One of the best pieces of advice I got from a fellow blogger (Leslie) was to connect with a community that fit my interests.Meetup.com. For the past six months, I have been a loyal monthly attendee of what I lovingly refer to as my "artists' support group," a Meetup group based on the principles of Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. Each month we—a handful of returning members plus a few newbies—talk about our lives as people who value creativity. Each month I leave the gathering feeling filled up and energized.
Here's what I gain each month from this community:
Support. This meeting offers a safe place for each of us to share stories of our individual journeys: our obstacles, achievements and the times we fall down.
Understanding. At some level, each of us can relate to one another's hopes and dreams, fears and challenges, failures and successes. We listen to one another with respect, and we respond with a lot of head-nodding.
Ideas. Each of us practices a different kind of creativity in different situations with different habits. Hearing about others' experiences offers new perspectives that spark new ideas and inspire me to try new ways of walking my creative path.
Encouragement. No matter who's a part of the group-at-hand, and though we typically don't share our creative work at the meeting, there's always an encouraging vibe of faith in one another's creative work that offers buoying encouragement.
Accountability. As each meeting approaches—even though we don't share our creative work, and we don't talk about specific goals—I find myself assessing what I've done in the past weeks to support myself, to "show up" and participate in doing the creative work that fills my heart, to make small steps toward my creative goals. And though I don't talk about this personal assessment with group members, it's a personally valuable byproduct of the meetings.
Do you have a community of people—or even a buddy—who supports one of your heart ventures? Look at the activities that bring your heart the most joy and consider how you might connect with others who share this same interest. Search Meetup.com; listings in your local paper; or opportunities at your place of worship, at your school or through community education courses.