The importance of community to my well-being became even more apparent to me when I moved to Marietta a few years ago. After leaving the little college town that my husband and I had been living in for several years, I was determined to make our next location feel more like home. Moving can be tough, but I found that staying in one place can be even lonelier. People are very transient these days. We move for jobs, family, school and a host of other reasons. This constant motion has been difficult for me. Once I formed friendships it felt inevitable that there would be an event that would draw us apart. I am lucky enough to have friends sprinkled all over, but there is something beautiful about being in the physical presence of a loved one.

Moving to small town can be especially difficult, struggling to find my niche when it appears that everyone else already has it figured out. I have come to learn that this is all part of my journey. The friends that come in and out of my life serve a special purpose during the time we have together, encouraging me to grow and learn more about myself. Running into the people I connect with fills me up and inspires me.

So, we know that meeting new people is amazing, but where we find people becomes tricky. I have relied on fate, thinking it will bring me to a place where I will cross paths with the people with whom I am intended to interact. I have been only mildly successful there. I decided to actively and shamelessly pursue others, very unlike me, but I am always happy to reinvent. I started Meet-up groups (no one outside of larger cities seems to use it), invited people to coffee and lunch, volunteered, and still only finding little bits of progress with filling up my calendar. Then, I brought my inflexible, yet wildly determined self to a yoga class, not to meet others but to get some exercise and try something new. Not even realizing it, I had found my place. I found that the people that came to yoga were open, warm and happy to chat and try new things. Full Circle became part of my routine, and with all the growth I have done there, it is now like a second home.

yoga2I primarily seek connections with other women. Supporting and being supported empowers me to reach for my potential, and to break through the barriers that I create for myself. It saddens me to think of how much competition and negative energy we throw at each other. Especially, when there will always be enough for everyone. Ladies, we are not so different from one another. We have similar fears, discomforts, desires to belong and connect. Full Circle has allowed me to embrace and create what brings me peace. I facilitate a monthly sisterhood circle and book club. Our sisterhood circle allows us to hold space for one another, encourage, motivate, learn and grow. It is pretty spectacular. I also attend and teach workshops and classes. Sometimes, I gravitate toward an activity that is out of my comfort zone, because I am curious of what knowledge I can gain about myself by giving it a try. Recently, it was belly dancing. It gave me a chance to laugh with a new friend, and be okay with being awkward. Sometimes, not necessarily this time, I discover an unknown skill or talent. I love the opportunity to connect through movement. Not everything that occurs at these gatherings is monumental, but all of those little interactions are an important part of strengthening and building community. We learn to slow down together. I know that is essential for me- to stop and be present, and enjoy every morsel of today.

We can thrive with the support of one another. Our stress levels begin to decrease, and we have people to help us celebrate the fabulous things that happen. Throughout this ongoing journey I have learned several things, two in particular that I feel compelled to share. First, be yourself. The community you build will love your sarcasm, your corny jokes and your need to hug everyone when you leave a room. They will love all the parts that make up the uniqueness that is you. So take the pressure off yourself to be a certain way. If you come across someone that doesn’t like some part of you, they weren’t meant to be part of your tribe anyway. Second, leave the house and try things. If you don’t get out there you will not have as many chances to meet fascinating and amazing individuals, it’s the law of something or other. So grab your hat, keys, mat, shoes and head out the door, right now, don’t wait.

If you are looking to form, join or grow your circle, what would I recommend? For starters come to Full Circle. Our women’s circle and book club both meet monthly. If that isn’t a good fit start taking classes in anything that calls to you – even if you don’t think you will be good at it, maybe start a new group yourself, or even host an event. Ask around and try volunteering; giving back will increase your good karma and you will meet people (win-win). The first friend I made in Marietta was attending the Merchants and Artists Walk. Not only did I get a little community introduction, but made a connection too. Let go of the fear and put yourself out there.