“I’m moving to a mountain cabin by myself. I think it is time to be a hermit,” said Kilkenny in a recent interview with the Solitary Times.
Women For Living in Community is about being self-sufficient and self-reliant as we age but the key word there is “Community.” I believe women can be stronger together and we can help each other in ways we may not expect.
In 2012, 37 million American women between the ages of 30 and 84 are childfree by choice or by chance. For generations in cultures around the world it was expected that children would take care of their aging parents. The reality in our country is that many seniors are hidden away in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, even those with children.
There are alternatives.
When we ask the question “Who will take care of you?” what answer are we looking for? Is it possible that we are asking the wrong question altogether?
Click below to read more about community living as we age.
Welcome to my website.
If you’re new here or it has been a while since you’ve visited you’re probably wondering who I am and why I have a website for women living in community. Let me share my story with you.
After 30 years of working in Silicon Valley I decided I needed to make a drastic change. I had watched my own parents age and eventually move into nursing homes and as I cared for them I knew this was not the way I wanted to live the last third of my life. Divorced without children, I knew that if changes were going to happen I needed to be the one in control.
I moved from Northern California to Asheville, North Carolina, with the intention of promoting community living for women like myself. Asheville, if you don’t know it, is a gorgeous town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. The city’s energy is a blend of many kinds of people coming together. Community-building is a big part of the area’s identity so I knew it was the perfect place to settle and live my own vision to champion alternative housing choices for Boomers, especially women, who want to experience camaraderie, connection and confidence in their later years.
The progressive nature of Asheville coupled with it being a retirement destination in a naturally beautiful setting made it possible for this Californian to settle to reinvent herself in NC. There are many retirees here.
I live in community.
Click below for more of my story.
I see three key components for creating community in your life.
1. Who are the people you most want to live with?
2. Where is the place you see yourself living?
3. What are key interpersonal tools you’ll need to get along with your housemates?It is critical to begin with a clear vision for yourself of why you want a community component in your housing. Is it economic? For social connections? For health reasons? Or all three combined?
What tools will help you?
I assist groups and individuals to get started by focusing on what I call “My Why?” Ask yourself: Why do I want to do this? When the process gets difficult, you’ll find it helpful to refer back to why you were inspired to create a community in the first place.
I highly recommend the “The Blue Print of We.” You can view this free document produced by The Center for Collaborative Awareness at this link. This is a document we regularly use in our shared house in Asheville both, as a contract with our landlord, and as a working document between housemates. Each of us fills out our own part and then we combine sections for a comprehensive document we’ve all agreed to.
Making decisions is one of the most difficult things to do with a group of people. It’s not about someone winning. It’s about everyone being heard and people feeling included in the decision. We use a form of decision making called “Dynamic Governance.”
We also use Non-Violent Communication, a method developed by Marshall Rosenberg. This communication tool enables you to clearly express your feelings and needs and keeps the phrasing to “I” statements, such as, I feel hurt when you ….”. You can access all these documents in the Resources section of my website under “Tools for Getting Along.”
In last week’s blog post, I wrote about the Golden Girls-like home (named after the TV series) where Boomer Women share a house and live together under the same roof. This house-based intentional community has many benefits, including personal privacy, companionship, and reduced daily expenses. On the financial side, you share the rent or mortgage payment, house maintenance and upkeep of common spaces, such as the kitchen, living and dining areas.
As a Boomer Woman, what personal characteristics do you need to successfully live in a shared home? To give you a quick overview, please see me in this one-minute video.
If you’re considering creating or joining a shared household, here are five personality traits to help you determine if you’re a good fit. These insights come from my personal five-year journey to create the Golden Girls-like home I now live in in Asheville, North Carolina and to help reduce the time it takes you to find an ideal housing arrangement for the next chapter of your life.
You’re Social – Enjoy Connecting with People
To successfully live with housemates, you need to enjoy spending time with others. Sharing a home, especially as an adult, requires lots of interaction – both spontaneous and planned – with your housemates. It’s not that you need to be an extravert but, if you are an introvert, you are comfortable having daily contact with housemates.
You Like Living in Close Proximity with Others
Will you feel comfortable being seen when you come out of the shower wrapped in your towel or robe? Can you tolerate someone saying hello before you’ve had your first cup of coffee? Depending on the design of the home and the location of bedrooms and bathrooms, you may be interacting with your housemates first thing in the morning or throughout the day. Ask yourself, “How much privacy do I need?” Will you feel “surrounded” by housemates or will you enjoy the company of sharing a kitchen and dining area with others? If you like having people around when you cook, then this lifestyle may work for you.
