A Precious Penny …

You know the old saying … ‘a penny for your thoughts’?  Well, I’d like to switch it up  and offer my ‘thoughts about a penny’.  A very precious Penny.  I’m not even sure how many years we’ve been doing it, but it’s become a very important tradition for us to sit and sip a little coffee together before the hustle and bustle of our workdays begins.

And, honestly, it’s become one of my favorite parts of the day. There is something so sublime about intentionally carving out a sacred space for some candid, honest and transparent sharing  … creating a conversational container to humbly honor our challenges and/or our curiosities.  And we have many of both … we are women and wives and mothers and daughters and friends and colleagues and travelers and theorists and philosophers. We have passions and fears and joys and sorrows and infinite wonderings about unknowable things. And, since we are both well ‘over the hill,‘ we have more than 1/2 of a century to reflect upon … ❤

Over the years, we have thoughtfully pondered the perplexing particulars of current events and politics and relationships and religion and parenting and social media and, perhaps the most daunting topic of them all, the unfamiliar terrain of our own internal landscapes. We’ve queried the quandaries about why things are the way the are … and … why they aren’t the way they aren’t … and … how we think they ought to be. And, although we’ve conceded that we’d make lousy CEOs of the Universe … we’ve definitely got oodles of ideas that might be worthy of consideration in the grander scheme of living and loving and learning.  Just sayin … 🙂

And as I reflect upon all of that, one of the things I most appreciate about you Penny is your absolute candor.  You truly are ‘so effortlessly yourself’ in a world where authenticity is often tucked tightly behind the social masks we don on a daily basis. So many of us stay veiled behind beautiful but culturally sanctioned masks … desperately yearning to tear them off on one hand, and yet on the other hand, achingly afraid to remove them for fear of being rejected, ostracized or shamed for who we really are under the polished veneer.

The world doesn’t make much room for us to speak straight up from our hearts … unless we comfortably conform to the norms of our spaces.  That is why it is so refreshing to spend time with you Penny.  You invite people to be real … to be authentic … to be true.  And, you create a safe and welcome space for us to do so.  And, I savor these moments of genuine transparency. It is rare to find such places in the world where one can unabashedly embrace their own uncertainties.  It is unusual to find such intimate spaces of discussion where a commitment to compassionate curiosity (for what we can’t personally understand) overrides snap judgments of others and/or uninvestigated biases. I value and admire your cautious, considerate and thoughtful efforts to honor differences without sacrificing honesty.

And, as much as I deeply respect your integrity and courage to speak about things that are so often silenced in our culture, I absolutely admire your uncanny capacity to frequently wrap such queries and/or observations with enough humor to leave us doubled up in laughter. It happens a lot!  And, in this moment, I am recalling one especially delightful conversation … pertaining to a particular kind of “fall out.”  The exchange left us howling ’til our sides hurt. I’d attempt to re-tell it here but 1) I’d never, ever do it justice and 2) I think you had to be there to really capture the hilarity of that moment!  This is why I loath to miss out on our early morning coffee date … there are so many conversations that just can’t be replicated. They are often precocious, invariably priceless and inevitably unrepeatable … in more ways than one!  🙂

Oh my … reflecting on those conversations reminds me to thank you for enriching my vocabulary with all kinds of exciting new expressions … words like ‘gob-smacked’ and ‘wanker’ (did I spell that right ?? … can I say that here??).  And, of course, along with your British accent, your breadth of experience and extensive world travel adds a very welcome and atypical flavor to our conversations. I revere your willingness to twirl perceptions about and tease them out gingerly before arriving at conclusions.

And, over time, our conversations have run the whole emotional gamut  … from wails of laughter clear through to some tears. I have fond memories of tender times between us … when the challenges of daily living left me feeling fragile and alone.  But you were there.  I have learned I can really count on you to be solid and supporting … even checking in on me later (via Facebook message, or a rap on my office door, or simply a knowing glance and smile).  Thank you, Penny, for holding me so safely and kindly and  compassionately when I have been feeling vulnerable and frail and weak and uncertain.

All in all, I hope you are hearing how much I treasure the depth of our relationship Penny. Its such a blessing to be able to embrace all the aspects of myself in your presence … both the desirable and undesirable, the acceptable and the unacceptable, the good and the bad. I can drop my mask in your presence Penelope Hopkins. And for that I am so truly grateful.  There are not very many people one can do that with … so the value of that gift is not at all lost on me. I know my life is better … because of you, because of our friendship … and because of who you welcome me to be in your presence.

Thank you for being such a precious part of my world … Karen

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