Call it what you will: a village; a tribe; a community. The last year of my life I have come to appreciate the importance of it.
They say (whoever they are) that it takes a village to raise a child and while many of us no longer live in villages, I have valued the support of my ‘village’ in making the transition to motherhood. The women I met in pregnancy yoga who shared their fears, hopes and dreams, the women I text in the early days at 2am because I knew they’d be awake too, the woman I started talking to on the bridge (who is now a good friend) simply because we were both doing the same thing (trying to get babies to sleep by walking!). In short, the women I have shared the highs and lows of the journey to this unknown land of motherhood.
Travelling to the land of minimalism is no less daunting and a community no less important. Transitions are hard. Especially to a new identitiy. Our identity as an individual is bound up with our engagement in occupations in our lives. We are what we do. I bake, I am a baker. I dance, I am a dancer. I work, I am worker. I minimise, I am a minimalist etc.
To make the transition to a new identity (even if this is desired) will take patience, diligence, and determination. There are usually behavioural changes that must be embedded. Skills must be developed and honed. New habits formed. All of this takes time and sustained effort, one day at a time.
Any change in behaviour is easier to accomplish with the support of others. All you need do is look at Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or even the variety of weight loss programmes that involve some aspect of meeting or group.
I’ve yet to come across a Minimalists Anonymous, however in the early days I purposefully built my community to help me maintain motivation. I have a very good friend who inspired me to restart my journey towards minimalism.To be honest I’m pretty sure she was the person who shared 40 bags in 40 days originally. It wasn’t anything particular she said just her way of “being”. Her serenity and tenacity give me courage to keep going and validate how far I’ve come. I know other friends in my mother tribe have gained similar courage from shared conversations over lunch in the library, or similar day to day conversations.
Since returning to work I’m increasingly relying on my virtual community. People may not always realise they’re part of your tribe but you can draw from them none the less. There are particular blogs that are my ‘go to’ community. London Minimalists, The Simple White Rabbit, One Empty Shelf and Becoming Minimalist are my current favourites. I’ve never met the authors but I like their insights.
The Minimalists have recognised the importance of community and while the feel of their blog is too corporate for my taste, they have recognised the importance of community and established a franchise of 100 community meet up groups across the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK and Ireland. There is one such group in Leeds so I’m on my way to the monthly meeting. It’s completely outside my comfort zone, but they say that’s where the magic happens!
Who do you have in your Minimalist community? Who helps you to keep going when it gets really tough?