By Helen Hirsh Spence
Estimated read, 2:46 min
It’s not every day that you manage to find a group of people with whom you feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts, feelings, fears and joys. When you do, it’s magical, especially when you’ve only met them online during one of the most challenging times in your life, in 2020 and 2021 during COVID.
This, however, is exactly what happened as a result of one of my first Uncovering Purpose courses.
We were eight strangers, who came from distant cities in Canada and the US. Whether from South Carolina, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Halifax, Nelson, Ottawa, or Denver, we had one thing in common, an interest in rediscovering who we were at various transition points in our lives.
Yes, I was the guide, but I learned as much as my colleagues. When courses are designed with maximum interaction integrated into sessions, the learning becomes richer, more personal and highly reflective.
There is no question in my mind that we were all suffering in our unique ways from the effects of COVID realities. We had experienced several lockdowns, each dependent on the province or state in which we resided. We all had stories of hardships and of the kindness of others. What began as a course, became a lifeline. We developed a respect and a fondness for one another that transcended the learning.
We met weekly for six sessions but the group didn’t want the learning to end. I was talked into extending the course and developed additional material to keep the conversations going. As this came to an end, we decided to continue to meet every few months to discuss books of interest; the bi-monthly get-togethers turned into monthlies. When one suggested that we all get together in person, we all applauded the idea.
Obviously, it wasn’t possible for all to make the in-person reunion. There were availability and financial factors. Nonetheless, we managed to find dates and a location that worked for five of us and we made it happen in Calgary at the end of August.
Getting to know people on Zoom is a bit like imagining what the person on the end of the telephone line looks like based on their voice. Although you see the person on Zoom, you have no idea if the lighting is affecting how they look. Meeting the individual is much like unravelling a mystery. They are usually unlike what you anticipated and their true likeness comes into focus.
One participant turned out to be shorter than I expected with beautiful, thick brown hair that is beginning to turn gray. She is soft-spoken, considerate and extremely knowledgeable about herbal remedies and alternative medicine. Two of the group discovered how their passion for music meant that they had several friends in common despite being from different provinces. Another, an author and a coach, was the tallest. She shared her epiphany and how she was selling the contents of her home and wardrobe, heading off to Thailand and beyond. Everyone had exceptional talents and life histories. The texture and scope of our conversations were extraordinary.
It was a gift to spend three days together exploring Calgary and the nearby mountains, eating and drinking heartily, and simply enjoying everyone’s stories. When we parted, it was with a greater appreciation of one another and a deeper understanding of who they were and what made them ‘tick’. We developed genuine, meaningful connections that were cemented by our time together.
Learning as a community provides a dimension that is unique. It strengthens the processing of information with an emotional component. I marvel at how much deeper and relevant learning can be when shared with others who are like-minded or like-staged. As we move forward with our programs, establishing a trusting community will always be a priority. Look at the fabulous, unexpected outcome of this program!