Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Why Community Is Important In The Midst Of Sadness

Women of my generation were not always taught as young girls to be self-reliant but were instructed to do well in school, build a community of friends and marry well. We learned early on that boys were groomed for careers while girls were groomed to sew, cook and look nice.

community women

The tides slowly changed after the second wave of feminism. Popular culture reflected these changes with television shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Alice and One Day at a Time where the protagonists were self-reliant women, albeit arriving there under different circumstances. They were smart, savvy ladies.

Several years ago I recall chatting with other stay-at-home moms at a book club meeting. My decision to stay home to raise our son is one I’ll never regret. During our discussion one mom, an attorney with two children who worked part time, said something I’ll never forget. She attended law school because of her grandmother’s advice: Women should work to earn their own income, depositing part of their paycheck into a bank account of their own. No woman should be fully dependent on anyone.

As much as I wanted to be self-reliant my career choices were never breadwinners. Yet raising a child and all that the “job” entailed created a fifty-fifty proposition in our home. My husband and I always saw each other as providers on an equal playing field. That is part of what makes our marriage a strong one.

“Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.” ~ Jodi Picoult, Second Glance

I also believe in the value of community, a term that morphed from like-minded people living in the same community to people finding one another on social media.

If we were all completely self-reliant there wouldn’t be a need for community, and Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest would have never survived. We wouldn’t be interested in helping, supporting and lifting each other up. A great society needs to have a strong sense of community in order to survive.

Growing up I loved having a lot of friends. During teenage angst and changing hormones my heart would sometimes get broken. Yet I always picked myself up and moved on.

“When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.” ~Haruki Murakami

It’s in that heartache where important lessons are learned.

A true friend will laugh and cry with you. They’ll support you in your choices and tell you when you’re wrong. They’ll love you in your darkest and brightest moments.

And you will shine a light their way as well.  

In midlife the definition of community changes. The revised definition applies to the rules of blogging as well if we want our blogs to be well-received. We seek love, support, guidance, a friendly ear, a shoulder to cry on, an honest opinion and mutual respect.

In a week filled with sadness from the passing of two giants who left us too soon I thought a lot about being self-reliant and creating community. We can’t be completely self-reliant because we all need to be part of a community, no matter what size, shape or form.

David Bowie and Alan Rickman relied on their great gifts to create the communities who mourn for them. They will forever remain in our hearts.

How are you building your community?


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58 thoughts on “Why Community Is Important In The Midst Of Sadness

  1. Anne Louise Bannon

    Community has always been a tough one for me. Either I didn’t fit in, or because of my natural preference for solitude, I’d forget to reach out. It’s taken me a few years, but I’m starting to find my place. It does take reaching out and it does take being out there. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Post author

      I completely understand how you feel, Anne Louise, because there are days and days I want only solitude. As as writers that fits our personalities! That said I love hearing from you and you are definitely on of my community members.

      I wrote this post in a hurry and I probably should have covered a bit more. Because solitude or community is sometimes a choice we make for ourselves. If we’re happy with it, great! If not, then perhaps a combination of the two. We all have to find our own way that works for us. You certainly found a place with me, my friend.

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Sometimes I prefer solitude too, but it is always a comfort to know my community is there if I need it. Awesome post and I love your graphic, Cathy!

    1. Post author

      I agree that I love solitude as well, Helene. Especially as a writer, and to gather my thoughts and feelings. I love my alone time like you do. But I also feel good knowing I’m surrounded by community as well. the combination is what makes me happy, and I know you agree.

      I have to credit Elena Peters and Katie Paul for teaching me how to properly make graphics and use Canva. They are brilliant (and patient) teachers! xo

  3. Tamara

    Being part of a number of caring and supportive communities (both on- and off-line) has been my lifeline these past few months. I can’t imagine life without my ‘tribe’ and hope that they value my friendship as much as I do theirs.

    1. Post author

      Well I’m sure by now you know how I feel about you, Tamara. And not a day goes by without thinking of you. I hope I was there for you enough even from very far away. I’m glad you found comfort in the community of SM who loves you so very dearly. You are a special lady and I hug you with my words. xoxo Cathy

  4. Meg Root

    Yesterday i watched Sense and Sensibility with my mom for about the millionth time. I was smiling at how much I just loved Alan Rickman. I vowed to follow his movie work more. And then today the news. So bummed. Yes, it is nice to have a community of friends to raise our spirits during tough times. Lovely post.
    Meg Root recently posted…3 Wellness Trends I’m Loving for 2016My Profile

  5. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Self-reliance and sense of community for women can be at odds with each other. As many have mentioned, as writers, we can revert into our own worlds. It takes work to be a friend but sooo rewarding! I dearly love my blogging community and am very happy to be in yours, Cathy.
    Terri Webster Schrandt recently posted…Alphabet DoorsMy Profile

  6. Joan stommen

    besutifully written, Cathy! Absolutely true in that we need our friends and all they have to offer through good times and bad. For me….being a giver and doer …learning to lean and accept support came only after my husband passed away. Numb and sad, I learned life lessons and gratitude big time. It’s why my online groups and fellow bloggers mean so much to me! Well done…as your way with words always are!

    1. Post author

      I am so sorry for the great loss of your beloved husband, Joan. You certainly are a doer and it must have been difficult for you to accept help. You deserve the best and I’m sure you have a wonderful circle on online and offline friends who will always surround you.

  7. Doreen McGettigan

    It sure has been a sad week:(
    I have never appreciated community as much as I appreciate it now, both online and in person. It feels so good to have so many people to share good news, bad news and pure nonsense with. have a great weekend.

    1. Post author

      I am determined to seek the good but more than not something stands in the way. Determined inclusion? That seems like a contradiction in terms, at least for me. I hate any inclusion but being left out brings us to that unhappy conclusion, doesn’t it?

