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 info@womenforlivingincommunity.com, 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.

Join the Women Living in Community Network

The Women Living in Community Network is dedicated to promoting women as advocates to building nourishing communities as they age. If you are not already a member, please take a moment to join our email list to stay in the loop when we have new content to share.

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[VIDEO] Marianne & Friends in “When I’m 65” Recording – Aging in Community

I want to share a video that I did with my friends a while back.

I’m passing this along because I think it encapsulates something important that I want you to really see.

Aging in community is beautiful and real, and it’s something that you can really do

Yes, it takes some planning, discernment, and guts. It requires investing some time, money, and hard work.

But when it all comes together, the rewards are worth it.

This is how we as women were meant to live. Together in community, supporting one another as we age in a nourishing and heart-centered environment.

It’s something that you can do to0. And you might be closer to making it a reality than you think

Maybe you already have a group of friends who would be perfect for this sort of thing if you could find the right spot. Or maybe you already have access to a house, condo, or complex and just need to find your tribe.

Speaking as The Grand Nudge for a moment, you’ve got take ownership of where you are going to end up as you age. You can’t keep waiting for someone to build your community for you and track you down to tell you about it.

If you’re ready to get started with or reassess your aging in community journey, I’ve got some questions for you.

These questions form the basis of my Guidebook, “Your Quest for Home”, and help you define how you wish to live in your later years.

I’ve created a free download of these questions that I encourage you to download. If you haven’t already joined the Women Living in Community network, sign up now and I’ll send it right over.

Join the Women Living in Community Network and get my community building questions now!

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If you are already a subscriber, you can access the questions from my book here.

Summer and Fall classes on Guidebook – Asheville

Your Quest for Home

 Here are the happy faces of those who completed the Guidebook Summer session at our potluck social after four intense sessions intense together. We didn’t want to say goodbye and also wanted to see Sheila’s amazing home and gardens. No wonder she is conflicted about her next steps. Like many of us, who like our current homes and stuff, we can’t imagine leaving anytime soon. Yet, there is that small voice saying, “Don’t wait, start now!”
Eight of us gathered at my little house in North Asheville for a jam packed one and a half (1 1/2) hours every 2 weeks or so. The dates were decided before hand and most everyone made all of the sessions, which is really important.

Class participants comments afterwards:

“Being in Marianne’s workgroup, Quest for Home, was very beneficial to me at this juncture of my life.  Not only did the exercises in the book, once I actually did them, give me clarity that I was looking for, but hearing other’s concerns and experiences gave me insight into my own journey.  The sharing of experiences helped us see that the obstacles we are encountering are not just our own or our lack of ability or experience but are shared among most women.
Highly recommend!” Marty Knight
 “The workshop was invaluable. Marianne is an excellent facilitator–attentive, perceptive, and organized–and the group bonded quickly. We all learned a lot about cohousing and a bit about ourselves. I’d recommend the workshop to anyone thinking about a cohousing community.” CT
“I got a lot out of the book and workshop, which helped me organize my thoughts as I consider and evaluate a very different living situation than I have now, an intentional community, rather than a single-family house model.  The constant reminder to “pay attention to what you don’t want as well as what you do” will become a litmus test as new ideas are considered.  First time through is an eye-opener, but I will go back to relevant sections over and over as I go forward.  I would not have done the exercises on my own, but working in a group showed me options I hadn’t considered, as well as giving me a schedule to work to.  Valuable experience!” Linda B.

Fall sessions starting soon!  The organizing meeting is September 13th.

For details: Click away!   Dates and times and fees:  http://wlicbook.womenforlivingincommunity.com/

 The Table of contents and a flavor for the Guidebook.
You can also purchase on Amazon or download on Kindle – click here
Talk and meet others on Wed, Sept 13 at 6:30pm at Earthfare West Community Room in Asheville to get a feel for the book, the author and others. Or email Marianne and sign up by Sept 24th, class size is limited. info@womenforlivingincommunity.com
If you are not in Asheville or surrounding area, or thinking it’s going to be cold out there to drive this winter?  The plan for future programs on the Guidebook will be to use of Zoom or some techie thing on the horizon. Stay tuned (by making sure you are subscribed to our website).
Is there a book sitting on your shelf? Hope it is this one and link. Take it down from the shelf and join us!

How Do You Know if Aging in Community is Right for You?

Creating community isn’t just about finding people and moving into a house or a neighborhood. This is an important relationship that will influence everything in your future so you need to make sure that you’re right for it as well.

Book Launch

We know you’re here at Women for Living in Community because you are interested in alternatives to our culture’s traditional views of housing as we age. But community is not a magic bullet and it isn’t going to be right for everyone. So, how do you know if this is truly right for you?

[Read more…]

Women For Living in Community