Discovering the Wisdom of the Crone

What has changed in your world during COVID & The Great Pause

Shared Housing: What Works & What Doesn’t

A few of my favorite books on Aging in Community

What has COVID-19 taught us about the connections that we have?

One of the reasons that I’ve been drawn to community building for many years is so that I would have a support system in place when times get tough, particularly as I age. 

As I adapt to the new normal that’s come with the coronavirus crisis, I’m grateful for the community that I have, including some that’s popped up in unexpected places. But I’ve also discovered that some of my connections were less resilient or supportive than I thought. 

I suspect that I’m not the only one that’s going through this process. Adversity can bring out the best in us, but it also shows us where the gaps are and where our expectations were unrealistic.

So I’m taking an inventory of what I’ve got, what I don’t, and what I can do to change the things I can. And I’m inviting you to do the same.

Join me by examining what’s working for you, too! 

In addition to sharing my own reflections, I’ve included a few prompting questions for you to consider about your own experiences lately.

I encourage you to have a pen and paper nearby so that you can jot down any observations and possibilities that you feel inspired to explore.

What’s going right for me with the connections I have in my life?

What kinds of connections are serving my needs and allowing me to feel seen? What have I been grateful to discover I already have in place? Where do I feel nourished and connected?

One thing I am very grateful for at the moment is that I’ve got so many incredible people in my life. 

I’ve had to work hard to find and nourish these friendships, but it’s been worth it when people have called me out of the blue to check on me, dropped off a nourishing meal, or stopped by for a walk (while maintaining safe social distancing measures, of course). 

Although I’m living alone right now, I’m grateful for my home, which is placed in a beautiful setting in north Asheville. I’ve got a garden blooming with plants that others have helped me choose and care for. I have neighbors that are saying “Hi!” and reaching out to one another more often than ever, kind of like people have done after a big snowstorm. I’ve been surprised to see that they are doing this online a lot through platforms like NextDoor.

While I can’t see them in person, I’m grateful for some community circles that I’ve been actively involved with for years. Meeting on Zoom is definitely different and takes some getting used to, but I’m still able to see folks like my Tribe and other circles at least once a week where we can continue to do support and bond with one another. 

I’m also grateful that I have options. I own a brick ranch house adjacent to my own home that I’ve been renovating to be used for shared living. Now, I’ve just moved into the home and a good friend will be joining me in living there soon. This was always my plan for the future, but this thing has sped up the clock for me. 

Question to Ask Yourself #1:

What has been working well for you with your friends, family, and community ties as you adapted to social distancing?

What’s not working for me right now living where I live?

Where is my neighborhood falling short? What has been making me feel the most lonely or isolated? Where does it hurt?

Now for the hard part. As someone who has spent a good portion of her life building community so that I wouldn’t have to age alone, it hurts to find myself yet again living alone in times like this. 

Most people that I know at least have a housemate or partner that they get to see every day. I try not to dwell on it, but there are times when I’m sitting alone in my space wondering how the hell I ended up being more isolated than them. 

My Tribe is very important to me, and we’ve all put in a lot of effort into creating a tightly bound support system. We even named our group the GoTo’s because we wanted to become each other’s go-to people. Now that the new normal has arrived, we’re all struggling to adapt to not living closer and how to support each other in a complicated situation. 

Also, I’ve just got to say it, using tools like Zoom just aren’t the same as meeting in person, and I’m not sure how to create the intimacy and connection that I’m used to on platforms like this just yet.

Question to Ask Yourself #2:

What kind of community connections have you been missing the most since the crisis began?

So what will I do to change the things I can?

Once I realized the drain that rattling around in my home alone was having on me, I made moving into a shared home a serious priority.

Between preparing for the move, finding a housemate, and getting some finishing touches done, this made me feel like I was heading in a positive direction. Now that my move is complete, I can say that I’ve taken real action to correct something that wasn’t working for me during the last few months.

