Encouraging women to evolve and create new opportunities at any age.

"Stop, Look and Listen" 
Thoughts for the New Year

Kendra Brown
Our January newsletter focuses on building support groups, just in case one of your New Year’s resolutions was to enhance your support network – something which I believe we all need to do from time to time. 

Before our discussion about creating groups - I’d like to comment on New Year’s resolutions, in general, especially as it relates to my recent experience.  I hope what I have learned will be helpful to you. 

I love to make resolutions.  Since I’m a goal oriented person, I enjoy checking off items on my “to do” list.  This year, like many in the past, I waited until a few days into the new  year and thoughtfully listed resolutions – with the admonition to myself to keep them to a minimum.

A couple of the resolutions were about really working on my golf game. Since I like to do things well, of course I decided I must play golf at a superior level!  I began 2014, determined in earnest to meet the new goals I had written in my journal.  Then, one day, I suddenly realized that I didn’t really want – or need – to play golf at a level that would require hours of lessons, practice and play.  While I enjoy playing with family and friends, I don’t expect to earn my playing card with the LPGA.  What was I thinking? 

So, if you are like me, and you like to make resolutions:  take a few minutes first – before you write them down and make a commitment to them.  Will those resolutions bring you joy?  Do they fit your life right now?  As we learned in elementary school, “Stop, Look and Listen” – in this case, to yourself.  Goals are only important if the goals are the best ones for you.  Commitment to goals that are only important to others may leave you stressed and unfulfilled.  
An Email Poem

The computer swallowed Grandma,
Yes, honestly it's true!
She pressed 'control and 'enter'
And disappeared from view.
It devoured her completely,
The thought just makes me squirm.
She must have caught a virus
Or been eaten by a worm.
I've searched through the recycle bin
And files of every kind;
I've even used the Internet,
But nothing did I find.
In desperation, I asked Mr. Google
My searches to refine.
The reply from him was negative,
Not a thing was found 'online.'
So, if inside your 'Inbox,'
My Grandma you should see,
Please 'Copy, Scan' and 'Paste' her,
And send her back to me.

This is a tribute to all the Grandmas & Grandpas, who have been fearless and learned to use the Computer...
How to start a group
by Pat Austin
Looking for ways to kick-start the New Year? How about forming a group to inspire you, share your confidences, celebrate your joys, and push you to be the best you can be?

You may recall that the recorded conversations of such a group resulted in the publishing of the book, Eavesdropping: As Real Women Talk about the Gifts and Challenges of Aging, published by Rainbow Books in 2012. 

The women, who collectively referred to themselves as “The Pages” of the book, say they are grateful for the group they enjoyed and they encourage other women to experience the same opportunities for wisdom, laughter, mutual support and empowerment that they have experienced. If you are interested in starting a group, here are some suggestions that may be helpful to you. 

Someone needs to take the lead and start issuing invitations to friends and acquaintances. Groups are often more interesting if the members are a bit diverse, so each group member could invite someone not already known to the whole group. A mix of people makes a more vibrant group. Expect the group to evolve---people can move in and out without any hard feelings.  Hopefully, however, as time goes by, the membership will be stable. 

Six to ten is recommended for a good group. Too big---not enough time for everyone to be heard. Too small---there may not be enough interaction and less vocal members may not speak up.  Also, if there are unexpected absences (illness, etc.) you may be left with too few people for a good discussion.  

The location for meeting may limit the size of your group, so bear that in mind. Consider where you are most likely to feel comfortable. Some groups like to meet in the homes of the members; others prefer a more neutral setting like a library or public meeting room.

Twice a month is ideal if the members can commit to it. The time frame keeps everyone in touch without being burdensome. Most important is setting a time limit to each session, starting on time and ending on time. Be respectful of everyone’s time commitments.

Some groups like to announce a topic in advance, while others prefer to be more spontaneous and choose a topic at each meeting. Conversations should generally be free and without censor, but one member may need to be the facilitator, with the responsibility (and permission) to bring the group back to the agreed on topic. Unless the group is formed to discuss religion or politics, these topics should usually be limited (or even avoided).  The group will want to set out a confidentiality policy.  Topics discussed may be so interesting that members will tell others about them.  However, it is best to avoid telling others which group member said this or that.  This promotes freedom of expression within the group.

The group becomes like a “village” (a place of support and comfort) The Pages describe in Eavesdropping.  Research shows that social support is essential to happiness and well-being for all of us – especially in the world today, where family members often live far away from one another and people routinely move away from the actual villages of their youth and early adulthood.
You may want to record your sessions, as The Pages did. Definitely you’ll want to establish your own rituals for beginning and ending the sessions. Along the way you may find many opportunities to celebrate accomplishments.

From the Bookshelf:

Edie’s comment on last month’s Walking Book Club article:
It doesn't matter what kind of a book club you have, reading and talking about it with other folks is so stimulating, exciting and informative.  It is even better if some readers did not like the chosen book. Makes for a rich discussion.  I have downsized from 5 book clubs to 3!  One I have been in for 42 years.  Another I started in my neighborhood and it is going strong.  And finally, one of my friends and neighbors, who is a retired professor, is leading a group through Dante’s Divine Comedy.  We just emerged from Hell this evening with a party.  Purgatory is next on the list for 2014.  I would NEVER have tried to read this on my own.  I am learning history, philosophy, theology, and the amazing use of imagination.  

Here’s to book clubs everywhere, in every size, shape and form.
Edith M Donohue
Jane Pauley was in Chicago recently promoting her new book: “Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life.”  In an article in the Chicago Tribune, Pauley outlines her tips for reimagining the rest of your life: 
  • Say ‘Yes”.
  • Give Back.
  • Don’t just think - do.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Embrace your many passions.
  • Be ready to fail.
Link to full article.  
Link to book information and interview with Jane Pauley.
I don’t like New Years Resolutions!
By Terry Gray
I don’t remember ever making a New Year’s Resolution. Not sure why. Maybe I just didn’t want to set myself up to fail.  Or I wasn’t willing to profess my resolutions and then possible future failure to live up to those declarations.  I did have a plan of action for 2014.  It started late last summer when I found myself saying I can’t believe it’s August, then September, then October.  By November, I did resolve not to continue my time challenged statements.  I accepted that November and December were going to pass by in a blink of an eye.  And I set myself up to start January on time and stay up to date (and maybe ahead) through out the new year.

Well, the first ten days of 2014 started out with the flu and the next ten were devoted to apologizing and caring for my husband who had caught the flu from me! Best laid plans….
During my fog filled flu days, I caught the last part of a PBS program: What Are You Hungry For?  with Deepak Chopra, MD.  The program and book is about “Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul”.  That last part focused on what he called mindful living and practice.  Reading the book helped me to discover that I really don’t want or need to feel calendar current.
I will share with you my 2014 aspirations.
  • To be mindful
  • To be aware
  • To be present
  • To be in the moment

Click here for book information.

Click here for PBS program information.
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Copyright © 2014 Kendra Brown, Ph.D, All rights reserved.

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