Blogging to Find Community

Blog_(1)by Barbara Cutting of One Hopeful Heart

We all need to belong.  Somewhere.  With someone.  With others.

Humans are social animals.  And as much as I love alone time, I do need to be with others too.  I need interaction.  Advice.  Acknowledgement. Acceptance.  Attention.  Conversation.  Feedback.  Compliments.  Even criticism is helpful from time to time.

I crave community.  A sense of belonging.  I need to fit. And I realized yesterday–amidst the throes of a weepy Saturday–I’ve spent much of my life trying to find my fit.  Where I belong.  Who I am in the middle of this world around me.

I also realized yesterday, there are precious few places and people where and with whom I feel that fit.  Never found it in high school.  Or college.  And God, I wanted it so badly.  Somehow that feeling of fit was tied up tight with self-concept and self-confidence.  Perhaps if someone else believed in me, then I could (and would) believe in myself.

I’ve come a long way in the years of my living since those uncertain teens and twenties.  I fought to find my fit in my thirties too and finally found my bestest belonging ever–when I became a mother.  Hardest job E V E R.  Still is.  But finally, finally, I felt where I fit best.  I belonged with those boys, and they belonged with me.

So that brings me to today.  To finding my fit in the present.  Because I’m not really needed as a day-to-day mother anymore.  My oldest is off flying jets.  My youngest, off to college.  I’m more of an as-needed, situational mother now.

The adjustment has been difficult.  For me.  I’ve done my job, raised two amazing young men, and, because I’ve done it so well, they’re gone.  As they should.  As they’re supposed to.  They’re so ready.  But I’m so not. I’ve been grieving.  And I’m struggling–again–with finding my fit.  I suspect it will take more than one weepy Saturday to find it.

I started One Hopeful Heart last year only knowing that I needed to write.  Ever since my very first post, I’ve been wondering where I belong as a blogger.  I’m not an education blogger.  Even though I’m a teacher, I don’t feel a calling to write specifically about education.  I’m certainly not a political blogger.  No interest there. And I’m not quite a lifestyle blogger either.

Or am I?  Because in middle all of this wondering about who I am now that my children have grown and gone, I’ve discovered I’m now living a lifestyle I never anticipated.  I need to figure out what to do with the rest of my life now that mothering no longer fills it quite so constantly.  I’m approaching the end of my career as an educator, and while that certainly deserves and receives massive amounts of my attention and effort, that career too shall come to pass.  Once again, I need to find my fit.

And that’s what my blog is finally–and at long last–about.

It’s about finding fit and learning just who I am and where I’ll belong next.

Doesn’t that sound exciting?!

Photo credit: By Cortega9 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

  • borderless broad

    Just have to say that the “Happy thing of the Week” is a source of joy. Elephants are some of our greatest teachers for “how to do belonging and community, how to play, and how to create a culture of care!” I love this and thank you.
    Morgana Morgaine

    • janegassner

      Thanks, Morgana. I love elephants. Must have been one in a past life.

    • Barb

      Where is “Happy Thing of the Week”?

      • MidLifeBloggers

        Happy Thing of the Week is on the left sidebar. Just below The Latest ByJane.

        • Barb

          It isn’t clickable?

          • janegassner

            What OS are you using? It’s clickable on my MacBook, but not on my iPhone.

  • Melanie Bruce

    You are not alone, that’s for sure. So many of us are blogging our way through all this, even if we aren’t totally sure of direction. Another teacher here, hoping to retire in 5 years. Maybe. In retirement I want to write, learn, volunteer, spend more time outdoors, but these goals are still vague. Good luck on your journey.

    • Barb

      I feel grateful to have an avenue for expression, although I wonder if some of my thoughts are too intimate and shouldn’t be share with the world. I love your ideas for retirement. Me too! I also want to cook more creatively, bake, and paint! Let’s look for opportunities for such fun today!

  • borderless broad

    Barbara: I just wonder if this deep yearning to belong, to fit, is just part of the human condition. I too have asked this question and had this yearning most of my life and now in my early 60’s, I am wondering if this restless place persists because most of the time, we do not just come out and tell people: “I want to belong. I want to feel “home” someplace with others meaning yearning to be really seen and heard for who we are and doing likewise for others without pretense or without playing some role. I have written about courageous conversations as such a need in our culture–honest, clear, and open sharing (for me anyway) and also the idea of midlife women living in pods–creating residential creative spaces for solo women (just one model) — women choosing to be single, women who like space and silence and private time, but also crave deep intimacy with others and hugely alive creative shared lives filled with wonderful life affirming pursuits. Certainly being a mother or a partner with someone brings meaning and purpose and yet, I often think we short circuit ourselves into lifestyles that someone else, some cultural standard provides and we just jump in–then somewhere along the way, the “niggling nags” begin inside ourselves about really belonging, really experiencing honest open community and speaking with each other from a deeper place that truly satisfies and fills us up…..Well, enough musing..I continue my pursuit of pod living, being a bit of a maverick, and loving when I do find deep intimacy with another in conversation or laughter or sharing a creative project. I know there is more in all this…something many of us are seeking; creating new models is very exciting to me. (Morgana Morgaine)

