12 Tiny Things: Simple Ways to Live a More Intentional Life, the book I co-authored with Ellie Roscher, has been out in the world for about eleven months now. It’s a strange and wonderful thing to see the words you’ve written take on a life of their own once they are out of your hands. We’ve watched as readers picked up the book and gave trying on their own tiny things a go, from our friends to community members to strangers who post about it on their own websites. We’ve published guest blog posts and articles and social media posts to get the word out. We’ve done podcast interviews and had book club chats and facilitated online study sessions.
Of course, all of this happened in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, so most of it has been virtual. Which has allowed us to reach a bit further than in-person events would have. But I’ve missed signing a book to someone whose name I’ve just learned and handing it back to them with a smile. Meeting someone feels different if you aren’t sharing physical space.
Yesterday I did my first in person, 12 Tiny Things specific, event: a “Self discovery” workshop at a rural library in central Minnesota. It was nothing fancy, just an hour in the community room with 15 folks who’d pre-registered to be there. I felt pretty rusty in speaking to actual human bodies, people sitting (still amply spaced of course) directly in front of me, not just a grid of heads floating on my screen. There were things I wish I’d have done differently, as there always are when you do something again for the first time after a long hiatus. Some things that have worked in a virtual space didn’t translate as well in person. It was most decidedly an imperfect presentation on my part, though it’s highly likely I’m the only one who noticed specific “imperfections”. After I was done giving my [imperfect] introduction, which included fiddling with a microphone and then deciding I’d just try to talk louder over the air filtration system, we broke into small groups to work through some discussion questions. Most folks came alone. I got the sense many didn’t know one another well, or at all.
As I was floating around the room from group to group (after a few minutes of silence spent reading/starting to write on the handout I’d distributed) the conversation gradually deepened.
“It’s hard to let the stuff go after a life of accumulating what seemed important, but it’s what I need to do.”
“I feel like I have to pivot all the time!” [knowing nods]
“I’m going to practice affirmations, because I’m my own worst critic.”
“I can understand that. I feel that way, too, sometimes.”
“I’m going to think three kind thoughts about myself. I never do that.”
“I’ve accepted that everyone in my life is imperfect, and my spirituality has deepened as a result.”
They engaged in conversation about things like what it meant to be gentle with themselves, or to practice self care, or to be flexible and fluid in how to approach life. They sat, human to human, looked each other in the eye, and told the truth – to themselves and to this person across the table. They picked some tiny things to try on from our Bingo Card, and I saw their eyes light up when they realized they could, in fact, do this.
It didn’t matter, not really, how rusty my presentation skills were, or what didn’t translate from virtual to in person, because what happened in that community room was real in a way that was needed. (This, of course, can happen in virtual spaces too, and has many times.) There was a quality of energy there that could be felt – the conversations being had could have gone on well over our allotted hour. There was curiority in the air, and just maybe, empowerment simmering in the background.
At the end of the day, perhaps it just go back to this: People want and need to feel seen and heard, and need to see and hear others. We all need to engage in dialogue about the tiny things that keep us going, or that just might help shore up our foudation if we give them a try. Every single day includes a chance to make a small change. Every single day is a new tiny chapter. Every single day holds room for possibility.
So: Do something every day that makes you feel more human. Put your energy where it will do the most good right now. Let your community help you when you stumble, and help them when they do. Step into whatever’s next not with resolve to ‘be your best self’, but with acceptance: that imperfect practice is the way forward.
If you’d like Ellie or I to bring a workshop to you, in person or virtually, just let us know.