thanks for all your inspirations! I tried the lemon ricotta tea cake the other day, and it was DELICIOUS! I have never used brown rice flour before, and was quite pleased!

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Earth Mama December 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm

You are totally right Heather. I love the blogging community here. It offers the support and "family" that we all need to continue at such a high pace of parenting/living/being. It offers the connection that we otherwise wouldn't be able to have, by cutting down the travel time to a few clicks away on the computer. I'm glad to have ended up here. Thanks so much for being here too!

:)Lisa

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Julia December 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm

B-i-n-g-o.

And Heather was her name…oh.

You really have no idea the joy that I gain from this community. The friends that I have made are, on some level, more important that the ones that live near me in my life. The reason for this is the connection that we all have, the laughs and tears, the similar interests… the insights. Coming from such a small town, I really have no one (aside from my twin of course) in my life who share as many interests as the folks that I have met by blogging.

My blog gives me an outlet for sharing my creativity and personality that I otherwise, would have no one to share it with.

I am more than happy to give pats on the back to my friends in this space, because I know that when I need one… they will be there with a virtual hug.

I count you among my most dearest of friends….So happy to have found you all those months ago.

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Nancy December 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I'm also very grateful for all the blog inspiration–there is so much to learn. For example, you've opened my eyes to living gluten-free, and even as I posted about salt dough the other day I thought of your family and how something simple like that–the ability to play with flour and salt and water–is not something to take for granted.

I'm sorry to hear your friend might move away–I think that is hard. My best friend since high school moved away about four years ago, and I miss her so.

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renee @ FIMBY December 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm

that was all very well said Heather. I feel the same way.

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perches December 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Oh, thank you for a lovely post. You've described so well how our online worlds can enrich our lives. Everyone's comments here echo that. We can choose connections that bring us hope, inspiration, wonder, creativity, and laughter. And we carry those things back into our daily lives and spread them through the in-person connections, too. It spreads more light into the world, which is a lovely thought for a winter solstice. Thanks Heather!

"The lines of love cross time and space." – from An Acceptable Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

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Meg Evans December 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I just love how everyone here "gets it." I find myself talking to my husband or my mom or my sisters-in-law about something that has happened in blog-land, and they'll say, who? or where? And I feel a little sheepish when I have to tell them that the story/project/etc. pertains to someone I've never actually met; someone who I don't in fact *know* in the traditional sense. But the virtual friends do feel so much like real ones, and I am so grateful for all those people I"ve been able to "meet" in the blogosphere–like you!

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Kelly December 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm

This is a great post. And something I've wondered too – about why the Danish are so happy in a country where they seemingly have a lot less then we have here. Maybe that is the key! Have less stuff and more relationships. Anyway, I'm going to try to find some time to listen to the link you provided, thanks!

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Ivy December 21, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I agree completely. I feel happier each day when I connect with this community and I know I am a better person and parent because of it. This community has helped me find a path that makes me happy and feels right and I do not think I would feel this way without all of the people who write the blogs I read and read the blog I write. A very happy solstice to you and yours!!!

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sowabisabi December 21, 2009 at 7:53 pm

I just left a comment along these lines on another blog… "isn't it wonderful the tangled web we create through blogging" I wrote, and I mean it. I've met so many great, inspiring people this way.

Thanks for sharing the NPR story…really interesting…but also intuitive stuff. blessings~

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nicola December 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm

beautifully (beautifully!!) put, heather. (and i do love npr. i am always learning so much and that has sparked do many blog posts!)
happy solstice to you, too. i feel the same way.
nicola
http://whichname.blogspot.com

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Julia December 22, 2009 at 12:41 am

Heather,

You really are an inspiration and I wish I could think of a better word…a role model? kindred spirit, mentor? I truly love to read your thoughts and to learn of the amazing ways in which you raise your family. It validates the feelings in my own heart, on mothering and family life, and motivates me as well, to incorporate so many of the things you are already including in your day to day….you bring about a great deal of growth by your example, thank you so very much for that.
Blessings to you this Christmas.
Julia B.

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Liv December 22, 2009 at 12:53 am

Well thought, well put, well shared. I'm new to this blogging nook of the world but find that so far that the many thoughts, many sorrows, many joys, many creations, many hopes, and many dreams somehow become richer as they are shared in and across these spaces.

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rae December 22, 2009 at 2:18 am

thank you beautiful mama! i am having a tough time sharing right now as we are going through some difficult times here, but i still find respite, security, and LOVE when i visit your blog and those of the many other inspiring and open women in this amazing community.

much love on this solstice night,
rae

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Sarah Jane December 22, 2009 at 3:44 am

This is great. I'm mostly jealous that you are listening to NPR. I rarely get to listen to it these days. And I agree, the blogging community has made me a better mom and a more thoughtful parent. A very happy holidays to you!

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Maeghan December 22, 2009 at 4:21 am

So true my friend, so true. Life is full of many changes, chapters, ups and downs but it is with the company we keep that keeps us on the right path.

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Louana December 22, 2009 at 6:59 am

I love the connections that I make from all the wonderful blogs out there, it makes me feel part of a much bigger community. Your words ring true.

