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In the wake of the US election of 2016 by Adrienne McDunn

As Thanksgiving approaches in the land I call home, I find the call to gratitude and appreciation particularly necessary. Gratitude and appreciation are acts of grounding; activities that put one dead center to their core of Being. And I need to feel my solid soul in this time of an un-united state in America.

There are storms in my external world. My senses are overwhelmed by it – I taste fear, feel discordance, hear and touch cacophony every single day. I, like so many other people, would like to abdicate the reality of the election results. But its atmosphere is so potent it will not be ignored.

So what to do? My mind is willing to assist, churning up a steady brew of reasoning, yet I find no solace in cognition. Instead, perhaps answering a deep instinctual drive, I find myself reaching out for human connection. I need to hear and see and touch Others. I need relationship. Sometimes to simply resonate in silence, as words fail. Other times, when connecting where I am not united in philosophy or experience, I find myself willing to lean in, pay attention, listen deeply – as I hadn’t done before.

In reflection, I thought this an interesting personal pattern. But last week, the pattern emerged as fractal. People I didn’t know well began to reach out to me. They didn’t seem to have a conscious awareness of what they wanted or needed. They simply began to talk about their feelings and concerns. For example, a health care professional with a large practice, shared that about 50% of her patients were currently experiencing some level of anxiety. She wondered how her own anxiety might be affecting those in her care. After a bit of conversation, I asked this woman why she reached out to me. She didn’t know – she just felt driven to talk, to feel related and “hang out with another soul”.

I am a supervisor and coach but this women was not a client. Yet, this woman and those who similarly reached out, helped me to see something about the practice of supervision I hadn’t before. First of all, and I’m truly surprised that I didn’t notice earlier, the practice has a much wider base of application than I envisioned. It can support anyone who deals with people on regular basis. Second, it provides a place where, despite our differences, we can feel / experience the common ground of our shared humanity. I’ve come to understand we need this and not just in troubled times, though it is particularly necessary in times of strife and divide. I feel the call of this necessity and will answer it with the passion of renewed purpose.

So as my country unites in celebration of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for this time of community. We need to share space and spirit and bread with each other allowing the common elements of this beloved festival to remind us of the deeper roots of unity we share as people of this land and as members of the human community. May it be an anchor as we forge forth in the days to come, to confront our considerable differences.

Adrienne McDunn is an executive coach and supervisor. She is a passionate advocate of curiosity and compassion. She provides opportunity for discovery and insight.

Adrienne can be contacted at 00 + 1 (206) 498-2002 or