My Compelling “Why”

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”:

  1. The quest to honor the memory of my mother, Betty
  2. 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.

A morning reminder of hope

A morning reminder of hope

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.

Marianne Kilkenny

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A New Beginning: A Dream Becomes Reality

My Vision of Community

This is Part 2 of My Journey. In Part 1 of My Journey, I wrote about my recent move to a mini-pocket neighborhood – essentially developing a group of shared homes.  (PS. Sometimes we leave out the most obvious details – as if you can read my mind… I still live in Asheville, NC) I also wrote that it signaled not only an important change in my life but also for Women for Living in Community. To read Part 1, click here.

My Journey: A New Chapter for WLIC (June 5th)

For the past few years I have focused much of my attention on the education and awareness of issues surrounding living in community and aging.  I have worked hard to build and promote Women for Living in Community as a resource to families and individuals (men and women) who are seeking alternatives to aging in community for themselves and their families.

I am now beginning a new chapter, a chapter focused on the building and development of a community model for aging in community.  A community not focused on the physical structure with amenities (like nursing homes and retirement homes) but creating a community designation that can be adaptable to where you live, whether you live in a single family home, mobile home community or a NORC (naturally occurring retirement community), live in shared housing or any combination of newly emerging models like the tiny-house community.

The fundamental problem with the way we view aging today is the focus upon the physical needs which tend to place focus on the physical models of living such as retirement communities. These are designed and built solely for the purpose of aging adults and their healthcare but not built for their welfare. These models fail to place focus on the “living aging” and it is this kind of thinking that scares most of us.  We wish to change that focus and in doing so, change lives and how we “age” in community as an active, living, vibrant part of life.

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Group Visioning About Community

In the next chapter of my life, I hope to make connections and partnerships with people, professionals and groups that want to join me as we develop this new community model designation that focuses on the welfare of individuals,  families and the surrounding area.  This is a model that can be implemented right where people live now, not forcing them to move to some “center”.  There will be much more on this.  This is a dream that because of Women for Living in Community network, supporters, and people like you, can now be realized.  Look out for Bettyz Playz.

I’ve Moved! Why and what does this mean for WLIC?

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Welcome to my house!

NOTE: This is Part 1 of My Journey update. Part 2 coming next week.

I’ve moved!

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. I’ve explored many opportunities, some that came to me and some that I sought out.  I reviewed each of them but for one reason or another, they didn’t seem to fit or be the right thing at the right moment.

What about this move made it the right thing to do and how does my move fit in with Women for Living in Community? After all, a big part of my story has been my shared housing arrangement that I’ve been living in for the last 4 years, often referred to as the “Golden Girl” lifestyle.  (Click here for related blogs about ‘Golden Girls’ style living)

What I am doing now is expanding the shared housing concept in a mini-pocket neighborhood.

Shared housing is a very important and a viable, wonderful, life fulfilling learning experience for anyone who is seeking a better way of living as we age.  A mini-pocket neighborhood is an expansion of the shared housing concept. Imagine if the Golden Girls ladies lived in a neighborhood made up of other shared housing homes.  That’s what I am in the process of developing for myself.

My shared mini-pocket neighborhood

My new home and land are a perfect setting for me to take in housemates (I will have a part-time housemate for now).  I will also be sharing a larger piece of property and another house with a friend, essentially creating a mini-pocket neighborhood.  Already, opportunities are expanding.  There is another house on the property who is interested in possibly living as a mini-pocket neighborhood. Hope, hope,….

Will this be my last move?

Since moving to Asheville and launching Women for Living in Community, I have moved 7 times.  My moving has, in a way, been “on the job” training for me as I have explored various alternatives to living in community in order to find the right one. (Sure has given me good stories for my talks too!) I have learned something new about myself and the types of arrangements – all lessons I have shared with you and the Women for Living in Community network. While I hope this is it, I cannot say what the future holds. This move actually signals another important change and development in my life.

A Look Back: Over the Years slideshow:


The Next Chapter

In many ways this move has also signaled a turning point for Women for Living in Community.  More on that in Part 2 of My Journey update.

Seventh Annual Conference on Positive Aging

Positive aging 2014February 9th – 12th, 2014   ~   Sarasota, Florida

Over 400 conference-goers from around the world made their way to Sarasota, Florida for the Seventh Annual International Conference on Positive Aging.

