For Thanksgiving dinner 2022, I made conversation cards to use during our sit-down meal.
Some might find that strange or unnecessary, but when a family goes through a traumatic event, the aftereffects can make holiday rituals, including dinner conversation, difficult.
Never had an old Tupperware dish filled with scraps of paper held so much value. Based on my family’s response to the first question I pulled out of the bowl, I sensed my homemade cards would successfully fill awkward silences and steer us away from tender topics.
Those conversation cards were a game changer that day – not just because they created an inclusive and welcoming dinner environment – but also because they helped us remember what we cherished about each other. They also helped us learn things we didn’t know after a year of growth.
This Thanksgiving, my family didn’t need cards to make conversation, but we had some. I was gifted with two sets of thoughtful, entertaining, and beautifully made conversation cards. My friend, Jessica, created these cards through her small business, Lumitory.
Although a great deal of healing has happened over the past year for my family, the cards brought an extra spark of life to the table, not to mention a great deal of laughter too. I noticed that long after the plates were emptied, people stayed at the table.
“Just one more question,” my daughters kept saying. It was one of the best experiences we shared as a family this year.
When I tried to describe to a friend what made these particular cards so impactful, I couldn’t find the words. Luckily, the owner of the printing company that printed the cards did. Chris told Jessica that he doesn’t normally read all the materials he is printing, but he took time to read every single one of the cards.
“This is what the world needs more of,” Chris told Jessica. “We need more opportunities to connect and build community.”
This is what the world needs more of.
I thought about my friend Alice Kajoina who recently filled a large order of BEADS OF STRENGTH bracelet sets for my online community. Since meeting meeting Alice on a Learning Trip to Rwanda with African Road in 2018, she and have corresponded weekly, sharing the ups and downs of life.
In the fall, Alice shared that her son was getting married in January, and she would be expected to host the family introductions in her modest home. Alice expressed concern about the condition of her floor, which is currently made of dirt. Around the same time, Scott had presented several employees with a stack of Alice’s bracelets at a special recognition event. Hearing the remarkable story of the woman who made the bracelets touched the recipients deeply. Alice and I wondered if my online community would be interested in buying sets of bracelets to fund the installation of a tile floor in her home.
Sure enough, the orders came quickly—so quickly that I worried Alice couldn’t fill them all.
“Don’t worry,” Alice said. “I have many helpers.”
Alice was referring to the Brave Girls, a group she started in 2019. She’d noticed other women in her community struggling to make ends meet, so Alice took it upon herself to teach them to sew and make handcrafts so they could market their wares and earn income. The purpose of their gatherings goes far beyond creating product; it’s about creating hope through community.
As Alice and the Brave Girls worked to fill this recent large order, I received heartwarming updates:
• “Five ladies, two young girls, and myself worked hard till late evening, and it was such a good time as we shared stories. It has been long since we worked on beads together!”
• “I took to Sam, an expert in cutting paper, for accuracy so the size of the beads are all the same.”
• “I put the bracelets into stacks. Resty and Catherine select bracelets that go well together to ease the work.”
• “Brave Girls are happy they get to earn from bracelets. It boosts them so much.”
• “Don't worry, Rachel; we are all enjoying the work and our time together!”
This is what the world needs more of.
I sat down the other day and went through the results of the travel survey in which I invited you to participate last month. My hope is to expand my retreats and gatherings to places my online community has asked me to visit, like the West Coast and possibly some international locations. On the survey, there was a space where respondents could type in their WHY. As I read through the responses, tears filled my eyes:
- I’d love to feel I am in a safe space to be truly me with my thoughts and hopes to move forward.
- I'd love to spend time with Rachel and make new friends.
- I would like to develop personally so I can return what I’ve learned by coming along side others and supporting them.
- Travel with great community, friendships and fun
- Make connections, share struggles and joys, support
- Soul filling experience with one of my greatest teachers and like-minded community of travelers
- A fresh perspective on life, hope for the future, encouragement and understanding from other big feeling people
- Experience bonding with women and see new sights in the US and the world
- Shared time. Community.
Over and over, the same words kept coming up on the survey:
This is what the world needs – wants – more of.
My friends, living in a fractured society with complex atrocities, conflicting viewpoints, too much information, and too little wisdom creates deep disconnection. It would be so easy to pull back from each other… to stop trusting… to stop reaching… to stop believing in the power of community…. and yet, I am reminded by Alice, this online community, and my very own family that human connection is critical to healing and thriving.
“Our babies will eventually enroll in Brave Girls,” Alice once told me, and that beautiful vision has stuck with me.
Seldom do we, as human beings, ever feel ready or equipped for the heartaches and challenges will we face, which is is why we must never stop connecting with each other, even when words don’t come easy.
One more question… one more story… one more invitation…
This is what the world needs more of.
My friends, the results of the survey revealed California in the fall was the overwhelming top pick for our first destination retreat! In September, I am thrilled to be leading a small group (overseen by a professional guide) through Yosemite, Sequoia, and Big Sur. You can read all about the trip by clicking here and sign up to be notified when registration opens for early bird pricing on December 27. Because of the nature of the trip, (participatory camping), the group number is small, but if there is enough interest, I hope this is the beginning of more connective trips together.
Please remember a small group is also gathering in the beautiful Berkshires in April at Kripalu to experience true, authentic, soul-building connection through my Soul Shift workshop. Here is feedback from two recent participants:
“Dear Rachel, when I left the retreat, something had changed. I didn't trust it, but weeks later, I'm still existing in the world differently. The key that you handed me was a way to be nicer to myself. I cannot describe what a weight was lifted off through the reframing exercise you taught us.”
“Dear Rachel, the other morning I found myself feeling joyful. With the #SoulShift music playing, I began dancing. For five whole minutes, I twirled myself around the kitchen. There have been countless moments over the past 15 years that I have wondered if I was enough for any given situation or social moment. That five minutes marked a new beginning of truly seeing myself differently and LOVING ME. I can feel the soul shift you described at the retreat happening.”
Click here to register for Kripalu. Space is limited so please don't wait if you would like to come.
Last but not least, if you are interested in purchasing Jessica’s beautiful conversation cards, please use the special link she provided for our community. Use the code CONNECTION15 at checkout for a 15% discount. Orders received by December 17 will arrive by December 25.
Thank you for all your support and love, dear ones. My hand in yours.