Monday, March 31, 2014

Discussion Group...not Book Group

Do you miss those sideline conversations comparing notes with other parents of like aged kids? Perhaps you have aging parents and it would be nice to compare notes about that...Here's an idea: start a discussion group!
About a dozen years or so ago a girlfriend and I started talking about our book group. We loved it, enjoyed it, but what became apparent in our discussion wasn't necessarily the books that we'd read, discussed, enjoyed, disliked, didn't read... but the relationships we had with each of the women. Just how much we both enjoyed sharing ideas and thoughts about each other's lives and our life stages. We laughed about how we'd often get scolded (I'd get scolded) by our BG members that really wanted to discuss the book and not go off on tangents about our families, we confessed that we felt guilty if we hadn't read the book ...thus Discussion Group was born.
Discussion Group is different from Book Group. When we put together our group we purposefully decided to invite women to join us from different age groups. This has been a gift! Without really meaning to, this has turned into a mentoring group, a kind of support group.  We've now got lasting friendships that wouldn't have necessarily formed without the structure of our getting together monthly to discuss a topic, whatever the topic might be, and believe me, we've covered them all.
When we first got together as a group we represented our 40's, 50's, 60's and 70' we're 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Some are married, some never married; some have kids, some no kids; some have grandchildren, some don't; some work(ed) outside the home, some don't/didn't...Our common threads? We all are/were someone's daughter. We each are college educated and we each care deeply about community.
How does this work? One person selects an article (we figure people have time to read an article) that they've found interesting in the last month and they share it online or via snail mail with each of us. She'll "lead" the discussion for the evening. Inevitably the discussion morphs, takes twists and turns, and grows from everyone's own personal experiences.
It has occurred to me along the way, as my kids have grown and moved through their various stages, those sideline conversations with other Moms of like aged kids were incredibly valuable, but what has beeninvaluable is discussing these various stages with other women who have already walked this walk, whether just 5 years earlier or 25 years earlier or never actually walked the walk but remember how they lived it. 
Through my life's stages as a parent and as a daughter, these conversations with other women who have navigated these waters or are currently navigating them, have been so incredibly helpful. They've forewarned me without even realizing it, they have given me the "heads up" on things that I may not have even thought about, they've made suggestions about how to handle situations or they've simply shared their insights. 
I am truly thankful!

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