Friday, December 13, 2013

Community: #reverb13 Day 13

The phrase “It takes a village” is often bandied about, in reference to child-rearing, running a business, just about everything. But if you’re anything like me, you may not be a natural born collaborator.

In 2014, how could you explore what community means to you?

It might be a question of sharing the load, asking for help or signing on someone with a complementary skill set. Or it could be about a creative collaboration that pushes you to explore new ideas and media.

I have always kept my circle of trust tightly closed and well guarded. 

For years this was done for self preservation and protection. Since I was (poorly) hiding a bad marriage to an alcoholic, I had a brave front to put on to the world that all is good and I am happy. Very few people knew the truth of my marital problems. And I naively thought I had everyone else convinced there were no problems. 

When the marriage finally exploded in such a painful and public way, I had to pull my trusted circle of friends even closer and tighter. People I thought I could trust betrayed me. Friends I thought were friends crept away rather than face the ugliness of the truth. I had a lot of work to do making a new life for me and the kids and I didn't trust anyone but myself to get us there. Too many times I didn't even trust myself.

I quickly realized though that building a new life was going to be far too labor intensive to do alone. 

First, I needed a job to not only support me and the kids, but also one that would allow me the freedom to still be the hands-on mom I've always been. Fortunately, someone quickly stepped up and took a chance on me to help run his business. Although I had no choice but to trust him initially, I made it quite clear I was gone as soon as something else came along.  I'm now at the end of the one year I promised him and am thrilled to know that I will be continuing on in my position into 2014. What began as strictly a business relationship has evolved into a valued friendship of mutual trust, not just in business matters but in life as well.

Nanny Lindsey sneaking a pic on one
of her summer outings with my kids.
I needed help being a single mom to six kids. Again, help arrived in an unexpected place. My staff at work is young, very young. Their average age is about 21. They are busy with college, boys, dance clubs, boys, planning their own future and boys. Yet when I had to bring my kids to work they were right there engaging with them. The young guy at work developed an older brother-younger brother type friendship with kid 5 that my son looks forward to. 

Even when not on the clock, a couple of the girls have really stepped up to help with the kids. "Nanny  Lindsey" was a lifesaver for me this summer. On her days off from the fitness center she would take my kids on field trips to the zoo, swimming, movies and for snow cone treats. Although a good 20 years younger than me, Nanny Lindsey has evolved from employee, to nanny, to friend and finally to a part of our family. It actually took two of my staff girls to help me out when I recently went out of town. They arranged their own busy schedules to get my girls to their dance classes each night. We jokingly call Kelly the "nanny in training" although there's really no training involved. Love my kids, protect them and you are invited into my circle.

I've written here before praising my staff. I'm honored that they allow me to be not just their boss but their friend as well. 

When I was married I had lots of "friends" to socialize with as part of a couple. Now that I'm single, my friend list is whittled down drastically. Those old friends left on my now shortened friends list are the ones who were there for me during the worst of times. They were the ones who stepped up to keep things together when I was falling apart. They will be on my friends list forever.

Once you are in my inner sanctum, you are a part of my family. Although others tried to tear my immediate family apart this year, what really ended up happening was my community expanded and in extension grew my family. 

This post is part of #reverb13, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words to Soothe The Weary Soul.

1 comment:

  1. That's so wonderful, Jennifer. It sounds like opening up to a broader range of people (including those not immediately obvious as kindred spirits) really reaped rewards. x