As a wife and mother, my family is my tribe. But in less than 2 years (yes, we’re counting down), with our oldest child already out of the house, my day-to-day, hands-on parenting role will consist of letting my youngest child vent over the phone about classes/homework/roommates, and of course, moving money from my checking account to hers. But after I hang up the phone, then what? I know I can’t be the only person wondering where I’ll channel all of the energy I normally spend on my children.
I need to find a tribe, a support group, something to keep me from driving to wherever my daughters are in 2 years and taking them grocery shopping or shoe shopping, or anything that lets me spend more time with them.
It should be easy to find a group of like-minded people to do things with, right? But what are those things? I had to really think about what I like to do. Reading and writing topped my list so I joined organizations that cater to that. Nationally, Romance Writers of America (RWA) fit the bill, and on a local level, Georgia Romance Writers (GRW). Within these groups, I found my true tribe - writers!
To make my writing tribe even more amazing, I met Author Farrah Rochon more than 10 years ago at a RWA national conference in Dallas. A few years ago, she posted a picture on social media of a storyboard. I asked about her process. Apparently, I wasn’t the only writer interested in how she storyboards. She created a writing retreat to gather us all together to explain it. Best. Retreat. Ever. Not just for the storyboarding info, but for the relationships created. With these writers, I know the joy of sisterhood. Of belonging. Of being held accountable for bringing my dreams to fruition and having more than 30 women willing and able to help me get there. The expected one-time retreat has become an annual event and I can’t wait for the next one in 2019.
Part of fully embracing my place in this tribe of writers involved joining a critique group. I’m a member of a diverse romance-genre group. Rina Gray writes romantic comedy and women’s fiction. Constance Gillam writes romantic suspense with Native American characters and sexy contemporary romance. Pamela Varnado writes romantic suspense and science fiction/futuristic romance. Mary Barfield writes paranormal romance and women’s fiction. I’m currently reworking a paranormal romance series centered around soulmates.
Finding my tribe now and nurturing my individual, non-parent interests will, hopefully, smooth the transition of being an empty-nester when our youngest child leaves home. Kevin and I have talked about this and it’s obvious that I’m not going to handle this changing dynamic well! But I can’t think about her leaving right now. (I fluctuate between knowing my reaction will either be “Whoo hoo! Last one out!” or “What is she doing? Where is she? Is she safe? Who is she with? Do I know them? Do I like them? Is she eating?”)
If you have varied interests, don’t limit yourself to one tribe. Discovering a tribe isn’t just a matter of knowing what you like to do and finding people you mesh with who are doing the same thing, but also exploring what you want to do. I can’t wait to start traveling without first checking a school calendar. This blog is a great step in pushing myself to meet people who travel frequently, and in deciding where I want to visit. (I’m still stuck on Ireland.) My travel tribe is a great source of information and inspiration.
And I’m learning to crochet. (Random, right?) Crocheting calms me and that alone is reason enough for me to try to reach an expert skill level. I’m still in the beginner/intermediate category, though. The crochet/knit/embroidery/fiber arts tribe is amazing and incredibly encouraging, especially when my stitches look nothing like the ones in the instructional video I watched 10 times in a row before I picked up my hook. Frogging is no joke.
Ready to find your tribe?
- Know what you like. Why bother with something that doesn’t interest you?
- Know what you want from a tribe. Support and encouragement? Companionship? Know what you want and ask for it.
- Be open. Put yourself out there and try something new. Meet new people. Step outside of your comfort zone.
- Be real. Every tribe is not your tribe and that’s okay. Finding people who “speak” to you is an important part of finding *your* tribe.
I need to go write. And order a 5 mm crochet hook. Maybe I should find a wooden one that I can pack in a carry-on bag to avoid being flagged by TSA…
What’s the most important thing you get from your tribe?