FIND YOUR PEOPLE

TIP OF THE MONTH – FEBRUARY 2012

Dina Colman, Four Quadrant Living (A Danville Area Sustainable Business)

It’s 9pm on a Tuesday night and I’m at a veterinary hospital to meet a dog that I might adopt. This particular vet is open until midnight and they work a lot with rescue organizations. The rescue group that I contacted told me that I could meet the dog before she got spayed if I wanted to meet that evening. Nine o’clock at night seemed a little late to me, but the dog had just been listed on Petfinder.com and I found myself saying “yes”.

As I sat and watched these rescue people do their work, I thought to myself, “I get it”. I get why they are here working so hard to save these lives. I understand that it doesn’t matter that it’s 9pm; the lives need to be saved. I’m an animal person. I have always had a soft spot for cats and dogs. When I married my husband, the one condition was that I would always have a four legged companion in my life (to date, it’s been cats). I have worked at and volunteered with a couple of animal rescue organizations in my life. As I waited to meet my future pup (yes, it was an instant love connection), I thought that some might look at these people and not really get it. Why would someone willingly be out so late to help a dog or cat they didn’t even know? As I sat there, I had this feeling come over me that these are “my people”. I ended up being there until 11pm, volunteering to photograph the just rescued shelter animals so they could be posted on Petfinder for faster adoption.

Who are “your people”—the people who understand your passion, beliefs, and/or values without you even having to say a word? These are the people that you can completely relate to. You can be authentic around them and not have to pretend to be someone else or downplay who you are. Is it your fellow cyclists? Knitting group? Breast cancer survivors? Church members? Mom’s group? Foodies?

I started running five years ago because I wanted to run a marathon. Running has changed my life. Sure, it keeps me in shape and calms my stress, but it has provided me with a whole new social network. My husband took up running not too long after I started. We joke that if we had known how many friends we’d make from running, we would have taken it up a lot sooner. Since I started running, I have run 6 marathons. Sometimes I feel like my family doesn’t really understand all that I get from running. My perception is that they think I’m obsessive about it and worry that I am harming my body. I often feel like when they are visiting me or I am visiting them, I have to sneak in my runs. I feel like I can’t just be me about it. I have to downplay all that running is and does for me. But my running people get it. I don’t have to explain why I love running. They just know.

Now that I’m a new dog owner, I’m seeing that I have a new “people”. There is a whole subculture when you own a dog that I previously had no idea existed. I’ve had my dog for just a week now and I’ve already met five dog-owning neighbors I had never met before. I’ve also talked the ears off of my dog-owning friends, asking advice and sharing the craziness of the first week with my new pup. They get it.

My husband says it’s the same for cyclists. He had his bike parked at a coffee shop and a fellow cyclist asked him how he liked his style of pedals. They then ended up having a conversation about rides, races, and injuries. I can imagine it’s also true for foodies, as I’ve seen it with my friend Doug. He loves to talk food. Whereas I might say, “We had a delicious salmon dinner last night”, Doug would give me a five minute explanation about how the meal was prepared (down to the ingredient list and steps). I always wonder if Doug thinks I’m actually retaining any of this. I’m guessing another foodie would be able to follow along and replicate the meal later on.

The point is, spending time with your people—people who get who you are at some fundamental level—allows you to be authentic. You don’t have to feel like you have to hide a part of yourself or downplay something you are passionate about. It’s okay if you talk for 30 minutes about the woes of your running feet or stories of how your dog is the cutest and smartest dog ever. They get it. Spending time with your people is good for your health.

Are you earth-conscience?  Are we your people?  If so, join a lively mixture of ‘green people’ from Danville, San Ramon and beyond. Join us for Green Drinks at Tower Grill on Tuesday, February 28th 5-7pm.  Come along and you’ll be made welcome. More information www.sustainabledanville.com.

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News

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