Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering: A Lesson in Community

If you are a regular follower of my blog you may have noticed I usually post on Sundays. With today being September 11, 2011 my first thought was to not acknowledge the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and schedule my weekly blog post for Monday.

Then my brother who lives in NYC sent me this photo he took of the 9/11 memorial:

I found it so moving, I decided to include it in a post and write about how important it is to never forget what happened on 9/11. To include my own memories; where I was, who I was with, how I remembered the crisp air of that September day and what I had been wearing.

Then this morning I read a post on Florinda's blog The 3 R's. She writes about community, reminding us September 11, 2001 was a day that brought people together, no matter where they were.
She writes:
We haven't always consistently maintained that sense of community and connectedness throughout the last decade, but it's important to remember how important it is.
I put off writing this post and went outside to read the Sunday paper with my dogs. I wasn’t able to concentrate on my reading. I kept thinking about Florinda’s post and how unconnected I have become in the past ten years in my own community.

I thought back to the days immediately following 09/11/01. How time seemed to stand still as I mourned with friends, family, co-workers and even with strangers at the gym. We put our politics aside and banded together to raise money, share news or to just say hello. I thought about bipartisan politics and how divided we as a nation have become over the past ten years. About the long winter of protests here in Wisconsin, recall elections and families who are now divided between those who are union members and those who are not.

I thought of my own neighbors who before yesterday I hadn’t talked to in over a year. This past year the neighbors on my block joined together to create and pay for a neighborhood improvement project. My home’s property is located just outside of the project line, so I didn’t attend the planning meetings. Plus, their meetings conflicted with my favorite aerobic class; my husband did attend and kept me informed as to what was going on. Yesterday I walked down the block to take a couple of photos of the project.

I came home two hours later with a bag of flower seeds, freshly picked vegetables, new gardening tips, my photos of the project and a years worth of neighborhood gossip. Most of my neighbors were outside. They invited me into their yards and gave me tours of their gardens. I apologized for not attending their parties. I told one of them I still wanted to volunteer with a gardening group she works with and that I still planned on becoming a master gardener. Because these activities either occur while I am working or are too time consuming, my involvement would have to wait until I am retired - in ten years. She was flabbergasted - ten years.

My work is demanding, stressful and not community oriented. I learned earlier this year I had to say no to outside engagements for my own sanity. For the first time in eleven years, I am not on the board of an organization I am involved with and I must say I miss the community.

My current community involvement consists of on-line activity, going to work and to the gym. I have made several friends at the gym so when I do work out I feel as though I am taking care of myself and engaging in the community. Work is another story I will save for a future post.

My husband would say I spend too much time on-line. I do spend a lot of time reading other blogs, but I don’t comment or write posts as often as I should. I consider my blog’s regular commenter's my friends. Recently one of them experienced a health scare in her family then her home was threatened by Hurricane Irene. I found myself wishing I could call her to see if there was anything I could do and to offer my support.

In the end, I decided who cares where I was on 9/11/2001. I used this day and this post to reflect on my community involvement. My neighbor has a point; I can't wait another ten years to get involved. I have to figure out how to realign my life to include more community participation. I encourage all of you to reflect on your own community involvement. In addition to never forgetting what happened on September 11, 2001, it is important for all of us to consider how we can achieve our own sense of community and connectedness.


  1. I love what you said about the community of women bloggers - I, too, feel like we are friends and appreciate your concern and good thoughts.

    We have to do what we can do - when we can do it. For years I had the same sort of time-eating job, but three years ago things changed and now I work from home. The liberation there is that with no water cooler to gather around, it is very easy to do a full day's work in 5-6 hours and thereby gain 2-3 hours a day for oneself. I hope that you will get a similar opportunity sometime soon, so that you can have more "me time".

    In the meantime, you do have you need to do to be successful and put bread on the table and a roof over your head - perhaps literally. And not feel guilty about it. I think you are very strong to be able to say "no" so that your sanity stays intact.

    We find our community wherever it is at the moment - even if that means on line. xo

  2. Webb,
    My job can be stressful and demanding especially in a down economy. My company’s owners want timely, accurate financial information yesterday as well as our bankers and vendors. It gets old after awhile, but like you say for now I have to do what I can to pay the bills.

    I like the idea of someday working from home - especially the 5-6 hour work day. I can vision how this can work not only will time be saved from no water cooler chit chat, but also from all those wasted meetings. Also, I spend a lot of time waiting for others to provide me with information I need to get my work done. If I was home I could go do something else for awhile. Currently I read what is new in my google reader.

    So for now you are stuck with me.

    I am taking a week off and heading to northern Wisconsin next week. I hope to spend some time mapping out a plan similar to the one Nicole presents in her post: I lost my job. Now what?

    Thanks again Webb for your support.