I absolutely LOVE my new Peer Group. There are eleven of us wives from six different departments around the NorCal area. We’ve met twice now and the camaraderie is already there.
I’d like to see other groups like this – to experience the friendship with other LEOWs, and to really have that support. So I’ve come up with some ways to help those of you who want to start something but aren’t sure just how to do it.
As I was preparing to do this, I just started mentioning it to people. Those who were enthusiastic, I followed up with. Most of the girls moved their schedule around or got babysitters. We have eleven, but it doesn’t have to be that big. I also thought it important to have different departments – when it is just one department that all the ladies are from, it is a huge temptation to talk about the office politics, and that can ruin a group and/or diminish the departmental support of families. You can put an announcement out on Facebook, or ask your friends to invite someone else. Compiling a diverse group of ladies is half the fun!
For my book, I scheduled 13 consecutive weeks. One week for introductions and twelve for the chapters. I put them on the calendar, and communicated this to the ladies I invited. They know that we are meeting every week at such and such a time, at such and such a place, until April 9.
The first week we shared about our families, and then I had them find an object in their purse that describes them. That helps get answers from people you normally wouldn’t get, and we heard some cool perspectives about what people’s lives are about. We also talked about what we were hoping to “get” from the group. The second week we started in on the book. We read through a chapter a week together. The questions are in the back of each chapter. Easy!
The first meeting I talked about boundaries. This is IMPERATIVE. To create a safe place for women to share, there must be confidentiality. NO flapping of the gums about what people say. I also told them to keep it positive. We are not a rant and rave group – that’s not helpful for anyone. We also do not talk about department politics UNLESS it directly and personally affects your family and we can help support you. We also talked about the fact that we are all different and have different views. The rule is to approach each other with grace – so that all of us can be free to be who we are and still be loved.
A few other things are group dates with our guys, ladies’ nites out, and a secret Facebook page. We exchanged numbers. We hold each others’ babies. We talked about doing a Dave Ramsey class together later on. So far, so good.
I’ve no doubt as we get into things that there will be disagreement. And we’re okay with that. But we agreed to stay within the boundaries of the rules, and are actually happy with them. As the leader, I will keep us accountable to it.
Lastly, as their leader, I’m praying for our time, and for their families. This is the unseen glue that keeps us together, I think. When a leader has “help” from God or an older mentor, someone to bounce off problems or ideas (keeping confidentiality intact, of course), that really enhances a group as well.
If you are interested in starting your own peer group in your area, please let me know so that I can pray/help you as well. We’re in this thing together!
Victoria Newman - "A CHiP on My Shoulder" January 27th, 2014
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