I also made efforts that I hadn’t been doing before to connect in some way with people I care about, such as:

  • More frequent conversations with my sister in California. 
  • Connected with old friends that I hadn’t talked to who lived away.
  • Participated in some Tribe building workshops with my pals in Ashland, Oregon.
  • Sent a text to a friend who I had lost touch with.
  • Stayed connected a little on Facebook.
  • Got used to connecting on Zoom and building my confidence in helping a group, our Connection Circle, go deeper and get to know each other using that platform.
  • Go for walks with others in my lovely Cove to stay active and actually SEE others in person.
  • Talk to my neighbors in my little neighborhood.

Question 3:

So what will I do to change the things I can?

If you found this post and exercise helpful, I’d love to hear about it. You can reach me at, or you can join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Other ways to stay connected include signing up below to the WLIC mailing list for occasional updates and tuning into my streaming videos on Facebook Live. At the moment, I’m doing a live broadcast every Monday at 3 pm EST.

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These Unforgettable Golden Girls Moments Show Aging in Community in Action

The Golden Girls is a classic TV sitcom that has stood the test of time like few others. Watching it today, it’s amazing how well it has aged with its fully realized characters and pitch-perfect punchline delivery.

The show has also become a touchstone in the aging in community movement, frequently being cited as an example of senior coliving that resonates deeply for many of us. While living in shared housing can be more complex and challenging than the Golden Girls reflects, it’s also something that many elders have been able to work for them in real life, including myself.

But these women living in community in their Florida bungalow were ahead of their time in other ways as well. They took on the challenging issues of their day and shared points of view that are just as deeply resonate today as they were when they first aired.

Below are six great examples of The Golden Girls showing themselves to be a true example of women living in a healthy, nourishing community. Fair warning: A couple of these clips are real tearjerkers.

The community accepts a new community member with Sophia’s arrival in Episode 1.

AIDS is not a bad person disease, Rose.

Blanche thinks she sees what Sophia is getting at about gay marriage…

Dorothy and Blanche confront Rose about her pain pill addiction.

Sophia talks with someone considering suicide like a friend. Like a best friend.

Condoms, condoms, condoms…

The Golden Girls legacy is part of my story as well, which you can learn more about in this interview I gave with NBC a few years ago.

If you have found these clips entertaining or have your own moments to share, join the conversation on Facebook.

Are you ready to take the next step in creating a real-life Golden Girls household of your own?

One common obstacle that I hear about from people who want to age in community but don’t know where to start is that they feel like they don’t know how to find the right people to live with.

That’s why I’ve put together the free download that you’ll find below, Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps.

In it you will find an exercise from my book, Your Quest for Home, that’s designed to help you think outside the box about how to find potential community members. It’s a simple guide for creating an expanding mind map of possibilities that you can complete in a single sitting.

If you’re up for the challenge, please take a moment to access the exercise now. And if you put it to work for yourself, please let me know!

Sign up below to receive my free exercise for finding your people!

Feeling inspired to take the next step? Great!
Sign up now for my FREE exercise for finding potential community partners, Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps.

Please note: we do not share or sell your email information.

11 Ways to Stay Connected while You are Staying Home

For most of us, the most important thing that we can do to help with coronavirus is to stay at home. Sounds easy, right?

Well, if you’re like me, you’re probably finding that it’s getting a little less easy as the weeks wear on. Even if we are all participating in the most collective experience of our lives right now, it’s hard to feel connected when we’re so physically isolated.

That’s why I’ve been collecting some different things to try out to stay connected while staying at home. It takes some effort and a willingness to try something new, but there’s really no limit to the types of activities that we can do together virtually thanks to today’s technology. 

Some of the ideas that I’ve collected probably aren’t new to you, but I want to pass them on because I know that I need reminders to actually try some of this stuff out. Because this situation is new to all of us, and it takes some effort to adapt to the new normal.

Before launching into all of the innovative online options that are out there, let’s all remember to just pick up the phone, too. It just takes a moment to call or text a friend, and quite often a little chat or check-in is all that we need to remind ourselves that we’re connected.