      So glad to have you here, my sweet, compassionate friend. You always shine a light.

  8. Linda

    I’m just figuring out that I’m both shy and an introvert. Community has always been tough for me because it exhausts me and there is good and bad to that. So i focus on a small community. That seems to make the most sense for me.

    1. Post author

      It’s so important to understand yourself as you learn about the kind of community you want to have. I also like a small community in my personal life, Linda. So smart of you to realize what works best for you.

  9. Haralee

    Great post Cathy. Community is a concept that I think can encompass many feelings, when you are a part of one and when you are not and when you are seeking one, but always when you are accepted in one. In my younger years I had work friends, girl friends, couple friends, neighbor friends etc., but it wasn’t until I became ill did I realize they were all my friends in my community.
    Haralee recently posted…How Nail Polish and Earrings Helped Me Through MenopauseMy Profile

  10. Karen Austin

    I move a lot (8 states and probably more ahead of me). I start building community through my church, but I also have friends from the gym, my kids’ parents, and friends from work, school and volunteer work. And thank heavens for social media! I can carry friendships with me when I relocate. It lessens the pain of rebuilding community in the new town. It takes 1 to 2 years, and those first few months are horrible. I try to be very nice to people who are new to towns where I am acclimated. I know how it feels to be the new person.

    1. Post author

      We’ve been trying to sell our home and one day we want to move south out of the cold. I’ve lived here all my life and wonder about the best way to make new friends. You must be an expert at it and I know you probably have a very dedicated community that surrounds you, Karen.

  11. Ellen Dolgen

    You are so right, now that we have the internet and our sweet blogging community – we have access to a wonderful group of support and love. Many of these folks we haven’t ever met. I am a people person. My community and the sisterhood are like oxygen for me. It is interesting as I watched my mother vs my mother-in-law live out their elder years – my mother-in-law lead a more full- meaningful life because she stayed active with an organization of women until her last breath at 96. My mother was isolated from her friends beginning at 91 and immediately aged physically and mentally. She passed away at 95 very alone and sad. It broke my heart. My older sister encouraged her to do this…..I tried to discourage her – but to no avail. She had been such an active people person. Thank you for reminding us all how important we are to each other! Another great empowering blog!

    1. Post author

      What an interesting comparison, although I wish your beloved mother followed your advice.

      You said it perfectly. Good friends are like oxygen. We can’t live without them. As we grow older they mean even more to us. Thanks for sharing your golden thoughts here, Ellen. Glad to have you join in on the conversation!

  12. Cheryl Nicholl

    It’s a weird thing: I’m extroverted, and even though I appreciate feeling a part of many ‘communities’ I don’t need, or seek, being surrounded by them. I have a handful of wonderful close friends and that satisfies me. Of course, I have you- so there’s THAT! Thank God. You’d come a runnin’ if I needed you, I know that. XXOO

  13. Tam Warner Minton

    That is a good question. My husband’s “Don” community is there for me, but I really don’t have groups of friends I hang out with…it is a more one on one type of thing for me. I really should join a reading group, or get back to Liberal Ladies who Lunch.
    Tam Warner Minton recently posted…The Last ParentMy Profile

    1. Post author

      I don’t have many one-on-one ladies to hang out with in my town. I have to drive to meet up with most of my friends. So we’ll both have to join more local groups. But I’ll wait till we move (whenever we finally sell our home!) Glad Don’s friends are there for both of you, Tam.

  14. Carolann

    That’s a great question, building a blogging community is one of the most important things you can do. I was raised the same way as you and chose to stay home with my children especially when they were little. It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I completed my masters degree and worked as a full-time professional. I loved my decision to do stay home with my kids and never regret it either. Great post Cathy, very relateable!
    Carolann recently posted…My Favorite Gadget Of The WeekMy Profile

    1. Post author

      More things we have in common, Carolann. I’m so glad you enjoyed my post and so proud of you for going back to school. Alas, that will always be a regret of mine. I wanted to go back for a Master’s but once I was diagnosed that was impossible. We make lemonade out of lemons, right?

  15. Kimberly

    Community is what brought me to the blogging world. I felt I could connect with women who were at the same stage in life as I was — and I was right! I’ve been lucky enough to meet you Cathy, and a whole network of women who inspire and delight me. You’ve all carried me through times of highs and lows. For that, I’m grateful.
    Kimberly XO
    Kimberly recently posted…Who’s Your Daddy? Inside the World of Start-UpsMy Profile

    1. Post author

      The new blogging community we are in is now part of my community of ladies that definitely includes YOU, Kimberly. I mention you all the time and are proud of all that you are doing. What a wonderful world we live in, eh? xo

    1. Post author

      That’s exactly right, Estelle. The right kind of community is best for women. People who support you despite the inevitability of life’s ups and downs, ones who are there for altruistic reasons and not selfish ones, are the ones I want to be a part of.

  16. OneDizzyBee

    Being part of a community has always been difficult for me. As an only child born to older parents in a larger extended family where I was the youngest by a decade, I’ve always been rather solitary. So, too, have I always chosen my small circle of friends with a cautious hand. Since starting to blog, I’ve learned to open myself up a bit more, though it’s definitely outside my comfort zone. The blogging community has been far more welcoming and accepting than I ever thought it could be, and it’s all of them who are teaching me, daily, what a strong community can be to a solitary soul like me.
    OneDizzyBee recently posted…10 Easy Tips to Help You Slay Your Weight Loss GoalsMy Profile

    1. Post author

      I do think that small circles are best, and then the larger picture are people who have one or more things in common with you who are also part of your community. I’m so glad you found your circle and have slowly stepped outside your comfort zone. Welcome to blogging!

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