Deep Stretch: Rethinking Community

We're back with another deep stretch episode! Connection to community falls under the Bliss Dimension, which has been our main theme for September. As we begin to head into a new month, I wanted to talk about some thoughts I've been having surrounding community and what that looks like for Inner Workout and in my personal life.

Also, if you've been around for awhile, you know a new month = a new product! Any guesses?

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Inner Warmup where your inner work begins. My name is Taylor Elyse Morrison, I'm the founder of Inner Workout and you, as always our expert guest. Thanks for being here. These episodes are a little bit different. If you're new around here, at the end of the month, I do what's called a deep stretch episode, and it's really an opportunity for me to share how the themes and the content that we've been exploring over the past month have shown up in my life. So we won't have that pause for the interview today. It's me kind of speaking straight from the heart. And as you can see, today's title is all about rethinking community.

We've been talking about the Bliss Dimension this month, and connection to community falls under the bliss dimension. And as I was typing up notes for this, I had to chuckle to myself because sometimes I just feel like I'm in the business of buzzwords. Like I was talking to a mentor yesterday about self care and about how I spend so much time explaining what I mean when I'm talking about self care because everyone kind of has their own preconceived notions around the concept. And I feel like community is something similar. Community gets thrown around so much, not just in wellness and in personal development, but also in business. Like as a business owner, I should have done this before I hit record, but I get all kinds of emails talking about how to grow my community, and how to move beyond building an audience to build an engaged community. It's this, not only this word that shows up in my personal life, but it shows up in my professional life as well.

And at Inner Workout, as a business, we have a community. We have people like you who listen to this podcast, people who respond to us on Instagram, in DMS and in the comments, and we have this online community, at least in name, we have our online community space, you've probably heard me plug it at the end of episodes. And honestly, this month, I've been rethinking what a community could look like. I've been rethinking what I appreciate, and a community. And I've been asking that at the business level, as well as in the personal level. And as I was reflecting on this for myself, a few things came through. I'm all about allowing ourselves to grow and evolve. So I'll say that these are what feels true. And this moment, as I consider community, I'm sure that it will continue to change as I continue to change as the world continues to change. But here's where I'm at today as I'm speaking to you. The first thing that feels really true about community is that community is a choice. And I can already hear you saying, well, Taylor, what about like, my family, my family is a community but I was just born into that family or like, I'm in a homeowner's association, or I'm in something at work, and they talk about it as a community. Well, I believe that the communities that are the most life giving are a choice. Yes, community can be formed out of convenience. Yes, community can be formed out of obligation but when I think of the truest, deepest communities that I experienced in my life, they are a choice.

I choose to come together with these people, maybe because we have a shared interest. At this point in my life I'm in a good amount of communities of business owners who maybe they're at a similar stage in business as me, maybe they have a similar set of values or ethos from which they're building their business. Maybe they have an identity that's similar to me. So it's a group of women, business owners or black business owners. We have the shared interest, or we have an intersection or identity, or, yes, we do have some proximity to each other. We're in a community because we all care about making our neighborhood a place that is inclusive for all. Whatever the Nexus or whatever the point around what you're gathering, it's a choice, you're choosing to show up because you see a part of you, or you see a shared experience reflected in that community. And you say, yes, this is something that I want to enter into. And I would argue even for the family relationships, that you have the communities within your family, whether it's a group of cousins or your family unit, you might be able to pinpoint a place in what you decide okay, these are actually the people that I'm choosing to engage with. Yes, I was born into this family but I choose to keep engaging with my siblings, and cousins because we have this shared upbringing. And also, maybe because I genuinely enjoy being around them as well. 

Again, speaking from my personal experience, the communities that feel the best for me to show up in are ones where I am choosing to be there. It doesn't feel forced upon me. There are other connections certainly that I have, there are other places that I show up in because maybe I have an obligation because of a program that I'm in or something else. I don't know that I would describe those as communities. Those exist, there are people there, but they don't feel like a community that I would fall back on which kind of leads me to the next truth about community is that communities are exchanges.  A community is an exchange, there needs to be a give and take. And all week, I've been calling back to (I believe it's by Adam Grant) this book, Give And Take. And really the book is about networking but it's talking about how in the world, generally, there are givers and there are takers. And the people who are givers tend to do better. And you can if you want to read the research that he did on it, you're welcome to to read into that more. 

