Sunday, April 22, 2012

Community ~ The Value of Social Networks

Social butterfly, was a term my family always used to describe me from my earliest days.  My earliest memories are ones of getting on my tricycle, riding around the city block on which we lived, and stopping by to visit with the neighbors.  I would visit from one house to other, collecting cookies and stories along the way.  Stories were shared with other neighbors as I worked my way around the block.  I did not know it then, but I was, at a very early age, learning about the value of social capital.  In a sense, I was using that social capital to allow information to flow, bonding to an age group that was much older than I, and establishing my identity as an individual and as a part of my community.

I remember a college textbook used while I was in college in the early '60's that spoke of the tricycle path that led to social connections between the adults in newly forming suburbs.  The paths that lead to social connections have always been interesting to me.  As one who needs community, I have certainly seen many changes in how we form and participate in social groups or community.  Even ten years ago, I never could have imagined that in my retirement years, I would become a part of a viable community that is created through the use of the internet.

I have not read the book, Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam, but I am very interested in what he has to say about the value of social networks.  His basic premise is: "social capital refers to the collective value of all social networks."  He also speaks of "the inclinations that arise from the networks to do things for each other," He refers to this as "Norms of reciprocity."

Blogging and Social Capital

Blogging has created a whole new world for me.  When I first began blogging, I never could have imagined the world that such an activity would open up for me.  First of all, I just want to thank my blogging friends for being a part of my life.  Your comments have meant so much to me.  They have given me hope, courage, and comfort.  You have made me feel less alone.  You have encouraged me.  You have made me laugh.  You have given me new things to think about, and you have made me see things in new ways.  

Since January, my physical world has at times become very small.  The concussion that followed the fall I suffered on January 2nd, has resulted in lingering headaches, dizzy spells, and avoidance of many things that were very much a part of who I am and what I do.  I have not been able to drive.  I am dependent on my husband to take me where I need to go.  I am unable to participate in large social gatherings.  I have trouble in crowded or noisy places.  

Added to the challenge of recovery from a head injury, I have also been dealing with arrhythmia where at times my heart is either beating very fast, or I am suffering from palpitations, some of which are due to AFib.  It has not been a fun time lately.  I am on a new medication and wearing a heart monitor.  We shall see where this journey takes us.  

In other words, the social butterfly's wings have been clipped.  I don't know what I would do without my community of bloggers.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there, for reaching out, for caring.

A Few Highlights Since Easter

Easter Sunday, now already several weeks away and very old news, was worth noting.  Easter Day was a glorious one for me.  Early Easter morning, my husband I drove to Colorado Springs to attend church at my former home church with a dear friend of mine.  She and I have known each other since college days. We reconnected about eight years ago, and the friendship has blossomed.  I count her as one of my dearest friends, and one upon whom I can always count for a listening ear.  She is so wise, caring, and intelligent.  I always come away from our conversations and times together a much enriched person.


Linda & Sally
Village Seven Presbyterian Church
Easter 2012
Linda's husband is also someone I first met in college.  We had speech class together.  Linda and I went through rush together back in the day when we were 'rushed' to join a college sorority.  While we pledged to different sororities, our friendship has become one that seems like we are sisters of the heart.
Greg, Linda, Sally

After church, Linda and Greg left to have dinner with family, and Jim and I went to the Cheyenne Mountain Resort to meet my daughter Amy for brunch.  The food was plentiful and delicious.  While the day was certainly not like Easters from the past, we made the most of it and enjoyed our time together.  
Mom & Daughter
After brunch, Amy, Jim, and I made our way to the cemetery to remember our dear Julie who was born on April 8, 1976.  Amy chose tulips for Julie, and I chose some daffodils for my father's grave that is next to Julie's.  He was also an April baby.  We hugged each other and cried as we remembered the sister and daughter who always figured so largely in any of our previous Easter celebrations. Crying always is cleansing for the soul and helps in moving on in our journey of grief.  

A Special Gift from My Husband

Later in the week after Easter, my husband totally surprised me with a special gift.  He took me to dinner at a very nice new restaurant in town.  After dinner, he stood up, took something out of his pocket, and handed me this:


Yes, can you believe it?  That is a box from Tiffany's.  We had wondered into the store while we were in Salt Lake City last month.  Of course, I had to try a few things on just for fun.  He then called the store, ordered one of the rings I had admired, and had it shipped to our home without me ever even suspecting a thing.  

Our 20th anniversary is coming up in June.  He said he couldn't wait until then.  He wanted me to have a new wedding band.  It is a simple band of diamonds set in platinum.  That is exactly what I wanted; he just didn't have to go to Tiffany's to get it.  Of course,  I was thrilled that he did.  

That is a wrap-up of what has been happening around here.  I hope to get back to blogging a bit more regularly soon.  In the meantime, you all are in my thoughts, and I greatly value this community of bloggers.  My best wishes are sent out to all of you.  


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