True feelings of connectivity often come in smaller interactions.
Walks around the lake. Sitting on the bench while the kids play at the park. Lingering a few minutes after lunch. Laughing over a drink, sharing hopes and fears with hands wrapped tightly around steaming mugs.
These moments, spent one-on-one, are when we dare to share the thing that has been hiding in our hearts. These moments, spent face-to-face, are when we listen as someone gifts us with the information that is the essence of themselves.
I’ve always been one to get close to one person here and another there. Throughout my life, my dearest friends have been a sort of collection, a menagerie of meaningful connections. When I was younger, I accumulated a friend from church, a friend from choir, a few friends from school, a kid or two from the neighborhood. As an adult, I’ve continued this pattern, amassing individual dear friends of my heart, spread across the country — my East Coast partner-in-crime from my study abroad days, my California desert friend who is my creative inspiration, my childhood friend who I reconnected with after 17 years during a visit to Atlanta. Nearer to me are two other close confidants, one a blogging-turned-real-life cohort and a college classmate.
Through these people, I’ve realized that, for me, belonging is about feeling important to another person, feeling like I have something to offer them, feeling that they care about me, feeling like I have that personal bond. Belonging is about being seen and being known. It is intimate and cozy and done best through connecting individually.
I’ve always been one to feel a little lost in the crowd. While there is fun to be had in groups, I often feel like I don’t belong when I’m amongst one. I don’t have birthday parties or cookouts or a girls’ night. I don’t have gatherings where all of these amazing people in my life come together.
Rather, I recognize that I am lucky to be known and connected in the solitary moments I share with these souls. These are the moments in which I know I belong.
And I search for more of them. I have conversations on the bus, say “hello” in the coffee line, help people with their grocery bags. I listen and share, hoping that these personal interactions might be the spark of friendship, might provide that individual with a feeling of being seen and known, might turn thoughts of fear or doubt into curiosity or understanding.
Then, maybe, we can start to belong to each other. To have those moments. Where we walk around the lake. Where we sit on the bench while the kids play at the park. Where we laugh over a drink, sharing hopes and fears with hands wrapped tightly around steaming mugs.
I love showing my appreciation for and connecting to others by preparing hot drinks, which allow us to linger and laugh and love over a cup of something warm and comforting. I’m particularly partial to Hot Toddies, especially in the fall and winter.
The next time you invite someone into your life – whether they be a new friend or lifelong companion – try this drink.
Below, I’ve given measurements, but honestly, it’s less of a recipe and more of a technique, and there’s no need to dirty your measuring spoons.
- Squeeze the juice of ½ to 1 whole lemon into your favorite mug. (You can use 1-2 tablespoons of high-quality bottled lemon juice in a pinch.)
- Add 1 Tablespoon of grated, fresh ginger. (You want this finely grated so that it “melts” into the drink. I use a micro-plane, but the grating side of the box grater works as well.)
- Add cayenne pepper to taste. Start with ⅛th of a teaspoon at a time -- or omit if spicy isn’t your thing.
- Add 8-12 ounces of boiling water and let it steep together for a few minutes with the mug covered.
- After steeping, add 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon of honey, depending on your preference, and stir until it is dissolved.
- Optional: Add 1-2 oz of your favorite liquor. We usually use bourbon or brandy in ours, but I’ve seen rum used frequently as well.
Kerry Young is a teacher of children and a teacher of teachers as well as a mom, wife, and friend. Her superpower is helping kids and their adults learn to love their veggies.