Pulling Together

Boarding School

On the September 15th, after viewing my CBS Sunday Morning Program profile, healthcare CEO/owner, Gary W. Polsky quoted me in his own blog post. I was so inspired that I asked his permission to post his quote:

The most vital lesson I’ve learned from my experiences in hospice, and from life in general, is that positive, mutually rewarding relationships are key to happiness and fulfillment in all areas of life. At the end of the day, the people surrounding you and the experiences you create together are what matter most.”

I resonate with what Gary says about how it’s the people surrounding you and the experiences you create together that matter most. Sadly, many people don’t learn this until they are near the end of their lives. I hope that the stories in my book will encourage people to look for and nurture community around themselves before waiting too long.

Here’s an example paraphrased from my chapter called “Pulling Together”:

When I was 12, and at my first boarding school on a farm in Upstate, New York, the headmaster announced one day that the entire school was needed to pull a tree out of the forest. He needed to replace the rotting tree trunk that stood outside the front door of our school, with limbs inviting us to climb. I learned something that day that I’ve carried with me ever since.

We came to the clearing in the forest.  There lay the tree, at least 50 feet long and 18 inches thick.  Several of us tried to move it alone, and then in twos and threes. It wouldn’t budge.

The headmaster tied a rope around one end and held the rest out to all 65 children and 30 adults. We positioned ourselves on either side with two hands on top. At the count of three, we pulled in unison. The tree miraculously slid after us like a big, straight dinosaur tail.

I learned then how we can accomplish far more as a community than as individuals, if we pull together.

“Real richness and power come not from our money, but from connections to ourselves and one another.”

This quote began Gary Polsky’s post, so now I’ve come full circle. May we each find our community to pull whatever we need out of the forest of our lives.

I’d like to hear your story of connection and community.

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4 Responses to Pulling Together

  1. joaneee says:

    Eileen . . .

    I love a quote from Oscar Wilde: You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear. In truth, our true friends — ones that we can count on to come to the fore in good times and bad — we probably can only count on one hand if truth be told. But as we get older — not matter the wonders we have accomplished in life — it is the love of friends and family that we are going to find most dear.

    Often, we are “busy” — too busy if truth be told — and we let the personal slip by. But truth is: we always have enough time for others we love, for others who know us like no one else does. How do we do it? We make time for relationships to grow and bloom (starting now if we have been neglectful). Those special people are our lifelines. They provide our best moments I believe — I call them “moments of the heart”. What we do in life is often rewarding to others and heady for ourselves . . . but in the longer run, we cannot live forever and “glory” on “what we do”.

    We somehow think we can as we live in the moment. But later, it is not so much fun to be alone with our memories when we have not developed the personal relationships that will always be counted on to bring solace and bring joy. I find they are the “creme of lfe’s” gifts.


  2. Eileen Rockefeller says:

    Hi Joan,
    I agree with you that we often don’t make the time for relationships to blossom. Friendships take time and effort, but in my experience, nothing is more worthwhile or rewarding. Many children suffer from not knowing how to make friends and they don’t get the training sufficiently in schools. That’s why I co-founded the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (www.CASEL.org) to help teach these skills in school. Kids who have good SEL skills do 11% better academically! If we grow up knowing how to listen to ourselves and others, to self-regulate and nurture, we are more likely to do well in life and be happier and healthier.

    Here’s to your friendships! May they sustain and support you, as you do for them.
    Warm regards,


  3. jsholmes says:

    Yesterday I celebrated my 60th birthday with several friends. Near the end of the meal one woman asked me “looking back what would you tell yourself as a 30 year old?” I quickly answered “Go for it!” For the rest of the day I pondered her question. At my 30th b-day I was pregnant with my 2nd of 4 children. On reflection I would tell my 30 year old self, and any 30 year old asking my advice, forget the possessions, go after the experiences; cherish family; cultivate friendships; smile as much as possible; don’t be afraid to say I love you.
    P.S. Eileen, I am looking forward to following your blog and reading your book.

  4. Eileen Rockefeller says:

    Welcome to my decade! I can tell you, as you’ve already discovered, there is a lot of freedom in turning 60! And I agree with you 100% about relationships over material possessions, and the three words, “I love you.” In the end, as it is in the beginning, love is what gives birth to life and possibilities. More power to you!

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