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.

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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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How We Live Now: A Review

I usually save my favorite books for the holidays but this one was published just this week and I like to keep readers up with the latest news. Even though there are a plethora of books on my shelf that I could recommend this is the one I think you should add first.


Like many of you, my life is always on the go so I can’t always find time in my busy schedule to sit down and read an entire book. But if you don’t read anything else, this is the one to pick up from Amazon today.

Here are a few reasons.

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The Trouble with Titles: What to Call Us


This week on Women for Living in Community we want to reach out to readers of this blog to answer a burning question: what should we call ourselves?

Certainly there are already several applicable titles. We fall easily within the Baby Boomer generation. Since most of us are over 60, at least, we could also be called seniors. However, when I hear those titles I find myself cringing inside just a little bit. They are the easiest but are they the best?

Most of us know the history of the term Baby Boomer. If not, here is a quick recap. It came about after World War II between 1946 and 1964. Our nation experienced a baby boom which led to one of the largest generations in U.S. history. Today that privilege goes to the Millennials. Boomers are also associated with a rejection of traditional values. Our generation was the first hippies of the 1960s and 1970s. We also achieved greater success than the generations before us and were responsible for many of the technological innovations that continue to shape the foundation of our society today.

However, Baby Boomer doesn’t really describe what we are or what we do. It was a label thrust upon us before we were old enough to toddle. Did you know that boomers born after 1957 were sometimes called Generation Jones? This title also bridges over to the first few Generation X years. This is just further proof that generational titles are not always accurate. This is as confusing as the recent trend of interchanging Generation Y with Millennials.

So this begs the question: what do we want to be called?

Rather than allowing the media or our parents or society at large to determine the right term for individuals in our age bracket maybe it is time to take control of it for ourselves. This may be a fool’s errand. Other organizations have tried to determine more applicable titles. Maybe there isn’t just one title that applies to everyone in our age bracket. But we think it will be fun to try.

What name do you prefer for our generation? We want to hear your ideas. Tell us in the comments what terms you prefer for our generation. Or, you can join the conversation on Facebook and answer there.

Sharing Your Stories – A Call for Participation

NYT_Article_ImageHere is a call to action: We, at Women for Living in Community, want to hear from you!  It is your time to share your stories with us. We know you’re out there and we know you’re reading so it is time to step out from behind the curtain and face the audience!

So, now that I am done with the lecture I need to explain myself a little better. I’m not being the bad guy. I’m not trying to put people on the spot. However, what I am trying to do is shed a light on the subject of community living. I want people to see the benefits, understand the issues, and learn more about why this is a viable option for so many people looking for alternatives to the current way we stack old people up in homes and forget about them.

We are the pioneers! The trailblazers! We are the future of community!

[Read more…]

Community Spotlight: My House Our House

Photo from My House Our House

Photo from My House Our House

Community living can take on many forms. Today I wanted to share with you the story of Shadowlawn, the home of Jean McQuillin, Karen Bush, and Louise Machinist; three women who created a cooperative household to reduce expenses and live well for much less money than it takes to run a traditional home. They are housemates, friends, and co-authors and three individuals who chose to live together.

In the summer of 2013, their book came out to share their story with others.

In 2004, we were each happily living independently in Pittsburgh. While planning for a distant retirement, we realized how fantastic it could be to live together. We found ourselves asking, “Why not now?”

I encourage you to continue reading about My House Our House below.

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Tiny Houses: The Lessons of Downsizing and Simple Living

This is a guest post from Laura M. LaVoie, author of the book 120 Ideas for Tiny Living. Laura lives near Asheville in a 120 square foot home she built with her partner, Matt. You can read her blog at www.120squarefeet.com and buy the book on Amazon.

Laura’s tiny house in the mountains.

I live in a 120 square foot house. While most people aren’t interested in making such a drastic change, I have talked to a number of people who want to simplify their lives and downsize as they approach retirement. The tiny house movement has a lot to share about how to simplify our lives and small steps everyone can take regardless of the size of their home.

Tiny house living is about more than just the square footage and the amount of stuff you own. It really is a philosophy that anyone can incorporate into their lives.

Here are just a few easy ways to simplify your life and live more deliberately.

Take it one room at a time. The hardest part about simplifying is looking at all of the things you’ve accumulated in your house and thinking you can’t possibly decide what can stay or what can go. Just like with any difficult task it helps to break it into smaller pieces. Start with just one room and if that seems overwhelming begin with a desk or a closet. Make three piles: keep, donate, and toss.

Please click below to read more ideas on downsizing and tiny living.

[Read more…]

Women For Living in Community