Some of the hardest moments of my life have taken place in the last few years. Having moved and started a new business while battling chronic illness and navigating family challenges, I have experienced some of life’s darkest moments - and cried harder than I thought possible. And let’s not forget the global pandemic!
I know that this has been a challenging time for many of you too. COVID-19 life alone is no joke, and many of you know people who have died from the virus or have become critically ill. I know I do. During COVID, connecting has been difficult, as so many of us are dealing with our own problems and lockdown restrictions can inhibit or limit face to face interactions. In Ontario, where I live, the schools have been closed on and off for 1.5 years and this has broken many parents, with women carrying the majority of the burden. I wrote a blog post in the spring about how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, you can access it here.
One thing I do appreciate about the “new normal” though, is that most people are no longer hiding how hard life is. When I ask people how they are doing, I am getting more honest responses and a willingness - at times a necessity - to be vulnerable. And this type of connection has been invaluable to me. A lot of women I talk to are feeling down, and it feels like we don’t know when it’s going to change. Maybe that’s you today.
I want you to know that you are NOT alone.
I don’t have a silver bullet to ease your burden, but one of the key things that has helped me get through my dark times has been my community. My support network and connections with friends and family.
We need community when we are at our worst, our best, and anywhere in between. When you are living through the darkest moments of your life, you can’t do it alone. Or at least, you shouldn’t have to. There were days when the only thing that kept me moving forward was my family and friends. Sometimes we need them to call us out, tell us the truth, or just listen while we cry. And community goes both ways. You must also be there to support when you’re called upon.
I know that a lot of people struggle to build a community so I wanted to share ideas of how to build AND keep one.
So, where can you find a community?
Volunteer: do something good AND meet new people who share similar interests.
Faith communities: find like-minded people and built-in support networks.
Extra curricular activities (sports, hobbies): join a recreational volleyball league or a book club.
Online (e.g. apps): join a Facebook moms group or join an app for finding local friends.
Neighbours: join a local community group, visit the dog park, ask a neighbour to go for a walk.
But it doesn't end there, you can’t just meet people. You have to keep building and deepening relationships. This means you need to make an effort to connect and maintain ongoing contact. You can use technology like Voxer (a walkie talkie app), WhatsApp, Zoom or Facebook Messenger or Facetime to help you keep in touch.
If you are a mother, taking the time to be with other people is hard, but you have to prioritize AND schedule it. When you take the time to fill your well, you will be a better mom because you will feel more fulfilled, supported, loved, and equipped.
I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you that it takes support from other people, a community, to get through your darkest days.
In my podcast interview with mother and content creator Libby Ward, she reminds us that regardless of what we are going through, “we are not alone...a lot of us are hot messes and a lot of us have stuff to work on”. You can listen to the full episode here.
I want to close with some wise words from Helen Keller, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
Share in the comments who or what makes up your community and what else is helping you get through the pandemic.