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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Community reluctance discovered

COMMUNITY - Sharing, participation, and fellowship. [Community week begins here. Click for this week's Bliss initiatives.]

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Last community week I also said I wanted to identify all of the communities in which I play. It seems like fun. Look at my surroundings in a possible different way and see what I can discover. Instead I have noticed a reluctance. I really don't want to identify all of my communities and the reason is a bit surprising. Before I get to that, however, I would like to flash back to my participation in Tony Robbins' Date with Destiny seminar some 20 years ago now... wow time sure does fly! Anyway while I was there Tony guided us through an exercise that brought us to an aha moment about our core values and what it was that was most important to us. The thing I came up with in that moment was "Fostering Community." I really felt in the very core of my being that I wanted to do something with my life that helped to bring people together and somehow my very presence could be a catalyst for people belonging.

I had distinguished community as my highest priority. What followed was many years of me jumping feet first into participating in all sorts of communities around me. The local AFS chapter needed volunteers, ah what the heck I'd play host mom to a teenager as a 32 year old single gal [Not typical but because of my own experience as an AFSer and because of a lack in host families I was allowed to have the lovely Helena from Panama stay with me a full year, rather then as the transitional space for which I was originally approved.] I moved to a new town and hosted a "Town Warming Party"[rented the VFW hall put up flyers and said I wanted to meet my new neighbors!] Every committee or group I ran into I joined and at some point became a board member or other leader in the group. Something needs to happen, ask Kathy, she'll get it done. It was exciting and fun.

Flash forward to today. I am actually afraid of meeting my neighbors! Not of meeting them physically. What turns out to be my community reluctance has to do with my inability to say no. I'm a yes gal. I'm enthusiastic. I'm either all in or I'm out. If I get to know you I may start to feel some sort of obligation (real or made up in my head) and I would rather not get to know you so I don't have to worry about that or you for that matter. Even with my closest friends and family I have created an "arms length" sort of relationship. I'm not immediately available, I don't call back right away, I have everyone trained not to expect anything from me.

It really isn't very honest and it all stems from not knowing how to say no. My brain tells me it is ok to pass up on a dinner invitation to spend the day with my family but I'm afraid if I allow myself to be invited I won't know how to say no. If the PTA NEEDS help. If Suzy next door wants to chat, if the toy drive needs a sponsor, if the team needs a place to meet, if, if if... All this potential obligation keeps me away. Admittedly when I was playing full out I didn't ever feel oppressed by the obligation but back then I didn't have a family. I really don't have a problem stretching myself to the limit, and actually get a bit jazzed by it some times, I just can't do the same to Rob and Jessie.

I've happily signed up to be in this family and this is where my priority lies. I enjoy being selfish about our time together and if that means I get VERY selective about my community involvement I think that is right. I don't want us to live in a bubble either so some reaching out is essential. The inquiry will continue and next time the phone rings I just may answer!

Next post: Community Identified!

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise


  1. This is a great post. I know what you mean about wanting to be unavailable. I really had to think about this, practice for awhile and then realize that situations, my feelings and things evolve. First I tried to decide what things I liked to do and wanted to do (do you hear the screaming about quiltmaking going on??). Next I thought a lot about the things that I really felt obligated to do. I looked at them from a lot of different angles and got rid of the ones that didn't fit my "plan." With the others, I decided how much time I was willing to give to them. I also looked at the groups in which I was involved. I looked at what I was getting and what I was giving. Those relationships aren't always equal, but in some way they should equal out in the end. I got rid of some. For the others, more rules. One rule I have is that I only participate in fun events. I have enough un-fun activities during the week; I don't need to add extras. I tell people straight out that I am not not going to an event, because it doesn't sound fun. I say it nicely. ;-) I also plan some events that I would enjoy attending. Finally, I take a breath and think about my answer before I say yes.

    FB has really helped. I can participate in a lot more friends' lives because of FB. I think it creates a greater connection even if it doesn't replace the entire relationship.

  2. I've always admired the way you honor what is best for you Jaye. You do a really nice job of balancing what you need vs. want in your life.

    I totally agree about your Facebook observations! I am so glad to have it!


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Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

  • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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