As you know, I’m participating in the Anna Karenina readalong, hosted by Wallace. It’s fun to read at the same pace as a group of people and to have discussions along the way. Especially with the size of this book!
The Walkie Talkie Book Club was founded on readalongs, really. My friend, Beth, and I used to walk daily (almost) and then we started reading the same book and discussing it on our daily walks. It just adds something to discuss something happening in the moment, rather than at book club every five weeks.
It’s a nice way to connect – with a good book and with good friends and with good readers.
When I lived in Rushford I was part of a group called The Modern Priscillas, and it was the oldest group in the history of Rushford, with its beginning going back to 1904, I believe. The women met weekly at that time, sharing a meal and sharing their talents or knowledge with each other. The group evolved to monthly meetings with dessert but maintained that learning component, as well as the traditional “roll call” at the beginning and “Collect for Club Women” at the end. .
After I moved, I realized I missed that monthly connection to women and reading Jeffrey Zaslow‘s book, “The Girls from Ames,” confirmed the reasons why. Research about women and friendships is pretty clear:
Consider these findings:
Longevity – Married men live longer than single men, yet women who marry have the same life expectancy as those who don’t. However, women with strong female social ties (girlfriends) live longer than those without them.
Stress – For decades, stress tests focused solely on male participants, believing that all humans would respond in the same manner. When these same stress tests were finally conducted on females it was discovered that women don’t have the same, classic ‘fight or flight’ response to stress that men do. According to the research presented in The Tending Instinct, women under stress have the need to ‘tend and befriend.’ We want to tend to our young and be with our friends. Time with our friends actually reduces our stress levels.
More Stress – A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found that when we’re with our girlfriends, our bodies emit the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, helping us reduce everyday stress. By prioritizing our female friendships and spending time with these friends, we take advantage of a very simple, natural way to reduce our stress.
Even more stress – Prairie voles, a monogamous rodent, have a similar response to stress. When a male vole is put in a stressful situation, he runs to his female partner. Female voles, when stressed, immediately run to the females they were raised with.
Self-esteem – A recent study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. It’s no surprise that our self-esteem is highly influenced by our girlfriends; this is important to understand for girls as well as women.
The Health Factor – Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker – it’s that serious.
(The Girlfriend Instinct – The Value of Female Friendships: The Desire to ‘Tend and Befriend’ is Part of Our DNA, Debba Haupert)
So knowing all this, in the summer of 2010 I sat down with some of my girlfriends and we brainstormed and wrote a letter to send out to more friends or people we’d like to know better. We set up the guidelines of the group – meeting first Thursday of the month, 7pm-10pm, 16 members (a nice number), September through May – and the women we contacted were tickled and said YES quickly. Below is part of the letter that we sent out. My friend Deadra is replicating the idea with modifications in St. Paul with tremendous results, as well!
As women, we know the value of our time together. Sometimes it just takes an organizer!
Off to read!
Cosmopolitan: (noun) a person who is free from local, provincial, or national bias or attachment; citizen of the world; cosmopolite. (adjective) 1. free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments; at home all over the world. 2. of or characteristic of a cosmopolite. 3. belonging to all the world; not limited to just one part of the world.
In our world where virtual connections are made every day, we would like to create a real-life support network of wise and wonderful women! A group of women committed to getting together monthly with the purpose of learning about each other and the world. We threw out a few names and when we looked up the definition of “cosmopolitan,” we thought it was the perfect name and perfect aim for our group – to be ‘of the world’ – and we can shorten it to the COSMO GIRLS!