Use Social Media or Zoom to Catch up With Friends & Family Members

Almost all the social media websites and applications today offer this feature where you can video chat with your friends and family. You can even have a group video chat with more than two people on most of the social media platforms out there.

Through these applications, you can stay connected with the people who matter the most every day, even if you are video calling them just to say hi.

Join local groups that are adjusting to life online

If there are some groups that you’re a member of that usually meet in person, check to see whether they have made the move to meeting online for the time being. 

I’ve been impressed by how many organizations in my area have made the transition, as well as how quickly they’ve done it. Everybody from special interest clubs and support groups to activist organizations and mastermind circles are meeting on tools like Zoom now. 

Most of them are very welcoming to visitors and new members, making this a great time to explore the possibilities from home.

Livestream your workout and meditation sessions 

There’s also no reason to exercise alone unless you want to right now either. 

While plenty of trainers are offering instruction online, it’s also easy to just hop onto a video call with a friend or two for a workout.

In fact, this is a great time to share what you know with others and learn new techniques. You’ll be encouraging each other to keep your self-care up too!

Try out some Zoom dinner dates & coffee breaks

All of us are looking forward to things like breaking bread and having coffee with our loved ones in person again soon. 

Sitting down for a morning cup of coffee with a friend on Zoom is still pretty sweet though and a nice way to start the day. Romantic couples are keeping the flame alive while apart with virtual dinner dates. Foodie friends are having fun by making the same meals together while at home. 

I even have friends who reported that their recent online Easter dinner or Passover meal was surprisingly intimate.

Bookend challenging situations and celebrate wins digitally

One great way to stay connected right now is to bookend difficult situations with members of your support group.

All that this involves is checking in with a friend before facing a hard situation or task and then checking out with them once you’re done. Examples of things you might bookend include a difficult conversation with someone or tackling a task you’ve been procrastinating about. 

Bookending offers you a way to ask for support while allowing others into your life, and you can encourage your friends to bookend items of their own with you, too. 

A similar simpler method of staying connected is to just celebrate the daily wins in your life as you run across them. If you’re feeling a moment of accomplishment or experience an unexpected windfall during the day, shoot a friend a text about it. They’d probably be thrilled to share in your joy.

Throw a Netflix Party and stream a movie or show together

Binge-watching Netflix is one way to pass the time during quarantine, but it can become an unhealthy habit, too. 

But inviting people to an online movie night turns the isolation of it all on its head. Apps like Netflix Party allow you to sync up your online viewing with friends. 

Note that Netflix Party is only available on Chrome using a laptop or desktop computer. 

If you want to skip using an app, you can also just arrange to watch a movie together over the phone or call one another once the movie is over to share what you thought of it.

Explore museums and other cultural experiences together virtually 

As you may have heard, there are also a ton of virtual tours available right now of world famous museums. From the ancient artifacts of Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology to incredible works of art from a range of historical periods at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, you don’t have to leave your house to see some truly amazing collections. 

And you don’t have to do it alone. You can explore these together with someone by using screenshare on tools like Zoom, or you and your friends meet after touring a particular museum on your own. In addition to museums, virtual tours are available of destinations ranging from the San Diego Zoo to Walt Disney World

Craft together using video chat or pictures

If you are connected to more creative types, consider setting up a time where you can all work together on your own projects.

Sharing your creative process with another as you hone your collective crafts is actually pretty easy to do with a little planning and streaming video.

Personally, I’ve had a great time making vision boards in person with my friends in the past. Working on that kind of project remotely would be a little different, but I bet it could be just as rewarding.

Challenge others to a step competition

It’s important to stay physically active during this period, and most of us can still get out for a walk unless we’re under strict quarantine. If you’ve got a fitness tracker or decent mobile device, consider sharing your daily steps with friends and encouraging them to do the same. 

