This has been a busy week for us. We went to a harvest event at the Y that involved a huge rock climbing thing, free boxes of Papa John’s pizza, inflatables, face painting and train rides to name a few things. We also went to church two times and then to a thing at the Adventure Science Center that celebrated a new opening and included free ziplining. We’ve done school and shopped for winter coats and done a lot of other exciting, wonderful things. And they have all been great. I truly am the happiest when I am actively involved playing or teaching my girls. In fact, my girls were going to be the focus of this week’s Thankful Tuesday….

But then.

Last night, just as I was starting my nightly bout with insomnia, a friend called. Actually called my phone.

Nobody ever calls me.

I get a fair amount of dandy emails and I chat too. But chatting and writing emails just is not the same thing as hearing another voice. Another adult voice that was talking about more than school or what game we were going to play next. The next hour or so was spent lost in a conversation that was overdue, even though nothing of real significance was covered. It mattered still because it was a conversation. And it’s importance in my life wasn’t because I was talking to the President of the United States or because something life changing was talked about; no, it was important because it made me feel thought of and cared for.

You see, I’m needed and wanted as a teacher, as a volunteer, as a sister and as a mother. But having a conversation with someone for no reason other than pure friendship is almost a foreign concept to me. I had forgotten how rejuvenating to the spirit a real conversation is. I had forgotten how much energy and hope it can restore.

Did you know that psychology teaches us that it is better to talk to yourself out loud than it is to stay silent? Did you know that more lives are ruined and destroyed by secrets than anything else? Did you know that living alienated from others is more the same as suicide? Did you know that, as a human being, we need others?

Sometimes I forgot that.

Sometimes I think I have to be strong and handle life by myself—not just as a single mother but without real friends too. Sometimes I fail to remember how to really talk to others. But, last night, I didn’t. I listened… And I talked. And my heart responded by waking up just a little, by reminding me that conversation is the means through which we find understanding, acceptance and, ultimately, love.

More than just reminding me I’m not alone, conversation forces me to grow emotionally, spiritually and intellectually by introducing me to other opinions, and by validating my own. The average person speaks 6000-9000 words a day. It might sound like a lot but not when you think of them as an investment in your emotional well-being. I find it sad to think that a lot of those words are wasted — in anger… Or a misguided attempt at self-protection. Conversation is more than fun, it’s something we take for granted. Conversation is the means through which we learn to read, to ask questions. Conversation is the means through which we’re asked to marry. Conversation is the means through which we find meaning in life.

Tonight, I’m especially grateful for the meaningful conversations I’ve had with others that have taught me things about myself, or that have simply reminded me that I’m more than a teacher, mother, sister. Tonight, I’m grateful for the time friends have so wonderfully given from their lives to talk to me. They have enriched my life. They have helped me grow, learn and, ultimately, become the woman I am today.

Relationships can end when communication, when conversation, ceases. When the meaning in our talks becomes dull, we start to feel unimportant. When the meaning in conversation ceases, we start to feel devalued, and when that happens, our lives start to unravel. Conversations keep us together.

So, tomorrow, talk to me. I promise, I’m going to pay even closer attention to the 6-9000 words I say and the ones that are said to me. And I’m going to remember that, even when it’s uncomfortable, conversation is a gift.