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What Does Your Connective Tissue Look Like?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Katie Tallo of Momentum Gathering.

Between all of the cells in our bodies is this amazing stuff called connective tissue. It surrounds our organs, supports our bodies and helps us function in highly special ways. It channels vital nutrients to our core. It gives us strength and form. It’s our glue.

What does your connective tissue look like?

Likely its pretty yucky if you’re talking about your flesh and blood connective tissue, but I’m referring to the other kind of connective tissue.

The aspects of your life that support you, help you function in highly specialized ways, nourish your core and give you strength — that’s your connective tissue — the intangible ways in which you feel connected — the fibres that bind your being to those you share the planet with.

For me it consists of dinner around our small kitchen table with my family, a heartfelt exchange in the comments on my blog, a walk in the park, a great line in a favourite book, a fit of laughter shared over Skype that defies distance between friends, a cheer of support from my husband, a cup of tea by my mother’s fireplace, a simple good morning from a stranger passing by on the sidewalk. My connective tissue lies in nature, family, friends, my neighbourhood and on the web.

As different as our flesh and blood is from each other, so too are the ways we connect. From a tweet to a hug, from a loyal dog to a million Facebook friends, each of us has reams of connective tissue weaving through our lives. Without some form of it, we’d likely have a tough time functioning.

When Pulitzer Prize Winning Film Critic, Roger Ebert lost the ability to speak after cancer surgery, he turned to the internet to create a new kind of connective tissue. For an extrovert no longer able to hold his own in social situations, the internet became his bridge to a new world of social connectedness and a new voice. He found his connective tissue through blogging and twitter.

When talking about social networking, Seth Godin believes it is always important when it’s real, and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake. Hits to your website and keeping score of your friends doesn’t mean a thing. “Are there people out there I’d go out of my way for, and would they go out of their way for me?” This is the privilege of real connection, according to Godin.

So if you’re not quite sure what your own connective tissue really looks like — whether it’s real or useless — whether it strengthens you or holds you back, then lay it out before you and examine it. Sift through the fibres for meaning, usefulness, bridges, love, respect, creative energy, expansiveness, closeness, hope, inspiration, empathy, service, comfort, difference and common ground. Discard the toxins, the fat and the waste. Keep the rest. Keep the stuff that gives you a voice and allows you to go out of your way for others. Keep the stuff that matters most to you. It’s the stuff of life.

Katie is a writer whose connective tissue includes her online creations, Momentum Gathering and The Habit Course where she collaborates with some pretty great people, Barrie Davenport of Live Bold and Bloom and Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tammy Strobel September 21, 2011, 2:14 pm

    Katie – Thank you for writing this post. It made me cry. 🙂

    You asked: “What does your connective tissue look like?” It comes in many forms, but the main thread is Logan (the handsome guy in the photo). My world wouldn’t be the same without him.

    • Katie September 21, 2011, 3:06 pm

      It doesn’t surprise me, Tammy. Logan is a constant in your writing, your story and your images. Our connective tissue truly does come down to our loves in life. Thanks for letting me visit and connect with your world today. Big hugs from Canada! Hope to visit you one day and take a tour of your tiny house. xo

  • Sandra / Always Well Within September 21, 2011, 2:23 pm


    What a fabulous title! It drew right over. I would like to think my connective tissue includes every sentient being on this earth as we are all so interdependent. That’s one aspect of my connective tissue that is of paramount importance. But your article calls me to look more deeply into how I am (or am not) connecting with others in a rich and honoring and empowering way. That’s something I need to think about right now so I am very grateful for this post.

    • Katie September 21, 2011, 3:10 pm

      Sandra, I’ve noticed you pondering connectivity, the web, social media and it’s place in your life often times. It’s not easy to figure out what connections are useful and meaningful, and more difficult still to discard connections that are toxic or misaligned with our spirit or our values. I hope your enjoy thinking deeply about it, find some answers that work for you, but I do I love your idea that every sentient being is part of your connective tissue.

  • Kat September 21, 2011, 2:23 pm

    Wonderful post! A small community of families provide the connective tissue in my life, in this and every community I’ve ever lived in. I couldn’t function without them, and I wouldn’t want to.

