Updated: Jan 4
So... I'm starting a book club. If you are a curious, daring adventurer looking for a warm, safe tavern on a long, drizzly, lonely road, then read on!
Ages ago, when I was in grad school, long before husbands and kids and careers, I was in a book club in San Francisco. We met monthly, read books, rotated houses, drank wine, ate food, talked late into the night (sometimes about books but mostly about boyfriends and jobs and housing), and picked new books. It was a lovely way to make friends that were doing cool hip things.
This is NOT that kind of book club.
Yes, we'll meet monthly, read books, drink, and talk. But I'm a working mom now. It's time for a new kind of book club. What I need, and what I'm hoping some of you might need, is a trusted circle of fellow mid-career professionals. Others who might enjoy the feel of a buzzing tavern full of fascinating stories and ideas.
I'm seeking curious, brave-hearted souls who love books. You should be a mid-career professional -- not just out of college in your first 5 years working and not 5 years from retirement.
You should be open to taking off your hat and cloak and being honest and open about the road you have traveled. That is, I will be inviting you to share professional and personal struggles and wins. Be prepared to be a bit vulnerable and willing to set aside appearances in order to be real. You are always welcome to pass, but we're all feeling a bit isolated right now. Let's connect. Honestly, I have found that expressing my own worries and challenges about work and family feels selfish in these times when so many are really really struggling. But we too deserve somewhere to express and connect because that’s without that, we can't be our best selves in the rest of our lives.
I want to create that kind of a safe haven for you.
Finally, I'm seeking open-hearted adventurers. Be willing to try something different and new. A mini-quest? An experiment? A dash of magic? A step out of your comfort zone? I will try out new ideas in this space and play around with group coaching if you're game. To be perfectly honest, I've never run a book club before which is why this is a "donate what you think it's worth" adventure.
And please give me feedback along the way. I want to make this amazing for you.
Do you like to discuss leadership, personal growth, and science? Those are the kinds of books we'll be discussing. (Extra credit if you also love fantasy, magical realism, and sci fi but it's not that kind of book club). Here's the book list:
January & February 2021: Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
March & April 2021: Atomic Habits by James Clear
May & June 2021: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer
July & August 2021: The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal
September & October 2021: Your Brain is a Time Machine by Dean Buonomano
November & December 2021: A Letter to My Daughter by May Angelou
January & February 2022: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
After that? Join us and help choose the next book.
However, to read or not to read the book is up to you. We're busy professionals, many of us with kids at home. We're in the midst of a pandemic. If you don't read the book, we trust that it's for a good reason. Or maybe you just didn't like the book. No judgement.
Sign up on Eventbrite. We meet on Zoom the last Thursday of each month from 4:00 - 5:00 pm (though we're moving to Mon, Nov 22 and Mon, Dec 20 due to the holidays). There's also a private Facebook page that you'll get invited to (if you like that Facebook thing) once you sign up on Eventbrite.
Note, you are NOT expected to show up every month, but I hope it quickly becomes the one Zoom meeting you would be devastated to miss.
What? Rules for a book club? Yes indeed. I'm halfway through Priya Parker's The Art of Gathering and she spends a whole chapter discussing creating and communicating the rules for your gathering.
Join us from somewhere you love to read -- your favorite cozy chair, your bed, a hammock... Ideally, this is not the same place where you typically work. Don't worry about the lighting or the unfolded laundry in the background, because, as the next rule says...
Dare to be real.
Be present. No multitasking. Put on a movie for the kids. Shut the door and post a "do not disturb" sign. Indulge in YOU time to the greatest extent possible.
Bring a beverage -- coffee or tea, beer or wine, whatever is your pleasure. We will start promptly at 4:01 pm with a toast! And if you're hungry, bring food and feel free to leave the video on. Even I have been known to eat lunch at 4 pm.
Bring a hat (to actually wear) and dancing shoes (metaphorically). I'll explain.
For the first month we spend with a book (January/March), bring either a quote or a question related to the book. Again, no judgement if you didn't read the book. (Psst... great last minute questions: "What part of the book spoke to you most?" and "What, if anything, offended you?")
For the second month with the book (February/April), bring an insight triggered by the book, by the book club, or by a fascinating conversation you had with someone that month.
Golden Rule -- do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Be kind. No judgement.
Leave politics or current events behind, unless it somehow directly relates to a personal or professional struggle you have right now. We get enough of that insanity elsewhere in our lives.
Stay curious. If someone holds vastly different views than yours, get curious, not defensive. "Wow. I never thought of it that way before. What life experiences led you to that view?"
Obviously, read the current book club book!
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker is fabulous too.
Obviously, I'd love for you to sign up for the book club. It's not too late. Really. Remember, to read or not to read is up to you.
If you're interested in one-on-one support instead of, or in addition to, the book club, then please sign up for an "initial chat" on my calendar. The first hour is always free with no strings attached.
I've been offering a bunch of resilience, self-care, and family-care workshops and classes lately. Self-care strategies are drawn from the Center for Mind Body Medicine, the largest evidence-based program for teaching self-care and self-healing skills to communities experiencing collective trauma. Family-care strategies are drawn from Love and Logic or Restorative Practices, the two foundational pieces of my school's culture of kindness. I always explain the research and science behind these strategies. You won’t just learn how to do them, you’ll learn WHY they work. Short one-shot workshops are completely complimentary. Inquire if you're interested in a class series. I'll likely be offering a reprise of my "Restoring Joy and Balance" four-class series in late February.