How to create meaning.

How to create meaning.

A practical guide to feel less alone with Priya Parker

Recently, I read something somewhere that admitting you were lonely was one of the most shameful things someone could do. And yet, I do it all the time. Without shame. I am lonely. Yes. What is weird is that I also crave alone time. Which I don’t have and seems so luxurious after having a kid.

What does feeling lonely mean then? I thought it was a longing to be around people but really, it is not that at all. Lonely for me is a hunger to feel seen, safe, and cared for.


This week I got the honor and it was a true pleasure to talk to Priya Parker about how to create rituals that matter. Priya works to help people create collective meaning in their lives through gatherings. She is a master facilitator, strategic advisor, acclaimed author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, and the host and executive producer of the New York Times podcast, Together Apart.

Being inclusive can also mean everyone is not invited.

One thing that I was kinda shocked by, in the interview was the concept of Generous Exclusion. I come from a family and community where everyone is invited. The goal of this is to have everyone know they are welcome and wanted. Priya says that this is often done because people want to be inclusive, but inclusivity needs to match the purpose of the gathering. By curating our gatherings around the purpose, Priya says that we can feel held. That more people is not always the answer to creating more collective meaning. It is being intentional about who you invite and why.

How are you making meaning right now?

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So I test-drove some of Priya’s advice for Easter this year. I am culturally Judeo-Christian, but not practicing. I wanted to create a ritual for finding hope and possibility in the spring. To make time to look at the buds on the trees and imagine the beauty about to blossom right around the corner. The flowers and sweet smells promised by the change in season. I hosted an egg-dying gathering with two other families from M’s school.

In the past, Easter has not been a thing I thought too much about. Since I was raised Unitarian, we had baskets with candy arrive on Sunday am. We knew it was our parents, but that didn’t really take the fun or magic out of a basket filled with pastel colors and candy. It was the default. It was nice.

For this egg party, I wanted to invite everyone, but Priya’s (and Josh’s voice) said to keep it small. It was still chaos. We started with a meditation where we used our five senses to see a lemon, finishing with taste and holding there for a few moments. I bet you can feel it now in your mouth starting to salivate and your jaw tightening. It’s risky to eat sour food. But a little risk is often invigorating and exciting.

Who do you gather with? Share this so you can create something together… if you want.


After holding the lemon in our mouths, we contrasted it with a cube of sugar (yes my teeth are rotting out of my mouth. Sorry dentists). I was hoping to create a feeling in our bodies of relief. That was coming with the change in seasons. That we had all been through so much, that something good was coming. And just, what if everything worked out?

The party was fun. Or I had fun. I got to feel grateful to be around people and learn about how we all contain so many versions of ourselves. It was a gathering I wanted to be at. I wanted to feel grounded in the fact that time was moving forward, and I had very little if any control, but at least I didn’t feel alone.

If you want a quick FREE guide for creating meaningful gatherings, Priya made one just for Bad At Keeping Secrets: Priya Parker x People I've Loved

In the guide, you’ll find 5 ways to QUICKLY build belonging, a feeling I am desperate for. And why introverts make good hosts. Surprise. Who knew?

How we Meet and Why it Matters: Priya Parker on the Art of Gathering | Iowa  Public Radio

If you are interested in more than a quick guide, here is where you can find more information:

Lastly, thanks for reading and being here. I got so many sweet notes about the decision to change the People I’ve Loved. It made me feel so supported in one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I am grateful for you. Just so you know.

ALSO, Take 25% off anything you want through April on People I've Loved. Get your mom a card in which you tell her how you feel about her. Or not. But it helps us clean out the studio and you are supporting a small business.



xo, Carissa

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Each week, we invite thought leaders and experts in the fields of art, design and self-help, to talk about their areas of expertise, share a secret and share what is exciting for them.