The art of belonging

December 7. Community.

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
(Author: Cali Harris)

I’ve been very lucky to have two consistent circles of community supporting my life this year: Twitter and Unravelling.

I love how my online world spills into my offline; there doesn’t seem to be a barrier between the two anymore, as I meet people on Twitter, or in Unravelling classes, or at Squam or at a meet-up in New York or Boston or London. Friends come for lunch in Bath and then we’re chatting on Twitter later that evening. Facebook messages, Flickr comments, DMs… some days the level of connectivity is a little overwhelming, but it is always cherished. For such an introverted soul in real life, i love having this vibrant — and caring — online community around me. Observing my Twitter stream yesterday I saw that I inhabit several micro-communities  — the photographers, the handmade artists, the creative biz people and the life-coachy self-awareness people — and where the four intersect is where my interests and business flourish.

And then there is the blessing that is Unravelling; with every class i run i meet more and more amazing women, the connection lasting long after the course ends, as we chat on Twitter and Facebook. I give as much of myself as I can to every class, and it’s an amazing feeling knowing there are over 1,500 women out in the world who have truly seen me — that is MY unravelling. In return, i watch the community grow over the eight weeks of the course, and the honesty, kindness and encouragement I witness makes my heart swell every time  — reading Debra’s post yesterday totally made me well up.

And it’s been watching how Unravellers continue to connect long after the course has ended (check out this and this! And hello to the ladies of the Unravelling cabin at Squam :) that made me realise I want to create an Unravelling haven next year, an online space for women to gather and support each other, every single day of the year…. once my manuscript has been delivered in March it’ll be all systems go to get this new dream off the ground.

I really can’t wait.

For #Reverb10

Like leaves fall from a tree

December 5. Let go

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

I’ve been trying to let go of expectations and shoulds because it’s apparent with every day I live that they do. not. serve. me. They make me distracted and dotty, trying to live up to what i think should be happening. What I should be doing. Where I should live. What I should have achieved by now.

What my body should look like. Hoo boy, that’s a big one.

Letting go of the shoulds is a daily practice, a minute-by-minute task I try to remember to do; some days are easier than others, depending on the hormonal winds blowing through my veins. For example, this weekend I was writing fluently, seeing my family, floating around my flat feeling on top of my game. Today, however, I am ready to jump out the window and end it all. I am sick of my own miserable company and have been self-medicating with coffee and toasted tea cakes since I woke up. No writing done, feeling like I’ve let myself down, cowering as the shoulds gleefully beat me with a stick. Hormones and stress are a horrible mix.

I know there will never be a point when I’m so zenned out with everything and everyone I never have another worry; hormones will rage, deadlines will loom, nephews will grow, food will go bad in the fridge — it’s just life. And as much as I embrace my glorious imperfection, I’ll still have days like today, when i hate dislike myself intensely; and when they come round I just have to lean into them, try to let go of the shoulds, and make it through to bedtime.

That is enough for one day.

For #Reverb10

The euphoria of love

December 3. Memory

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

It was my first afternoon in New York City. On my own, in the sunshine, a Polaroid camera in my hands — just the way I like it. After meeting my agent and editor for breakfast — our first meeting, and an auspicious moment in itself — I wandered through Madison Square Park and made my way towards Greenwich Village; considering it was my very first time in the city I didn’t for a moment feel out of place or lost. Perhaps it’s because so many of the films, artists and music I love were born in New York, but whatever it was, I felt completely and perfectly at home. Sauntering along Bleeker Street, turning a corner then another, letting my feet lead the way with no agenda, no worries, just me and the city. It was my afternoon of bliss… excitement… discovery… freedom.

When I snapped the photo above with my iPhone I was feeling as present and alive as I’d been watching my nephew be born five months earlier. Euphorically alive. How the streets glowed in the afternoon light! The pavement hot and dirty, the scent of food impossible to distinguish — Mexican? Hot dogs? Coffee & sickly doughnuts were in there for sure. The people enchanted me: the lady who gave me the address of her favourite book shop in London; the guy who invited me to an art party; the gent who admired my Polaroid and let me shoot his portrait. It was all so seductive. I fell in love with a city, and every time i see photos of New York my heart aches like it would for a long-lost lover. Ridiculous, really, but I am smitten.

For #Reverb10