Recently I was asked to write a profile article about myself and my work. Writing about yourself is difficult but it did make me do some heavy thinking about my journey over the last (almost) 10 years. There have been many times when I questioned my progress, especially when the future felt so unclear. But writing the article reminded of the two reasons that started me on my journey almost 10 years ago….My Compelling “Why”:
- The quest to honor the memory of my mother, Betty
- The desire to find or create a community of people with shared values to grow with live with, and care for each other.
My Compelling Why
I last wrote about my mother in April 2014 for a Mother’s Day article. You can read it here. Watching my mother age in a nursing home was like having cold water splashed on my face… constantly. I was there but it never felt like enough. When she passed away I knew then that this was not the way to end what had been years of happiness and hard work. Honoring the memory of my mother meant finding a better alternative and spreading the word so others did not share in that fate.
At the same time I was caring for my parents, I was going through my own shift – my long career in Corporate HR was coming to an end. I was divorced, alone and facing my future as a “boomer,” like many others. I knew then I needed to find or create a community of people with shared values to support each other in good and bad times.
Little did I know how long this quest would take.
Always in a hurry for the quick fix, I had no idea the twists and turns my journey would take. The simple step of starting this website in 2007 turned into speaking, teaching and then writing My Guidebook. Locally, I’ve become known as “The Community Lady.” The media dubbed me the “real life Golden Girls” when I was living with 3 to 4 women (and sometimes a guy here or there). In the last year I’ve moved out of shared housing and am now exploring what to do with a 2 acre lot of land – do I build, what do I build, do I create a community?
There have been many times I doubted the progress I was making, but as I look back upon my journey, I realize that the last 10 years have proven to be my own “School on Aging/Thriving.” I learned about the pros and cons, options and alternatives while testing and exploring different models, personally. While this journey is not yet over, I have come full circle to My Compelling Why.
I started honoring my mother the moment I took the big step to moving to Asheville and founded Women for Living in Community. With each blog post I write, speech I give, or with every person who buys my Guidebook and takes that single step to finding their community, I am honoring my mother. I am sharing and will continue to share with others ideas for a better way to age with grace and dignity than the nursing home model.
During all of this, I’ve realized that assets in dollars or possessions are not as important as assets in friendships, companionships, intimacy and belonging.
The quest to find my own community was right there all along. In July 2014, I wrote and published a page on this website called “My Journey” and in it I magically referred to the next chapter of my journey…
(July 2014) “As I go forward into the future, there are many more chapters to this story. Finding my tribe and the place I can bring others to experience some of the things I have learned…”
I have found my tribe
Well, it has been just over 2 years since making that statement and guess what… I attended a workshop in Oregon in May called “New Tribe Training.” New Tribe is something I’ve been exploring for awhile after reading the book, We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community by Bill Kauth with Zoe Alowan.
Unlike many other models, this one does not require relocation or real estate. The foundation of any community, no matter what shape that community takes (shared housing, Intentional Communities, Village to Village Networks, etc.), are the members of that Community and you can create your ideal community right where you are now.
New Tribe is the community you create that begins with yourself and the people who are already around you that you desire to have a close relationship, share specific values, hold each other as a priority and formally commit to each other with the longer term goal of being best friends. If you want to learn more, you can. We are sponsoring a New Tribe Training workshop here in Asheville in October. Details here. I will also be sharing a lot more about this in the next few blog posts as well.
In short, each of us has our Compelling Why for what we do, especially when it’s personal. Don’t give up. Keep trying different options. Keep learning and you’ll be surprised how the answers have been there all along.
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