Today we have a beautiful guest post from Naomi on community. I'm particularly passionate about this topic and love hearing her insights into simplifying relationships, which can often be complex things.
Creating a community, the simple way.
I talk a lot about community and relationships in my inner circles. I’m afraid I speak too openly about it in my online groups, maybe so much so that people tune me out? It’s just that I feel SO strongly about the power that is harnessed when you bring together a group of people (let’s talk just about women here) for the greater good.
Sometimes the greater good is a purposeful afternoon for working on crafts or projects together. Sometimes it takes on the image of support and tears. For other moments, the greater good is specifically inspiration and motivation.
But how do you create community when those relationships feel elusive? Maybe you move around a lot. Whether those relocations are cross-country or across the ocean, any upheaval of the roots of a friendship can be damaging. Maybe you have lost your tribe and community due to the simple passage of time. In some instances, the prior hand-holding and shoulders available to lean on just didn’t fit anymore. Sometimes community falls apart also because you (or others) restructure their priorities.
When I share my ideas with others on finding friendships and locating a community, the first question is “But I don’t want all of the fuss of networking events, morning coffees and awkward playdates.”
Simplicity doesn’t mean that things fall in your lap naturally. The notion that you can create something so important as your tribe without investing any work is one we need to work on dispelling. Simple living doesn’t mean EASY living.
- Notice the mothers that are at drop off at school in the morning. Reach out of your comfort zone and ask four of them to come to coffee later in the week. Keep it laidback and offer coffee and tea, as well as a boxed package of biscuits. Don’t let the imagined pressure of having home baked goodies sway you away from simple hosting.
- Begin a Bitch group. These were one of my fondest memories of a community from when my children were younger. Gather women who have projects to do, rotate homes and offer the children a play date while you work on your projects together. The projects can be researching an upcoming vacation, paying bills, organizing photos or knitting a scarf! Those hosting don’t lift a finger, and those attending bring goodies.
- Join or create a Cooking Club … if you truly want a simple community, choose a once a month date, and rotate who brings the recipes and the ingredients. Make your monthly gatherings a way to explore cuisines, gather around the kitchen and break bread together. If you want to be a bit more focused, consider a community cooking group where you take turns literally cooking for each other (Monday of week one, I cook four sets of meals and deliver three … then the remaining three weeks on the Mondays, I get my dinner delivered!).
I have a whole host of other ideas and thoughts when it comes to creating community but the most important piece of the puzzle is this:
Make yourself available, as you are today.
Don’t struggle to change yourself, rearrange your interior décor or go out to buy new things just to host a group of your potential people. What if you create an open ended coffee morning on the first Monday of the month and just see what happens? What do you have to lose?
Create a space in your home that you feel comfortable in. Then, trust that you can welcome your guest in – whenever that doorbell rings -- and allow them to experience all you have to offer -- simplicity, honesty and vulnerability.
Inside of that space you can begin to create a community that will create a lasting imprint for those you have surrounded yourself with. Those that you attract are often the exact people you happen to need in your own life.
If you’d like more practical ideas on creating community, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Naomi is married with three (one in elementary, one in middle school and one in college). After living in several states in the United States, her family moved overseas to Delhi, India and then Singapore. Now back in the United States and living near Washington D.C., she enjoys making an impact - even if only with a small corner of her world - for the better. She blogs about relocation, life with itchy feet and living your best life at www.naomihattaway.com