What is a community? According to Google, a community is a social unit with similarities such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place being in a given geographical area (e.g. a country, village, town, or neighbourhood) or in virtual space through communication platforms.
It seems my journey, no matter where I have lived, worked or visited, I crave a sense of belonging. I wonder if we all share a desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Of course for me it has nothing to do with religion, or finding others that are like me necessarily, but, more importantly, people who can accept me just as I am and in return I will also give the same courtesy. It is about acceptance in a place where people can be exactly who they are meant to be without judgement, without changing themselves to fit into someone else’s ideals of what others should or shouldn’t be; not making themselves smaller, or different so others can feel better about themselves. No. Community should be about the ability to work together, grow together and not just survive but thrive with help from others. That could mean many different things to many different people. However, there are some common threads in a strong community, They are:
- Common goals
- Freedom of expression
- Address member concerns with sensitivity
- Set clear policies and obligations
- Celebrate heritage and traditions
- Promote interaction among members
- Elect leaders that stand by community values
- Prioritise effective communications
- Make smart decisions
To see the faces of old friends, in my circle, those individuals I have labelled as ‘my people’, those lucky few I have chosen but also have been chosen in return to share the journey we all call life, not only makes me feel incredibly happy, but it feels like this is the stuff that makes life fulfilling and complete.
After a decade away, we pick-up exactly where we left off, feeling as though only a minute has gone by and nothing has changed. You might be this lucky with a few people in your life; you know them, those who come and go but the relationship never changes. They are beacons in the water which guide us home, the ones you can count on when things go wrong, those true friends which make us feel part of a community.
In my close circle are the ones I admire and learn from the most. One particular circle of friends I have recently reconnected with, we met when our kids started Kindergarten together. Today our children are making leaps towards higher education; they ready themselves for university and adulthood. Of course one has gone ahead and already started, and some are taking their time for preparations and growth, however they have all graduated out of high school and prepare to take on the next big tasks to reach independence. During this span of time from 2008 we not only connected but leaned on one another as we went through parenting challenges, bouncing ideas off each other towards growth as parents and sharing the painful times of watching our kids struggle and joyously celebrate the obstacles overcome. The thing which started it all off was a shared commonality; our kids starting school.
Full circle home to Canada, was also a full circle of parenting, and now my friends share the next big thing. No not menopause because our ages do vary, but the beginning of empty nesting. Miss M. is the first, the only one in our circle who has an older child as well, she braces for the last to leave. We watch and learn as we know we are right behind her. Personally, I know I will be ok. Both of mine have started work, driving, taking on more and more responsibilities over the last few years. They are distancing themselves from us in increments, and sometimes boomeranging back/ reaching out back for us when they need to make sure we are still here. Moving away, and coming back before making bigger steps much like when they first started to explore as toddlers. Daniel would reach behind him just to see if my knee was still there. Not much has changed really.
When I taught high school students I watched many go through the same process over and again; the journey towards adulthood. The ones that make a strong start in life, are not always the smartest. The 9 forms of intelligence comes to mind, the well developed human being that has multiple strengths, and not necessary the traditional varieties of academy our society proclaims as the most important.
9-types of intelligence
- Linguistic Intelligence
- Interpersonal Intelligence
- Intrapersonal Intelligence
- Musical Intelligence
- Visual-Spatial Intelligence
- Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence
- Naturalist Intelligence
- Existential intelligence
The most remarkable thing watching our children interact, is just how well developed they are. We could actually thank the Internet for giving them access to vast amounts of information, or simple that the parents are like their North Stars guiding and shaping them towards many different avenues, but it is a fine moment to see just how close the apples have fallen.
I often observe how our group of ladies develop themselves in different ways too. And watching from the side lines, I see that we have all been exploring and expanding our individuality as well. Although I went 10,000 kilometers away to take my journey, these ladies took their journeys in different ways as well; some entirely internally and on their own, which proves just as important in long term results toward creating a well-developed human being. It has to be noted, that although people think that physical departure might be necessary in creating deep and real changes in one self, others can go through the entire process through books and in the abstract mind. I am in awe of these ladies, because all are amazing, beautiful, well-rounded creatures. I feel lucky to have them in my life.
Miss M; The Soul Searcher. The person who seeks answers to the philosophical questions that arise as we try to make our way through life as best we can. Her background is in medicine, she has a ferocious curiosity; the one who concerns themselves most with the existential, and making sense of this thing called life. She lines things up and measures. She learns the ‘why’ answers to human behaviour. She has taught me not to sweat the small stuff, (and to eat more fruit among other things.)
Then there is Miss G.; The Healer. The one who goes through life finding ways to connect the body and mind. She is phenomenally fit, both mentally and physically, she seeks a balance and wanders about life with a bright shining light that comes from within. She is always smiling, and is as gentle as they come. She is love incarnated. I have never in my life met anyone like her, so loving and patient. She is a wonder.
Miss F.; is The Student, the young one who watches and observes. She is the listener, who takes notes of all the changes, the lessons learned, the critical moments and reflects. All great teachers begin as students, and a good teacher knows how the mind operates but more so how one’s’ own mind operates. She is not afraid of being wrong, and moves in accordance in a side step motion to gain knowledge to set her forward. She is determination. Her mind is powerful, sparking at mauch speed, ideas are abundant and interesting. I love her brain. She is the youngest among us, but wise beyond her years.
Miss L.; is The Wise One. She is in touch with an energy source out of this world that brings her a godly knowledge of the ‘what life is and how it works’. She sees how we are all connected to nature, our part in the grand scheme of things and the meaning of it all. We talk about the importance of community and what being together means. She always has answers one step ahead of us, and shares her insights. She can see what a well developed life looks like and understands how finding support in each other in different ways nurtures all the parts of our existence. She is moonlight encompassed, and brings a smoothing element to our circle.
I love these ladies. How can I not? They are my teachers, my friends, my guidance and my strength.
Of course this is only how I see it. Each bringing in a variety of elements that connect us all in many different ways. We learn from one another, and we all benefit from each connection. I have learned deep love from these ladies.
I image a marble carved human and I incisure all the parts that make a person well rounded, with all the forms of intelligence. The soul searcher with the glowing ora, the healer with the glowing heart, the student with the glowing mind, the wise one with the head-heart soul connection and I see that together we have learned all the things that encompass the well developed human being. What I get from them feeds my entire being. I can only hope they feel nurtured from me as well in some small way. But that is their story to share.
The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital. – Mark Hyman