I think for communities to thrive, you do need the exchange of people who are giving and people who are receiving. And I actually don't think that it needs to be an equal measure at all times. I don't think that it needs to be 50% of people are giving, 50% of people are receiving because life is not that neat. You can't just assign people, okay, put aside any turmoil that you're having in your personal life, because you're tapped in to be giving right now and so I need you to be on for giving.

That's not really how it works. And I think that there's almost an equilibrium that starts to be reached. I know, again personally, that I start to pull away from communities when the balance feels off for too long. So if I feel like I'm giving, giving, giving, giving, and there hasn't been an opportunity for me to receive, I may start to be less engaged in that community. 

Or conversely, I might be receiving so so much, and feel like I don't have any opportunities to give. I don't know what I can give here, there isn't a structure that enables me to give. And I might have some weirdness around that and again, step back. So I think that communities that are well structured and that are in conversation with each other, you'll start to see this equilibrium that happens. And again, it's not equilibrium in that there's always the straight 50/50 but things might tilt one way for a bit and then you have some conversations and things start to come back to another way and then it tilts on the other direction. It's dynamic. It's like any pattern that we see in nature. It's like the tide going in and out of all of these cycles that we see in nature. We can see it in communities that are really having conversations with themselves and conversations that include saying I've got a lot going on at work.

I'm thinking of if you're on a board, and you've made some commitments to being on the board, and you know that there is something that you're supposed to do every month, and you're able to look ahead and say, “okay, I know I'm going to have a huge work deliverable. I don't know if I'm going to be able to show up in the same capacity in the next month, would anyone be willing to split this with me? Would anyone be willing to take this off of my plate?” So then I can step back in acknowledging that in you releasing something from your plate, someone else has to pick it up. 

And instead of it being kind of like a hot potato, where you're just throwing things off your plate, communities have to acknowledge that there is an exchange. If you're not doing something, or if someone's not giving something, then there's a vacuum that's created. And we have to have conversations about who is going to step up and fill that need for however long is required. And I think I can miss doing that. In a conversation that I had with a colleague, I guess about a week ago, it sounds like there's a trend of people forgetting that in having this conversation around us having personal boundaries, it's really easy for us to forget that. If we've committed to doing something, if we've made the choice to engage in a community in a certain way and we feel like we need to make a different choice because of other commitments that are going on, there are ways that we can still set those boundaries while acknowledging that there's going to be a little bit of space. 

Then if we're not mindful of where we're letting go of someone, or something on our plate, but maybe there isn't someone lined up to pick it up, we need to have conversations about how to do that more gracefully and graciously. So that's something that I'm thinking about is this exchange. And the examples that I've been given are a lot of exchange of commitments, exchange of doing work but there's so many ways to exchange. An exchange could be an exchange of money. There's an exchange of time, there's an exchange of ideas, there's an exchange of care. Before the pandemic, there used to be circles that you could go to if you are a practitioner of Reiki or massage, where you could give and receive the gift of massage or Reiki. That's so beautiful to me, these spaces, these circles that are created for people to be both givers and receivers. I'm harping on this one a little bit because in my life this is the one that seems the most out of balance. And it's the one that can create a lot of underlying emotion. 

That could be shame, that could be resentment, that could be apathy and if I'm not aware of how that exchange is showing up in my communities, then I am not able to be the type of community member that I would like to be. The final piece, the final truth around community that I've been toying with is that community comes together. Again, as I was thinking about the communities that I'm a part of that I would drop anything for, the communities that feel like they're flourishing, they are ones that come together that have regular touch points. Whether that is hopping on to a zoom call, or calling each other on the way home from work, or if there's a quarterly or monthly meeting, or a regular posts and online forum, there are these touch points for people to come together and to be in community, with the community, to gather together as a community. And I think this point of coming together is really interrelated to the exchange because it's not just coming together and there's this top down…this person is in charge and everyone else falls in line. There's also this coming together and like sharing power is kind of what what comes to mind, where someone's able to show up and say, I've got this gift, and I'm gonna offer this. And then someone else might take over a different part of the meeting or say, okay, you led this gathering last time, I'm more than happy to step into this gathering the next time and lead or hold the space. There's this coming together that is regular, but it's not so structured that it's restrictive.

