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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