Light Up With Love & Connection This Festive Season

The holidays are a time for celebration with those who are most important to us, whether it’s family by blood or family by choice. WIth Covid still lingering, we’ve proven we’re resilient and we’ve learned that we do better when we’re connected to community.

Friends gathering together in Asheville.

Let’s be bold and focus on what we can do to make the most of the festive season with those around us. Ask yourself how you can show up for your neighbours, community, loved ones and allow them to show up for you?

The holidays are about connection, just like the mission of this very website. So how can we make more connections this time of year and into the next?

We’ve put together some ways to create and build connections with those around you:

1. Volunteer in your community Helping others has been proven to make you feel better about yourself. When you give back to others you increase your own sense of self-worth and satisfaction. It is also a great way to meet like-hearted people in your community.

2. Reach out to an old friend. Social media has changed the way we connect to our friends, family, and even casual acquaintances online. Facebook can, and does, facilitate in person connections as well as long as you use it right. Is there someone from your past you’ve been thinking about? Maybe it is time to look them up and reconnect.

3. Join a social group. Of course, while online connections can help encourage face-to-face interaction, nothing beats getting together in real life. And what’s a better way to bond than over a shared interest? Look at community websites or your local newspaper to see what events are happening near you.

4. Check on your neighbors. Do you know your neighbors? If you don’t, now here is your chance to ring a doorbell and reach out! Or send over a card, make a connection! 

5. Host a virtual potluck. For those that are worried about big gatherings. There is still a way! Why not make your favourite festive dish, create a chart of friends to join in the fun in your area. Drop off that cooked meal on their doorstep, and enjoy it together virtually.

What can you do this holiday season to get yourself moving in the right direction for making connections and creating community in your life?
Remember what you have been given the gift of insight into the lives of people you may never know and of folks you may have known all your life. This is an opening, an invitation to compassion and understanding, and, as disconnected as we are now, it is actually an invitation to connect.

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What’s Next for Women Living in Community?

Transitions and Possibilities for 2021 and Beyond

Things seem to be changing rapidly in many parts of life in our society right now, and this holds true for my journey with Women Living in Community. 

In the last few months, some new possibilities have opened up for educating people about aging in community through our network, thanks in part to some successful projects in 2020 and the use of Zoom. 

Before I take on any new projects or technical hurdles though, I want to get clear on where I’m heading and what makes sense to focus on next.

So, I’ll be taking some time over the upcoming months to step back and give everything an honest assessment. 

Looking back…

Despite the pandemic, or perhaps because of it, I feel like 2020 brought me closer to the women in our network than I’ve been in a long time. And, as you can probably relate, this involved plenty of time on Zoom. 

Prior to the pandemic, I had organized a number of in-person workshops based on my guidebook, Your Quest for Home

But this fall, I offered an online class based on my guidebook over Zoom for the first time in response to COVID. 

This wound up including a great group of people, some of whom are still meeting to support each other on their community building projects. 

I also found myself inspired to start doing live weekly videos of my own for a time that were primarily shared on our Facebook page

These videos allowed me to share some of my own experiences as they relate to finding or building the right community. It was also fun to bring out my alter ego The Grand Nudge a couple of times.

Continuing to Learn…

The more experimenting I did with online video, the more I discovered just how much there was to learn and how excited (and terrorized)  I was to learn more and dive in. 

I’ve spent the last year studying and doing training on the technology and presentation chops needed to let me share my knowledge and expertise online effectively. 

My interest in expansion and personal growth also brought me to a course called Modern Elder Academy. Although I’ve always hated the use of the term “elderly,” I found that their take on the term “modern elder” really hit home:  It is defined by MEA as:

“A Modern Elder is the perfect alchemy of curious and wise, with curiosity leading to expansive inquiry while wisdom distills what’s essential. But it’s only through cultivating our wisdom, building emotional intelligence, strengthening intergenerational collaboration, and finding a deeper meaning in our work and personal lives, that we become modern elders.”

