The Unity in Community

handsinlove

Community cannot take root in a divided life. Long before community assumes external shape and form, it must be present as a seed in the undivided self: only as we are in communion with ourselves can we find community with others. –Parker Palmer

That quote came from my chosen book of the month, All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. As I look back over the month and try to glean from the many lessons of which to confidently carry with me into the next, this topic came as no surprise. From the weekly attempts to get closer to my dreams, along with the daily internal battles to wake up and stay up, or go to bed at a decent time, eat properly, work to the rhythm of pomodoro set, practice my ASL or roll around on the floor with my nephew, make the green smoothie or eat the banana pudding etc.  I noticed that what kept me afloat and moving forward was that I was able to tap into different types of communities for support and guidance (or to vent). Even more important was that I was willing to be a part of the community rather than being an outside spectator only there to observe.

I’ll disclose (as I have before) that I am a loner by nature and my 1st instinctual thought when it comes to communing with others is “why bother”. My precious “me-time” steals the show quite often and I literally have had to drag myself out and about to be around a group of people. With that being said, I took care to really see the value in joining with others and being a part of what they were trying to create. I find that as both an entrepreneur and a mental health advocate for entrepreneurs, community is essential for growth.

So I wanted to blog about different types of communities that may be a possible good fit for the entrepreneur who has or wants to have an ongoing practice of self-love and mental wellness.  I won’t go into every kind of group simply what I was most involved with and exposed to during this month.

Free Access Facebook groups

I’m in a lot of Facebook groups.  Some groups people have added me to without my permission, (which is a no-no in the book of social media etiquette ) and I’m making way to removing myself from them, some groups come with a paid program or course I invested in, and still others I’ve joined because I was interested in the concept of what they were trying to build. I only actively participate in a few. Even though the concept is great, some groups don’t catch fire, or they burn and become a place of endless self-promotion and blatant spam.  These online type of groups are hard to build a real sense of community around, but when it is accomplished real relationships can form from something that started online. For someone like me (an introvert) online community is important because many times, it is an safe way to interact with people and their various personalities. It is a place to begin learning how to get involved and when to sit down and listen.

You quickly learn that some people are bold behind a computer screen and some of us keep it 100 whether on or offline.  If you feel isolated or alienated you find your tribe in these spaces. You find that even though you thought it was just you feeling what you felt, or thinking what you thought, you are not alone. That is important.  One of my favorite online communities for entrepreneurs is the Audacity lab. Coach Jennie does an excellent job with setting guidelines, opening the space for people to connect in person as she has had offline events to do such, and has built starch advocates who aren’t even coaching clients to brag about her stuff with no payout in return…now that’s how you rock a group. Another is a fairly new group but a much needed one which is Women of Color and Our Shared Narratives: Embracing Wellness.  Dr. Angela Clack is doing an excellent job to bring to light a conversation about the unique struggles to emotional wellness for women of color not just based on opinion but stats, for that she has my respect and whole-hearted participation.  Out of it, the birth of a co-hosted web show on mental wellness and opportunities to network with each other outside the group. I look forward to seeing the growth of this community.

 

Mastermind group

I was excited when my friend Vernetta R. Freeney reached out to me to be a beta tester for new projects she was working on. If you’re unfamiliar with Vernetta she once ran the award-winning blog Women Are Gamechangers along with the award-winning event tour Fusion. She is now onto new things including her new podcast A Toast to Truths . So anyhoo, she gathered some great women from different timezones so we could come together and implement all those great ideas we mapped out for 2016. She anticipated the drop off of new year resolutions and decided to be proactive in making sure we would not be a room full of pipe dreamers so we could support one another in our entrepreneurial and personal endeavors. We found that many of us had similar emotional and mental blocks hindering us from accomplishing goals and our mastermind essentially became a safe space to offer compassionate listening and advice based off of shared experiences on how to overcome such roadblocks standing in the way to goal completion.  New relationships formed and older ones rekindled.  I found that in addition to having a business coach, I now had a support group I could turn to that could help me weigh on sometimes conflicting conclusions. But I also had a group of women who could learn from my mistakes and vice-versa.

 

ConnectWorking

I love the concept of what PowerMatch founder Sara Rosenburg does for a group of entrepreneurs who are tired of the same old networking groups that throw business cards around and don’t get to really know one another.  Her  flagship program, Powermatch  “acts as a matchmaker for professionals who want to meet up over coffee or lunch to NETWORK (not sell) and build real business relationships. ConnectWorking meetup events are quarterly meetings are designed to foster relationship building through small group activities/discussions meant to help problem solve, give and receive help and advice, form real business connections, and of course, break bread.”

My favorite line: “If you are looking for a group that passes referrals immediately, THIS IS NOT A MEETING FOR YOU! We focus on real business relationship building!” That’s how you build a foundation for a business Community.

The most recent ConnectWorking  meeting  in my area was held at Say it Clay, a nonprofit organization that blends therapy and art, (which is definitely my cup of tea). I hope to blog about this NPO later for my Be The Change series. There was a lot of encouraging words and support for one another in the room that day and I was glad to be a part of it. I love online communities, and virtual chats, but there is definitely something special about in-person community love even for drag your feet over, have mild coronary attacks introverts like me.  😉

Until Next Time…Peace!

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