I am not, and never have been, one of those "women who lunch." I hate shopping en masse, love sitting in Mima's alone with a crossword puzzle, and don't even mind going to a movie alone now and then. When I used to be a mystery shopper for Whataburger, it just floored me how often I would see a woman eating in her steaming hot car, rather than be caught eating alone at a restaurant. I started working retail at 16, and since employees must always take their breaks one at a time, you just get used to eating alone. Besides, I like my own company, and could easily become a hermit, but for one saving grace - The Muses and all their predecessors.

Ever since my first child was born, twenty seven years ago, I have always had a group of women friends that I have met with about once a week. These women have provided support, friendship, child-rearing advice, inspiration, and so much more. Now that I think about it, they were probably my surrogate extended family, filling in for the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, cousins and aunts that I would have turned to for advice and support, had we not pulled up stakes and become a traveling show. Now it is the Muses and my Blogging Tribe, in Plano it was the Bagel Babes, in Midland it was the Friday Lunch Bunch, and that very first one in Houston, so long ago, was called Share Group.

Flashing back on all these groups got me to thinkin', and I decided to do a little research on the subject of small groups. One article I came across, Group Dynamics and Community Building by Jerry Hampton, had this to say: "A small group is one where a group of people commit to meet together periodically to share their lives with each other in authentic communication. In doing so, each person can grow and learn from the others, as well as contribute meaning to the group." He went on to add that the advantage of a group like this is having a safe place to practice how to live with each other and learn about yourself, but one goal must be learning to accept and transcend differences, regardless of the diversity of individual backgrounds. If you can do this, in time a group can learn how to drop their pretenses, overcome obstacles and reach out to help or emotionally support one another and, in the process, find surprising strength, tolerance and acceptance. This collective spirit often emerges during a crisis. It is also known as "community." I call it "finding your tribe", and am so thankful to have found both the Muses and my blogging community.

Once you have a tribe like this, there is no end to what you can accomplish. Why, just think about those consciousness-raising groups that started back in the 60's, and ended up becoming the backbone of the feminist movement. Small groups of maybe a dozen women would get together to discuss a designated topic each week - anything from dating and child-rearing to abortion and economic dependence. They would take turns going around the circle, each speaking about the topic (this way no one dominates the discussion, a common problem in every group I've ever belonged to!), and at the end, they would discuss what they had learned.

In doing so, says Linda Napikoski in her article Feminist Consciousness-Raising Groups Collective Action Theory Discussion, they created a sense of sisterhood and made women more aware of widespread discrimination. By allowing them to verbalize feelings they might have suppressed, they ended up destroying the isolation that men used to maintain their authority and supremacy. Much more than psychological therapy, these small "share groups" were a valid form of political action that would end up being seen as a radical action to be feared and criticized by the powers that be.

Fairly awesome, don't you think?
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5