In the Village

I don’t have any idea who coined the phrase, “It Takes a Village” in the raising of children, but I agree we need our village. It’s the village that helps me keep my sanity. It’s the village that comforts me in my sorrows. It’s the village that celebrates my victories and cheers me on even when I’m losing. So, yes, “it takes a village” in all of our lives to help us thrive and become the entity of purpose that we are suppose to be.

In the village there are all types of people with all types of professions. There are the professed friends – the ones who profess their love and camaraderie. My oldest son calls these the “Ride or Die” friends. They will stick with you come what may. These are the types of friendship that develop over time and become more like family in the long run, or maybe better than family in some cases. (Don’t get me wrong some people have the greatest friendships within their family. I’m not discounting family relationships by any means). Then there’s the friend that profess to be friends. Although they talk a good game, in a pinch they leave you hanging. (Is that too many colloquialisms?) While their relationship may be a negative in one sense, they can also be a positive. Their inability to be loyal and steadfast teaches you to examine your relationships, as well as to be mindful of what you share and who you share it with.

In the village there are motivators and critics. The motivators may be parents, teachers, preachers, counselors, coaches, or bosses to name a few. These people see the potential in you; they push you to do your best, to take a chance. They encourage you to pursue your dreams, and to look forward to the outcome rather than focus on the struggle. Many of us owe our successes to these motivators, but we also owe them to our critics as well. Critics also motivate albeit in a negative way. Critics give you determination. They make you persevere if for no other reason than to prove them wrong. Critics help you decide the worth or value of a thing. They cause internal arguments; win or lose, you are motivated to act. I owe so much of my victories to critics who told me my dreams were impossible. In proving myself to them, I proved myself to myself also.

In the village there are heroes and heroines, as well as villains. (Can I pause here just long enough to say, the First Responders, nurses, doctors, and teachers have always been heroes even before the virus.) The heroes/heroines are the people who keep things going when everyone else gives up. They are dedicated to the better good of the village. They strive to leave no one behind. They find ways to overcome the odds, to jump hurdles, and to bring along the disenfranchised. Heroes/heroines give us principles to esteem and personal attributes to attain to. They are selfless in their time, talent, and treasures; while villains are selfish. Villains steal time. They see it as their job to destroy the treasures of others. They only value the things that benefit them. Villains never consider the outcome; they prefer instant gratification over well thought out plans. They see members of the village as obstacles in their way. Villains make us protective and appreciative of what we have and who we are.

I could probably go on with other analogies (after all I am a writer), but suffice it to say we all have a village and there are both good and bad in it. Yet, if we try, we can see the positive contribution in our lives. We can be thankful for our village. All we have to do is take the emphasis off of the word “the” and place it on the word “my.” My village – my husband, my mother, my children, my best friends, my pastor and church, my mentor, my writer’s group, my co-workers, my counselor, my instructors, my relatives, and my neighbors – all keep me moving forward even when I want to quit. My village holds me together and helps me achieve hope in the midst of precarious times because we really are “in this together” (unlike the media who coined that phrase).

Who is in your village? Perhaps its time to take notice and reassert your position and their’s. Perhaps its time to re-evaluate the importance of the people in your life and how they contribute to your well-being, your goals, your dreams, and your accomplishments as a generally good human being. It really does “Take a Village.”

Be well, stay safe, and do your part in the village.

Learn more about who you are, how you see your loved ones, and how you can thrive together by creating 52 lists.
In this heartwarming–and heartening–little book, colorful photos from the animal kingdom are paired with inspiring sayings that express how important friendship is.
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Our Need to Connect

Why is it you never miss things or people until they are gone or unavailable? When I think of all the times I complained about my students, my co-workers, or even my family, it seems ridiculous now. No doubt, I took their presence for granted. No doubt, I discounted the value of their connection to my life. Funny how we lie to ourselves. In honesty, after small breaks I was always ready to go back to work. After several days of vacation or time at home, I was always ready to return to my routine, my kids, and my people. That’s the thing! We all have our people.

All of our daily routines are connected to people whether they are co-workers, children, clients, siblings, competitors, bosses, or spouses. People connect us to our purpose. People enhance our identity and inform our desires. Okay, maybe that’s a little too poetic, after all that’s my niche. The fact is we have a innate need to connect and that need is suffering from “social distancing” and “sheltering in.” That’s why we need to find creative ways to connect even during these Conronavirus days.

We need to make connections beyond texting and emails; we need to connect with human voices and faces. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Duo, and all the other techno-means of contacting people. However, I’m talking about more than that. For example, neighbors can schedule times to meet in their front yards or over the back fence. Or you can stand 6 feet from grandma’s open window or six parking spaces from your best friend in the school parking lot. Perhaps you could have a four corners’ community meeting at the four-way stop in your neighborhood. Each family takes a corner so the children get to talk and see each other as well. Today, I met a dear friend in the parking lot of the grocery store, we both stayed in our cars and caught up on our families’ well-being.

Even though we are nervous about contact with others, most of us are still in contact with others in some form such as: doctor’s appointments, essential shopping, and contact with repair people. Asking and listening to the answer of the question, “how are you?” is important. While taking the time to talk to cashiers, or restaurant workers isn’t a deep heartfelt connection; it is still an important human connection. Sharing sincere appreciation for someone’s service is a much needed connection in times like these. All it takes is a little empathy and compassion.

Before COVID 19, we all had a network of friends, family, and even commercial partners in the marketplace (like my hairstylist, nail tech, and mechanic). These are essential connections. Some psychologists believe they are necessary for our mental health as well. Through these connections we become inspired and motivated to fulfill our purpose (dreams, goals, callings, niches). They reinforce our sense of self and increase our acceptance of others. We feel fulfilled emotionally and socially when we have these connections. We also feel safe and whole when we are connected to our people, our community of significant others. (Wow, that’s a little preachy.) Our need for connection is real is all I’m really trying to say.

Our need for connection with others is a real need, and we shouldn’t give up on it easily. We can use our creativity to communicate with others. If you have elders in your life, as I do, here’s one last way to connect. My mom is 89 and she loves letters and cards. She is from that generation where handwritten letters demonstrated the genuineness of the relationship. In fact, she has a little keepsake box of letters she has received over the years. So you can connect through handwritten letters, to protect the most vulnerable in our lives. Don’t forget to add some pictures.

One time there was someone very close to me in jail. They felt isolated and I felt helplessly locked out of their lives. I was shocked to see how much it meant to both us to talk through the glass and press our palms together on it. Just those few minutes each week gave us both hope and kept our relationship in tact. Our need for connection was somehow fulfilled just by laying eyes on one another and hearing each other’s voice. COVID 19 has us behind the glass, but it doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to connect.

Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World
The good news is that social connection is innate and a cure for loneliness. InĀ Together, the former Surgeon General will address the importance of community and connection and offer viable and actionable solutions to this overlooked epidemic.
The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods
We need our neighbors and community to stay healthy, produce jobs, raise our children, and care for those on the margin. Institutions and professional services have reached their limit of their ability to help us.