You might challenge each other to get out for a certain number of steps each day, and it doesn’t need to be a lot to be worthwhile. You can also share pictures of things that you see during your walk or simply catch up on the phone with someone while you are out for a stroll.

Enjoy some light fun with a virtual board or game of cards

Finding some kind of game to play together online is another easy and fun way to stay connected. 

With modern gaming consoles, there’s no limit to the gaming experiences that are out there. Personally, I prefer the classic board and card games, and I was surprised just how many have online versions these days that you can play with your friends.

Find your own projects to collaborate together on online

Lastly, staying connected with people doesn’t always need to involve seeing each other or interacting in real-time, as great as that is. 

For example, you can start a Google Doc with friends and collaborate on just about anything. In fact, my tribe and I have a shared doc that we’ve been working on lately where we’re sharing other ways that we can stay together while staying at home.

I hope that you found these ideas for staying connected helpful! 

On my end, I’m looking forward to exploring some new ways to stay connected with members of the Women Living in Community network, including some live broadcasts. I hope that you’ll be able to join me!

So if you’re not already signed up, be sure to subscribe for updates from our network now. That’s the easiest way to know what we’re doing next, as well as when a new post has been published. 

Join the Women Living in Community Network now by signing up below!

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11 Video Examples & Discussions of Shared Housing Communities from Around the World

While shared housing has a lot of perks, doing it right can be a daunting task.

Personally, I find it helpful to remind myself of all of the successfully shared houses that there are out there. I’ve lived in some myself, and they’re a ton of them out there that I already know about. I also find out about new ones that I’ve never heard of all of the time.

That’s part of why I wanted to share the videos below with you. They’re just inspiring. But there’s another reason too.

People who have had success with shared housing have already been down a road that you may just be beginning. And most of them have learned the hard way what it takes to make this work. By listening to their stories, we can learn what really matters with this sort of thing and get actionable advice to make our own dreams a reality.

Ready to get inspired?

Here are several uplifting stories about thriving shared houses from around the globe.

This first video is of my friends and I living together in Asheville, North Carolina

This video shows the impact that shared housing has on people facing hard times, including homelessness in Dallas, Texas.

A beautiful example of multigenerational shared living from Australia

Australian news report covering examples of senior shared housing in Tazmania

A group of self-sufficient seniors living together in one of four shared homes created in Chicago by the nonprofit Senior Housing Share

Three Boomers aging in community in Ontario Canada

This Japanese example of a shared house features a younger set of housemates, but it’s pretty neat.

There are also some broader discussions of shared housing that look at the movement more deeply.

In Manchester, UK, people old and young discuss the desperate need for shared housing in their community.

Organizers Pat Dunn and Louise Bardswich discuss shared housing within the Aging in Community movement in Canada.

Margaret Manning and Bonnie Moore dig into why so many women over 60 are interested in shared housing.

Finally, I recently filmed a short video of my own covering what I have found works and what doesn’t from my own experiences with shared housing.

If you have found these videos helpful, join the conversation on Facebook.

And if you are ready to dig deeper, I have a next step for you to take.

I recently put together a FREE exercise just for you that I think you’ll find helpful. It’s actually repurposed from my book, Your Quest for Home.

It’s called Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps. It’s a mind mapping exercise designed to get you heading in the right direction when you are thinking of who might live in your shared house. While it’s designed for folks who are in the planning stage of creating their community, it should be interesting regardless of where you are in your journey.

To receive it, simply enter your email address below, and I’ll get it right to you. And if you decide to put it to work, please let me know! Seriously, I love that kind of feedback.

Sign up below to receive my free exercise for finding your people!

Feeling inspired to take the next step? Great!
Sign up now for my FREE exercise for finding potential community partners, Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps.

Please note: we do not share or sell your email information.

Free Webinar: Calling in Your Tribe During Uncertain Times

In the face of our global health crisis, many of us are wondering whether we have deep, sustainable connections with a community we can rely on when times get tough. Sadly, most of us would say, “No.”

