draw a wider circle

Draw a Wider Circle

I’ve previously shared some of the aphorisms my dad said over and over (and over and over…) while my sisters and I were growing up. This week I put one of them to good use.

Draw a wider circle.

This was said to us whenever we’d whine The other kids won’t play with me! or They’re leaving me out! or Nobody likes me! My parents knew, wisely, that often it was the case of us excluding ourselves, making assumptions about others. Dad counseled us to instead assume that the other kids were just WAITING for us to join them, to just join in gleefully and confidently.

draw a wider circle

I didn’t really get that back then, as a kid, but the advice has served me well  as an adult. Dad’s voice would whisper to me at work gatherings when I was the newbie and surely everyone else had all the friends and colleagues they needed. At cocktail parties where I felt I’d rather hug the wall than interrupt a formed group.

Draw a wider circle. Include yourself in it.

And I would. Hand out, I’d introduce myself and smile, faking confidence in myself and in the group’s willingness to open itself up to me.  I can’t remember it not working. I do remember it being hard. Each time.

I did it again this week — I risked rejection and awkwardness.

I was in Atlanta for a business meeting. My last night there I realized that one of my Facebook friends, someone in another part of the adoption triad, lived in Atlanta.

Now, this person and I haven’t hung out together much online. And you might say that regarding the one field we both play on, we are on opposing sides. There were plenty of assumptions that could be made about each other. Still, kind words had been exchanged on occasion, which led to an arm’s length friendship on Facebook.

Hmmm, I thought. Should I make contact? Extend an invitation for something benign and short like coffee?

Draw a wider circle.

What the hell. I had nothing to lose. If she snorted in disgust, I’d never know. I’d use a little humor and give her an out in case it got awkward.

I just figured out you’re in Atlanta. I’m here until tomorrow afternoon. I know it would be weird to meet (Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!), but if you’d like to and are able to have coffee tomorrow, I would be happy to meet you.

Not only did the answer come back as yes, but it was practically a Hell Yes. And not only did I meet Jeni, but I also met her dog Gracie Mae as well. And not only did we have coffee, we ended up having lunch. And not only did we spend the morning together, we spent the afternoon together, too.

I was hesitant, when she offered to drive me to the airport, to impose on her. Then Jeni said the words any adoptive or birth mother cannot withstand hearing from an adoptee:

What!? Are you rejecting me? Don’t you you like me? Are you going to abandon me?

We dissolved into peals of laughter. I knew then she was sincere about driving me and I was thrilled to have an extra couple of hours with my new friend.

My Dad’s a smart one. I got an entire perfect day out of his advice.

(And thanks to Jeni, I got 5 People magazines to read on the plane!)


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39 thoughts on “Draw a Wider Circle”

  1. Oh, I love that, Lori.

    Draw a wider circle. I’ve met your Dad and I can hear him say that. And if you and I didn’t already subscribe to the “Draw a Wider Circle” maxim, you’d never have a ride to the airport when you come to Phoenix.

    Come to Phoenix, Buddy!!!

  2. That will be good advice for my little one. We have an incipient mean girl living next door, who keeps coming over to play with my girl and then running off to play with the older girl down the street without inviting my girl. It annoys the crap out of me, and I hate to hear “Why doesn’t she want to play with me?” and “Why doesn’t she like me?” And I keep telling her that some people are just concerned with themselves and that she is better to know what they look like now. Draw a wider circle…

    How wonderful that you found a wider circle – and a new friend….and some People magazines. 😉

  3. Soooo great!!! I’ve ‘met’ a couple of girlfriends on line that I’ve really connected with and would love to see them in person. So awesome of you to take that ‘risk’ and look how great it turned out! Wise words your dad shared. 🙂

  4. Dad had SO many very wise sayings. Even though it bugged us each time he said them (over and over again), he gave some really good advice that has helped me a lot.

    I smile each time one of his sayings rolls off my tongue, and my kids roll their eyes, just like I probably did. Sometimes they’ll even say, “You sound just like Grandpa.”

    But I have the satisfaction of knowing that my kids will probably repeat these wise words to their kids too…and their kids will be all the wiser for it.

    Does “draw a wider circle” include wise sayings and grand-kids/great grand-kids?

  5. What fantastic advice. And some I need to follow more. Because it’s never not worked. But it’s never not been hard. But sometimes, as you point out here, the payoff is so worth it. So glad you took the risk and were rewarded with good company and a good day. And mags for the plane!

  6. It sounds like you and I are a lot alike in this area. I very rarely draw a wider circle. I usually just stick with my tiny circle and end up getting hurt when I find I’m the only one standing in it. I will try to remember your dad’s advice. It certainly paid off this time for you! So happy for you. 😀


  7. this story made me SMILE BIG..because this is HOW we should all be living , with our hands and hearts OUT, making a wider circle. So glad you got to have that kind of day with a friend and be able to tell us a story with a lesson in it. PERFECT all around. xo

  8. Love this. I have been practicing keeping my circle expanding the past few years…and as my Dad says (dads are wise) I “collect people”-and I love that sentiment. Glad you had this experience 🙂

  9. That’s awesome! Wonderful advice that I think I’ll use as a shy, insecure girl. I have had that attitude not work though… Only recently with a particularly awful girl at work. She just literally ignores those kind of overtures from those she considers, “too stupid,” (ie doesn’t drink her kool aid) or part of the “dark side.” she’s caused me no small amount of anxiety in the past.

    1. Oh, yes. Dad had to counsel us through mean people, too. Healthy boundaries take a lot of finesse to develop — letting in the good while keeping out the bad!

  10. I’m going to print this up on a piece of paper and make sure I see it everyday. Thank you, Golden!

    ….I thought you were allergic to dogs.

  11. Sounds like a wonderful day! What great advise your dad has, I’m gonna try to remember that next time I’m in a situation where I shouldn’t be hugging the wall lol. I tend to do that lot 🙂

  12. How cool that it worked out! I’m going to have to remember that advice. It’s something I wish my parents had said.

  13. I love when we are able to appreciate the words of wisdom that our parents have shared with us over the years. I LOVE this one of your dad’s.

    Draw a wider circle.

    What a great way to view the world and getting to know others and feeling included.

    Thank you for sharing Lori. I too hope we get to meet IRL someday!

    If you are ever in Chicago… Or I suppose I could come to Denver too! 😉

  14. I LOVE this advice. I’ve not heard it before. It comes to me at the “perfect moment”: I need it both as a parent, and as a person.

    “Draw a wider circle” is my new mantra. Thanks!

  15. You had me at People magazine 🙂 It sounds like a great meet-up and it only happened before you put your heart out there. I’m trying to act on your dad’s advice. But it’s hard. Sometimes we don’t even know what tools we should use to draw that wider circle.

  16. What a wise man, your father. I could recall several times in my young adult life making the assumptions of being outside the circle. But you are right, fake it till you make it. I have one of my dearest friends because I drew a wider circle. This is also so true in military life, to have this openness to all potential friends, it is why it makes it so hard to leave a duty station. I love this post and your father’s advice!

  17. Here via Time Warp Tuesday–and it’s funny, I feel like I wrote about this in my new post. Discarding expectations of disappointment to embrace the possibility of good things. I’m glad you reached out and had that positive experience.

    And I’ll have you know I drew stares. I’m waiting for a meeting to start, catching up on my time warps, and I read ‘dogs and cats living together!’ That gets me every time, and I snickered. 🙂

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