The Conference was a highly interactive gathering of professionals from established and emerging businesses, academic research, government policy makers, and social service providers who participated in two and half days of dialogue and networking with their local, national, and international peers.  There were many options for participation for both professionals and local interested residents, including attendance at the keynote dinner with Ina Jaffe, National Public Radio National Correspondent covering all aspects of aging for NPR.”  ~  Institute of the Ages

Women Starting Over After 50 – 10/2013

IN Chapel Hill  Wed, Oct 16, 2013

Women Starting Over After 50 to Present Workshop – Tools For Women: Achieving a Prosperous Life After 50

Women Starting Over After 50 is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women during the second half of life. WSO50 has assembled a panel of experts to provide vital information, answer your questions, and empower you to “Achieve A Prosperous Life After 50.” Panelists include:
Lisa M. Gabriel, CFP, ChFC is Sr. Vice-President of Axius Financial. Lisa helps you navigate financially through life and prepare for and take control during life’s inevitable transitions.
Christina G. Hinkle, Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning & Probate Law, Tillman, Hinkle & Whichard, PLLC. Christina’s practice focuses on wills and trusts, estate and gift tax planning.
Marianne Kilkenny, founder of Women Living in Community, is an expert on the financial, safety and social benefits of the shared home model. Marianne has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, the CBS Early Show, ABC News and AARP. 
Madelyn Ashley, RN, MSN, is the owner of Senior Transitions of North Carolina. Since 1990, Madelyn has been assisting Seniors to live as independently as possible in a safe environment.
Patty Bergy is the Area Representative for Always Best Care. Patty facilitates a broad spectrum of care giving ranging from in-home companion care to end-of-life services.
Lesley Gray is the owner of Another Daughter. Lesley provides caregivers and adult children the help they need to find, coordinate and monitor non-medical services for the Seniors they love.
Dee Whitaker is the Publisher of Natural Awakenings magazine, and is a Certified Life Coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Practitioner. Dee is passionate in her mission to help others heal–in body, mind and spirit.
Seating is limited, so call a friend now and plan to attend Wednesday, October 16 from6:30 to 9:00pm. Event to be held at: A Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, located in University Mall. $25 to the public and $15 for WSO50 members. Register online at http://www.wso50.com using PayPal or mail your check to WSO50, Attn: Donna Nelson, 66 Hardin Circle, Ste 12B, Chapel Hill NC 2516.
For information, call 919-918-3916 or email giraffe3productions@yahoo.com.

[Read more…]

The Shared Housing Option

The Shared Housing Option with Marianne Kilkenny and Linda Williams

The ’80s TV sitcom The Golden Girls offered viewers witty dialogue and laugh tracks, but it popularized a concept of housing — shared housing or the collaborative home — whose time may have just arrived. Kilkenny  and Williams  are colleagues, friends, and housemates in Asheville who share a missionary passion for promoting community and alternative housing choices through their speaking engagements and workshops. Their combined experiences, stories, and exercises will foster questions, insights, and aha’s.

Kilkenny founded Women for Living in Community and has been interviewed about the financial, safety, and social benefits of the shared home model on NBC Nightly News, CBS Early Show, ABC News, and NPR. Williams is Communications Director of the Living in Community Network in Sarasota, FL.

This public programs will be held at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough, NCthe programs begin at 6:30 PM.

All presentations will include facilitated discussions that will spark new ideas and allow those with similar interests to connect.

The Central Orange Center is located at 103 Meadowlands DriveHillsborough, NC (919) 245-2015.

INFORMATION ON THE ABOVE EVENT: http://www.secondjourney.org/FallSeries.htm

Exploring Community and Interdependence – 9/2013

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What Will You Call Home at the End of Life? 9/2012

Dene Peterson copyCreating New Models of Home & Community in Later Life

Saturday, Sept 29, 2012
9:00am to 2:00 PM
Reuter Center, UNC Asheville

Featuring keynote speaker Dene Peterson (pictured right), founder and developer of ElderSpirit. Includes panel discussions with local experts, and small group sessions focused on intentional visioning and exploration. Marianne Kilkenny will be one of the local experts presenting on the panel.

Women for Living in Community Featured in New York Times Article

Shared Housing has hit the big time! Yesterday, the work I have been doing for the past six years was featured in an article in The New York Times. Times staff writer Phyllis Korkki described the growing challenges of housing and aging when you don’t have family and friends nearby as you get older.

Phyllis interviewed me for the story and her piece highlighted how the Women for Living in Community Network “encourages the creation of networks that enable older people — mainly women, but also men, as her own example shows — to share housing.”

The article entitled “Childless and Aging? Time to Designate a Caregiver” goes on to explain how people can have the companionship we need in later years by creating shared housing arrangements. The photo (pictured right)  captured one of our household’s weekly meeting.

Read the entire piece where I am featured in the last four paragraphs of the article.

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.
Women For Living in Community