We hunger for community. We want our tribe back. And that’s why I want to share an upcoming free webinar with you called “Calling in Your Tribe.” It’s being presented by two dear friends of mine, Bill Kauth & Zoe Alowan Kauth.

I have been through Bill & Zoe’s workshops many times both in person and in online classrooms. I organized bringing them and their training here to Asheville in recent years.

And it’s been through their inspiration, insight, and masterful facilitation that I have been able to create a tribe of my own. Now, they’re sharing some of what they have to offer with you through a free webinar that’s taking place on Tuesday, March 24. I highly encourage you to register now.

Until the coronavirus brought things to a halt, we’ve all been so over-busy, distracted, and siloed in our work or our primary relationship, that we’ve felt the hunger for deeper support…but it hasn’t appeared available or possible for us

Culturally, we’ve been led to believe that we don’t need each other and that building true community isn’t possible anymore.

The truth is we really do need each other…it’s deep in us. 

Do you feel the call to tribe? Would you like to become a conscious community-builder?

My dear friends, Bill Kauth and Zoe Alowan Kauth spent ten years figuring out how to make it happen, and what it takes – and they’ve been VERY successful. They’re now ready to share their secrets to successful tribe-building. Join them for their special, free online webinar:

Calling in Your Tribe:
Creating Your Own Heart-to-Heart Personal Communit

10 Inspiring Quotes about Shared Housing in Community

I have been collecting quotes lately related to shared housing from figures in the Aging in Community Movement, inspiring writers, and even a couple lines of my own.

If you could use some inspiration or just a shift in perception, I invite you to consider the quotes below. Please feel free to share them with others in your network if you think they’ll find them useful.

“We’re social beings – we’re really not meant to live alone.” – Kirby Dunn, Executive Director of HomeShare Vermont

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou, poet & activist

“The converging factors that are driving increased interest around boomers in shared housing include culture change, health, longevity, and demographics.” – Marianne Kilkenny, Trailblazer, Grand Nudge & Founder of Women Living in Community

“We realize that the prospect of a life change as dramatic as creating a cooperative household could be very scary. It is important to acknowledge your emotional responses from the outset, as you start planning your version of a cooperative household.” Karen M. Bush, Louis S. Machinist, & Jean McQuillin, Authors of My House, Our House

“Across the nation, from Baltimore to Washington State, homeshare programs are cropping up as a way both to provide affordable housing and to help people age in place without being isolated.” – Beth Baker, Author of With a Little Help from Our Friends

“The company, the conversation, the sharing, the communication, the knowledge that some is there. It must be psychological, because life seems easier if you have someone going through it with you.” – Eric Klinberg, Author of Going Solo

“She was struck by the simple truth that sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.” – Nicholas Sparks, Author of The Lucky One

“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 that the lights are drawn. What a welcome sight for a woman living alone. I’m expected! Someone is welcoming me home.” – Marianne Kilkenny, author of You Quest for Home

“Expensive cities can be more affordable in groups.” – The Shared Housing Option

“Everyone has this universal understanding of roommate drama.” – Leighton Meester, actress

If you have found these quotes inspirational and want to share your thoughts, join the conversation on Facebook.

But if you are thinking about living in a shared house or have one already, I have another step for you to take. I am just releasing a FREE exercise just for you. It’s an excerpt from my book on finding your ideal community, Your Quest for Home.

It’s called Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps. In the exercise, I walk you through a four-part process of creating a mindmap that identifies people in your network who could be a good fit for your community in ever-expanding circles. Even if you are further down the road than the brainstorming stage, you still might find it interesting.

To receive it, simply sign up using the form below, and I’ll get it right to you. And if you decide to put it to work, please let me know! Seriously, I love that kind of feedback.

Sign up below to receive my free exercise for finding your people!

Feeling inspired to take the next step? Great!
Sign up now for my FREE exercise for finding potential community partners, Casting a Wider Net in 4 Easy Steps.

Please note: we do not share or sell your email information.

Women For Living in Community