Women’s Circles: A True Lifeline for Women After 60
The first women on Earth are certain to have gathered together around a fire. They probably made meals together, fashioned clothing, and shared stories.
You likely sat in a circle in childhood – to listen to a story or sing a song, and you often made your first friends there.
Throughout our history there have been sewing bees, quilting bees, and groups of women gathering to can or freeze food during harvest season.
Women are now rediscovering the power of gathering in a circle as an opportunity for sharing, support, fun, and learning. Many single, divorced, or widowed women view their female friends as a lifeline.
Women’s Circles Are Good for Our Health
A circle of friends can help us age well. The Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical problems as they aged and also lived longer. Surprisingly, close relationships with family had almost no effect on longevity.
Social isolation can lead to loneliness and depression. Social interaction is good for both our mental and physical health.
As we age, we value our time more and want to associate with friends who are emotionally fulfilling and share our interests. While it’s wonderful to make new friends online, nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting.
When my mother was in her 60s, she started to isolate herself. It was hard for me to help her make friends. It was disheartening when she told me her best friends were the strangers she watched on her favourite TV programs.
It’s essential for us to make an effort to get out of the house and engage in activities that interest us. We can join a book club, a walking or knitting group, take a class in painting or flower arranging, or anything else that piques our interest.
Having a Women’s Circle is becoming increasingly more important as we age and need help to cope with the loss of family and friends.
Like me, you’ve likely lost a number of friends, neighbours, or family members to death over the past few years. It’s inevitable that those numbers will increase.
Friends can help us reclaim ourselves and get us to laugh again. When I moved to a new community 15 years ago, I knew no one here. My first friends emerged from joining a choir.
I now belong to three weekly circles – a choir, a qigong group and a ukulele circle that is mostly comprised of women.
My choir welcomes all voices. We sing for the joy of music. It uplifts our spirits and is a peaceful, fun gathering. Members range in age from mid-30s up to age 99. We have about 50 members – although we don’t all show up on the same day.
Qigong is a Chinese practice that involves meditation, controlled breathing, and movement exercises. It is focused on the mind-body connection, similar to yoga. It helps to loosen up our stiff bodies and provides connection and laughter.
My ukulele group allows us to learn from each other and includes all levels of expertise. We enjoy singing and playing together and take turns choosing each song.
Someday, we may perform in public, but that is not our goal. We gather for the love of music. Learning an instrument may also be rewiring our brain cells.
You may want to find a local group like these for yourself. I know they’re common in many communities.
Why a Circle?
Women’s Circles honour each woman’s voice. There is no hierarchy. It’s a safe place to express your authentic self and share your hopes, fears, and viewpoint.
Women’s voices are needed now and are starting to be heard. It’s vital for us to listen to each other and collaborate to create the kind of world we want to live in and to leave for future generations.
Symbolism Behind a Circle
The symbolism behind a circle is the circle of life in nature. A circle is the dominant symbol in nature – like the sun, moon, and Earth. It represents wholeness, the circle of life and the seasons. The seasons of life are common to all of us.
Want to Create Your Own Circle?
The Sierra Health Foundation suggests we create what they call a learning circle as a means to lead social change about how aging is viewed.
The Foundation cites examples of learning circles like the United Nations, trade unions, and churches. They have all empowered their members to make choices and take action.
If you can’t find an existing circle to join, you can start your own with as few as three participants. Find a common interest you can engage in. Conversation is sure to follow. Public libraries are a good place to meet. A library may be able to help you gather members by promoting your group.
While you are gathered as a group, you might want to share your thoughts on the following questions:
- What have I learned from elders in my community?
- What is the most important lesson I’ve learned so far?
- What is my greatest fear about aging?
- How am I taking care of my own well-being?
- How can we change the culture of aging?
After everyone has had a chance to speak, have a group discussion.
A Women’s Circle has the potential to transform both us and the world around us. Let’s create a world with more peace and kindness where all ages are respected. We’ll appreciate having support and social interaction as we age.
I think of Sixty and Me as an Online Women’s Circle. Do you?
What circles do you participate in? What about the Sixty and Me community makes it an Online Circle where women can speak from the heart? Please share if you attend a face-to-face circle and your experience with it.