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It’s worth noting that bringing what’s easiest isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. Look at the intention behind bringing the easiest: am I exhausted or sad or generally low on resources? Then, bring on the easy! But if bringing the easiest is based on habit or depending on someone else to carry the load, another choice might be yummier.

Again, coming empty-handed is not necessarily a bad thing…since your presence means you are bringing something. You are giving others a chance to offer generosity and care which is a gift. Again, looking at habit and intention is always the best way for me to decide if it’s a healthy choice.

Use your awareness and witness to notice all that you are bringing to a situation. Not just what you say but what you don’t say. Not just what you do but what you don’t do. It’s more than just what’s in the pot…

This is often a question I ask myself before (or less skillfully after) a gathering. How do I want to show up? Knowing that I can only control what I bring, what do I want to do or say?

When I’m bringing my best, it’s easy to focus on that. Notice if you only want to talk about your idea at the meeting or if you forget to ask everybody about how their day went at the dinner table. The whole point of being together is to share what we all have to offer.

Question 3 may seem to imply that you have to taste something that everybody brings. But if you feel terrible when you eat sugar, then don’t have the cupcakes! If someone is dancing big in class and that feels unsettling to you, dance in another part of the room. AND remembering that everybody’s offerings are what makes the whole experience. Appreciating the gift of everybody (whether or not you eat the cupcake) is what makes pot lucks nourishing.

Happy Pot Lucking, everybody! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Pot Luck of Life … and how the illustrated posts are landing!

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INOF gold netThe Invisible Net of Love is around you always. It can’t be seen, though, only felt. Reach out, ask for help, and there it is. You’re in the weave of someone’s net when you offer a hug, an ear, a pot of soup with crusty bread.
INOL ribs

Your rib cage is your body’s net of love. The home of the heart and lungs, it is the place of energy exchange. Sometimes in fear or pain, the rib cage tightens or collapses in. Take a breath. Feel your heart. Move your thoracic spine. Open to love going out and love coming in.

INOL golden net castAs a recovering English major, I’m a total sucker for a good metaphor.

One of my favorites is The Invisible Net of Love.

Here’s how it goes: we are all surrounded all the time by an Invisible Net of Love but we never see it. The only way we know the Invisible Net of Love is there is when we reach out. As soon as we do, there it is. The net pulls us in and snugs us up giving us support and love and probably some really good casseroles.

So if you tell me that you are struggling with something, I’ll calmly tell you that I’m in your Invisible Net of Love and all I need is for you to reach out and ask for help. Just ask for help.

Years ago, I discovered what a gift it is to be of service, to give help when it’s needed. I love being part of the Invisible Net of Love: organizing meals, or spending time at the hospital, and when the call comes, I give world-class hugs. Being in someone’s Invisible Net of Love opens my heart.

Recently, though, I’ve been on the other side of the Net. Struggling with my beloved’s debilitating herniated disc injury, I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and alone. I could feel myself tighten and starting to collapse. For a couple of weeks, I didn’t talk much about it and didn’t ask for help. It seemed lame to ask for help for this. No one had cancer. No one had died. It seemed like I ought to be able to handle it and not get all whiney pants about it.

About three weeks into Frank’s injury, I went out for first time with a friend for dinner. I was anxious about leaving him. At an outdoor table on an unexpectedly lovely July night, she asked what she could do to help.

“Oh, you know, I’m fine, I think. I don’t think we really need anything,” I lamely lied through my teeth.

My friend looked at me steadily across the table and crossed her arms.
“Remember those times you brought meals to your friend who was in chemo?”
“Um, yeah.”
“And remember when you went and sat with our friend’s son in the hospital every week that summer?”
“Yes, of course.”
“And remember when you came to see me even though I was depressed and could barely deal with anything? Remember how you sat with me in the garden and talked? Remember all that?”
I was suspicious now. “Ah, yes, yes I do.”
“Well, how did you feel when you did those things?”
“Great. It was a relief to do even something small to be helpful. I loved it.”
She leaned in a little closer.
“You are depriving your friends of that great feeling by not reaching out and asking for help.”

She got me. Trapped in my own damn metaphor.

Whether or not we’re willing to acknowledge it, we are all inextricably connected. None of us, not one of us can make it alone. We need each other.

This is the summer that I discovered that not just offering help, but asking for help is a spiritual practice.

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