And again, I'm thinking of the places that I really enjoy showing up with. So for you, you might be listening to this and say, I love when something is perfectly structured. And I know that on the third Friday of every month, I'm having this particular meeting. And I actually do have a meeting on the third Friday of every month that's on our calendar, we hold that time but there's also some fluidity in it because one of the women just had a baby, and one of the women has a new job that she's navigating. And we just have that conversation with each other of wanting to come together and also knowing that we're in seasons of our life that are filled with transition, and figuring out how we can be there for each other, even in the midst of that transition. So those are the three key pieces, the key truths around community that I've been mulling over, the idea of community as a choice. Thinking of community as an exchange in many ways, not just of money, or of effort and then also the idea of community being something that regularly comes together, to engage with each other, to celebrate each other, to mourn with each other. So I mentioned this before, for me, I've been thinking a lot about community as an exchange. I really like to be the person giving. I've been that way since I was a kid, I like to be the giver. And it might be a control thing, it might be a fear of vulnerability thing, that’s probably something that I still need to work through to put more language to that. But I have noticed this pattern of I feel much more willing to jump in and give and a lot more fearful of asking for what I need. Even with people that I have known for years, even with my partner, who I've been with for 10 years at this point. Yeah, 10 years.

And it can still be a struggle for me to ask him for what I need because I'm just like, but I'm the giver, I can do this on my own, I don't need to receive. And that's not true, I do. And then on the Inner Workout side, thinking about community, we’re rethinking what our online community looks like. We called it our online community with the best of intentions of creating this space. We're still figuring out what the exchange looks like and I'm really personally excited about creating opportunities for people to come together. So we're not closing our online community but you won't hear me talking about it as much. If you're in there already, it will be there but I really want to focus on giving people the opportunity to exchange and to come together, which is why I'm really excited for our monthly gathering that we're calling inner co working. 

You may have seen it around the newsletter already. And really what inner coworking is, is an opportunity to practice self care in the context of community. And so, for the exchange piece, we have an opportunity to get on at the beginning and share what it is that we're going to be working on. We're in this audio space, so you don't have to get dressed up or anything. And then we have about 45-50 minutes to do that self care thing. Whatever it is. I've done just like chilling and listening to a podcast. I've done a really elaborate skincare routine that I never give myself a chance to do. And then at the end, there's that moment of exchange again, where we get to just share what that experience was like, and I feel like at this point, in my desire to lean into community for Inner Workout, I really want to give people the opportunity to come together into exchange and get to know each other. In our online community, it's just hard to do that. It's hard to really share with people that you don't know and you've never engaged with and so I want to give people the opportunity to come together to practice self care and community care. And then maybe we'll revisit what the online community can look like from there. So again, it's not ending, but I and the team will not be actively posting there. So if you have something to share, feel free to share an idea or resource, I'll still be around. And if anyone shares anything, I'll be happy to engage with it and to have that exchange, but that's not going to be our community building focus, at least at this time. So that's a lot of what I've been thinking about around community. Yeah, this is something that I feel like I could spend a year exploring community and still barely scratched the surface. 

But next month, we are going to be moving into exploring a dimension if you're keeping track, this is the final dimension of the five that we'll be exploring, which is the physical dimension. Physical dimension is all about the ways that we're in conversation with our body. And yes, that does mean that we're launching one more product before the end of the year. If you know me outside of Inner Workout, you know that I love taking baths. It's actually where my self care journey began and so I'm thrilled to share this product with you. We're launching a bath salt, or I think we're technically calling it a soaking salts, and it's called Reunion. The idea is it's an opportunity for you to celebrate your body the same way you would at a reunion, celebrating with your family, and also reunion in the sense of reuniting with your body.

So a celebration, a reconnection. And I've had a lot of fun sourcing these products. I'm so excited about our partner for this product which is a social enterprise based out of Chicago called Bright Endeavours. So these bath salts are put together by Bright Endeavours who hires young moms and gives them job training skills so that they can build incredible careers. So this just feels so aligned in so many ways and I'm really excited for you all to experience that. This will be launching next month, and it will continue conversations on the podcast around the Physical Dimension. So that was a lot. I hope that I'll see you at inner co working on October 10. If you are around, if something resonated with you in the podcast, you're still welcome (if you're already a member of the community) to send me a DM there. You can also send a DM to Inner Workout. And we'd love to hear your thoughts on the show and on community and how it's showing up for you in your life. I could keep going on and on and on and on about this topic but I'm going to pause here and say thank you for your time. Thank you for hanging out with me today for this deep stretch episode. Take care!