Guest blog by Sue Shellenbarger
One of the toughest aspects of a midlife crisis for most women is the isolation they feel. Our culture affords no customary, established ways for midlife women to meet, share their experiences and find a sounding board for the dreams and questions that surface for many of us at midlife. Yet a critical difference between women who manage a midlife transition successfully and those who remain non-starters is often a supportive network of female friends who offer feedback and encouragement. If you read The Breaking Point to better understand your own restlessness or frustration, you may want to consider starting a Second Act Sisterhood (SAS). Here are some recommendations:
1. Gather a group of friends who are also in the middle of life, however you want to define it, and who have some goal or dream or desire they would like to pursue, no matter how distant or difficult it may seem. This might be either a new or existing group, such as a book or investment club that wishes to shift gears for a while. The meeting should be held in a place where everyone will feel at ease - perhaps at a restaurant or in a participant’s home.
2. Have each person discuss her dream along with the fears and obstacles that stand in her way. It may be helpful to assign each woman a defined period of time to speak and hear feedback, such as 15 to 30 minutes each.
3. After each woman has presented her goal or desire, the other women should each be allowed time to respond. Only positive feedback or support is permitted; disapproval, criticism, and sarcasm are not allowed. Even if someone's ambition seems far fetched, the members of the group should support the member’s wish for change and brainstorm for tactics and ideas that could make it happen.
4. Members should lend more than vocal support to each other if they can. For example, if one group member wants to pursue outdoor activities and adventure and another is a member of a ski club, this is an ideal opportunity for one member to help another realize her ambition.
5. Set a regular meeting time when members can reconvene and talk about progressing toward their dream, perhaps bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly, either indefinitely or for an agreed-upon period, to share and support each other’s midlife dreams, goals and renewal.
6. Every meeting should offer each woman an opportunity to present her experiences and steps forward. Every Second Act Sisterhood member should know that her voice is heard and that she is in good company as she continues on her pathway toward personal growth.
One of the women profiled in The Breaking Point said that hearing other women's stories of midlife crisis and resolution is like passing a recipe on to someone else. With your Second Act Sisterhood you're ensuring that one person's recipe for change and happiness can be shared, adapted, and applied by other women living through a similar transition.