Pondering about the wonder of sonder

Have you ever sat at a red light and watched people cross the road in front of you? Ever wondered what their lives are like? Then you’ve pondered sonder.

Sonder is grist for the mill of human kindness, connecting us to the web of humanity. It’s an opportunity to recognise and interact, albeit at a distance, with the people around you.

Pedestrians each with their own vivid and complex life

So what’s sonder?

Sonder is defined as

the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk…

Sonder can be found in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, where John Koenig coins new words to fill a hole in our language – to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.

Winter is a wonderful time for pondering sonder. At least in the Macedon Ranges where I live. It’s cold. Time to stay inside. My office buddies cram around the heater or watch the rain through the window. Not so many pedestrians passing. Though the dogs let me know as soon as anyone dares to use the street.

From the background to the foreground

I’ve spent a great deal of time pondering about sonder of late. I think about people, a lot, both imaginary and real as I’m writing. And that remarkable moment when people move from the background to the foreground of our lives.

There is a brilliant and helpful group of people on Twitter to whom I am very grateful –  the #WritingCommunity –  and amongst those –  the excellent #AusWrites crew  –  and a fabulous subset of those  –  the #6amAusWriters.

The #6amAusWriters are dedicated authors all (some might say ‘mad fools all’) who get up to write at 6am, sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes an hour or more before we go off to our day jobs. And while the early rising is sometimes impelled by small humans or lack of sleep, still the crew, or a proportion of it, is there most mornings with words of encouragement, supporting and sharing a little of their vivid and complex lives with me and each other.

More than an extra

But it’s when we’re prepared to go to the next step; to move beyond being ‘an extra sipping coffee in the background’ of someone’s life, that the nugget of magic unfurls like the promise of sunshine in Spring.

Furn unfurling like magic

Taking one such chance to get to know another writer on Twitter, I’ve ended up collaborating on a whole novel. We’ve just completed our first draft of a supernatural thriller that pursues our characters around some of Australia’s most iconic locations as they endeavour to solve the mystery of the opal key. So much fun, and now he knows so much more about my ‘routines, worries and inherited craziness’ and I about his.

Now the #6amAusWriters and a sprinkle of others are composing an anthology of Aussie Christmas stories. We’ve moved from being passersby to being key characters, sharing a little about our writing, our ambitions and ourselves. Planting more seeds of magic.

How about sonder? Ever wondered what kind of life the person walking by you might have? Is it time to open the door to one or two or ten?

Thanks for reading

Veronica

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Time for fun! And that means what exactly?

You should have more fun!

What on earth does that mean? Fun according to who?

Can you see where this is going?

The sound of ‘should’ tends to bring my shoulders up to my ears. I figure I’m getting a little long in the tooth to be told what I should and shouldn’t do. So when someone (especially me) tells me I ‘should’ do something, it’s a flag to stop, reflect and reconsider. Who says I should do it? Why? Continue reading

Breathe in deeply, breathe out, repeat.…

So, I’m a published author, I made that dream a reality. What else is possible?

Breathe in deeply, breathe out.

If I can write and publish a book after dreaming about it for decades, then I believe anyone can. If I can survive sharing with the world the deepest hurt of my life and how I found my way home—what else is possible?

That’s what I kept asking myself just before I fell into a big emotional puddle the other day. Up to my neck drowning; again. Tears close to the surface, fear and anxiety rising, the joy disappearing under a tidal wave of overwhelm.

Breathe in deeply, breathe out.

Continue reading

Is it time to show up for your own story?

There’s something magical about telling a story, and my dream has always been to write stories. Until recently, story writing was just that, a dream. But it’s a dream no longer; my book is finished and it’s being published soon.

My story is Breathing While Drowning, a memoir of my life so far. My heroine’s journey into despair, trials, tribulation and my quest for healing and return to living a vibrant and remarkable life, a life worthy of my attention. Continue reading

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Ask for help for my stuff? Yoikes no! I’m fine thanks, I’ll manage. And I usually do; manage that is. I don’t know about you, but I find it so much easier to do things for other people than for myself.

I’ve found not asking for help for my own stuff, my most difficult habit to break. It just doesn’t come naturally. I have a tough time holding myself accountable for my own dreams, they tended to be last on my list and so often not done, leaving me more and more frustrated and stressed from the Zeigarnik Effect. Continue reading

Are you on track and still feeling stuck?

Human beings need to know where we’re going, we like a clear direction and a sense of certainty that we’re going to get somewhere – eventually.  We’re mostly content when we feel we have some control over our present and our future and are heading in the right direction – towards wherever it is we want to go, or whoever it is we want to be.

Now for quite a while I’ve had a pretty good sense of my life’s direction, and who I want to be.  My most joyful work is nurturing the spark of magnificence in people and giving them the confidence to find a dream and go after it.  I love this work and I love running my own business (OK three businesses).  Most days I’m clear, I’m on track, I’m motivated and ploughing through the work right on plan (I’m a coach and a project manager, I love a plan). Continue reading

What’s your one word?

Someone asked me the other day what my one word was.  What word was the anchor in my life?  The word that everything else is built on?

Great question.

I’d been speaking about what I do and why I do it.

I help people find their strengths and capabilities and to realise they have the potential to change their lives and the lives of others.  I do this with individuals, teams and organisations in lots of different ways; coaching, training, facilitating, being a change catalyst.  I give people the confidence to take action, to live and lead consciously. Continue reading

Do you have any evolutionary friendships?

A few years ago I came across the term ‘evolutionary friends’ in a course on feminine power by Claire Zammit and Katherine Woodward Thomas.

Over your life friendships will come and go and come and stay.

And then once in a while you’ll discover that you have an evolutionary friend.

Evolutionary friends are those amazing souls who’re prepared to see you through the personal transformation changes in your life.  These friends have boundless integrity and are prepared to go on the journey with you and to hold you and themselves accountable for following your dreams and becoming the person you’d like to be.  Evolutionary friends help you find and stand in your strength and power and cheer at your successes.  And they’re prepared to have the difficult conversations when you fail or slip into old behaviours. Continue reading

Our self-doubt is a traitor

My life belongs to me. What I think, feel, do and believe matters. But what happens when what you think and feel and do sends you into a nosedive rather than filling you with joy?

Most of the time I’m an optimist but I’ve been listening to Doubting Doris, Impatient Ivy and Procrastination Pattie way too often – together they’re the DIP. And when I listen to them I find myself doubting, impatient and procrastinating – a lot! Continue reading