I have been thinking a lot about strengthening my circle or building my sense of belonging. I think this is because I have chosen a new community and I am seeking friendships of like-minds and world view.

I also think it is because I have back-burnered my fundamental value of family first, not entirely by choice nor very gracefully. The reality is your children grow up and forge their own lives. They don’t have the same inter-generational experience and expectation that you had growing up. While I am not usually one to live in the past I have been tripped up and hurt by my own assumptions.

I am also aging and finding that there comes a savoring of life that resonates when in a community or circle of friends. There is laughter and poignancy in reviewing one’s life, celebrating one’s experience and forging a day-to-day reality of happiness and giving back. I like becoming more child-like with fewer responsibilities.

As a single parent in an emotionally demanding job I did not attend well to friendships. Looking back into even earlier days, I was an only child of older parents and we were a family struggling with prolonged terminal illness. There was a lot of stoicism and silence. In reflecting on this I am not even sure I learned how to make and keep friends very well. Despite all of this, I have been gifted with some very special souls along the way….the friends you can call day-or-night…the ones you pick up with right where you left off even after long absences .

My friendship circles have tended to be separate and fairly different from one another…those with whom I went to school, other parents, work friends, neighborhood friends, art friends, spiritual belief friends, horse friends, and political action friends. A lot of these groups were connected to an age, a stage, or a place.

Perhaps what I am looking for is actually a stronger sense of tapestry – A weaving together. I am both an adventurer and a homebody. I seem to have a pattern of changing things up every 7 -10 years….restlessness and curiosity I think. Continuity gets disrupted. Now I feel ready to “settle” as my health is diminished and energy for total upheaval no longer exists. I believe I have found my querencia…my home place and source of strength. Rooting feels different this time.

With impeccable timing my goals of finding my circles collided with a virus requiring me to stay home and socially distance for the greater community good! So a sense of belonging has been developing very slowly.

Political action and involvement, a renewed passion these last 9 – 12 months, has been both satisfying and at the same time tiring. My new community is uber-conservative and I am not. Often I believe I may have veered too far off course. However, I think I am making a difference and have found mutually respectful relationships across a wider spectrum than I usually traverse. This is because I have chosen to be a bridge builder not a tribalist. I am not bailing from this commitment as I believe we have an enormous challenge for healing divisiveness in the years to come. I am learning the very different languages and walk a fine line at times making the effort to enter uncomfortable belief systems without sacrificing my integrity. I am convinced that both ends of the continuum operate out of a great deal of fear and reactivity and the common denominator under the whole thing is imperfect humanness. In any case my sense of belonging has not been enhanced much in these endeavors because this role by its very definition often is suspect.

I guess I probably just need to cut myself some slack and exercise patience. My new Master Gardeners group and my spiritual community will eventually come together again. I will find a local connection to the magic of children. I intend to explore creativityn and recently joined Otero Arts.

I shall just have to accept that good things take time and dabbling is an art in itself!