Health Fitness Revolution is proud to introduce Houston Chronicle’s Elizabeth Pudwill as a Contributing Author:
I am an expert at building community. Creating a system of support by aligning with others that have similar interests and geography.
My experience is of the educational variety. I grew up in a large family, there are six kids and I am number four, right in the middle. This makes me the quintessential middle child. Psychologists call me the lost child, the child that always felt invisible, insignificant and unimportant.
I did not realize how unimportant and insignificant I felt until I was well into my adulthood. I had moved from my home state, had gotten into some legal trouble and felt very alone and without any support. In a moment of clarity I realized that I needed to find friends that were like me on purpose. That I needed to create a plan to go after what I needed, that it would not just drop into my lap.
A sense of belonging, of mattering, is essential to our well being, and even more so, to thrive.
Alone, living in Baytown I started going to a church. There, I joined a Sunday school class. The people were kind and loving. Many of them shared similar views to mine; some did not. I was a single mother; there were no other single mothers in my Sunday school class. So, I joined a women’s Bible Study. The other participants were married, another single mother, a divorcee. I went week after week, and then I started to lead the study and created a sense of belonging, of feeling significant.
A short time later I began going to 12 step groups. I had always made fun of 12 step groups in the past but a psycho-therapists’ words echoed in my mind over and over about the fun they had and the fellowship they shared. I was in trouble; I needed friends so I went to a meeting. And then another and another. And within a short time, I had created a circle of friends that shared many similarities.
Church, Sunday school, Bible Study and 12 step meetings all helped. In fact they were extremely healing. When I went to church, most of the members greeted me by name. I was embraced and welcomed. At the potlucks I did not feel strange and wonder who I should sit next to. There were many options. There was an entire community.
I began initiating social engagements for one of my 12 step meetings. We had bowling outings, picnics, dinner parties. My self esteem rose as I ventured out of my comfort zone, invited people to parties and picnics and prayed that someone would show up, and I felt relief and gratitude when they did.
Time passed, I stayed connected with the church and 12 steps but I wanted more. I started attending groups and meetings that aligned with some of my other interests. When those meetings did not fulfill me, I started my own. The most successful is the Law of Attraction Group. We study, practice and discuss what we want to attract and manifest as well as what our fears and issues are surrounding our inability to attract what we really want. All of the work I did up to this point prepared me for this special group. The women in this gathering are close and intimate. We are a very small but close knit community.
As word of the LoA group spread I realized that there are other women out there that need community. LoA was not for everyone but many women were asking to join. They had heard of the camaraderie in the group and wanted to be a part of it.
One of our members had lost her job. She had been without a job for over a year and was beginning to feel desperate. Listening to her one Saturday afternoon, I told her “Your job is in our network. What we need is a way to join my contacts to all of yours and then all of theirs and on and on…” And that was the start of I Know Somebody Houston.
I Know Somebody Houston is a group of women that connect for very simple to complex reasons. Women use the network to find jobs, apartments, sell their homes, get new clients, find a plumber, a new doctor, dentist, attorney, and friends. The concept is simple. You go on the facebook page or website, post your need and wait. Within minutes women begin responding offering help, advice, the solution to the posted need.
The community aspect I Know Somebody Houston offers is educational as well as support opportunities. Every month we host a meeting where we have a speaker. To date our speakers have offered teachings on style and fashion, marketing your business, social media, taking your life and or business to the next level, loving yourself. The topics vary as much as the speakers themselves, but they are all women and share the commonality of wanting to be a part of something bigger and more importantly, to help other women.
After the speaker the meetings open up and women are invited to share what their needs are. We get women that just need friends, women that work at home and are looking for an opportunity to join other females. Women that have started new businesses and want advice and support.
To create your own community you will need some courage. The one basic requirement is to venture out of your comfort zone. There are so many options out there now, to build your own community. Join yoga or other fitness groups. There are gatherings in every city that meet to run, play tennis, practice yoga and more. There are quilting groups, groups that like to try new restaurants, knitting gatherings, art enthusiasts. Try meetup, facebook and try I Know Somebody Houston. All women are welcome and this group was created to build community, we welcome you.