i will know her by her light words

A couple of months ago,* In February, I met a new friend for the first time. (*I’ve been sick a ridiculously long time, and I started this post back when I was well.)

We met at Zeitgeist, a cool coffee shop/art gallery in an older part of town, a place roughly mid-way between us, a place it turns out we both liked from earlier times living in Seattle.

Being an older part of town with the city grown up around it, parking can be a bear. I arrived first, parked directly across the street, and claimed a table in sight of the door.

I knew Dorothy right when she walked in – thank you, facebook and instagram – and we stepped easily into our first hug.

“Oh, the parking!” she said.

I agreed, “It’s bad, and the construction doesn’t help. I have good parking karma, though. Actually, I have a Parking Buddha.”

You might have the same puzzled look now that Dorothy wore then. Parking karma you understand. But Parking Buddha? Then I told Dorothy a (slightly) abridged version of this story. I just launched right into it, before we even had our coffees ordered.

Later, after a couple of hours of easy conversation, we talked about how we met: through Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks.

Early last fall, Karen ran her Path Finder course for the first time. Dorothy and I each signed up, and soon connected through post comments, #chookfinder tweets, and facebook. Something clicked, as it does when you meet someone who will be part of your tribe.

There is recognition, comfort, ease.

Even though we met online, we both live in and near Seattle, and began to throw out the idea of getting together “sometime”. Fortunately, that didn’t languish as the elusive-never-quite-there sometime, but became a real, person-across-the-table-laughing-and-sparkling sometime.

One of the tasks adventures of the Path Finder course is to figure out – to identify clearly – what lights you up, in order to seek out more of that in life. Each of the participants came up with their own 3-5 light words, the distillation of much longer lists, words that would help guide us in creating our best life in everything from the to-do list of the day to life’s biggest decisions.

For Dorothy and me, sitting together for the first time at Zeitgeist, our shared vocabulary included everything from Path Finder. Almost shyly, Dorothy asked, “What were your light words?”

I told her. One of them is storytelling.

“Of course,” she said. “The first thing you did was give me a story.”

I was struck by this observation. It was true. (And I loved the way Dorothy received the story as a gift). I often phrase what I am sharing in the language of story. I say (often with chagrin) that I cannot tell the short version of anything, but what if this is a strength?

What if this is a superpower? What if I own this as I make my way in the world?

When Dorothy shared her light words, they rang with the same clarity, the same truth. I recognised them in her.

It was a wonder to have this shared vocabulary, the shared foundation of the course work to draw us together – so that we might discover all the other stories we have in common, so that we might enjoy that shared new friend-crush feeling, so that our friendship might deepen over the hours of conversation, so that we might expand each other’s tribe with the inclusion of someone new to love.

For countless reasons, I am beyond glad I signed up for Path Finder. Dorothy makes one more.

If you have the chance to take this course, DO. You are filled with wonderful things – Path Finder helps identify them.


  • What an awesome thing, you both meeting and the way that it makes the things we learned with Karen even stronger. I consider you both my online friends and I hope to meet you both one day too. xo

    • I agree, Leslie, it really is a thing I cherish, especially as our friendship continues to grow. It would be wonderful to meet you, and others who shared that particular journey, and to check in with how those words are rippling out in life. You are hands down the most active/proactive of the Path Finders I have encountered in going after your dreams. You have made things happen, and reached out to connect, and fostered opportunities in an incredible way. I am both daunted and inspired. 😉 Well done!

  • How absolutely wonderful! I started the course along with an online friend whom I had told about it. We both ended up getting way too busy in our everyday lives and didn’t get to finish. I have saved all the e-mailed though and plan to finish when (if) I ever get a break!

    • Thank you for visiting, Misty Dawn, and welcome. I did not finish every activity, either, and I did not necessarily do everything in order. I struggled with this, as I like to do things in order – not because I am a rule follower per se, but because I tend to think that if something has been designed a certain way, then I want to pursue it that way, at least the first time. But then I have to remember that some things have been designed with intention for a certain order, and some things simply have come first because something has to. I hope you do go back and explore the emails/activities for what they mean to you – I have found it a very powerful experience. And the community from it continues to grow. Maybe Karen will host a Chookfinder Summit at some point?

  • Jet, you always share such inspiring messages. So glad you got to meet each other. I’ve just this weekend been to my first ever blogging conference here in the UK and loved meeting some of the faces behind the computer in real life.

    Plus, Dorothy is just glowing in those photos you shared of her. Great shots!

    • Thank you, Katherine. That is about the nicest thing anyone could say about my writing, and the portraits. You’ve made me glow with happy. It was a thrill to meet Dorothy, and we remain connected.

      Congratulations on your first blogging conference. I’ve been to many writing conferences in the children’s lit sphere (sponsored by SCBWI, locally and in New York. Initially, I had a really hard time approaching people who wrote and illustrated the books I love. I’m getting better at it.

      Last weekend, I attended WDS, and it was a whole other thing, on another level entirely. It took me quite a while to work up my nerve to introduce myself to some of the personalities I’d only interacted with online. I want to get better at this. I really, really do.

  • To those who haven’t had an opportunity to finish – you will when the time is right for you. If nothing else I hope you’re able to journal

    • Thank you for that encouragement, Josie. I’ve taken several online courses now, and I find that the pace is pretty intense – I tend to slow down about the middle of week 3, and feel like I’m playing catch-up for the next few weeks. It’s always good to remember that I can go at my own pace, and finish the work as I am ready. It can feel like a bummer to miss out on some of the community aspects when I slow down, especially with a photography e-course. Still, I learn so much from what others share, and I share as I can, when I can. I love the journal – journals have saved me for most of my life, as a means of capturing what it meaningful to me. What have you taken forward from your Path Finder experience?

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