connections

red_starfish.jpg
red starfish, Canon Digital Rebel XTi

There is a postal worker I see every few days when I mail packages. Her name is P and for the last several months that I have lived in Berkeley, I had the impression that she was a bit crabby or didn’t like me. But suddenly at the window last week, everything was different. She asked me about the baby, when he was due, what his name is, etc.

When I told her the name she exclaimed, “That’s a terrible name!” and I laughed as her brown skin and freckles scrinched up on her face in mock disgust. She offered up other names like Mystic and Jordan and the name of a football player that she liked but couldn’t quite remember the name of… The one that started with an L.

She surprised me and I blushed when she said she wouldn’t sell me a whole sheet of stamps but only 10 because, “This way you’ll come back to the window sooner.”

We all want to be connected.

As I walked away, I remembered Margarita from my old post office who I would see nearly every day, who got mad at me when I started using the automated postal machine for my priority packages. Who said, “Girl, if I ever see you using that machine again and not waiting in line to see me, you’re gonna get it.”

Either I have a special way with the ladies at the post office, or we are all hungry for human connection.

I know from working at home alone that my first human contact of the day is often the UPS guy or the teenager that checks me in at the YMCA. I probably seem overly eager to them as well, like a puppy that hasn’t been out all day.

What I really want to say is that each of these connections matters. In the same way that those ladies at the post might be my first human contact of the day, I might be theirs too. They remind me that we all matter. Everywhere we go we matter. And that we take that for granted. We think, “Oh, I won’t go to the meeting/ the party/ the class. No one will miss me anyway.”

But the truth is, we all matter and we are all missed.

Even here, on this blog. Each comment left is a thread of connection that I cherish.

And if y’all ever stop commenting, you’re totally gonna get it.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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80 Comments

  1. Suzette

    Thank you. That’s the reminder I needed today.

  2. adele

    well now i’m dying to know what the name is!

  3. jen paddack-hyde

    I just went through a few weeks of unemployment and so I was home for days without human connection except for my husband or daughter at the end of the day. It was awful for the most part…and served as a reminder to me how important it is to have human connections each day:)

  4. Leslie

    yes…the name….the post office lady knows it….we want to know too :>).

  5. Jennifer

    This is just what I needed today Andrea, thank you. and the letter “L” huh, hmmm what could it be? I am dying to know. And your day is coming soon, no?

  6. MEgAN

    Connections, indeed!
    My father works as a carrier out of the Berkeley Main Post Office.

  7. Tonyaru

    lovely collection and arrangment of words. thanks for your lovely thoughts.

  8. Laura Neff

    Hi Andrea! Loved your post today. It reminded me of when I was the morning barista in a tiny town at a tinier coffee shop in Colorado one summer. Even though I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. those mornings, it felt like such a special treat to greet the first few groggy customers with a smile, a cuppa, and maybe a fresh muffin or scone. The mornings were quiet, but just starting to crackle with aliveness, and we were all in it together.
    Thank you for your post and the gift of remembering those moments!
    Loved your newsletter…the pic of you is gorgeous!
    Laura 🙂

  9. umber

    the most shocking thing about becoming a mom to me was the seeming LACK of human connections as I had known them. No more adult conversations, baby came first. I talked and talked to her but she did not talk back (she’s making up for every second of silence now). I had no idea I’d be so lonley being a stay at home mom. I was lucky to be living in El Salvador where for the first 40 days after a birth the mother is checked up on many times a day. I’ll never forget how much it meant to me to order food or talk to a stranger on the street and be reminded that I still existed in my non-baby focused form.
    That all changed with time, of course. Last night she crawled into bed with me b/c she’d woken to lightening. I told her, “did you know lightening puts nutrients in the soil so our flowers can grow?” and I explained nitrogen int he atmosphere connecting to water thanks to lightening and how plants need that. She said, “no, mommy I didn’t know that.” and she threw her arms around me and fell asleep. I stayed awake to cherish the silent breath on my cheek which I know I will miss terribly in a few years. I love being a mom.
    This was a beautiful post, Andrea. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Diana

    Wonderful, perfect post. Yes!

  11. carol

    I sure needed this today – thanks.
    Your posts matter to me, too …

  12. espana

    I see Jerry the postal worker 3 days a week. It’s amazing what you can learn with such a short amount of time. He has old eyes and whispy grey hair. He was married for 25 years before his wife died, and last month he told me he has a crush on Lisa but he would never tell her. 🙂

  13. sophia

    hey….what newsletter???

