Dream is an Irish word that doesn’t actually have anything to do with nighttime visions. (One of my favorite Irish words for dreams is aisling, but we’ll get to that another time.)
In the Irish language, dream is actually associated with “tribe” or “community.”
Once upon a time, I must have known this, back when I carried a Gaeilge/Bearla dictionary in my backpack, rushing from the dorm to an early morning class. But it’s been so long since my days at Boston College and the National University of Ireland in Galway. It’s like another lifetime, those years when modern poetry and ancient myth were the most important things in the world…
Since then, I’ve forgotten most of my Irish. And in those two decades since I knew enough of the Gaelic to know when the lads were talking about me at the pub, I know I have forgotten the power of community over and over again too.
Forgetting is a gift
Here’s the thing… whether it’s a random word from a language spoken in a small corner of the world or whether it’s something essential to our own well being or to the entire of the human race, we’re going to forget. In fact, we forget in order to understand the important things.
I find that the miracles come in the rediscovery, in the looping back to something you once knew and now have a chance to really know.
Life conspires to remind us of the words, feelings, and experiences that used to feel magical and significant. We get a fresh chance to make meaning and root into wisdom that’s at once eternal and brand new.
This is the joy. This is the point. The knowing, the forgetting, the re-membering reveals what wants to matter and guide the whole rest of the journey.
But Losing Track of a Sense of Community is Just Painful
I wandered alone for so many years, but I don’t think I ever really knew it.
When I was in my early twenties, living in a new city and trying to make a shaky relationship work, a therapist diagnosed me as “lonely.” She wasn’t wrong. (She wasn’t helpful, mind you, but she wasn’t wrong.)
A few years later, when I rooted myself into a “real job” and had moved in with the guy who’d become my husband, I would have looked the opposite of lonely. Yoga classes, the bustle of the campus where I worked, the grown-up tasks of a busy woman with stuff to do. I was in the mix of it all.
But then I remember our wedding and how I needed to piece together my old life, pulling people from around the world for a week of parties. For a short time, I was living the dream, thriving in a big circle of the people I loved best.
(My friends are too wonderful to tell me how bridezilla-esque I often was through all this desperate gathering of the tribe for that marathon celebration… Bless ‘em!)
After the honeymoon, things sort of folded in on themselves. Our world of two became small, and sometimes the coziness felt claustrophobic.
It’s Time to Reckon with the Isolation Habit
Now, I realize I have a lifelong pattern of losing track of everybody else when I devote myself to “the one.” (Yes, you can call this codependency if you want. It’s not a pretty word, but when we pull the unbeautiful words out of the shadows we can rewrite the limiting stories we once crafted with narrow, unsavory phrases.)
Having a couple of kids would actually make the whole thing worse before it got better. The house was full, the experience felt hollow too much of the time, and our little commune didn’t necessarily feel held by a larger community.
This isn’t just a personal flaw or a way of functioning that is unique to my family. It’s a phenomenon that has take over much of our society, particularly with all the screens that substitute for human interaction and the substances that are supposed to help us cope with modern life.
Many of us have lost track of a wider sense of belonging because of our relationship and family structures, because of our demanding jobs, because wine is easier, because there are so many things tugging at our attention that seem more important than connections with soul friends.
Recovering the Dream of Community Begins with Acknowledging We Need It
In the last year or so, I have connected with my original self. More than that, I have connected with my Sovereign Self.
After years of wandering and wishing and half-living my dreams while trying to live according to someone else’s guidelines for success, I’ve recovered the magic and the truth that’s long been hiding in my core.
Reconnecting with my Sovereign Self is about reviving the passions of the younger me (the princess I once was had a confidence problem and drank too much, but she had the right idea about a lot of things).
It’s about standing proudly in the experience and knowledge I’ve gained and declaring myself queen of my own life. It’s about leaning into the wisdom of my future self even as I stay rooted in the magical, insightful self that was my birthright.
(We all have the princess, the queen, and the wise woman playing within us all the time, you know… This trinity of being is at the heart of The Sovereignty Knot, the new book that’s coming out in October 2019.)
And, in the midst of all this personal discovery, I have discovered how much I’ve missed community. Somehow, I had begun to feel unworthy of it.
Community was a garden I had stopped tending. I came to believe I had to be a permanent exile for letting the weeds choke out the beds and the gate.
All through the years when I let endless responsibilities and the tendency toward self-isolation rule my life, I didn’t realise that community was actually dream that I couldn’t quite name.
It think it’s easy for many of us to miss this realization. After all, when you’re a mother of young children, a partner trying to keep a relationship together, or a woman running a business, your life is just so jam packed.
It’s easy to misunderstand an overflowing life for a full life. It’s easy to confuse the packed calendar with an inherent sense of belonging.
We Practice the Dance Between Individuality and Communality
There’s another reason I didn’t sense my own yearning for community, and it’s rooted in this idea of sovereignty that guides my life and work
It’s easy to assume the quest for sovereignty is a solitary journey.
After all, at the heart of this work is a call to discover who you really are and what you really want. You’re called to go beneath and beyond the expectations and the demands that have been imposed upon you. You’re called recognize all the ways you’re letting others write your story. Sovereignty invites you to unhook from what “they” say about how to live your life. Your Sovereign Self is inspired by your own inherent worth.
Sovereignty is about entering into personal relationship with the earth beneath your feet and with the air in your lungs. It’s about finding a home in your own body and in your own company. It is about the silence you find when you slow down enough to connect with the divine tides that guide your life.
Living Sovereignty Is about Living in Relationship
But after that personal discovery, after all that inner silence and natural stillness, there’s the vital step that is living sovereignty.
You are so secure in your story, your identity, you skin that you’re able to reach out and offer your help and your embrace. You can hold the stories of others and allow your story to merge with theirs.
You can heal and love and offer and receive care with wild abandon when you’re truly standing in your personal and creative sovereignty.
We Find Sovereignty in Community
There’s a gorgeous paradox in the the Sovereignty Knot: in order to truly root into yourself so you can build strong, healthy relationships, you need the support of others.
You fulfill your dream of individual sovereignty within the circle of a community.
It’s been a parallel journey for me. As I’ve opened myself up to all the ways I’m worthy of being part of community and creating community, I’ve understood my own sovereign worth and the worth of my own sovereign story. As I’ve stood sovereign and rooted into my own inherent truth I have found myself in true reciprocal relationships that matter and that sustain us all.
You embody sovereignty when you’re held by community. You uphold strong communities when you show up as your sovereign self.
You may have heard of the Sovereign Writers Circle, the online group I have coached and curated for the last year. You may have thought that it was intriguing but instantly felt scared off by the name. (“Me, a writer?” you might have thought.)
I want to (re)introduce you to my online community because it offers something different than you might have expected from a writing group.
I’m renaming it because I know that our work has always about so much more than “just” writing. We use writing as our primary tool and we rely on words to help us make and explain our magic, but the ultimate goal is not blog posts or book chapters.
The ultimate goal of the Sovereignty Circle is to help you dream into the ways you’re called to stand in your own power. We do this work into order to know, embody, and tell the stories and do the work that can change the world.
Our weekly writing sessions help you make the time to do the individual discovery work. Our group writing coaching and story healing sessions help you draw from the support and wisdom of sovereign sisters like you.