Monday, August 11, 2008


Back in 2001, I attended the first annual Pacific Northwest Singles Conference.
Oh yes I did.
When I pre-registered, it seemed like a good idea.
I had hesitations though, as the date of the event drew closer, so I called the coordinator and asked him if there would be any point in a newly divorced forty year old woman attending. From the ads on the radio, it seemed like the demographic the conference was appealing to was the never-married-mid-twenty-year old.

He encouraged me to come but I still had my doubts.
Denise, my very-happily-married best friend, assumed my car (I was driving an Intrepid at the time) would never make it over the bridge and into the parking lot of the conference because my car's driver would talk herself out of going. So she registered and came along.
I know. You just can't buy friends like that.

Anyway, it turned out that there were more females than males interested in attending a conference like this. Like, I'd say the split was 80/20. And a goodly portion of us were on the dark side of 30.

One moment that will never fade from my memory is the opening session in the auditorium. At one point, the MC encouraged us to greet the folks sitting nearest us and get to know them. The idea was to 'make friends'. They suggested a number of questions we should ask each other and gave us 10 - 15 minutes to meet and greet. I of course resented this portion. I was not interested in making friends. I was looking for a husband and in my section? Nothing but women as far as the eye could see. And yes, I am totally kidding about the looking for a husband comment.

So, anyway, Denise, who has no issues, happily started chatting with the women around us, drawing them into a conversation. "So", she asked a kind of large, non-make-upped, long-haired, plainly dressed woman, "what are your hobbies? Passions? What do you love to do on your days off?" as suggested by the MC who didn't trust us to come up with our own questions.

"Ummm. I like to quilt," one woman whispered.
"I usually read, at home. I love reading."
"I've started scrapbooking...."
"Oh, I don't know. I work, and then clean my place, and you know..."

Someone asked Denise what she did. She listed golfing, walking, playing tennis, photography, spending time with friends..." her list was delivered with enthusiam and a twinkle in her eye as she recalled all the things she loved doing.

I thought to myself, "Of all the women in this room, Denise is probably the most vibrant. She is living a full life, filled with things she loves. If there was a single guy within 10 rows of us, he would hit on unavailable-her, because she doesn't have that look of desperation that every other woman in this room has.

I ended up going back to the conference for the full day session on Saturday and listened to a variety of well-known speakers, including the guy who founded But the speaker whose words still echo in my mind? Helen Burns. She was asked, during the question and answer period, this question from a twenty-something year old; "What should I do while I wait for God to bring 'the right guy' into my life?" Helen's answer?
"Live. Live your very best life. Follow your passions. Dare to dream. Do everything that you've ever wanted to do. Boldly go in the direction that God has called you. Run. Run with joy and enthusiasm towards the activities that make you smile. Use the gifts God has given you, and charge full steam ahead into the place where you can use them. Every once in awhile, look over your shoulder to see if anyone else is on the same path. If there's a guy there, running in the same direction as you, maybe he'll be the one for you to consider. Or maybe he'll end up being a good friend. Either way, you're living a great life."

The point of me recalling (and maybe retelling? Have a written about this before?) this story, is because it serves as a great background to the story I really wanted to share.

You see, I work with this 22 year old extrovert. She's moved into my neighbourhood for the summer and knows no one in this area. At the start of the summer, she asked me to recommend a church, and while I suggested one that has a great young adults program, she decided on CLA because she could easily get there by bus. She was only going to live in Murrayville for 3 months, but she wanted to make some friends.

Hello? She wanted to make some new friends. Like it's a decision a person makes. To actively seek out friends.

She wanted to make these new friends at church. So she went on that first Sunday morning, intending to make a friend.

I am old and jaded and faded and whatnot, and hoped she wouldn't be disappointed. I've gone to Northview about 6 - 8 times in the last 3 months and not a single person has spoken a single word to me. (But then again. I'm not going to look for a friend.)

So, anyway, the next day at work, I ask her how she liked CLA and she tells me that the girl who sat in the pew in front of her asked her her name, found out that she was new to the area and said, "Here's my phone number. I know how hard it is to find people to hang out with when you're new in town."

Oh my goodness. Imagine. Going to church, expecting to make a friend, and actually doing that!

Another thing that this 22 year old extrovert planned on doing whilst living in my neck-o-the-woods was find a place she could swing dance at. It was a new hobby for her, and she loved it. Turned out she found a place at Douglas Park that does outdoor dancing on Friday nights. She went by herself, and of course, it was fabulous. One weekend, there was talk of a Saturday night swing dance event at an airport hanger in Pitt Meadows, and she went. Caught a ride from a fellow who had been swinging on Friday nights as well. They had a blast. Of course they did. Then on the Sunday, she heard of Suburban Swing in Abbotsford, and really wanted to go. But, seeing she missed church in the morning, she decided to go to CLA's evening service instead of dancing.

But guess what? The fellow who had been dancing on Friday nights. and who drove her out to Pitt Meadows on Saturday night, attends CLA. And he was at the evening service as well. And when it ended, he offered to drive them both out to Abbotsford to catch a few hours of swing dancing.

I got chills when she told me about her weekend. Of course, I'm not marrying them off. But she is living her life to the fullest, and look! Over there! Over her shoulder... there's a guy. A guy from God. A guy who is turning out to be a friend.

Last week her and I had lunch together and I asked her about her weekend plans. She was excited. Of course she is. She was getting certified in scuba diving. She has some sort of first level already, so this is another level. For deep water, and dry suits and such.
"Do you have a friend that's doing this with you?" I asked.
"Nah. If I waited for my friends before I'd do something, I'd never do anything. I'm doing this because I love the water. Besides, I always meet great people whenever I do stuff like this."

Guess what? She met some great people. And was freaked out at 90 feet down. But was exhilerated when talking to me about the whole experience. She is living a life. A real life. Filled with adventures and experiences. She is doing this using public transit, in a community she is only living in temporarily, while planning on attending university for two more years.

Shannon is an inspiration to me.

Just thought I'd share that.


Tricia said...

I want to be like Shannon. I'm the queen of introverts.

Anonymous said...

Shannon is my daughter and I don't know how she does it, because I don't like to met new people. It scares me to death. I think her youth group mentors had alot to do with her attitude towards life.