Three Steps to Building Community

Three Steps to Building Community

Three Steps to Building Community

Building your community truly consists of 3 simple steps. Simple to understand steps. 

      • Doing what you LOVE
      • Dating the community
      • Choosing vs. Settling

The goal of these steps is to take advantage of the clean slate of relocation and only invite into life that which serves and supports the life desired.

Doing what You LOVE

Doing what you love is just that, seeking out what you like to do in the new community.  That is where you will find others, here, who love what you love. 

These activities can be found on programs like MeetUp, at businesses (riding clubs from a bike shop), through the chamber of commerce, the local parks and rec department, the library, and churches.  The last two Jazzercise groups I found were at a local church and the other was a city recreation center.  You never know.  Look everywhere.

Whether you want to play in an orchestra, do volunteer career counseling, train for a marathon, learn a language or hang out with other people who read Brene Brown, these activities are everywhere.  It is important to not assume they are only in one type of place. 

Doing what you love vs. trying something new

Participate in an activity you already know and love. This makes every outing into the new community a rewarding experience.  Regardless of whether the people you meet are friendship material or not, you do something you love.  This makes finding friend prospects a bonus.

Yes, the point here is to meet other people. However, we can never count on our future friends to be there. We cannot count on our tribe revealing themselves to us in a first meeting.

When interacting with the community early on, choosing activities we already know we like allows us to control the experience and therefore our expectations. We walk in knowing, we have a win.  We do not depend on other people for our happiness or contentment.  In the early months of relocation, this can become an obsessive focus.  When we count on ourselves and we can create joy regardless of others actions or interest.

That joy we create within ourselves will ultimately will be what attracts new friends to us.

Dating the Community

The idea of dating the community can be off putting, perhaps exhausting.  Like we need one more thing, one more unknown to suck energy from us during relocation.

But that is why you start with what you love.  The second reason to begin with what you love is because in order to figure out which of these people would be good friends for you, you must spend time with them.

Finding a friend is not like seeing your soul mate friend across the room. 

Your eyes meet and both of you are struck with the thought, “That is my new best friend.”  From that point on both of you have a friend to do everything with.  That is only a Hallmark movie type of things…and in that case romantic.

One of the things I learned over my many relocations is that “Friendships Don’t just Happen”.  That is also an enlightening book by Shasta Nelson.  Friendships take time, an investment on both sides. 

I know THAT is not what you want, especially if the boxes are unpacked and everyone else int he family is plugged in.  At this point, you are wondering if all there is anything more to life than dishes and laundry.  With your actual friends being across the county or on the other side of the world that exhaustion can just set in with a side of why bother.

But bother, you must.  You can do this.  And in your heart of hearts, you know how you will feel on the other side.  Those friends so many miles away are proof of that, so let’s get started.

Invites and more invites

Invitations extending outward, not toward you…unless you happen to move to Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama then you might receive a few.  Most of the invitations will be from you to others.

As you extend invitations know that the first obstacle is the busy established lives of others.  They are in a groove.  Most people and families have each week laid out roughly as to what happens where they go and what they do.  Breaking into that will take some time.  No matter how lovely or enticing your invitation, that schedule must be shifted and morphed to accommodate a new activity or invitation no matter how small.

This is both a practical and mental shift for the people you are reaching out to.  Both of which affect those weekly activity expectations.  Rarely do the delays or nos mean anything about the activity or you.  As with many things it has to do with them.

With these delays, nos and perhaps last minute cancellations again it is important to schedule the first couple of “dates” with what you LOVE.  And if there is a cancellation, you still have something happy making to do.

Keep inviting and manage your expectations.  We have to meet people and spend time with people to create relationships.  Those invitation will lead to the dates.

Time equals Connection

When I was struggling to connect in my last city, I decided to research what this was all about.  I wanted to figure out why I was having so much trouble.  It had been 4 years by this point. Was it me or was it them?  Was it this community?

In my research I came across a book called Connecting: The power of Female friendships by Sandy Sheehy.  The relationship concept in the book changes how I looked at the place I had landed.

What I learned through “Connecting” was that in order to connect with people, in order to form relationships I needed to spend time with people.  We needed to have shared experiences and through that a relationship could find its footing.  Without time or shared experiences nothing could be formed.  I was expecting that Hallmark movie type connection when that didn’t exist in my world and especially not in the culture I had relocated to.

Which takes us back again to doing what you love.  Doing what you love provides that shared experience in a safe non-pressure environment for everyone.  No one has expectations except for doing that activity.  This is important because when our only goal is to make a friend, that is a bit creepy and just about every person picks up on that.

