How to build your village, because you need one

Here we are past 150 days of Covid-19 lock-down in Panama. And by lock-down I mean:

  • women are allowed out on Monday, Wednesdays & Fridays – with a 1-hour shopping window (2 hours total, including travel time) according to ID numbers. So, if your national ID number finishes with 7, then you are allowed to shop from 7.00 to 8.00 a.m. Men are allowed out on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays.
  • deliveries are available, and many restaurants that were “in-house dining” are now providing delivery services: these are available 7 days a week.
  • shopping deliveries are available Monday to Saturday (Sundays for some pharmacies).
  • some businesses started to reopen in May and then we got a new spike in the cases and since then businesses restarting has halted. Yesterday, after weeks of silence, we heard in the news that block-3 businesses will be allowed to continue the process of reopening. Car dealerships are allowed to open (but what does someone need a car for, if they aren’t going to work?). It’s a far cry from “business as usual”.
  • the only flights in and out of the country are “humanitarian flights” for repatriation of foreigners or Panamanians. There are rumours that the airport will begin operations again at the end of this month, as a transit for international flights. But nothing about when operations will be begin for Panamanian flights or tourism.
  • talk of school reopening has gone silent: I’m getting used to online classes every morning with little miss 6 and making sure that she stays up to date with the homework. She’s reading and writing way beyond my expectations!
  • and yet, over 1 million people have “exemptions” that allow them to go out and about.

And in the midst of all of this, I’ve felt very alone. But also very blessed.

In spite of being isolated (physically) and feeling that I didn’t have support with little miss six (since she’s now home 24/7 and it’s just the two of us), I’ve had groceries delivered to my door by my ex-brother-in-law (more than once!). I have a roof over my head, internet access and air-conditioning on! I haven’t worried for my safety or for food on my table once in these five months.

I miss the support that I usually have in life. I’ve really noticed my introversion and how little miss is much more extroverted. She needs people to talk to and interact with. I’ve had five months to realise the differences in our personalities and needs!

While I try to keep up with my work and blogging, my priority is taking care of her needs. This includes getting enough rest to recover from all the talking!

One truth stands out to me in all of this: “it takes a village to raise a child”.

I am now aware of how much support I have helping me raise this beautiful girl! And I never quite appreciated how much I needed this support.

Building your support network matters!

You will hear over and over that we become the average of the five or six people that we spend the most of our time with. In lock-down, I was in danger of becoming a six-year-old!

Who you spend your time with will make or break you.  Personally, Professionally. Emotionally. Even spiritually.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

— Jane Howard, Margaret Mead

We all yearn for connection and belonging: supporting people that will encourage you to be your best self!

I’m at my best, as a mother, when I have a break from parenting and some time out! In spite of lock-down and being cooped up 24/7, I’ve discovered new ways to create connection for little miss while I take a break!

Children, like adults, need connection

how to build your village, it takes a village to raise a child, intention, awareness, connection

Human beings yearn for connection – to be seen, heard and understood.  We want to feel kinship, with people that we are comfortable to be around.  A group of people that you can talk to about your daily triumphs and struggles.

Over the past five months, I’ve encouraged little miss to call my mum and dad as often as she wants (taking into account the 17-hour time zone differences).

My dad doesn’t care that she chatters on incessantly about anything – he’s happy just to listen to her! Mum happily shows her images of different flags of the world, getting her to identify which country a flag is from and then they talk about where that country is.

I’ve also encouraged her to call her friends from school — especially other “only child” friends.

Different people for different needs

Six months ago, my focus was totally on my professional growth and building my business. Little miss started school again on March 2nd – her first day of first grade. I was overjoyed thinking that she would be out the door at 7.00 a.m. and not home until close to 3.00 pm, giving me all day to focus on my business and work. On top of that, I organised for her to spend Tuesday and Thursday afternoons visiting others, so that she would be home closer to 5.00 pm those days!

On March 12th, those plans came crashing down!

Five days of the new schedule was all I got.

It took me a couple of weeks to discover my needs were different from the ones I thought I had. I was under the misguided impression that lock-down would last a couple of weeks and then life would be back to business as usual.

I was wrong.

So, here we are, five months down the line, and I am focusing on making sure that my “village” of support truly meets the needs are they are at this time.

The basics

I truly appreciate having deliveries, especially the little bus (like an ice cream truck) that shows up every Saturday with fresh fruit, vegetables & eggs.

A staple in my life is the driver that I’ve had for the past 3 years. He’s the man that drives little miss to school every day, picks her up, takes her to her grandmother’s house (and stays for the food!). He also does errands for my office and for others in the community. During this time, he’s been out doing the errands for many of us, so that we all stay home.

I can’t tell you how many times he’s popped out to buy an ice cream for little miss!

As things relaxed slightly, I got my cleaning lady back! I have no idea how she got a permit to go back to work, but I’m not asking. I cannot tell you how much I missed having someone else come in once every 10-15 days to clean. She does the tasks that I don’t have the “bandwidth” to take care of: tackling the play area and putting ALL the toys away!

I no longer have the live-in nanny/housekeeper, since little miss is old enough now that we don’t need that level of support. Although, this year, I almost regret having given that up!

These are the people I’ve taken for granted in my life over the past few years. People that have worked for me, and who I haven’t really appreciated, because “they are just doing their job”.

2020 has taught me a new appreciation for how truly blessed I am!

Online connection

Where would I be without my online community of support? These are the women (and men) that keep me sane!

I need a variety of people in my life: one person will not meet all my different needs.

It’s perfectly okay to have one group of people for your hobbies, another for parenting challenges, and still another for your professional growth.  Likewise, you might find that your spiritual friends are different from your literary friends or your business growth support network.

On the other hand – perhaps you discover that while we are all special – you are not so special!  Beneath the veneer and exteriors, we are all alike!

We become like the people that we (choose to) expose ourselves to. It follows that you can accelerate your personal growth in whatever direction you desire by spending time with people who already are who you want to become.

Maarten van Doorn

How to find and connect with others

It all starts, and ends, with knowing yourself. These past five months have demonstrated parts and sides of me that I was doing a great job of ignoring! While I invite you to build your village, this journey is really about finding yourself – where you are right now.

The where we are right now has changed. Your needs in the past 5 months have probably changed. How are you adjusting to this?

Knowing what you want to attract

When you are building your village, you need to consider “What do I want to attract?”.  You don’t need to “fit in” to the village you build! Diversity can be a wonderful thing.

What type of people do you need in your life? For example, what are the qualities and values that you hold important? Are those same values shared by others around you?

Additionally, be aware of what’s missing in your circle.

Are you interested in growing your spiritual connection? Or do you want to simply grow in your emotional intelligence?   Are you looking to change your mindset and learn new ways of processing information? Do you need to add people to the circle of influence around you or search out ways to participate in new groups?

When you get clarity on what you are looking for – your interests and values – then you can begin to build.

Intention

Who do you want to be influenced by? What impact do you want to have in the lives of others? When you know these two things: you can search out the people that you can support and that will support you in the journey!

Choose and commit to a path – looking for people that can also challenge and stretch you.  You may have to intentionally move out of your comfort zone. 

At the end of the day, only you can decide what you need at this moment in time!

Just remember, you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

4 comments

  1. […] Schools have been closed here since March 10, 2020. And while businesses started to re-open in May 2020, things were very haphazard until September 2020. During those first months, little miss 7 (6 at the time) and I were alone together in a little “bubble”. You can read more about those initial challenges in my blog post “How to build your village, because you need one.” […]

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