Creating Community and Connection: Finding My Tribe, by Larkin Oates

Carrying a basket of striped sock monkeys and assorted stuffed animals, I grab my tea and enter the casual lounge space. The three people wait as I then settle into my seat. We gather here because one woman dared to ask for help when experiencing personal despair. Specifically, she asked us to facilitate an intensive daylong inward journey.

By the very nature of our being, many humans reach such tipping points where we sense something is askew in our life. Maybe the status quo is unacceptable, dissonant, or obscures our personal paths. We often try to suffer in silence, stiff upper-lipping our inner pain until we find the tools to enhance our personal growth. Many brave people reach for assistance on this quest and find enormous relief.

I feel gratitude and kinship with this community of seekers, these precious souls who fight for deeper connection to self and the divine. They risk vulnerability and trust their health professionals and personal guides to facilitate and witness their heroic journeys. These seekers come together in communities by first valuing themselves enough to inquire about classes, activities, or in any way ask for help.

If we are lucky most of us can find support systems and/or advocates that enhance our tools of self-care. I sometimes marvel as individuals’ efforts and how chaos theory, synchronicity, divine energy, luck and/or prayer cause our paths to cross in these special communities.

As a younger woman, I longed for this fulfillment of human connection in such a community. In this pursuit, like many twenty somethings, I left home. I moved to numerous parts of the United States, therefore eliminating any chance for me to grow the roots required for my long term community.

On this journey, I felt I must “fix” a part of myself because I had difficulty finding inner contentment and tribe. Granted, I worked on self-growth at each stage, and had different teachers, friends, or helpers in Palo Alto, Boston, Taos and Farmington, NM, and on the Navajo Reservation, in Shiprock. And, I loved those places and people. On that path, I also found several satisfactory answers to my philosophical questions in my art studio and through serial academic and arts degrees.

And then bump. Fifteen years ago, I moved to Nashville for advanced lymph bodywork, briefly at a physical therapy center and later at The Estuary. I considered this a serious divergence from my plans. Fortunately, I sensed positive self-growth while getting this leg therapy. I increasingly noticed moments of inner peace or an elevated mood after these bodywork sessions. Curiosity drew me out of my comfort zone, just as many are drawn to healing communities, and I began classes for personal and spiritual growth at The Estuary’s The School of Healing Arts. I slowly learned how to create fleeting peace within myself without being surrounded by high desert landscapes or the ocean views that I left out West.

In hindsight, an element aiding my journey’s beauty is that I first reached out for help when I wanted guidance. Then, I learned to trust that my continued commitment of time, money, and energy were worthwhile investments in myself. My self-trust allowed me to step into a community that validated me and my authentic self. I found a place where I can confidently bloom. And, whereas in the past I only felt glimmers of my inner gifts, I learned to grow and own the experience of my Larkin-ness.

Today, these continued positive experiences fuel my efforts to remain connected with this tribe of nurturing spiritual beings. So, instead of carrying a security blanket as I grow, I feel I have a safety net below and always have spotters nearby if needed.

Connect with me: 615-945-8950 or visit my website for more information.

Larkin Oates, MA, Integrative Therapist