We have to let people get to know us in a safe and unpressured way.  We can only do this through dating.  I wish I had another word for that but that is what it is.

And the last words on dating your community…please take your time.

Choosing not Settling

In that first few months of relocation, and if it drags on the first couple of relocation years, when we are not connected and we are still feeling like a flag blown off its flag pole tossing in the wind, we can get desperate. 

This is a place that we make poor decision.  Poor decisions about what we do and who we let into our lives.

Being desperate for a “friend” leads us to settle for any warm body that will meet our need for connection.  We settle for that who without considering the effect they have on us and our family.

When we settle for someone who does not fit who we are or our lives the results are everywhere.  We can see them and so can our family. 

You know you have settled when:

      • That friend date has been exhausting
      • It has been all give and serving
      • Even doing what you love is draining
      • You are agreeing to things you never would have before
      • Or you no longer do what you want to do

Consciously Choosing

We all think that all the people in our lives are all there by our choice. But there are many who just kind of got in.  And they are not too annoying or harmful to kick out. So it becomes easier to just let them stay.

However, it is time to not live like that anymore.  There are no shoulds in relocation because of the clean slate, which creates a wide-open opportunity to choose everything.  So, choose according to who you are and what you love.

If you are having trouble figuring out what you want go back to the 3 Step Relocation Workbook and work through the 1st section again.  Sometimes we as wives and mothers have spent so much time taking care and managing our families that we do not know what we want in people anymore.  We cannot identity who would really work best for us.

Ultimately, the people and the new activities that are best for us are those that encourage and support us to become more of who we are.  These people and activities help us grow in our ability to positively impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

We know they are good for us because we pouring into them are creating energy for us not depleting us.  And though giving and taking is not an even 50/50, there is enough give and take that both sides benefit from the relationship.

Use Dating the Community time to test all of this, so that you create your interdependent tribe who freely give, receive and support each other in alignment with your needs and values.

ReloWomen Podcast

On Thursday we will continue this discussion with an interview from Tania Thomas, a serial relocating woman who has lived in multiple countries since she was a little girl.  Tania grew up with the world as her community.  Listen in as she talk about developing community and its impact on her relocations.

Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify and other podcast players.  ReloWomen Podcast.

Have a wonderful week!  For more on Building community and all things relocation explore more here on ReloWomen!

Another Friendship  Blog:

Packing up and Too Much Stuff

(c) Artistashmita |

Today I received my daily dose of happiness from author Gretchen Rubin.  In it she included this quote:

“Yet occasionally we discover in the folds of an old handkerchief a shell or insignificant stone that had once embodied our happiest of afternoons.” — Patti Smith, Just Kids

Moment of Happiness: June 25, 2020

As we go through our things in the process of moving houses, we find these things and remember the joy associated with them.
Our first inclination is to hold on to these things, tucking them away for another dose of joy on a random future day when “found” again.

I suggest you explore Marie Kondo‘s approach to such things.  When found and joy remembered, thank the item for the the joy received, as well as the memory of the season or person remembered.  Then take a picture of it if you would like, and release the item to the world for someone else to find and create a blessing of their own.

Whether providing joy or pure utility to the next person, you will be passing along a blessing that you no longer need.

As you release what you do not need, think forward to the blessing on others as well as the space you are creating for you and your family both for needed items but also space to create fun and a place of opportunity for what you build next.

I hope this idea is a blessing to you! Annette

Stop Reacting…know before IT happens

What do I do?!?  What do I do?@!??

That’s the feared question.  In those times when the truly unexpected has appeared, I am gob smacked!  How do I stop reaction and know what to do before IT happens.

…and then I remember what my father does.

My father, the retired Senior VP of Sales, is a master negotiator and sales manager.  In most times he is unshakeable and moving forward with a momentum hard to stop.  For those of us not quite as motivated by a “goal” this is exhausting.  We all wonder if he ever really takes a break.  A break from thinking forward. 

What if…

His “what ifs” are generally positive and in working to his end goal. He is improving “something”.  From the way his charity club works to keeping his pool in top condition he is driven by what he believes is possible.

The most valuable thing my father taught me is how to look forward and believing it could be better.  For many years this was just a single belief that I applied to life.  Break up with a college boyfriend…I will find another.  My car gets randomly hit in a parking lot and moved 3 spaces…It can be fixed or replaced.  I am rejected by someone I love…even though I don’t know how, I believe I will be OK.

Not in a Pollyannish way, with hope as the only tool.  But with a belief and determination to make “it”better, I get out of bed and push forward.

