Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I didn't think I was going to write about today's Reverb 10 prompt, Community.  I sat down to write instead on a prompt I missed earlier this month. But then I started explaining how I wasn't that into writing about community, except I am awfully grateful for mine.  And I also wanted to quickly say . . . oh, wait.  I guess I am going to write about the prompt, after all.  Here it is:

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

I am aware every day of the group of people I think of as my tribe, or maybe my village, both here within driving distance and scattered in a few other places around the country.  It's my family, yes - my family of four, my family of origin - but it's also my friends.  If "friends are the family we choose for ourselves," I am humbled to be surrounded by an amazingly diverse and gifted group of women.  At the same time, I know, if it stop to think about it, that I have (consciously or unconsciously) chosen to surround myself with them because of the way they make me happy, because I can be completely myself around them.

Building this community, these friendships, takes effort.  You can't stop returning e-mails, forget to make phone calls, decline invitations, quit listening, stop investing if you want your community to remain strong.  I've been living here for four years now, and this is the year I feel like I found my niche.  There were times, earlier, when I felt a little like I was rushing a sorority, trying to figure out who I could trust and how I fit into this circle or that group, wondering which relationships were going to be worth the investment.  This year, I got intentional about how I spent my time and noticed which people buoyed me and made me feel like my best self.  I made room for them in my life.  I noticed which people made me feel small, which conversations followed the same negative spirals, which groups looked shiny on the outside but were rife with backstabbing within.  I kept my distance from them.

I'm just home from book club, a group that never fails to talk about Big Stuff (tonight:  premature babies; how most places in the world outside of the USA and Western Europe, no matter how poor, scaffold their society to assist women and families with live-in help; racism; Alzheimer's disesase; family holidays) and laugh about Little Stuff (tonight:  wanting to videotape toddler diaper-changes to show grown children how much they used to drive us crazy; children's obsessions with vacuums; Bogs boots; Modern Family's admonition against having two fun parents; cheese).

I think this is key, to be able to talk about the Big Stuff and the Little Stuff with humor and integrity.  To be able to BE MYSELF and be supported and encouraged and understood.  I have discovered this kind of community through running, blogging, training for a triathlon, parenting, road-rallying, and standing outside my house in the late afternoons.  It's the reason I keep getting in the car to go to Friday morning yoga, Tuesday night book club, Sunday morning church.  It's the reason I head out the door for a run with a friend or drive to Indiana to bring a meal to a mom with a new baby.  The connections - the community - doesn't grow itself.  It needs to be nurtured.  It needs time, attention, effort.  And I have said this a million times before, I know, but I very much want my girls growing up seeing their mom build those relationships, nurturing that community.  I want them to know that building a tribe takes time and integrity and bringing a meal and remembering a birthday, and I want them to see how it's done.

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