connected hearts

Connected Hearts: A Personal Journey

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The Connected Hearts Philosophy

Connection: We all need it to thrive and flourish.

In my Connected Hearts philosophy, there are three layers. First, we connect with ourselves. We get in touch with our inner voice of truth and the sense of self that comes from the inside, not from pressures of ideas on the outside. Next, we connect with others. This means engaging with family members, friends, teachers, mentors, co-workers, etc. We become aware of the ways we contribute to our relationships with other people, as well as our needs, wishes, and desires in these connections.

Then, we connect with community. Here, we recognize the ways that we relate to and serve humanity. Communities can be small and intimate, like Boy Scout troops or spiritual groups, or they can be neighborhoods, schools, or cities.

I think of these layers as three concentric hearts that operate like a “ripple effect” of connection and responsibility. The inner heart represents the Self, and this connection serves and informs connection to others– the middle heart. Likewise, our connection to others, motivates us to connect with and participate in communities that matter to us, represented by the outermost heart.
connection heart

 

Today, I share a personal process that illustrates the way Connected Hearts has shown up in my own life and has been a tool for greater harmony and peace. It is my hope that this story and the Connected Hearts process can be a tool for your own self-reflection, self-awareness, and goal-setting. Thank you for witnessing me!

Connecting with Myself

During my eighth year of classroom teaching, I really started to listen to a part of myself that I had been pushing down, ignoring, silencing for a few years. Finally, I was listening because my body and mind no longer had the energy to shut this voice down.

As I listened, I began to accept that I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I let these sensations take up space. Through this process,  it became clear to me that my gifts for empathy and sensitivity were being used up at a rate that was unsustainable, and I was unable to refuel.

I also heard a more concrete message: It is okay for me to leave the classroom. This came with the affirmation that I would still be a loving, passionate, creative human if I decided to make my eighth year my last year  of teaching (for now).

 

connection with self

 

Once I determined that I would leave my school and the classroom, I spent a lot of time considering what would be healing and soothing, what kind of self-care I needed. I sorted through my vast experience as an educator and named my gifts and talents. Specifically, I came to back to my empathic and highly-sensitive nature with a lens of love. I offered appreciation to myself for the ways these gifts served me, my students, and my campuses over years.

I truly connected with myself— the light, the shadow, and everything in between.

Connecting with Others

With this renewed relationship with myself, I began to consider my relationships and my contributions. I acknowledged that my sensitivity is what helped me gauge when a student was having an “off day” or was facing stress or another big emotion. Additionally, I named the ways that my gift of empathy allowed me to listen to each student with patience and compassion. I was excited to witness my agency within the many relationships I built and maintained each day. (Don’t get me wrong, I made mistakes, missed connections, or expressed frustration from time to time just like any other human.)

Over time, I also became aware of the ways that I was blocking connections with coworkers because of insecurities about belonging. When I wasn’t truly listening to my inner voice, I was making decisions about myself, including what others thought or felt about me, that were influenced by external factors— real or imagined. While there was a lot of light in my relationships, there was plenty of darkness and struggle to face as well.

 

Connection with Others

 

I honestly assessed of my connections with other people. Whether connections were flowing or stagnant, I was becoming aware and feeling empowered to own my responsibility.

Connecting with Community

As I developed this nonjudgemental, yet honest, reflection of my life as a teacher, it became apparent that contribution to community massively influences my happiness and joy. Witnessing groups of students in raw conversation about life as a teenager brings me deep joy. Facilitating restorative circles about big life topics and ideas gives me so much hope. Additionally, I recognized my own power to create and participate in community.

Sometimes this meant gauging the energy in the room and adding breathwork or a brain-break into my lesson. Other times it meant writing permanent hall passes for the lunch bunch that developed in my classroom. Larger scale, this meant collaborating with other teachers, attending school board meetings, and running a community service club. I love witnessing and participating in collective energy.

 

community connection

 

Here, in the third stage of the process, I connected my school and local community. The  three layers of self, others, and community influence one another, and with this awareness, I was headed towards a life of intentional living.

With all of his new awareness, I did, in fact, decide to leave the classroom! Shortly after, I started my business as a Life Coach for Teens and Parents— emphasizing my gifts for building relationships and my passion for being in community. Being deeply in-tune with myself, supported intentional and shift in my outer world, and over time, this ability to listen and focus on connection has influenced my entire perception of myself and the world.

Connection is a Dynamic Process

The process of Connected Hearts is not static or always clearly defined because life is dynamic. I have broken down one of my own powerful, personal experiences as a way to illustrate the parts of this process.

Again, I hope that you and your children or teens can begin to notice how connection informs your life. As you explore, you notice which connections support you in thriving, as well as areas of life that feel disconnected or confused. I invite you to use my Connected Hearts framework as a reflection tool, both individually and as a family. Reach out to me if you’d like to process this together or begin on a journey of reflection with your family.

 

As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care, growing alongside their children, and developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their rapidly-changing child is creating. Through Intentional Parents of Tweens and Teens, an online membership for parents of adolescents, Courtney offers parents the time and space to learn, grow, problem-solve, and relate to one another in a supportive community. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease. Stay in touch here: http://courtneyharriscoaching.com/, https://www.facebook.com/courtneyharrisedconnect/, https://www.instagram.com/courtneyharriscoaching/

 

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Author: Courtney Harris

As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney helps young people get out of worry, isolation, and anxiety and into connection. Through coaching, tweens, teens, and young adults find their voice and grow confidence as they explore their sense of self and personal power. With a Master's in Special Education, and 10 years of teaching experience, including Social and Emotional Learning, Courtney brings vast knowledge of the teenage brain and effective family interventions to her coaching practice. As a Positive Discipline Parent Educator, Courtney supports parents in exploring kind but firm methods for leading their children and teens; simultaneously, she lovingly guides parents in maintaining self-care and growing alongside their children. Clients who work with Courtney have the opportunity to connect more deeply to themselves and others. Ultimately, families who work with Courtney achieve improved communication, deeper trust, and greater peace. http://courtneyharriscoaching.com/ https://www.facebook.com/courtneyharrisedconnect/ Download your free support system map here: https://mailchi.mp/fb19ad5510b4/supportsystem

9 Replies to “Connected Hearts: A Personal Journey

  1. Such a nice read! I think this mirrors the quote “You have to love your self in order to love others”…which I believe to be true. I think connection is so important in our well-being! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I’m so glad you connected with the post! Yes, this is definitely an essential piece of well-being.

  2. I love that you consciously chose to listen- really listen to yourself. Sometimes we get bogged down with all our “to-dos” that we don’t pay attention to how we actually feel.

  3. I love reading things that cause me to stop, think and examine myself. The concentric circle imagery is on point and great for visualization. 🙂 Thanks so much for this.

    1. Wow! I’m so glad that this tool is helpful for you! It’s a work in progress and reflection for me always.

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