MEA is a place we can all “grow whole, not old.” 

I REALLY like that.

Other turning points…

Pretty much all of my educational materials point back to my guidebook, Your Quest for Home, in some way, and it’s been almost 6 years since it was published. 

While I am certain that the book is more relevant than ever now, I’ve been asking myself whether some sections should be tweaked or expanded. So it may be time to turn my attention to a second edition in the future. We shall see.

In other transition news, my right hand person, Todd, is moving on. He has been responsible for a lot of what happens behind the scenes with Women Living in Community. 

Thanks to Todd for technology help, marketing prowess, writing chops, and keeping the lights on. Forever grateful. 

So… what is next? I continue to learn and hope to help you in new and fresh ways to take action to know yourself as you continue Your Quest for Home

Until next time, remember, finding your ideal community for your later years is all about three things: Connection, Information and Action!

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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September 23, 2016 – Aging in Community: Exploring Options with OLLI

Our series with OLLI (Osher Life Long Learning Institute)

September 23, 2016: Aging in Community: Exploring Options

Dates: September 23 – November 11, 2016 (8 Week Series, Fridays 9am – 11am)
Location: OLLI (Olli Life Long Learning Institute) at UNC-Asheville
Click Here to Download Course Outline | Register at: OllieAsheville

Marianne Kilkenny will be Session 1 Speaker, September 23 – Starting Where You Are
Assess your personal needs, goals and resources as you age and explore an overview of options.

My class will help kick-start your thoughts to create a plan for your future. How do you envision community as you age? Where are the people you already count on located? What kind of action plan can you create starting in the next three months? Six Months? We will also look at your home now and how it might change as the years go by.

A New Community Tribe: The First NotMom Summit

Months ago I was asked to participate in an event that would be the first of its kind. You never know what to expect in these situations but my participation made sense. This was the first ever conference for women without children. The idea was to bring together women who made the choice to not have children as well as those who did want kids but over time and circumstance find themselves without them.

tribe clan quot

The first-ever NotMom Summit took place in Cleveland, Ohio on October 9th and 10th.

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Community or Place: A Look at Our Needs Vs. Our Wants

To build from my last post, which looked at the importance of connection as we age, I wanted to expand more on the key elements of successful “Aging in Place” and how the principles for building a community provide the alternative many are seeking.


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Community vs. Place: Why It Matters

Let’s take a closer look at aging in community and what makes it a different, and in many cases preferred, from aging in place.

Elderspirit 2007

In Spring of 2015 I opened my mailbox to find the newest edition of Communities Magazine. In it was a fantastic article by Margaret Critchlow called “Senior Cohousing in Canada: How Baby Boomers Can Build Social Portfolios for Aging Well.” Since this is right in my own wheelhouse I quickly devoured the article.

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Happy Independence Day

I know we’re all busy with cookouts and fireworks to spend time reading a blog so I just wanted to take some time today to say “Happy 4th of July” for our readers in the United States and wish you all a safe and wonderful holiday.


Last year, I wrote a little about the merits of having a community potluck to get to know your neighbors. You can read that post here.

Everyone’s been to a potluck party sometime in their lives. You bring a hot dish or a cold salad and add it to the impressive table of handmade food from everyone else attending. You want to try just a little taste of everything but soon your plate is overflowing with potato salad, broccoli casserole and barbecued chicken. These parties can really bring a community together.

What are you doing to celebrate the 4th of July?

Aging in Place or Age in Community? Semantics?

aging in community(1)

On this site I often like to make distinctions between certain phrases that I think make a difference in our perception of these concepts. For instance, I really hate the word “Elderly” and I think for good reason. Why does it have to be an adverb? Let’s just stick with “Elder” as a noun or just “older adult”.

In any case, the particular phrasing that I want to talk about today is “Aging in Place” versus “Age in Community.”

When you are done, be sure to check out our 2019 Aging in Community Update as well.

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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.

Women For Living in Community