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Creating Community; the Family We Choose

July 24, 2010

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If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would be not be one cheerful face on earth.

Abraham Lincoln

This timely reading from a book of daily meditations was followed by: “If Lincoln could achieve all that he did feeling such depression, can I not bear feeling down in the dumps occasionally without being driven to the insanity of….?” fill in the blank with whatever your personal demon, overeating, drinking, gambling; workaholism, irritability, controlling, fits of rage…

Thursday night I broke bread with fifteen friends and colleagues – a summer social barbecue, to wind down another year of breakfast meetings for a small cross border business group in the Northeast of Ireland.

These fifteen are among the most positive of about 25 who meet from time to time during the year.  Monthly, in fact, at 7 am for a networking breakfast in either Dundalk (County Louth, Ireland) or Newry (County Down, Northern Ireland).  There is much for this group to be pessimistic about. The economy is faltering, we are sole practioners or small business owners – many of whom started new businesses following career setbacks and redundancies. All of us struggle to live and work a “new way”.  Many thought they would be in corporate jobs, large professional practices or civil service. What we have in common is that we wake up every morning, put one foot in front of the other and just do the work of doing the work.

I am grateful they embraced me warmly and shared their knowledge  – experience, strength and hope – when I came to Ireland two years ago.  They have carried me through low times, and I hope I have done the same for some of them.  The shared commonality of our experience is what has sustained us as a group. We celebrate each others’ successes and mourn and learn from the losses.  We encourage, coach and cajole. You cannot help leaving a meeting on a positive note.  I have gone to meetings while in the depths of personal and professional loss and I have been uplifted – either by someone’s success or the knowledge that they too have come through what I am now experiencing.  I am never alone. In the sentiment of Lincoln’s quote – whatever the emotion it becomes “equally distributed to the (this) whole human family”.

Who are your fellow travelers? What human family are you choosing to embrace? Who brings the light of sunshine or optimism to your day? What I was reminded of that evening was that this was no accident. There are days when I think how lucky I am to be part of this group – and then I remember: I went looking for them, I go to meetings on dark, cold and wet winter mornings and I just keep showing up. So do they.

Choose to find a home among like minded folk. Not sure where to start? Pick up a copy of the Artist’s Way it will embolden you, find a 12 Step group, go to a Toastmaster’s meeting, try a business or social networking group, take a class, go to a house of worship you’ve abandoned or try a new one.  Or write me. Just stretch – a little. Take a step outside of your comfort zone.  You will undoubtedly be rewarded.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Dawn Baird says:

    Eve, I just love this post, especially with the practical, and novel, ideas listed at the end. It is so true that you can create your own community.

  2. Eve says:

    Thanks for that; there are times when on reread I find I am taken aback. The problems or challenges seem insurmountable, but in hindsight there is an elegant simplicity to what turned out to be the solution. New to Ireland, I went to a religious service in Dublin. “You came from Carlingford? Is that near Dundalk? You have to meet Yanky”. My default, the censoring inner voice said: “Call a perfect stranger?” In spite of it, I did. And he was the perfect stranger. Yanky is an author, trainer and presenter among many other things. His business books include The Selling Conversation, Chutzpah and Fire in the Belly.
    He invited me to an evening presentation he was delivering to the Dundalk Newry Business Club. I went. It was a demonstration of the Book Buzz management development tool. (/www.bookbuzz.biz/1) Beyond the introductions, the session was an education. The chapter from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers on “Mitigated Speech” was discussed by 20 business folk . Imagine a better introduction to life – and business life on the border than two tables of lively conversation on how the Irish – North and South – talk but don’t really communicate with one another.
    Beyond an education the evening was a miracle. Frightened that picking up and moving to Ireland was folly, in one evening I met a community of others struggling to understand the language, grow new businesses and just take life in the economic maelstrom of 2008/2009 one day at a time. These people weren’t just “doing what they always did”.
    Last year – by referral or recommendation, first second and third degree more than three quarters of my income could be traced back to this evening, this group, Yanky’s warm introduction, and the cup of coffee we’d had just a few days before.
    The simply elegant solution came down to walking into a religious service and overcoming the internal censor who wanted to tell me not to “call a perfect stranger”.