When was the last time you had a deep, meaningful conversation with another grandma? Every year our GaGa Sisterhood creates this opportunity at our Member Mixer.
We all look forward to this annual meeting because we get to know a little bit more about each other. Every year we feel the magic of being with open-hearted grandmas who are willing to be vulnerable and dive into some deep questions.
Here’s how our member mixer unfolded this year. There were 16 grandmas at our meeting. We divided into 4 groups of 4 and each went into a different room of our host’s home. We appointed a timer and each person had 5 minutes to answer any or all of these questions:
- Describe one of your greatest accomplishments.
- What memory do you cherish the most?
- What would you and others say are 3 of your personality pluses?
- Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
After we finished one round, we moved into new groups of 4 and had a second chance to answer the questions. At the end of the second round, we all returned to our big circle and each person took a turn sharing some impressions of the experience — something that inspired us, something we learned about ourselves, something that stayed with us.
What makes it so magical?
- Willingness to share deep, gut-wrenching experiences
- Desire to explore, reflect, dive in
- Genuine interest in knowing each other
- Desire for connection, inspiration, wisdom from others
- Being brave enough to have a different story than someone else
- Feeling trust and safety
- Ability to identify with each other
- Sharing a bond of age, motherhood, grandmotherhood
- Desire to grow
- Courage to open up
- Triggers memories when we hear others speak
- Invitation to be authentic
- Willingness to be vulnerable
At this stage in our lives, we appreciate ourselves and how we’ve reached maturity. When we listen to others, we’re interested and curious — we want to know more about each other’s stories. We value friendship because it’s not easy to find it. Many of us are starved for meaningful connection. We want more than small talk. Women are grateful to share sacred space. Sharing deep feelings is a powerful experience.
When we gathered in our big circle, our members shared these impressions:
- At first I felt too self-conscious sharing my personality pluses. But when others shared theirs, I felt permission to share mine.
- When everyone said their mom was their biggest influence, I felt okay to say that mine wasn’t.
- I’ve been struggling with feeling sad for the past 3 months and wondering what I’m doing wrong. I’m working on getting my mojo back. Talking about it in our group helped me get clarity and recognize that I have some good qualities.
- It’s so meaningful to get to know each other; to feel vulnerable and connect. I want to sit down with each of you and know more of your story.
- I almost didn’t come today but I’m so glad I did. I never get the chance to talk about myself and today I did.
- These questions are hard to answer. We live in such a topsy-turvy world. It’s important to take time to reflect on myself and my life. Having the opportunity to do that in our group makes life better. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in my feelings. Connecting with others helps to bear loneliness.
- We covered the whole spectrum of emotions – laughing and crying. We all wanted more time to ask questions.
- There were common themes: we want time for ourselves and not be caretakers.
- Many of us have relocated to be closer to our grandchildren.
- Despite our different backgrounds, we have a lot in common – we’re caregivers.
- Hearing others speak triggered my own memories.
We rarely get asked to reflect back on our lives and then share those thoughts with others. It’s a powerful opportunity both for ourselves and for others in the circle. Even though we only have five minutes to answer the questions, my hope is that it opens up the thought process and gets us digging deeper. At this stage in our lives, it’s comforting to know that our feelings are shared by others. Conversations like these can help us find clarity and support from each other.
I encourage you to answer these questions yourself. Write down your answers and share them with a family member or friend. If your grandchildren are old enough, ask them to answer the questions. I guarantee there will be some surprises in store for you.