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How to build your village.



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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I used to be the girl with the suitcase.

That was the title I gave to myself.

While everyone around me was finding love, settling down, and having babies, I was always looking for the next opportunity to pack up my suitcase— yet again— and hop on a plane to the next destination.

Now there’s nothing wrong with adventure. I look back and I’m thankful for the ways I claimed adventure— especially as a single girl. I never allowed my relationship status to stop me from heading out into the world and experiencing it for myself.

But when I moved to Atlanta, to a place that required me to unpack my suitcase and plant some roots, I didn’t know how. I was flighty. I thought I could have deep, lasting relationships without any of the work.

It wasn’t until I found myself fighting through a life-changing depression that I realized my priorities needed to shift. I couldn’t go through life alone. I needed people. And for the people I already had, I needed to let them in. I needed a village. I still need a village. We all need a village.

I began to make some shifts. Right where I was standing.

I became honest.

This was step one. The hardest step. The best step.

I remember exactly where I was sitting. On my friend Anna’s couch. Surrounded by girls who were in my new friend group here in Atlanta. They were all such nice people but I was giving them the surface-level of me. I was giving them the parts of me that looked shiny and impressive.

We’d just finished watching an episode of the Bachelor. I knew I had to open my mouth.

“I don’t want to be here right now,” I told them. “I actually want to run as far away as possible.”

What spilled out of me was honesty. Honesty that I was afraid to plant down roots. Honesty that I didn’t know how let new people in. Honesty that I was afraid I would never feel settled in this new place.

What followed was one of the best, most life-giving conversations we’ve ever had. People became honest. People encouraged me. People held me accountable. And it felt so good to be known— to be seen— for one of the first times since moving to Atlanta.

Building a village starts with honesty about where you are on the map. Wherever you are on that map, it’s okay. But you can’t hold back honesty and expect people to know where you are. Deep intimacy begins with opening up the map and pointing as you show someone, “Here. Here is where I am on the map right now.”

I started making uncomfortable coffee dates.

This was the very last thing I wanted to do. I’ll admit that. As an introvert who sometimes likes to use that as an excuse for why I don’t make many plans, I wanted to claim I didn’t need these one-on-one relationships.

But still, I said yes. I showed up in coffee shops. I got to know others. I learned their fears and their victories. I opened myself again and again. It would have been easier to have one-off dates where we met for coffee and then never saw one another again. Vulnerability is easier when you know the person across the table won’t be there for the long-haul.

Just because it feels uncomfortable to form new relationships this way, don’t let it stop you. Say yes to coffee. Say yes to sharing your story with someone new. Say yes to “let’s do this again next week.” This is how you start to get people in your corner.

I offered to serve.

I think there is a time to be served and a time to show up and serve. In order to plant my roots down further, I made myself available to others. This was hard for me because I’d be much more comfortable relying on the trusty “I’m too busy” excuse. But I knew I wanted to be someone who was dependable. Someone who showed up. So I started showing up.

I babysat for friends so they could have a date night. I started a workout group in my community for any woman who wanted to come. At 7am, we’d meet in the driveway and we’d lift and squat and train together. It was a skill I had that others wanted to learn so I used it to serve my community.

You have those same gifts. You have the gift of service in your bones. It starts with looking around and asking yourself: What need can I meet? How can I bless others?

I said “yes” to help.

This is hard advice to give someone who never wants to take off their cape. It’s easy to be the hero. It’s harder when you’re the one who needs help. And I’m stubborn so I would much rather claim that I’m holding it all together and I don’t need any help.

But people want to help.

People desire to serve just like you do.

I awkwardly asked people to help me move instead of doing it all by myself. I awkwardly allowed a friend to step up a meal train when Novalee was born. I say “awkwardly” because it didn’t feel natural to me but I say “yes” anyway.

It’s okay to accept help. It’s okay to ask for help. This is the glue that binds us together. This is how the village gets its street cred.

I matched what I saw in others.

My best friend Dawn is the best at making plans. She’s consistent. She’s on top of it. She follows up. Every time we would hang, she’d reach out to set up another date. I love this about her. And so I decided to start doing the same thing. I became more consistent with one of my friends. I started to do with her but what Dawn did with me. I followed up. I stayed on top of things. Every time we would hang, I’d reach out to set up another date. And it’s wild to think those small, intentional steps allowed our relationship to grow that much stronger. It didn’t take much, really. It took the willingness to keep reaching out.

If you look at one of your friends and think, “I love the way you show up” then please know you can be that kind of person too. You can be glue for the village. You can coordinate hang-outs. You can bring people together. You can grow in this area. We all can.

Think about your most reliable friends. What do they do that sets them apart? How do they show up for others? How can you duplicate that consistency with someone you love?

Rinse and repeat (for best results).

I feel like I’m gaining all sorts of new footing now that we are moving into the last leg of this pandemic. The last year threw off whatever I viewed to be community in my life. But that’s okay. This year held curve balls we could not have ever imagined and we have to go easy on ourselves.

All of the steps listed above are most effective when you put them on repeat. You have to keep being honest. You have to keep accepting help. You have to keep serving. You have to keep having the awkward coffee dates. But there’s beauty in the cycle… the village forms. The people come. The village gets stronger, and bolder, and brighter.

You need a village. I need a village. We all need a village.

It’s never too late to start building one.


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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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