  14. Jen

    What a wonderful post.

  15. Jeanne

    Yes newsletter?
    I read your blog each time you post but don’t always comment.
    We are all born with a great need to be loved and never ever outgrow it.
    Hugs to you and your precious family!
    God bless you all real good.
    Love Jeanne

  16. Laura

    You’re fabulous. And you are going to be due soon, aren’t you? Opening your blog every day now is almost like waiting for Christmas. 🙂

  17. Lynn

    Wish we had your postal workers over here! Ours are always cranky or deliberately put the “counter closed” sign on and walk away if we so much as step forward before we’re called. 🙁

  18. Nina

    This post makes me miss my old post office. Three years ago we moved from rural Texas to rural New England. I think people are nice here, but I miss having those light converations with strangers in the grocery store, you know? I’ve been working out of my home for more than a decade and I never felt lack of connections until we moved here. Thank goodness for blogs and the internet!
    And what newsletter? Are you going to tell us his name? My son and his wife are expecting their first baby (also a sweet boy) in February, and I asked not to know his name until he’s born. So, is your baby’s name a secret?

  19. stef

    I totally LOVE this story and love that it’s really hitting home for me right now- always, thank you for sharing. I hope you never stop!
    xo
    S

  20. amy

    You are so stinking adorable! But you’re torturing us! NAME! Please?
    Thanks for this reminder…and if you ever stop posting, YOU’RE gonna get it 🙂

  21. thodarumm

    Love you too 🙂

  22. victoria winters

    I feel the same way – the need for connection – which is why I started my blog. Don’t stop posting, or you’re gonna get it! ;0)

  23. Pam

    hi,
    i haven’t checked your journal in a long time and i’m glad i did today. i work out of my home also and know how important all those not-so-little connections can be. on some days–thankfully few–they are nearly my only direct contacts!
    vonnegut (kurt) has a nice story in his new-ish collection of essays about how much he enjoys (and misses when he uses a computer) all the little errands he must run (and chats with this and that salesperson the errands engender) when he works on paper and mails his work instead of forwarding it on his computer. he even confesses to having a bit of a crush on, i think, a postal worker and how much he misses seeing her if he can’t from time to time. i can relate!
    on another note, the colors of your new ‘Joy’ necklace look great. i bought two of your necklaces (seaglass and earth) last winter and have enjoyed both. i gave ‘earth’ to my daughter (a student at Cal) and she insists on wearing it as a bracelet, doubled twice around her wrist. i prefer it as a necklace on her, but what can you do?
    so, if you see a busy-looking student rushing around berkeley with an ‘earth’ necklace around her wrist, that’s my girl!
    thanks for the fun products and journal,
    Pam M.

  24. janharp

    Reading this was like getting a quick hug from a beloved sister… thanks!

  25. Sam

    I know that’s one reason I’m so glad to see my students each morning – even though I’m supposed to have very strict rules about talking in class, when we first gather there is that catch up time – especially after a weekend!
    This is a great reminder that we are all connected. I loved going to the post office each day, and always wanted to see ‘my lady’!

  26. Chrissy

    How about posts from new readers? I really enjoy your thoughts and open heart. I work in an office – but with all men. Your posts are a little spot of sunshine in my day.
    Thanks so much!

  27. Jennifer

    I know that lady. She’s so amazingly wonderful. She helped me a lot when I first moved to Berkeley. Very warm. Oh! and funny!!

  28. amy b.

    amen sister…. being a fellow solitary worker I see that I too treasure the first meeting of another person out there in the big world outside my studio, thanks for pointing that out!
    6 weeks!!!!! & thinking of you xo

  29. Savannah

    Erm… did I miss the announcement of the baby name?

  30. joleen

    Gah, I must be extra emotional today but this really (tears in the eyes)touched me… thank you for such a wonderful reminder!

