It may surprise many of you who know me well that I have a serious appreciation for technology these days. Despite the fact that one of my favourite things in life is a beautiful notebook and a fresh fine point pen (Black), and that I am more likely to write an appointment in by blue daily planner than I am to type it into my phone, and that I still send postcards, birthday cards and actual letters to anyone who will reply in kind. One of the things I love about technology is the fact that it seems to have shrunk the globe and made it possible for me to reach out to those of my friends and family who live elsewhere. I can speak to them or hear from them daily if I want to, I can see their faces on my cellphone (depending on the reception) and we can support one another from anywhere in the world! And I cannot stress enough the importance of having a supportive network - be it near or far. And just as it allows me to stay close to those far away, it also gives me easy access to those who are nearby and who live here on the island with me - my sisters and friends. And one of the most important lessons I have learned since turning 40 was - the importance of a supportive community.
I am fortunate (as I have probably mentioned a hundred times) to have 2 fantastic sisters that are also two of my greatest friends. They are kind and supportive, give great advice, and more importantly are great company so for me my support starts at home with them, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins. I have close friends and very close friends, and I have support in the form of a masterminded group of women that I chat with most weeks who give support in business and in life. In every case, we celebrate each other’s wins, lend support in harder situations, and give tough love when it is needed. They provided practical support when I fractured my ankle and was a grumpy mess on the couch, and they provide moral support when I need a listening ear. I don’t think I would be anywhere in life without that support. Most recently, I belonged to a group of writers and they were invaluable while I wrote my book.
Anyone who has this support knows what I am talking about. And to those who don’t, here are a few reasons why you should put some energy into cultivating a strong network. In a future post, I will be sharing some of the ways that I maintain connections and relationships within my support community and hopefully you will feel inspired to appreciate yours, or to make some new connections.
So why is it important to have a supportive community?
1. It can affect how you feel. Loneliness kills. There are actual statistics on this which I am not going to quote but I will tell you that having good friends and a supportive network is an high indicator of longevity and good health. One bit of research that comes to mind immediately is that of Dan Buettner, who studied and wrote extensively about the Blue zones. And within this research, he found just that. Friends save lives. I will place some links at the end of this post.
2. It can affect who you are. I don't know who said it, but it is said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend your time with. Close your eyes and think about who those people are. Do they energize you or do they make you feel exhausted? Do they talk about ideas or complain about their boss? Do they drink or smoke a lot? Do they complain about the government? Watch the people you spend your time with. They are a bigger influence on you than you might think, and the fastest way to change how you feel may actually be to spend time around people who are doing and feeling what you want to do and feel.
3. It can affect what you do. One thing I can tell you is true for my own life - I couldn’t do the things I do without my community. Their encouragement, ideas and plain old kick up the butt when needed is fuel for my soul to do it’s work. And I know countless people who say the same. The encouragement, accountability and love that I get from them is invaluable.
So for any of the important things you do in life - work, raising your family, creative pursuits and quite frankly life in general, get a good, solid support network and see how much farther you can go together, as you support one another. And in a post coming soon, as I said I’ll tell you how I maintain those relationships. It involved a LOT of baking on my part I should warn you now. Better get out that wooden spoon!!
As always, big love from a small island
Here is the promised link to a TED talk by Dan Buettner, about the Blue Zones. You can listen to the whole thing, or you can skip to about 9:15 (I recommend listening to the whole thing!)
And above, I have re-posted my photo collage from my post from International Women's day (which has more reasons to keep a supportive tribe)Here are just a few snapshots of my community!