Mission and Vision ~ not all that boring

See my father taught me about Mission and Vision Statements.  Though he had primarily used them to focus and motivate his sales staff, he took time to truly understand the mechanics of these two statements.  He first moved it into his personal life with my mother. 

The two of them sat down on many occasions to craft the Mission and Vision for their lives, their marriage and their kids.  When I got married he ran John and I through the process.  Though we didn’t use it the way dad intended, when I came across it a few years later, all of our goals had been met.  The act of putting what we wanted to words meant something to us, even in a drawer.

Before needed…

That focus carried us through a few difficult times.  It was knowing we were literally on the same page that we stayed on the same page.

Momma’s Balance

My mother, the wise one who always seemed to be right during my teenage years, taught me a sister lesson to Dad’s mission and vision lesson.  Because she wanted me to make decision that fed who I was and kept me from only reacting, Momma taught me to know the why behind the mission and vision statements.

Mission and vision of anyone’s life is built on the back of knowing oneself and the personal core values.  Momma knew that if I would internalize and really know my core values, I would make a decisions and live with less regret.

Logic fights Emotion ~ in the moment

A lot of times we learn the logical thing to do.  It all makes sense intellectually.  However, In the midst of that crisis, reacting prevails in the face of crisis and our ability to be logical is gone. Emotions take over. 

That knee jerk reaction from childhood lashing out, both attacking and reaching for comfort. Searching for a temporary pain reprieve, no matter how destructive our intellect knows it to be.

Knowing my why keeps me from allowing emotion to get too carried away.

I feel the conflict during the consideration phase.  When an idea is contrary to my core values and mission, that very act of considering “it” feels like course sandpaper across my skin.  Instead of a faint whisper of hesitation, Multiple parts of me that SCREAM OUT, “don’t do that.” 

Relocation and Desperation

Relocation has led to some of my loneliness times.  So desperate for a friend and emotionally ready to  take anyone.  But in the midst of getting to know someone, the red flags went up.  Different values.  Conflicting kid rules.  No real belief in Kindness or got pleasure from other’s pain.

And though I was desperate and thought I could make this work, the conflict in my brain, that sandpaper across my skin told me ~ in no uncertain terms ~ “Oh heck no.  But please be nice as you end this.”

Apply to every relocation decision

When relocating, as the trailing spouse we are required to make a plethora of decisions every day from the day we agree through getting connected in the new community.  In the past, under non-relocation circumstances, we all tried things out.  Does this person or activity fit?  We will see if the program works for little Johnny.

Not too focused and with plenty of time we can just figure it out as well go, casually.

Ability to take our time LOST 

This is because little Johnny is having a melt down about leaving Curtis in the last city.  Suzi is falling behind on her AP classes and they don’t offer the same program here.  The dog has an infection and there is no vet.  Add to that, the seller screwed up the close so you are two day behind in moving in and can’t travel more than 2 miles, just in case.

An established mission and vision statements based on the known family core values gives focus and clarity

Many potential crises are averted because you know what is most important to the family.

  • The familiar activities are already planned
  • Fun days out reduce stress
  • That consultant/coach has already been identified and the pre-work has been laid
  • And you built in 3 or 4 days between close and move in so a few more days in the hotel works.

Relocation scope must expand

The crises that cause the most problems are nothing that your relocation department or real estate agent ever thinks of or helps you with.  These people consider these items “personal” for you to work out

But in reality, these problem items are all about the community your are moving into.

By defining your core values and creating a mission and vision for this relocation, you become efficient at making decisions, helping people truly understand what you need with the why behind it, as well as jump starting life for everyone in your new location.


The Path by Laurie Beth Jones

The 4 Elements of Success by Laurie Beth Jones

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Annette Walters is a new empty nest ReloMom with 13 moves under her belt who is just about ready for her next adventure.

#3 Relocation Challenge–Navigating My New Community

Navigating. I use GPS!

Navigating. I use GPS
Free photo 87858161 © creativecommonsstockphotos –

Navigating an Abandoned Road
Elderly man drives into Sand Pile
Girl drives down boat path into lake
Limo Driver follows GPS down a flight of stairs
Driving into the ocean and 8 other spectacular fails as GPS turns 25
by Sarah Wolfe Global Post PRI

Knowing HOW to get there is a big deal.
GPS is not the whole answer.

Though some of these stories are funny, not finding the DMV after driving an hour, being late picking up the kids, or ending up in a dangerous part of town is not funny.

To live well in a community, you must know your community’s layout, landmarks and how to get ________(there).


A PAPER Map.  To many younger than 40 that might seem unreasonable.  However, a paper map, one you can spread out on your kitchen table, is the first step to understanding where you live.