  31. person of color

    “I laughed as her dark black skin and freckles scrinched up on her face in mock disgust”
    I really like reading your blog but I have to admit that part made me cringe. it made me wonder if the majority of folks reading this blog are white and if you have any friends in your personal circle that are people of color.
    much love,
    a reader of color

  32. Kathleen

    Thank you for this…it seems that with the pressures of life..working and motherhood…I forget how much I need to connect..in fact I find myself doing just the opposite…hibernating from people…and I guess..I just need to get out “more” cause…I “miss” those connections too…
    xxoKathleen

  33. emma

    Once again, Andrea, you’ve put into words – seemingly effortlessly – something I think about often, something I try to cherish and respect. Thank you for putting this out here.

  34. Jamie Johannemann

    Andrea…have you been reading my blog? we are definitely thinking along the same wavelength…I continually reflect on how lonely so many people are because they don’t reach out and connect with others.
    jamie
    http://jjjourneyahead.blogspot.com

  35. Meg

    ohhh. You made me cry. I’m getting so excited about the baby!!!! We haven’t seen a pregnant picture of you in AGES…
    And of course… like everyone else I want to know what the baby’s name is.
    oooooooohhhhhhh I’m so excited. for you, but also for me, because I L-O-V-E babys, and once you have one, I bet I’ll get to see lots of cute pictures on the blog.

  36. blackbird

    – sometimes I get dressed up…just to go to the ATM.

  37. Alison

    Like so many of your posts, and your photos, your words gave me pleasant thoughts and a warm connected smile. I appreciate you.

  38. Ann Marie

    This is the first time I’ve left you a comment, but I’ve been reading for awhile now. I always look forward to it. You are very inspiring and take beautiful photos.
    Ann Marie 🙂

  39. Christine

    your posts are so wonderful. always so wonderful. and even if you don’t always post regularly, everyday, it’s still okay. i fancy your method of blogging is much like how you are as a person. you seem the type to milk every last drop of something, making the most out of each post, and not rushing into another one just because you have so many readers. and i’m glad. you inspire me. i can’t wait to see your little guy!
    take care, andrea. 🙂

  40. danielle

    Andrea~ I work from home alone and I am so chatty with the few people I encounter during the day. I loved this post. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t chat so much with the woman at the check-out counter… but you reminded me that its ok…
    Take care,
    hope you are feeling well.

  41. Regina Clare Jane

    Hey, there are more of my starfish- thanks, Andrea!
    I think that’s been the hardest thing about losing my dad- the break in that connection that we had together. He mattered to me and he is missed. I know, I know… he’s always with me, blah, blah, blah… but I can’t talk to him on the phone anymore or visit him for Thanksgiving. Connections are the most important things we have as humans to other humans and sometimes you have to learn the hard way just how important a life lesson that is…
    Thanks for another wonderful post…

  42. Sara

    That picture is dreamy. I have that camera and I am truly a novice; I hope to take talented-looking pictures some day soon.
    My favorite pictures are those I take of my daughter. Even the blurry ones are cherished and I value have a camera that can make her “running out of the frame” shots semi-artful.
    Take care!

  43. sara

    am just back from a shopping trip with my friend Jeremy. neither of us know much about men’s suits. he needed a blazer. your post very helpfully reminded me that all the good people who chatted with us (and indeed, we made quite a lot of friends in the men’s department at macy’s tonight!) probably got something out of helping two smiling, friendly, and utterly clueless suit shoppers, even as they certainly helped us…
    this is my favorite story ever about how much we all crave connection. it makes me cry every time I read it (a number of times that is now well into double digits…):
    http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/content/articles/040209fi_fiction?040209fi_fiction
    lovelovemissmiss,
    s

  44. Jessica

    did I miss the name?

  45. kellyrae

    all i ever want to say to you is “thank you for getting it.”

  46. Silvia

    I always read your blog, but hardly ever leave a comment. I have no idea why not. Because I was so touched by this entry. It is all so true, it brought a tear to my eye. Thanks 🙂

  47. luzie

    Andrea, I’ve followed your blog for some time now. I don’t know why I have never commented before.. but I love your posts. They’re wonderfully written, so very insightful and true.

  48. m

    oh yes yes yes ! connections we all need it.
    One of the reasons why I email friends for no reason or send them postcards for no reason is that we are all cheered by these moments.

  49. muck

    bingo 🙂

  50. jean_christophe

    It’s very beautiful, as usual. Anyway, it’s always very beautiful here:)

  51. swampgrrl

    righteous, girl. i love stories like yours. these connections are the blood pulsing through our lives, without which we might very well die.
    thanks for the smile today!