    • Barb

      I’ve been thinking about this response since I read it a few days ago. What interesting thoughts! I agree — there are many ways we “short circuit” ourselves because of cultural standards. In addition to belonging, for example, I find myself craving simplicity. Societal life has become increasingly complicated and overwhelming. Depression and anxiety are commonplace. Lots of us feel unspecifically “bad,” but don’t know why or how to fix it. I’m sure you could find like-minded people to live in your pod. Thanks so much for writing!

  • Flora Brown, Ph.D.

    Barbara, you are in one of the most exciting stages of your life. You
    can explore with abandon. You now have the freedom and flexibility to
    continue what you enjoy and drop what doesn’t.

    Although there have always been many wonderful activities available, the Internet makes it possible to easily connect with people from around the world and thus expand the concept of community. As part of groups, classes and forums, I have friends and contacts that I get to know sometimes years before we ever meet face to face.

    Like you, I’m a retired educator with grown kids (even my grandkids are now adults.) I retired in 2007 so that I could do what I enjoy without being tied to a 9 to 5 schedule.

    Congratulations on discovering blogging. It is one activity I began early on, and have continued to enjoy. I also joined a local meetup group because I love going to small theater and an international group of travellers/hosts because I love to travel.

    I just enjoyed a quick visit to your blog and copied that activity pyramid.

    Thanks for joining the community of wonderful hearts and souls.

    • Barb

      You’re incredibly encouraging and supportive! Your comments are thoughtful and helpful. Thanks for this warm welcome! I look forward to exploring this new community!

  • Yvonne Wray

    I agree that humans are social creatures and we thrive by relating to each other. It is fun that you have realized what you want and now you can start building from there…sounds good to me!

    • Barb

      One day and one step at a time for me Yvonne! I feel hopeful I will find my way! Thanks for commenting!

  • mary gregory

    I agree so much with all the wonderful responses here. I retired from teaching in June at age 57 and finding groups of people really helps with the transition. Knowing this, I’ve been forced to find new things to do, just to be with people, so it has worked out pretty nicely. Being a teacher, you have a set group of warm women. That has been the hardest part for me – the reliance on friends (colleagues) at work and for recreation. I realize from reading Barbara’s piece, that community feeds us in so many ways. This blog helps me take a step back, and maybe even congratulate myself on working through issues other people have felt. Thank you.

    • Barb

      Wow! So many teachers here! What was it like to retire? Do you feel you were prepared? I’m about 9-10 years away from retirement, so I’m already starting to think about what that change will be like. Good for you in working through your adjustment! Congratulations!

  • Walker

    Interesting that we all seem to have similar journeys. I’m pretty close to figuring it out but it was a rocky path!

    • Barb

      I’m happy your path is getting smoother. I’m feeling more that way too. Maybe writing it down … getting it out … helps! Thanks for commenting!

  • Kiki Dunigan

    Barbara, you’ve just written my life story! I’ve said these exact same words to my husband, family, and friends, and they just don’t understand what I mean. They think I’m having a mid-life crisis, and they all wish I could just “get over it”. But I long to find a place where I belong, with like-minded people, and through your blog, you give me that sense that I am not alone. Keep writing, I will definitely keep reading!

    • Barb

      We can do it Kiki! We are not alone! So glad we found each other through this forum. There’s more to talk about, discover, and share. Thank you for your support … know that I’m in your corner too!

  • Linda Hoye

    Your sentiments mirror my own in some aspects, Barbara. I’m winding down my corporate career and looking forward to the next phase. There are lots of transitions and change ahead–and I confess to having trepidation along with the anticipation of being able to call my time my own. Community is on my mind too. As I leave my workplace, move to a different place, how will I find that community?

    And yes, your question as to whether finding fit and learning who you are is most definitely exciting!

    • Barb

      I think your ideas about community are important for me to think about as I search for this sense of belonging. What activities do you enjoy most? I have recently started a sewing class and I’m loving it! I’ve always wanted to know how and now I’m learning! Thanks for the comments!

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