At the beginning of this year, my friend Shaunna and I launched a new community of women called Nourish. The idea behind this community is for women of ALL backgrounds to meet monthly around dinner tables all over the city of Charlotte, in various homes. We envisioned a community of women who, without the stress of weekly gatherings, studies or books, would eventually build real relationships with each other. We envisioned laughter around a table of food, drinks and delicious desserts. We saw women opening up about who they were, who they wanted to be, what their dreams and hopes were and what their struggles and secrets were.
May marks our 4th month, and I am so excited with the growth we’ve experienced. We have more than quadrupled in size since we launched in February and the stories we are hearing make me grin like a fool from ear to ear.
So as we move into the rest of the year, here is what we want you to know.
If you want community, you have to show up. And show up, and show up.
What do we mean by that?
Life is crazy busy isn’t it? I don’t know about you but most days I feel like I’m drowning under the weight of all my responsibilities. Most of you know that I’m going through some really hard personal stuff. My husband and I separated at the end of last year, and have been struggling through some really crappy junk. I’ve got 3 boys at home and am pregnant with a little girl. I work part time doing some admin work and some social media work for a non profit organization. I’m in the process of obtaining the last of 3 certifications in health coaching and I’m the co-founder of this Nourish community. It requires monthly planning and we are looking forward to next year when we hope to launch a really BIG community wide event.
I’m so busy y’all. There probably isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel on the verge of tears from sheer exhaustion and being absolutely overwhelmed by life.
But what I know, and what I’ve learned – is that I NEED other people. I need support. I need laughter, and
friendship and I need to know that I have a few people I can talk to when crap falls apart. I need a break from my kids, and I need to give myself permission to just have fun once in awhile.
My personal struggle and temptation is to shut everyone out. I’m naturally pretty extroverted, but the more difficult my life feels and the more balls I’m juggling, the more I tend to withdraw and isolate. And in turn, that makes me feel painfully lonely, sad, and resentful of how easy other people’s lives appear to be. It’s a slippery slope friends, and it’s a really difficult thing to balance.
Can I tell y’all a secret? I LOVE my Nourish girls. Like, hardcore love and respect and admire each one of them. Our dinners are full of laughter and funny stories and also painful moments and even tears sometimes. But I come away from each one on cloud freaking 9 and looking forward to the next month.
BUT…but…but…when the next month rolls around, and the Nourish dinner weekend approaches I feel that same tired feeling…that feeling that tells me hey, stay home this time. Phone it in, say you’re too tired, no one will be upset. You can stay home, sit this one out, take a break.
This is a big confession since you know, I co-founded this community.
And truthfully no one would care if I took a month off. If I stayed home and binge watched Netflix or ate ice cream or slept. And I reserve the right to do that at some point as my pregnancy progresses because hey, we all need to take a weekend off from time to time.
But every month I have rallied and put on something other than pj pants. I’ve done my hair, put on some make up and hired a sitter. I take that mommy guilt and I shove it aside and I push down my exhaustion and I go to dinner with some of the most beautiful freaking women I’ve ever seen (side note: ladies please. can you show up looking frazzled just once? just for me??!! Haha)
And I am so encouraged every single month by these women. All of them bring such beauty and light to my life and all of them teach me a little something. And each time we meet as a group, we strengthen relationships and we trust each other a little more. Each time a woman shows up, opens up and says something she is scared to say and is met with love, kindness and support we are shoving aside darkness. We are saying to each other “You matter enough for me to show up tonight after my crazy week. You matter enough for me to kiss my kids goodnight and leave them behind. You matter enough for me to spend time making a side dish or running to the store for dessert. You matter enough for me to get out of my yoga pants and turn off the Netflix and get in my car to drive here. You matter”
Now, this does not mean that there won’t be months you can’t come. We know you have lives and commitments and sometimes there just isn’t a way for you to be there. And we understand that. It’s ok.
I want to say that again because this isn’t meant to be a guilt trip or make you feel like this is ‘just one more commitment’ to deal with. If this makes you feel burdened and resentful, this isn’t for you and it’s ok! But if you are someone really struggling to find community with other women we hope this IS for you.
And the bottom line is that if you want community, you have to show up. As often as you can. There will be months you can’t come – we DO understand. But if you can be there…Be. There.
Shaunna and I cannot tell you how passionate we are about what we are doing. How thankful we are for the women who open their homes monthly to welcome guests. How thankful we are for all of the women who are committed to coming out and being a part of this growing community. It’s AWESOME.
And we believe wholeheartedly that community is vital to our being. We are created for relationships with one another. In this age of social media, it has become far too easy to sit behind a screen and feel as though we have friends. But we are pushing each of you to close that computer and get into your car and show up for a dinner where you get to sit across the table from other women and learn from them. It is truly a beautiful thing, and something that cannot be replicated through a computer screen.
We have big dreams for this community and a deep desire to see women grow in relationship with one another. I believe that one of the greatest ways Satan destroys women is by making us feel as though we are not as good as other women. I believe women who are united are a force to be reckoned with and will do great things for the Kingdom of God. It is my desire that we stop seeing each other as the enemy and start seeing each other as sisters and friends and valuable gifts.
We hope you’ll join us. If you’re interested in being a part of Nourish, please email us at NourishCLT@gmail.com.