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Why a Midlife Support Group?

May '09

As you navigate through the midlife passage, or any life transition, you pick up another job – albeit it unintentionally. If you already have a full-time job, or full-time work as a Mom, you’ll require additional stores of energy and support. But how do you find these reserves in the midst of new challenges and sometimes overwhelming demands? I recommend you locate a group of other women.

For centuries, women have nurtured one another as they gather to discuss books, sew quilts and tend gardens. Virtual networks like Facebook and My Space do not supply the same satisfaction and comfort despite their popularity. In fact, the exponential rise in the use of electronic media has contributed to a drop in face-to-face contact over the last 10 years with serious repercussions. According to Dr. Aric Sigman in an issue of Biologist, this lack of human contact may actually alter the way genes work, upset immune responses and influence mental performance.

More research on this topic is undoubtedly needed, but it’s regrettable to learn that on-line social networks may have the paradoxical effect of keeping people apart. Sigman explains that interaction in person has affects on the body not seen when sending emails and “when we’re ‘really’ with people different things happen.” He suggests, “it’s probably an evolutionary mechanism that recognizes the benefits of us being together geographically.” Maybe that’s why joining with other women can ease your days, lighten your tasks and brighten your world.

With the self-descriptive name of “Stitch and Bitch Club”, my woman’s group meets every Thursday. Together we vent, laugh, explore, listen and knit – mittens, scarves, sweaters and shawls for folks in nursing homes. One brave soul is even embarking on a pair of socks she’ll knit from toe to top. As we rendezvous over lunch at Bagelz of Wickford, I have the delicious feeling of “playing hookey”; I always return home refreshed and ready for an afternoon of work.

If your role is changing (maybe your children are leaving the nest, or you’re seeking a different profession) so you’re questioning who you are and what you want, find yourself a bunch of women. Maybe you can form your own group with others who want to explore their changing lives, or you may already belong to a group. If it’s a book club, why not make reading selections that are relevant to you and your stage of life? (By the way, if you discover some fiction or non-fiction that nourishes and inspires you, I’d love to hear about it.)

And do let me know if regular conversations with a group of other women help you find greater clarity and comfort as you shoot the tricky rapids of midlife.

Good luck,
Bonnie

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