The beauty of our coalition work is that we get to work with people. The people we work with are partners, colleagues and often become dear friends. We learn from them, we learn about them and we treasure the gift of them in our lives. Our partners, colleagues and friends make the coalition work less like work and more like fun. When we work together, we really can make a difference, and the impact that we have on one another may never be fully known. As we end 2023, I am remembering two special colleagues and friends who are no longer working with me here on earth but are in heaving singing Joy to the World with choirs of angels. I am also reflecting on two recent conferences this year where I was able to spend special time in person with colleagues who have become lifelong friends. Since we have the gift of friendship in our coalition work, let us practice three things together to honor these amazing people!
We are incredibly blessed by people willing to walk alongside us in our common causes and our desire to make an impact bigger than ourselves. As we are walking together with the never-ending to do lists and requests for our time, we sometimes forget to pause, reflect and practice gratitude. Let us take the time as we end this year and begin next year to practice saying and showing “thank you” to those around us. When we practice gratitude, we honor those around us and remember the light and love that they bring to the world. We strengthen our friendships and we remember the goodness that is present in the people sitting with us in our meetings and behind the endless emails. Small acts of gratitude can make a big difference. We can send a text, make a call, send an email, write a note, express our appreciation during a meeting or even say thank you in person. I am incredibly grateful for my colleagues/friends and am reminded to say thank you while we are still together. We never know if this will be our last opportunity to share our appreciation to those around us – so let’s do it today!
We can give a hug, share a meal and listen, really listen to our colleagues and friends. While we cannot meet with everyone, we can meet with some. When we take the time to be present with those around us, we are sharing the gift of connection and friendship. This gift is far more valuable than anything that could ever be purchased. I remember the last zoom meeting I had with one of my friends who passed this year. He courageously showed his video and shared his wisdom even though he was in very poor health. He gave me such an incredible gift that day – the gift of his presence. I am treasuring this gift today and inspired to continue to give the gift of my presence as well. Two weeks ago, I had an opportunity to be in person with some dear friends and colleagues. We ate several meals together, talked, listened, laughed and supported one another in our coalition work and in our lives beyond our coalition work. Although it can be tempting to try to fit in more work or multi-task because there is so much to do, one of the best ways we can honor our colleagues and our friends is to practice being present when we are with them.
When we work with diverse people from varying backgrounds and experiences, we have the opportunity to learn from them. While it may be difficult, uncomfortable or challenging at times, when we are open to learning, we will make new friends and grow in ways we could never have imagined. As I reflect on one of my other dear friends who passed this year, I keep reflecting on how much I learned from her. She generously and graciously taught me what health equity means and helped me begin to realize the impact of racism, discrimination and the need to continue to seek to understand the perspectives and experiences of others. She taught me about love, compassion, advocacy and power and I will always be grateful. As we work with our partners who become our friends, we have the opportunity to learn from them and to teach others what we have learned. As we end this year, may we continue to have the posture of openness and learning that will honor our friends, impact our coalitions and continue their legacy.
As you reflect on your coalition friendships, which of these three will you join me in practicing as we finish this year and begin a new one?
In the final two weeks of the year, may you find ways to Escape the Overwhelm, rest, reflect, and rejuvenate so that you are able to practice gratitude, presence and learning in the new year.
Photo by: Jeff Rogers, https://www.jeffrogers.com/ @ Kentucky Cancer Consortium Summit 2019