Friends, Strangers and Facebook
Last Saturday night the kids and I were at a friend’s birthday bonfire night party with a roaring fire, beautiful fireworks, lovely people and some delicious food. We got home about 930pm to find the house empty and dogs and partner missing.
When I checked my phone, I could see a stream of increasingly random texts from him and when I phoned he was panicked; one of the dogs; ‘his’ dog, had bolted in the woods when a fire work went off. He was beyond worried.
By the time we met him in the woods he had been walking around in the dark calling for the dog for over 3 hours. We gave him food, warm clothes, a phone with a charged battery and then the kids and I joined him in walking around the woods by the light of a full moon, calling for the dog.
We came home and left him there, refusing to leave without her. Both kids were upset and I was of course worried about the dog but also about partner and his increasing exhaustion and distress. Eventually, after warm drinks and some tears, the kids and I got to bed and at 130am so did partner; cold, exhausted and bereft.
I’m always an early riser and as I was coming to, I had the thought, or was it a dream, that I should ask for help on Facebook as the more people looking for her, the more chance I thought we had of finding her. So I got up and wrote the following post:
Then I set off with the other dog, to go back to the woods, to see if we could find Merryn. I left a note for the kids to say that I would be back by 9am.
As we walked, Facebook did it’s magic by connecting me to amazing people who helped. First of all a girl I did my coach training with in Yorkshire, put me in touch with someone who ran a dog search agency. Then the woman from the agency got in touch and sent me 4 posters with information about what more we could do to find the dog.
She also send me a link which had an online questionnaire which I filled in half way up a Shropshire hill, and within half an hour someone, somewhere had created a lost dog Facebook page for Merryn.
More and more reassuring messages came in as I walked and people shared and shared on their networks and in their groups until a complete stranger was able to connect my post with one which had been put up the previous night about a lost dog which had been found.
So the Lisa (who I have never met) linked me with the lady who had found the dog (who I don’t know) and very soon we were swopping phone numbers and addresses.
By 845am I was home with the dog.
There was so much to find amazing in this story.
Firstly, the dog herself, either through luck or intuition found herself an in the perfect place for a lost dog to overnight. She stopped at the gates of a house which rescued animals, where the owners loved dogs and where she spent the night with the other animals, in a warm house, being loved. She found incredibly kind people and was looked after really well. They were completely responsible and caring and she seems none the worse for her experience. Good choice Merryn.
But the main story, is of course one of connection, goodwill and care. So many of my friends shared my post. I know it only takes a second to click ‘share’ but the intention behind the share, the thing that matters most, were to help, to unite, to reassure and to connect. Then even more amazingly, strangers shared too, until Friday, nearly a week later, the post was still being shared and I was still thanking people for their help.
Partner was amazed as well as grateful; he was overwhelmed by the way people did what the could for someone they had never met and would probably never meet. For me it is confirmation of what I tell the kids; that most people are lovely.
It reminded me of a book I read last year called The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls) in which Palmer explore the power of asking for help. Often we see asking for help as a sign of weakness, of neediness, of not being good enough to do it all on our own. Palmer and Brene Brown (see below) both disagree. Being vulnerable and asking for what we need is one of the fastest ways to build connection and my Facebook experience in the last week has been concrete proof of that.
Not that I needed proof. I know from experience that trying to do it all on our own is not only exhausting, it also prevents us from getting as far as we could go. It keeps us shut in and disconnected when we armour ourselves and keep other people away. People like to help, it makes us feel good, it makes us feel like we have made a positive contribution if only in a small action, but one, in this case, which had big consequences: a happy and reunited man and dog.
So this may just be a blog about a lost dog, or about the wonder of Facebook; but most of all it is a blog of gratitude to all who helped and cared and shared and it is a blog to remind us all that asking for help not only helps us, but helps others and builds connection.
ps…If you haven’t done so already check out the Events page to find out more about the Oswestry Red Tent for women, monthly on a Friday at 730pm-9 for £5 the next one is the 17th Nov. I am also running a Red Tent in Ledbury on Friday 1st December 730-9. Then there is the Hygge retreat in Oswestry on Saturday 18th November 10-1230 open to all and taking some time to relax and reflect with meditation, massage and some coaching exercises. On Sunday 3rd December I’ll be giving a free workshop on Stress at the body, mind, spirit show (see flyer below) and I run a number of short courses at the Marches School. There are also some retreats booked for 2018 so nip over the events page to find out more. I look forward to seeing you at some of them.