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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Malani

Community & Collaboration

This week was one with some peaks and, unfortunately, more valleys. I'm going to choose to focus on the peaks. Full disclosure, while in the midst of the valleys I am not always so optimistic, and often very reactionary. But I'm learning, and part of that learning happened this week after the seemingly never-ending valleys subsided.

As a working mom, one of the things I have felt a very strong connection to over the past few years is community and the need to truly cultivate it. Aging gives us many gifts, one of which, I feel, is the ability to acknowledge people in your circle that perhaps shouldn't really be there for one reason or another (not a genuine soul, have ulterior motives, "fake", etc.). Becoming more wise with time allows you to see a person's energy and decide if they are a giver or a taker; if they are a person that will cheer or sneer; if they are a person that will lift up or tear down. A lot of very nice people can actually be not-so-good for you. Being nice doesn't necessarily mean they should be a part of your community. But on the other hand...when you find people, especially other women and moms, people that have the same drive as you to cultivate an environment of true community and belonging, of true support and encouragement, or true helpfulness...that's priceless.

Tuesday I had the opportunity to have a quick brainstorming session with two other local business owners, whom also happen to be mothers. They are both passionate about health and wellness, and truly supporting people (and dare I say specifically women) to be empowered with knowledge and community to be the best version of themself they can be. I don't mean only in the physical sense, but in the emotional and mental sense as well. I went into this meeting not really knowing what to expect (I'd never met one of the women), and add to it that it was scheduled during a part of my day that was actually super slammed with work - but I felt a need to go. I felt that internal voice saying that there was no where else my energy and attention needed to be at that time. So I went.

There is something so powerful about collaboration with like-minded people. It's almost shocking to think about the impact that we can have as a collective vs just a singular. During this meeting, we starting talking about how we all have the same goal for community health and wellness, it just looks different for all 3 of us. That didn't mean we couldn't work together to come up with a way to 'join forces' to have an even better and bigger impact for our communities. How can we serve better? Educate better? Improve lives better? We can work together and design something that none of us could achieve alone. True collaboration.

I left that meeting feeling completely energized! How an hour out of a busy day can turn one's focus and drive into a completely new direction is always a joy to experience. While this initial meeting was just the tip of the iceberg, I left thinking of all the possibilities that a collaboration like this could bring. How many lives could we touch and improve? How many people could we help? How many people would be inspired to make a change, even a small one, to help better their health and therefore their lives? Way more people than just one of us could reach, that's for sure.

I was so fired up, so energized, so genuinely EXCITED! It was something out of my comfort zone to step into the role and avoid the negative self-talk that seems to automatically come with any new endeavor. But like the saying goes, "everything you want is on the other side of fear." So, so true. How many times have you not collaborated or participated in a community event that you wanted to because of fear? How many time have you let fear hold you back? How many times have you wanted to take the leap, but fear said 'no' - and you listened? For me, all too many times. I'm working on feeling that fear and stepping out of it - because I know that's where the magic happens.

More info about this future collaboration to come, for sure. All I can tell you right now is that when like-minded people put their heads together for a common good, nothing is impossible and the impact for the community will be great. We need community. We need each other. I encourage you this week to step out of your comfort zone and be a part of your community. Join a fitness class, go to a community event, take a meeting with someone you haven't met to design something that is greater than yourself. Collaboration and community - we are all in this together!

The gorgeous bar at Proper & Wild in Winter Park, FL, where our collaboration meeting was held.

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