Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Good But Not Good Enough...

Cell phones, I Phones, texting, email, facebook, twitter, blogging…technology has connected us in so many wonderful ways we could never have imagined even a few short years ago. We have found lost friends, made new friends and shared our lives with people around the world. The ways our lives have been enriched and expanded are immeasurable. It is all very, very good –in fact it is greater than great.

It is still, however, not good enough.

I have had a philosophy of life that is a subset to Circle Living. It is called “sideways” living. We often find ourselves sideways – sitting in a car, in a movie, at church, at school, on a subway, bus, airplane, etc. These are inevitable necessities…they are our necessary reality.

This is definitely not good enough.

Because of the “wonderful” and because of the “necessary” we must always be looking for opportunities to get in front of one another….

I always tell my husband, when we go out on dates, that at some point in the evening, I need to sit across from him and talk to his eyes. (I am also endlessly badgering people to remove their sunglasses when speaking with another person because it completely blacks out the only window we have to look through.)

We need real live people in our lives to make ultimate connections. I stood in front of my mirror, at midnight, recently, and said, “Karen you have lived here an entire year and you have not made one friend”…..lots of friends…. but not people I regularly spent time with. I had been busy with endless family connections but the friend “place” in my heart was feeling vacant. So the next day I called someone up, who had invited me to walk with them, and told her I was going to be one of their new “walking, talking ladies.” It was like magic. Real people friends were in my life, and even though we were doing a lot of “sideways” talking, we would also, at times, stop and talk with our eyes.

You can see why I am so excited to find the women who stand in the mirror at midnight and wonder what is missing. They are all of us. Many of you are involved, already, in Circles that have become immensely valuable to you, or even your lifeline. You are in book clubs or other regularly scheduled events that bring you together. When I talk to women who are involved in Circle Living, they express how important it is to their life and that they “wouldn’t miss it for anything!”

I was walking/talking with my new friend the other day and she began describing a “circle” she had been a part of for years. As she proceeded to speak, I became so excited about what she was telling me because it is a perfect example of what can be achieved by women gathering together to participate in “better than good” and “better than great.” I gave her an assignment to write about what she was telling me, this assignment is included below...

Women's Forum:

words from Peggy Hodson

Thirteen years ago, I was asked by the mother of one of my daughter’s friends to join a book club she was starting. She had contacted an eclectic group of women she knew from different areas in her life with whom she wanted to connect on a monthly basis. She decided a book club was a fun reason to get together and share ideas and lunch once a month. I had just had my last baby (I was a few years younger than the rest of them) and told her I didn’t think I could keep up with being responsible for reading a book a month with a newborn and 4 older children; that she really didn’t want me taking up a space in the group and not contributing. She was insistent, and asked me to come to the lunch anyway. I didn’t know her that well, but had worked with her a little on some school activities with our kids and she seemed so understanding of my situation that I decided to take the baby and go to the lunch. (I think she was 2 months old at the time.) I did read the first book that month while I nursed the baby, but after that luncheon at a restaurant I don’t think we read much after that. She had assembled an amazing group of women who I thoroughly enjoyed meeting. After the first few meetings at a restaurant, we decided to meet at each other’s homes once a month and rotate hosting the lunch. Our homes were much more intimate and conducive to talking without the interruptions of a public restaurant. I began to really enjoy these women and looked forward to getting together each month. Besides that, I really liked cooking and entertaining people so I liked that idea.

I don’t think we read many more books as a book club. We had such interesting lives represented at the table (there were about 12 all together) that we evolved into a topic driven discussion group. We decided that each of us would bring a topic we were interested in to present to the group to share or to bring up as a matter of discussion for input by the rest of the group. This was also very interesting to me and I found that as the time went on, I was willing to get a sitter for my daughter as she grew older so that I did not miss these luncheons. I learned so much from these women who came from various backgrounds and had different talents and strengths.

After a few years, one month, when it was her turn to host, one of the women thought about all the time that we had been together sharing ideas, and realized that she really didn’t know each of us on a personal level. She wanted to know about each of our lives and what was important to us. So she decided to share her personal history and invited us all to take a month and do the same. That was when I was hooked. Hearing personal histories of interesting women and their philosophies of life took our relationships to a new level. We took about a year to go through each of our personal stories and by then we were connected on a more personal emotional level. We were friends.

Our lunches have gone from lasting an hour and a half to three now—and we could go longer if it weren’t for busy schedules. Since we started sharing our personal histories a few topics have been presented, but not many. Our rule in the meetings is that whatever is said in the meeting, stays in that meeting. No one is allowed to talk about anything personal that is shared between us outside of the lunch group. We have begun meeting at a regular private room in a restaurant so that no one is in charge of making lunch for everyone and we just put money in an account each year to pay for the lunches. It has become more about getting together, hearing each other’s news, sharing tips and ideas, and just and enjoying each other than anything else. Over the years a few of us have moved away and a few others have been added. We now do what we call “updates”--each of us takes ten minutes or so to give an update on whatever is going on in our lives and families. Because we are all mothers—that is our common denominator—our updates are mostly about what is going on in our personal lives and families. That is what we care about most. Among them are women who have built their own businesses, are doctors, ranchers, are involved in community or governmental leadership, work at cooking stores, ski shops, or are married to men who are leaders on some level. I am a mother of five who feels very fortunate to have benefitted from sharing a part of the lives of some wonderful human beings. We have taken trips together and some of us walk together for exercise in the mornings. Some who have moved away try to schedule visits to Santa Barbara to coincide with our meetings because they hate to miss. The time we have spent together has been well invested. I have learned valuable information from medical issues to business investments to the psychology of raising challenging children, and I think I have helped others of them with my life experience. I am so grateful that I made that effort in the early days to connect with these wonderful mothers who I now call my friends.


Katherine said...

I believe this so much. Such amazing things to consider and think about.
I love that you have to make sure you look into our eyes for a second whenever we might be leaving you for a time.

Jennie said...

Thank you for your inspiring thoughts and words. As a young mother I recognize my responsibility, but feel like I don't know how to live up to it. Your blog is helping me to see the good mother I am, and the great mother I can become. I will eagerly look forward to reading each of your new posts. Please keep 'em coming. :-)