Twenty four years ago, when I was in high school, I had breakfast every single Thursday morning with the same three friends at the local waffle diner. Every Thursday. For four years. Those friendships became my lifeline through high school. They carried me through. They were my guides. And in some ways, they still are.
They were my first tribe.
I will never forget what I learned from them. About community, meaningful conversation, true friendship, showing up, not showing up, and creating connections that last a lifetime. I realize now, all of these years later, that it was grace that gifted me this tribe. And it would be this kind of grace that would dance into my life over and over again.
I had another tribe in college – more friends from high school, roommates, classmates – all friends who were intimately acquainted with the same path I was on – that well travelled path of college and homework and boyfriends and first jobs and finding ourselves in our early 20s.
They were my second tribe.
Like my high school tribe, my college tribe carried me through some pretty tumultuous years. I love them dearly, still. I didn’t know it at the time, but grace was continuing to work its beautiful magic in my life, giving me a foundation for what community should feel like.
Then, about five years ago I experienced a big life transition. It was summer 2008 and I was still working in my social work job, yet I was close to phasing out of that life and into my full time creative job/life. I was on the cusp of two worlds, really. Not quite settled into my new creative skin, and definitely not yet empowered inside my current Possibilitarian Spirit. I was in between.
I was in between when my book was about to release that year, and while I was having great success on Etsy. I was in between when I began to teach some workshops, and started meeting all sorts of amazing people. I was in between while signing my first licensing contracts, taking over a spare bedroom as a studio/office, and building my online audience. All the while, I slowly inched myself toward a whole new creative life. It was a tricky time (in all, about 2 years of in betweenness) of straddling two worlds: One that no longer suited me and one that was calling me home.
Although I could feel my confidence and spirit soaring, I began to yearn for a specific community of people who could help me transition from in between to firmly embedded – a community who had the capacity to usher me into the big possibilities that were waiting for me because they too had experienced similar transition in their lives. It takes a lot of courage to put your art out into the world and step into the expansiveness of what could be, and I longed for a community of women who could not only completely understand that specific journey, but who could also help root and ground me inside my own personal transition.
They were my third tribe.
We called ourselves the Lovebombers because we beautifully bombed one another with love and encouragement throughout the year, again reflecting and confirming that it’s worth it to courageously show up and offer our work to the world. Most of the Lovebombers still gather each year and continue to be a beautiful network of support. I am crazy in love with them, still. They were my first creative tribe to really see me. And having them in my life has been another testament to how grace has woven its gorgeous threads, connecting me yet again to a beautiful group of strong women. Everyone deserves this kind of community.
Fast forward to last year, and I have a sort of epiphany. I am caught off guard when someone tells me I am a master Connectress – someone who connects people in powerful and beautiful ways. Having never considered it before, I began to realize that it’s true, I am a Connectress! I do, afterall, have a constant, steady and uncanny knack for connecting just the right people. Whether it’s introducing two soul sisters, or two brilliant women in business, or connecting thousands of kindreds inside my ecourses (hundreds who have gone on to create incredible tribes for themselves), or inviting just the right people to a soul-filled gathering, I seem to have an odd, humbling superpower for bringing just the right people together. I don’t have much to do with the magic that happens once the women are together but I’m learning that I might have something to do with putting the perfect constellation of women in a room together and creating the environment in which connections get ignited.
And then it hits me. This has been the grace of tribes in my life. I’ve always, since I was 14 years old, had a tribe of strong, grounded women in my life. I’ve learned that tribes, families of intention, friendships, support networks – whatever you want to call them – MATTER. Sometimes acting as surrogate mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and more, these tribes help define our paths, encourage our growth, and celebrate our small moments.
I deeply believe everyone deserves this kind of connection and sense of belonging, and I’m realizing more and more that I want this Connectress part of myself to come out a bit more and play. I think she might be a leader. And she deeply wants to help build tribes for women.
And so, a couple of weeks ago my inner Connectress invited nine other women to join me for a long weekend of togetherness inside a cozy cabin on the OR coast. Some of them knew each other, but most of them didn’t, but all of them are doing powerful work in the world. The intention was to create a weekend that would inspire the inspirers, nurture the nurturers, and create a time and space where we could radiate possibilities with one another when it came to our work, and our lives. And that’s exactly what happened. We dubbed the weekend The Radiate Sessions – a beautiful weekend of collaborative sessions that indeed sent me home feeling properly radiated in bright, bring lights.
Stay tuned for more of our gathering in upcoming posts. I learned so, so much, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
PS: For those of you who are feeling called to create community, I can’t encourage you enough to go for it. I’ve found that it’s those kinds of longings that we must listen to – they’re whispers inviting us to create the experiences we most need. We all deserve to be loved, seen, and celebrated. I wrote a post back in 2009 with some tips on how to create a gathering similar to the gatherings I’ve been a part of. May you be encouraged to fill your well with possibility and community. XXOO.
Hi, I'm Kelly Rae Roberts!
Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my whispers and started playing with paint and everything changed.
Now I’m a full-time artist, author and Possibilitarian, who helps women explore and nourish their creative souls.
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