Happy Thanksgiving from the Grand Nudge

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So it’s that time of year again. We cook up a turkey and spend an afternoon listening to Aunt Josephine rattle on about her gout. Sometimes I really wonder what the meaning of all this really is. Are we honoring our thankfulness – a virtue we should have all year round – or is it a big marketing plan from the turkey farmers and cranberry growers?

In truth, I think it is a little of both.

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The Grand Nudge Halloween Celebration

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Ooh, it’s my favorite time of year again! Halloween gives us all a chance to wear a mask and step outside of ourselves just for one day. For me it means donning my feather boa, sporting my cat eye glasses, and taking up the mantle of the Grand Nudge.

Last year many of you met me in my Halloween manifesto. My role in this life is to challenge all of you to move forward.

Stop thinking and start doing.

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Extended Community and the Role of the Internet

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Last month I shared the story of my injury and was looking forward to recovery. I do want to let you all know that I have been doing very well since I had surgery to repair the damage in my neck and have been slowly getting back to normal.

When I wrote about my experience and the importance of my shared household and community in my initial emergency as well as my recovery I purposefully left out part of the story. This one involved a more widespread community and how the internet and social media played a part in the connections.

When I first felt the debilitating pain in my neck, my original Facebook posting got the attention of my cousin who just happens to be a neurosurgeon. One phone call later I felt confident with a second opinion that helped inform me about my options going forward. I also received dozens of well wishes from others as well as input from people who had similar experiences in their own lives. It was helpful to be in contact just to let my far-flung friends and family know that I wasn’t ignoring them but rather trying to stay away from the computer too much and let the healing begin.

Since that time, and throughout the surgery, I was able use an online tool called Caring Bridge which allowed everyone to stay in touch, keep themselves informed, and send messages of support that I could see when I was finally back to a computer screen. It was both practical and heartwarming. Caring Bridge is a non-profit organization.

I have experienced so much support over the last several months that it is hard to write about how much it touched me. There were many messages, emails, visits, offers to help, dinners made, and deliveries of delicious edibles. Some friends even offered to take me to the doctor to help in my recovery. There are so many more blessings that I can’t even list.

Have you evaluated what you have in your support network? Support takes a different shape with each person in your life. You may have friends and family in another state who can’t be with you to help but want to support you in other ways. Most of my family is on the west coast but through the power of the internet I was able to stay connected and I knew they were thinking of me and lending their support in my recovery.

Of course, the internet doesn’t just have to play a role in your life when you’ve suffered a major setback. It can be a great tool for finding your own community and making change happen in your life. Tools like Facebook and Meet Up can help connect you to likeminded people to form a community and become each other’s support network through every day challenges and major disasters.

What are you waiting for?

Learn more about building community through Marianne’s workbook Your Quest for Home and on the website. Ask a question and join the discussion on Facebook.

The Blessings of Housemates: When Community Becomes More

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Just over a month ago, on July 11th, the article in the New York Times was published. I spent the weekend basking in the glow of the new attention being paid to the Women for Living in Community movement.

But that all changed on Monday.

I woke up to neck and arm pain so excruciating, I immediately thought it may be a stroke or heart attack. My pain was similar to the warning signs of women in my age group. The more I writhed around on the floor in intense pain the more I realized that I needed help. Because of my shared household, help was only 5 feet away in our common kitchen where my housemate was standing.

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Women For Living In Community: Mother’s Day

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“To my mom, Betty Jane Martin, who was a woman before her time. She was my hero and she continues inspiring me to find new ways to help others to age with grace and dignity.”

This is from the dedication page in my new book, Your Quest for Home. I wrote my book to honor my mother, Betty Jane Martin, and her memory and legacy.

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Breaking News: Marianne Kilkenny Leaves Community Living Behind!

“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.

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“Who Will Take Care of You?” Learning to Rely on Each Other

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.

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Welcome to Women For Living in Community

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.

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Tools for Creating Community

As you may know, my mission is to create places for Boomers to grow older in grace and dignity. My big thing is not to wait. If you’re someone who has been talking about these ideas with a friend, don’t wait 10 years. Let’s do it now!

 

In a radio interview I did earlier this year with Cathy Severson, host of the blog radio show “Retirement Life Matters,” I discuss my six-year circuitous and bumpy path that led to the shared Golden Girls-like home I happily now live in in Asheville, N.C. My goal is to help your path be considerably faster and easier. Here are tools to create community in your life now. Click here for a link to the full 30-minute interview and a downloadable transcript.

 

How do you get started?
I see three key components for creating community in your life.
Ask yourself:
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.”

Please contact me if you’re ready to make community happen in your life and create the kind of living arrangement you want for the next phase of your life.

Are you a Good Fit for a Golden Girls Home? Part 2

The four women and one man who share this Golden Girls-like home enjoy regular meals together.

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.

You’re Flexible
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.

Women For Living in Community