When considering sharing a home with other Boomer adults, it’s important to be flexible. People and circumstances change, sometimes with little advance notice. If you’re someone who can flow with the small and large changes in people’s lives – from lost keys to lost jobs – the better your chances of successfully living with others.
You’re Tolerant of Someone Using/Borrowing Your Things
Living in a shared home, almost by definition, requires a higher level of sharing. It’s inevitable that items like kitchen tools, books and other personal items will end up being used (and sometimes broken) by housemates. Your level of comfort around sharing your things will contribute significantly to your success in this housing arrangement. Saying what’s important to you and establishing boundaries can go a long way to making a shared home work after you move in.
You’re a Strong Communicator & Good Listener
Many issues come up when you’re living in a “Golden Girls-like Home.” You’ll be dealing with use of community spaces, finances, guests, activities, pets, standards of cleanliness and more. To successfully navigate through all these conversations and make sound group decisions requires clearly expressing your personal preferences and hearing the needs of your housemates.
A document that our household has found helpful is the Blue Print of We document available on the Resources page of my website.
Finding your ideal housemates and setting clear boundaries about how you want to live together is one of the workshops I offer. Please contact me if you’d like a free 30-minute consultation.
“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” Margaret Mead
I come home from a long trip to the West Coast exhausted from the time change and the joys of current air travel. As I turn into my driveway, I see my lights are on in my house and the shades are drawn. What a welcome sight for a woman living alone. I’m expected; someone is welcoming me home.
It is my neighbor, Ginny, who has been taking care of the house and my two cats while I visited distant states in my campaign to tout the glories of living in community. In the last 4 years I have encouraged, cajoled, and nudged my fellow Boomers to investigate new ways of spending our lives as we move forward into its second half. [Read more...]
“Let’s Get Physical” (Remember the song?)
Through my many years of looking for “my community” I researched, visited sites all over the country, hours on the web, books, seminars, probing, questioning and soul searching. Then there were some pretty stupid and costly “lessons” too. You might have to hear about those in person. I wish I had this book with all it’s wise checklists to guide me along the way back then.
Here is another part of the a checklist from The Sharing Solution by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow. You can get it for free at http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/sharing-book.html. Check out other resources like this one at http://www.womenlivingincommunity.com/resources/books/.
A morsel for you from their wonderful book: [Read more...]
TIP #1: Start by answering a few important questions.
It’s been a wild and wonderful ride since last Saturday’s show on NBC Nightly News Weekend edition. It started out with a call on my cell phone a man, Tranh Tran, with a very sexy voice, saying he was with NBC and would like to talk to me about the possibility of featuring something about the growing trend of Boomer women sharing houses. He had found my name in various places in his Google search. [Read more...]
No coffee today!
What a way to start the day! Got a bad cold and laryngitis too! Poor me. But wait ! There is a knock at my door. S. shows up to apologize for slamming the door as she takes out the recycling for pick up. Slam away, at least I don’t have to take it out in the blustery, gray and rainy morning.
Next I get a hug from S. Joining both G. and S. for coffee is offered in the common kitchen which they share, and I say “Sure!” I didn’t have to make my coffee today. Then on top of that wonderment, I got some scrambled eggs at a table with cloth napkins and some company. Couldn’t even sit and feel sorry for myself this morning.
To add to the festivities of the pre-8am goings-on (is that a Southern term?) a raccoon or some other creature had gotten into the garbage and it was strewn all over the driveway. The thought of going and picking all that up this morning overwhelmed me. Before I had a chance to grab the rubber gloves, (which I did slowly) L. was out there doing the chore of picking up after our 4-legged neighbor. Bless your heart. (Yes, that is Southern expression, I am sure).
Off went G. to give a ride to a friend with instructions to S. NOT to do the dishes. Yes, they do them by hand. I saw my opportunity to give back for the treat I had been given this morning. I did the dishes in their kitchen, as I have my own kitchen in our shared house, and felt GREAT about doing dishes. Maybe I do have a fever. The things that continue to surprise me about living in a shared house with the right folks.
Next is was helping S. off to her 17-day trip to St. Croi (sp?) for her daughter’s wedding. Don’t know that I was much help, but it felt good to try! Off she went in her little bug. It felt good to wave goodbye to her. I know that I love to have someone wave goodbye to me when I am off, especially for a long trip. Makes me feel like I have a family who will know I am gone.
Well, we have that here. A chosen family who looks out for each other, and so many little things that add up to a big feeling of comfort and love.
Who knew? I didn’t but I did dream about it. It’s reality now.
Marianne lives in a shared house in Asheville, North Carolina and inspires others to live in community as a solution to the isolation of living and aging alone. Her primary attention goes to Boomer women like herself. www.womenlivingincommunity.com