  52. my pink sky

    yes. the threads of connection…thank you for this sweet reminder!

  53. colorsonmymind

    What a beautiful photo and message too.
    I guess I often leave here without commenting because I don’t think my comment among so many will matter, but I see that is silly now.
    Thanks
    Love to you

  54. Lucille

    Everything you said is so true. About 6 months after my maternity leave was over, back at work, I was really depressed and tired and overwhelmed, and I would only be going to work for 2 of 5 days (the other 3 I worked at home with the baby)… and I’d be sitting there in my office and sometimes wouldn’t see a soul all day (my office was in an annex, but just down the whole from about 50 other people and a short shuttle ride a mile down the road to the 1800 other employees)… but I’d sit there and I’d think, I should have just stayed home today, what’s the difference, I wasted gas and time commuting here, for what? To sit here in front of this monitor all day? I could have done that at home… So after a few weeks of that, I started doing just that. I started only coming in 1 day a week, and I’d rationalize that I needed to… And my boss (who worked in the main bldg the shuttle ride away)didn’t notice—because how could you? Email is email, you know? I did that for a good year, maybe more… And then about that time, someone, an old friend said how he never saw me anymore, he missed me… And I had this revelation suddenly, that even though it didn’t matter where I worked each day, that what did matter was connecting to people… And I couldn’t really connect if I ‘hid out’ at home as much as I was…
    So I started going back into work that 2nd day and in addition to that, I started asking people to go to lunch… I realized that it was as much my fault as anyone’s that I felt isolated in my office those 2 days… You have to get up off your duff and talk to people, you have to CONNECT. And I found that it was fun to talk to people again, and that people had missed me, and that those people needed connecting too…
    It’s been six months now since I had that revelation. I don’t have lunch with someone every week because sometimes you just need to work thru lunch so that you can leave on time… But I try to get out of my office and talk to people… Email isn’t really enough…
    Although blogs are great fun!!! Thanks for sharing!!! When is your due date again?

  55. owenora

    So true, but so hard to keep in mind. We all matter, from the heads of super powers getting along to not being bitchy in the line at the post office. We all have an effect.
    Congratulations on your baby. You are about to meet the love of your life.

  56. Dawn

    ok we won’t! hope you keep well for the remainder of your pregnancy. x

  57. Emma

    I have just been in the hospital for three weeks because i am diagnosed bi-polar and seem to get manic in the autumns (although i am starting to think that maybe i have the genetic make-up of a migratory bird and that if i could only find my flock of geese the massive energy surge i get wouldn´t be a problem – have not yet run this by my psych for obvious reasons) and it is really nice to be able to read again, although only in little chunks. So Andrea, your lovely blog is one of the ways for me to get back from where i was lost in the labryrinth, its a tea light smelling of mimosa in a niche in the tunnel wall or a glimpse of leaf filled light. A friend of mine had a big bouncing baby called George this morning, like you she has waited so long and struggled so hard in his making. I celebrate both of your joys and thank you for your attempt to ‘only connect’ that so many of us are very grateful for.

  58. nina

    this post was a gift to me today- thank you. in this crazy bloggie world, we are never alone.
    xo

  59. bek

    The checkers at my local grocery store are a huge part of my day. They know my kids by name. They are our first stop on our holiday card/cookie delivery route. You are right. Those people matter to me.

  60. jenn

    a,
    I love this story… it’s so true.
    Last wednesday I was feeling invisible… I felt like no one would notice me around at all. Then a friend called and said she needed to talk to me and it had to be that night. I was stuck in my own head thinking oh, she’s going to talk about herself all night and not even ask how I am. Well, when we got together she said she’d been thinking of me all day. She said she got engaged and wanted me to be her MOH. That she couldn’t imagine me not being a part of this journey she was starting. I couldn’t help but laugh and cry….
    That night I laid in bed thinking how even though I am 30 I still need that human connection. I still need people to tell me you are seen and loved, age hasn’t changed that at all. I think that I decided that night that it’s okay to ask for it too. I can call my friends and say I feel alone, I don’t have to wait for them to call me. For all I know they may be feeling alone too.
    Great photograph…. so pretty.

  61. little a

    whenever i’m sad/scared (they usually go hand in hand), i come to your blog for comfort. today was another one of those days. thank you for the rekindled hope (that, no matter what, things are going to be alright).

