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Posts Tagged ‘Tribes’

If you follow my blog you know that I travel around the country for work, months at a time. I work long hours and in return my time off is really off. I’ve had the good fortune to visit some great cities and in each one I make sure and find my tribe. My tribe is anyone who engages in artistic endeavors, no matter the genre. In addition, I always make it a point to visit the local attractions such as museums and botanic gardens not to mention quilt shops and knitting shops.

My current work assignment is in Baltimore. My other blog www.manofthecloth.wordpress.com is where I focus on stitching as meditation. I was looking for a particular yarn and found that a local art supply store happened to carry this gorgeous 100% wool yarn. I made it over to the shop, found the yarn, but they didn’t have enough for my project. Little did I know, until I got up to the register, that they have back stock that isn’t on the floor. I found five more skeins of yarn and proceeded to check out.

The staff inquired if I was affiliated with the Art Institute as a student or faculty member, to receive the discount. I explained that I’m visiting from out-of-state for a work contract. Once I divulged where I lived, the two employees proceeded to tell me about all the art spots that I had to see while in town. First they were focused on fiber art, since that’s my medium, but I explained I’m open to anything art related. They gave me a list of locations, exhibitions, and venues to visit before I leave town. They made me feel very welcomed and over the next few weeks will give me things to see and do while I’m far away from home.

So who is your tribe? What makes a tribe? I find that it’s about common passions. It doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about, these folks exist all around you. Another way that tribes are formed is by common experience. I’ve worked in outpatient drug and alcohol programs and the bonds that are formed are very strong. When I worked at The Wellness Community, serving cancer patients and their families, they created a tribe. The tribe can tell you the things you need to do, see, look for, and experience, as well as where the land mines are to avoid.

I was fortunate to attend a graduate school that had the ancient Wisdom Traditions as the foundation of the curriculum. I met amazing people who were on the same pilgrimage as me. We took classes together, worked on our dissertations together, and fortunately graduated together. The experience of traveling with other seekers was amazing. It eased much of the anxiety of the process and increased my level of devotion to the work. My tribe supported and nurtured me throughout my journey.

Where we got the notion that it’s better to go it alone I’m not sure. What I do know from personal and professional experience is that having a tribe makes me feel a part of something larger than me. It gives me the sense of expansion and possibility that exists beyond what I can see in my world today.

Who makes up your tribe? How have they created a safe haven on your personal journey? How have you benefited from being part of a tribe? Be conscious of these questions and I think you’ll be amazed at the connections that are all around you!

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How do you feel when you spend time with friends and family (okay for some maybe just friends)?  Do you feel good?  Relaxed?  Happy?  Studies show that the lack of social connections can be as bad for you health as smoking, lack of exercise, or poor nutrition.  Don’t you think that’s an incredible study outcome?  You can feel better if you have enjoyable social connections.

As I ride the bus, for most it’s a solitary time.  I have a stop where I transfer from one bus to the next and I’ve seen this one woman every day; and she’s always reading.  I made the comment, “It’s so nice to see people reading”.  She proceeded to tell me about her reading habits and those of her children.  I saw her this morning and I started a new book and she asked me what I was reading.

Where am I going with this?  Well first of all acknowledging the personhood of another is quite validating.  When you have a common interest with another it makes the connection stronger and faster.  It’s just nice to be able to talk to someone about something your interested in and want to share. 

How does this apply to you after being diagnosed with a chronic or life-altering illness?  Support groups are a great place to have your experience validated.  When I worked in nonprofit organizations with those facing a health challenge; the greatest effort after basic services was about creating community.

When you have a community, or a tribe, you feel like you belong.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to be part of the illness tribe; it’s not a choice you have so how are you going to reframe it for yourself.  Meeting people with similar challenges doesn’t mean that your relationship has to revolve around the illness.  It does mean that these people will be a bit more understanding if you have to cancel last-minute due to health.  They will know and inquire about how you’re doing when you going for treatment.

Having a network doesn’t mean you have to live in the world of illness.  It does mean that picking people who have an understanding for your current life situation is affirming.  It means that you don’t have to be along on social, emotional, or spiritual fronts.  Try it out and see what happens!

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I just returned from a vacation celebrating my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.  There were 13 of us all together, some family and a bunch of my parent’s friends.  It’s great when you can get together with people to celebrate something extraordinary, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  What does cross all boundaries is the need to have a tribe; a group that will support you through all aspects of your life.  The truth is we all belong to multiple tribes, some by choice and some by circumstance.

It’s interesting when you read something for one of life’s arenas and it applies to other aspects of your life.  Seth Godin, the marketing guru, wrote a book titled Tribes.  In it he states that a tribe needs two things, “A shared idea, and a way to communicate”.  Following your diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness those are the two most important criteria for mustering up support. 

After your diagnosis; it’s important to find people who share your idea of health and healing.  Don’t hang out with people who aren’t as driven as you in accomplishing the primary task at hand; getting well.  It’s important to find people who are motivated to venture out on the journey to wellness because you’ll go further with others.  You learn from others and in turn you’ll unlock secrets you may not have had the opportunity to access any other way. 

The second part of Godin’s criteria is needing a way to communicate.  I hope you’ll utilize this venue, the Pilgrim Pathway/Surviving Strong blog to find your voice and connect with others.  I strongly encourage you to add your voice to the conversation.  I throw things out because they present themselves to me through articles, lectures, and interviews, but there’s a lot more out there than I can access.  I hope you’ll join me and comment when you find something that speaks to you or you want to challenge something I’ve written.

This is a tribe and I hope together we can all move forward individually and collectively on our journey to wellness!

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