View this email in your browser
Dear Friend,

Some years ago, I was facilitating a group for a local organization whose whole focus is creating connection among diverse groups of people. There was, indeed, diversity in this small conference room that I shared with the group for several weeks in a row. They came from different parts of the world, had different religious backgrounds and professions, different sexual identities and ideas about parenting.

This group, though, was completely aligned on the political front and the conversation kept devolving to include a “them” representing those who vote on the opposite end of the spectrum.

I broke script and asked them to describe what they see as American values. I listed their responses down the center of a giant sheet of paper. To one side, I wrote their ideas for how such values are expressed in this country and in their lives.

Then I asked them to list what they imagined the Them would describe as American values. After a stammering, staggering start, they ultimately agreed that the list was all but identical. It was the expression of those values where we found divergence.

They agreed, for example, that Freedom was an essential descriptor of America for both sides, but for one, it might include expressions that include every imaginable iteration of a family, body autonomy, and unfettered access to books. For the other, it might include faith-based decision-making in politics, business regulated only by a free economy, and unfettered access to firearms.

Same values. Different expressions.

There was less Them in the group after that. There was more curiosity.

This is the opportunity and challenge of empathy, this recognition of where we overlap as humans which can, simultaneously, lead to a sense of connection with others while also provoking the discomfort of facing complexity head-on.

It’s not that the Them is made up of blood-thirsty, quasi-humans who are entirely unrelatable. It’s that they’re humans whose blend of nature, nurture, processing and influence led them to a different place. Sometimes, a far different place.

And yes, sometimes a problematically different place.

To find ways to connect despite these problematic differences isn’t about being Pollyanna or generous or anything like that. Instead, it’s the way we counteract the trend toward polarization and disconnection.

It’s the way we create space to build toward something instead of spending all of our energy battling one another.

It’s the way away from the Them.

boundaries & connection

The counterintuitive reality is that boundaries are essential to creating connection rather than inevitably creating distance. By sharing where our limits are, for example, we help people treat us with respect… as respect looks like to us. Just as with values, the same idea can have a wide variety of expressions.

At Theresa’s childhood home, there were no tank tops at the dinner table. That would be disrespectful. Elbows on the table were fine.

In my childhood home, it was the opposite – what we were wearing was what we were wearing but the elbows were tucked by our sides.

It’s contextual and ultimately nonsensical… except to those of us to whom it does make sense.

The subtext of boundaries may well be, “I don’t need you to understand this but I do need you to respect it.”

Chris, Anthony and I touched on these ideas in last week’s Chomp & Chat.

This week, my invitation comes from another podcast, an episode of On Being with poet/author/professor Ocean Vuong who asked:

When the apocalypse comes, what will you put into the vessel of the future?


why 30 minutes with strangers?

I’ve often wondered at what, exactly, it is that some people find so compelling about Chomp & Chat. This episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, Relationships 2.0: The Power of Tiny Interactions gave me a bit of an ah-hah when she talked about the loss of weak contacts during the pandemic, those moments of low-risk warm-fuzzies of connecting with other humans.

This is exactly what Chomp & Chat ultimately does; it’s a space where people with some overlapping interests (at least enough to read this email) can connect for the low-risk time-frame of 30 minutes.

Here in Virginia, our cars were  covered with frost this morning and our dog still hasn't budged from the nest of blankets she made for herself on the couch. What she likes less - sweaters or being cold - remains to be seen.

I wish you warm layers or whatever analog for your climate today. Most of all, may you be warm in your heart.

With love and gratitude for all you are,

p.s. Scroll all the way down for a grungy song on boundaries.


Ways to engage with The Bigger Badder Crew
(and/or help me keep the lights on!)

Chomp & Chat every Wednesday!

The Bigger Badder Book Club!

Saturday, December 10 | 11am ET/8am PT

Coaching! With Me!

How about a recent testimonial from Karen Chase, author, speaker, brand designer?

"With SB as your guide, folks from any career, or on any career path, will find a joyful, nurturing, and strongly encouraging coach. With tangible, tactical, and often fun exercises between sessions, she helps us work on a clearer way forward to our own happy places."

And you can, of course, share these emails! I make them just for you... and folks like you!

hit forward |
use this link

It's amazing to me that this song is only six years old. I swear I heard this band in 1994 at Somewhere Else Tavern, the all-ages dive where I spent as much time as possible as a teen.

Forward to Friend
Copyright © 2022 SB Rawz, biz & empowerment coach, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp