Revealing Community — Gaps and Insights

Jumping right in… gaps.

So, my gaps… wow, heavily gaping in the area of health.

I think I am going to focus my insights solely in this one area. I didn’t have to do much drawing to see how visually barren my illustration was in the quadrant of “health” which could be a sub-title under the quadrant of “self”.

What I’ve learned is, I don’t feel as though I can openly discuss my health woes with many people. Maybe it has to do with the desire to keep private things… private. I’m fairly outgoing and I love people. But, I like to keep my private affairs… just that, private. After all who really wants to know about what kind of pain I’m having? (This is what I tell myself.) I don’t want to burden friends or have people feel sorry for me or worse… have my concerns be excused. I want to be able to express my concerns and anxieties…. and be validated.


What I’ve learned through the years is that I have to speak up to let people in, be heard, validated, and to find a solution to take place. Not so easy for the tight lipped. As it seems, my gaps in the “health” realm cover everyone from very personal contacts (I do have a couple close connections I can call on)… to physicians. More in the realm of health care providers. What makes it worse for me, I don’t like feeling that I have to rely on a random doctor I’ve seen only once… for a referral to go to one that I’ve never met. Which sometimes keeps me from actively seeking any out.

So OK, you can see some holes.

Going back to… speaking up and letting people in. This is key. I could ask my local friends (give them a little information about what’s concerning me) for health care providers they trust. And, then I’m benefiting three fold, I’ve let people in, built some community, and hopefully received a good contact for the future. Win…win… win.

More insights…

A question was asked at group on Monday… “how do you feel as you see your personal network unfold visually? How does it feel inside your body right now… knowing you can ask these people for help?” Most people responded with: “relief, I feel good knowing I don’t have to do it myself, cooperative, empowered, can learn a new perspective”… all very good.

My response was… I feel connected, secure, supported, capable, warm & fuzzy… like there is a solution somewhere. And, then I started feeling in my body… uncertainty and vulnerable.  Uncertain to how my network would respond to my needs.superchick_megaphone_logo_hi

So… then I have to tell myself again… open your mouth & let people in… speak up “Garner Girl”! I can’t assume what people’s reactions are going to be.  I can’t build true authentic community if I am not first transparent myself. It hurts me the most, if I isolate myself. I lose out, am disconnected… and no one really knows what’s going on. Relationships aren’t built. No solution can be acheived that way. So, what I’ve learned… grin… grit your teeth if you have to… let people in… and ask for help. It’s a good thing.


Revealing Community — The Exercise

As promised, I wanted to share with you the exercise we did in my networking group. Thanks to Laura leaving a comment on Monday’s post, you can access this and many other useful exercises via the book ” The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life” by Renee Peterson Trudeau (2006, Balanced Living Press). Check out her website.

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Renee, I think when I can scrape together some funds, I might look into some sessions with her myself. She and others in her firm do work/life coaching, trainings, and work shops. I’ve always been passionate about teaching others life skills… so, shoot I think I could benefit from a little life coaching myself. Plus, I like that she is a career strategist (great for changing careers). I like strategy. Strategy is good.

OK, let’s get to it…

pen-and-blank-paper-300x225First things first. Grab a blank sheet of paper (colored, printer, college ruled… they all work). Next, draw a smallish circle in the middle of the page and write your name in it. Next, on your blank page with a circle in the center, draw a large circle around the perimeter of the page. It should be near the edges of your paper. It should look sort of like an Avocado with a pit in the center. Now, divide your large circle/oval into four quadrants (do not draw lines through your smaller circle containing your name). On the outside of the large circle, in each quadrant, write these catagories: self (or: close connections), family/friends (or: new connections, the secondary and/or tertiary layers), household, and work community. And lastly, from the smaller circle containing your name, draw 2-3 smaller lines shooting out like sun rays in each quadrant. Make sense?

Now… the object of this exercise is to identify who you already have in your personal network. And, the visual illustration will help you see that… wow… look at the reality of how you are connected. It will also help you determine where your gaps are.image2

From here, make a list of ALL the people you have in your life. Include in this list: doctors, financial advisors, repairmen/repair friends, mechanics, hair stylists, therapists, life coaches, mentors, meet-up friends… advisors in whatever you need advice in. And, also include your work community, co-workers, advisors in resume writing, job coaches, networking groups, etc. Include close friends you can call on when you have a crappy day or need help with an errand…. or you need a vacation… friends you go away with.  Include family and other supports.

OK, hopefully now you’ve got a good sized list made.

connected1_id145844_jpg_Start plugging in all these folks into your drawing. It’s from there, you’ll start to see how well you are connected. You aren’t alone. You don’t have to do all this by yourself. You’ll also see what areas are missing support. The gaps.

I know I promised insights I’d received and where my gaps were being revealed… let’s save that for the next post. Otherwise, you’ll want to get a cup O’Joe to read a long-winded post. So, instead, use this time to see what was revealed to you in this exercise and determine in what areas you need more connection or you’d like to build up more support.

Revealing Community – On the Coat Tails of Worry


This last week has been filled with worry. If you read my last post, you know I’ve been a little concerned about health coverage. Last week, I came down with some sort of respiratory thing that seems to have gotten everyone down from New Jersey to Texas. What it is… I don’t know. It seems to be a mix of different things. Sinuses, chest cold, sore throat… Jeff thinks possibly a strain of the Swine Flu.women_in_kidney_stones_pain

My cough seems to be getting better, but with more gunk coming up. I haven’t slept much. What’s made me the most concerned lately is pain flanking my kidneys and the symptoms that have been keeping me up most nights recently.  As you could imagine, worry, worry… worry. Note: I have an appointment with a Urologist tomorrow morning.

P1050273If that isn’t enough, today has been a bah humbug sort of day. The sink backed up due to a leak in our garbage disposal. It’s been that way for a week. There are dishes piled up everywhere, the trash smells… and when I open the refrigerator door… all the food crammed on my shelves (my room-mate’s shelves are well organized) falls out. Hrumph! To top it all off my toilet has backed up. I pray it doesn’t over-flow… it looks disgusting! I think it’s time to call somebody!!

Sound familiar? What do you do… and, who do you call? Something tells me the Ghostbusters aren’t gonna help in this scenario.

Well, it’s Laura to the rescue at New Creations. What a good group session today! On the coat tails of worry and stinky (literally) days. I went to my networking group. And, wouldn’t you know it… guess what we talked about!  Building your personal community (people you call onrotary-cell-phone) and where you feel like you have gaps (when you feel you don’t have anyone to support you in specific areas).

debriefer maytag repairman richmondWe talked about the difference between personal and professional networking groups… and the importance of both. Today was mainly about how to build and maintain your personal network. Identify who they are. Are you connected in the important areas of finding support for work challenges, household dilemas (the water closet backing up), healthcare (doctors, dentists, chiropractors), do you have people to call on when your having a crappy day, when there are things that are out of your control (life coaches, counselors, mentors), when the bills are piling up and you have no idea how to pay them (financial advisors)…and the list goes on.

Also included was how you feel asking for help (getting in tune with your emotions) and how it feels to have people to call on to help you out with all the stuff building up in your life.6a00e54ef6fd3b883400e551c5adcd8834-800wi

The question for peer support today… where are the gaps in your personal network?

After a week of worrying about health concerns, financial woes, wondering when I would have time to study my GRE book, and dealing with the sink backing up… I could answer that question.

In my next post, I’ll share with you the exercise we did – identifying our personal network (We made a visual illustration. I thought that helped put it in a bigger perspective.) And, maybe share with you some of my gaps… as well as some of the insights I picked up.

Staying Healthy

Sore throat, body aches, fever...

Sore throat, body aches, fever...

There is something going around right now… and it starts with a sore throat… grows into a runny nose, chest congestion, body aches, and fever.

I often wonder how I might go to the doctor when I don’t have insurance coverage. It’s a worry that stays constant. Especially when the sore throat I have turns into a fever (it hasn’t). I worry about medical bills I’ve accumulated and how I will pay them off. Where will the money come from? What will I do if I need to go to the doctor just to get antibiotics or medicine? What will I do if something bigger, something more substantial happens? How will I pay for it? And, more than that, will they give me care?

How will I receive care?

How will I receive care?

Sure, we’ve “received” word that Cobra insurance has been extended. But, who can actually afford paying for Cobra on unemployment funds… or private insurance? What if you’re not getting unemployment payments… how do you manage? Premiums are going up. And, as time goes forward… the little man (you and me), we’re getting caught in the fray.

It’s easy to not get stressed about it, when you are feeling good. But, when you start to feel bad… you must find a way to take care of it on your own and hope that it goes away. Or, face the reality and worry that come with trying to figure out a way to be able to pay for the doctor visit, tests, or medicine that is needed.

Wash your hands, drink your fluids, get plenty of sleep...

Wash your hands, drink fluids, get plenty of sleep...

If you are unemployed for any reason, now… more than ever get plenty of sleep, drink fluids, wash your hands, exercise, eat right, find those things that help manage your stress, stay current with your support network.

Staying healthy...

Feeling good...

Potential health issues are all around us… everything ranging from recreational injuries (biking, hiking, rollerblading) to the ordinary flu bugs. Now is the time to be vigilent at staying healthy. With health insurance premiums on the rise and money being scarce, it doesn’t pay to get sick right now or fall off a horse and break something.

Vacation is Good For the Soul

Losing track of time in a field full of flowers.

Losing track of time in a field full of flowers.

Jeff (my boyfriend) and I spent a week in Ruidoso, NM unwinding and decompressing. It was great to get away! It was even better to forget what day it was and what month we were in.

Getting lost in the mountains.

Getting lost in the mountains.

If you have been stressing over a job loss or change in careers, try to make it a point to take small get-a-ways. The ones where you can go… spend the least amount of money (unless you’ve got a savings account and can pull from it for a cruise or coast to coast road-trip), and decompress mentally and emotionally. Just let yourself “be” in the moment. Forget what day it is, what time it is, what you are supposed to do, and enjoy yourself.

Who ever says you should ALWAYS be focusing on this job search thing… may not relate to how tough it is. Take a break from time to time. Trust me, it’ll make a difference when you get back… and you’ll have new focus and hopefully more motivation to get those things you’ve been putting off… done.

Building Community with Local Food Movements

A friend of mine, Steven Hebbard, spoke at a presentation Tuesday night at Monkey Wrench Books. He’d sent me an email about this through a Meet-Up: Austin Community Living… started by a friend of his (Rigil Thurston).

His presentation (“Scaling Our Communities to the Size of Our Diets”) was primarily about building community (neighbors knowing neighbors) with the local food movements (growing and buying food locally).

Included in the conversation was actually defining what the local food movements are, what is the scale of the area being served (local, city, state, national), how to reclaim your city to be a part of your local community, and how populated an area affects the food markets.

Some ways we can be intentional include:

Buy, eat, and grow local.

Buy, eat, and grow local.

1) Actively supporting local food vendors — encourage stores/restaurants to buy/grow food locally. We can encourage or help put into effect a reward system for businesses who do.

2) Change our lifestyle — get linked up into local food cooperative networks, become inter-connected with food providers (CSAs, neighborhood organizations, Sustainable

Building intentional relationships with those who are different from us.

Building intentional relationships with those who are different from us.

Food Center, farmer’s markets, and by supporting mid-size farms).

3) The heart change — be intentional about practicing hospitality for neighborliness for families, friends neighbors, and for those who are alone. (This was my confirmation! My aha moment! Showing me, I’m on the right path.)

The world will be changed by us opening our homes and loving our neighbors. (Yes, yes, yes!!)

Reach out to the weak ties of our community, people who are different from us, and take time to have real, ordinary, relationships with them. Everyone will be blessed.

Another important note to take away: community can’t be defined by electronics or social media. Though, very helpful in this day and age. What we are talking about is the inter-personal connection (in the flesh) which is important, needed, and special.

Burning Embers



A fire is lit! You know the kind, the fire deep in your belly that ignites when you feel passionate about something and want to do something about it.

