When I founded the GaGa Sisterhood twenty years ago, my goal was to create a community for like-minded grandmas to share the joys and challenges of being a grandma. As someone who thrives on human connection, I understand the value of belonging to a community. So when I became a grandma in 2003, I wanted to connect with other women who were in the same stage of life.
Recently, I heard former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy confirm my belief. In his book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, he explains that we need three levels of connection to avoid loneliness: intimate (partner or spouse), relational (circle of friends), and collective (community.)
As human beings, we evolved to need each other and to be part of a community. There’s something deeply ingrained in us about wanting to be a part of a shared identity. So, we find ourselves gravitating toward various affinity groups based on shared religious beliefs or shared race and ethnicity or shared nationality, or shared interest. We derive a lot of meaning and value from a common identity with others.
Over the past two decades, I’ve witnessed the value of a shared common identity. Whenever our group of grandmas got together there was an instant connection — as if we’d all just landed on a new planet that spoke the same “language” derived from the joy we felt for our grandchildren.
Meeting in Person Again
Our GaGa Sisterhood met at members’ homes in Silicon Valley every other month and we bonded over our shared love of being grandmas. As word spread and our membership grew, we built a solid group of GaGa members who attended meetings for over fifteen years. Then COVID struck and our in-person meetings came to a screeching halt. Like so many other communities, we pivoted to Zoom meetings for the past three years. Grandmas from all over the U.S. started attending our meetings.
I was thrilled with this new direction but I knew our local GaGas missed getting together in person. Finally, on June 11, 2023, our GaGa Sisterhood met in person and the reunion was phenomenal. There was a mix of brand-new grandmas and grandmas with teenage grandchildren.
I invited an improv teacher to provide some fun and boy, did she deliver! Jen Karno, the founder of Karnocopia, helped us get playful with some group activities that had us laughing so hard our sides hurt. I’ve always believed that grandmas are a playful group who aren’t afraid to be silly. We definitely got silly as we paired up to create personalized handshakes that included all kinds of hand and body moves. We stood in a big circle and tossed around an invisible ball making crazy sounds as we tossed and caught the imaginary ball. For another game, Jen chose two GaGas and asked them to strike a pose like a statue. Then she asked the group to guess what they were doing. The answers were hilarious as the members got more and more creative.
As the meeting drew to a close, no one wanted to leave. The conversations were flowing and members were still catching up after our long absence. I looked around at these women and the joy on their faces filled me with gratification. Our collective community of vibrant grandmas is together again and we are benefitting from the bond we all share as joyful grandmas.