Legacy of Connection

Jan 06, 2024

Life isn’t about what we did, what we accomplished and how we were acknowledged — it’s how we felt and impacted others

Painting by Sarah Davida




So here we are kicking off a new beginning, a clean slate — a blank canvas to paint upon. Don’t worry, I won’t hit you with the “R” word (resolutions). Your inbox and life have surely been bombarded with enough of that by now, as well-intended as they all may be.

Now, it’s not because I don’t love good intentions, promises, or affirmations. To the contrary, I love it all, but I actually believe it’s bigger than that.

First off, let’s just get one thing clear: Every day is New Year’s Day.

The day you decide to make a shift, break a pattern, turn a different direction, make another choice, be a better version of yourself...begins your new year.

I’m less concerned about how much weight you lose, how much sugar you give up, how much alcohol you abstain from, how many times you go to the gym, etc.

So don’t stress if you got off to a rocky start, if you’ve already relinquished your promises to self...whatever. I want you to know that how you think, interact with others, move through this thing called life matters most. You matter. It all matters because it leaves an imprint.

What do you want that to be? Each day you are writing the legacy of YOU.

I want to share a story that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It was conveyed to me by a dear friend one afternoon in the café over lunch — and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It really touched my heart and resonated deeply.

Out of the blue, this friend was contacted by an old acquaintance from school. 40 years had passed, a lot of life had unfolded and still this person wanted to reach out to convey what an impact my friend had made upon his life. Four decades...imagine that! That’s quite an imprint and so glorious.

The sweet details of the interaction are less important than the overarching reminder. 

Clearly, we don’t move through life to receive accolades and praise. We try to show up as our best, be our best, do our best and navigate this human experience our best. Admittedly, sometimes more gracefully than others. [wink]

Sometimes we will know we have made a mark, but more often than not we won’t — that’s not the point or purpose. It just feels good to be aware, kind, compassionate and loving — to self and others. To be present. Connected. 

I think about this in my own life all the time. And btw, these divine moments of grace, when we connect to another are often found in the most seemingly small encounters, oftentimes with strangers.

With two teenagers in the house (each who turned 18 within the last few months), both preparing to embark upon their own lives and adventures in the world — I continuously remind them how important it is to be present in the world, how their kindness and patience can literally change the trajectory of another person’s life...and their own. We are each delicate little flowers that flourish with nourishment and love.

The greatest gift we can share is our presence. At the end of the day, we all want to be seen, heard, loved. The gift of our time is immeasurable, even a smile to a passing stranger says I see you. You matter.

When we rush through life, we miss our opportunities to connect. We overstep our humanity. We forget what our hearts really crave. We isolate, hide, pretend everything is OK. We feed divisiveness. Hey, I talk to strangers every day. I meet new friends at the café, I hear their stories, meet their families, hold their hands, feel their emotions, share a slice of their lives...and my life expands because of it.

For me, this is a sacred gift. It would be so easy to rush on by attending to the needs of the café business (God knows that work is never done) — but the heart and soul of my business is human connection and seeing the best in people.

 It wasn’t always that way for me, but the more personal healing I did in my own life, the more I could reflect back to others. Eventually I came to realize that this is what we do for each other — it’s a slice of grace not to be missed. Giving. Receiving. Connecting.

I adore my café ‘family’. We certainly are a colorful cast of characters from all walks of life and corners. On any given day we will have a famous celebrity, a well-known artist or entrepreneur, author, politician, one who works in a local bike shop or another who just sold a multi-million-dollar tech company. Familiar faces and new friends, furry-four-legged ones too!

We meet in this beautiful place I’ve created to nourish our bodies and our souls — and maybe just for a few moments to remember who we are and what we truly desire. I love to witness the creativity that flows within our walls. Nothing fills me more than to see a table celebrating over a meal or someone sitting in solitude reading, writing or even painting.

So much creation is expressed when we feel at home and welcomed. Case in point: the gorgeous pieces of artwork that were created of the café. They are treasures to me. They aren’t the first and I know they won’t be the last. I am regularly left notes, poems, sketches, expressions of creativity in every form.

And you know what fills me even more? When they come back for seconds. I love when others make my home their home. This was the essence I dreamed of infusing into the walls of this café.

The painting at the top of this blog was created by artist Sarah Davida. I came upon this lovely young woman sitting alone at our bar eating cashew brie with berry compote and baguette (a café favorite, I might add). This image captures the sketch she made that day. At some point down the road she reached out by Instagram and shared this gorgeous painting. I love the style, the modern sensibility and seeing the café through her lens — a vision of solo dining. Most of all, I adore that she shared this with me. You can check out more of her creativity at her website,


Painting by Chuck Howland / C. Howland Art

This beautiful rendering of the entire building painted by a Woodstock local, Chuck Howland, shares a glorious glimpse of our slice of the world. I wasn’t aware that he had even painted it until his wife surprised me with it one day.

These are priceless to me — the physical manifestations of creativity and the connection that ensues. That’s what this café has created and for this I am grateful.

Crossing paths with others is a holy encounter. There are no coincidences. I believe that we are meant to connect, to share, to inspire, encourage and be kind to one another. We can play with the Universe — receive and share its gifts.

No, we may not know all the ways that we have left an imprint upon another — but wouldn’t that be the greatest legacy of all...knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life simply by listening, encouraging, being present...connecting?

I see it in motion every day — and if there is anything you feel called to commit to on the threshold of your beautiful new year...perhaps it is this. Perhaps all you need to do is be more YOU and share it with the rest of us. Let’s hold hands on this one.

"We can be of service by bringing some kindness, care, groundedness, and balance to those around us"

~Sebene Selassie

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstsock


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