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Imene December 22, 2009 at 3:17 am

It's a beautiful post and you are so right!! Discovering this community has helped me in so many ways. I am so glad I've found you and hope to share ever more things. Have a wonderful winter solstice

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Tonya December 22, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Heather,
It is so true that the blogging community has brought women together from all over the world. Women who share similar goals of raising a peaceful and happy family. Much of our life is centered around our home, therefore, blogging does let me connect with others each day. However, it is important not to lose touch with our neighbors because nothing can replace the human contact.
many thank for sharing Heather. you are a wonderful friend even from a distance.

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Valarie December 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Oh heather, this blogpost really resonated with me. Our blogging community has left me with a great sense of connection and purpose. Your words are so true and valid about the positive feedback we give eachother and the inspiration we feel to go onto new endeavors. I can only imagine that our blogging community also has a great impact in our daily lives away from the blog. When a group of fulfilled and inspired women leave their computers, they are still inspired and it's very contagious. I look so forward to visiting my long distance friends everyday. Thank you so much for sharing this and your friendship. Youa re so very special.

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larissa December 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Thank you so much for creating this space full of beauty and inspiration. what a wonderful way to foster connection. Happy solstice to you and your family.

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Shelly December 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm

LOVE this post and feel the same way :o)

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Kayla December 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Beautiful post, Heather. I think we should all strive to be more like the Danes and live in closer community and harmony with those around us. I know what it's like to have a someone close to you move. I live in a college community so this happens often. It really does leave a hole in your heart. My heart reaches out to you. Have a wonderful holiday!

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darlene December 22, 2009 at 6:09 pm

what a great post…thank you for making such wonderful connections to what you are thinking and sharing those thoughts!

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Jennifer December 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

First, Heather, I want to thank you for being a part of my little community. I have gleaned some much already in the short time we have shared, and I look forward to spending more time "together" next year. I've been mulling over some of the same concepts, just with a slightly different perspective, for a bit now. I posted about it here: http://www.whatididatschooltoday.com/?p=745 You have probably already read this, but I figured I'd share anyway. I do find much solace out here on the net with you and all the other wonderful people I have met. It is a privilege to be a part of your circle. Happy Solstice right back at you!

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Gypsy Forest December 22, 2009 at 6:52 pm

I loved reading this…… and I totally agree. This last move has been a really tough one for me and having the blogging community helps in so many ways. A friend from the Midwest called me just the other day and said "I feel so caught up on all your family happenings from reading the blog, it's like you guys never left". That is by far the BEST compliment I could ever receive…. it's what started it all for me…. staying connected.

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Hannah December 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Wishing you and your family a very happy festive season, Heather :o)

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patty-jean December 23, 2009 at 1:06 am

What a lovely post – thank-you! So true, so true! I think when I sit down to nurse and read through neighborehood blog community, it is relational and so meaningful to me!
blessings and a happy solstice to you aswell!

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erin December 23, 2009 at 1:44 am

oh heather! this is just beautiful and i couldn't agree more.

happy (belated) solstice to you and your family…

~erin

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lina December 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Heather, so interesting. I often struggle to find a place for blogging in my own mind. I find it a hard balance to strike between my 'offline' life, friends, work and family and my 'other' life online. I keep them very seperate, perhaps that's somethng I need to work on….
Happy holidays to you and yours and it was a pleasure getting to know you this year.
Lina xxx

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beki December 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm

So very well said, Heather! Personally, the blog world has filled that void of connection in my everyday life, beyond the contact with my family. I honestly don't know what I would do without it. And now thanks to this sense of belonging, I now have the courage to seek out other connections in my own community. Being connected to others truly does bring happiness.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with all of us!

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annie December 23, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I'm reading a great book right now on nearly exactly the same subject. It's called The Geography of Bliss and is essentially a journalistic account of one guy's exploration of the places around the world that are supposedly the happiest. I'm reading the chapter on Iceland right now and it talks a lot about the importance of connection, culture and the ability to stretch your beliefs a bit towards the magical. It's a great (and very funny) book- you should definitely check it out.

I hear what you're saying about the positivity that can come from our online relationships with likeminded folks around the world. I recently moved across the country from my family, friends and everything comfortable and familiar. It was a huge transition for our family but was also made easier by the outpouring of support and advice that I got from the readers of my own blog. I felt really lucky to have "virtual community" who could chime in on the big changes that were happening for me and my family. The internet is making the world smaller, faster and busier in a lot of ways and some of this is perhaps less than ideal. But, I also think that emphasizing the importance and strength of community can help us to use technology to build and benefit from relationships that we might have otherwise missed out on all together.

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Adrie December 24, 2009 at 12:32 am

So true! It is amazing to find a community of people who go out of their way to enjoy each other. Happy Solstice and merry Christmas to you and your family!

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Francesca December 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I feel exactly the same, Heather, about this blogging community. It's the horizontal relationships that make up a community of people I've never met, and yet with whom I've developed strong ties. Happy holidays!

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Beth December 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

I enjoyed this very thoughtful posting. I usually look at blogs mostly for the visual treats. But your wise words made me think. I know there are ugly places on the web, but we bloggers are creating beauty, inspiration, and friendship, and nurturing those we meet on the web. It is wonderful to see all the goodness there is everywhere around us, including on the web. love, Beth

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