Today I decided to gather up some books, wrap my shiny head in a funky scarf and take myself to a coffee shop. I love frequenting cafes in different towns and today I chose Starbucks in the booming downtown of Oakville because I was craving their Jasmine Mint tea and a big comfy chair that looked like it was plucked right out of a TD Bank commercial.
It turned out that two of these chairs were setup directly in front of the main doors with a grand view of the bustling street as well as the faces of everyone who walked in desperate for a caffeine fix. I decided to take advantage of the spot and exercise my face muscles by smiling at everyone that walked in the door, which basically made me the unofficial Barista greeter. I get a kick out of trying to get the most miserable of faces to crack a smile, it's a bizarre victory for me! Plus like Buddy the Elf, smiling really is my favorite.
I took a break from my self-designated greeter post to freshen up my tea mug when I felt a gentle hand touch my shoulder and a kind voice whisper in my ear, “you are going through chemo, aren’t you?” I turned to see woman a little older than me with a beautiful head of hair (when you don't have it, you notice it!) and her warm expression looking back at me; “I’m two years past my breast cancer battle and I just love your energy”.
I melted and immediately felt like I was having a reunion with a long lost friend. We quickly jumped into girly chit-chat mode where we discovered that we both chose to fend off this pesky thing called cancer in the same way; by being out in the world as much as we could, by choosing to make happy our goal and letting smiling be a form of medication.
I left the conversation feeling uplifted and appreciating the power of connection. We didn’t know each other, but our experiences automatically allowed us to understand the other.
My favorite definition of connection comes from the researcher, writer and woman extraordinaire, Brene Brown:
I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
I love this.
In reading between the lines of this definition, an authentic connection means:
- I never have to work for approval.
- I never have to be pretend to be someone I'm not in order to fit in.
- I can be completely vulnerable and feel safe.
- we are cheering each other on, pom-poms and all!
- there is a balance of give and take in the relationship... connection is a two way street!
When the lady cheerfully left the store I couldn't help but be grateful for the authentic connections I already had in my life, but had a new appreciation for the unexpected connection I could make with a stranger who I simply shared a journey with.
It was a lovely reminder that often a connection is a smile away.