"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘book club’ Category

This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Book Club—Okay, Well Maybe It Is

 

Seventeen years ago I was a first time Mom that had gone from working full-time down to part-time. Not that I couldn’t keep myself busy with just that, but I craved being around other adults outside of work. I can’t remember exactly how we began, but a small group at church started a Book Club and being that a nice, hot meal seemed rare for me with a new baby at home and I enjoyed a good book, I joined it. We took turns meeting at each other’s homes and in the beginning, our Associate Pastor informally led our discussions about books we selected from Oprah’s Book Club list.

While I love discussing a good book (or even a bad one) and our meals are phenomenal, what I get most out of Book Club is the wonderful friendships that have been forged. Even though most of the people I’ve gone to church with since I was a little girl, I didn’t really know them except by name.   In the beginning, my friend, Kristin and I looked forward to a night where we could leave our babies, just months apart in age, at home with our husbands. Believe it or not, although we are distant cousins (I think our dads were second cousins), before Book Club I only knew Kristin casually—as in we’d wave if we saw each other. Through the years, both of us had two more daughters just months apart who have grown up together and are very close. Had I not joined Book Club it’s possible that I may have gotten to know her eventually because of our kids, but being in Book Club together was what really connected us initially.

If you saw a picture of our little group, you may be inclined to think we’re some nice little church ladies sipping tea and exchanging casserole recipes. (We do exchange recipes, but generally we sip wine.) In fact, one time long ago, a few of us went to the wrong apartment when our Associate Pastor who lived in the City was hosting Book Club. We went up to his neighbor’s apartment thinking it was Pastor Kirk’s address and knocked on the door. The guy who opened the door was probably early 20s and I think his jaw dropped to see the four of us standing there with our cozy little casserole dishes all wrapped up with books tucked under our arms. I think he was a little disappointed we weren’t coming to serve him some dinner!

Needless to say, we weren’t a very intimidating bunch standing on that front stoop, but you’d be surprised to find that, though we might fit the image of a stereotypical ladies’ church group, we are actually very diverse. We have a great mix of political views, types of favorite book genres and opinions. We have been full-time career women, stay-at-home Moms, world travelers and have grown up in different generations in different parts of the area. Our discussions are fantastic—about church, books and life in general.

As you can imagine in seventeen years, several of the people in our Book Club have come and gone. A few have retired or moved away, and sadly, some have lost spouses or passed away themselves. While we do occasionally still read an Oprah pick (we just discussed Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings), we now read all sorts of books. One of my favorites, ironically about a Book Club, was Lorna Landvik’s Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. But what hasn’t changed in Book Club is the safe forum we’ve created for discussions with respect for our differences. Oh, and the food is still wonderful.

Whether they realize it or not, these women have given me so much through the years. We’ve shared a lot of laughter—a time when one of my dogs was licking Pastor’s toes through his sandals while he was saying grace before dinner comes to mind—and we’ve shared in riding out the storm during times of transition at our church. We’ve celebrated births and grieved together over the loss of loved ones. I’ve collected many recipes and found new authors I’ve come to love. I expected Book Club to deepen my love of reading; but never would have thought that something as simple as a little Book Club could strengthen my love for my faith community. And that’s almost as good as having three desserts.

Friendships Then and Now

My friend and cousin, Kim, texted me that she wanted to have a girlfriend get together just for fun. Jeans, t-shirts wine and food. Not for any particular reason, or to be the hostess at a handbag/makeup/jewelry sales party. Just the girls hanging out and catching up.

I told her that she needed to hang out with us “old” women more, because truthfully we find any excuse to sit in jeans and t-shirts, stuff our faces and wash it all down with wine. But I understand her dilemma. Seasons of life dictate how we live our friendships.

