When a Book Club Turns into Something More
A lot has been written about friendship in our 50s, 60s, and beyond. I’ve written articles about it, too. Whether we’re welcoming new friends or faithfully committing to the ones we have, women understand the benefits of forming connections as we age.
Nurturing any friendship felt quite different in 2020. The pandemic forced us into our homes where we developed a love/hate relationship with Zoom, FaceTime, and other virtual methods of connection.
Making new friends had been tricky for me in recent years. It’s happened in fits and starts. I’m not a natural “joiner,” but I’d begun pushing through that, saying “yes” to opportunities in hopes of meeting new friends.
Book clubs, writing classes. Community tables in restaurants, neighborhood get-togethers. I was pretty game and had some fun along the way. I met some nice women which made coming out of my comfort zone worth it.
Saying “Yes” and Showing Up Brings New Awareness
Along the way, I confirmed that older women enjoy casual conversation. However, we thrive on deeper connection. That’s what I want more of in my life. The women I want to welcome as new friends want it, too.
Meaningful dialogue, belly laughter. Inspiring insights, different perspectives. Shared values, curious minds. These can be the foundation for friendships that withstand the test of time.
Not long before the Covid lockdown, I’d started to question why we have to wait or hope for this kind of friendship to develop. Why can’t new friendships begin with those things in mind? So I decided that, if I can’t find a group to join that gives me what I want, I could start one.
That seemed obvious and also felt scary. Sometimes the best ideas do.
I wondered if it’s possible to create “intentional friendships.” Friends who come together for a purpose and create a safe space for sharing.
I’d already brought this about in my business life. I had evidence that women’s circles are a welcome and successful way for women to gather together and share ideas. So why not replicate this in my personal life?
Can Friendship Circles Work?
I took a risk, shared my vision with two women, and asked if they wanted to join me in an experiment. One of them asked another woman, they asked another, and we became a circle of five.
We’re more than a book club, although we refer to ourselves as that because it’s easy. We may never have a catchy name, but we all agree that our time together is intentional.
We’re currently meeting on Zoom with hopes that we’ll be back together in person soon. What’s unfolding feels delightful, surprising, and unique. And, quite frankly, sacred.
The Key Is to Keep It Simple
Our ground rules are easy:
- Set monthly meeting dates and times. Select them so they work for everyone.
- Rotate the discussion leader. Her source for a topic might be a book, a movie, a podcast, an article, a current social issue… whatever is resonating or feels important to her.
- Have one conversation. No sidebars, and no talking over someone else.
- Have fun! We spend time catching up, and we bring snacks. We take our conversation time seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Our group is committed and joyful. Our members are thoughtful and caring. Our gatherings are a highlight of the month. We learn a little more about each other every time we meet up. We’re filled with gratitude each time we part company.
And that was the idea.
The Group Dynamic Will Evolve
We’ve had to cancel some meetings because life has been unpredictable the last several months. But as our circle matures, we’ll undoubtedly forge a deeper connection. We’ll probably hit a few roadblocks, too. For now, our foundation feels stable. And our intentions are the threads that weave us together, enriching our lives with “intentional friendships.”
And my latest a-ha? Anything we truly yearn for is worth a little risk. Even via Zoom. The payoff can be so rewarding.
Have you ever formed a Friendship Circle? How are you creating more meaningful friendships during this stage of life or during this time of self-isolation? Join the conversation!