It’s a gift I was given from birth but never understood its importance. It was in the Sunday morning church services, the school I attended where I knew everyone’s name, and the summer traditions like the 4th of July fireworks, 4-H Fair, and trips to the local ice cream stand. Everyone knows each other’s family history, we carry each other through the hard times, and we are quick to celebrate the good.
Community-living has always been in my blood, and yet I didn’t understand it. My dad was “the doctor” in town, I named other people using terms like: “He’s the fireman, she’s the nurse, he’s the vet, she’s the hairdresser, etc.” because there were only one or two people who held those roles — making them easily identifiable.
Because I grew up among close-knit people, I’ve been drawn into community-driven efforts. I find myself with my nose in books that talk about community building and welcoming others into my home. Yet, as much as I desire to join in, the excuses flow as easily as sweet tea in the summer.
“I am a terrible cook.”
“My house is way too messy.”
“I am never ‘presentable’ enough for last-minute get-togethers.”
The list of excuses goes on. Yet, nostalgia still pulls my heart to the times when I recognized every face, kept myself entertained through deep conversation because any form of entertainment was miles away, and everywhere I turned I knew there were people nearby who would be willing to give me the shirt off their back because they knew I was a friend’s cousin’s sister.
People in small towns are usually genuine, generous, and willing to make time for you. So, now that I’m back in my small town, I am racking my brain with ways I can show up like all the small-town folk taught me! I am genuine, and I try to be generous, but the “willing to make time” is where I typically stumble. You see, I’m a work-at-home mama who rarely has time to brush her hair, let alone host a dinner party. The projects are many but the relationships are few.
And I want to change that.
The first step has been making changes that free up my schedule a bit.
The next step is to figure out my strengths and how they apply to community-building. My strengths are in creating new things, loving people for exactly who they are, and, at the same time, encouraging them to be the best version of themselves. This is what started The Dreamer’s Nest (Click here for more info on that part of my business).
What I want for my community is for people to feel genuinely loved and to make room for them to dream.
I have long term plans that include a tiny-house retreat on our farmland, a summer marketplace called The Dreamer’s Market that allows for local businesses to come and show-off their products. But in the here and now, I want to keep things simple. I want to make myself available — not as a cook or perfect hostess, but as a person who wants to hear your story.
I’m not going to have the Pinterest-perfect home or the delicious, homemade appetizers. In fact, I’ll probably forget to offer you water and my hair will most definitely be in a messy-bun. But I will have open ears and a mouthful of encouragement! And I will be overjoyed to spend time with you.
One day, you will see the red barn on our farm with constant in and out locals supporting others who are following their dreams. Or maybe you’ll come to a life coaching retreat and stay in our future tiny-house addition. But until then, come swing with me on my porch swing, tell me your life story, and I can guarantee a few laughs at my children’s expense. Or sit around the new picnic table my hubby made for us and we can talk about all the downs and the ups of life while enjoying a cup of tea.
Locals, I would LOVE for you to join me. Message me with days you’re available, or stop by when you see us outside! I want my home to be a place of belonging, so come and stay awhile!
Tell me in the comments: how can you use your strengths to build community right where you are?
Resources for community-building that I’m enjoying:
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