We women have a queer sort of “job”: it’s essential and central, yet unnoticed and hidden all at the same time.
We’re strong, us women, but, at the same time, need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, need to recognize that, many times, we are vulnerable.
Western culture, and American culture specifically, puts bootstrap-pulling on a pedestal, and turns everything (but everything!) into a competition of sorts.
But… we’re women. We’re excellent at building connections, we thrive in communities. We’re so good at supporting each other -- and do best when we have other, like-minded people supporting us as well.
So here are the four peoples you need in your life:
(and yes, I wrote “peoples” on purpose ;) )
Whether for good reasons or not- so-good reasons, we all hit rough spots in life: times when, physically, we can’t do everything.
Times when we can’t do meals, can’t do carpools, can’t take care of our kids.
Your physical community are the friends and neighbors, siblings and parents who are available to step in and physically help out when you need an extra hand.
Sometimes, this community is the hardest to take from, the hardest to ask for - and perhaps even the hardest to be. We don’t know what someone else has on her plate, and may shy away from even asking.
But that’s what makes this community all the more valuable. Having someone who you know you can count on to help when they can - and to say no when they can’t! - is invaluable.
So who’s in your physical community? Did you move somewhere new and not get a chance to build those connections yet? Have you just gotten so used to pulling yourself up that you forgot you even could ask?
Reach out to someone and offer to do something for them at a time that you can. If someone offers something or some way to help, don’t demur -- practice accepting help with the small things; say thank you and accept it.
This community is a small one. Perhaps your sisters, or a select friend or two. Maybe it’s your mother, or your husband or your kallah teacher.
Or maybe it’s a mix.
Your Emotional Community is that person (or those people) you can turn to when you just need emotional support.
A hug, a shoulder to cry on, someone to kvetch to.
If you don’t have one of these, make the time in your life to cultivate these friendships. An emotional community can be harder to build (especially if you’re the type of person who takes a while to really build a deep relationship), but, like all of your communities, is worth the investment.
When you’re living in the realm of doing, and all that doing feels like an endless cycle, that spiritual boost is ESSENTIAL. (Did I write that big enough?)
That might be as simple and organic as a weekly Shabbos table conversation, it might mean going out for a shiur, or it might mean listening to a Torah Anytime class as you’re cleaning the house.
Or maybe, your Spiritual Community is just you and Hashem: davening once (or twice or three times!) a day, talking to Hashem throughout the day, or saying (really saying!) tehillim.
We may not have the chiyuv of learning every day, but that doesn’t make our need to connect any less crucial.
How do you create a Spiritual Community for yourself?
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas.”
Having someone who shares similar hashkafa or ideologies and is facing a challenge similar to yours or is going through the same life stage as you is invaluable.
It’ll give you someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to brain dump and then organize with, help you make sense of something that may be confusing you or that you’re unsure of.
This past winter and spring, I was working with two mothers of newborns (and then not-anymore-newborns) who were friends with each other. Despite the 2-month age gap between their babies, and the fact that we were doing very different work due to their families’ different needs, my clients shared how powerful it was for them to have another like-minded mother to discuss the ideas and structure that we were working on.
Which community do you feel is the weakest for you? What’s one thing you can do this week to strengthen that community?
Share in the comments below!