"There are so few places in our normal social lives where we are privileged to meet one another so vulnerably-to laugh, and cry and laugh again. " - Pat Schneider from Writing Alone and with others
Tonight I am feeling very moved and grateful for the opportunity to lead women's groups.
When people ask me what we do in these groups, I struggle with forming a concise and intelligible response. It is hard to convey exactly what transpires in a room full of women sharing their thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities with one another.
Many of us lead isolated lives. As a stay at home mother, I will never forget how lonely I felt those first few months after having my son and not returning to work. I was thrilled to be home with my sweet new baby and I also missed many aspects of my job. It was a very strange time for me and for many women I know.
Before I became a mom, I worked with a local Hospice. It was an incredibly fulfilling and life affirming job. I loved the people I worked with. And training and managing hospice volunteers was a constant reminder of how much good there is in the world.
I will never forget talking to a lovely woman on the phone one day when she told me she had not been out with her family since taking over the care of her uncle. She was beside herself pushing back tears when I told her that a volunteer would be coming over to sit with her beloved uncle so she could go out and enjoy a nice dinner with her children.
It brings me to tears thinking about it. Or the gentleman who helped a beautiful 18 year old woman make a video so that her family would always be able to watch her when she was no longer here.
It is no surprise that I missed this work.
The quiet at home felt very odd. I would go to the park, meet friends, and get coffee but it all felt like a weird world I wasn't sure I had signed up for. As much as I like being alone, I like to be with people too!
And we human beings are social creatures wired for connection. We thrive from deep bonds with one another. Bonds that help us make meaning out of our days and bonds that help us navigate the full spectrum of emotions and experiences.
This brings me back to my groups. Really they are about connection. And not just the connection to one another but the connection to ourselves. Sometimes we get so busy or overwhelmed, we may not even be able to identify what in our life brings us joy. So we snap at our loved ones because we are so depleted.
Or maybe we shut down or clam up because we feel fearful.
But then we talk to others struggling and we feel less afraid. Or we share what we are grateful for and we are reminded just how much there is to celebrate.
It is a reminder that we have more similarities than we do differences. It is a reminder of how much we need each other. And how much can happen when we come together in the spirit of collaboration and soulfulness.
And if you think these groups are selfish, they are a bit. And this is a good thing. We deserve it. If we all took responsibility for our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, we would live in a much healthier and well-balanced world.
So what do we do in these women's groups?
We show up for each other. We wake up. We listen. We share. We laugh and sometimes we cry. We write. We play. We feel. We breathe. We connect.
And for that I am so grateful.