    But actually, your flesh connective tissue isn’t very yucky looking at all, it’s gorgeous! It comes in lots of different kinds, but my favorite is fascia, which is like this tissue-thin, mother of pearl sheet that surrounds all your muscles. It looks like the stuff of Cinderella dresses. People never believe me when I tell them how beautiful cadaver studies can be, but it’s true!


    • Katie September 21, 2011, 3:14 pm

      Funny you should say that our inner tissue is gorgeous, Kat … even as I wrote yucky, it felt like a bit of a childish simplification and in my head I imagined the scientists and doctors among us who would disagree with a knowing smile. I stand corrected, Kat. We are gorgeous, inside and out. Your small community of families sounds perfectly gorgeous too.

  • Jt Clough | Big Island Dog September 21, 2011, 2:35 pm

    First, I love your style of provoking thought. This article brought up some things I had thought I had worked through and made me realize how much I still am kidding myself about dealing with it right in my face. That’s a very good thing.

    Just in the nick of time too. I was about to engage in a few people winding me into things I really don’t want to do and that in fact does take away from truly important connective tissues weaving my life together; my small family including 2 dogs, and a few friends, my home, my coffee trees, paddling and my yoga practice. And that injures them and me in the long run. And then I have to rehab both me and the relationships that are closest to me. And that matters.

    So this time I get to realize why I was going to make those choices and stop myself first. Tell these people who don’t hold connective tissue really unless it benefits them, “No. Not participating.”

    You’ll find me doing the things I love most with the people that are really my connective tissue.

    Mahalo for your words.

  • Katie September 21, 2011, 3:22 pm

    Jt, good for you. Saying ‘no’ to disconnectiveness (made that word up) is empowering and as you say, leaves you left doing the things you love most with the people you love most. That family, those dogs, friends, home, coffee trees, paddling and yoga sound like quite enough to me. Mahalo for your words too.

  • Barrie/Live Bold and Bloom September 21, 2011, 4:29 pm

    As usual, your writing is like a quivering string on violin — delicate, pure, and beautiful. So happy to share Skype laughter with you, as well as other comedies and tragedies.

    • Katie September 22, 2011, 5:59 am

      How did you know I was thinking of you when I mentioned Skype? Thanks for the loving support and the laughs, my friend. xo

  • Betty September 21, 2011, 9:36 pm

    Beautiful insight. I’ve been saying this – just using different words. Your word picture is excellent. I also add my mahalos to you for sharing your heart.

    • Katie September 22, 2011, 6:00 am

      Thank you Betty. I’m beginning to love the word maholo.

      • Katie September 22, 2011, 6:00 am

        Mahalo is what I meant.

  • Jonas September 22, 2011, 2:21 am

    I really love that picture!

  • Sonya September 23, 2011, 10:57 am

    I just wanted to say that i just recently started follwoing you blog and it has been very heartwarming. I look forward to reading each post that you write in such a gracefully simple but connective way 😉

  • Tess The Bold Life September 26, 2011, 1:07 pm

    Hi Katie and Tammi,
    This blog is filled with beautiful words coming from beautiful people. Thanks for inspiring me today.

    As sad as that is I know it’s best

  • William November 7, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Going barefooted keeps me connected to the earth

  • Rebecca November 15, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with your quote from Seth Godin. I used to look at the number of Facebook friends other people had and feel decidedly inadequate, but I’ve come to realise that a friend isn’t someone who accepts my request on Facebook. It’s someone who checks in with me to see how I am, someone who’s interested in my life and who would, as you mention, go out of their way for me. And it’s someone for whom I would do the same in every instance. This realisation prompted me to seriously condense my Facebook friends list recently.

    I also identify with everything that makes up your connective tissue. It’s the simple things in life that truly are the sweetest.

    • Katie November 15, 2011, 3:07 pm

      I think sometimes the internet and how we’re told we should use it and connect on it, is an illusion of connectivity. We know when it’s real, and you’re so right to reassess and make it work for you, Rebecca. I hope you find peace in a simplified version of your own.

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