A lot of us are very aware of the difference between our insides and our outsides when dealing with community. 

A lot of us have unwittingly let others write our priority list for us. 

A lot of us have defined our “sacred” from other times and places in our lives, with different demands on our time and energy.

One of the beauties of the reflective time of year – when you can grab those moments or, better yet, create them! – is that we can update ourselves.

Where are we able to shrug off the demands of other people or other versions of ourselves?  When we’re able to make choices based on who we are at this time and place, we can reconcile some of those interior/exterior differences.  And when we’re able to live the coherence of integrity, we can eventually be much more comfortable in our own skin out in the world.

The transition of the calendar is a magical time to let ourselves transition from our worn-out identities to our fresh, alive selves.  Yes, there may be rough edges and moments where we don’t really know how to interact with folks who are used to their definition of us.  But there are also opportunities to expand into new ways of relating or new communities over the holidays. 

As you grow more comfortable with your sense of who you are now – your integrity – where do you want to be?  Who do you want to be with?  Is your community expanding and growing at the end of this year?  Or is it contracting and deepening?  As you look over the horizon to 2023, how do you best relate to your group, gathering each other into the hugs of responsibility, accepting each other and your differing values and priorities?  How do you include as much of yourself as possible here and now, while allowing others to do the same?

May you find your answers with peace and joy throughout the holiday season.



One of my teachers told me once that responsibility isn’t about burdens, it’s about hugs.  It’s about who we want to gather into our space with big, warm arms.

That seems a terrific guideline for defining community of choice.  We may still have to figure out cooperation and sharing, but we’re doing it because we want to be there, not because we have to.  It’s a relationship that makes reasonable demands and is based on inclusivity.  It’s more like the star-struck group projects where there are no ride-alongs or bulldozers. 

If only community were always by choice.  Mostly, we’re in communities that came from other choices – employment, location, activities. 

So how can we keep boundaries and balance in communities that may ask for unreasonable sacrifice or where we can hardly stand the idea of being within arm’s length?  That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?  Particularly with intractable neighbours or when our livelihood is at stake.

Clearly, there’s no one answer for all situations.  But there are perspective shifts that help us find our own personal solution.  What is the big picture in your life that community is part of?  How can your community serve that big picture?  Where is your line for being a doormat?  Or your line for welcoming hugs?  And where is the ring-touch-not that means you’re leaving the community completely?  (And is that even possible?)

Hopefully, you have a community where you can experience that sense of group hug – a tribe.  If not, can you keep your big vision for your life and the idea of welcoming community in mind as you make your decisions, large and small?  After all, part of what needs to be included in community is your own dreams for your life – the real you.

Community or Commodity?

Have you ever met someone who refers to herself with the royal “we”?  Actually, he’s not so far off the truth.

All of us together are a community, yes, but each of us individually is a community.  Just try digesting your last pizza and beer without a balance of the trillions of bacteria in your gut.

And nature operates the same way: as a community.  Even a handful of dirt has an insane population density.  That soil has gabizzillions of microbes, all handling their little happy place – capturing carbon, breaking down pesticides, playing microbe accordion (sorry, just checking to see if you were still with me).

Contrast that idea of community with our usual operating mode: commodification.  Land and creatures to be assessed as valuable according to their use?  Check.  Usage of our time assessed according to what it returns to us?  Check.  Body itself treated as a commodity?  Check.

Huh, wait, what??!!  Yeah, well, when was the last time you said you’d get some sleep after you do whatever was on the list?  Or couldn’t take a water or movement break because the project you were in the middle of was too demanding? Or ignored pain or illness with excuses for keeping going?  Sorry, you’re busted: commodification of your body.

And that leads to some harsh truths in our greater world, as well as in our little personal corner.


Scientists may not have the answers to that problem, but that’s where our work on ourselves comes in.

A great place to start is by training your mindset back from commodification to community.

You already have various levels of community in place for your holidays, I’m sure.  Family celebrations.  Get-togethers with friends.  Community service.  Lots of possibility.  Don’t forget your body system as community, honouring its varied needs.

Where’s one more place where you can shift your relationship with nature – personal and communal (ha! Snuck in community again!) – from commodity to community this holiday season?

May the joys of recognizing your place in the complex and beautiful community of Earth, and the connections it brings you, last well beyond the immediate holidays.
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