Starting with a paper map identify the major highways and which part of town they are in.  They could be on the north edge, go northeast to southwest or potentially a loop.  By identifying these and knowing generally where you are in the city, NOW you are never lost.

Next identify the landmarks in your city and put a star or highlight the intersection on your paper map.  Whether they are major, like the St. Louis Arch or what your sister would judge minor the high school or the only stoplight in town, mark it all.

Identify landmarks on all sides of town.  Even If one of them is the only sign of civilization truck stop on the west side mark it.

This layering of information creates a spatial map in your brain engaging the navigational abilities we were all born with.

A MAP IN YOUR BRAIN is NOT Mount Rushmore
an actual sign 13 miles from Mount Rushmore
referenced in the May 2016 issue of Time Magazine article How GPS is messing with our minds.

Practically, with a spatial map you:

  1. Know how to get there
  2. Are never truly lost
  3. Do not waste time
  4. KNOW IMMEDIATELY if Siri/Waze/GoogleMaps is sending you the wrong way.

GPS, as good as it is, is flawed.  Waze, as much as I LOVE it above the rest, sends me into some of the worst neighborhood when I am not paying attention.

Like with everything else in life we must take responsibility for where we are.  This is as much for our safety as the safety of those we love.


We have a bird’s eye view of where we are going.  We know the major landmarks to verify our route along the way.  Now it is time to practice getting there.

We might as well choose something fun as our first destination.

Let’s say you have a passion for Italian Ice, fabric stores or select soccer.  Find the top 3 of your thing and plot them on the map.

  • Look over the directions both on your paper map and GPS.
  • Print out your directions
  • Make your way to your destination without voice directions

Without voice direction you notice the environment around you and increase practical knowledge of the area.  Are these good areas of town?  Would I walk around here?  Is there a brewery or pie shop to explore next time?

Each trip into the community will provide another thread of information that ultimately makes this community, your community.


Becoming a navigational expert in your area is a SuperPower!  Who knew all you needed was a paper map and a little practice

Most locals only venture within a 2 mile radius.

You will find that they will start asking you how to get places.  Being navigational expert people will start asking you, the new kid, how to get there.   All is all, it is an easy and practical way to understand where you live.

Perhaps you can even encourage others to learn about and engage more in their community.

If you have any suggestions to help others please email me at  Together we live great Relo Lives!!

A ReloMom currently in the wilds of Texas, working to encourage and inspire others while seeking another adventure.

#2 Relocation Challenge Emergency Plans


Emergency strikes
(c) Cornelius20 |


Emergency plans are LOW on relocation priorities. With so many urgent decisions and activities, emergency planning doesn’t occur to any of us.

But then IT HAPPENS!

A bone breaks, weather gets “take cover” bad or security becomes an issue.

What to do?  With few connections and limited community knowledge, who to call is not top of mind.

NOTE: For those of you not from the United States, dialing 911 will give you access to an ambulance, fire truck or the police.

Emergencies unexpectedly happen both in your home and in your community.  They are unexpected, but at the same time many of these emergencies can be planned for.

We are taking inventory of emergency types and available resources.  These are important to know so that a go to plan is developed and known by the whole family.

Medical, Weather, Fire, Safety, Childcare

Emergencies occur in the home, the community or as a nation.  Let’s list a few obvious and not so obvious emergencies.

As Adults, most of us know how to generally navigate these events.

However, the lack of local information severely limits what we can do efficiently.  First we research and then we act.  This can cause risk to increase.


Listing the emergencies that are specific to the new home and community is important.  Each place can create unique emergencies.

For example: Do you live in a single family home, townhouse, apartment building, mobile home, tiny home or high rise?  Though similar in function, they each come with their unique risks depending on the emergency.

With severe weather or Cat 3 or less tornado and staying in the home results may include:Please talk to your local law enforcement about the best options and work to be in a permanent structure for safety.

Moderate or severe emergencies require outside assistance.  Knowing where to go, who to contact and what to do will save a life or prevent future damage, to persons and/or property.

Plan / Place / People / Practice


Rational decision are made outside of a crisis.  A plan allows you to choose a response according to your values and adapt only to circumstances.Emergency Plans Worksheet


Emergency locations influence every aspect of your response both dwelling and community.  Realizing that each place creates it’s own set of challenges and advantages adjusts the plan and response.


Just because you may know what type of people to call does not mean you know them.


Finally, you must practice.  Practice to remember!  Make it a knee jerk reaction.