My friendships at 42 are so much different than the ones I had at 22 and 32. (We won’t even go as far back as elementary/junior high days-whew!) At 22 I was fresh out of college, newly married and ready to dive into a career—it was an adjustment enough just to be working 40 hours a week and having a house to take care of. My college friends and I kept in touch via Christmas cards and the occasional lunch, but it was my work friends that I spent the most time with—great people, but not as deep of friendships that I’d had with the friends I grew up with.

Fast forward a decade and I’m in the throes of being the mother of young children. A stay-at-home mother of young children, and they outnumbered me. As much as I felt very blessed to be staying home with them, honestly there were times I would greet my husband before he even got in the door, talking his ear off, desperate to have a conversation beyond “magic words” and how many bites of vegetables were required to leave the table. There were a few years when I felt like he was my only lifeline to the adult world. I remember praying in the car one night that God would put more friends in my life, and crying over it because I felt like such a loser for having to pray for friends in the first place.

I did get out of the house beyond the grocery store by attending Book Club, Bible study or taking the kids on an occasional playdate with other moms. Those friends really helped me grow beyond Mommy Mode, as we bonded over things like helping each other hang curtains or paint a room in one of our houses. I still craved the days of close friendships with my girlfriends where we went places sans children and were just wiser versions of our younger selves, but I became a new kind of grown up from these friendships—and I cherish them.

Now I’m in a good place in life with my friends—probably my favorite so far. My kids are no longer solely dependent on me—I don’t need a babysitter to go anywhere. Coincidentally, a lot of the friends I’ve made in the last ten years I’ve met through my kids and their activities. My friendships with other women vary in so many ways. Some friends I see all the time, others I won’t catch up with for months at a time and yet we still connect like we always have since seventh grade. In part, I think the reason why I’m in such a good place with friendships is that I’ve gotten better at knowing myself—what kind of people are good for me, and what relationships are not. Many of my friends have fed my faith life and all of them have shaped me to who I am right now. The friendships I’ve had with women who were older than me by decades have taught me that getting older is whatever you want it to be. So, despite wishing I had the metabolism of my twenties back, I wouldn’t want to go back to that time in my life. It’s taken me this long to figure some things out!

I’m hoping Kim will have a chance to hang out with us soon. We might even forego the jeans and wear sweats while we make toasts to friendships with our wine. To old friends and new, who loved us as we once were, love us for who we are now, and will be there for us as we move towards knee surgeries and Depends undergarments. Thank you, Lord, for friends!

Welcome to The Lighthearted Dragonfly Blog

It’s 2014 and I’m finally blogging! After much internal dialogue (and debate), I’m putting “it” out there. You see, “it” was what all the debate was about. What do I have to add to the internet that’s not already been blogged, tweeted and posted by ten thousand other people already?  Maybe nothing new, wild and crazy, but perhaps that’s not the point.

I love a lot of stuff.  That is, I enjoy a lot of stuff.  Stuff like being a wife and Mom, my friends, running, writing, my dogs, trying new recipes, wine, exploring and deepening my faith, being in a Book Club, experiencing the curve ball in life of aging parents, hanging out at the Lake, finding ways to avoid housework, finding ways to get excited about housework.  You get the idea.  I especially love connecting with other people who enjoy a variety of things too.  I like hearing their thoughts on all these things and the feeling that there are other people out there that have a single, fragile thread of a commonality with me.  That someone might read something I’ve written and think, “I know exactly what she means!”

So why The Lighthearted Dragonfly? I have always loved dragonflies and how beautiful and delicate they are.  Especially the blue ones. They apparently like me, too–they seem to land on me often.  When trying to think of a blog name (not as easy as I thought it would be) I found a website that talked about dragonflies and their meaning.  It said they symbolized transformation, joy and lightness of being.  I latched onto that.  How inspiring to envision the slender, iridescent dragonfly, full of lightness and joy, perched on my shoulder as I blogged away.  At least that’s how I envisioned it.  I have found dragonflies spark my creative muse.  And they make me happy.

So thanks for taking the time to visit my blog today.  Hope you return often and chime in on a topic now and then.  Until next time…

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