  62. Sarah Jane

    Well, how could I not comment on this post! So true and so often forgotten, we all matter. Every friendly gesture, smile, comment is important in keeping the connections. I must admit I sometimes go out of my way to avoid connections. I’m not sure why because when I do connect it makes me feel good.

  63. Shelley Noble

    Wonderful post, Andrea. You always say such valuable things.
    And oh is one of your readers right!!! Between your loving heart and artful skill as a photographer there are bound to be 1,000’s of incredible photos of our newest person on this site in the weeks and months to come!!
    Hooooray!!!

  64. michelle

    Thanks Andrea for another beautiful post. Connecting is so important, but can be so hard sometimes. 8 months ago my husband and I moved to a new country for him to take a great job, and 2 weeks later our first baby arrived. Being a new mum in a new country is lonely. I’m trying to get out and meet people, but I find “small talk” a bit depressing and it’s so easy to just stay home and play with my beautiful boy. But you have reminded me to keep trying – hopefully soon I’ll meet people that I click with.

  65. kim f

    lovely post. love your pics and your stories! Thanks for sharing this one.

  66. colleen

    Andrea, you are such an inspiration!
    And if you ever stop blogging, you’re totally gonna get it : )

  67. colleen

    Andrea, you are such an inspiration!
    And if you ever stop blogging, you’re totally gonna get it : )

  68. susannah

    when i’m feeling down or jaded, i look into my little boy’s eyes and give him a kiss and it all falls away. he is a constant reminder to me of all things good and love that exists in this world.

  69. S.

    YES!!! Working at home, I have felt like I have been slowly going insane these past couple of years, and getting out of the house feels like an entirely new life. I thought it was just me, and that there was something somehow shameful in this need to connect with people outside of my house…

  70. LD

    This is funny because I was thinking about how I relate to others in the past few months. It is also terribly timely as I will be the 3-5 in (wow) three days and will be officially “advanced maternal age”…but without the benefit of being pregnant – much to my mother’s dismay…
    I love your blog and the t-shirts I purchased!I feel like I am still connected to The Bay in some way reading it.
    Thank you for sharing…it truly is a joy to check in from time to time.
    Cheers

  71. Bek

    I *love* this post.
    The way that you write… makes me very happy!
    Bek x

  72. shauna

    yes.
    I sit home and write all day, and I’m thrilled to be doing it. But sometimes, I think that the clerks at the grocery store down the street, the people I nod to on my walks around the neighborhood, and the readers who leave comments on my website are what keep me sane. Thank goodness for each other.
    Thank you for reminding us.

  73. liz

    cute! so my life to a T!
    I was so sad when my post office guy retired. He was the most cheerful person I ever met. I had a feeling he was going to miss the people who greeted him back with a smile more than anything he has missed in his life.
    USPS runs will never be the same for me.

  74. kristine

    I love this. Yes, we definitely make a difference in ways we may not even realize… You have made a big impression on my life.

  75. Ashley

    You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself. I love what you have written here. I skip things alot…thinking that I won’t be missed. I know I regret it too. I regret not making those connections. I also take for granted the connections I can make in my own home if I just make the effort…with my kids, my husband, the dogs even. You have inspired me to be better. Thank you!
    And good luck with your sweet baby. They are gifts to be enjoyed and cherished.

  76. Ashley

    You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself. I love what you have written here. I skip things alot…thinking that I won’t be missed. I know I regret it too. I regret not making those connections. I also take for granted the connections I can make in my own home if I just make the effort…with my kids, my husband, the dogs even. You have inspired me to be better. Thank you!
    And good luck with your sweet baby. They are gifts to be enjoyed and cherished.

  77. Ali

    I think people are not only hungry for human connection, but starved for it! In some way, we are losing a bit of our ability to relate to others. I had a similar experience while walking to work (I also live in Berkeley). Someone said “Good Morning!” to me and I almost forgot how to react, but it felt incredibly good to have him acknowledge my presence. Thanks for being a daily inspiration…I hope you don’t mind if I added you to my favorite links.

  78. kate

    this is one of the most beautiful things I have read in a long time. thank you.
    I have been reading your blog for many months now, but I have never had the courage to respond. so here is my little voice saying “yes!” your words matter, and I am going to be brave and say mine do too.

  79. Shari

    You’re the best!

  80. Aurora

    I loved this post! And I love your pictures.

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