Barbara: The other day, Deb and I were invited to join a small circle of women—there were 9 of us—spearheaded by Certified Therapist and Life Coach, Anne Pustil. Check out her website here and her blog here. Anne is a charming and sincere listener/therapist, and she’d gathered us together because she hoped we might share some of the linchpin problems we face as women in midlife (yes, Deb did crack that the term “midlife” implies that we’re all going to live into our hundreds! Anyway…). Anne will be conducting several “hitting the wall in midlife” group sessions for women in her hometown of Vancouver, as well as over the phone for those who are interested but don’t live in the vicinity.
As you guys know, Deb and I are all about the “let’s talk honestly about what we face every day.” That’s why we’re here, right? But what we both—what we ALL—found fascinating at this get-together (in a beautiful home, eating fabulous food!) is that despite our ongoing conversations and examinations, there is still and always a new question to ask, a new perspective to consider, and another, previously unconsidered, tool that might help resolve our issues. And while the 2½ hours flew by (several of us had to leave by a certain time), there were so many interesting tangents and thoughts, far beyond what I think even Anne expected (by that I mean, we often went “off topic”, but whoa, the off-topics were stimulating), that I think we could’ve easily chatted for hours more.
It got me to thinking that, as much as I think we need to keep chatting here (and other places like this), there is something to be said for the real-life get-together where your responses can be fluid and mutable, where you can talk much longer than your poor fingers can type, where you can speak without editing yourself (because, let’s face it, when you write you can tune and fine-tune what you say). Because sometimes the “messy”, non-edited words that you speak in real conversations can carry kernels of other resonant and important, maybe half-formed, ideas; the Freudian slips, as it were, that will lead to other extraordinary epiphanies or revelations.
Anne encouraged us to feel that we were in a safe zone at the get-together, and that our “secrets” wouldn’t go beyond the circle of discussion. Then she prompted us with a few succinct and loaded questions: “What do you love about this age?” “What do you regret?” “What do you wish you’d been told?” (etc.) I bet you can imagine, much like our Five Crazy Things post, or any question that makes you examine your own (at the moment) truth, each of Anne’s questions could evoke a whole evening’s discussion in and of themselves, with as many viewpoints and life-experiences as there are individuals.
I’m sure Deb and I will springboard off some of the more compelling subjects we touched on here in the blog, subjects that will hopefully prompt all of us to more discussion, but I would also like to propose something else to you: would you consider—no matter what your age or sex—having such an evening (or lunch, as ours was, or coffee or tea...) specifically dedicated to broad analysis? Getting together with a few people that you think might be open to it, and asking some basic trigger questions? After all, and even despite the fear that can come with being open, “knowledge is power”. And the knowledge we are all most equipped to search out, the knowledge that increases our life quality and sense of empowerment, the knowledge that can lead to some inner peace (even for a brief moment), the ultimate knowledge that we are singularly equipped to absolutely accept, is, of course, self-knowledge.
Deb: It was wonderful, and the reason it most resonated with me is the fact that it always shocks me to learn that the people who seem the most together and most confident share my fears and concerns too. I likened the afternoon to an emotional/psychological clothing swap: you bring something to the table (in this case a piece of knowledge or a coping skill) and that piece is useful to someone else and, by the same token, you take away some gem of information that the other person brings that she may no longer need. I wish when I was going through menopause I had had the wherewithal to bring my friends together to talk and share. Doing otherwise sometimes made me feel alone and isolated. The same applies to any life bump I think. It’s nice to know that other people are feeling the same way you are. And it actually can help! Ultimately what the get-together left me feeling again is that women are fantastic! That was my best takeaway.