It’s great to receive confirmation. Do you ever doubt yourself? You know you are going in the right direction – you’ve defined your career path, you feel good about it, you’ve taken time for self discovery, and other people are on board with you… yet, there are still doubts. “Am I doing the right thing?”

Confirmation come in all shapes and sizes. From something somebody says, something you hear at a class/presentation/or seminar, a niche or need that you know you can fill with your unique skills/gifts/abilities, something you read, an inspirational message that comes at just the right time… and the list goes on. You’ll know it when it happens.

The confirmation… that did it for me just recently, I’ll share that with you tomorrow.

My new journal…

Remember that journal I was talking about before?  Well, it’s been a few months since I bought it. I found this great little, colorful, red, yellow and white, fabric bound, floral journal at Target. It had my name written all over it. It said to me “inspiration” — “buy me, buy me”. I couldn’t wait to get it home and start writing.

2517590361_b746da8b81Since then, I’ve written off and on in it. That was back in April. One of the things I love about going to my Monday afternoon networking group, is the facilitator. She is genuinely real. And, that in itself is helpful in moving forward. When she encourages us to write, she acknowledges that you don’t have to say anything astounding, just take the time to write something… anything, and the rest will follow. You’d be surprised at what follows.

So, when I get a great idea (no matter how crazy it sounds – even if it doesn’t relate to what I’m doing) I writWomanWritinge it down… or if I’ve had a bad day, perhaps an exercise we’ve completed during our peer support time, an insight I’ve realized, input from others, the top 98 things I want to do in life (I kind of petered out before 100)… and sometimes just a sentence that says… I can’t think of anything today.

Part of what I want to share in this blog is how I’m getting from point A to point B. In doing that, I’ll be sharing some of my journal excerpts. Some are funny and some are just what they are. I also want to share some of the exercises I’m working through. Who knows, you might find something helpful that works for you. Or, maybe you’ll just be entertained.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a to-go cup, packed inside my messenger bag spilled all over my cool, new, Target journal leaving the pages looking like hirogliphics, wet and wavy. I tried to dry them out. As I look through the pages now, it’s funny how the words run together.  Ya know, I couldn’t start a new one now… after all it’s part of my adventure.

Getting Started… Step #3

Step #3… Courage

Go in the direction of your dreams...

Need I say more? Remember all that fear I spoke about earlier. This is the step that moves us past our fears. Even if just in baby steps. Baby steps are still forward progress!

It’s not easy doing this. It’s down right daunting! I get stuck fairly often, I hit what feels like brick walls, I get frustrated and sometimes all I want to do is take a break. A… long break. If it wasn’t for having a little courage, I wouldn’t get up and move forward again. I would sit on this dream and that’s what it would stay… just a dream.

I have a favorite quote: “Go in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau

I think he knew a little something about life.

So, when things get a little hairy for you and you feel like you’re losing your way… you’ve hit a brick wall… or like you’ve got some fear holding you back… say this quote out loud to yourself and see how it might transform the fear into possibility.

These are the words I live by.

Getting Started… Step #2

Step #2… Support Network.

I am still sometimes amazed to learn that some people going into this type of change in their life, don’t have a support network. Things are crazy enough, don’t go it alone! Without support, I don’t know where I would be.

6a00d83451b4dd69e2010537154a31970b-800wiOur support networks give us, well you guessed it… support. They also offer encouragement, they challenge us — as iron sharpens iron, they motivate us, they cheer for us. They keep us accountable.  And, they tell us when what we’re doing isn’t really working.

Support Networks… like onions, come in layers.

Closest to you are the people who will keep you on course and accountable — a handful of key people. Maybe that looks like close friends, family members, or a spouse. Sometimes they are not our favorite people, because accountability isn’t always a walk in the park.  But, we realize how good they are for us.2885783824_ec87f1d791

Then we peel our secondary and tertiary layers. Friends, extended family, work contacts, and networking support groups.

Another part to having a support network, is keeping them informed. I sometimes have to remind myself to do just that.  You’d be surprised at how they can connect you to what you need and how many people really want to know!