The National Safety Council recommends the following precautions

  • Make sure to have a family communication plan in place; all members of the family should review and practice the plan
  • Have all family members’ and other important phone numbers written down or memorized
  • Have an emergency kit in your car and at least three days of food and water at home
  • Be sure to store all important documents – birth certificates, insurance policies, etc. – in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box
  • Assign one family member the responsibility of learning first aid and CPR
  • Know how to shut off utilities

These are all things we don’t think about during a move.


Creating an Emergency Guide as a family is imperative to keeping everyone safe.  Start with the 4 questions from

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my Shelter plan?
  3. Where is my “evacuation” route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Creating an emergency plan is a multifaceted project which will evolve over time.  It is imperative to have a basic one in place upon arrival in your new city.

Finally, PRACTICE!!!  Make sure everyone knows the Plan the Place and the People…under the pressure of a crisis.

As you learn create your Family Emergency Plan remember to update your
Who To Call” Worksheet.

If you have any suggestions to help others please email me at  Together we live great Relo Lives!!

A ReloMom currently in the wilds of Texas, working to encourage and inspire others while seeking another adventure.

RELOCATION: Discovering who YOU are!

“REALLY?  Who am I?  Seems like a vague question in the face of moving companies, realtors, new schools and house hunts.
I don’t have time for that.
What does “Who am I?“,  have to do with relocation?”

And I agree, it seems like a hippy ,frivolous time waster.  However,  knowing who you are, is essential to both relocation planning and execution.

“Every minute you spend planning,
saves 10 minutes of execution”
~ Brian Tracy ~

Knowing yourself is actually the path to creating and effective plan and efficient relocation.

The main reason you want to know as much as possible about yourself, is that during the first few months, you will answer more relocation generated questions than you have in the last 5 years.  It is exhausting, but defining who you are is like holding all the answers to a test.


Typically, pain brings front and center what we need.  I am so hungry I NEED to eat now.  I am so mad at ______, I NEED to tell him what jerk he is.  But what unmet emotional needs drive that pain.

Knowing your emotional needs affect how you make decisions.  By knowing you need to feed, you make decisions that lead to where you want to end up.

Our emotional needs drive every decision we make, good or bad.  The need to feed them leads us to strive for greatness, self-destruct or even become addicted.  Tony Robbins describes this in depth.

The 6 emotional needs” TED Talk by Tony Robbins, with over 20 Million views,  is one of the most insightful and easy to grasp presentations about why we do what we do.

I liked his quote, “We will do anything, positive or negative, to meet that emotional need.”

By listening to this TED Talk,  you will be able to identify your emotional needs,  and as a bonus, be able to identify these needs in others.

This exceptionally important when working with others.  During the relocation, there will be a team of people you are required to work with.  And even though, you are the client, time frames will be so tight that you will have to work with those presented to you.

By having the ability to see the emotional needs of others you will understand what you need to do or say to effectively communicate with those around you and ultimately minimize relocation frustration.


To work with this new team even more effectively, take a moment to learn a little more about how you work with the world at large.

StrengthFinders 2.0 has one of the easiest assessments to take and understand out there.  It is an easy little book with 31 pages of instructions, 143 pages of theme information and a code.  This code gives you access to an only assessment which identifies your 5 core themes.

One of the best things about going through this simple process is that you begin to understand how many different variations there are even in your core family.  With 34 themes there are over 33 million different top 5 combinations possible.

For example, my top 5 themes are:
Strategic, Ideation, Futuristic, Positivity,  and Woo.

Of course my first thought was, “what is Woo?”

“Woo stands for winning over others.  You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you.  Strangers are rarely intimidating to you.  On the contrary, strangers can be energizing….”  StrengthFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath Page 169.

It’s true.  I love to work a room, meet new people and learn more about them and this world.

StregthFinders 2.0 also gives examples of how WOOs work in the world; how WOOs sound in conversation, what makes WOOs stand out, and how WOOs work with others WOOs.

This assessment takes less than 20 minutes.  By taking it, I learned how to  craft messages that my creative son could hear.  I learned how to engage my analytical husbands when I needed something done.  Knowing more about who I am helped dramatically in times of unusual stress and frustration. .


Navigating your relocation will require you to ask questions of yourself, finding resources and finding answers.  Look to books, podcasts, TED Talks, sermons, blogs and classes that speak truth.

It is the patience that comes with knowing who you are, that will be the most effective tool as you walk through ALL of the relocation surprises.

Please leave a comment below and add any resources you have found that will help other ReloMoms.

#ReloMoms, #Relocation, #MovingToaNewCity, #CorporateRelocation, #StrengthFinders2.0, #TonyRobbins, #The6EmotionalNeeds, #TEDTalk, #NavigateRelocation, #RelocatingWithKids, #WhoAmI, #BrianTracy, #RelocationSurprises