Connections Matter

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.


We have been living in Portugal for the past year and a half, 4,792 miles away from our family and friends, and still pinching ourselves every day. Our hearts are full yet still mixed with the complicated layers of not being ‘next door’ to our children. Yet, on some level we feel closer than ever – the distance provokes closeness in a different way.

We have joyfully navigated new routines and have immersed ourselves into a new culture, finding our own way, in a new way, together and as independent, strong, and curious humans.

We have come to understand the primal desire for human connection and authentic interaction. In our time here we have been blessed to meet and engage with some pretty amazing people from different cultures. It has opened our eyes to see how those from other countries view the United States and how our own world view was formed by our own paradigms. Our world just got bigger…

Our connections here have been solid and steeped in inquiry, discovery with a common thread of leaving our birthplaces and living in the same Country. We have made and are making lifetime friends.

These connections matter. They matter because they are shaping the total parts of myself in being a good friend, a nurturing partner, a supportive neighbor, and a better human. For me, it’s about being present – really present with my whole heart for others and for myself.

And then there is my online community in 360° Nation – an online platform that declares every moral value I own as my compass:

We are the Award-Winning publishing division of 360° Nation, presenting a life, culture, and biz multimedia digest, serving as a hub of creative expression and personal growth designed with and for our writers and our community. With an emphasis on action, our vast worldwide contributor community empowers people to transition from knowing what to do to actually doing it —all complemented by syndication relationships with a choice group of equally innovative media outlets. Today and every day, we simply deliver the very best insights, intelligence, and inspiration available anywhere doing it our way by placing our writers and our audience at the forefront. It’s magical. It’s evergreen. And quite frankly, it’s just good stuff. Period.”

This online community has motivated me to do more good in the world, inspired me to give more of myself to others, and has expanded my engagement and compassion meter 1000x times over. Online and in real-time.

The connections I have made are almost hard to explain or even comprehend. These are people I have never met but feel an invisible dotted line that is pure connection and all heart.

They represent the Rumi quote at the core of what I feel is critical to my existence today, being in service to others: I hunger to witness anyone who chooses to be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder.

I have found this amazing group of people to be smart, creative, curious, supportive, diversified, compassionate, and courageous at every turn!

Because of this community and my new community in Portugal – I know one thing for sure. Connections Matter!

I am a better woman today… no wait… I am a better human – and I am so grateful. 

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Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn Lebanowski
She began her professional career in retail and grew to become an experienced and respected senior-level executive with particular expertise in strategic development, organizational communication, and executive coaching. After nearly three decades of career growth in corporate organizational development, Carolyn was ready for a career change—and a life change. This led to a new role and the most challenging, enriching, and rewarding work of her life, as a Strategic Business Leader for nonprofit spiritual institutions. These roles provide her the opportunity to fuse the professional and the personal, aligning her business acumen with her spiritual identity and passion for the development of human potential—in her colleagues, her community, and herself. Carolyn is a writer who seeks above all to share from the heart. Her impulse to write began 20 years ago with letters to her children and grew into journaling that was unedited and life-affirming. Today she writes with a focus on raw, authentic experience, drawn from real life, to explore, express, and make sense of the pain and joy, struggles and triumphs, of life. In all her endeavors, she champions connection, integrity, and radical positivity.


  1. Oh, your essay resonates deeply in my heart, Carolyn. From the opening quote to the last line, I hear you, see you, feel your huge heart and commitment-and please Know you are the lamp, the lifeboat and the ladder and so much more for me and many others who are connected to you. I know you will continue to expand your reach of beautiful connections in Portugal as you nurture the meaningful relationships with family in the states and all of us in the BizCatalyst360 community.

    As i bloom in the beauty of the mountains and experience the distance/closeness with those beloved ones i left in central Ohio-I know this simultaneous feeling. Geographic distance sometimes allows hearts to feel all the closer.

    Thank you for your gifts, for sharing your insights, wisdom, and love with all of us. You are a treasure, a beautiful gift, an immortal blue diamond of a human being.

  2. Only an enlightened soul shall write what you wrote, Carolyn. I mean “Yet, on some level we feel closer than ever – the distance provokes closeness in a different way”.

    This might sound paradoxical, but we know the value of home when we are away from our bith places. We get for a while a sense of being far away, but then we discover we are closer in our understandings of different cultures and habits.
    Yes, when know the value of what we have more when we miss it.

    • Thank you again Ali for your thoughtful and heart centered response.
      Navigating a new life in a new country offers up a range of emotions and feelings; the big one for me is perspective.
      As you noted, it’s where we have been and where we are going brings a new level of appreciation.

      Grateful for your unfaltering engagement and support!