Remaining Connected and Creating Community
In these strange times, how do we remain connected to one another?
This is a problem that I’ve seen many people cope with, in different ways, throughout the past few weeks in social isolation. I myself have been struggling with this quite a bit, and as a natural extrovert, not being able to get my energy from others has taken a toll both on my productivity, as well as my mental health. This is one of the reasons I was so excited when Alejandra told me that her and May were planning a virtual brunch this Sunday.
Mimosa in hand, May kicked off the event with a casual toast, explaining the motivation behind this occasion: to create a space where we can come together and connect, express emotion, and feel supported during these isolating circumstances. This is the spirit of Cadena Collective, which stands for more than just its beautiful products, but for the sense of community that they promote and pride themselves in.
The non-work Zoom event was filled with older friends of May and Alejandra, as well as newer acquaintances and supporters of Cadena Collective, and the mix in the crowd was a nice way to meet new people – albeit virtually – and enjoy each other’s company. As Alejandra asked all of us, “How are you all doing? What were your highs and lows this week?” I realized that I had not taken a moment to ask myself these questions in quite a while. Judging from the few seconds of silent reflection that followed, I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one.
Our conversations jumped from topic to topic, and the buzz of energy seemed to speak to the lack of human connection that everyone had been experiencing in these past few weeks. It was so interesting to hear the sisters share their experiences with pop-up shops, and about the energy that it takes to network and build customer bases in Dallas, where Cadena Collective was born, San Antonio, where May currently lives, and Miami, Alejandra’s new home. As we talked and laughed over lighthearted matters – about May’s love for scotch and whiskey, or Karla’s attraction towards Irish men – there was also an unspoken understanding that this was also a space to be vulnerable, and to talk about our quarantine struggles.
As we shared glimpses of the individual obstacles we’ve been facing – seeing loved ones furloughed, feeling stuck professionally and mentally, or being confronted with new difficulties related to working from home – I felt a sense of solidarity knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling out of my element. The supportive words that circulated around the room, like “It’s okay to let yourself be stuck” and “It’s okay to ride your emotions” genuinely felt reassuring.
While virtual Zoom brunches may be the new “normal” at least for the time being, I’m very appreciative that Cadena Collective continues to find creative ways to foster a sense of community, and create spaces for women to feel supported, visible, and empowered.